Starbase Startopia (Switch) Review

Starbase Startopia asks what happens when you stop the star wars and try to make Star peace. With your Starbase, you’ll have the opportunity to bring alien races together and get some tourists in at the same time. All aboard, Startopia, just watch out for the space pirates and garbage bombs.

Starbase Startopia is a place for different alien races to come together after galactic misunderstandings wreaked havoc. This doughnut-shaped spacecraft exists to bring them all together. Providing work, entertainment and supplies, your job is to do it all and keep everyone happy. But keeping everyone happy or even alive isn’t always as easy as it seems, but it’s vital when one of your currencies is how satisfied your aliens are.

VAL, your AI assistant, is with you every step of the way, making snarky AI robot comments, not unlike GLaDOS. There’s also a voice filter to emulate the infamous AI, but I wouldn’t recommend it. As you complete the tasks in the scenarios given to you, she’ll readily throw some snarky comment about how slow or poorly you performed compared to previous commanders. The game goes for a comedic tone which might get a smile out of you every now and then, but chances are not too far in; you’ll be turning down the regularity of VALs comments. The overall silly tone does suit the game, and I feel it would lose a lot of its personality without it. At the same time, I don’t miss the comedy leaning into how incompetent you are all the time, and it’s a conflicting feeling.

You start with the important floor, the industrial level. Here is where you have your aliens working on keeping the Starbase going and making sure everyone stays alive in it. You’ll start with basics like cleaning up the constant rubbish that shows up on the ground, converting it into energy and making sure that the air is clean enough. Here you can even help out and vacuum up some of the trash yourself, as well as the pesky garbage bombs that show up on board. Then there’s the entertainment floor where you want everyone to unwind, have fun, and spend their cash more importantly. And finally, we have the bio floor. Here is where you’ll gather resources for building, supplies and enjoy what nature has to offer. Different resources are found in different biome environments, so there’s some juggling around to make sure you’re keeping well stocked. The more energy you generate, the more of the starbase you can open up. The more you have to build, the more you’ll need the extra floor space. Opening up the bulkheads doesn’t come cheap, though, and also leaves you with more room to manage and keep clean. It’s almost a disincentive to expand until you have enough you need to build to fill that space.

It’s not just a Starbase/alien management sim either; there’s also some Real Time Strategy tucked away here. When space pirates or dangerous creatures show up, security is needed. Good thing you can build some mechs to save the starbase. I didn’t enjoy the RTS element, or at least not in the way you need to get involved in these confrontations. Some might enjoy the shake-up to all the management business going on, even though it’s not exactly deep. I would have preferred it was addressed by managing security to deal with it. I recommend playing the tutorial on combat, so you’re not caught off guard by the mechs requiring enough space to move around structures. The last thing you want to do is to have to move things around while space pirates are messing up your stuff.

There are some tutorial sections if you’d like to get to know more about the mechanics of the Starbase. It helps with the basics, and it covers the main parts of managing your space base. Although for as many of the areas of the game it covers, it still leaves stuff out. Once I started with the campaign, and the robot assistant began guiding me on what to do, it felt like the information the tutorial should have covered. Although I still prefer the help rather than the game throwing everything at me. I very much recommend working through the campaign before you leap into free play. Three difficulty settings allow you to adjust how generous or how strict the game will be on you. For the campaign, it doesn’t impact the game if you go with the easier setting or harder. Really it feels like the campaign is there to help prepare you for the sandbox mode so you can manage your very own space base.

What becomes quickly frustrating is that you’re starting from scratch for each mission of the campaign, having to rebuild before you can get into the new stuff you’re being introduced to. The campaign mode might not last as long if you changed it, but then you wouldn’t be stuck spending all that time starting over every time.

The camera is one of your first challenges. Because of the Starbases cylinder layout, it can be a little disorientating for some time. The analogue sticks mainly handle the camera movement; they work well enough, given management games like this are generally built for a mouse and keyboard.

The UI takes a while to get used to. A lot of the menu requires button combinations to open, usually an L or R and one of the face buttons. Thankfully the button combinations are shown on the screen instead of having to mess with layers of menus. Often there’s a little bit of lag once you’ve pressed a button, usually when opening menus, even the ones on the title screen. It gets distracting not knowing if you’ve selected something or if you need to press it again. Overall, Starbase Startopia fares ok on the Switch. As with most management games, when scrolling around or you have a busy screen, there are frame drops, and it will get busy the more you build.

The other versions came with multiplayer and co-op. The Switch misses out, although it may not be the worst. If you want, you can go against the AI as you try and compete against an opponent. You can set different winning conditions based on having the most of something or the best station. If you can’t get enough Starbase or just want to mix it up from free play, it might give you a little more to do.

Starbase Startopia is a fun little alien management game. If you’re after a new management sim, it could be an excellent comfort game. For newcomers to management games, Starbase is a little too alienating, but if you’re just curious how it runs, it runs alright.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Good

+ Plays well on the Switch
+ Difficulty settings make the game more accessible
+ Campaign mode will keep you busy and prepare you for free play

The Bad

- Menus and UI aren’t the most Console friendly
- Button press delays
- The tutorial doesn’t cover anywhere near enough

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Final Thoughts

Starbase Startopia is a fun little alien management game. If you're after a new management sim, it could be an excellent comfort game. For newcomers to management games, Starbase is a little too alienating, but if you're just curious how it runs, it runs alright.

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About The Author
Paul Roberts
Lego enthusiast, Picross Master and appreciator of games.

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