A video game published by Eidos Interactive. The premise of the game is that you have been hired by one of a few different intergalatic organizations (the particular organization varies from scenario to scenario) to setup and maintain a space station which either orbits a planet you aren't very interested in or simply floats freely in space (the game isn't too clear about this). Sounds like Simcity in space, right? Well, like any good game, the Devil's in the details.

Seeing as how you are in space, the, ahem, space you have to build in is rather limited. The space station which you are in charge of is in the shape of a torus. You build along the exterior wall of the station (think bicycle tire, you build along the part that touches the ground). There are three levels, and each has a specific use. Each of the levels is divided into equal sized sections which can either be opened for free, or in later (harder) games, be opened for a small fee. As you open more sections, the curvature of the station becomes more and more apparent. This is really quite neat.

Each of the three levels has a specific use, as I mentioned before. The most basic level of the station is the 'Technology Deck' which houses most of the basic (and vital) functions of your station. One can install housing structures, food dispensing machines, Lavotrons which double as restrooms and showers as well as cargo holds for storing incoming or outgoing goods and Stardocks to allow trade ships to dock. There are about 25-30 different structures which can be constructed on the technology deck and most of them are there to make money, or energy, which is the resource unit in Startopia. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is that some of the most important structures one builds (Recyclers, Factories, Sickbays) require a specific race of alien to work in them. This means that the player has to seek out specific alien races which wander around their station and hire the best candidates (each alien has a rating for loyalty, skill, and dedication). The next deck is the Leisure Deck, which houses all of the recreation facilities on board the station. These range from basic shops to stuff like the Oroflex, a large alien being which swallows customers whole and provides an 'interesting sensation' for a few minutes. The third and arguably most interesting deck is the Biodeck which is basically a big terraformable landscape which can be crafted to the player's specifications. The point of this deck is that the player can hire Karmaraman farmers (think purple Rastafari) who will try to raise whatever will grow in the environment you have provided. Once the plants have grown to maturity they can be harvested and will provide goods, depending upon what type of plant. The trick is only certain types of plant will grow in certain environments so it can be an interesting challenge to harvest specific crops. Also, the races of aliens that populate the station will enjoy spending time on the Biodeck, but certain races perfer certain climates to relax in. My favorite feature of the Biodeck is the race of monks who, when hired, will construct massive pillars and structures to worship at. I also enjoy the fact that they can walk on water.

Well that's just about all one can gleam from a text description of a game without actually playing. There are, however, many other facets of the game which I can't do justice to here, like the incredibly entertaining trade system and the combat/security systems. If you want to, you can convert your space station into a floating penal colony. This game is varied and interesting that it's hard not to find something to like.