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The curious case of Stargate games - where are the good ones?

FeatureNov 17, 2017 at 3:38a PSTby Hank

The curious case of Stargate games - where are the good ones?

The Stargate franchise seems to have every feature required for a great sci-fi game. So why are there no good games based on the adventures of SG-1 and will anything change in the future?

Wormholes allowing humans to travel to other planets? Check. Powerful aliens trying to destroy the human civilization? Check. Conspiracy theories turning out to be true? Check! And finally: likeable characters and a thrilling story keeping you on the edge of your seat? Also check! So what could possibly go wrong with creating video games based on such a strong and entertaining franchise? The example of Stargate shows us that, well, pretty much everything.

A long time ago in a galax… oh, sorry. It actually all started back in the 1920s, in Egypt

Back in 1994 science fiction fans around the world were amazed to experience (yes, this is the right word; not watch, not see – experience) Stargate movie directed by Roland Emmerich. The movie told the story of an ancient artifact discovered in Egypt, which had baffled the scientists for nearly an entire century. This artifact was, in fact, one of the many Stargates scattered all over the galaxy allowing their creators (and others after them) to travel between numerous worlds.

This is how the adventure began. An iconic scene from the movie Stargate (1994). - 2017-11-18
This is how the adventure began. An iconic scene from the movie Stargate (1994).

The movie became so popular that the story was used as a foundation for the TV series called Stargate SG-1. The series focused on a group of soldiers and scientists who used the Stargate on Earth to travel across the galaxy and discover the secrets of long forgotten civilizations. Throughout their adventures, the chief characters had to fight the ultimate menace in the form of the Goa’uld and the Ori, and finally, discover the origins of human race. This, on the other hand, became the foundation for a spin-off series called Stargate: Atlantis. There is also the last series called Stargate: Universe. However, this is where things started to go in a slightly disturbing direction, and after two seasons the show was canceled. Shame.

Let’s make a video game out of this beauty!

One might think that the formula delivered by the movie together with the TV series might be perfect for a video game. Allow me to skip all the pinball and Tetris-like games, which only implemented certain graphics from the TV series. Fans wanted (and still want, I hope) much more! Imagine, for example, a first-person shooter game, in which you can put on the iconic uniform with a distinct “SG-1” patch sewn on its sleeve and go through the Stargate to complete multiple missions in order to save the planet and discover the secrets hidden in the deep space. Developers from Perception Pty had exactly that idea in mind and began working on it. Fans were holding their breaths in anicipation as the studio revealed new conceptual art, gameplay screens, 3D models they were designing, and much more regarding Stargate SG-1: The Alliance. The game was to tell the story of the titular alliance between the Goa’uld System Lord Anubis and Haaken – a representative of an entirely new race created exclusively for the game. Unfortunately, in 2005 the game was canceled, and due to unclear legal circumstances of the video game license, it will not be completed. Shame for the second time.

Stargate SG-1: The Alliance was supposed to allow the players to participate in thrilling missions as a member of the SG-1 team.
Stargate SG-1: The Alliance was supposed to allow the players to participate in thrilling missions as a member of the SG-1 team.

Since an FPS game set in the Stargate universe did not work out, maybe it would be a good idea to create an MMORPG, where players could travel between different planets, fight aliens, form alliances, and immerse themselves in the atmosphere even deeper than it could be possible in a more linear game. Stargate Worlds promised exactly that. Let me see… A third-person shooter in which I can jump right in the middle of an interstellar war among such races as Tok’ra, Asgard, and Goa’uld, meet other Stargate fans, and again, wear the aforementioned patch on my arm? Count me in! Nearly every fan of the franchise was waiting for this game to be released. After the cancellation of Stargate SG-1: The Alliance nothing could go wrong, right? Right?!

Yet again, the Stargate franchise was deprived of a decent video game adaptation. This time, however, the reason was much different – the former CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment (the company responsible for developing the game) had allegedly taken part in some illegal undertakings, resulting in the company filing for bankruptcy in 2010. Double shame. Seriously, guys.

This is what Stargate: Worlds was supposed to look like at launch. - 2017-11-18
This is what Stargate: Worlds was supposed to look like at launch.

Third time’s the charm

This is the proverb that people use when they fail to accomplish something. And I have to admit that it is somewhat true regarding the third attempt to create a major Stargate game. Stargate Resistance, as it was called, is an online third-person shooter developed by Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and published by Firesky back in 2010. Have you already made the connection that 2010 was not a very good year for this developer? Because of this, Firesky asked Dark Comet Games to support the game and deliver new content. Fans could step into the shoes of either Stargate Commando soldiers or the System Lords’ Jaffa warriors and, together with a team (up to 16 players), fight in five multiplayer modes. Did I say “fans could enjoy”? Sure. For a year. In 2011 all the servers, together with the extensive game-related forum, were shut down, never to be reopened. Sad, but true.

We’ll do it ourselves, ok?

Some members of the gaming community decided not to wait for an official Stargate game. In 2007, StarCry mod for Crysis was published, and until this day it is available for download for free from multiple sources. This mod implements numerous weapons, dialogue lines, 3D models, textures, and missions (constituting a campaign lasting up to 8 hours) inspired by multiple science fiction movies, TV series, games, and novels. Stargate fans can enjoy the Stargate Command location and the Stargate itself; however, the full immersion can be interrupted by lightsabers (there are no lightsabers in the Stargate universe!) and references to other major sci-fi franchises. Nonetheless, better a bare foot than none, don’t you think?

In StarCry you can even use the iconic Jaffa Staff to kill your foes while shouting: “Die, Shol’va!”. Pretty neat. - 2017-11-18
In StarCry you can even use the iconic Jaffa Staff to kill your foes while shouting: “Die, Shol’va!”. Pretty neat.

A curse?

With all the misery and failures surrounding Stargate video games, there is one game that was meant to appease all the fans. Stargate SG-1: Unleashed is an adventure FPS game developed for mobile devices, which allows players to assume the roles of the original characters known from the SG-1 TV series. The main objective of the game is to thwart Sekhmet's plans to destroy Earth by completing a series of missions. Developed by MGM in cooperation with Arkalis Interactive, the game was released in two episodes back in 2013. Those who were lucky enough to download the game after its release can enjoy it until this day; however, the aforementioned developers have gone out of business and (yes, you’ve got that right) canceled all the episodes that were supposed to follow. Also, the already released episodes were deleted from app stores due to some legal issues. Unbelievable!

A glimpse of hope…

My dear fellow Stargate fans, do not mourn, as there is still a bit of hope left. At least, in my opinion. In an attempt to revive the franchise, Metro Goldwyn Meyer Studios announced a new TV series titled Stargate: Origins, which, after its release in the fall of 2017, is going to comprise 10 episodes telling the story of how the Stargate was found and what threats were already waiting for humans to be discovered. This announcement from 2017’s San Diego Comic Con caused quite a stir in the Stargate fandom around the world. After a series of mishaps, cancellations, bankruptcies, and poor content, the fans are simply concerned about the quality of the new show. Let us hope that the new TV series is good enough to live up to the Stargate legend, and hopefully, it will give us all a good Stargate game. Also, the option to play as Jack O’Neill would be nice… just saying!