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Top 10 space games

In honour of the announcement of Star Citizen, we've listed our favourite space games



The first console game on this list, Lylat Wars was better known as Star Fox 64 in the US – it was a complete reboot of the original SNES game, which saw captain Fox McCloud pilot his Arwing through space to defeat Andross, an evil scientist bent on interstellar domination. Back in 1997 when space games were more mainstream than they are today, Lylat Wars was the second best selling N64 game of that year, only falling behind Mario Kart 64.

Starfox 64
yes they were cute, but when you were told to “Do a Barrel Roll!” you DID A BARREL ROLL

Although much of the game played out in a “corridor mode” which saw you fly on a set course, the open-world “All-range mode” gave you full control. These missions were easily the best part of the single-player game, and were sensibly chosen for the multiplayer component too, letting you take on your friends in space combat. It was an absolute blast.


One of the best things about space is the sheer scale of it makes it ripe for exploration. The X games nail this with their sandbox approach, letting you drop in and out of the main quest as and when you please to go off on a spot of asteroid mining, bandit hunting or simply taking in the view. Almost every ship seen in the game can be bought or captured, then flown by the player, so you’re free to choose your own path as a frigate, assault ship or speedy scout.

It helps that the game is gorgeous too, thanks to a completely redesigned graphics engine. There are over 150 different sectors of space to explore, with countless side missions, factories to establish, races to trade with and enemies to fight. The developers even set up a scripting tool that lets players add their own content to the game, effectively meaning you’ll never run out of new content. It’s one of the biggest games on this list, and you can easily get lost inside it.


The seminal space flight, combat and strategy game, Elite was not only a massive hit when it was released in 1984 on BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers, but is easily one of the most influential games of all time. It was ported to almost every computer platform under the sun and inspired later titles from Space Rogue to Eve Online.

You started with a simple, underpowered ship, a small cargo hold and minimal money. Your only objective was to survive and then prosper in a hostile wire-frame universe. You’ll spend much of your time trading everything from computer equipment to wine, but the game’s open, randomly generated universe also pits you against pirates and lets you turn your hand to tasks as varied as diplomacy and mining.

If you want a taste of the Elite legend, co-author Ian Bell has made a variety of versions that’ll run on popular emulators available for free. It may feel a bit dated now, but how many space games can say they spawned a musical?

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