With NASA's space shuttle program retired, our hopes of getting full-fledged spaceships are diminishing quickly. Will we ever be able to traverse the vast expanses of the universe? Will we ever travel from one corner of the galaxy to the other in an instant? Will we ever make the Kessel Run to see if that Han Solo was lying about being able to make it in under 12 parsecs? Right now, it's not looking promising.
So until we have lightspeed-capable spaceships in real life, we'll have to live out our dreams in videogames. Here are the 7 greatest spaceships in videogame history.
The Normandy is a marvel of engineering, being the only ship in the galaxy capable of stealth flight in space. The Normandy is also a symbol of galactic co-operation, having been jointly designed by once bitter enemies, the humans and turians. But more than any of that, what makes the Normandy is its personality. From the no frills SR-1 in the first game, the sleek and shiny SR-2 in the second to its final iteration in the third as half-gutted, half-upgraded masterpiece, the Normandy mirrors the progress of Shepard and company.
What makes the Normandy so special, though, is not its design, or even its narrative function, what makes the Normandy especially memorable is that, in all three games, the Normandy is Shepard's home. More than a base of operations or a weapon-system, it's home to all the colorful personalities Shepard encounters in the galaxy. It's the one constant in a galaxy quickly spiralling out of control. It isn't just a nifty vehicle or a minor setting; right from the beginning the player knows that that this is their ship and, often, it's all they have.
One quick way to make a spaceship more awesome is to put other spaceships inside it. While the one-man Arwing fighter takes full advantage two complete weapons systems (the standard "pew-pew" lasers and the more powerful charge up "rooooooooo-Kabloey") and can fly even when both of its wings have been blown off, the ship that gets Fox and his squadron of adorable critters in and out of the battle is the Great Fox.
If it weren't for the Great Fox, downed squad mates would have nowhere to retreat to after 5 minutes of combat in each open level. The Arwing may be king in the heat of the moment fights, but the Great Fox is the heart of the Star Fox team. Beyond all that though, the fighter-carrier is also wide and angular enough to make the perfect Super Smash Brothers level. Plus it's piloted by a robot, and the one universal law of all things clearly states that "robots are cool."
The universe is an awfully big place and the speeds required to travel it are incomprehensible. Reaching that velocity requires a deep understanding of motion, so it's no wonder that the alien Nitros Oxide developed an obsession with racing (though why he's particularly fond of go-karting seems more of an earthly convention). His entire spaceship is built like a race track, perfectly suited to cartoonish, arcade racing. Oxide Station is a vessel that simultaneously lives out two dreams deeply embedded in the human psyche: the desire to sail into the stars and the desire to race over speed boosts and fire rockets at animals.
The Vic Viper is most sophisticated star fighter of the arcade and 8- to 16-bit era which is saying a lot, considering that includes that little pixelated guy from Asteroids. The Vic Viper deserves props for not only being capable of annihilating any enemy that comes toward it from the right, but because it can continually be powered up by colliding with the sweet juicy powerups the enemy bacterians leave behind. Gradius rewards the player by making the Vic Viper more and more competent the longer they're able to survive, and by the third installment a slew of different possible loadouts makes the Vic Viper capable of eliminating any world themed-baddie headed directly toward it.