There is no image in science-fiction more endearing and perhaps even optimistic than that of the spaceship. Even more enthralling than the tech fantasy such a craft embodies is its promise of exploration, the fantasy of allowing us to zip around galaxies and see sights beyond our comprehension. The freedom to push against frontiers in search of new, bold experiences was a huge part of the appeal in what’s probably the greatest spaceship in fiction, Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.
But enough about The Enterprise. Let’s talk about the best spaceships that were introduced in games and why they’re so fantastic.
1. Normandy, Mass Effect
So great they made it again after the first one got blown up. Probably the most famous star ship in contemporary games, The Normandy is the vessel that Commander Shepard and their crew use to try and save the universe. It’s sleek, has a top-notch stealth system, a sassy AI controlling its systems and it’s also spacious enough for a fancy bar so crew members can escape the void of outer space by getting drunk off their asses.
2. Airwing, Star Fox
Nintendo’s answer to the X-Wing. Star Fox’s ship is a deadly little fighter capable of zooming in and out of tight spaces while shooting down foes and doing barrel rolls to avoid incoming enemy fire. Too bad the ship doesn’t come with a mute button so you can shut Peppy up when he starts squawking unwanted advice at you.
3. Samus’s Ship, Metroid
Samus’s ship doesn’t technically have a name, so let’s just call it “Helmet” because well, look at it. You don’t actually get to use the it that much in the series but somehow its design manages to balance “goofy as hell” and “stylish” perfectly so that you can’t help but remember it. Plus, it’s a giant helmet flying through space. What’s not to love about that?
4. The Pelican, Halo
The Pelican is a gunship in Halo that’s used mostly during assault missions on various planets to drop off troops and provide support. It’s more or less the dropship from Aliens with a few cosmetic adjustments. The Pelican’s also capable of some space flight, delivering troops to bomb stations. Yet another techno-rugged expression of military bravado in a genre filled with them, but the occasions in which the Pelican is used (and Halo’s own tendency to slide back and forth between deadly seriousness and self-deprecation) have made it one of the most memorable ships in videogames.
5. Unnamed Ship, Asteroids
Ah yes, one of the big ones. The first one. The unnamed one. Asteroids had you playing as a pilot in a small fighter ship shooting down asteroids that came flying out of the edges of the screen. There’s not really much going for the ship beyond the fact that it was the first one in a really popular video game since there’s no real story to Asteroids but we are talking about an arcade game from 1979 and sometimes just being first is enough.