Part 4: Armed ReconnaissancePart 4: Armed Reconnaissance
No fancy flying this time, I'm afraid. This time we're going to be brutally abusing savestates and game resets to map as much of the Galaxy as we can reach.
We've encountered four Quadrants, so far:
This is where we start. We've explored every exit from here.
South of Home Quadrant. Loads of guys here. The East exit is blocked and we don't know how to reach it yet. We haven't explored the South exit yet.
East and west of Home Quadrant. We have access to the North and South exits but we haven't checked those out either.
This quadrant is divided in two, and we've made it to both halves, but never fully traversed either. The wormhole is reachable from either half but warps us to the middle of the lower half.
This is where we stopped our exploration, last time. Let's go back there, skip the wormhole, and head north.
Another split quadrant, like Crimson. There's a nice juicy Zylon planet to raid and we can refuel here if we want. In so doing, we can discover that the Wormhole in the upper half actually moves back and forth. If we want to traverse the upper path we may need to wait around for the privilege, because it will occasionally block the way.
Fighting our way through the Kogalon Star Pirates and Cobra Fleet, though, reveals that flying west from Brown Quadrant dumps us back in Home Quadrant. South, West, North, West is thus a loop. This also means that it's a solid bet that the wormhole in the upper half will take you into this useless lower half.
Feh. Let's go check the other exit in Crimson Quadrant we can reach. North from Home Quadrant takes us to Crimson and gives us easy access to the west exit:
From here we can fight our way through three Flagship fleets, or try our luck with the wormhole. Turns out the wormhole dumps you in the upper right sector, which means you have a clear shot to the west exit...
... which takes you to the Eastern section of Teal Quadrant. Nothing there but a Zylon Planet, and now you have to slog all the way back through those Flagship fleets as your only way back. You'll probably end up losing the life you earned just to fuel issues on the way backthe Federation worlds in Teal and Crimson are inaccessible on this route and Grey doesn't even have one. You have to go all the way back to Home if you want to refuel.
So that's a sucker's game. So, for that matter, is going south from Teal, which dumps you into the Northern section of Grey Quadrant, where the only thing you can do is turn back.
That leaves the North and South exits from Red Quadrant. It turns out those both lead to the same place.
There are a ton of enemies here and we can't actually reliably defend the Federation world, because Federation planets block your passage just like wormholes do, which means that it's blocking our path to the fleet that is the greatest threat to it. Our best hope is to wait around for the assault and then rescue it. Fortunately for them, that's pretty likely to happen as we fight our way to the next exit.
North and south exits here lead back to Red Quadrant, and we can't reach the east exit because the wormhole's in the way. West from Lime is our only option for progress.
That actually puts us in the upper part of Brown Quadrant. We've got some fights here, and we also may have to wait for that wormhole to get out of our way, since it does, in fact, rocket us back down to the lower half. That done, however, we can head north to somewhere new.
This quadrant is the worst. We arrive from the south, which is inoffensive enough. The Wormhole leads to the upper part, which is also fine, because it turns out that we're going to need to go east from here to proceed. But to get to that eastern exit, we have to blast through the Zylon world and the Kogalon star pirates, and both of them are on exits that will throw us out of the quadrant into the west and north exits, both of which are dead ends. (The west exit leads to Lime Quadrant East, and the north one leads to Grey Quadrant South.) Both have a Zylon world to raid for a 1-up, so that, at least, is nice. We can top up on lives.
Well. Grey Quadrant South isn't quite a dead end. It's got a wormhole that will dump you into the central meat grinder of Grey Quadrant, far away from refuel or repair and with a massive gauntlet of enemies to endure to have a prayer of reaching them. We've already seen that Grey Quadrant isn't where you want to be.
But it's our last chance to remain in this half of the game. There's a solid wall of asteroids isolating us in the upper half of Purple Quadrant, and in going east we cross the Galactic Rubicon.
This truly is the point of no return: the western exit is blocked by a starfield, and every entrance in the known galaxy has already been accounted for. The only way back to the stars we know will be if one of these quadrant exits happens to dump us in an earlier area the way Brown Quadrant West did.
There is no longer time for doubts, and no longer any use for second thoughts.