Love, Terran Confederation Style

We all know Blair and Angel, Maniac and Rosie, Catscratch and Sosa... but the conventional wisdom says that Wing Commander is, by its very nature, not the platform for stories about complex romantic relationships. In honor of Valentine's Day 2017, I would like to respong by remembering two relationships from the Wing Commander canon that are a little more nuanced.

Warning: the first is a downer, a great 'could have been.' The first Wing Commander novel, Freedom Flight, introduces us to Lord Ralgha nar Hhallas (the kil who would become Hobbes) and Lady Hassa, the Sivar cult priestess to whom he is oathsworn. We learn that the pair are old friends who grew up together on Hhallas and that they are now prominent citizens: an honored Khantahr (Rear Admiral) commanding a cruiser and a leader of the rebellion fomenting on Ghorah Khar respectively.

Hassa has ordered Ralgha to support her rebellion by defecting, surrendering his Fralthi to the Terrans at Firekka. Ralgha, an abolitionist deeply loyal to Hassa, has agreed though it will mean his explusion from Kilrathi society. In an open air temple in a peaceful, tree-lined Ghorah Kharran city, the two steal a moment to say their goodbyes, each knowing they will never see the other again. Ralgha beautifully summarizes the moment with a profoundly wistful line:

"Sometimes I wonder if we should ever have left our planet, Hassa. We were so happy there as children, we could have stayed there... perhaps I should have claimed you as my mate and bearer of my children when I had the chance. Years ago, before politics and soldiering claimed my life, and the Lord Sivar claimed yours."

But it was never to be: by the time the day is out, Hassa is most likely dead at the hands of Imperial Security and Ralgha is on his way to Firekka, never to return to that childhood home on Hhallas. You can read their entire goodbye in the Freedom Flight preview chapter (originally included with Wing Commander II) here.

Now the good news: our second relationship is a great deal more fun! The year is 2790, and the name of the place is the Tri-System. Lev Arris is on a quest to learn his true identity and make a quick credit... and he's always happy to rescue a damsel in disgress. Melissa Banks, a similarly skilled privateer who is not above a little gun running, has run afoul of the Papogod at Nav 51. Lev flies to the rescue of her Faldari and the result is a romance, a second mission and a series of cutscenes as the two encounter one another through the course of the game.

In a game with a wide range of cutscenes, these personal moments stick out; Clive Owen and Mathilda May have an excellent chemistry and they give the Arris/Banks relationship a wonderful edge. Seeing the two flirting-ly snipe at one another as they seemingly try and completely fail to keep their connection 'casual.' What's more, they seem to be true equals, each an expert pilot and each capable of a great riposte. It feels incredibly genuine... and more realistic than anything else in gaming from that era. Here's the final cutscene in the sequence:

BANKS: Just look at you. I bet you've forgotten.
ARRIS: Forgotten what?
BANKS: Our anniversary.
ARRIS: Our what?
BANKS: It's the anniversary of the very first time we met. When I came out of nowhere and saved your life.
ARRIS: That's not quite how I remember it.
BANKS: Typical man.
ARRIS: Sorry, do I know you?
BANKS: In every conceivable sense.
ARRIS: I mean, your face is familiar, but...
BANKS: Oh, that's a pity, seeing as I just booked a hotel suite with a freefall jacuzzi.
ARRIS: Melissa! Happy anniversary, darling.
BANKS: Do I know you, mister?
ARRIS: Well don't you remember, you saved my life?
BANKS: Somehow, I just can't recall.
ARRIS: We, ah, we met at the Rampant Robot bar, you gave me a cure for dry lips.
BANKS: I did?
ARRIS: Listen, has the suite really got a free-fall Jacuzzi?
BANKS: You bet.

So cute--LEV+MEL 4EVER! You can start the Melissa Banks side-quest by playing with SOS missions on with Disc 2 of the game in the drive. Of course, we couldn't let a Valentine's Day pass without the famous Love Arrow animated GIF!


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Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans. Recent updates:


Music from the Wing Commander Universe
2017-05-27 -- George Oldziey’s Wing Commander Orchestral Recording Volume 2 Kickstarter is off to a great start, raising over 10% of its goal in the first 24 hours! That’s a good sign, meaning it hit one of the key markers KickStarter forecasters use to judge the health of projects. Now it’s our turn to help spread the word and help inform Wing Commander fans about this opportunity.

BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander Orchestral Recording Kickstarter Launched
2017-05-26 -- Wing Commander composer George Oldziey has launched his anticipated Kickstarter campaign! Mr. Oldziey is seeking $45,000 to orchestrate a second album of his Wing Commander music.

Better Red than Dead
2017-05-25 -- It's Throwback Thursday, and today we're throwing two previously-unseen Wing Commander movie set photos into the archive! The first was recently posted to Instagram by one of the extras who played a Confederation Marine in the Wing Commander movie and the second comes to us courtesy of Etienne Braun, the film's set photographer. Both pictures show the Confederation C-524 Space Armor (and C-512 Combat Helmet) which were used for the 'boarding' sequence late in the film.

Electronic Games Reviews Wing Commander
2017-05-24 -- Electronic Games was an American gaming magazine with a broad focus that included both PC and console titles. It's run coincided with much of Wing Commander's active development, and quite a few interesting Origin subjects were covered. This is not a complete list of Electronic Games reviews as several issues have not been scanned...

Follow the Arrow Model
2017-05-23 -- Sci-fi model kit builder Alfred Wong is making something every Wing Commander fan is going to want: a 1/48 scale Arrow model kit! Mr. Wong designs and produces his own model kits covering a variety of awesome sci-fi ships...

Cube 3: Cubanate
2017-05-22 -- As part of my ongoing quest for industrial music tangentially connected to Wing Commander Prophecy, I happened across an interesting description of a CD from a group called Cubanate: "The group has also tried their hand at writing music for video games, the album track "Airport Bar" will appear on the home vid Wing Commander 5 -- Prophecy." Further research indicated that this was part of the album's 'iMuze' description, which has over the years fed it to thousands of eBay auctions, electronic storefronts and other databases.But what was Cubanate and how was it connected to Wing Commander Prophecy?

Video Games Reviews Wing Commander
2017-05-21 -- Let’s close out the week with two more vintage reviews. These are from the difficult-to-Google VideoGames magazine, which covered console gaming in the 1990s. The November 1993 issue (pictured with cover) gave a positive review to Wing Commander: The Secret Missions for the SNES, while the July 1995 issue praised Wing Commander III for the 3DO.

Lazy Game Reviews Covers Wing Commander
2017-05-20 -- Noted YouTube retrogamer Lazy Game Reviews (LGR) has just tackled our favorite: the original Wing Commander! Lazy Game Reviews produces excellent reviews of classic gaming and tech subjects… and this one is no exception. If you need to explain Wing Commander to someone unfamiliar with the series, this is a great way to start.

Kilrathi Warrior Busts Some Skulls
2017-05-19 -- The April 1994 issue of Electronic Entertainment has a short-but-interesting preview of Wing Commander III! It's fascinating to see an article that isn't especially focused on the addition of live action cutscenes... but this scan is most exciting because it includes two early concept sketches for the game: an Excalibur fighter and an initial, somewhat terrifying sketch of a Kilrathi!

End Run Still Coming
2017-05-18 -- Good news for patient Wing Commander eBook readers: the ebook re-release of Wing Commander: End Run (Book #2) is still in the works. In response to an inquiry, Baen replied via Twitter:It's in process, but I don't have a date as yet. We have to work it into the schedule, but keep checking the bundles!

Hakaga to Scale
2017-05-17 -- NinjaLA is BACK... with a herd of cats! Ninja recently tried his hand at drawing a Kilrathi Hakaga-class carrier in the same style as Claw Marks.

Acronym Party: VG&CE on WC2
2017-05-16 -- Video Games & Computer Entertainment was the first outlet to cover the 'making of' a Wing Commander game, with a cover story on the making of the original game (available here.) Today, we're looking at their articles for the second game in the series, Vengeance of the Kilrathi. The first two pages are from the January 1991 issue which reviewed Wing Commander II.

Armada II Mod Returns
2017-05-15 -- It's not uncommon for mods to disappear... so it's also a nice surprise when they come back! Back in 2012, Janos Miklos worked to convert the Star Trek Armada Wing Commander TC to the newer Star Trek Armada II platform.

PC Format on Wing Commander II
2017-05-14 -- PC Format, a UK-based gaming magazine that would go on to have a close relationship with Origin Systems, published their first issue in 1991. Of interest to us, however, is issue 2: the November, 1991 edition of the magazine was absolutely chock full of Wing Commander II. As you can see, Wing Commander II gets a four page review, a picture on the cover and even a letter in their 'Q&A' section.

Here Come the Books!
2017-05-13 -- Surprise: the printed Classic Game Cover Art books the Wing Commander community helped Mike Winterbauer create through his Kickstarter are already printed! Mr. Winterbauer has received the print run and is beginning to ship them out to supporters now.

GOG Weekend Sale Runs the Series
2017-05-12 -- Still holding out on picking up digital copies of the greatest games ever made? It seems unlikely, as you're visiting the Wing Commander community hub in 2017 AD... but just in case, GOG are having another weekly sale that covers the entire Wing Commander series!

Back to The Awakening
2017-05-11 -- Last month, we reported about the history of one of the 'inspired by' tracks on the Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack. Specifically, that the song 'The Awakening' by German electronic group Das Ich was an English-language 'Wing Commander' adaptation of one of their earlier songs. At the time, we noted the English version had only ever been available on the Prophecy soundtrack.

Chasing Saturn
2017-05-10 -- The year is 1995 and it is the height of a pitched battle between console manufacturers. These are Thunderdome rules: five systems enter, one system leaves. The stakes are much greater than just the current generation of console hardware; what happens here will set a course for decades of game development.

EGM: Previews & Cheats
2017-05-09 -- Several weeks ago, we posted a collection of Wing Commander reviews from the heydey of Electronic Games Monthly. Today, we're following that with another two selections of Wing Commander articles. The first is an assortment of previews, which cover Wing Commander and The Secret Missions for the SNES and then Wing Commander 3 for the 3DO and Playstation.

Wing Commander Prophecy Demo Updated
2017-05-08 -- PopsiclePete has a slightly crazy update for us today: he has released a new version of the 1997 Wing Commander Prophecy Demo which fixes a small graphical error. The original demo displayed a small line next to each ship VDU... and with this update, that has been fixed!

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