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Star Thrust Racers is designed as a risk-taking, nail-biting, quick-setup, fast-playing sci-fi racing game. Players do not have to wait long for their turn to move or to resolve combat. The basics are obvious, the first racer to traverse the racecourse and cross the finish line wins, although this is not as easy as it may first appear especially since your opponents are determined to beat you at almost any cost.

At the start of the game, players are assigned engine systems by the various corporate sponsors. Players choose one of these to be installed into their Space Racer. Every engine system is unique, offering both advantages and disadvantages. Players may modify their racers with various weapon systems, along with cheat devices, keeping in mind that getting caught with such devices will result in instant disqualification from the race. As a result, cheating usually takes place far from the public's eye or sensors. Despite first appearances, there are various strategies that give players an edge. Luck, although present, isn't as prevalent as one may think. Survival is not guaranteed, although fame is if you win the race.

There are five different weapon systems in the game and a large number of corporate cheat devices. You may choose whichever weapon systems you feel will give you the best chances of winning, while corporate cheat devices are given to you, under the table, by the various sponsoring corporations. Weapon systems have their strengths and weaknesses so choose the one, or ones, that best match your strategy.

All racecourses follow specified routes marked out by navigation beacons (Nav-Beacons). You must pass these beacons in accordance with the rules, in their proper sequential order, or you will be disqualified. Navigation beacons and space stations have sensors, so cheating within the range of these sensors is prohibited. If caught you will be disqualified and immediately shut down and removed from the race. Remember to always cheat responsibly.

All racecourses have asteroid fields incorporated into their designs. The asteroids within these fields are always moving, which means there isn't always going to be a clear, safe channel through an asteroid field for your space racer to move through. This is where your skill as a pilot comes to the forefront and why you are being paid the big bucks. Audiences love this part of these heavily televised events. Don't disappoint the audience. Fly to impress.

Oddly, despite the dangers involved, fate often sides with the pilot who shows the least amount of fear and common sense. The winning pilot is often the bravest soul who throws caution to the solar winds, and, of course, plays up to the audience. Televised ratings support this philosophy, as do the various sponsoring corporations and all those who are betting on the race. In the end, it is all about the ratings, and if you win, you will be highly rewarded. Play hard, win big.