The challenge is that Star Control is really five games. Let's walk through that:
Game #1: A planet exploration game. You could make an entire game around Star Control's planet exploration concept.
Game #2: A galaxy exploration game. Space is big. In fact, some say the universe has hundreds, perhaps even thousands of stars. In Star Control's case, the galaxy has over ten-thousand planets out there.
Game #3: An adventure game. This is the meat of the game. Going on quests, getting an interesting story to drive you to new objectives is what, ultimately, ties the game together. Without the alien adventure game, Star Control would just be some game where you explore a big galaxy full of planets to land on to get resources to upgrade your ship to get to the next planet. And who would want that? ...
Game #4: The combat game. Super Melee. This is where you battle with other ships that have unique weapons and defenses. It's an action game.
Game #5: It's an RPG. You are the captain. You have a ship. The ship is, ultimately, your character. Your allies are your party. You level up, get equipment to upgrade your ship so it's better and more interesting.