Star Trek: The Next Generation
What better way to end my Star Trek retro gaming review trilogy but with a Picard game?
Yes, this week I’ll be looking at Star Trek: The Next Generation (Future’s Past), on the Sega Genesis. And after that unreleased Star Trek V NES game, I gotta say, it’s been a breath of fresh air.
For one thing, there’s about 12,000 more things to do in this game. You can actually go around the Enterprise and get involved in every single aspect of it, whether it’s modifying settings in the engineering room…
… or surfing that darned Computer…
… the game sure keeps you busy.
Like Star Trek V, you get to play as most of the classic crew, but unlike Star Trek V, here you can actually differentiate between them!
Ok, they look a bit weird…
But for 16-bit, what do you expect?!
Besides, you can’t deny the raw POWER of that Picard close-up:
Actually, the cool thing about this game is that each character has their own unique “thing” and you use them according to what they can do best. Data’s good at pretty much everything, Worf’s not very technical, Geordi can see in the dark…
Like that 25th Anniversary game, it really feels like those who designed the game knew a lot about the series and set out to honour and respect the show as much as possible. I mean, after all, the real strength of every Star Trek series is usually its characters, its core crew, so if you get them right, that’s half the job done right there.
I like how you also get a bunch of “red shirts” to use however you see fit. They’re completely expendable and boring (their looks modelled after the game’s developers, I believe) so you don’t have to lose a worthy character pointlessly.
Bye bye, whoever you are/were.
Plot-wise, the game relies heavily on a macguffin, a device called the IFD (Integrated Field Derandomizer), which sounds like it belongs in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and is at the centre of space race relations. Picard and co. are tasked with resolving the political tensions between those pesky Romulans and another bunch of weird-looking aliens before the Federation is destroyed and everything goes down the tubes.
Ok, the plot won’t change your life but it works. It’s very Next Generation, if you know what I mean.
(part-boring, part-involving, part-whaaaa?!)
In order to figure out what steps to take in your mission, you find out information from the crew and literally do your homework. The bridge is surprisingly interactive and although sometimes you might get a bit confused as to what it is you’re actually meant to be doing next, it’s still fun to take advantage of the game’s detailed gameplay. That said, more impatient gamers might just end up screwing around, interviewing Data over and over until he says something silly.
Sadly, they haven’t given Data his own useless subplot, clone or emotion chip to pepper the game with good-old fashioned groan-inducing nonsense.
Luckily, that’s why we have the movies!
Unfortunately, you don’t get to fly the Enterprise this time around, though when it goes in “Combat Mode” you get to control it during battle, but at least you get a better sense of what makes the ship tick, how it works, etc. Hell, by the end of the game you could probably teach a course on how to operate the bloody thing!
That’s maybe the only gripe I have with this game: it’s almost TOO detailed.
I mean, I love going to meetings with Riker and the gang as much as the next guy but…
Really, I think it’s cool that Star Trek games in general try to master the technical aspect of the Enterprise’s inner workings but sometimes you just want to be a dude firing phasers at other bizarre-looking dudes. Which, granted, is something you can do in this game but wouldn’t you have liked an entire game of Data just battling automatons Halo-style?
I know I would have!
So that’s all good but a lot of the time the tech stuff gets in the way of the action. Luckily, that stuff is interesting and detailed so it’s still enjoyable in its own way. Visually, the game looks fine, a bit odd at times but overall it works, going for a much less cartoonish approach than the two aforementioned games I reviewed recently.
Gameplay-wise there’s plenty of variety: it’s an adventure game which encompasses POV battles, side-scrolling, point-and-click, problem-solving, puzzles…
It tries to be as interactive and as rewarding as possible and frankly, it does a good job.
It’s one of the best Next Generation games I’ve played and I would say it’s certainly worth checking it out, even the SNES version which has its share of differences both good and bad, pure TNG Trekkies should lap it up. Others will be a tad perplexed by screens like these:
But will find plenty there to have fun with nonetheless.
As Star Trek: Into Darkness approaches, I hope this Trek-themed trilogy of reviews (as well as my colleagues’ own reviews) have opened your eyes somewhat to how good and how not-so-good Star Trek games out there can be. Like the movies, they’re rarely mind-blowingly amazing but whether they’re good or a bit crappy, they’re always charming.
Now time for me to set a course for my own blog to try and review whatever Star Trek Voyager games I have lying around…
Data, activate RAINBOW WARP.