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Star Trek: The Motion Picture Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Star Trek: The Motion Picture Star Trek: The Motion Picture Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Review Score:

  • B
Some movie licenses are just baffling. Why go to the trouble of getting the license to a movie just to apply it to a game that has almost nothing to do with it? To be fair, I'm sure that even the most die-hard Trekker wouldn't want a game that's truly based on the first Star Trek film, often called "The Slow Motion Picture" or "The Motion-Less Picture" for good reason. Although I am more forgiving of TMP than many people, I do acknowledge that there is NOTHING in the film that could make for a compelling game, especially in the early 80's when games had to stay simple due to technological limitations. Fortunately, GCE didn't try to force their Vectrex game to try to match the movie, making the game the better of the two.

The Vectrex was a unique specimen when it released in 1982. Unlike other systems which used sprites for game images, the Vectrex had a monitor on the system to display vector graphics which was the closest games could get to 3D at the time; the Atari 5200 could only fudge it. Some of the greatest arcade games of the era like Asteroids and Star Wars used vector graphics. Unfortunately, the advanced technology didn't help to sell enough Vectrex systems at the time to escape the Video Game Crash, and now it's just a mostly forgotten piece of history.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Vectrex)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The game may have had the title "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" on the box, the cartridge, and the screen overlay, but it's only called "Star Trek" on the title screen which is much more accurate to the game itself. The game was more complex than was common in 1982, making for one of the more interesting games of the era. You're put in a first-person perspective, and your goal is simply to blast Klingon and Romulan ships. However, there's more to it than that. Your photon torpedoes are limited, but you can resupply at the space station present in every stage. You have shields that can repel enemy shots if timed right, but the timing has no leeway. In all the attempts I made, I think I only successfully deflected shots with my shields about a half-dozen times. If you find a warp conduit, you can jump straight to the Klingon mothership; defeat it, and you restart at Sector 1 with higher difficulty. Locking on to the space station is painfully precise as is hitting the weak point on the mothership. The game can be as frustrating as an 80's arcade game, but it was also very addicting.

The graphics show off what the Vectrex could do. The ships and space station have a clean look that only vector graphics could do at the time though the shatter effect used when something is destroyed looks a little rough. The sound effects are simple but all work well. One annoying factor is not a problem with the game but with the Vectrex itself. There's a loud buzzing that comes out the speaker that changes pitch with each on screen change. Why wasn't there shielding between the screen and speaker? It's almost as annoying as the feedback one hears when a microphone is put too close to a speaker. Thankfully, the buzzing is only really prominent on the short text screens.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture on the Vectrex may have strayed at least a parsec from the movie, but it's still a fun little shooter. It may be as tough as trying to arm wrestle a Klingon, but it's also as addicting as Saurian Brandy. It may not be worth hunting down a Vectrex for it, but it's worth getting if you already own one. Kirk would approve.
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