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Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 57%
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
I remember a lot of buzz in 2001 about how Sega was abandoning the Dreamcast and reverting to a third-party publisher. While it was surprising for many people who were gamers during the Genesis vs. Super Nintendo era, older gamers like me remember that Sega was a third-party publisher in the early 80's before the release of the Sega Master System. Sega games had a presence on the Atari consoles, the Intellivision, and the Colecovision, mostly with their arcade ports. In fact, they released a Star Trek arcade game just in time to capitalize on the theatrical release of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, one of the greatest movies of all time (and much more fitting for a game than the first film). That game got ported to the second gen consoles as Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator, and the Atari 5200 version was a strong console port of an average arcade game.

The arcade original which was inspired by the Kobayashi Maru test at the beginning of Star Trek 2 grabbed a lot of attention with the vocal samples from Spock and Scotty and the colorful vector graphics. The 5200 couldn't do either of those things but did provide serviceable substitutions. The sound design was strong with great sound effects and a good if basic rendering of the Star Trek theme. In place of the vector graphics are some very large and well-drawn sprites, some of the best I'd seen on the 5200. The game looks and sounds great.

Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (Atari 5200)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, the impressive window dressing serves a game that is merely okay. Like with Rock Band or Guitar Hero, the impressive visuals are largely ignored in favor of focusing on one part of the screen. In this case, I had to focus at least 80% of my attention on the radar to navigate to the Klingon ships and NOMAD probes I had to destroy. I only got to see the impressive ship designs for a couple seconds before destroying them with the phasers. The controls are decent although mapping the warp drive to down on the joystick makes little sense, especially since it could've easily been mapped to the keypad. Docking with the space stations to restore shields is as easy as flying through them, no frustrating locking-on like in the Vectrex game. There are stages involving navigating through asteroids to break up the monotony. The gameplay isn't bad at all but not great, either.

Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator is wrongly named. There is no strategy here. It's a very average shooter with the added benefit of the targets being Klingons. I have played worse, but I've also played better in the second gen. While the performance was by the book, this was a no-win scenario.
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