Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Star Trek 25th Anniversary For GameBoy Is Antiquated!

The Good: Fun, Can be won
The Bad: Not exactly the reason to buy a Game Boy, Overly simple
The Basics: A weird, fun video game, Star Trek 25th Anniversary for Game Boy featured cheesy graphics and a contrived concept, but it is fun and victory is reasonably attainable.

To try to diversify with my reviews, I decided to go back to my young adulthood and consider the Star Trek 25th Anniversary video game for Game Boy.

It's an old Game Boy game, so the graphics are pretty primitive, but it's a lot of fun anyway.


Star Trek 25th Anniversary was, appropriately enough, a Game Boy game which was released to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek in 1991. When Game Boy upgraded to color systems, Nintendo fell back on the stalwart Star Trek audience to rebuy the game for the new color system. The colors did not enhance the game in any significant way and the game is identical to the original Game Boy version of the 25th Anniversary game. There was a PC Star Trek 25th Anniversary video game, but whether or not that was identical to the Game Boy game, I have no direct experience to comment on.

The Game Boy Star Trek 25th Anniversary game was a mix of a role play Star Trek video game experience (3rd person perspective) and a starship combat video game. As a result, controls varied based on which portion of the game one was playing, but essentially the starship section scrolled from left to right and the planetbound human movement portion of the game had a greater range of motion.


Set in the universe of Star Trek (reviewed here!) during the time period of the original series, Star Trek 25th Anniversary opens with an animated exposition that has Captain Kirk being told that a new Doomsday Machine has entered the Alpha Quadrant and it must be stopped before it destroys Earth. The player, as Captain Kirk, must take the Enterprise through the Alpha Quadrant to recover pieces of a special weapon StarFleet created in order to combat the Doomsday Machine, if it ever resurfaced. Unfortunately, the weapon is in many pieces on several planets and while StarFleet has a general idea of which planets the pieces are on, Captain Kirk must risk the U.S.S. Enterprise and himself to recover the pieces before it is too late!

As the Enterprise soars through space, it encounters asteroid fields and the irritated forces of Romulans, Klingons and Tholians who do not want the Enterprise retrofitted with a weapon that can take on the Doomsday Machine. On some planets, Kirk encounters hostile forces, but he races to get the weapon together and encounter the Doomsday Machine before time runs out!

Game Progression

Star Trek 25th Anniversary for Game Boy follows two basic playing modes: starship and human, with a few interstitial updates placed between the different mission phases. It begins with a starship map which illustrates the current position of the Enterprise and planets that are suspected to have pieces of the anti-Doomsday Machine weapon. As one navigates on the basic map, the Enterprise encounters obstacles which activate the starship game. Journeys from planet to planet are remarkably linear.

In the starship game, players adjust shields, fire phasers and try to keep the ship from being blown out of the stars by obstacles like asteroids and enemy ships. The game varies in that section from a spatial map which has the starship Enterprise attempting to navigate around the known galaxy until it encounters obstacles, like enemy ships or asteroid fields. When an obstacle is met, the game goes from a map field to a side view of the Enterprise cruising through space. The Enterprise is located on screen left with the game scrolling to the right. Enemy ships approach from the right and the Enterprise must dodge, destroy and speed by ships and asteroids. The irksome thing about this element of the game is that because it is a side view of the Enterprise in space conflicts, up and down arrows on the Game Boy cause the Enterprise to pitch awkwardly and it is impossible to avoid obstacles by traveling in the third dimension (i.e. instead of going above or below oncoming asteroids, go around them laterally as they try to hit the ship straight on). One gets used to this, though, and the game is fun as one has to deal with Romulan ships decloaking abruptly, Klingon ships firing on the Enterprise and Tholian ships launching shield-draining mines or building their webs!

Surviving each side-scrolling starship section puts the player back on the starship map until their ship effectively reaches the next designated planet. When that happens, Captain Kirk beams down and the player must move him around a field to find the piece of the weapon that was left on the planet. Using his tricorder, Kirk scans local objects and learns about them. So, for example, he learns quickly (one hopes) to avoid spike-shooting flowers which will kill him or spores that make him impossible to control. On several of the planets, Kirk encounters alien obstacles like Klingons and hortas which he must avoid or shoot in order to move beyond. Unlike the starship portion of the game which scrolls and forces the player to move in a very specific way, the planet-portion of the game is a top-view of Kirk and he has full range of motion around the planets. If he encounters a door, he can go into buildings or walk around paths, but finding the pieces of the weapon is very much up to the player with clues from the tricorder. The key is staying alive long enough to find the piece on the planet.

The planetbound section of the game has more of a role play feel to it, but because of the limited amount of information from the tricorder and support from the ship (every now and then there's a ìyou're getting warmerî clue or ìyou're taking too much time, focus already!î reminder) the player has to use their own intelligence to figure out how to survive and find the weapon piece. As soon as Kirk find the weapon piece, the Enterprise beams him back up and he commands the Enterprise to the next location on the star map.


The Star Trek 25th Anniversary game was designed for the Game Boy gaming system, so the effects are ridiculously simple and as a result, players who are used to more sophisticated systems will likely find this laughable. The Game Boy screen is comprised of noticeable pixels (at least, it was when this game came out). As a result, the starship map section of the game has the graphic simplicity of a military schematic. The Enterprise is a white symbol (recognizable as the only white thing on the small screen) that offsets the black of the space map with planets and other phenomenon being obviously colored, but planets are basically simple circles on the map.

The best graphics, ironically, are for the interstitial moments of the game. When StarFleet calls the Enterprise or Kirk beams up or down from a planet, the storytelling graphic takes up the complete screen and while the dialogue has to be read, the images are recognizably of characters like Kirk and the set of the Enterprise Bridge.

The generally poor graphics quality resumes for the space battle section. I recall the asteroids looking cool and like asteroids floating through space and colliding with the side-view Enterprise. But the Tholian mines were little white diamonds that flung around the screen and they looked silly. Similarly, the planet-bound role-playing scenarios were animated more blockish and pixilated than the Final Fantasy Game Boy games I played at the time. Still, it was always a big step up from my old Atari games!

The sound effects, to be fair, were accurate to the sound effects on the original Star Trek. The game sounded like Star Trek and things like phasers firing and the like worked well to create the effect of the Star Trek universe. And the game could be beaten; it was the only game outside the Game Boy Final Fantasy games I ever completed of any video game or computer game!


In addition to being the only video game (outside Final Fantasy games for Game Boy), Star Trek 25th Anniversary was also the only video game of its kind that I ever went back and played after I defeated the obstacles. Like Tetris or games like that, the space battle portion of this game is fun to revisit when stressed, just to have something to blow up or take one's mind off serious things. While the overall game and the planetbound portions might replay poorly, the space battle section was fun and random-seeming enough to allow the player to revisit the game even after they had defeated it.


The Star Trek 25th Anniversary Game Boy game might be campy, but it was fun and there was enough to it that I enjoyed it when I was a teenager. Now, though, it is very much out of date and considering that I am reviewing it in 2010 instead of 1991, I have to consider current standards relative to what this game actually is. As a result, I am acknowledging that this is a drastically below average game for gamers today, but my friends tend to be Star Trek fans and if any of them had a Game Boy system, I would recommend this to them.

For other game reviews, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Lord Of The Rings Pinball
Star Wars White Border Premiere CCG
The Lord Of The Rings RISK


For other toy and game reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment