Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
This is my first time with Interplay’s TOS-set point and click adventure game since the 90s. I was braced for awful things. I was wrong. It’s still rather lovely – and, if the Abramsverse leaves you pining for the more measured approach of the Roddenberry years, rest assured that this is very Star Trek indeed.
When I played it back on my 486, I played the floppy disk version – which meant no voices. Today, I played the later CD-ROM version, replete with the familiar tones of the original cast. The audio of this game is beautiful, even if a couple of the actors clearly sound as though they’re reading from a script (although what’s new there?). The hum of the bridge, retro bleeps and pews, famous themes rendered in surprisingly appropriate MIDI … It’s so, so Star Trek.
I’m impressed by quite how much such an early, basic thing bit off too: you’re straight into space combat when it begins, with shield and phaser controls, on-the-fly Scotty repairs, all sorts. Most of the buttons on my keyboard have a specific function attached. It’s crude and it’s a long way from the full simulation of the contemporary TIE Fighter, but it works. And it feels like those abrupt, silly but wonderful TOS dogfights too.
Hell, you even have to consult a star map in the manual (or a JPEG provided with the GOG version) to locate your next planet. Proper retro sci-fi.
On the ground, there are the usual irritations of adventure games, object hunting and lateral thinking and inventory-filling and trial and error, which gets in the way of the flow of what is otherwise akin to a fairly solid animated episode of Star Trek. There are tons of delightful little touches which lift it, though. The idle animations – Bones irritatedly crossing his arms, Kirk checking his tricorder, Spock’s quizzical glances… Little fake depth of field effects to make small spaces seem larger than they are. Western-like quickdraw phaser battles. Messages from Uhura in orbit. Cruel and unusual Redshirt deaths. A UI and puzzle system which involves using crew members and their particular skills on objects or people. A storyline structured into episodes, with perfect titles such as ‘The Demon Planet.’
It works. It’s a great fit. And great Star Trek. Worth grabbing from GoG, for sure.