Stand and be judged.
To keep things light and interesting here at the beginning, I start with the Star Trek game with quite possibly the longest title ever:
“Star Trek: The Next Generation: Interactive VCR Board Game: A Klingon Challenge in Patience”
Okay maybe that last part isn’t actually part of the title but it fits. I’m not even going to try and be impartial here. I’d rather have my arms gnawed off by a Gorn than play this game again, and my wife agrees.
So the first order of business is trying to fit the VHS tape into a suitable playback device. Guess I’ll have to dust off ol’ Bessy the VHS deck and begin capturing the tape to a Quicktime file for playback on my PS3. I take this time to look over the components. My mom bought my original copy of this game when it came out, and I remember being enthralled by the pieces then, and I’m still curious about them now. Tricorders and Stasis tubes? Sweet.
The premise of the game is Kavok, a rogue Klingon, has inexplicably managed to hijack the Enterprise (while at a Starbase?) and us players are the only crewmembers left aboard. Our object is to take back the ship before Kavok starts a war between the Federation and Klingons by feigning an attack in this stolen vessel. If you can get past the ridiculous idea of the ship being stolen in the first place (yes I know this happened in TNG, but 11001001 is a great episode and you won’t convince me otherwise), then that’s not a bad setting for the game.
The object of the game is to go around visiting locations to pick up isolinear chips. Each chip you collect unlocks the next ability, and you need all 5 before you can make the final push to re-take the Bridge and win the game.
My wife outranks me and starts as Lieutenant Blondie, while I go for Cadet Cute Brunette. The previous owner of this particular copy of the game has done some legwork and put the communicator stickers and rank pips onto some pins so they can be reused. A thoughtful gesture, but I assure you they won’t be getting reused as long as I own this game. We start play wide-eyed after Kavok gives us a stern lecture which makes me wonder, why are we taking orders from this guy anyway?
“Lieutenant? Shouldn’t we work together to take down this common enemy?”
“Silence Cadet! Take this tricorder and fend for yourself!”
It doesn’t take long before Lieutenant Blondie is placed in a stasis field. I laugh it up and she finds it funny too, since we’re just getting started and she’s already incapacitated.
Since we’re only playing the game with 2 players (not recommended), my wife being placed in stasis means I get to keep rolling and moving until Kavok explains there’s been some computer malfunction or some such nonsense. This goes on for at least a minute.
Lieutenant Blondie is thrilled to finally be able to participate in gameplay again, and does get a couple turns in until Kavok enthusiastically forces her to EXPERIENCE BIJ! Which sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is.
Bij cards are like the Holodeck cards, which are like the Computer Access cards, which all basically allow you to modify your movement/stasis or go to a room to collect an isolinear chip. The Computer Access cards are cool in that they have two printed timestamps, and only at those times during the video playback can you actually use the cards. It’s a neat idea, but you’re totally boned if those times have already passed.
We roll and move, and roll and move, then she’s placed in stasis again. I collect a couple more iso chips and slap them in my tricorder. In order to go into a room to collect an isolinear chip, you have to roll the EXACT amount needed. So if you’re 5 spaces away, you HAVE to roll a 5, otherwise you might just walk right past the room.
“Ah yes Ten Forward is right around this corner. Oh wait, my legs aren’t slowing down, wait, wait, ahh shit. Overshot. Time to do a full circle around the ship again.”
Lieutenant Blondie is eventually released from stasis and then a couple moves later, you guessed it, she’s put in stasis again. My wife is a patient person, but I half expected her to grab the coffee table and flip it up and through the wall.
Suffice to say, we did not finish the game. I made an executive decision to save my marriage and call the game about 35 minutes in.
It’s a roll and move, stop on a spot to pick up the next objective and roll to win game. If you like rolling dice constantly while being yelled at by an angry and lonely Klingon, then this game is for you. If you like thinking or decision-making or having fun, then skip this one. Space Alert proves that the programmed-event soundtrack idea can work, and work well. This game suffers from a poor foundation, one of mind-numbing boredom-inducing actions restricted further by the video events. I give it one star for the Tricorder/isolinear chip idea alone.
Theme: Immersion into Star Trek
This could’ve been so awesome! There are some neat components that help to bring you into the universe and watching a video shot on the actual STTNG sets while playing is probably as immersive as you can get. Sadly though, the game is so bad that you get sucked out of the theme pretty quickly.
Do I Care?
NEVER AGAIN! Not sure any variant could make this game playable. At least it’s not Monopoly right?
Overall ranking of “strength” of each as a board game. This does not factor in my overall desire to play each game. That assessment will come at the end.
BGG=How I’d rate on BoardGameGeek’s rating scale.
ST=How it rates as a “Star Trek Game” relating to the strength mentioned above.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
BGG: 3 | ST: 3.5 | blogpost