Super Star Trek
Super Star Trek is a strategy video game based on the 1971 game Star Trek by Mike Mayfield, but significantly altered by Bob Leedom who released it in 1974. Like the original, it is an unlicensed Star Trek game, but this one kicks up the copyright violations by using more of the character names and places of the Original Series.
In the game, you captain the Enterprise and must navigate through Federation space to locate invading Klingon ships and destroy them all before a they allow a full-scale invasion on a nearing star date. Moving and firing your phasers drains energy, and you only have a limited amount of photon torpedoes, so you must occasionally return to star bases to restock. Parts of your ship can be damaged by enemy fire like your senors, warp drive, and navigation computer, and they must be repaired.
This version came about after Bob Leedom saw the version of Star Trek published in 101 BASIC Computer Games by David Ahl. He ported it to Data General Business BASIC in 1974 to run on a Nova 800. He then changed the inputs to three-letter codes and added a variety of features suggested by his friends. After that, Leedom wrote a letter back to Ahl describing his new version, and Ahl was impressed by the changes enough to publish it in Creative Computing as Super Star Trek in 1975. This version ended up becoming more popular than the original and it was published again in several later books and saw many other variants based on it.
In the late 1980s, by cousin Brian showed me Space Games, which included a game called Space Trek, which was really just a re-titled version of New Trek, which is a modified version of Super Star Trek. We booted the game up a couple of times, but, not interested in learning the several pages of rules, quickly abandoned it. In the 2020s, I started trying to research and beat a lot of these older games, so, after I discovered the long lineage of this one, I found one of the earliest versions and tried to beat it.
The game is free and open source. I beat a browser port of the game on 2022-08-18.
Best Version: Browser
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game presents a pretty decent challenge at first.
- The dead line forces you to make risky decisions which keeps up the tension.
- Having your various systems become damaged forces you to have to make do without certain benefits, or retreat until they're fixed.
- The interface is terrible. Because it was designed with a teletype still in mind, very little information is available at any given time, so you have to frequently retype commands just to see what's going on. Having your sensors and computer damages only makes it worse.
- The navigation system is annoying. You can't just enter the coordinates for where you want to go, instead, you have to calculate a bearing and give a warp factor. Basically, you have to estimate or perform rise-over-run math each time. The same is true for aiming photon torpedoes, but at least you are given the coordinates the torpedo traveled which you can use to refine your shot.
- I feel like docking at a space station should expedite the repairs to your ship, but all it does it refill your energy and torpedoes.
- The game doesn't show you how much time you have remaining. If you care, you have to write it down.
- The sector layout uses unlabeled rectangles which makes it difficult to eyeball a specific position, and, therefore, harder to estimate navigation directions.
- Although the games are randomized, each attempt is pretty short and there isn't much to do. You'll see everything the game has to offer after a few minutes. After that, you're just honing your strategy.
- There are no graphics, no sound, not even any color. Of course, in 1974, you shouldn't expect any of that, but it still makes for a dull experience.
Creative Computing - 1975-05 - Cover.
Because Super Star Trek was released as open source, I'm including it here. This download includes the source of the 1978 DOS version for GW-BASIC along with the basic interpreter to play it.