Monday, 12 December 2011

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Crossroads of Time (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Crossroads of Time title screen
When I found out that this was actually released for real I had to check it out. A Star Trek platformer? Seriously?

Apparently the lead designer wrote a Star Trek fan film, so I expect this is going to be fairly faithful to the franchise. The music sounds like the actual Deep Space Nine theme, and that looks like the right space station, so it's doing well so far.

Some Trek games (like Starfleet Academy and Elite Force for example) put the player in the shoes of Lieutenant Bland, chiselled generic space hero, who gets to go on an adventure alongside everyone's favourite heroes from the show.

But fuck that, I'm Commander Benjamin Sisko himself, and this is my office.

Dammit Odd, how many times have I told you not to call here and interrupt my kung fu? Odo, whatever.

Eventually I realise he's not going to stop calling me, so I should probably go find 'security' and hear what he has to say. First step: leave office.

These graphics aren't actually that bad at all, and Sisko moves fairly... gracefully. Okay, the faces are a little weird, but that's what happens when you go for realism at this kind of resolution.

The music on the other hand, is nothing like the soundtrack to the series. For one thing it's catchy and tuneful. Exactly what I want to be listening to when I'm playing my ridiculous Star Trek platformer. Okay, now where the hell is the way out of this place?

Damn, you can really tell these two are related.

This corridors looks like it's supposed to be in a complete loop, but sadly it doesn't wrap around at the edges. Nice parallax scrolling though.

Okay, I'm just going to watch him do this for a second or two. There's nothing even up there, it's entirely pointless.

Right, what was I doing again? Oh yeah, I'm looking for 'security'.

A docking pylon you say? I think I passed the door to that on the way here.

Uhuh. So... what now? He mentioned that Doctor Bashir was treating the technician so I suppose I should go find him.

Right, now that's done I can go start the first level.

Doctor Bashir didn't give me any clues about what I'm supposed to be doing now, so I suppose I'll have to go talking to people until one of them gives me the next part of the plot.


LATER.


Right, awesome, can I go there now? Fantastic!


ONE TRIP ALL THE WAY DOWN BACK TO THE DOOR LATER.


Finally I'm allowed inside the docking pylon to find out who's going around beating up my technicians. Doesn't look like this guy will be needing this gun any more, so I'll hold onto it for now.

The SNES version looks pretty similar, though it seems to have been entirely redrawn. The lead designer actually apologised for this version saying it's "a very poor port", but to be honest it seems more or less the same so far to me.

This lift's broken, but Sisko can climb up ledges like he's the Prince of Persia, so getting to the top wasn't a struggle. I wouldn't want see what happens if he falls though.

Hang on, what's this? This guy's acting very suspiciously. I think I'm going to have to go over and have a word.

Son of a biiiiiiiiiitch...


EVENTUALLY.


Okay, I had to climb back up a few times, but eventually I was able to subdue the perp and confiscate his timed explosive. With seconds left on the clock I flush it down the convenient 'emergency ejection tube' on the wall next to me.

The bad news is, all those other green dots showing up on my radar are bombs too, and the timer's running.

Hah, I was ready for you this time.

These guys are a pain in the ass, but easy to take down if I've got my phaser equipped and I'm paying attention. The trouble is that half the time I'm not paying attention, I'm looking at my radar trying to find the next bomb.

Awesome. I can finally relax for a minute and listen to this semi-decent password screen music. Sadly SNES players don't get any password music.

And I'm back in the game. This time those sneaky enemies have hidden the grenades, so I have to switch to my tricorder to sweep the area and make them appear as orange diamonds. Actually screw that, I think I'll be fine just going off the green dots on the radar.

The trouble is that whenever I pick up a bomb I get mere seconds to flush it, and the ejection tubes don't have any radar dots.

Using the computer terminals brings up a map of the level, and holy shit it is big. A giant maze of lift shafts and dead ends, and this isn't even all of it. The map scrolls.

Those purple things are the ejection tubes I'll have to run to each time I find a bomb. There's no way I'm going to remember where they are though.

Shit! I'm not liking this inventory. I have to hold down the A button to bring it up and assign an item to my hand, and tap it to switch between assigned items. There's two problems with this:
  1. I can't quick draw my phaser and gun down my enemies if I've forgotten to assign it to a hand.
  2. I have to hold down A to use the lifts too. So half the time when I'm trying to move a lift around, I end up bringing my items up instead. And I can't make a quick escape when my inventory screen's open.
And every time I get killed I'm thrown back to the password screen and have to reassign my items.

Seven seconds left. Damn, I'm really cutting it close on some of these grenades. Plus I'll probably have to spend three seconds trying to line him up with the ejection tube correctly so he'll flush the thing.

Still, I'm just glad I found the damn tube for once. Half the time I end up totally lost and get blown up by the bomb in my hand.

On the next section they start throwing these tricorder jammers in too. I can't tell where nearby bombs are on my radar until I find and break the jammers.

Yeah, the inventory popping up when I'm on a lift isn't getting any less annoying. I've got a time limit here!

Okay I admit, it's my fault. If I was properly centered on the lift the menu wouldn't come up. But I don't have time to properly center myself on every lift, I've got a time limit here!

I've finally reached the third section of the level, and it's getting very Prince of Persia now. There's no lift to ride here, so I have to jump from ledge to ledge to reach the bombs. Then back down again to flush them.

And every time I miss a ledge and fall I'm put all the way back at the start of the level again. Crap.


A FEW DEATHS LATER.


I don't actually mind jumping between a maze of ledges over a fatal drop. I don't even mind the time limit. The thing that's really starting to annoy me though, is that I have to replay this huge level every time I fuck up. That's two entire sections of bomb disposal I have to repeat, over and over and over.

I should probably quit now, but I can't help being implausibly curious about what's on the next level. It can't all be bomb disposal to the end, right? 


TWO AND A HALF SECTIONS OF BOMB DISPOSAL LATER.


Okay, made a jump. So far so good. I'll have to keep throwing myself at ledges like this until I find the next bomb, and even a single missed jump is likely to get Sisko killed.

And then when I find the bomb I've got seconds to jump all the way back down again.

The SNES version's still pretty similar, and no less annoying. Well I guess it doesn't have the inventory/lift button problem, so it has that going for it.

The hero sprite seems a bit invisible in these shots, but he shows up pretty well in game thanks to the parallax scrolling background. These lift rails look way too much like platforms I can stand on though.


THREE MILLION MISSED JUMPS LATER.


I... don't believe I actually did it. Hah!

Level complete and I NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN.


BUT THEN...


Oh right, I forgot about this bit. I have go systematically speak to every NPC on the station until one of them says something useful, then go do it all over again until one of them finally lets me go on a mission.


LATER.


Are you the one I'm supposed to be talking to now? No? Right, okay, moving on.


LATER.


AAAAAGGGGHHHH, this is driving me crazy!


EVENTUALLY...


Finally they let me have a little more gameplay! This time I'm flying a spaceship through a wormhole. I'm tasked with flying up, and sometimes down, to avoid hitting the... glowy strands of blue.

I'm sure this doesn't actually go on for two hours, but that's what it felt like.

Then I get to do five minutes of shooting against some asteroids and some poor ship that doesn't fire back, and it's back to the station.

And then it's back to running around. Talking to every damn NPC. Again.

I know it's a Star Trek game and everything, but I really wouldn't have minded if there was less talking and more gameplay. Don't get me wrong, if (for instance) Bethesda had actually made that Star Trek RPG they were thinking about before deciding they loved Fallout more I'd be all for talking to those NPCs. But this is just annoying.


LATER.


Level three at last!

I'm free, I'm finally free! Free to jump around these shitty looking wooden beams covered in thorns and evil fruit that jumps off and tries to kill me!

Oh fuck it, I'm just going to walk.

And then three steps later I fall down an invisible underwater pit and instantly die.

They're putting me all the way back here again? Seriously? You know, if I'd started back at the beginning of the wooden beam planet I probably would have kept playing, but there's no way I'm going through this NPC scavenger hunt again.


And then they never made another Star Trek platformer again. I hope.

Next game!

3 comments:

  1. I just paid £25 for this on PAL Magedrive. Thats $39.40 in American speak. Hope it's as good as you make it look in this snapshot!!!!

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  2. This remains the only game I have ever destroyed. I had the SNES version, I rented it from a store. After playing the pylon level and dying and having to restart it over and over again (we're talking dozens, and dozens, and dozens, and dozens of times) I ripped the cartridge out of the system, and flung it down the hall. Then I picked it up, and flung it again.

    When I picked it up the second time, it had something loose rattling inside it. I put it back in, and it didn't work. When I took it back, I told the girl it didn't work.

    The first part wasn't so bad, but the second part is where it started getting hard. And if you died, you started at the first part again. Whoever designed the collision detection for the ledges was sadistic.

    In today's game development, this would have been sent back to the programmers from QA and said "What the hell? Tone this shit down. This will make people quit alone." But back then, the harder the better with some games. Some games had artificially higher difficulty levels to artificially extend their length.

    I never got past that part,

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  3. The Black Dynamite reference in here makes me so happy... This website makes me happy haha thank you :)

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