|Developer:||The Tiniest Shark|||||Release Date:||2013|||||Systems:||Win, Mac, Linux|
This week on Super Adventures I'm celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' by playing a new Trek game each and every day! Or at least that was the plan, until I remembered that a: most of my readers don't want to see seven Star Trek games in a row, and b: I don't have seven Star Trek games I haven't played already. Also most Star Trek games are crap anyway!
So instead I'm playing seven games with a some kind of tenuous connection to the venerable sci-fi franchise, mostly just games with 'Star' or 'Trek' in the title to be honest, starting with recent indie game Redshirt by miniature microstudio The Tiniest Shark (aka. Dr Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris).
I know next to nothing about this game, but one thing I do know is that it's a sci-fi themed satire simulating Facebook... in space! So I'm not exactly the target audience, as I quit the site about the same time it started asking me what schools I went to. I ain't got no time for nosey websites. These days the closest I come to social networking is occasionally remembering to put site updates on Twitter (follow @RayHardgrit on Twitter for site updates!!)
I've seen a few of them 'Star Trek's though, so that's got to help.
(Click the screenshots to expand them to exciting new dimensions).
Also I did bring a mop!
There's a few options here to customise my character (including a gender slider) but there's only a tiny handful of faces and hairstyles to choose from. Also it's letting me change my shirt colour, which is just wrong. I don't care that redshirts became mustardshirts in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', you call a game Redshirt, you give me a red shirt!
Mass Effect and the sexy green Orions from 'Star Trek', a miserable android, the end result of a Vulcan and a Ferengi getting into a transport accident, or...
But I think I'm going to with the android, because I'm always playing as organic lifeforms in games and I feel like a change.
Wait, Asari... Orions... Asrions, wow I can't believe I didn't notice that earlier. The Asrions are a race entirely made up of women and are the only characters who get to wear skirts, which they must all wear without exception. Possibly a reference to the original 'Star Trek' that, though in Trek's defence it was the actresses who wanted to wear miniskirts and boots!
By the way, you might be thinking that this space station looks just like the one in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' reboot movie, but it's actually very different.
Ain't no nitpick too trivial for Super Adventures.
Alright, it's July 2366 (midway through Season 3 of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'), my character is definitely a nobody, he's got 100 creds and 0 charisma, he's unhappy and unhealthy, he's not in a relationship, and he has 3 aspirations to attain.
My first aspiration is to add Astra to my Emoid's Spacebook friends list, which is also what the tutorial's telling me to do, so I'll spend one of my 4 actions clicking the 'ACCEPT' button on the top left. Oh duh, 'ad astra', there's another joke that eluded my long range sensors.
Hey that Emoid on the top right is called Joh Xag. My second aspiration is to get Marvin romantically involved with someone called Joh Xag, so I'll spend my second action on sending her a relationship request on her Spacebook page. She's on Marvin's friends list so I'm hoping they've at least met before. I'm sure it'll all work out.
Marvin also aspires to master his Transporter Accident Cleanup Technician job, so I'll see what I need to do for that.
I haven't got enough actions left for assertiveness training though, and I don't feel like spending Marvin's precious KarmaCreds to buy more, so I'll go check out the shop instead.
Well I can't buy that yet and Marvin really does already have a mop, so I'll finish the day by liking one of Joh-Xog's comments.
After I used up my action I was immediately dragged off to the work screen.
I like the little cartoons at the side showing the stuff my dude's been up to during the day by the way. There's no decisions to make during work though, this isn't The Sims (no matter how much it seems like it at times).
Events also adjust my character's interests, so the more he does something, the more he likes it. This is important because it affects the three top interests on his Spacebook page, which affects his compatibility with other people. It's all very complicated.
Plus if he keeps eating out like this I’ll never be able to afford the cat.
AUGUST - 159 DAYS TO GO.
Well that's... ominous. I'm getting the impression that I need to get Marvin's ass off this space station before January or else he's doomed. At least I got some warning about his impending death though. In 'Star Trek' it was usually a lot more sudden.
Though whenever Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Ensign Redshirt beamed down to a planet...
|Star Trek 25th Anniversary (Amiga)|
After a few more days of liking messages and going to restaurants with Joh Marvin was suddenly pulled onto a mandatory away mission. There's no kind of gameplay here or even animation, Brama Felaeon was just disintegrated immediately due to low self-esteem and that was it. Still if these things didn't happen Marvin wouldn't have his transporter clean up job, so I guess I can't complain.
I think I’ll be saving more often though.
Well that's over with now. Back to the regular grind of five days of work, two days off. He gets paid daily, so weekends can be a big drain on his cash as I get 6 actions and no income.
Joh’s been pestering him for a ROMANTIC date, so I tried to take her somewhere nice, but she was busy, so I sent Marvin out to the movies with his co-workers to watch 'Back to the Future' instead.
This is all Joh Xag's fault for being busy again. Each action is like a slice of time, so I can fast forward a couple of hours by liking something on Spacebook, but there's no guarantee she'll be free then either, and people like to throw Marvin invites to stuff too so he's got stuff going on too.
The thing about other people in this, is that they care more about what they want than what your character wants. So if your redshirt has publicly declared that they're a lesbian in a relationship they're still going to get men trying to ask them out, especially if they're Asrion (though this is apparently affected by that 'Bigotry' slider from earlier).
Though I've just realised that these Rank 1 jobs don't need him to have mastered a Rank 0 job to qualify. With five minutes of Zero-G Aerobics training he can quit this job and move up again! Unfortunately the higher paid jobs do require that a job from the previous rank has been mastered, so he'll be stuck repainting the hull for about 15 days before he can move up again. I'm starting to worry that I won't have time to get him all the way to the top job tier before my 149 days run out.
She has time to pester Marvin all the time but never any time to go out. Why doesn't she ever invite him out if she's that desperate? He'd say yes, I'd make sure of it!
Wait, I have to choose the final person who dies? That's bloody harsh. Well I'm sorry Ralph Landaverde, but I'm going to have to kill... your buddy Erwin. Because Marvin doesn't know or care about him.
I can also just buy a shuttle ticket... for 50,000 KarmaCreds. Which is not going to happen. But this commander's assistant idea sounds like something I can do. I'll send Marvin climbing the ranks right up into a cosy shuttle.
To celebrate the slim hope of escaping certain possible death, I decided to invite Joh out somewhere romantic... and she stood Marvin up because he'd brought her there too recently! I... I don't even... I really don't. Well at least I was able to get him a RoboCat to keep him happy.
SEPTEMBER - 127 DAYS TO GO.
I admit that I don't get every sci-fi reference in this shop, but some of them like Worf's ceremonial blade up there are a bit too obvious to miss.
Wow, the game's given me an aspiration to start a romance with someone else now. Everything's conspiring to break Marvin and Joh up! I'm going to have to spend cash to get it out of my aspirations list, and the cost goes up each time.
OCTOBER - 98 DAYS TO GO.
It's not easy being a logical Emoid on a station of irrational assholes.
Well at least the relationship is over now. Marvin's free! Free to immediately start dating Rina Bohov to achieve another aspiration.
Hey, I got to take every achievable aspiration I can, as it keeps throwing 'get a mention from X', 'get three likes on your status update' ones at me, which I can never get. It costs money to replace a difficult aspiration and that price is going up each time.
NOVEMBER - 57 DAYS TO GO.
But I don't know what to do now. I've got 57 days left until FINAL DEPARTURE and I've already achieved everything I need to. Unless... this ticket replaces Marvin's seat in the captain's shuttle and I need a second one to get Rina off the station. I have no idea if that's true or not, but a goal to accumulate 50,000 KarmaCreds at least gives me a reason to keep playing until the end.
So that's 40 days of work, 2 weeks off, I'll have to repair RoboCat 11 more times, send Marvin on 28 more romantic events, survive a couple more away missions and try to balance all his jealous petty friends until then. Also I'm making friends with all the officers too because I can now.
JANUARY - 0 DAYS TO GO.
Well my next choice to receive the 50,000 KarmaCreds seat on the lifeboat is Marvin's oldest and dearest friend Astra, but I can't seem to scroll through this list, so I'll give it to... his new friend Officer Dada!
That ending was even more abrupt than I was expecting. Just a picture and a couple of sentences and it's over. All the people I spent so long struggling to keep in the green have been incinerated, all those posts I liked were basically meaningless in the end. Though Marvin does get to keep his his high-paid job and his RoboCat!
Maybe I'd get to see the station explode for a different reason if I replayed it and got the ticket a different way, I dunno. I'm in no hurry to start it up again though.
The trouble with Redshirt is that I keep thinking that it's called Redshirts, and having to correct myself.
It's a likeable game, so I feel like starting with something positive: the UI is actually pretty good! Sure it looks like an avalanche of information at first but I quickly got my head around it and found that if something was mentioned on screen I could generally click it to end up where I wanted to be. The game looks and sounds pretty much what a Facebook/Star Trek parody should look like, though it really is just static screens and menus. You'll never see more of the station, or the events the characters go to, or much of anything really.
Also it looks like the kind of game that might have a bit of a story hidden inside, but not so much. It's definitely not a visual novel or a choose your own adventure at any point. Plus outside of the a few messages to set up your goals and the limited selection of repeated status update jokes, everything you read on Spacebook is built from the same limited message creator you use to post messages yourself. There's no characters in this, just names with traits and interests and petty dislikes attached, repeating the same familiar lines. Romances are all about your partner constantly sending messages saying ‘can we go on a date pls’ ‘are we going on a date yet?’ ‘date pls?’ unless you spend precious actions sending them somewhere romantic every couple of days, and that's apparently it.
It's one of those games where you want to keep playing for one more turn because there's always something to do, but after I completed my goal of getting the ticket I realised that I didn't want anything to do with these people any more. Keeping them happy is a pain as they invent new reasons to dislike you and complain when they're left out, and once you've reached the top and bought everything worth having there's not much else to play it for. You're not decorating a house or working on a farm on the side, just managing a friends list and liking posts. Though to be fair I utterly failed at the Facebook side of the game, never achieving even the most basic 'get mentioned' or 'get likes' aspirations, so maybe there's more of a game to it than I'm seeing.
But I did stick with it to the end, so it's got that going for it. The creator apparently grew up in the same universes I did, and it turns out that as long as I've got buttons that need clicking and sci-fi references I recognise I'll be happy enough for a few hours. In fact I can honestly say that it is the best... whatever this is, that I've played.
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