Star Trek: The Motion Picture


Developer GCE
Publishers GCE
Milton Bradley
Release date 1982
Genres First person shooter
Flight simulation
Modes Single player
1-2 players alternating
Media ROM file


Star Wars (the original film, in 1977) defied all odds and broke all kinds of barriers when it was released. Back then, science fiction (sci-fi) was pretty much dead; so dead, that film maker George Lucas had to fund the movie himself because no one would distribute it (along with going broke in the process). It also debuted in the summer, which was also not considered to be a good marketing move, as that was considered the "sleepy season" for movie releases back then.

Of course, that movie changed everything (especially the part about Lucas being broke) as far as movie releases went (the term "summer blockbuster" still wouldn't become a household saying for several years, although that did help change big movie releases in general) and everything sci-fi related as well, which entertainment company Paramount definitely took notice and originally planned to bring their Star Trek tv series back as Star Trek 2, but then decided to make it into a movie instead, which those rights for The Motion Picture would result in a game making its way onto the Vectrex a few years later.


In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (the game), the player(s) take(s) on the role of Captain Kirk guiding the Enterprise through hostile space sectors while clearing out attacking Romulan and Klingon ships. It is a cockpit-viewed flight simulation where players must defend themselves from attacking enemies by destroying them and their shots (or dodging or deflecting the latter with shields). Players have a limited amount of photon torpedoes and shields (represented by lines at the bottom of the screen -- firepower is on the left, with shield strength on the right -- and noted on the overlay); run out of one or both, and the players are left vulnerable to enemy attack. If a player is hit by an enemy shot, they will lose a life, and when all lives are lost the game ends.

There are a certain number of enemy ships to be cleared from a sector before players can advance to the next one. There is no indication as to how many enemies are left or where they are in a sector, as sometimes the players will have to move around randomly until the last of the enemy ships are found and wiped out.

Along with shooting down all enemy ships, the Enterprise can also be defended by using shields, which is represented by the onscreen cursor growing larger and then shrinking back to its normal size when engaged. If timed incorrectly though, the Enterprise can still be destroyed even if the player engaged the shields when enemy fire is headed their way. Raising shields at the proper time will cause enemy fire to be deflected away from the Enterprise.

As the player starts running out of resources to defend themselves, there is also a starbase present in all sectors (except for the Klingon Mothership showdown) that the player can dock with to replenish their shield strength and photon torpedoes (although this can only be done once per sector). The starbase has a revolving door that the player can access via using the Power Link function, which the player has to take careful aim at the door while using the Power Link in order to successfully dock with the base. Meanwhile the player can be susceptible to enemy attack, although they can still raise their shields to deter enemy fire. Unfortunately the starbase can also be destroyed if the player shoots it by accident. If the starbase gets destroyed, the player has already docked with it during a sector, or if the player depletes their photon torpedo supply, there is no way to make it into the next sector without destroying all enemies, so a life will have to be lost in order for firepower and shield strength to be restored with the next remaining life.

Finally, a Klingon Mothership also appears during a game, which can only be destroyed by being hit on the nose of the ship while it is glowing. The Mothership possesses both Klingon and Romulan firepower and can be accessed by having the player fly through a black hole that is found in a sector, which the player must use the Power Link function by aiming and engaging it at the middle of the black hole in order to warp to the Mothership. If the player is able to defeat the Mothership they will be rewarded with an extra life and then the game will start over again at sector one, but at a higher difficulty level.

The starting level for the black hole appearing can be chosen at the main menu; the black hole will appear in sector one on game one, in sector two if game two is chosen, and so on, with there being eight games/sectors to choose from in all. After the Mothership is destroyed and the player makes it through all eight sectors, they will enter sector nine, which will take the player to the Mothership, which the game will start over at sector one again if the player is able to destroy the ship.


Main menuEdit

  • Choose between one or two players--button one
  • Choose black hole starting level--buttons two and three
  • Start game--button four


  • Steer Enterprise--joystick or D-pad
  • Power link--button two
  • Shield--button three
  • Fire--button four


  • Shooting enemy torpedo--300 points
  • Romulans and Klingons--300 - 800 points (depending on distance)
  • Romulans and Klingons while banking--1000 points
  • Klingon Mothership--5000 points
  • Detroying all ships in a sector--1500 points


  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture is not a port of the Sega arcade game of Star Trek (which its full title is Star Trek Strategic Simulations Operator) which came out the same year.
  • As it happens with licensing a lot, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (the game) doesn't have much to do with the actual movie, since there were no space battles at all, especially with the Romulan ships, as they were never shown in a Star Trek movie until the fourth Next Generation film of Nemesis (which was over 20 years after the release of the original Star Trek movie in 1979)[1].
  • This game had several brief appearances in the 1982 movie Android, which the character of Max 404 (played by Don Keith Opper) was playing it. His creator, Dr. Daniel (played by Klaus Kinski), would later lament in the movie that the games were "driving him (Max) crazy".
  • The game was released in some markets as Star Ship and in Japan as Harmagedon, which gave the Klingon ships a fuller look, along with the addition of a pause feature as well. The modern day hack of Star Trek Debugged (originally offered on Classic Game Creations's site, and soon to be released via Packrat Video Games, LLC) is believed to just be Star Ship as well.
  • In late 2012, it became known that bassist Rudy Sarzo (who has played in the heavy metal/hard rock acts Dio, Whitesnake, and Quiet Riot, among others) had a Vectrex on Quiet Riot's tour bus, due to two ebay auctions selling off the collection, one of which games included Star Trek. The packages also included an original controller, a Light Pen, several other games and a letter of authenticity.
  • The title screen music of the game was also used for V-Frogger.
  • The game is reviewed in The Angry Video Game Nerd Episode 49. It's the first game reviewed.


  • Pictures of the Vectrex, this game and custom graphics from the movie Android (archived)
  • C+ rating on the video game critic web site
  • Click on the tabber below for another review. review

Star Trek has endured all kinds of shapes and forms for many decades now, starting off as a low budget tv show in the late 1960s, then finding a resurgence over 10 years later in a brief animated stint and then being catapulted onto the big screen with six movies. That original series was also followed up with several Trek serials set 100 years later, what with The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager, went back to the pre-Federation days of Enterprise, a series of Next Generation movies, and got reborn again in 2009 with a big budget movie franchise with a new Captain Kirk-era crew.

Likewise, the Trek video games have also come in all shapes and forms as well, probably starting with a Trek ASCII computer game as it's earliest incarnation, along with those with barely any graphics at all (Phaser Strike for the blocky Microvision) to a couple of arcade ventures (Sega's Star Trek Strategic Operations Simulator and the later Voyager two decades later), computer DOS and Nintendo NES offerings, 16 bit console games (Deep Space 9 and Next Generation games for the Sega Genesis and Nintendo SNES), surviving through polygon offerings (Sega 32X and Windows Starfleet Academy), bridge and mission simulators (Captain's Chair and the Starship Creator programs, respectively), and even Star Trek quiz shows and learning Klingon (!) cd programs...among all kinds of other Trek stuff in between and beyond.

Star Trek has been through so many gaming incarnations that it also hit the vector sector (oy, pardon me for that bad rhyming pun) with the aforementioned Sega arcade game and Star Trek The Motion Picture (aka Star Ship in the overseas markets) on the Vectrex.

This game took on the persona of one of *those* kind of movie licenses where the game didn't really have anything to do with the movie, as Star Trek/Star Ship is just constant battles, yet there was barely a battle at all in the movie (unless you count the one during the first few minutes with the Klingon ship vs. V'Ger, which you probably shouldn't). Plus the Romulans never even MADE it to a big screen Star Trek movie until the fourth Star Trek: The Next Generation movie was released as well, years and years after this game came and went.

Anyway, getting to this release, this is a cockpit-viewed simulator where the player controls the Enterprise, mainly the ship's photon torpedoes and shields. Wave after wave of Klingons and Romulans (the kind of enemies you face depends on what sector you're in, as they alternate) attack, and you must blow 'em all away in order to advance to the next sector. Guess you're not in that all-friendly Neutral Zone...

If you last long enough, you also get to face a vicious mother ship, who spews both Klingon and Romulan weaponry at you like there's no tomorrow (or no Trek sequel to be seen, which is unlikely). It kind of makes you wonder what her problem is, but perhaps it's because it took so incredibly long for the Romulans to make it onto the big screen, or maybe they weren't made into enough favorable Trek merchandise or something. (Oh yeah, all the Trek merchandise of model kits, shirts, the mega rare [and really expensive nowadays] Trek band-aids, comic books, non-video games, etc., etc. would add another page or so to this review just by barely skimming over it all, so never mind!)

Your photon torpedoes and shields are limited (indicated by lines near the bottom of the screen), which, once you run out of one or both, you're as dead a duck as one of the Enterprise members in a red shirt (note: the Trekkers would get that reference), as your viewing screen will crack, Battlezone-style, when you get smacked with a weapon while your shields aren't up. You can dock with a starbase once per sector if you're lucky, but it has this revolving docking door that's rather tricky to latch onto, as you have to use the link command in order to dock to replenish your shields and torpedoes (which also doubles in linking with a black hole to transport you to the mother ship battle). Using shields is also a bit strange, since your cursor just grows in size, indicating they're in use, no automatic shields here from engineer Scott. (I guess he's on vacation, hopefully trying to land himself a babe, since, as us Trekkers know, Captain Kirk hogs them all to himself.)

The graphics serve fairly well, although there isn't a lot of detail to them in general, especially with the Klingons just looking like outlines of ships (kind of the stick figures of spaceships, if you will), as they look about as wimpy as a Tribble (note: this doesn't include the Star Trek Debugged hack, giving the Klingons a more 'full' look, along with adding a welcome pause feature). However, the way they bank around and all is pretty cool (try comparing that to the enemy ships of the similar Atari 2600 game StarMaster that came out in roughly the same time period, which the ships just got bigger or smaller, no breaking of formation or anything like that). The starbase looks cool though, even though it looks like a Mexican sombrero at the same time, and the mother ship, as I said earlier, looks especially vicious. The control's also perfect, and the sounds are pretty good, especially with a nice recreation of a few bars from the movie theme during the title screen and when you warp through a black hole.

This game would get a 7 from me; however, there's a bit of a problem in regards to not knowing how many enemy ships are left in a sector. At times you'd SWEAR there's only one or two left, as you keep on flying around, looking for the space station to dock and replenish supplies before moving onto the next sector, but then more and more and more and more keep on appearing after you shot what you thought was only the last one or two ships left; WHAT IS THIS CRAP?! That happens quite a bit, which lowers my rating of this a little, since there's no indicator of a ship count anywhere in this game. Other than that, this is a pretty solid mix of a shoot 'em up with a touch of strategy thrown in.

And, with this being one of the most common Vectrex games 'out there' (har), you can easily go where most men (and women) have gone before...but then, you know the rest anyway, if you're at all familiar with Trek lore.

Score 6.7/10

Review written by Darryl


  1. Star Trek Nemesis trivia page

This article was featured from October - November, 2012.

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