Fans of the 1960s television series will also be reintroduced to the raspy, brutish reptilian race called the Gorn from Arena, the classic episode that first aired in January 1967, the same month a band called the Doors released their debut album and a film called A Fistful of Dollars opened in the U.S. Arena memorably pitted Kirk against the implacable commander of a Gorn ship but the game will go far beyond one lone lizard — a fuller view of the Gorn species and its varieties await players who sign up for this mission.
The game is co-op play — it’s geared for two players, one to control Kirk and Spock, the central figures in the mythology that spins on the axis of their friendship. There is an A.I. function that has been tricked out to make things as lively as possible for Trek fans who play by themselves. The characters differ in specialities, uniforms, weaponry, and game-play ethos — but that’s sort of been the point since the beginning of Gene Roddenberry’s future tale, hasn’t it? “Kirk is this brash cowboy character, whereas Spock is the exact opposite — and when you break down Star Trek to those elements, you had to make a co-op game,” Miller says. “There was no other game we could possibly make.”
Through the years, three key elements remain as the very center of Federation space: a noble, gleaming starship named Enterprise; the plot promise of strange encounters with new life and new civilizations; and the loyal but fitful friendship between the fiery Kirk and the frosty Spock. To Miller, those three things transcend the decades even when the rubber lizard suits don’t age nearly as well.
“It’s a credit to all of those geniuses that put Star Trek out there to begin with and did it when they didn’t have maybe the resources they would have liked,” Miller says. “The Gorn episode Arena is a great example and it’s really why we based our game on that. That Gorn costume, as much as we love it, is not the most amazing rubber make-up ever done. The fight scenes between Kirk and the Gorn has been mocked for many a decade. But what makes that thing work so well is the incredible writing and creative team behind it … that’s the reason those sets and the show hold up even now.”
If Trek creators had to make due with limited budgets and diminishing resources, the history of Starfleet games seems to be similarly defined by fans wanting more than they got but making the most of what they had. Fans, in fact, started the ongoing mission themselves; the first Trek games arrived during the NBC television show’s original run (1966-1969) and were made and traded by after-hours programmers and college students explored a Federation space that was “homemade.” The fan appetite only grew — a text-based Starfleet game called Super Star Trek pushed the 1970s softcover BASIC Computer Games to become the first computer book to sell more than a million copies — a then-startling success that would be remembered in the 1980s as the video game marketplace became more mainstream and structured.
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