Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek overlay.

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Genres: First person shooter
Flight simulator
Release date: 1982
Number of players 1-2, alternating
Platform Vectrex

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.


  • 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 Romulans, 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 (offered on Classic Game Creations's site) 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 e-bay auctions selling off the collection, one of which games included Star Trek. The packages also included an original Vectrex controller, a Light Pen, several other games and a letter of authenticity.
  • Due to Vectrex materials being public domain, the title screen music of the game was also used for the modern day homebrew of V-Frogger.


  1. Star Trek Nemesis trivia page

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