Friday, August 15, 2008

STO: Echoes From the Past

All the talk about Star Trek Online got my thinking about some of the past Star Trek games. One of my favorites was Star Trek The Next Generation: Echoes From the Past. It's name could be a bit shorter I suppose. It was a console game available on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Hopefully most readers of this will remember those ancient and mysterious consoles.

Echoes was an adventure game that put you in the Captains chair. Your mission was to find a missing artifact and save the galaxy. Normal fare for a Starfleet Captain.

It is difficult to put Echoes into any singular category of gaming, as it had many different aspects. I think it reproduced the feeling of the being a captain in the TV shows very well. There was a decent amount of text dialog and conversation choices, especially for 1994 on a console. Diplomacy was always a big part of the series and that translated well into the game.

When Diplomacy breaks down, the fun begins. Starship combat was handled in a tactical overview way. This was pretty good as it added depth, since there was no way they could do cinematic type space battles justice. You also had control over ship systems, so you could indeed increase power to shields.

Away missions and ground combat also play a part of the game. You could beam down to planets, explore a bit and use your phaser on any enemies that may be there. There was some control (if I remember correctly) about which bridge members you could bring down with you. So if you brought Crusher ( hot ) down with you, she could heal. Data could also do some special things.

Often times on away missions there were puzzles to solve. these are a welcome change from fighting all the time and actually made you think about what you were doing. Back then there was no easy way to go look up the answer. So you either figured it out, waited for your Nintendo Power to tell you or called a tip line. I never did the last one of those. My Mom would have gotten really angry if I paid $$$ for a video game tip!

Exploration is a big part of Star Trek and it was also in Echoes. There were a large amount of star systems you could visit and not all of them had to do with the story line. That is one of the best things I remember about the game. I would just fly around, checking out these unexplored places.

Now that I think about it, there seems to be a lot of similiaties between Echoes and what Cryptic is planning with STO. I liked Echoes, so I guess that is a good thing. In fact, I liked it so much I bought an old cartridge off of ebay (or Amazon). Always nice to have it around in case I get the Star Trek itch.


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