(written from a Production point of view)
The Star Trek: 25th Anniversary LCD Video Game is a hand-held electronic LCD "Talking Game" produced by Konami in 1991. It is one of three "Talking Games" Konami released with a rudimentary voice chip that enhanced gameplay (the other two were games based on Top Gun and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). The game is set aboard the USS Enterprise-A.
Game unit layout
The unit's shell is mainly constructed of silver-grey plastic. The unit itself consists of an LCD [Liquid Crystal Display] screen (on which all the gameplay takes place), a "Control/Repair Button" (a four-direction control pad), a "Fire/Transport Button" and four function buttons: Off (shuts the game off), Sound (toggles sound effects), Pause (allows you to pause the game, something of a rarity on these early handhelds), and On/Start (turns the unit on and starts the gameplay). There is also an All Clear button countersunk into the unit that you need to push with a pen, pin, or paperclip to reset the game after putting in new batteries. The batteries – the unit requires two AA batteries to function – are inserted into a compartment on the back of the unit. The front sticker depicts the Star Trek 25th Anniversary logo and the Konami logo on a blue starfield.
The gameplay happens in three difficulty levels and in two stages: the "Battle Stage" and the "Rescue Stage".
The gamescreen is divided into several areas. The top left is the digital display that shows your game score, and also tallies the number of "survivors" you beam up and the time left to do so in the Rescue Stage. The top right depicts your Power Gauge, which shows the power available to fire photons and use the transporters. The mid-left is the Damage display, which shows the damage taken by your ship. The lower left shows the Transporter room, where you beam up the survivors. The lower right is reserved for an image of Mr. Spock, which notes when you can affect repairs on the Enterprise. The remainder of the screen depicts the main gameplay as described below.
In the Battle Stage, the Enterprise must fend off attacks from Klingon Birds-of-Prey. However, the Enterprise is running at high warp, so the shields available are limited to a two-segment unit that protects 1/6th of the saucer, where the Klingons are concentrating their attack.
The game screen for this mode depicts the Enterprise in the center. First, the classic Star Trek logo appears on the screen, and the Enterprise enters warp. The ship then enters Red Alert mode as the Klingon ships decloak and begin their attack. The ships will attack from one of four directions: Port (far left), Port/Forward, Starboard (far right) and Starboard/Forward. (Klingon ships do not attack from the rear.)
You, as the player and "commander" of the Enterprise, control the shield by pressing the left and right sides of the Control Button and rotating it to block the disruptor fire from the Klingon ships. You also use the shields to "aim" your own photon torpedo blasts at the ships to destroy them. You can fire a photon using the Fire Button. But you must check the Power Gauge to make sure it is at full power (all five units lit up) to fire back. Otherwise, the game will complain to you "That's not logical!"
If you do not successfully block the incoming fire, one of your ship's five major systems (randomly chosen by the game) will take damage. This will be reflected in the Damage display by the affected system's name being lit up as follows:
- ENGINE: If damaged, it takes longer for the ship to recharge its power for the photons.
- BRIDGE: If damaged, your shield rotation control slows down.
- WEAPON: If damaged, photon control malfunctions, and may not fire properly every time.
- SENSOR: If damaged, the attacking ships may appear to "recloak" and disappear. In fact, they are still uncloaked and can still fire at you.
- SHIELD: If damaged, reduces your shields from two units to one unit.
If all five systems are damaged at the same time, the game is over. Thankfully, if Mr. Spock appears in the lower right of the screen, you can push the Control Button either up or down to repair a random system.
In Level One, you must destroy one Klingon ship; in Level Two, three ships; and in Level Three, six ships.
After destroying the required number of ships, you enter the Rescue Stage. The center display changes to a planet, with the Enterprise orbiting it. However, this planet has been overrun by the Klingons, who have taken control of its six torpedo cannons and the planetary shields. Fortunately, there is a gap in the shields through which you can beam up survivors of the Klingon attack. Unfortunately, the gap only appears near positions where the Enterprise is in direct line-of-fire with the cannons.
You must position the Enterprise (using the Control Button) above the rotating segment (which depicts the shield gap). Pressing left rotates the ship's orbital position counterclockwise, and pressing right rotates clockwise. You must also make sure the Power Gauge shows two or more units of power to use the Transporter. It takes two units of power to beam up one survivor. If the Gauge shows four or more units, you can beam up TWO survivors at the same time. When the power is sufficient, press the Transport Button to beam up the survivors, who will appear in the Transporter room.
You also must rotate your ship's position to avoid the cannon fire. If hit, the ship takes one unit of damage (depicted in the Damage display as empty blocks). If you take five units of damage, the ship is damaged and the game is over. However, like before, if Spock appears in the lower right, you can press the Control Button up or down to repair one unit of damage.
The top left of the screen will keep track of the number of survivors you need to "Beam Up" and the "Count Down" of the time left to do so. In Level One, you must rescue twenty survivors in sixty time units (each time unit is roughly two to three seconds); in Level Two, thirty survivors in eighty time units, in Level Three, forty survivors in ninety time units. If you fail to rescue enough survivors within the time limit, you'll repeat the same difficulty level. If you succeed, you'll progress to the next level.
Winning the game
If you succeed in getting all the survivors in Level Three, you win the game! The game will show your final score and the phrase "Live Long And Prosper".
One unusual quirk of this game involves the appearance of the Spock image. If the game's sound is switched on, Spock's appearance is accompanied by a short jingle lasting roughly one second, giving the player ample time to press up or down to repair damage. However, if sound is switched off, Spock will only appear for a fraction of a second, making the game much more challenging.