Game of the Week (5/27/18) – Star Trek Phaser Strike

In 1979, the Star Trek renaissance was in full force with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Milton Bradley wanted to capitalize with some Hollywood synergy for their new Microvision console so they made a point to procure the rights to use the Star Trek name for a shooter style game they had created called Phaser Strike.

As one might expect from a handheld game released in 1979, Phaser Strike is a simplistic shooter where your phaser cannon must shoot at moving targets along the upper half of the screen by pressing one of three directional buttons. Pressing the left button moves your cannon to the left hand side of the screen where you then shoot diagonally towards the upper right side of the screen. Pressing the right button moves your cannon to the right hand side of the screen where you then shoot diagonally towards the upper left side of the screen. Pressing the middle button sets your cannon in the middle of the screen where you shoot directly above you. The knob on the system itself is not used for this game.

In an effort to provide variety and difficulty levels for the player, you can select the size of your targets to either all be 4, 3, 2, or 1 blocks in length or you can select C for changeable, which means the targets will vary in size, keeping you on your toes. You can also select the speed of the targets as either fast, slow or changeable, which also provides variability. Finally, you can select the number of targets to shoot at each round by selecting 1-9 and the actual number of targets you must destroy is your selected number multiplied by 10.

After playing Phaser Strike for awhile, I quickly discerned that you can make it much more difficult than it needs to be by constantly go back and forth between the three locations on the screen. Utilizing this strategy, similar to Atlantis, will keep you perpetually confused as to where you are relative to the targets and your timing will be off. The small size of the Microvision screen doesn’t allow for mistakes to be corrected so you basically have one shot at each target and that’s it. In some cases you may get two shots off if you selected the slow speed, but that’s only if your reflexes are quicker than the targets. The strategy I use for racking up points is to stay put in the middle position on the screen and attack the targets consistently from this vantage point. Since the height of the targets vary, you have to quickly determine when to hit the button in order to reach the proper height as it passes over your cannon while also considering the length of the ship and room for error you have with each one. By eliminating the variable of your position, you can solely focus on this aspect of aiming & shooting and you’ll likely see a vast improvement in your score as a result.

In all, Star Trek Phaser Strike is a decent time waster of a game that mostly succeeds regardless of the franchise tag it was saddled with. I believe the license to use the Star Trek name eventually expired, leaving the game with the name Phaser Strike, which has no bearing on the gameplay itself, cosmetically or otherwise.

Rating: C+

Currently in my collection: game, manual, box

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