I liked Star Ship on so many levels it’s just crazy. Star Ship was the first time I felt I was flying through deep space fighting battles to save the Earth. It was the first first-person out-of-the-cockpit view for home systems if I recall correctly. It also exhibited a good number of firsts in the programming department, none of which I can authoritatively comment on since I am not a VCS programmer by any stretch of the imagination. But stretch the imagination with Star Ship we did. Yessir!
Star Ship brings back lots of memories. I remember setting it up inside the family wagon and putting blankets over the windows. My VCS rigged to a 9” B/W JC Penny television provided the visuals for my makeshift deep-space craft. We seemingly had all the amenities of the Starship Enterprise. Catered food from mom & dad, a bathroom right outside, an entertainment system. Just too cool for school!
On a more personal note, I was still innocent and didn’t know a damned thing on how cartridges and the VCS really worked. I knew there were black things called integrated circuits and stuff. But that was about it. And I was happy. I would learn when I grew up.
The first sets of games where you simply had to blow up the oncoming ships was considered training. While fun in and of itself, the game taught us to pull up (push down on the joystick) just like a real aircraft! It took time for a 5 year old to get used to that idea, but it quickly became natural. And when you played the 2-player variants you really learned about spatial orientation.
The second set of games where you have to speed through space and avoid the asteroids was the precursor to having to guide your ship in hyperspace in Star Raiders. While there was nothing to blow up, it sure made use of your maneuvering skills - that’s for sure.
The last set of games where you had to land on the moon was a load of fun too. We added excitement to it by letting the winner play Lunar Lander on my programmable calculator.
We all know graphics were simplistic, much like everything else of the era. But the sound effects were spot on. They were just like the deep space scenes in some sci-fi films, eerie, clean, seemingly intermittent. And when we were done with our hardcore simming, we’d read astronomy books and study Rand McNally’s Map of the Moon. All the while having Star Ship running in the background, for it added a sense of being in mission control.
The tie-in factor was high with Star Ship. It was the cornerstone where many of our space adventures congregated. Later on we'd incorporate Space War, Asteroids, Missile Command, and others. Gameplay flowing from one cartridge to next - much like how you have different levels in a modern-day FPS. Building our stories and carrying out orders. We fabricated epic galactic tales to rival even Star Wars. And some of these games were even part of a training regimen you had to complete if you were to join our makeshift "Space Program". If you were really elite and the best of the best with these games you could earn points that would score time on Star Raiders.
Just like real astronauts on a moon mission, we had many tasks to perform. Launch was as different from trans-lunar-injection, as actually landing on the moon was as different from splashdown on Earth. Each phase of our space program challenge required you to complete various tasks scattered over many different cartridges and their game variations. Furthermore, some of us were good at one task but sucked at another and we formed teams and each of built a reputation for being an expert in some aspect. And that is how we linked games together, for any one single game just begged for its background storyline to be expanded and become part of something more than itself. And it all started with Star Ship.
People that criticize early games like Star Ship are pretty much clueless in knowing how to have fun with the very first classics. But ignorance can be forgiven and alleviated if a genuine effort is put forth to learn and see the light.
Star Ship - one of the best early immersive games ever made for any system at the time. Do yourself a favor and play it today!
Edited by Keatah, Fri Apr 4, 2014 1:38 AM.