Star wrecking, across the universe... I never listened to that song and I don't know this verse... It's funny how THAT song rattled around my head like a tin can in a tumble dryer and yet when it came to writing a funny intro the words of the infamous ditty escaped me. It says something of the popularity of the Star Trek theme that the record, which doesn't even have a disco beat, can enter the Top Hundred at all, never mind reach Number One. And though the timing probably has more to do with the release of the latest Trekkie movie than the recent novelty single, here we have a budget Trek which takes a humorous look at the crew who 'boldly go where no man has BEEN before' (even the phrase must be copyright)!
Star Wreck fools around with the names of the famous starship crew and coalesces around a story from the log of the starship Paralysed. You, Captain T Cake, are on a mission to the planet Dandrox, with a cargo of one Trell and a Rigellian Slime Beast, needed for experimental purposes. To complete the complement of weirdos you also have on board the Thracian Ambassador going to Dandrox and a Kroll in transit to Alpha- Trica III.
You join the Captain in his cabin on the Crew Deck, one of four decks; they're all of slightly different shape and stacked one on top of another, but most lead east from a central elevator shaft. This shaft provides effortless transport around the ship much as in the TV series, but no doubt you'll soon find a power failure curtailing your movements.
And that can only mean Mr Clot who, despite his name, gets one of the few good write-ups ('a fine engineer and the only thing which holds this bucket together'). The others are slandered as follows: 'a bleary-eyed medic' (Dr Decoy), 'a strange Slavic individual' (Checkout), and 'looks like something out of Dante's Inferno' (guess)!
Observing these characters is one thing but actually talking to them or visiting their quarters brings about some strange behaviour, ranging from Checkout's incoherent speech through Lieutenant Yahoo's amorous advances and Dr Decoy's fixing - 'just a flu jab' he says - to Mr Zulu stripping off on the bridge.
But not everything is off the wall - there are occasions when lucidity returns. Firing the torpedo from the bridge on the highest level gives rise to the following comment: 'Great! You have just dispatched one of the deadliest weapons known to man into the depths of space. Let's hope it doesn't hit an inhabited world.'
And at other times the game can be downright civil servantish - EXAM WEAPONS CONTROL gives 'This is the control for all the weapons systems' - or even estate agentish: EXAM CONSOLE leads to 'It's very nice'. Still, a return to insanity is never far off, with the likes of EXAM HELM - 'You can't put it on your head' - lurking around every corner.
There are spots where the program is funny AND accurate. FI RE PHASER gives 'Your eyesight isn't what it was and you have blown a hole in the Starship', and examining the Thracian Ambassador you're told 'He is a surly old article with no sense of humour, somewhat like the average computer mag reviewer'.
Star Wreck isn't the best-constructed budget game I've seen, but it does deal with one of the most interesting TV programs ever - and some of the jokes are still funny, despite the mass of TV and radio humour directed at the series over the years.
DIFFICULTY: not easy to actually get anywhere
GRAPHICS: rudimentary and oft repeated
PRESENTATION: decidedly average
INPUT FACILITY: verb/noun
Getting time-warped with Star Wreck, Alternative's takeoff of the much-parodied Sixties TV series.