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Space Trek - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Space Trek

WiiWare | Calaris | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 700 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (sideways)
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6th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

To date, I own roughly 100 titles from the WiiWare service. So I know as well as everyone else that there's more than a few lackluster games on the service. If you've been keeping your eye on things lately, you'll know that we've been getting a lot of iPhone ports. They're not all bad, mind you. After all, we did get Crystal Defenders R1 & R2. But there are some terrible ones that are totally not worth getting into. Where does Space Trek fall? Well let me break it to you this way: I have no doubt in my mind that Space Trek is the worst WiiWare game I have played yet. Even some of the "bad ones" I've played did some entertainment value, as brief and minuscule as it was. But this? There's no reason why you should spend any money on this whatsoever.

    The story sets the stage by introducing you to Captain Jay who takes it upon himself to rescue people who are stranded on a planet. This world is run by a race of aliens known as the Knagars who don't take lightly to humans infiltrating their air space. From the very start, Space Trek shows clear signs that it came from the iPhone pretty much as is. Your first encounter with the slimy group is shown in the form of a cutscene that is downright appalling to witness! The resolution is dreadful and shows incredible evidence of compression. Put frankly, I've seen homemade YouTube videos with better quality, and I was shocked the developers did little to fix this glaring problem at all.

    But poor first impressions aside, you'll travel to multiple areas to retrieve those in distress and as you do, you'll see and hear dialogue between the captain and his ship's computer, along with interactions with the alien race. I quite liked the main character's spunky, get-out-of-my-way attitude and he even managed to throw some slight humor in there as well. And having voice acting in the game was a nice touch as well, something I'd like to see more of in WiiWare games. Overall, the story aspect of the game isn't bad. In fact, it's one of the very few things the developers almost got right.

From the Main Menu, you can start a new game, continue where you left off, or toggle a few options. When starting a new game, you'll have a choice between Story Mode (set to Easy, Medium or Hard) and Survival Mode. But more on Survival later. Beginning a new game, you'll get thrown into the first level with no tutorial, where you're expected to know how to play beforehand. To control your ship, you hold the Wii Remote sideways, using the 2 Button to advance, and the 1 Button to reverse. Using tilts of the Wii Remote, you can move left and right. Your ship also comes equipped with a standard weapon that can be activated by pressing the A Button. Once you find new item pick-ups, you can press the B Button to swap it out for something more powerful.

    On the bottom left of the screen is a display that tracks some important information. Here you'll be informed on your ship's shields, the amount of ammo you have in your current weapon, as well as how much energy you have left in your battery supply. All of these variables recover gradually as time goes on, so you don't need to worry over them a great deal. The display also has a slider on the left side of the screen that's been kept in tact from the iPod Touch release. If that doesn't scream laziness, I don't know what does. By pressing the Minus Button, you can change the display to show an overhead map of the entire area. You can still move around while the map is being displayed, which is good. But the visuals for this 3D viewer are not good at all, resembling the quality of an N64 game. And that's not something you'd want your game to be compared with.

    There are two glowing flaws with this setup that become evident as soon as you start playing. With the clips set to 'Pause' by default under the Options menu, your ship will freeze in place while some dialogue plays. You can move your Wii Remote around the area while you're waiting, but the movement that takes place is unstable. A more pressing concern is how they've restricted gameplay to reduce the amount of freedom you have to explore an area. Movement is restricted to horizontal only, so while you're able to move left and right, having this fixed axis means that you're unable to move up or down. It definitely seems odd in this day and age.

Making your way through a level can be more of a hassle than it really should. The tilting mechanisms they've employed with the use of the Wii Remote are very sensitive. As such, you'll find yourself crashing into walls and even enemies more often than you should. Especially when it comes to passing through one or two tight corners, you're forced to adjust your play styles to making only very subtle tilts with your controller. Your spaceship has some pretty fast rocket thrusters for movement, but unfortunately, you'll need to keep these in check as well. Many times you'll be travelling too fast for combat, forcing you to either back up or try to slow down as you approach a group of enemies. This forces you to go a bit slower than you might like, which leads to a sloppy sense of pace and flow.

    Enemies mostly consist of metal robots that simply float in the air space around you. Some of these don't attack you upon sight (if at all), as if they were on a suicide mission. Even on Hard difficulty, the enemies aren't much of a threat when it comes to face-to-face battles. They only become a threat in the sense that it's easy to crash into them when you're going full speed ahead, which can sever your shields tremendously. By the third level in the game, you'll have to contend with some new hacking drones, so at least they tried to incorporate something new. But the same time, fending off against a series of simple-minded enemies is not gratifying whatsoever, nor is it any bit enjoyable.

On occasion, you'll also encounter alien creatures that require more fire power, but once again, they don't pose much of a threat. The only exception was in the case of a giant worm-like enemy. As I was trying to make sense of everything in the very first level, imagine my shock when a giant worm appeared seemingly out of nowhere to consume my ship. I was only warned about it after it was too late, resulting in an instant game over. I later realized that they were hiding in brown patches on the ground but still, why they decided to implement this unappealing enemy is beyond me. (Perhaps to add an element of surprise to the game?) Its inclusion is hardly worthwhile, not to mention it can break up whatever little pace you might try to hold onto in the game.

    Regardless of where you are in a level, you'll find a bunch of large slightly-transparent squares that indicate where enemies can be found. It's extremely distracting, and it's a really silly way of trying to give the player direction. This system also doubles as a lock-on mechanism which, in theory, should home your attacks in on enemies when you get close. But more often than not, you'll find yourself backing up to aim at a target you thought you hit the first time. As if these weren't already a problem, there's also a green square to represent each of the stranded people you're looking to rescue. So you can imagine how many things are in your face when you first enter a level. As you approach one of the survivors, your ship will flash a sign and play a short voice clip to let you know that they're in the area. So long as you don't travel very far, the tractor beam located underneath your ship will automatically pick them up from the ground. 

Half of the levels in Space Trek vie for something slightly different. And as it so happens, they're even more distressing than what already exists in the game. These missions play out as if they were out of a racing game. Your objective is to defeat a certain number of enemies along an on-rails path. If you make it through the level without reaching your goal, the stage will loop once again. At the start, a cluster of enemies will fly in from behind you and force their way through you, doing a number on your shields. Every time this happened, I kept thinking to myself: "There has got to be a better way to program this". You can't turn around, so it essentially forces you to move forward constantly, whilst also asking you to slow down to destroy enemies. Once again, a sloppy sense of pace becomes a crippling issue here. Needless to say, these missions aren't fun to play even in the slightest.

    There are a total of 6 stages in the entire game. Yes that's right, you can beat the game in a single sitting of less than a half-hour if you really wanted to. An even bigger offense comes with the final stage, where you face off against a modest boss. The cutscene promises that it will be "one heck of a battle", but in actuality, it's actually really boring, and not very challenging. To add insult to injury there's no epic music playing, but if you listen carefully, you can hear very, very soft chatter taking place in the background. Once you defeat the boss, your ship announces, "Congratulations, now we can go back home", and then the game is over. Right there in that moment, you'll instantly feel a wave of emotions consisting of anger, disappointment and regret over purchasing this title. 

    Even in the normal levels that you play, there's virtually no music at all. And in this environment, it seems very eerie. And yet, there are some audio issues that the developers didn't catch at all. For one, when you complete a level, the little jingle that plays at the end will combine itself with the introductory jingle that plays at the start of a new level. In addition, there were one or two instances where the voice clips for the computer would overlay on top of each other for a jumbled mess. That's bad programming, right there. When it comes to other aspects of the game's presentation, it doesn't do a whole lot better. The levels are well below satisfactory level, and the animations are not well done. Plus, when your shields give out, the ship will just fall to the ground and briefly tumble along the floor of the level before you're transported back to the Main Menu. Really, there's nothing about this game that even looks remotely appealing.

The developers added a Survival Mode to the package in hopes that this would keep players coming back, but it really doesn't do much towards that purpose. Here you're placed in a confined arena where a series of enemies will appear one after the other in waves. As the name would suggest, you need to try to stay alive for as long as you can as the enemies get tougher. I suppose it is a blessing in itself that Calaris didn't just have the Story Mode, but at the same time, this doesn't carry a lot of appeal. At least on the iPhone release there were online leaderboards to make it more appealing. Honestly, after beating the game, you'll want to stay as far away from it as you can, and this mode won't stop you from doing that. 

    I don't think I'll ever forget the time I had with Space Trek. This game is just full of flaws that go far beyond simple unpleasantness. This game is absolutely horrid, and there's absolutely no enjoyment to derive from this whatsoever. Space Trek isn't even close to being worth $7, or even the shocking 300+ Blocks of memory it takes up. This game really exemplifies how some developers view the service: a dumping ground for poorly-executed ports just to get a quick buck. Space Trek is an awful, awful WiiWare game that shouldn't even be on the service at all. Unless you want to be forever haunted by your experience with this game, head into outer space instead and stay far away from this bomb.

05/30 - Simply Awful

Gameplay 2/10 - Sloppy controls, bad design in many places (e.g., faulty lock-on system), poor sense of pace, restricted movement, concept isn't bad
Presentation 2/10 - Audio issues, ugly cutscenes, barely any music, shoddy animations, distracting target squares, sub-par visuals, voice acting, decent story
Enjoyment 0/5 - Suffers from extreme problems that make it a boring game with no enjoyment at all, defeating unintelligent enemies offers no satisfaction
Extra Content 1/5 - Survival Mode tries to extend the experience but doesn't offer much in the long run, terrible value for your money, very very short

Equivalent to a score of 17% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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