18
Jan
14

EGATrek for DOS

Title Screen

Title Screen

Some of the earliest games were written for time sharing systems, main-frames and minicomputers as they were the first computers that many people came into contact with before personal computers became popular. The games were frequently written in basic, usually fairly simple and include such classics as hunt the wumpus.

Your Ship

Your Ship

As the personal machines like the Apple II and others became more popular many of these old basic games were ported and sometimes updated with the addition of graphics and sound, something not possible on the original machines. One of the most ported and played games was called Star Trek. Named after the original series of Star Trek, which was very popular at the time.

Signing up

Signing up

The game basically puts you in a small galaxy filled with stars, planets, bases, and Klingons! Basically it’s your job to rid the area of the Klingons. You have torpedoes and Phasers to work with, and can use shields to defend yourself.

Mission Beginning

Mission Beginning

Today I played EGATrek, a port from 1988 for the IBM PC, although the version I played was released in 1992. The author is Nels Anderson who wrote a few other games I played on the school computers as a kid. This particular version is greatly upgraded from the original, the biggest upgrade being the graphics. He also changed the names in the game, I assume to avoid copyright issues.

Navigation

Navigation

The game has EGA graphics, which are actually pretty nice. There are sprites for objects on the map such as ships, bases and planets. There are a few gauges to show the energy and shield levels that you should keep a close eye on. The screen is nice and colourful, and all the information you need is relatively easy to find. There isn’t really much sound to speak of.

Shooting at Mongols

Shooting at Mongols

The controls are very much like the original game, which isn’t always a good thing, but they work out alright. You enter your command in text form, and can usually abbreviate it to one letter. I found the text box to enter commands too short for commands and their parameters sometimes, fortunately a popup allows you to enter the rest of the command in full.

Docking

Docking

This game is one of the many from the time with something called a “boss” key. For those who don’t know, the “boss” key would usually hide the game and display something that looked like work, often a spreadsheet. This game instead goes opens a DOS command shell whilst still in graphics mode! Be sure not to run anything that changes the graphics mode before returning to the game. This is because many more PC’s were business owned rather than owned by an individual.

They're all dead!

They’re all dead!

The learning curve for the game is nice, lower levels are easy, whilst the higher levels are challenging. Whilst there is a time limit, it only applies to how long the orders you issue take to complete, so there is no pressure to decide quickly. There is some online help for commands and how they work, so you won’t need to go back to the instructions if you have trouble.

Score

Score

I had fun with EGATrek, but it’s not a spectacular game in any sense. It is a little repetitive, so you’ll not want to play for extended periods of time. I feel the original has this problem as well, so that’s not surprising. Unlike many other games from this era, the author has a website, and he still has his games for sale. You can find his website here.

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