Updated: Jul 27
I stumbled upon this in a charity shop (what Americans term a “thrift store”). It’s a game from the early 1990s and one of the few Star Trek games I didn’t have in my collection. The copy I found was unplayed and the cards were unpunched.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that this is pretty much an object lesson on how not to produce a game, let alone one that makes use of an established franchise.
For starters, the game is very poorly produced. The ‘cards’ are actually printed on what feels like thick paper rather than cardstock. The printing is low quality and even the images on the box of Kirk and Spock appear just to have been printed on a sheet of paper and gummed onto the lid. Other than the photos on the lid (and the same photo printed in monochrome on the reverse of the cards), the game makes almost no use of the Star Trek franchise. There are no standees or other representations of the main characters: just nondescript plastic pawns.
Star Trek: The Final Frontier is a very simple and very basic roll and move game. Players are racing to be the first to land on the four different planets for which they will each have drawn cards at the start of play. This is of itself highly random because one player may draw planets that are close to each other and another may find he has to travel round the whole board. Players simply roll a die and move that number of spaces along a track. If you land on a space with a star on it, you draw a card which will randomly either benefit you (eg: “move forward 3 spaces”) or set you back (“miss a turn”). The cards include some vague thematic flavour (you will be told that you are missing a turn because Scotty has found an overload in the warp drive) but none require the application of any decision, skill or judgement.
Sadly, this is a children’s game that is unlikely to hold a child’s attention and which will disappoint because of its paper-thin tie in with the Star Trek franchise. Still, as an avowed Trekkie, it fills a gap in my collection, and I have the small satisfaction of knowing it has been of some tiny benefit to charity.
(Review by Selwyn Ward)