There have been two games bearing the name Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, both by Interplay Entertainment. The first game was released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega 32X. On the former system it was moderately well received and quite a technologically advanced game for the SNES, while the Sega 32X version was a bit less well-regarded due to some control issues, and being a slightly less impressive title by the standards of that system. Neither version set the world alight in terms of sales however, and the console version was soon forgotten.
The second and more renowned version was released for the PC in 1997. This game, released at the dawn of the 3D Acceleration era, featured much improved graphics and far better space battles. Moreover, it included live action cutscenes with several Star Trek actors (including William Shatner, George Takei and Walter Koenig) playing their characters. There were a lot of similarities between this game and its console forerunner (the character names were mostly the same, for instance), though it was quite different structurally. An expansion pack, Chekov's Lost Missions, was released the following year.
The PC game had a spiritual successor, Star Trek: Klingon Academy, released in 2000. Interplay were apparently planning a true sequel which would have taken place during the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though they lost their Star Trek licence before they could do any serious work on the game.
These Video Games provide examples of:
- A God Am I: In an early mission in the PC version, you come across an alien cult leader who has gained immense psychic powers from a close encounter with the Galactic Barrier. As you can probably guess, his message isn't one of peace and enlightenment.
- Artistic License Physics:
- If your impulse engines are knocked out, you will stop instantly instead of, you know, continuing with the same velocity for eternity or until an outside force changes it. This can lead to trouble since enemy ships are likewise afflicted; you'll be in close pursuit, shoot them, and then crash into them since you were going full speed and they stopped with about a picosecond for you to notice and swerve.
- In the same vein, the fact that starships handle basically like airplanes in their ability to change direction. This may be an Acceptable Break from Reality, since few would want to fly a starship that moves realistically.
- Bittersweet Ending: An odd version happens if you get the best ending in the console versions. One by one, you read about the illustrious careers that you and your classmates had... only for the last screen to inform you that a year after graduating, your science officer died when the ship he was serving on was destroyed while investigating a subspace anomaly.
- Bowdlerize: The recreation of the climatic battle from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in the SNES game changes Spock's line "If I were a human, I would tell [Starfleet], 'go to hell'," into him uttering a Klingon insult instead, likely because Nintendo still weren't allowing games on their systems to use the word "hell."
- Colon Cancer: The full title of the SNES and 32X version of the game is Star Trek: Starfleet Academy: Starship Bridge Simulator.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
- The console version is based on a heavily modified version of the game engine from Interplay's Star Trek adventure games, and shares its annoying habit of the AI-controlled starships being able to make turns and speed adjustments that no human can possibly hope to match. This essentially means that if an AI starship manages to successfully lock into a pursuit from behind your ship while on the hardest difficulty mode, you're dead.
- In both versions, the Kobayashi Maru simulation will keep spawning Klingon ships until you eventually get destroyed, thus technically also making this an in-universe example.
- Cutscene: The PC version was one of a host of games in the mid-late 90s which used live-action actors in the cutscenes.
- Damage Control: One of the game mechanics allows you to divert repair teams to prioritize different bits of Subsystem Damage.
- Difficulty Spike: The first two years of the console version are pretty easy, with the main difficulty coming from the occasional Guide Dang It!. Then, the first mission in the third year makes you take on the Phoenix, an incredibly powerful Romulan warship with a ton of armaments and a habit of decloaking, sucker-punching you with three or four plasma torpedoes and then cloaking again. The only thing that makes the battle easier is that the Phoenix loses shields when it cloaks, which lets you cause major damage if you can hit it. After that, you get a near-identical mission where you have to take down an Excelsior-class ship, which has near-identical armaments to the Phoenix and doesn't cloak.
- Failure Is the Only Option: At some point in each version of the game (the very end of the console version, and about halfway through the PC version), you are forced to play through the famed no-win Kobayashi Maru simulation. In a subversion, it is possible to win in both editions, via a cheat code in the console versions, and making exactly the right story choices in the PC version.
- Interquel: The PC version is this to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Notably, it has Sulu newly promoted to captain, and working at the academy while he waits for the USS Excelsior to have its failed transwarp drive torn out and replaced with a more conventional model.
- Matryoshka Object: Chekov uses this as a metaphor during a Mission Briefing to suggest that there's more going on than there initially seems.
- Multiple Endings:
- Featured in the console version; averted in the PC version.
- The PC version does have a Golden Ending that requires making a number of correct decisions throughout the game to be able to access the non-simulator final mission where you get to pilot the real USS Enterprise-A. Said mission also has multiple endings.
- My Nayme Is: The chief instructor in the console versions, Alex Rotherot, becomes "Aex" Rotherot in the PC version. And this isn't one of the game's many typos — the actor in the live-action cutscenes always pronounces his name as this too.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Most of the in-game music in the console version is taken from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with a few extra cues from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The PC version also borrows a few cues that its composer, Ron Jones previously wrote when he was working on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Red Alert: This is actually the name of one of the tracks from the PC version's soundtrack. Naturally, it tends to play when the shooting starts.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: One mission pits Forrester against a duplicate of himself who's out to avenge his uncle, who was killed in battle against the Klingons.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: The PC version is full of typos. Fortunately, none of them are so bad that they make the game any harder to complete, but it's surprising to see so many in a game made by a major developer.
- Schmuck Bait: In one of the console game's missions, you are sent to a star system whose sun is about to go supernova, and have the choice of rescuing either the residents of a Federation colony, members of the system's native species, scientists aboard a research station, or a stricken freighter which claims to be carrying royalty and will give a handsome reward to whoever saves them. If you choose to save the latter, it turns out that the freighter is actually captained by a con-man, and you end up having your mission score heavily penalized for being an easily fooled idiot. And if you try to save two sets of people, you get rewarded by having your ship instantly vaporized by the supernova, earning you a score of zero.
- Sequel Hook: During the course of the PC version, you meet Chekov as he is working on some new simulation scenarios for the Academy. These eventually form the basis of the Chekov's Lost Missions expansion pack.
- At one point between missions in the console version, your comms officer makes a comment about possibly fighting World War I-era biplanes in a simulation. The Star Trek game Judgment Rites, which Interplay released the previous year, had Kirk and crew actually face such a situation, courtesy of the classic villain Trelane.
- The Kobayashi Maru scenario takes some cues from the 1989 Pocket novel The Kobayashi Maru, including its depiction of Kirk's "unique" solution.
- Space Cadet Academy: The game features the eponymous institution.
- Take That!: An in-universe version with one of the training simulations being a partially disguised recreation of the Battle of the Mutara Nebula in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which Kirk sheepishly admits begins with the lesson that when a ship is approaching you and refusing to communicate, you are supposed to take a defensive posture and raise your shields.
- What the Hell, Player?: If you fire weapons at the starbase in the PC version, the mission instantly aborts and Rotherot chews you out, saying that "Starfleet is an institution for adults, not children."
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The console version includes this, with the results varying on how well you did across the course of the game. At worst, everyone flunks the academy and ends up working in various dead-end careers across the galaxy, and there are various different endings that go all the way up to the player character becoming the first captain of the USS Enterprise-B. (Harriman who?)