Star Fleet I: The War Begins!

aka: Star Fleet: The War Begins!
Moby ID: 2580
Commodore 64 Specs

Description official description

In Star Fleet I: The War Begins, the player is a cadet fresh out of Starfleet Academy and has been assigned to command the United Galactic Alliance Starship (U.G.A.S.) Republic, a training ship in the Antares III region. The United Galactic Alliance is currently at war with Krellan and Zaldron empires and it is the player's mission to protect the region.

The graphics of the PC version of game are represented by American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) character codes. Everything from the starship, the mainframe, to torpedoes are all in ASCII.


For the newly graduated cadet, missions (as explained in the mission briefing) usually consist of destroying a small number of enemy ships under a specified amount of time e.g. You must eliminate at least 24 enemy warships within 30 days. Higher ranks will demand more kills with less time requirements. When the target is reached, the player may enter a starbase and prompt to end the mission or continue and destroy more ships to reap a higher mission rating, until the mission time runs out.

After successfully completing a mission, the mission success is rated: number of enemies destroyed, captured, starbases rescued, etc. The player will then then be considered for commendation for a medal or even a promotion.

The U.G.A.S.

The entirety of the game is represented by a sci-fi representation of the starship's computer display. The main screen consists of commands, the star chart, the tactical display (which consists of among others a local map of the ships position as well as any entities in the area), and shield control. Other sections/information of the starship maybe accessed through the appropriate buttons on the bottom screen.

Navigation may be conducted automatically or manually. Standard navigation via the navigation computer is conducted by accessing the main computer and setting out a course. Higher levels may result in random events during navigation (such as ion storms, running into asteroids, or even enemy ships).

Each map is randomly generated and also uncharted. Each quadrant is represented by numbers, where each number refers to: stars, starbases and number of enemy ships. The starship is also equipped with long ranged sensors to view adjacent quadrants an well as short ranged sensors to view the current surroundings. For even further exploration, the starship also has probes to scan far-away quadrants.


Entities in a combat situation may consist of the following: the player's starship., enemy Krellan warship (max 5 per quadrant), enemy cloaked Zaldron warships (usually one per quadrant), and an allied starbase. Combat initiates when the player's starship enters a hostile quadrant (portrayed by a red number on the main map), usually patrolled by a minimum of 1 Krellan warship. Red Alert is automatically set (unless configured otherwise) resulting the rising of shields and direct attack by enemy warships. Enemy warships are either Krellan starships or the Zaldron cloaked warships, both capable of phaser weaponry. The Krellans use multiple ships to overpower the player, while the Zaldron use hit and run tactics while remaining cloaked (invisible on the both map screens).

Combat commences by eliminating all hostiles in the present quadrant (destroying them) or by capturing those ships (and optionally delivering them to a starbase). The ship's main weapons arsenal consists of a phasers, torpedoes, and mines. Torpedoes are reserved for direct destruction of enemy vessels. Phasers are usually reserved for the intent of disabling an enemy vessel for capturing purposes. Mines are used to damage enemy warships that may prove too maneuverable for phasers and torpedoes to hit.In some cases, a friendly starbase may come under attack while the player is patrolling the region. The player may opt to rescue the starbase before it is destroyed.

Capturing enemy vessels may only be conducted when the enemy warship is disabled (by phasers or other means). Space marines then must board the adjacent disabled warship and automatic combat occurs between the space marines and the enemy crew. If successful, the enemy ship will be captured as well as some power reserves and enemy prisoners. Be warned that enemy prisoners or enemy spies may board the player's ship and damage the ships systems (indicated by an intruder alert). The enemy ship(s) may then be towed to be transported to a starbase.

Groups +



Credits (DOS version)

29 People (22 developers, 7 thanks) · View all

Lead Design
Graphics / Artwork
Ship Profiles
Music / Sound Programming
Typesetting and Graphics
Cover Art
"Title Version" music (uncredited): Symphony No. 5 in C minor - 1808. Composed by
This manual (Star Fleet Officers Academy Training Manual Volume 1) is dedicated to the memory of the <i>Challenger</i> seven, who gave their lives on January 28, 1986 while helping us reach for the stars.
[ full credits ]



Average score: 64% (based on 6 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 23 ratings with 4 reviews)

A breakthrough Tactical Simulator...

The Good
Star Fleet I: The War Begins (SFI) is one of the first (if not THE first) commercially produced "Star Trek" tactics game. Released in '86 by Interstel, the object of the game is simply to protect your sector from the onslaught of the Krellans and the Zaldrons.

You start the game and sign in at the prompt. In fact you also need to supply your password in order to start the game. Multiple players are supported, but on a one mission at time basis. Therefore you need to have your own password so other Commanders can't use your stats to play. Starting in a simulator, you proceed to go on training missions. After successfully completing the training missions, you are given command of an actual ship and go out to battle. In order to get promotions, you need to have a success percentage along with a required number of missions before receiving the promotion.

You patrol the sector, defending your starbases and defeating your enemies. On the lower ranking missions, you have more starbases and a substantial amount of time in order to complete your mission. As you climb through the naval ranks, your number of starbases decreases, the enemy becomes smarter (and deadlier), and your mission time has little leeway.

Failure of your mission has its consequences. If your ship is destroyed (from either enemy fire or self- destruction) it becomes unavailable for play. You can't select the vessel, and neither can anyone else that plays. There is a limited number of ships, and if a lot of people are playing, then it can get difficult.

Successful completion of your missions can result in promotion (which opens up harder missions) and, if your success rating is high enough, medals and honors. So the better you play, you have more bragging rights with your friends :)

The controls are all done by keyboard. Selecting your commands are done using the 1-9 keys along with extra key entries, depending on the command. Plotting your course is done by selecting the degree and the c-factor (i.e., acceleration rate). Each sector is equal to 1.0 c-factors so plotting courses is fairly simple. The same technique is used for plotting torpedo courses.

I find that this game is a breakthrough game for 1986. Previously, this game appeared on mainframe computer thoughout the US and was immensly popular on campuses. Because of the calculations involved in such a game, it wasn't until the PC was released (with its computational abilites), that it was a viable game for commercial release.

The Bad
There is only one thing I find annoying. But before I begin, let me state that the reason being is because of the fact that is a text-based interface.

Configuring your shields is a pain in the butt. The "Graphic" for your ship has the ships bow pointed towards the top of the screen, with the 1st shield on the bow, 2nd on the starboard side, 3rd on the stern, and the 4th on the port side. But the graphic only helps when your ship is oriented in the game to 90 degrees (north). If your ship is oriented in any other direction, it's confusing to figure out how to manipulate your shields.

The Bottom Line
This is a first rate game, which is available to download (as freeware!) at the site in the "Links/Searches" section. If you download it, it works best if install to a bootable floppy disk. Although the graphics are dated, the game shines in it replay value.

As a side note, the authors of the original are working on a Win98 version of the game, soon to be released. If the new version is in anyway like the original in its presentation, gameplay or replay value, it's certain to be a hit.

Final verdict: A fantastic old-school game... Download it and Enjoy :)

DOS · by Chris Martin (1155) · 2000

Extremely repetitive, only good for nostalgia's sake

The Good
Lots of things to control, like navigation, sensors, weapons, security, boarding party, tractor, and more. Simple and clean interface (it's text, of course!)

The Bad
Extremely repetitive. All you do EVER is to "kill enough enemy ships before the time runs out". Warp into quadrant. Cruise the sectors until you locate starbase, killing the odd enemy along the way. Refuel (recharge), go out and shoot a few more enemies until your energy runs low, go back for recharge, repeat until time runs out or you killed all enemies. You'd be bored to death before you finish!

The Bottom Line
Star Fleet 1 is a straight adaptation of the mainframe "startrek" game with many enhancements (such as color and so on) where you must clear the "quadrant" of enemy presence, with limit starbase(s) available for resupply and limited amount of supplies you can carry.

The game is essentially luck and resource management, as you do not know where the starbase is when you enter the quadrant. You must locate the starbase yourself by cruising around, and hopefully not to be overwhelmed by enemy ships before then. Once you resupplied, you go out on hunting expeditions to take down more enemy ships, go back for more supplies, and hopefully reach your "quota" of kills before time runs out.

The game is heavily depedent on luck as your sensor range is limited and you do not know what lies beyond a certain distance, making long-range/high-speed travel dicey. Finding the starbase is a matter of dumb luck unless enemies are already attacking the starbase (in which case it'll declare a mayday). On higher levels you're limited to a SINGLE starbase, so either you find it first or you will lose. As your energy won't regenerate, you must carefully ration your energy before you need a recharge, and maintain a reserve for contingencies. Energy use is also highly random, as enemy ships cause random amount of damage, you cause random amount of damage on them (so a 150 pt phaser blast may or may not kill the enemy ship depending on distance and any "evasive manuevers"). Even torpedoes can miss, and you carry limited number of those.

Star Fleet 1 adds security, saboteurs, boarding party, and tractor beam. You can now capture enemy ships (worth 2 kills) but you also have to deal with saboteurs who wants to damage your ship. While another set of objectives is welcome, it's also highly random and simply another set of things to do instead of giving you a true set of command experience.

All in all, it's rather nostalgic, but if you want a TRUE sense of Star Trek type starship combat, check out Star Fleet Command from Interplay.

DOS · by Kasey Chang (4591) · 2001

A highly addictive PC version of the old mainframe Star Trek game

The Good
The tactics of this game were what made it so enjoyable. Perhaps the most fun you could have was firing a spread of 5 photon torpedoes that you had manually input the firing angles for, and then hitting all five enemy ships!

Another enjoyable part of this game was the Zaldrons (like the Romulans) had the ability to 'cloak' their ships. So you might be getting pummeled by someone invisible, or inadvertently ram them while trying to flee.

It was also a lot of fun merely crippling ships, then towing them (and prisoners) to the nearest star-base for a reward. The downside of this would be that prisoners would escape and sabotage your ship!

Another enjoyable part in the mid-stages of the game, was saving star-bases whenever they came under attack (plus it got you tons of points toward medals). Often there would be one invisible Zaldron that would take you several turns to locate and destroy to save the star-base.

The Bad
As stated in a previous review, configuring shields manually could be confusing. Also as stated in a previous review, at the highest levels it's mostly a race for time finding your only star-base before the numerous enemy ship encounters as you search for it break down your ship.

Also, at the higher levels, you are constantly distracted by saboteurs, star-base attacks that the star-base resolved before you could arrive. Other non-tactical and distracting annoyances.

The Bottom Line
Highly fun and addictive tactical space warfare game.

DOS · by ex_navynuke! (42) · 2005

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Apple II version

The Apple II version has random ion storms which would knock out the ships shields. This feature was removed on the PC and the Atari versions of the game.

Cancelled board game

A board game based on Star Fleet was announced in Interstel's 1988 product catalog, but it was never released.


The Star Fleet Officers Academy Training Manual Volume I was dedicated to the seven astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion, on January 28, 1986.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #150 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list

Information also contributed by cebulba and Chris Martin.


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Related Sites +

  • Extra Strength Software
    Official Download site for Star Fleet I: The War Begins. Also the Official site for Star Fleet Deluxe for Win9x
  • Star Fleet Games Central
    The archived Version of the official developers website. It includes downloads for the first 3 Starfleet games and also a Demo of Starfleet Deluxe which was never completed. The original site does not exist anymore so this is a link to where the contents of the website are still available.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 2580
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Chris Martin.

Amiga added by JRK. Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64 added by Kabushi. Apple II added by Eli Tomlinson. Atari ST added by Belboz. Macintosh added by me3D31337.

Additional contributors: Kasey Chang, Indra was here, formercontrib, nudgegoonies, Patrick Bregger.

Game added November 26, 2000. Last modified August 30, 2023.