retroTrek iPhone review

retroTrek iPhone review

Most apps are fairly straightforward to review, but every once in a while, an auteurist pet project falls into the limelight. Paleo-Tech are up-front about the fact that retroTrek is designed to be a 'warts and all' emulation of a 1970s text-based space adventure, so with this firmly in mind, let's take to the wild black yonder in search of Klarnons to vaporise.

On your three year mission aboard the Starship Endeavor, it's up to you to plot a course through Federation territory and eliminate the Klarnon menace. To this end, you'll need to marshal every resource your powerful vessel has to offer... and do some serious homework.

As a straight port of an ancient text adventure rather than an updated experience, the arcane GUI and combat controls are nothing short of indecipherable to newcomers. You'll need a text guide to work out how to operate something as simple as your engines and weapon systems. However, after mugging up on the bundled FAQ, I'm delighted to report that it works extremely well. Onscreen 0-9 keys provide multiple different ways to plot vectors and lock phasers on target, though it took me almost an hour just to work out the basics.

retroTrek iPhone review

This is fine as far as it goes, and Paleo-Tech are to be congratulated for completing their mission objective. Unfortunately, though, this is where the hammer has to come crashing down.

retroTrek's blend of exploration, combat and tight time limits would have made a great fit for the iPhone, but the unwillingness to update the experience with all the mod cons we know and love mean that it doesn't make for an attractive purchase. In fact, it's very difficult to recommend.

Sorry, but only most dyed-in-the-wool classic Apple fans will get a kick out of this one. Here's hoping that the core ideals will be updated for the 21st century in due course.


  • Exploration is surprisingly addictive
  • Rewarding once you've learned the ropes
  • It's a successful vanity project


  • Completely inscrutable
  • Ancient gameplay
  • It's just a vanity project

Summary: retroTrek is a lovingly-emulated version of an ancient game. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult to recommend to all but the most nostalgic veterans.

Developer: Paleo-Tech

Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.

Price: £0.59 - App Store

retroTrek iPhone review

Read more about: iOSApple iPhoneApple iPhone 3GApple iPhone 3GSApple iPhone 4

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