This game is a hidden, oft ignored gem for Star Trek fans.
Its combat mechanics are a bit vanilla, and the pattern of enemy spacecraft is repetitive. But what this game lacks in gameplay "wow" factor, it makes up for in attention to detail and storytelling.
You play as a Starfleet cadet, beginning your command simulation career with a lowly science vessel. You work your way all the way up to the iconic Constitution class starships (the same class as the original Enterprise, for those of you who haven't spent most of your life convincing yourself that the model starships in your room aren't a lady repellant).
This game has an impressive collection of authentic spacecraft from the Star Trek franchise. Moreover, its roster is expandable through the "Extra Ship Code" (which I still know). With that, you can use the real heavy hitters, such as the Federation Excelsior or the Romulan Phoenix (a variation of the classic Bird of Prey....ok, I'm getting too nerdy, aren't I? *ahem*).
This game features multiple renderings of different bridges, including several different Federation designs, and even layouts for Klingon and Romulan bridges (complete with the alien head ridges for your crew). Furthermore, the game includes script perfect recreations of scenarios from the Original Series episode "Balance of Terror," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
But to me, the final hat trick that makes this game unforgettable is an easter egg code that you can enter at the start screen which allows you to play AS the legendary James T. Kirk himself. If you make it all the way through the game on this hard difficulty, you can see the final Kobayashi Maru simulation play out with Kirk reprogramming the simulator to make the no-win scenario beatable (a nod to Wrath of Khan canon).
Ok, one more thing. My online handle, "Hawkins1701," is inspired by this game. I would always pick the pre-selected last name "Hawkins," and "1701" is the Enterprise's registry number.
For a franchise that has seen one bad videogame after another, Starfleet Academy: Starship Bridge Simulator is one giant breath of fresh air.