It's been a long road getting from there to here. Star Trek fans might have a whole new constellation of shows to enjoy (or complain about amitrite), but when it comes to video games the range of available options has been decidedly slimmer, especially on Nintendo systems. In fact, Star Trek: Conquest on Wii was the last time the franchise beamed onto a Nintendo platform, way back in 2007. After such a long leave of absence, it falls to Tessera Studios and the family-focused, licenced-IP-friendly publisher Outright Games to return to the final frontier with a cooperative action-puzzler based on Nickelodeon's franchise spin-off. The question is: Can Star Trek Prodigy: Supernova bring the series back to Nintendo consoles with a bang?
Well, yes and no. Any Trekkie worth their salt knows that the real appeal of the show and its umpteen spin-offs is not mapping stars or studying nebulae or modifying the main deflector to emit an inverse tachyon pulse but, instead, watching a tight-knit crew bonding over time and becoming a family as they problem-solve and perform their assigned roles with competence and camaraderie. Seeing positive examples of teamwork feels restorative and refreshing given the relative chaos of the world today, just one way in which Star Trek gives hope for the future. Tessera has done well to drill down on a key theme of Trek — working together to overcome adversity and find smart solutions to serious problems — and divert that power directly into Supernova's core.
Much of the game's charm relies on your familiarity with the characters from the show — so if you haven't caught up, you'll want to do so. In a nutshell, a motley bunch of youngsters led by 'Captain' Dal R'El commandeer the USS Protostar (a prototype Starfleet vessel they find mysteriously buried on a planet in the Delta Quadrant) and escape captivity with the help of a holographic version of Captain Janeway, of Voyager fame. This game is set in a mid-season gap and features a mystery centred around a star that's about to go nova, the evil robot Drednock, and the Protostar-hunting Diviner, who also happens to be the father of Gwyn, one of the stowaways onboard the ship and the character you'll be playing along with Dal.
Gameplay involves navigating 3D planet-based environments and switching between Gywn and Dal to solve various puzzles blocking your path, typically involving powerlines, switches, blocks, transporters, and more. Along the way, you'll rescue your other crewmates who return to the Protostar and periodically beam down to unblock your path when you open a channel. Jankom Pog, for example, uses his engineering nous to unlock jammed doors, while Rok smashes through big piles of stone. Progression is entirely linear, although you can revisit completed stages at any time to pick up items you missed, or ones that require assistance from a crewmember you hadn't rescued on your first run. Hitting 'ZL' activates a pulse from your Tricorder which highlights significant objects and shows the route to your next objective if you need a hand — a great help for younger players, although in practice we almost never used it.
Dal and Gywn have different abilities you'll have to employ in finding puzzle solutions. Dal, for example, can lift heavy objects for Gywn to crawl under and has a Chameleon ability which enables him to sneak past security cameras. Gywn can fire a tendril from her weapon to form a tightrope for Dal to traverse larger gaps they aren't able to get across with their standard dash abilities. And so on.
Drop-in co-op is available for a second player, and single players simply hit 'A' to switch between characters as needed. The AI for the one you're not controlling is relatively intelligent, fighting enemies as required and generally keeping up with you, although you'll have to switch to perform specific actions. Janeway awards scores and medals at the end of every mission, incentivising some light competition, and completing the game unlocks 'cheats' which makes going back to collect missing items and getting that 100% on your save file less of a grind.
Nothing Supernova presents — character abilities, environmental puzzles, upgrades — is revolutionary. If you've ever redirected beams of light or pushed blocks in a Zelda dungeon, you'll have seen everything Supernova has to offer before. However, it's all assembled cleverly and competently, and the puzzles really pick up in later levels as you start destroying power nodes, transporting light-directing blocks around the place, and encountering temporal ruptures which see each character occupying the same space in different time periods via split-screen. As a game aimed at younger players, there's nothing impossibly taxing, but we were pleasantly surprised by the depth and ingenuity on display in the latter half. Even if you know absolutely nothing about Prodigy's story or characters, there's still fun to be had here.
Various relics, creatures, and assorted plant life litter each level, which unlock health, dash, and weapon upgrades purchased with collectible crystals. You'll fire phasers at scorpion-like enemies known as Watchers. They come in several flavours — some with shields, some that throw mines, others which explode on death — but you're essentially fighting variants of the same foe over and over. This is the weakest part of the whole affair, with only the later levels providing any real challenge and combat itself being fairly limited. Enter an area, area locks down, dispatch all enemies that appear, continue to next area via an environmental puzzle, repeat. It's a familiar loop, with the combat being the weakest part.
A generous auto-lock when you fire your phaser(s) makes offing Watchers a simple case of firing, waiting for your phasers to cool down, and then firing again. Dal can switch between three phaser types: standard dual hand phasers, a rifle, or a cannon, but we stuck resolutely dual wielding the first option, upgraded to the max, and used Gwyn for her melee attacks only when necessary. Melee combat lacks punch so we stuck to our guns when possible. Once you've rescued crewmates, you can choose one at the beginning of a mission to assist in combat via aerial assault once an unseen meter has filled — although these AOE attacks never felt terribly effective. Murf's slime attack seemed to chip the most HP away, so we stuck with that once we'd unlocked it.
All the voice actors from the show feature here, and for the most part their work is excellent, bar a couple of odd line readings ("I'll take it from here!") and some repetition for which they can't be blamed. If Tessera wants to patch out the grunts Dal and Gwyn make every single time they dash, we'd welcome it. Every switch between characters is accompanied by one of a small handful of remarks, too, which begin to grate.
Other minor annoyances and wrinkles crop up here and there. The dash move ('B') also being the context-sensitive button is one of them, meaning that if you're standing beside a sign and dash away, you're going to start reading rather than running. We also encountered a little jank in one level where Dal got pushed off a ledge and fell through to a lower part of the level with a lift that required both characters to operate. We couldn't replicate the fall with Gwyn, so we had to restart that section. Glowing stones function as save points, but some levels are surprisingly lengthy, especially given the target demographic. Although the later levels are broken up with save points, you'll need 45 minutes or more to get through a couple of them.
We have to say that, despite its imperfections, Supernova grew on us the longer we stuck with it. We probably spent around ten hours going through its 12-stage campaign, but there were plenty of relics left to find in previous levels (including several famous items from Star Trek lore) and Holodeck missions to complete. If you're a parent looking for something to play with your kid while also indoctrinating them into a strange new world, Supernova offers a good Trekkin' time. It's Star Trek, but with the odd Baby Shark reference thrown in to make it more relatable to people born after 1973. To say Tessera's work here is competent sounds like we're damning with faint praise, but we did enjoy ourselves.
As with all other aspects, the performance on Switch is fine, with snappy loads, a frame rate which held steady for us, and visuals that remained crisp in handheld or docked mode. Things get a little fuzzy on the Protostar if playing portable, but Tessera has done a decent job scaling this Unreal Engine game for the platform. Don't get us wrong, this is hardly a flagship visual vessel, but given the relative distance from which you view the action, it does the job of conveying the show's CG style well, with budget-conscious, comic book-style montages rather than CG for the game's intro and outro cutscenes. With stages set across just three planets, we would have liked a little more variety, but what's here is pleasant enough.
For Trek-starved fans with Nintendo consoles, Star Trek Prodigy: Supernova does a good job — far better than you might expect — of channelling the show's essence and appeal into a light, kid-friendly co-op adventure with plenty of puzzles. By tapping into those Trek tenets of friendship, cooperation, and problem-solving, Tessera Studios has created something far closer in spirit to the series than any dry space sim, even if (much like the inexperienced crew running the Protostar) it can often feel a little rough around the edges. It's not set to stun, then, but it shows plenty of promise, especially if you have young cadets eager to enlist.