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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Jacob
    May 6, 2017 @ 8:45 pm

    The mail-away action figure is what catches my attention here (you can see where my interests lie). I never this toy existed!

    And it looks like a beauty too!:

    I’m going to have to hunt one down. And I’ll have to give the game a try too. Good ol’ Playmates.


  2. Jacob
    May 6, 2017 @ 9:29 pm

    Also — Although I was a huge Star Trek fan in 1995, I was never aware that the majority of the video games you’ve covered even existed. Among the Trek fans I knew at the time (a very small group of junior high geeks and outcasts), the Star Trek Collectable Card Game was HUGE at the time. The CCG was pretty much exclusively how I interacted with Trek in game form around 94-96. In fact, the tv shows, CCG, and comic books were Star Trek to me back then.

    I’m curious, Josh, if you’ve ever played the CCG, or if you plan on covering it at all? It still holds up as a fun game, and was pretty popular in the cultural moment your currently describing.


    • Josh Marsfelder
      May 7, 2017 @ 6:35 am

      Is the collectable card came the same as Decipher’s “customizable” card game from the late 90s?

      If it is, I have the Deep Space Nine starter pack from that game, but nothing else. I was always fairly intimidated by it and never felt compelled to dig further. Nobody I knew played it (as far as I know) but there could be a whole host of reasons why that might be the case.

      I would assume trading card games would be more geared towards hardcore fans rather than casual viewers, which is who I would presume these video games were targeted towards. Though I say that and remember how ginormous Magic the Gathering and the Pokémon TCG were at roughly the same point in time.


      • Jacob
        May 8, 2017 @ 10:44 pm

        Yeah, sorry, it is Decipher’s Customizable Card Game. I’ve always called it CCG. I can never remember what the first C stands for. 🙂

        The game was definitely aimed at hardcore fans … although at the particular moment that it came out … 1994 IIRC … Star Trek (TNG in particular) was so popular that it caught on with gamers and comic book types in a major way. I remember the game being sold en masse at every game, card, comic, and collectable shop I frequented. The massive popularity of Magic the Gathering and Pokémon helped as well, for sure.

        And I agree that a game like Crossroads of Time would’ve been aimed at a wider audience, but ironically, to me at least, my friends and I (who were avid SNES and Genesis players) never knew Crossroads existed, while CCG was all the rage.

        I do understand how a game like CCG can seem pretty intimidating, but it’s not so bad once you get used to it. I bought a complete set of the first wave of TNG cards, along with the DS9 starter set, last summer for next to nothing. I play it with my kids, and they love it … It’s still a great game. I think you’d dig it, Josh … it’s very thematic and heavily character and storyline focused.

        I wish I had more objective information on its place in Trek and pop culture history … but alas, I only have my own fading memories .. and I was 14 at the time. But it was very important to me.


        • Josh Marsfelder
          May 9, 2017 @ 12:38 am

          If it was sold primarily through comic shops, that would explain why I never saw it. I just never rolled in those circles. What few comics I had I got from the corner grocery store.

          Maybe I’ll take a closer look at it someday. Given the way money is right now though, investing in a trading card game is looking pretty unlikely.


  3. Vic
    April 22, 2021 @ 9:40 pm

    Thanks for covering the differences between SNES and Sega Genesis. I’m a DS9 fan who’s going about playing the four video games based on the series, and I was trying to figure out where to start with the first one. Your pros for the Sega Genesis and my own history with the platform convinced me that was the way to go.


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