The players take the role of Starfleet cadets. The cadets are asked to participate in a U.S.S. Enterprise-D simulation. Taking the place of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, they must embark on a series of mission-based goals and perform many tasks (in the form of mini-games) such as diverting power to shields, Transporter Systems, Navigation, Tactical, and more.
As the player successfully completes missions, they gain rank. Starting the game as an Ensign, the player can be promoted to Lieutenant, Lt. commander, Commander, and finally Captain. Each rank has a specific password the player can input to resume the game at whatever rank the player had previously achieved. Combat missions involve fighting enemies of varying strengths and numbers, with Talarians being the weakest and renegade Klingons being the most difficult (except for the Borg, who only appear in one mission).
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the NES version a 6.5 out of 10. The described the graphics as simply average, and two of the four felt that the numerous options for controlling the ship's operation, while "nifty", were poorly explained, confusing, and difficult to execute during combat.GamePro cited the same problems, saying the controls offer a wealth of options but are sluggish and frustrating to operate, and the graphics are "clever, but not eye-popping by current standards." They said it is less difficult than the Game Boy original due to the color graphics and larger screen size, but summarized the game as simply a "warm-up" for upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation games on current generation consoles. A reviewer in Starlog magazine said that both versions of the game "offer hours of entertainment and challenges." It was given a score of seven out of ten.