Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (1992) was a commercial success and highly praised by critics on MS-DOS. Star Trek fans everywhere were treated to the reunion of the original cast with episodic-type missions that contained all the atmosphere and charm of the television series. A sequel would be released a year later. Would it achieve the same success as its predecessor?
Star Trek: Judgement Rites is a single-player point and click game developed by Interplay Productions and released for MS-DOS in 1993. A version would be developed by Mac OS and released on the Mac in 1995. I chose to review the PC version downloaded from Steam.
Judgement Rites picks up directly after the final mission of 25th Anniversary. Once again you take command of the USS Enterprise bridge crew and are instantly thrown into a scenario that could spell disaster for the Federation. There are eight missions or “episodes” for you to complete with the emphasis on brains over brawn. The main story arc consists of the crew becoming aware that the missions they are embarking on seem to have been created by a superior race of aliens who are testing the Federation’s suitability for contact.
During each mission, Kirk, Spock and Mccoy beam to a planet or another spaceship. They are joined by a fourth member of the crew whose speciality is needed for that particular mission. In 25th Anniversary, the focus was very much of Kirk, Spock and McCoy but this game also allots time to other characters such as Uhura and Scotty, allowing them to come to the fore and shine.
The original cast all return to voice their characters which, naturally, makes you feel as if you are playing an episode from the Original series. The game just wouldn’t be the same without the dulcet yet unemotional tones of Spock, or the comedic bickering of Spock and McCoy that we know so well from the television series.
The gameplay is identical to 25th Anniversary. You use the cursor to direct your characters to interact with objects and characters. When speaking to other characters, there are times when you have the option to choose a diplomatic or terse response. This will directly affect your end of mission score. If your end of mission score is too low, you will be ordered back to Starfleet Academy to retrain, ending the game so save multiple games and save often.
Once again, the vibrancy of the colours and the detail of the sprites and background are very pleasing to the eye. Apparently, Judgement Rites had sharper graphics and SFX than 25th Anniversary, but after comparison I can’t say I noticed it really. Maybe the backgrounds were more detailed but the improvements maybe so subtle as to go undetected by my aging eyes.
There are a few differences between Judgement Rites and 25th Anniversary. Firstly, 25th Anniversary focussed on individual missions much like the TV show. Judgement Rites sees most of the missions follow a story arc throughout the game. Also, unlike 25th Anniversary, you do not have to fight in a starship battle which I was a little bit disappointed in. After all, we all love a good starship battle don’t we?
I found this game harder and the missions more complex than 25th Anniversary, especially the mission called “Through This Be Madness…”. I felt that the puzzles were harder and there was greater depth to the material of each mission.
I first played this game almost 20 years ago. If memory serves, the voices of the original cast were not available then. I can’t remember if the issue was my computer or not but according to my research, the voices of the cast were only available on the CD-ROM versions. I wish more of these games were created as they are so much fun, and not just for Star Trek fans. I’m sure point and click fans would also enjoy the challenge of the game.
Together, 25th Anniversary and Judgement Rites feel like the final season of the Original series that the crew and fans deserved. With the passing of DeForrest Kelly, James Doohan and Leonard Nimoy, games revolving around the Original series are incredibly unlikely.
Did I complete the game?
Yes, but I did need to use a walk through several times. Much more than I did with 25th Anniversary.
What the critics said:
Electronic Entertainment: “Judgement Rites captures the feel of the original show, down to the nuances of the dialog. Other than Kirk, though, the characters in the game aren’t used to their fullest potential, so there’s room for improvement. Overall 9/10”.
Game of the Month – Electronic Entertainment (March 1994)
“Complex and challenging puzzles, fantastic dialog true to the TV show, bright colourful graphics and excellent SFX. There is more depth to the peripheral characters although, it is still the Kirk, Spock and McCoy show. Pity about the lack space battles though.”
 Olafson, P., ‘Game of the Month – Star Trek: Judgement Rites’. Electronic Entertainment. (March 1994). :80-1.
 Ibid,. :80-1.