Star Trek: Judgement Rites – Review

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?

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

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.

Captain’s Log…(screenshot taken by the author)

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 missions and story are more complex than 25th Anniversary. The game really tests your problem solving skills (screenshot taken by the author)

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.

A character from the Original series makes an appearance and no it’s not Harry Mudd (screenshot taken by the author)

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.[1]

Awards:

Game of the Month – Electronic Entertainment (March 1994)[2]

My verdict:

“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.”

Rating:


[1] Olafson, P., ‘Game of the Month – Star Trek: Judgement Rites’. Electronic Entertainment. (March 1994). :80-1.

[2] Ibid,. :80-1.

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary – Review

“Space…the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is a single-player adventure video game in the point and click format. It was developed and published by Interplay for DOS in 1992, Amiga in 1994, MacOS in 1995 and OSX and Linux in 2015. For this review, I played the Enhanced CD version.

Based on Star Trek: The Original Series, the game sees you take control of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise. There are seven missions to complete, with each mission styled like an episode of the series. During these missions you encounter strange new species, as well as run-ins with more familiar alien races such as the Klingons and Romulans. There is even an encounter with notorious con-artist Harry Mudd. However, the game isn’t just point and click based. There are also opportunities for space battles too when dealing with the Elasi pirates.

On the bridge of the USS Enterprise (screenshot taken by the author)

The gameplay is mostly point and click based. You can select whether to walk, look, speak to, or interact with; scenery, people, and items. Your inventory is available at the top left of the screen where you can choose to wield weapons or items when interacting with your surroundings. You also have the ability to select characters to interact with your environment which adds to the realism of the game…you wouldn’t ask Bones to decipher a computer lock would you…”Damn it Jim I’m a doctor, not a locksmith!!”.

When talking to the many characters you encounter, you sometimes have several options of how to interact. Only one is the correct way to reply or ask a question. The others are considered too hostile for Federation standards and affect how the other character reacts and, ultimately, your end of mission score.

Occasionally, you may be called upon to use your phasers against an enemy. You will have the option not to fire, fire on stun setting, or set your phasers to kill. Again, your decision affects not only the safety of your crew, but also your end of mission score.

It’s the Klingons!!! (screenshot taken by the author)

Graphics wise, the game looks brilliant. The sprites are bright, colourful and clearly defined. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed and well-illustrated. The only downside to the graphics are the pixalated look of the starships and planets during the intro and beginning of each mission. During battles, the starships are designed to give the illusion of the ships being 3D but they clearly are not, and at times look less than smooth.

What makes this game particularly great, is that it contains the actual voices of the original crew, with authentic music from the show (albeit an 8-bit version). The background sound FX, especially when you are on the bridge of the Enterprise, are very reminiscent of the TV show and really immerses you in the game. Additionaly, what brings this game to life is the interactions between the characters which makes you feel as if you are watching an episode of Star Trek.

A particularly nice touch is that before you beam to your destination, you are able to access the ship’s computer and type in keywords from your mission brief. A computer voice will then read out the relevant information and then, like Wikipedia, you find yourself scribbling down keywords and going down a rabbit hole gaining more and more information about the mission ahead.

The puzzles have varying degress of difficulty. Most are simple enough, but some of the missions allow for more than one outcome which greatly affects your end of mission score. One mission however, is very tough, especially if you find maths difficult. I don’t know anyone who worked it out without using a walkrthough.

“Fascinating” (screenshot taken by the author)

Spoiler Alert!!!

Beware on the last mission. There seems to be a bug which leads you to a dead end. I spent a lot of time revisiting rooms before looking online to see where I’d gone wrong. This was where I read some walkthroughs and realised, I’d gone wrong. I only used the walkthrough to help progress on Mission six where some advanced mathematical skills are needed to find a code.

Did I compete the game?

Yes, many years ago, but I did need help for mission six when you need to work out a code for a door lock.

What the critics said:

Computer & Video Games: Frank O’Connor “The graphics are in super mega VGA-o-Vision and look dreamy. The sprites are excellent, right down to the high-heeled boots for the male characters. The music is a spot-on rendition of the TV themes, with a smattering of groovy sound effects for good measure. Overall 93%.[1]

ACE: “The only real problem is the overall longevity, as defined by the number of missions – with only eight of them, seasoned adventurers may find the challenge distressingly short-lived. Those new to the genre, however, would be hard pushed to find a friendlier, more enjoyable and absorbing experience. Overall 960/1000.[2]

My verdict:

“Authentic, fun, challenging…one of the best Star Trek games ever made. Point and click fans should also enjoy the game, even if they’re not Star Trek fans.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Star Trek: 25th Anniversary? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] O’Connor, F., ‘Review: PC – Star Trek: 25th Anniversary’. Computer & Video Games Magazine. (April 1992). Issue 125:60-1.

[2] ‘Screentest – Star Trek: 25th Anniversary’. ACE. (April 1992). Issue 55:60-5.