Crapshoot: Star Trek: Judgment Rites was too good for a licensed adventure game

From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett Crapshoot wrote a column about rolling the dice to bring random, mysterious games back to life. This week, he embarks on a daring journey in everything Trek.

One of the most bizarre things about at least the official games based on Star Trek: The Original Series is how late they arrive on the scene. That’s excusable, of course – the games were around in the 1960s when they were first launched, but they were limited to things like space war! Or copies of a pong game played on oscilloscopes. However, it does mean that they had a certain element of nostalgia even when they were completely new.

The first game, an arcade game called Strategy Operations Simulator, came out in 1985 – quite late when you remember Star Trek: The Next Generation appeared in the air in 1987. Between these events, there were only text adventures waving the tacky board the UFP flag. The Little: The Promethean Prophecy and the Kobayashi Alternative. It’s more of a simulation than most adventures, it’s very open-ended, and involves resource management and crew skills.

Up until then, Star Trek’s most famous game was completely unofficial, and it managed to go viral for decades until the attorneys finally decided to bother with people stealing their licenses. It was written in 1971 on a college mainframe computer and has been moved and rewritten for just about everything – the best known version for PC is the slightly more graphical version of EGATrek, as seen above.

In it, you control Enterprise on a mission to patrol the galaxy and hunt down the Klingons, just as the war-like Union did in the original series. cough. It was all about scanning and staying equipped at Star Bases, and trying to eliminate enemies in the most effective way possible to get bonus points. Paramount finally dropped the hammer on the game when it bothered, but not definitively. EGATrek, for example, has replaced “Klingons” with “Mongols.”

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that we finally saw a truly worthy Star Trek game, although there were some attempts in the late 1980s. 1989 introduced the first next-generation game, an adventure called Transinium Challenge Which used CGA graphics and is essentially a disaster area. The same year, it brought a movie hook game based on Star Trek V that only consisted of the words “WE’RE SORRY” that flashed and closed on an otherwise blank screen. or not. It should have done. And there was another couple, too, though the most memorable is the unleaded nightmare fuel that was The Rebel Universe.

Not much for the game, mind. No Pictures …

Finally, things have changed. In 1991, Star Trek: The Next Generation finally escaped its terrible early seasons and started to look good, and the franchise as a whole was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Interplay’s contribution was the fantastically named Star Trek: 25th Anniversary … which she actually missed, and appeared in 1992 on PC, but doesn’t care.

For the first time, Star Trek had a computer game that you could be proud of. Voices from all original cast. A mixture of shooter and adventure perfectly in the spirit of the original game. You must take the red shirts in dangerous situations to be shot first. Kirk even sat right in his chair. As an adventure, it definitely has its issues – but as a Star Trek, it does I got you.

The judgment rituals came out the following year, and refined the look a bit. Both are structured like a TV show, divided into multiple episodes with their own settings and characters. On the 25th anniversary, they are all completely independent. Referee rituals add a bit of bow, with the notion that the crew (and other players in the Galaxy, unfortunately not including Buckled) are tested by a group of aliens called the Praecans – a strong competitor to the most powerful alien elves in recorded history.

The big downsides to both games are that they involve a lot of searches for pixels, and the puzzles are often not particularly intuitive – a problem common to so many sci-fi games that fill their worlds with Arglebargletrons and whatever else. It’s very much in the spirit of the series’ original episodes, with lots of chatter between the characters and the lovable silly buildings. One in Rituals of Judgment for example sees the return of Trelane, Squire of Gothos, who took an interest in World War I and created his own simulation of it. There aren’t many science fiction games that start an adventure with you in a space battle with out of place fokker. (Who flew a WWI-era plane by chance. Badoom-tsssh.)

But what makes solo adventures so fun is just how flexible the adventure is. Take, for example, the first task in the rite of judgment – union. It takes off like most, as the crew speaks in deep space and awaits the mission. Instead, the Swirly-Whirly-Spacey-Thing opens and launches a Union ship whose dying captain shrugs off the entire Union that was destroyed in eight days. With no attention-grabbing green ladies on the road, Kirk jumps into action and decides to investigate the station in the heart of the upcoming apocalypse.

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