Video Game: Judgment Rites

Star Trek: Judgment Rites was the second Adventure Game based on the Star Trek franchise, developed in 1993. It is a sequel to the successful Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, and generally follows along the same lines: a relatively faithful representation of The Original Series in videogame form.

Once again, the game is split into several "episodes", each of which contains at least one space-battle (a space simulator) and a lengthy away-team mission (a Point-and-Click adventure). While using the same engine as its predecessor, Judgment Rites introduces more diverse away-teams that include all the members of the original crew, like Chekov, Scotty and Uhura.

As in the first game, each episode has a stand-alone plot where the Enterprise crew have to solve some predicament or other. For instance, in the first episode the Enterprise witnesses a ship coming through a rip in time, warning them of the impending destruction of the Federation, which they then need to avert. In another, a creature called Trelane, a omnipotent spoiled brat (and familiar character from The Original Series) decides to pull Kirk and the rest of the ship's crew into a fantasy-world depicting a romanticized Germany in the midst of World War I.

However, unlike the first game, Judgment Rites also contains what might be called an over-arching plot, wherein an alien species is attempting to make first contact with the Federation and the Klingon Empire and is peppering the plot with various tests to determine whether it would be worthwhile to pursue diplomatic relations with either species. This culminates in the last two episodes in the game, where Kirk and his crew are being explicitly tested.

Once again, the CD-ROM version of the game featured the voices of all of the regular crewmembers from The Original Series. In fact, this was Deforest Kelly's last ever performance as Dr. McCoy, having last appeared on-screen as McCoy during the final Original Series movie, The Undiscovered Country.

On the whole, Judgment Rites is considered superior to its predecessor in every way despite running on the same exact game engine. This was mainly due to the writing of the episodes, the over-arching plots, the ability to control people other than Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and the ability to tone down the space-combat portion (which was Nintendo Hard at times during the first game).

Having demonstrated the potential for Star-Trek-based adventure games thanks to their success, Judgment Rites opened the way to the release of the Next-Generation-based A Final Unity.

This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Almost Dead Guy: A soldier in Trelane's distorted recreation of World War I is lying in a trench, perpetually on the verge of death.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Trelane has three of these: a clock, a blackboard, and a triplane. All three must be destroyed in order to weaken the forcefield guarding his castle. After this happens, you find out that Trelane has at least one more (a painting) in the castle itself, but Spock points out that the castle is likely full of them, and that Kirk would never destroy them all before Trelane got mad at him and did something nasty.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played by aliens as a trick to see whether Kirk and company would fall for it. One science officer does.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The science officer mentioned above is unusually religious by Star Trek standards, and quickly falls for appearances when one alien species looks demonic and the other angelic.
  • Black and White Morality: Subverted several times, but most importantly in the episode Light and Darkness, where the heroes meet two alien species whose anthropomorphic holograms appear as a demon and an angel, but in truth neither of them is good nor evil. In fact, it's a test to see whether Kirk and his men would tag the demon as evil and the angel as good. In fact, it's the demon that's passive, and the angel that's aggressive, although in the end these are just single-celled organisms who were separated long ago and should be reunited.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Unsurprisingly used (repeatedly) in the mission "Museum Piece". Almost every single exhibit in the museum has some application towards completing this mission.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A pun is played on this in the "Museum Piece" mission when Chekhov suggests creating an improvised mass driver in order to break through a security door.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The Enterprise fires its phaser banks at a planet's surface, melting some rocks in order to create enough heat for a nearby geothermal device. The away team is standing not 10 meters away at the time.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: What you'll receive if you ask the Brassicans for help in choosing the right answers to their already-cryptic questions.
  • Dart Board Of Hate: Dr. Breddell has one of these of Kirk, hanging on his quarters' wall.
  • Despair Event Horizon: A woman on an alien spaceship crosses this and becomes catatonic, when the ship's information database is vandalized by another passenger. She had spent her entire life trying to learn all of that information.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The Savant does this to Spock. Of course, the Savant doesn't realize how dangerous emotions are to a vulcan.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: During one mission, the crew meets a group of mentally-ill alien colonists on a ship that's about to land on top of a Federation settlement.
  • Last of Her Kind: Emminata is the last of the Vurians. She escaped her species' annihilation only to be rescued from death by the Savant.
  • LEGO Genetics: A very mild case. A genetic sequencer is used for uniting the Alphans and Omegans back into a single, viable species. Justifiable because both of these single-celled species were specifically designed for this to be possible.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To Shakespeare, in the episode titles Though This Be Madness... and the following episode ...Yet There Is Method In It, from Hamlet.
  • Logic Bomb: inverted, with a computer that's been locked into a stable loop trying to win an unwinnable game of 3D chess. Spock and Kirk must figure out a way to interject and end the game in order to free up the computer again.
  • Mook-Face Turn: Menao Sheme pulls one, as do the rest of Espoir Station's personnel once you expose Breddell's plans to them.
  • My Beloved Smother: The Phays is a computer on an alien ship whose sole purpose is to care for the society of invalids living onboard. It treats everyone - including the Enterprise's away team when it beams over - as its children. Unfortunately, damage to the computer has caused it to lose much of its coherence, and it seems to be doping all the food with mild tranquilizers - and doing little else.
  • No Ending: After spending an entire mission ("Though This Be Madness...") trying to figure out why an alien ship full of mental patients is trying to land on top of a Federation colony, the Enterprise away team finds the core of the ship's computer and delve into the archives. They do find some explanations, including that the people who built the ship may have sent their invalids out on a long space romp until cures could be found for their mental illnesses, but Kirk notes that each bit of information seems to conflict with the others. Eventually the whole thing is revealed to be just another Brassican experiment.
  • Polished Port: The Mac version of the game had improved music and sound effects, several bug fixes, and at least one additional pre-rendered cutscene.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Played straight and defied in the first mission:
    • Dr. Breddell plays it straight, by building a superweapon capable of destroying the Federation and much of the Alpha Quadrant, all because he's pissed off that Kirk foiled his plan to build superior versions of Constitution-class starships.
    • Defied by a security guard who's guarding Kirk, Spock and McCoy in a brig at the start of the mission. Talking to him will reveal that Breddell had the guard's father killed for opposing his anti-Federation policies, but trying to use this to motivate the guard into turning on Breddell for revenge will just cause the guard to say that he'd be viewed as a traitor by his people, and it wouldn't bring back his father. Reason, on the other hand, does work, as he'll set you free if you point out that the survivors of the Federation will go after his people when they work out who was responsible.
  • Space Plane: An extremely literal example with Trelane's space-capable Fokker DR.I triplane. It can run circles around the Enterprise and is nigh undefeatable.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kirk and his crew go through this, particularly in the final missions. Though it's actually The Federation that's being tested.
  • Spoiler Title
  • Starfish Aliens: The Savant, an incredibly-powerful, non-physical entity that exists in a pure state of joy - and seeks to spread that joy to others, whether they want it or not.
  • Take a Third Option: The only correct solution at the very end of the game. Twice.
    • First, the last question from the Brassica is "Which of the two of you should leave this place alive?", to which the correct answer is "Either we both leave, or neither of us does".
    • Then, the Brassica offer Kirk a disc supposedly containing a detailed scan of Klingon space, in exchange for forming an alliance with them. The correct move is to take the disc, but then give it to the Klingon captain.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Required in several situations, as per the Federation's idiom. It is also usually an alternative to violence, in which case Talking Your Way Out is necessary for the high score.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Thoroughly averted. It is considered one of the best Star Trek games to date, along with its predecessor.
  • The Theme Park Version: Trelane creates a Theme Park Version of a World War I German town. Aside from the many Stock Characters and other cliches to be found there, the town is within walking distance of the trenches - which are remarkably peaceful and contain one soldier who is in a perpetual state of dying dramatically. For a perfect score, Kirk must convince Trelane to research the matter and create a faithful representation of a World War I battlefield - which is decidedly gory and grim.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Any use of outright violence (other than space combat, of course) is a sure-fire way of lowering your score. The "kill" phaser should only be used on inanimate objects, and only when absolutely necessary.
  • Throw It In: The CD-ROM talkie version of the game was made some time after it was initially released (on diskettes). Some of the spoken lines do not match the original text (for instance, whole sentences being skipped or altered). However, in one particular piece of text, where McCoy reports his medical scan of a cataleptic woman, he stumbles over his own words and stops halfway through a piece of Technobabble with an audible snigger. This was kept in (though it's possibly just bad Quality Assurance...).
    • Also, in the random combat sections, Uhura has a couple lines which are read by another actress, perhaps from a temp track. Oddly enough, the same lines are read by Nichelle Nichols in the 25th Anniversary game.
  • Unwinnable by Design: In the last mission, if you give Dr. McCoy as the answer to the first of the Brassican questions, or Spock as the answer to the first or second question, the mission becomes impossible to complete.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: An unfinished piece of code makes it impossible to complete one of the missions if the wrong dialogue choice is selected during a certain conversation. It's when Uhura talks to the "King" of the alien space craft to convince him to leave the room.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Dr. Breddell, who has gained the trust of the vardaine people and given them aspirations of becoming an interstellar power. They don't realize how insane he really is, which means that Kirk will turn into a Hero with Bad Publicity if Breddell is simply gunned down. To avoid this eventuality it's necessary to expose Breddell's secret plans to his vardaine guards, and take him prisoner instead of killing him.