Star Trek: Borg is an interactive movie/computer game and audiobook set in the Star Trek universe. It was written by Hilary Bader, was directed by James L. Conway, and featured an original score by Dennis McCarthy. It was released in 1996 by Simon and Schuster for Mac OS and Windows 95.
Plot and Gameplay
In the midst of a new Borg incursion 10 years after the Battle of Wolf 359, Starfleet Cadet Qaylan Furlong is given an opportunity by Q (John de Lancie) to go back in time and prevent his father's death in the historic battle.
Q sends Qaylan to the USS Righteous, his father's Excelsior-class starship, just before the Battle of Wolf 359. Originally, the ship's security officer Coris Sprint was killed by a Borg intruder over four hours before the battle. Q gives Qaylan control of Sprint's body at this point, allowing him to change history. Since Sprint is Bijani (a heretofore unseen alien race) he has the ability to go into a "Bijani Pain Trance" which allows him to complete jobs even when feeling immense pain. This later becomes an important plot point in allowing the character to complete the game.
Meanwhile, Q takes over the role of Dr. Thaddeus Quint, whose personality is similar to Q's.
At several points throughout the game, the player [Qaylan] is given multiple choices about what actions should be taken in various situations. The results vary based on whatever actions are chosen. If the player chooses poorly, Q will reset time and allow him to try again. If the player makes too many mistakes, however, Q becomes bored and the game ends.
- Cadet Qaylan Furlong / Lt. Coris Sprint: The game's player character. Because the story is seen through this character's point of view, he never appears on camera. It is implied that he is male, is approximately 19 years old, and bears a physical resemblance to his father. Q gives Qaylan control of Bijani security officer Coris Sprint (briefly portrayed by Tarik Ergin), which allows him to interact with the crew of the Righteous.
- Q / Doctor Thaddeus Quint (John de Lancie): A seemingly-omnipotent being who has taken an interest in the welfare of Cadet Qaylan Furlong. Q gives the cadet a special hand phaser and tricorder to aid him on his mission. Occasionally he will also mock the player if he's not succeeding. For purposes of the story, he takes the body and role of the ship's chief medical officer, Dr. Thaddeus Quint (also played by Murray Rubinstein), but Qaylan continues to see Q in his true form.
- Lt. Ralph Furlong (Jeff Allin): Conn officer and father of Qaylan. He has an easy-going personality which contrasts greatly to that of Captain Andropov.
- Captain Nikolai Andropov (Barry Lynch): Commanding officer of the USS Righteous. He's stern and gruff, he's also very professional and by-the-book. But he's not without a reasonable and understanding side.
- Ensign Anastasia Targus (Marnie McPhail): Operations officer. She has an outgoing personality and deep-seated emotional issues stemming from her time as a Cardassian prisoner of war. She has a cybernetic implant on her forehead to counteract the effects of the torture she endured at their hands.
- Commander Bennington Biraka (John Cothran Jr.): Ship's counselor. Biraka likes everyone and does his best to keep the crew together. He offers both encouragement and pearls of wisdom during difficult situations.
Star Trek: Borg provides examples of the following tropes:
- Admiring the Abomination: After a death that comes from tampering with Borg technology, Q notes that he really hates human hubris, and notes that the Borg may be boring but at least they don't fiddle with things they don't understand.
- All-Loving Hero: Counselor Biraka is one of these. He's even fond of Quint, and sees his abrasiveness as a need to be liked.
- And the Adventure Continues: After Q transports the Righteous ten years in the future to avoid rewriting history, another Borg ship appears on sensors. Captain Andropov soon orders an intercept course.
- And Then John Was a Zombie:
- One timeline involves losing your father's rigged game and you letting him go off alone, where he gets Borgified. Another involves you taking too long to guess and getting fully Borgified when you're surprised from behind.
- Part of the "correct" timeline revolves around allowing Qaylen-as-Sprint to be temporarily turned into a Borg, in order to get an important code. And then permanently so that his species' mental compartmentalization can let him keep his free will.
- Averted in Q's case. He only takes on the appearance of a Borg without actually being converted, and thus John (de Lancie) does not become a zombie.
- The Big Guy: As a Bijani, Quint is described by the others as an "ox" who doesn't feel pain or fear. Makes for a good security officer, though a Borg can still kill him.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Righteous and (almost) all its hands are saved, but Qaylen's father has still missed ten years of Qaylen and his mother's lives, and Coris Sprint, a hero and dear friend to Targus, Furlong and others is dead again for the first time, for some reason. Also, this ship may have been saved, but nearly forty more were lost in Wolf 359, with eleven thousand dead or assimilated.
- Black Comedy: Q often tells jokes when someone is about to, or has just died.
- "If Lieutenant Sprint were still alive he might be able to save the ship. But he's been dead for four hours! No wonder they don't want him on the bridge.""This is Lieutenant Sprint. Do you think he knows he's gonna die? I don't think so. Don't bother saying hello, just makes saying goodbye that much harder.""I'm sorry... he's just too stupid to live."
- Dr. Quint has the same dark sense of humor, even before Q takes his role.
- Dr. Quint: (scans a dead ensign) Death in battle...if he were a Klingon he'd be ecstatic.Q: Oooh! I like this guy!
- Black Dude Dies First: Averted. In fact, the only bad ending where Biraka dies is the one where the Borgified player and another drone assassinate the entire bridge crew.
- Blind Obedience: When a Borg gets Targus by the throat, Q's first reaction is to tell you to shoot her. If you do so, everyone on the bridge will stare at you like you're an idiot (including Targus before she goes down). Q freezes time with them making this expression and calls you out on this, telling you to use your head.
- Body Snatcher: Q transfers Cadet Furlong into Lt. Sprint's body while he takes over Dr. Quint's. The cadet still sees him as Q in a blue uniform.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the "wrong choice" endings has Q, in full Borg makeup and prosthetics, drop character, walk offstage (while the camera follows him), and complain about how you're not taking it seriously to the production crew, who grumble along with him.
- During the first decision in the game (Go with Q or run away like a coward), if you sit there and don't make a choice after 2 loops, Q will teleport to the white void and talk to the player directly, mocking them for not understanding how the game works."What is this? The first time you've used a computer? You see this!? It's a cursor! Use it to click on objects on the screen...here, click on me!"(After you fail to make even this choice) "You've had your chance!" (Gives the player a game over)(After clicking the choice) "Good, okay, lets try again!" (Takes you back to the first decision)
- During the first decision in the game (Go with Q or run away like a coward), if you sit there and don't make a choice after 2 loops, Q will teleport to the white void and talk to the player directly, mocking them for not understanding how the game works.
- Chewing the Scenery: Q, occasionally. As (almost) always, de Lancie's performance sells what might easily instead have come across as Narm.
- Dead All Along: For some bizarre reason, Sprint is treated this way when it's time for Q to reveal that you're really Cadet Furlong (though at least the real Dr. Quint gets to live).
- Deadpan Snarker: It's a Star Trek game featuring Q.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: At different points in the game, you can punch Q in the face or kick him in the joy department.
- Death as Game Mechanic: you need to make the right sequence of choices. If you don't already know them, you have to die over and over again until the right choice is made. However, at one point you have to choose the "wrong" path so you can learn important information from the Borg before you die, information that will be necessary to succeed later on in your next chance at life.
- Disappointed in You: If you refuse to come with him and avenge your father, Q contemptuously accuses you of only wanting to save your own skin.
- Dope Slap: If you use the tricorder to try to scan the Borg confronting you on the bridge, Q snatches it, asks what you're doing and smacks you with said tricorder.
- Dr. Jerk: What little we see of the real Doctor Quint is not endearing. That Q can take over his body and act like his usual pompous-ass self without anyone thinking Quint is acting oddly speaks volumes.
- Feel No Pain: Even when not in a trance Bijani apparently don't feel pain, at least not the way most humanoids do. At one point (while being assimilated during a bad ending) Q has to explain that the unfamiliar sensation Qaylen is experiencing is in fact pain.
- Fission Mailed: The first time the player goes into the "Bijani Pain Trance" it looks like it's sending him to the typical white death screen, before Q explains what's really going on.
- For Want of a Nail:
- Q invokes it by name. The nail is Lt. Sprint. If he had lived during the initial attack, the Righteous would not have been destroyed and the player character's father would have lived.
- Strictly speaking, the "nail" is Quint not thinking to try a hypospray on the Borg while it's fighting Sprint.
- Freak Out: In one bad timeline, Targus suffers a hard relapse of her addiction when exposed to a Borg guidance implant for the second time, losing control of herself and trying to jam it in her head. While she's restrained and recovers control of herself, the delay allows the device the Borg had placed upon the ship earlier to take over and the ship is destroyed.
- Functional Addict: The Cardassians addicted Targus to neural stimulation as a form of torture. She's a functional officer now thanks to her implant, but interfering with its normal operation can bring her addiction roaring back.
- Fun Personified: Hit the wrong code into the turbolift manual control, and you might get treated to Q's idea of fun while you're running around doing boring things; Turning deck eleven into his own personal party deck. Complete with Nice Hat.Q: Why? Because I can! Nya ha ha ha ha ha hah!
- Heroic Mime: Sprint never speaks beyond grunts and groans, but his fellow crewmembers don't seem to expect him to. This being the Star Trek universe, it could be a characteristic of the Bijani culture or species.
- Hollywood Psych: Averted. Counselor Biraka's reasonably accurate Phenomenological analysis of Quint and, by extension, Q himself, is so bang on that it shuts him up completely.Q: Spare me the psychology, counselor. You don't have the tools to analyze me!
Biraka: Your problem is very straightforward, doctor. You desperately want to be... liked.
Q: If I wanted to be liked, all I'd have to do is snap my fingers, and I'd be liked! I'm an omnipotent being masquerading as Dr. Quint. Whatever I want to happen, happens.
Biraka: (laughs) Interesting fantasy... Alright, let's play that through. Then why don't you?
Q: Why don't I what?
Biraka: Make everyone like you.
Q: Because I don't want to!
Biraka: No! Because you want them to like you of their own free will and, phenomenologically speaking, you can't force them to do something of their own free will!
Q: Sophistry, Biraka.
Biraka: Truth, Quint. Let me give you some free advice: If you want to be liked, try making yourself likable. (pats Q on the shoulder, walking away)
Q: Ahhh! (makes a strangling motion with his hands in frustration before dropping them, suddenly at a loss for words as a contemplative look crosses his face)
- Hope Spot: Several of the failed loops have these moments:
- At one point you've got to hook a Borg Guidance Implant into Targus's head. It starts assimilating her and she begins writhing and crying out in agony/ecstasy due to her addiction. Q-as-Quint tells you that any more sedative would leave her a vegetable. If you give her a hypospray anyway, she relaxes, smiles...and then her face goes slack, her eyes empty. Q curtly tells you she'd be better off dead.
- Later on, it seems for a moment that she can resist the urge to reconnect another implant to her head long enough to to connect it to the Borg-thingy in the computer core and save the ship...nope. Freak Out. Ka-boom.
- When Furlong puts the implant on the Borg-thingy everything seems fine...until the thingy realizes the Guidance Implant comes from a dead Borg rather than a live one. Ka-boom.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Subverted in that it's used to describe someone else. When Thaddeus Quint is introduced, Q describes how he tried (and failed) to save the life of Lt. Sprint, and adds, "Well, what do you expect? He's a doctor, not a security officer!"
- Implacable Man: The Bijani Pain Trance, activated by adrenaline, allows members of the race to perform actions without pain or fear while their brain is out to lunch.
- In Spite of a Nail:
- Q doesn't seem that concerned about potentially rewriting his history. At the end, he admits that he didn't think you'd actually manage it, and he invokes a Time Travel Escape to preserve the course of events.
- In spite of the fact that you explicitly intervene to save Sprint's life so you can inhabit his living body, Q still says he's dead when the ship is transported into the future. Just why he has to die when everyone else's life is saved is unclear, unless they didn't feel like paying his actor more money to show up in the end sequence or something.
- I Owe You My Life
- Prior to the game, Sprint rescued Targus from captivity and torture at the hands of the Cardassians.
- After Qaylen-as-Sprint saves her from the Borg implant she mentions that she owes him her life twice over.
- It's Up to You: Initially averted. Your ship is about to face the Borg, but as you're a new, low-ranking member of the crew, you're going to be sent out of danger. Then Q appears, and everything else is on your watch.
- Irony: If you let your dad get Borgified, you have to kill him yourself, where Q will comment:Q: Well, didn't you want to kill Borg?
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Starfleet Command is portrayed as unjust for not allowing Qaylan to participate in the defense against the Borg attack. However, considering he's still a cadet with zero field experience it makes sense.
- Q, virtually every time he makes a criticism, has some valid points.
- Large Ham: Q, in spades.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: At one point, your father and you-as-Sprint are patrolling the ship, looking for Borg. When he suggests splitting up, doing so leaves him alone a a corridor with a waiting, shield-adapted Borg. At least you get to work out your abandonment issues by blowing his Borgified self away.
- Mercy Kill: In one failed loop, a partially-Borgified Furlong pleads for this.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Thanks to Q, Qaylen has enough of Sprint's memories and skills to pass as him to his friends and do his job while in his body.
- Non Standard Game Over: The first choice in the game. If you choose the bag of Furlong's belongings twice, Q will make the game program close without letting you save. This forces you to watch the opening cutscenes again, which also serves as a lesson to the player to save often.
- No OSHA Compliance: An early puzzle requires the player to reconfigure a console. This involves interacting with a selection of four configuration nodules. The nodules are all identical. Three of them will shock anyone who touches it. One of those three will fatally shock anyone who touches it. Absolutely no warning labels are visible. (Note that this isn't Trial-and-Error Gameplay; you can use your tricorder to figure out which one is which.)
- What makes it funnier is that there's an almost identical scene later with a piece of captured Borg tech, and the correct answer is Don't Touch It, You Idiot!.
- Not Quite Dead: The Borg Q-as-Quint hyposprays wakes up unexpectedly quickly, gets Targus by the throat, and hacks the ship unless "Sprint" shoots the console, which fries him for good.
- Not That Kind of Doctor:
- A rather nonsensical example. Furlong and Andropov note a weird Borg device twiddling away on one of the consoles in their computer core and ask Qaylan-as-Sprint what they should do. Sure, as Security Officer, Sprint deals with threats to the ship, but wouldn't consulting, say, a qualified engineer make more sense? And, of course, all of "Sprint's" limited options besides ignoring it lead to disaster.
- At another point he's asked to figure out security locks on a Borg computer, and this time they say it's explicitly because he's a security officer. Perhaps the term's a little more encompassing in the future.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: In addition to his medical degree, Counselor Bennington Biraka has command-line qualifications in security, operations, navigation and tactical.
- One-Letter Name: Q mentions that his name is "short for Q."
- Our Time Travel Is Different: All it takes is the snap of Q's fingers. It helps that he is Q.
- Patricide: After you're Borgified in a couple of timelines, you can shoot your Dad.
- Pensieve Flashback: Before Q and Qaylan step in to alter the timeline, we see a flashback of the destruction of the Righteous, with them invisibly observing.
- Percussive Prevention: This is the only way to keep Lt. Furlong from being assimilated.
- Postmodernism: Making a particular mistake late in the game (using the wrong hypospray setting on yourself) causes Q to groan that he needs to take a break in an alternate reality; "Come on everybody, let's go. He's such an amateur!" The soundtrack stops abruptly, and the Starfleet officers and Borg wander off, chatting together like actors taking five.
- Quickly-Demoted Woman: Ensign Anastasia Targus was a Lieutenant like her academy buddies Furlong and Sprint, but after being captured and tortured by the Cardassians she was demoted to Ensign due to her lingering mental issues (namely an addiction to neural stimulation), and spent a year and a half on medical leave before being reinstated.
- The Quiet One: This, going into trances, and being physically and emotionally durant seem to be the Bijani "hats". It's unclear whether or not they're mute or just quiet, but no one thinks it's weird when Qaylan-as-Sprint never, ever says anything.
- Reality Warper: As Q says himself, whatever he wants to happen happens.
- Recovered Addict: Averted with Targus. She's recovering, and has another year, tops before she can be totally free of her implant. Events force her to hook a Borg Guidance implant to herself and the sensations reawaken her addiction.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Bijani apparently look somewhat like Kobliad, with a ridge in the middle of their faces.
- Refusal of the Call: At the start, you can refuse Q's offer to go back to the Righteous and fight the Borg. He takes a bit of convincing and expresses his disappointment in you, but you can turn him down. Of course, that means it's game over.
- Save Scumming / Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Many of the "puzzles" rely on doing something fatal, then letting Q bring you back to the decision point so you can try again. In a creative twist, one "puzzle" calls for the player to deliberately become Borgified so he can learn their access codes, then get killed and have Q bring him back to where he would have needed those access codes.
- Series Continuity Error: The uniforms, tricorders, and phasers; during Wolf 359 everybody should be have TNG-style ones but instead have Voyager-style versions. The Borg however still maintain their TNG appearance as opposed to their First Contact makeover. On top of that, the opening framing sequence takes place about ten years after the Battle of Wolf 359, which places this game somewhere during Voyager's sixth season, well after the point that the grey-shouldered uniform was introduced in Star Trek: First Contact, while the Lieutenant in charge of Cadet Furlong's unit is wearing the TNG-style uniform...
- Sketchy Successor: Mercurius Singletary, the Security Officer who takes the place of Sprint after his death, wastes precious time shooting the Borg that infiltrates the bridge instead of isolating the Ops console from his hacking, and can't work quickly enough afterward to stop the hack from going through. Q notes that the officer is barely older than Qaylan, and implies that Sprint's experienced actions would have saved the ship. And then the guy tries to rush the Borg... Though it's ultimately averted, as it turns out only a very specific and unlikely set of circumstances would have saved the day. Singletary's inexperienced actions just hastened the ship's destruction.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option:
- At one point, the Borg stick some weird device upon one of your consoles. If you do anything besides ignore it and let it have its way with your ship, it'll activate the self-destruct.
- You also have to put yourself into a Pain Trance and get Borgified at one point.
- Take Our Word for It: Using the tricorder on Lt. Counselor Biraka informs you that, among other things as a general badass, he won a silver medal for low-gravity Equestrian jumping at the Federation Olympics.
- Technology Uplift: Q gives you one at the start of the game by handing you an extremely advanced version of the tricorder with cosmic qualities, information on the Borg, and also his delightful personality built in.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Subverted. Targus volunteers to place a Borg Guidance Implant upon a piece of Borg technology. It's played up as her being able to resist the urge to connect it to herself due to Heroic Willpower and finally overcoming her addiction for good...but no, her addiction is back full force, and she'll screw things up.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: At first Qaylen can't stop staring at his father, though as Q notes, it's not as if the guy can recognize who he really is. As a result, at one point the slightly weirded-out elder Furlong believes him to have gone into one of the trances endemic to Sprint's species.
- Time Travel Escape: Used at the end when the Righteous is saved when it should have been destroyed by the Borg.
- Too Dumb to Live
- Grab the wrong power module towards the beginning and Q pretty much says this.
- Some of the choices you need to proceed are the dumbest possible options you could take (such as starting a fight on a Borg cube or knocking out your own father) that result in either your death or assimilated by the Borg to get pieces of information you couldn't get otherwise. The fact Q keeps bringing you back to life by turning back time makes things a lot more clever.
- You can attempt to link the Borg implant to the ship's mainframe. Q doesn't even let you attempt this option, in one of the only times he'll stop you before you do something monumentally stupid.This one's free. Don't do it.
- Tricked Out Time: History records the Righteous as having been being hit by an unknown Borg weapon and vaporized during the Battle of Wolf 359. Your actions during the game not only save it, but also you to collect important data about the Borg that Starfleet never learned in the "proper" timeline. Q solves the obvious canon issues this would cause by sending the ship forward ten years at the moment it's hit.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When your character returns to the Righteous after being partially assimilated, the crew almost kills you until your teammates assure them that you are still yourself, after which nobody seems even slightly uncomfortable about the situation, even when you punch or kick the nads of your ship's chief medical officer.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Since in the original timeline it didn't occur to Quint to use a hypospray to knock out the Borg fighting Sprint, the security officer was killed and thus couldn't save the Righteous four hours later. Q fixes that.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Does Qaylen get to keep his Q-enhanced tricorder?
- You Killed My Father: Cadet Furlong's father was killed by the Borg when he was only nine, and when the Cheyenne, the ship he's training on is preparing to battle them, he wants to stay and help out. Q frames this as a desire to kill Borg out of vengeance, and considering the choice to do something besides leave involves grabbing a phaser from Q, it seems Qaylan agrees.