(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Trek 25th Anniversary. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
1992’s Star Trek 25th Anniversary came out around at the peak of my interest in the franchise and during the four- or five-year period where Trek was doing gangbusters in pop culture. The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek VI, Star Trek Generations, books, conventions… and plenty of video games.
Like Star Wars, Star Trek’s video game history is replete with the terrific and awful titles. I’ve always considered 25th Anniversary to be among the former, as Interplay (Wasteland, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate) married the classic series with the graphic adventure game format. One of the coolest aspects of 25th Anniversary is that, instead of telling a single story, it breaks the game up into seven “episodes” to suggest that it’s continuing the adventures of the ’60s TV series. I was so, so excited to see this land on GOG along with its sequel (which I never played). Let’s beam up!
I’m playing the enhanced CD-ROM version of the game, which means that while it’s still saddled with MIDI renditions of classic Star Trek themes, it does contain voice work from ALL of the principal Star Trek TOS cast — Shatner, Nimoy, etc. Hearing them talk back and forth actually gave me goosebumps, just like watching a new series of the show.
So we’re starting with the first episode, Demon World. As I recall, 25th Anniversary swaps between traditional adventure gaming mode (where you lead a party around on several screens as an away team) and the bridge mode (where you control the Enterprise). This begins with the Enterprise doing a war simulation with another Starfleet ship, and because I’m frantically trying to grab screenshots and can’t seem to pause what’s going on, we die quickly.
Nuts to losing my very first space battle. I reload and look up the bridge controls. Apparently W arms weapons and S raises shields, so that might help. This time around, I fare much better, taking some damage while pew-pewing the Republic to victory. The movement and firing is pretty basic on the viewscreen, but generally feels good and looks decent. Don’t know how to fire photon torpedoes tho.
Admiral Hairdo comes on and starts the mission proper. Apparently there are some “demons” terrorizing settlers, and since no local agency in Star Trek is ever able to solve their own problems, it’s up to the Enterprise to figure this out.
Now to get to the planet. This is more problematic than I would have thought, since the star map is conspicuously lacking any labels or tooltips. Guess this is the copy protection? A random pick of a system sends me right into the neutral zone where a Romulan ship blasts me to smithereens.
Thank you internet for the map! At Pollux, we beam down and start talking to the hippy-dippy colonists. I actually get several choices of what to say, so naturally I go with whatever’s the most sarcastic. C’mon, pal, when you flag Starfleet down over demons, I reserve the right to be a little snippy.
The guy is offended and threatens to tattle on us to Starfleet. Yeah. OK. Whatever. He also talks about demons coming out of a “gate from hell” and trapping one of the local miners. Too bad we don’t have teleporters in this glorious future age! There’s also a wounded man who needs some medicine that can be synthesized from some berries at a nearby cave.
Oh no! It’s… Klingons, for some reason, popping out of the shrubbery like jack-in-the-boxes. Here’s another case of me dying without knowing what to do, standing there like a doofus waiting to be shot. I find out I need to open my inventory, take out my phaser, and then use it. That’s a little clunky of a system, although I guess they wanted to keep most of the UI off of the screen.
Once I dispatch them all, one of the Klingons’ hand comes off with a flash of sparks. Robots? Well, better grab that hand, you don’t know when it might come in…
I’m sorry. If you wish to leave Bio Break right now, I don’t blame you. Exit is to the upper-left portion of your screen.