(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Klingon Challenge was a video-based board game for three to six players produced by Decipher in 1993. It was released mainly to capitalize on the flood of "VCR board games" many game companies released at the time. The video footage was filmed on the actual Star Trek: The Next Generation sets, and was produced by series production staff; the material was vague enough that the game could play differently every time.
The game was produced in the US by Decipher, and in the UK and European markets by Milton Bradley.
Premise and gameplay
- First Officer's Log, stardate 49253.5, Commander William Riker recording. Three days ago, the Enterprise docked at Starbase 74 to undergo repairs to a damaged computer core that has been causing erratic performance in low-level computer functions.
- The ship is practically empty - except for a few crew members assigned to direct the starbase repair teams, Captain Picard granted shore leave to all personnel. Although I am not on board the ship, I am monitoring the repair team's progress from the starbase.
- The deadline for completing repairs to the Enterprise has passed, and the need to get underway is mounting. However, the starship will remain virtually empty until all work is completed. The repair team estimates that the computer system will be online in two days, and I have scheduled the rest of the crew to return to the ship at that time. While the delays have been frustrating, no further problems are anticipated.
A renegade Klingon named Kavok has hijacked the USS Enterprise-D and set course for Qo'noS at maximum warp. The ship has a skeleton crew aboard (the players), as it was undergoing repairs at the time. The crew has sixty minutes – possibly less because of localized disturbances in the space-time continuum en route – before the ship reaches Klingon space and Kavok uses it to start a new Federation/Klingon conflict.
As the video plays, the crew (players) move around the board trying to obtain five isolinear chips they can use to reprogram their tricorders, as well as accessing the security room to pick up a phaser, before reaching the bridge to stop Kavok. However, Kavok knows the players are trying to stop him, so he jumps in from time to time to force players to make certain moves or draw certain cards.
There are three types of card which players may draw during the game:
- Holodeck cards - holographic simulations of the Enterprise crew offer advice. Players usually receive a benefit or bonus from this advice.
- Bij (Klingon for punishment) cards - players experience a forfeit at the top of the card. In the event of a "systems malfunction" immediately after a declaration of Bij, the player receives the positive bonus at the bottom of the card, much to the dismay of Kavok.
- Computer Access cards - cards which trigger an event, usually at a specific time on the videotape, or by entering a particular location on the game board. These are usually how players gain isolinear chips.
There are also other mechanics provided by the game:
- A series of stickers are used: rank insignia to represent the order of play (highest rank goes first) - rank is determined by drawing tokens at the start of the game; the combadges the players must use when speaking to Kavok; and the player who stuns Kavok receives a sticker medal.
- Players can be placed in stasis, either by Kavok, or by a card. Plastic tubes are placed over the player token to represent the stasis field.
- Bridge tokens are shuffled and placed on the bridge space at the start of the game. When a player has reached the bridge, on their turn, they may pick up the top token - if they reveal the caption "you stun Kavok", the game is won; "Access Denied" ends their turn, and they must wait to try again.
If a player can get all the needed chips, access the Jefferies tube to the bridge and stop Kavok before time runs out, they win the game. In the event that no players win, the Enterprise is destroyed (footage from "Yesterday's Enterprise" and "Cause and Effect" is used to illustrate the Klingon attack). After the destruction, a title card reveals that the Enterprise passed through a temporal causality loop, encouraging the players to rewind the tape and play again to avert the disaster.
- Opening credits
- Robert O'Reilly as Kavok
- Jonathan Frakes as the voice of Cmdr. William Riker
- Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
- Producer: Cindy Thornburg
- Executive Producer: Warren L. Holland, Jr.
- Written by: Warren L. Holland, Jr., Ross A Campbell and Dan Burns, Tom Braunlich, Rollie Tesh
- Directed by: Les Landau
- Selected end credits
- Director of Photography: Thomas F. Denove
- Music by: Peter Pope
- Make-up Designed And Supervised By: Michael Westmore
- Scenic Artist: Alan Kobayashi
- Visual Effects (for beam in): Dan Curry
- Technical Consultant: Guy Vardaman
- Klingon Language Created By: Marc Okrand
- Klingon Language Advisors: Ronald D. Moore, Dave Rossi
- There were a number of cosmetic differences between the US and non-US editions, reflecting the different manufacturers:
- The non-US versions of the game featured a black background for the box art, rather than the white background used for the US release.
- The non-US game board is more detailed, with bespoke images of the card designs for their position on the board and a more distinct movement track.
- There are also two different types of isolinear chips - the US version features chips which resemble the actual props, which slide into slots in the tricorder; non-US versions have small T-shaped pieces which fit into cutouts in the side of the tricorder.
- Images of Kavok were later used for game cards in the Blaze of Glory expansion for Decipher's Star Trek Customizable Card Game First Edition.
- A follow-up game, Borg Q-Uest, was planned but never released.
These Trek-related games with a video element (VHS tape or DVD):