About the game

The author

David Ripplinger is a software engineer with a love of several retro games from his childhood. He and his siblings grew up with a Nintendo Entertainment System in their home. There was something unique and exciting about growing up with the very first Nintendo console. It felt groundbreaking. It opened up a world of discovery and challenge.

David also enjoys finding the best movies and TV shows to watch and mocking the ones that do dumb things. When he is not working or coding, you can find him watching shows, spending time with his family, and enjoying outdoor activities like disc golf and hammock camping.

The inspiration

Reign of the Judges is essentially a mod of Destiny of an Emperor, one of David's favorite childhood games. As such, it is a retro RPG (role playing game) with a turn-based battle system. It does not use the same code as Destiny of an Emperor, but it does borrow its graphics, game mechanics, and music. Additionally, some music in the game was written originally for this game, and some was borrowed from other various NES games and other sources.

The story of Reign of the Judges is adapted from the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a religious text of the church David belongs to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the game includes very little religious tone, as that was not its purpose. The war chapters of the Book of Mormon are considered by many as very exciting and complex literature, with memorable heroes, villains, treachery, defeat, triumph, and heart. David has long thought that these war chapters deserved a large-scale video game adaptation and eventually decided that a game like Destiny of an Emperor was a very appropriate format.

The game tells the story of the ancient Nephite civilization somewhere on the American continent around 2,000 years ago. For a long time, the Nephites were ruled by monarchies like most nations at that time. But at the start of the game, they introduced a government of judges elected by the people, in order to ensure that the people's freedoms would last longer than simply until the next wicked king came along. However, it did not take long after the establishment of the judges for unrest and bloodshed to arise...

How to play

The game is not yet available for download. But it is scheduled to be released on this site for free no later than December 2019. If you want to sign up for an email notification once the game is released, click here to go to the download page. The initial release will be for Windows and Mac OS. We may consider releasing an Android version someday in the future.

Because the game is essentially a mod of an NES game, the controls are analogous to the NES controller, which has up, down, left, right, A, B, select, and start. However, this game is played with the keyboard, using the arrow keys, x, z, right shift, and enter.

Generally, x is used for selecting actions. Z is used for canceling or backing out. Right shift is for opening the team status while in exploring mode. Enter is for opening the pause menu. Arrow keys are for moving your party around or moving to a different menu selection.

While in exploring mode (the mode you're usually in), press x at any time to access the command menu. This is how you perform most of your actions, such as talking to people and adjusting the formation of your party. In the pause menu, you can access a map that shows everywhere you have been, including the names of places.

You will enter battle mode when you have random encounters outside and when you approach unconquered places. We won't explain much about how to fight in the battles, as part of the fun of the game is gradually discovering the ins and outs of the battle system. But we will give a few basic pointers:

  • There are eight commands available in a battle: battle, tactic, defend, item, all-out, report, retreat, and risk-it.
  • All-out makes your party members do simple battle moves automatically and can speed up the process. You can cancel all-out at any time by pressing z.
  • Risk-it also does simple battle moves automatically, but it does the entire battle instantaneously, making it even faster and a riskier option to choose. This is a new feature in Reign of the Judges that does not exist in Destiny of an Emperor and can help speed up gameplay a lot when fighting easier battles.
  • If you want to use tactics in battle, you must first choose an acting tactician/strategist for your party. This is done from the command menu in exploring mode by pressing x, then selecting FORMATION and then STRAT. Your acting tactician knows certain tactics based on your party's level and his intelligence. He has a limited number of tactical points shared across the party. Enemy warlords, however, are their own acting tacticians and do not share tactical points across their party.
  • You must equip a weapon, body armor, and helmet if they are to take effect in a battle. They are not equipped automatically. To equip, open the command menu in exploring mode by pressing x. Then select ITEM, select which party member, and select which item. Then select EQUIP to toggle the item's equipped status.