It’s a dark and cold winter evening and you settle in to your living room sofa for the evening with a cup of tea in one hand and the TV remote in the other. As you switch the TV on, you wonder if there is going to be anything interesting on the tube tonight. Disdain grows on your face as you flick through channel after channel seeing the same old reality shows time after time. Boring!
Just as you are about to give up, you come across an exciting spaced themed soundtrack accompanied by clips of contestants being transported out into remote planets into Space, competing against each other to exploit the planet’s natural resources and obtain the greatest wealth and become the winner of the ground-breaking reality show, Space Moguls.
Developed by Carl-Henrik Skarstedt with music and sound effects from Ole-Marius Pettersen and Stein Pedersen, Space Moguls is a turn-based strategy game for the Commodore 64 that can be best be described as a modern day tribute to the cult classic M.U.L.E.
To this end, Space Moguls is best described as an enhanced re-make of M.U.L.E. and those familiar with the game will be able to jump straight in and enjoy. For the rest of us, the best way to describe Space Moguls is that it allows 4 players (human or AI) to partake in a game of engrossing resource management play with elements of economic principles.
Each game compromises of a specified number of rounds (with 16 being the maximum), with each round being broken up into 4 broad phases:
The first phase, is where each player selects the land type that they wish to develop on. There are a number of different landscapes available for you to choose, each with unique characteristics as to the type of resource you can extract from it. Additional land may be purchased via a land auction which can be of a great advantage if secured early in the game, but make sure you manage your cash flow as it doesn’t matter how much land you have if you do not have the necessary funds to be able to produce anything from them.
The second phase is the development phase where each player has 40 seconds to go into Town to purchase a droid and outfit with equipment that is compatible with the terrain of your land cell. Get this part wrong and your production will suffer greatly. Once you are ready, exit the Town and walk your droid to your land to ready it for production.
There is nothing for you to do in the third phase other than sit back and watch your droid dig up food, energy, materials, ore and if you are luck rare items. Random events may also impact your production output, in both a positive or negative way.
The fourth and final phase, is the market trading place where it is time for you to profit from your production and sell your goods to other players. Your ability to get above market prices for your produce will depend on how badly the other players need additional supplies to ensure that they remain competitive for the rest of the game. Make sure you are not short on supplies yourself, so you will need to be a buyer as well. No food means could impact production in the next round. Land installations require energy to produce at full capacity and once the Town store runs out of droids, you will require ore to be able to produce additional units.
Each round concludes with a summary of the current rankings, determined on the total of cash and assets you have and the game goes on to repeat the same game phases for all the remaining rounds and when these have been completed the wealthiest player is declared as the winner.
Sounds kind of straight forward right? Well not quite. Space Moguls’ ‘hookability’ is in the randomness of events, along with the unique land distribution and item production of the 4 planets available to play on. To add further variety, the landscape for each planet is generated as the game starts, which means you get a unique experience with every game.
The game is brilliantly presented throughout with its thematic music soundtracks, bright and vivid graphics, nicely illustrated introduction screen, ability to choose from 8 different characters to play and its amusing end game ranking ceremony.
If you are looking for some fast paced blasting platform action, unfortunately, Space Moguls is definitely not for you. To get the most from Space Moguls, you will have to invest a bit of time to appreciate the various nuances of the game and strategy play. It’s not an instant pick up and play. But when you put in the effort to fully understand the game, you will quickly appreciate all that Space Moguls has to offer, endless hours of board game type play that is engrossing and fun at the same time.
Check out my video review of Space Moguls below.
Space Moguls is set to be released by Protovision in a Disk, Cartridge or Disk + Cartridge editions on evening of 7 December 2018 (Central European Time).
It is hard to deny that the overall presentation of Space Moguls is of a high quality. Those of you looking for fast paced action will need to look elsewhere. For the rest of us who like some intellectual depth within their games then you can not go far wrong with Space Moguls.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Reset 64 Magazine, The 8-Bit Annual and various other publications.