Video Game: Buzz Aldrin Race Into Space
Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space, frequently abbreviated BARIS, is a 1993 space simulation and strategy game for MS-DOS. The player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or head of the Soviet space program with the ultimate goal of being the first nation to conduct a successful manned moon landing. A creator-approved open version (titled simply Race Into Space) has since been released, adding support for Macintosh and Linux.It is Nintendo Hard. If that doesn't discourage you, you can download the free version at its SourceForge page. There's also a commercial Updated Re-release, Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager, currently in development by Slitherine Ltd.
Tropes for This Game Include:
- Alternate History: The game attempts to explore not only the historical route to the moon (capsule and lander launched on a single rocket) but also several other methods that had been proposed, along with some programs that either were never used or weren't used during the time period.
- Anyone Can Die: Don't get too attached to your astronauts. A small fault in the rocket can send them on a one-way trip to Arlington Cemetery (or the Kremlin Wall, if you're Russian).
- Awesome, but Impractical: Minishuttles. They're a leapfrog into next-generation technology with three-man teams and reusable craft! They also do absolutely nothing that the more practical two-man capsule can't do, and they lack the equipment (kicker and docking module) built into the three-man craft.
- Artistic License – History:
- The game designers tried to follow historical patterns and extrapolations wherever possible, but sometimes fudged things to make a better game, or to encourage trade-offs between programs that were, in real life, not comparable; in particular, the BARIS version of the Voskhod is made a parallel to the Gemini capsule, which is actually an apples-and-oranges comparison.
- For playability reasons, the Soviet space program actually has its act together and is no more politically-challenged than the American program. There's one leader and one design bureau, instead of the Interservice Rivalry-laden mess that the Soviets actually had, and Korolov doesn't die in midgame.
- The Soyuz special lunar landing is a compromise between history and playability. Historically, the plan was for a pure direct ascent with a Soyuz capsule, but instead the Soviet Direct Ascent uses a fictional capsule and the Soyuz gets a special landing that involves a joint launch.
- Cold War: Serves as the backdrop to the events of the game.
- Copy Protection: If you fail to input the correct answer (from the Feelies, or downloaded from some site), the game will let you keep playing...but any manned mission will suffer a catastrophic rocket failure. The free version thankfully drops this entirely.
- Cosmetically Different Sides: Can be played straight if you use the basic model. Otherwise, both sides have slightly different technology that leads to subtle differences in strategy.
- Luck-Based Mission: Missions are fire-and-forget, though you can up the odds by doing all of your research before launching the mission.
- The Many Deaths of You: There are a lot of ways to kill the crew members. One of the more obscure ways is having an astronaut on the moon trip and break his visor.
- Nintendo Hard: Because of the mechanics of the mission failure system, there is a fairly high chance of failing a mission, especially the more complex missions like the Moon landing, even under ideal circumstances. Since mission failure is harshly punished, especially if it involves crew death, this means that it is not unlikely to have significant setbacks even very late in the game.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The news announcer for the Americans is a certain Carter Walkrite.
- Officially Shortened Title: The open source version of the game drops the "Buzz Aldrin" bit, probably for licensing reasons.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Capsule piloting is the most important stat by far, especially in the early game, since it provides the largest bonus to mission success. Conversely, Endurance is the most useless, with even some of the programmers not sure if it actually does anything!
- The Space Race: The setting. You can play as either superpower.
- Updated Re-release: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager, which is both clearly inspired by the original BARIS and also being developed with Aldrin himself as a consultant. It also introduces several new features, such as the removal of the "race" aspect by allowing you to play as the "Global Space Agency" with access to US and Soviet technology and short- and long-term goals to meet. The initial release only focuses on the race to the moon, but the developers have stated that the goal is to add, through content updates, programs all the way up to the present day and beyond, included manned missions to Mars.