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 (including Aldrin himself, or for that matter, future administrator of NASA Richard H Truly). 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 (e.g. the Apollo capsule). In the Source Forge version, they are reusable (even when they blow up, you still have the same number in stock), but take more turns to research, add to this that they need a Saturn V or joint launch to lift off with any additional equipment.
    • Direct Ascent. Bang, zoom, straight to the moon! But the required vehicle and rocket are horribly expensive, especially if you're not using an intermediate capsule (which has its own problems). It's potentially the quickest and easiest path to the moon due to the lack of moving parts, but it's not a viable strategy unless you get an early lead that lets you fund it.
  • 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.
  • Boring but Practical: For the Americans, Gemini. It's a workhorse capsule that can do just about anything short of a moon shot on its own - and even a moon shot, if you want to fiddle with some expensive additional equipment. It's also much cheaper than doing everything with Apollo. (Voskhod is really not reliable enough to say the same.)
  • 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.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The failures you can experience:
  • Fridge Logic:
    • Minishuttles remain in your inventory even if you get them stranded in space or exploding on atmospheric re-entry.
    • Astronauts can, and often do die due to hypoxia from being stranded in space; from crashing into the moon; or from lunar passes/orbits gone horribly wrong in which they fail to manoeuvre back to Earth and thus enter heliocentric orbit. This makes their bodies unrecoverable, and thus their is nothing to bury. However, deaths on re-entry may still provide bodies to bury as with the aforementioned case of Komarov, or with the crew of Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
  • High Turnover Rate: Expect to need to recruit new astronauts:
  • Historical In-Joke:
  • Just Plane Wrong: Extended to spacecraft and zigzagged:
    • Ranger satellites produced by the US was an [attempt to obtain closeup images of the lunar surface from 1961-1965 by launching the spacecraft towards the moon and waiting for images to be sent by the satellites prior to lunar impact. As mentioned on The Other Wiki, the program was at one point called "shoot and hope". However, they were never used, nor could they have been used for flybys of other planets - for that the US had the Pioneer Program, 2 of which flew by Jupiter and Saturn, and the Mariner Program for exploring the Inner Solar System (Mercury, Venus and Mars) while the Soviets had the Venera Program for exploring Venus, Mars 1 (which failed to communicate data from its Mars flyby, the Zond Program for exploring Venus and Mars (but failed to explore Mars), and the further Mars satellites of which #2 failed to land, #3 had a successful lander for 14.5 seconds, and #5-7 had partial successes, and later on the Soviets made the failed Phobos 1 and Phobos 2 (note how failing to reach Mars is a strange Running Gag for the Soviet Union).
    • 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.
    • Vostok and Voskhod capsule designers knew about the fatal outcome of being stranded in orbit (which often kills your astronauts and forces you to research capsules from scratch). They designed these capsules with 10 days worth of supplies to allow for orbital decay to naturally bring these capsules back from Low Earth Orbit, but for higher orbits, this is impossible.
    • One-person capsules such as the Vostok and the Mercury cannot allow for extravehicular activities (EVAs). These only came about in 2-person capsules with Alexei Leonov in Voskhod 2 and Ed White in Gemini 4.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Missions are fire-and-forget, though you can up the odds by doing all of your research before launching the mission. Then there's the chance that a small fault in a certain piece of technology causes a fatal disaster, meaning that you have to re-research it from square one.
    • You also get points for having women go to space and survive. Regardless of who you play as, there is the chance that The Government will never legalize women in space.
    • Getting a half-off sale just when you need to prototype something is a sign that this game, you might end up going Direct Ascent.
  • 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. Additionally, higher difficulty levels avoids punishing the AI's failures.
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • To burn up on reentry from a successful moon mission.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The news announcer for the Americans is a certain Carter Walkrite.
  • Offered the Crown: Achieving victory as the Soviet space program before 1969 means that you get a spot on the Politburo. Achieving it by 1966 (as the AI sometimes does) makes you a "potential successor to Brezhnev" and the victory screen tells you straight up: "Beware of your enemies!"
  • 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!
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Rockets are THE ultimate incendiary exponent. Go Figure:
  • The Space Race: The setting. You can play as either superpower.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: You get prestige from mission success - particularly getting to a milestone ahead of the enemy. Prestige means a bigger budget, which means you can afford to run safer missions faster, which means you're likely to hit more milestones and get more prestige. To rub salt into the wound, the Direct Ascent route to the moon is something you do if you get a commanding lead in the early game - it's the simple way, and in some ways the easiest way, but it's Awesome, but Impractical if you don't start with a lot of banked prestige and preferably half-off prototypes.
  • 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.
  • Vendor Trash: Once Basic Training for astronauts is completed, you may find some who are literally good for nothing.
  • What Could Have Been: Several plausible scenarios are possible:

Alternative Title(s): Race Into Space