Spaceward Ho! is a Turn-Based Strategy 4X game in which you compete with human and/or computer players to dominate the galaxy. It was conceived in The '70s, designed in The '80s, born on the Macintosh in 1990, and has been refined and ported ever since. (iOS and Android versions are now available.)
The game's developers see its streamlined simplicity as its key strength. Depending on initial settings such as galaxy size, games typically last from ten minutes to an hour.
Tropes featured include:
- Black-and-Grey Morality: Each planetary conquest involves complete eradication of the biosphere, from innocent colonists to the last single-celled lifeform. Backed into a corner? Invoke Armageddon and randomly destroy half the planets in the galaxy, not even sparing your own citizens!
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: "Aren't you sure you really don't want to have nothing to do with not launching the armageddon device?" (Your options are "Unsure?" and "Not Unsure?")
- Easter Egg: There are special joke messages if you abandon planets called "Hope" or "Ship", christen a tanker "Valdez", or use "Falken" and "Joshua" as your name and password.
- Gameplay Automation: You can have the computer play in your stead for any length of time, and even configure its play style to your liking.
- Holiday Mode: Planets can be seen wearing Santa hats on Christmas and pilgrim hats on Thanksgiving.
- Idle Animation: The planet on the title screen will tap its foot and twirl its gun.
- No Fair Cheating: The computer will rat you out to your opponents if you've hacked the game to cheat at multiplayer.
- Playable EpilogueWhen you kill all enemy colonies, you win. You're free to keep playing, but there won't be any resistance from the bad guys, since they're dead.
- Reference Overdosed: Planet names include Barsoom, Arrakis, Ender, Gollum, Krypton, Yavin, Cardassia, Remulak, Zaphod, Dumbo, Tweety, Hobbes, Woz, Lennon... There are more.
- Rock Beats Laser: One of the higher-level shield technologies, more powerful than sciency-sounding things like "Quark Shell" and "Gluon Field", is "Hide behind a big rock".
- Rule of Fun: The developers' justification for Easy Logistics, among other things.Fun is our number one goal, and we have sacrificed realism for fun everywhere we could.
- Space Western: The game's frontier motif actually came from the idea of putting hats on the planets to convey their status, not the other way around.
- Symmetric Effect: The Armageddon device destroys half the planets in the galaxy, chosen randomly. This is extremely devastating and the user is in no way protected from it.
- Tech Tree: There are linear paths for shields, weapons, range, speed, and miniaturization, as well as "radical" research, which might provide a dramatic breakthrough in any of the above (or grant other kinds of boons).
- Visual Pun: Ships can have nosecones shaped like human noses.