Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 124 / DECEMBER 1990 / PAGE 71



One of the joys of computer entertainment is the imaginative journey it takes you on. After playing games for a while, you might even begin to invent your own scenarios. That's just what our editors did, and this is the result.

Evolution from Stepping Stone Software

Up from the primordial ooze swims a tiny one-celled animal, searching for food. As our prehistoric Pac-Man gobbles its way toward the surface, make sure it avoids becoming someone else's meal. It must survive to produce future generations in this computer simulation called Evolution.

Use your joystick to guide your munching microbe through a miniature smorgasbord, where every choice affects future generations. Try to dine selectively, but watch the clock. Food is plentiful near the surface, but so is the sun's dangerous radiation. Should your character feast in the bright sun, or should it grow at a slower rate in deeper but safer water? Your choices will affect its descendants.

When and if your creature reaches a certain size, the game jumps a billion years to the age of dinosaurs. Your creature has evolved, but what it has become depends on your actions at the previous level. Too much red plankton and you're a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a nasty dinosaur—but one teetering on the edge of extinction. A diet of green amoebas, plus a sampling of air without too much radiation, produces something warm-blooded that crawls ashore on two legs.

On the next rung of this evolutionary ladder, your creature may resemble early man or something else entirely. If you've come up with three wings and five horns, you may find yourself in Mother Nature's garbage can with a Do you want to play again? message on your screen.

Qualities in a mate can also affect change. You can probably thank your grandparents for your big feet, blond hair, or tendency to gain weight. But remember, a few extra pounds might have permitted an early ancestor to survive a famine. When an Ice Age threatens, do you select a mate who looks good in a skimpy bearskin or one who can survive the winter on a single woolly mammoth burger?

How well you solve different problems determines the game's outcome. If you barely make it through each stage, make questionable choices, and show limited mental agility, you could end up on display in a zoo—or become vice president. But if you show some initiative, find food and shelter in a reasonable time, and use tools to good advantage, then your creature might end up looking something like yourself—sitting at a computer, playing a game.

If you solve every problem quickly and intelligently and demonstrate academic, artistic, or cultural tendencies, then your creature could become a genius—a scientist, perhaps, whose latest invention has just destroyed the world. Go that far and you may find yourself at the beginning again—as a tiny one-cell creature swimming toward the light in some primordial ooze, searching for food.


Find the Public Bathrooms in New York City from After Hours Software

You and your family are vacationing in New York City, and your youngest needs to go to the bathroom. Your goal: to find a public bathroom in the shortest possible time. Ask for directions from the people you meet, but you'll lose points and valuable time if you mistakenly ask another tourist. You'll also lose points when you encounter angry store managers who yell Employees only!

Your obstacles include 8th Avenue women-of-the-night (Johnny! Suzie! Close your eyes!), Canal Street cab drivers (Sure lady, I know where that is.), and Bowery bums (Clean your windshield?). The winning locations include any NYC public library, museums on free-admission days, most department stores, and your cousin Fred's condo over on the East Side.

The game uses sampled sound and digitized pictures. You'll hear the roar of real cars as you rush to cross the street ahead of the light. You'll see the variety of gestures New York cab drivers are famous for as they explain just where you should go. Experience the full palette of your graphics adapter when you become lost backstage during the July 4th extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall.

Earn additional points for spotting the English-speaking cab drivers, waiters who aren't aspiring actors, and lawyers who turned down the Trump divorce case.

A special version of the game called Find the Public Bathrooms in Homer, Alaska offers native New Yorkers a challenge of their own. Look for additional modules in the Find the Public Bathrooms series, including Graceland on Elvis's Birthday and London During a Plumber's Strike.


Colony: A Universal Game from KF Software.

Science fiction that takes science and fiction seriously—this is the kind of game I've been waiting for.

The best of print science fiction endeavors to deal with the universe head-on, creating a self-consistent fictional environment with inviolate internal rules. Unlike cinematic science fiction, seriously written science fiction doesn't sport spacecraft making hard banking turns while firing all phasers. Alien civilizations are only rarely bent on conquest, and the universe is, if not hostile, at least not benign. The environments in which those stories play themselves out are rich but often bleak, and always unforgiving.

We've seen little of this in interactive science fiction. Most interactive science-fiction games involve either interstellar wars or interstellar trading, or some combination of the two. Virtually all of the games are laden with silly names for alien races, self-referential jokes and asides tossed out between combat encounters, and cleverness taking the place of thought.

It doesn't have to be this way, as Colony shows. Like much of the best science fiction, this game deals with the exploration of the universe, the discovery and colonization of new worlds.

Colony takes place in a rigorously Einsteinian universe. That means no faster-than-light travel; voyaging from solar system to solar system can take decades or even centuries. Sound boring? Not necessarily.

Time compression eliminates most of the tedium: One minute of realtime equals one year of travel time, for example. Much of the drama in the early phases of the game stem from precisely the amount of time and isolation your travelers must endure. Communication with the home planet grows more time consuming with each moment of travel. Gradually, the ship's complement develops its own social structure, different from that of earth. A generation is born in space with no memory of Terra.

There are technical and mechanical problems as well. Difficulties with the ship, scientific mysteries from the universe outside, or sociodynamic issues raised by the ship's self-contained population—there's plenty to do between the stars. Handled properly, a voyage of centuries flies by.

But this game doesn't end when you reach the destination star system; that's just the start. You must examine planets, analyze environments, and plan settlements. Or you may have to change plans: Close examination may show that your destination worlds are unsuitable for colonization. You may have to seek new worlds among the star systems, refurbish the ship, and begin the journey again.

The only way Colony really cheats is in the exuberance with which it tosses earthlike worlds through the firmament. Those worlds are needed for the game's next phase, colonization and expansion. There are globes to explore, filled with promise but also promising peril to the unprepared. Hundreds of scenarios are possible on each world. Some planets may bear intelligent lifeforms with whom interaction is possible. Others may harbor dread diseases—whose effects may not be evident until years of game time have elapsed.

This is a wonderfully open-ended game, without artificial time-length or number-of-turns rules. If a colony flourishes, for example, there's no reason why its citizens shouldn't decide to assemble and launch their own expedition to nearby stars.

The universe awaits.


Rev One Point Oh! from Shrink Wrap License Software

Are you one of those folks who has to be the first on the block with the latest software package? Now you can relive those anxious moments when you first booted that new operating system with Rev One Point Oh!, a joint venture of some of the world's largest software companies.

Part game and part historical-education software, Rev One Point Oh! simulates the first releases of a number of famous software packages and operating systems. PC users will thrill to the experience of trying to get Lotus 1-2-3 to run under Windows 1.0. Amiga users will meet their old friend, the flashing red Guru Meditation error, while running an eerily accurate simulation of Kickstart/Workbench 1.0. And Mac users will hardly be able to contain their excitement as they attempt to run Macintosh WordPerfect 1.0 under the first release of MultiFinder.

The object of Rev One Point Oh! is to try to get as much work done as possible before you crash the system. It's fun for the whole family. Cheer Dad on as he attempts to create a document in the first release of Page-Stream. No Dad! Don't select Variable Zoom with the mouse accelerator active! Too late. A flashing red Game Over box appears at the top of the screen. Watch the kids show up their parents by getting Flight Simulator 1.0 to run in the OS/2 DOS compatibility box.

Look for the new Gamers Edition of Rev One Point Oh!, in which you try to land your plane in the Atari ST Falcon 1.0 and attempt to launch a single attack in any of the first 16 releases of Harpoon.

Rev One Point Oh! version 1.032 costs $59.95. Bug-fix upgrades from version 1.031 are available for only $49.95—if you send in pages 13–20 of your manual and your copy-protected boot disk.


Blind Date Simulator from Take a Chance Technologies

Experience all the excitement and nervousness of a real blind date as your computer selects from thousands of character traits to create a unique partner for each new game. Use your mouse or joystick to select your onscreen personality—which may or may not be compatible with your blind date's personality.

The game package includes rose-colored glasses (Gee, you look just like someone I used to know.) a fake beeper (I'm sorry, but I reaaally have to go.) and a stiff upper lip (So, you're into Satanic rites. That's interesting.).

You can choose from 20 different date scenarios, including your high school reunion (everyone's successful except you), an afternoon at the museum (your date thinks you're a celebrated artist), and a Wayne Newton concert (you wanted Mozart, your date wanted Romanian folk music, so you compromised).

The game provides for an optional modem hook up so two players can play together as a couple. Take a Chance Technologies is sponsoring a RoundTable on GEnie so players can find additional dates. You can contact other players by leaving online messages such as Call Nancy for a good time or You smiled at me on the IRT to Houston Street. I was wearing the plaid tee shirt.

Look for other exciting new simulators in the Blind Date series, including Meet the Parents, Honeymoon in New York City, and Quick and Easy Guide to Divorce.