Run For The Money
For PC & PCjr
Requirements: IBM PC with at least
64K RAM and a disk drive; PC-XT with at least 128K RAM and a disk
drive; or Enhanced Model PCjr.
Run For The Money promises to
be "a fast-paced arcade game to challenge strategy and business
skills." This promise is largely kept. In addition to being an
entertaining game, it is also educational.
The element that sets Run For The Money apart from other
arcade-style games is the challenge to make meaningful decisions when
faced with sometimes bewildering information. Players are forced to
make choices they will either gain by or suffer for. The outcome of
these choices is determined by realistic circumstances, not the flip of
a coin or a roll of the die. When you know that your strategy, not some
random event, is responsible for positive or negative results, you can
plan accordingly. This is the concept that makes business challenging
and this game interesting.
Bizlings On Simian
Run For the Money can be
played against the computer or another person. Each player controls a
character called a Bizling.
Bizlings are a businessoriented race of
aliens who travel from planet to planet searching for trade partners.
The two bizlings involved in this game have crash-landed on a planet
called Simian. As a result of a Zinger Storm, the paint has been
stripped off the shields of each ship. To return to their home planet,
the bizlings must repaint these shields. That's the prime object of the
As luck would have it, there happens to be someone
on Simian who sells paint to the highest bidder. Unfortunately for the
bizlings, they don't have enough money to buy enough paint for their
shields. Bizlings are resourceful, however, and discover they can make
money by manufacturing a product called synannas from a mineral called ruf. Synannas are synthetic
bananas, a prized delicacy for the Simians (the monkeylike creatures
who inhabit the planet).
There are mines called rufhouses which produce rufs
of varying price and quality. Bizlings can enter the mines and wait for
the best price. Once it is set, the bizlings can buy rufs and use them
to manufacture synannas on a one-for-one basis. The Simians will pay
for your synannas at your set price if they sense a good bargain,
quality product, or catchy advertising.
If you manage to make a profit, you can either buy
more rufs to make more synannas, or more critically, buy paint.
Whenever you buy paint you can return to your ship and begin to repair
its shields. It's not possible to repaint the whole ship in one round
of play (one Simian week), so a game usually takes several Simian weeks.
Run For The Money: A Simian
passes overhead while two
bizlings (left center) try to maxi-
mize synanna production.
At the end of each round, players get a chance to review the past week
and plan their strategy for the next. This part of the game includes
such features as an animated graph showing profit or loss, a survey of
the Simians' opinion of your synanna production, and most fascinating
of all, a very simple spreadsheet.
The interesting part of the spreadsheet is that both
bizlings' accounts appear on the same screen. This allows you to watch
in fear as your opponent plans to undercut your price for synannas.
Then, on another screen, you get one minute to raise or lower your
final prices in a flurry of bid and bluff.
Finally, if either bizling thinks his spaceship's
shield is adequately repaired (it need not be completely repainted), he
can attempt to launch the ship for home. If both bizlings fail, another
week of the game follows. The first player to successfully escape
Simian is the winner.
The game does have arcade features. You must move
your bizlings around to get into the rufhouses, to pick up ruf, to bid
on paint, and to repaint your shields.
However, the arcade action is not really the main
feature of the game. The main feature is that you are constantly making
decisions. Should you buy high quality rufs and charge more for your
synannas? Should you wait in a rufhouse, hoping to get a lower price,
while the other bizling is moving freely about? These are just two of a
number of choices you must deal with. The animated graph helps you
evaluate the prior week, and the spreadsheet helps you plan for the
A Dozen Strategies
The most important tool for making decisions may be the list of 12
strategies in the user's manual. The strategies are presented in an
entertaining manner, and are well written and well thought-out. The
economic modules were designed by a professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. Playtesting each strategy revealed that all 12
are somehow reflected in the game. Herein lies the educational aspect:
Not only are these 12 strategies relevant to the game, but they are
also relevant to the business world. It's hard to think of a more
painless and graphic way of learning, at a simplified level, the
concepts of business planning and forecasting.
Run For The Money
has some other nice touches. The manual is well written and there's an
onscreen tutorial in which you end up playing the computer-controlled
bizling in a slowed-down version of the game. Another feature is that
the package folds into an easel to display a command card. Also, the
program has three levels, which helps sustain interest.
I have only two criticisms, but neither is directly
related to the game. One problem is that there is no provision for
making backup copies. This is significant in a game which might be
handled by children. The other problem is the save-game feature. The
manual does not make it clear that you should save an unfinished game
at the beginning of a Simian week, not during the week. If the week is
in progress, you will lose the game position.
Although the package doesn't say so, Run
For The Money does work on the PCjr. However, the game runs
painfully slow on the Junior. Compared to a PC-XT, about 20 to 50
percent slower, in fact.
Another drawback to playing on the PCjr is the
player control for one of the bizlings. On the PC and XT, the game
requires one player to use five keys on the numeric keypad (the cursor
controls and the number 5). A player could use the cursor keys on the
PCjr and the number 5 key on the top row, but this is cumbersome and
puts one bizling at a disadvantage. It would be nice if a specific PCjr
version were developed, because this is a fine game.
The author of Run
For The Money is Tom Snyder, who also wrote Snooper Troopers and In Search Of The Most Amazing Thing.
In Run For The Money he has
written an interesting game for a broad age group. It is competitive
for adults and fast-moving for children. The added bonus of encouraging
children to plan and forecast in a simple business situation makes this
a worthwhile effort. Computer games such as this one have the potential
to become the modernday equivalent of the sidewalk lemonade stand for
lessons in economics.
Run For The Money
Scarborough Systems, Inc.
25 North Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591