Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 58 / MARCH 1985 / PAGE 76

Run For The Money
For PC & PCjr       Raymond Battaglini

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 game.
    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
Run For The Money: A Simian
passes overhead while two
bizlings (left center) try to maxi-
mize synanna production.

The Bizling Spreadsheet
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 next week.

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.

PCjr Compatibility
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