Review of "Moonbase"

Moonbase is a TADS 2 interactive fiction game and is © 2002 by Mike Eckardt.

Review by David Welbourn

Sometimes you can tell right from the first room that a game isn't going to be very good. By themselves, the cheesiness of a teleport gate and a ray gun aren't that bad. But I also note that the room's name is in lower case, that there's no exit from the room except the teleport gate, and that the control panel is worse than superfluous. Considering the presence of my nephew's toy, just where is this transporter room anyway? – in my brother's (or sister's) house? And why is there a moon-to-earth button on the earthside panel? What good does that do? Why not just an on-off switch?

Furthermore, I'm heading into a potentially dangerous situation without any equipment or precautions at all. Shouldn't I have a spacesuit in case the base is out of air or contaminated with germs or radioactivity? Shouldn't I also have a flashlight, a medical kit, a radio transmitter, and a weapon? (Alas, Moonbase isn't the only game guilty of this lack of forethought.)

Unhappily, the moonbase itself seems to be little different than a small, poorly designed office building with an airlock. For example, there's a wall plaque that's too high up to read, in a room with a high ceiling. Why is the plaque mounted so high? Don't they want people to read it? Why build a room with a high ceiling on a moonbase, where maintaining the air quality would be troublesome? Because it's a puzzle in an IF game, I suppose. Bah. Why can't I jump up to the plaque in the moon's lighter gravity? I guess the author didn't think of that either.

The rest of the game was more of the same. Nothing was particularly challenging or interesting. The moonbase had no telescopes, space maps, moon maps, rock assays, rovers, or any fun equipment at all. Puzzles were there just for the sake of being puzzles and give you points, and they rarely advanced the minimal plot.

Near the end, there was a bug involving inventory management which forced me to restart the game from the beginning. So, I was not entirely thrilled with this game, though I did manage to complete it.

Rating: 2.

✍️🏻 See my handwritten notes.