Why did I choose to review M.U.L.E.? Simple - It's my favourite C-64 game of all time (boo hiss from all corners of the net). But seriously; what makes this game so good for me? It combines a whole lot of features that would only become popular many years later: Simultaneous up to 4-player real-time action, strong AI (yes!), a logical economics system with cause and effect, trading, haggling, swearing, and a wealth of choices so that no 2 games are the same. We're talking 1984 here! As this game is quite complex (but easy to understand), I will choose not to go into a detailed description, but rather describe the general feel of it, because otherwise this review would just get to long.
M.U.L.E. is mainly a trading game in which the 4 players are either human or computer controlled. There are always four players!
There are two ways of playing the game:
-you become the richest of the four colonists or
-you build a colony accumulating a minimum of 100 000 gold units in a co-operative mode on a planet's surface in 12 rounds.
These rounds are divided into sections containing features such as:
-grabbing a plot of ground quickly before your opponents do
-buying and outfitting the M.U.L.E.s and assigning them to a specific task under time pressure
-acquiring enough money and resources to be able to trade or take part in auctions
-taking part in auctions bidding against your 3 rivals simultaneously
-trying to corner the markets for certain goods
-reacting to any actions of your opponents
-being hit by good and/or bad random occurrences
-re-thinking your strategies according to the situation
-trying not to go bust
-and many more
If some if these points sound serious; they're not! They are fun, addictive, and full of nail-biting suspense.
Graphically this game is cute! The player's figures strut and waddle all over the place with nice little animations. The backdrops are a bit on the sparse side, but very functional. Control is intuitive and very responsive. Sound is adequate and alerts you to any happening you should be aware of.
Generally there is nothing like the satisfying feeling you get by either wiping the floor with your opponents or even hitting the 100 000 gold credit mark either co-operatively or in competition.
This is one of those games that don't frustrate you if you lose. You'll find yourself always coming back for one more game, although one game usually lasts up to 90 minutes . As there is no save function, the action is even more intensive: Can I get to another land plot to cultivate it, or will I run out of time? Shall I continue buying all the food I can get to make the price go up or will I end up having spent all my gold on a useless commodity? Shall I throw my plans overboard because one of the other players is more successful with his strategy than I am with mine? Will the pirates strike a second time? And so on and so on! Reading the manual is essential. For instance some of the game's functions include icons that you have to get used to. But having done that you've found a game that will stay with you for years (if not decades) as it has done with me.
|GRAPHICS - 8/10|
|Could have been better. Functional is
the best way to describe them, especially the
backgrounds, although most animations have a very
hefty "look, it's cuddly" factor.|
|SOUND - 9/10|
|The opening sequence is one of the C-64
classics. It's famous. Listen to it, and you'll know
why. (And it'll drive you
nuts!) dum-de-dum-de- dum-de-dum-de....|
|OVERALL - 10/10|
|Out of this world.|