Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cover to Cover: Origin Systems 1985 Catalog (pp. 4-7)

This cover-to-cover series isn't going to require a lot of commentary on my part.  Each of the five games featured is given a full-color two-page spread, so we're going to look at several pages in each post and wrap this one up before the Christmas holiday. One unusual thing I will note about this catalog is that, unlike some other early ones we've looked at, it does not contain an order form -- the industry was still young in 1985, but now there were computer stores and mail-order vendors, and Origin Systems' popular products were having no trouble finding distribution to eager gamers.

Pages 4 and 5 present Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony, a role-playing fantasy game created by Greg Malone, unrelated to the Ultima series and not directly in competition with it, thanks to the inclusion of some action-game elements:

Origin Systems pioneered the coveted "cloth map" concept with the Ultima games, and Moebius followed suit, with an oriental headband and a 24" by 27" poster included in the box.  Downloadable games via Steam and other services are certainly convenient, but I have to admit I miss the age of the "feelies."

Pages 6 and 7 present one of the first proper sci-fi boardgame adaptations to the newfangled computers -- Steve Jackson's Autoduel, converted and adapted by Lord British and Chuck "Chuckles" Bueche:

The combat-oriented gameplay, combined with the detailed vehicle and weaponry statistics from the boardgame, made for a well-received game that was, if nothing else, easier to set up and jump into on the PC than on a tabletop.  There were strategic elements involved with planning trips, taking on jobs and managing resources, as well as joystick-oriented combat rounds.  And of course, the game shipped with a full-color road map, a Driver's Handbook, and a toolkit.

Next weekend... more!

1 comment:

  1. And now Greg Malone is a teacher in the New York Public school system. The New York Times did a piece on him a while back and I though it was neat that the guy who made one of the classics of early RPGs is now teaching. Lost many hours playing Moebius. The sequel, Windwalker was not quite as good