M.U.L.E.

a game by Electronic Arts, and Ozark Softscape

Platform: NESNES

Genres: Educational/Kids, Simulation

Once in a great while, a game comes along that manages to be both entertaining and educational. To attain such lofty goals, a game must be so captivating and addicting that the education is invisible to the player. The player must experience "painless learning". This level of software engineering is rare, requiring more ingenuity than most software developers are willing to expend.

Years ago, a game called M.U.L.E. was released for Atari computer systems, and it was one of a handful of games that attained those aforementioned lofty goals. Now M.U.L.E. is available for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and if you like strategy games, and don't mind a little education (it doesn't hurt much, honest), this is one game worthy of your hard-earned greenbacks.

M.U.LE. is really more a simulation than a game. You and three other colonists (there are always four players, but they may be any combination of human and computer) are dumped on a barren planet named Irata (that's "Atari" backwards). You must work together to create a viable colony, one that will not only support its citizens, but also attract other people to the planet.

Although you and the other colonists must work together to ensure the survival of the colony, there are plenty of opportunities to turn a profit, and that, of course, leads to competition. This balancing act between cooperation and competition is one of the things that gives M.U.LE. its depth. M.U.LE. is a space-colonization simulation that concentrates on economics. All the rules of supply and demand are in effect. While the winner is the person with the highest assets at the end of the game, nobody wins if the colony fails.

In the following pages, all you interplanetary entrepreneurs will get a quick lesson in galactic economics. Don't be surprised if you learn something about earthly economics too.

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M.U.L.E. Downloads

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Published by Electronic Arts, Inc. and developed by Ozark Softscape, this seminal multiplayer video game released in 1983.

The game is a kind of an exercise in supply and demand economics. It involves competition among the four players. Players can choose a race of their colonist, providing unlike advantages and disadvantages, which can be paired to their individual strategies. In order to win, players have not only to compete against each other, but must also cooperate for the survival of the colony. They will have to deal also with periodic random events like a run-away M.U.L.E.s, solar flares, and theft by space pirates. M.U.L.E. features a balancing system for random events that impact the only one player. It means that favorable events never happen to the player now in first place, and poor events never befall the player in last place. This is applied at any time a difficult situation takes place in the game. The player in the losing position wins the tie automatically.

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