Title : Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday
Publisher : Strategic Simulations Inc.
Developer : Strategic Simulations Inc.
Genre : RPG Tactical
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $15-$20
If you're like me, you've probably never heard of this game. Surprisingly enough, not many people have. In fact I didn't even know this existed until I played it the other night in preparation for this review. Sure, I know who Buck Rogers is, but I didn't know there was some strange RPG / Strategy / Tactical Simulation game floating around out there for the Sega Genesis. And you know how much I love those types of games.
Pardon me while I wipe the drool away from my mouth as I think about Final Fantasy Tactics...MMmmmmMMmmMm......that game was full of deliciousness.
Ahem, sorry. Yes, we're talking about BUCK ROGERS: COUNTDOWN TO DOOMSDAY. Man, what a title! If that doesn't draw you in to want to play a game, I don't know what will. If you're not familiar with Buck Rogers, he's basically a swashbuckling space mercenary. Think of him as a cross between Han Solo and Space Ace. Alright, he's a lot more interesting than Space Ace, but no one comes close to Han Solo.
Buck Rogers has been around the block though. He's had tabletop games, card games, movies, comics. Damn, just about everything you can think of has been created through the Buck Rogers license. And here we are, with a hidden gem for the Sega Genesis.
Sure, Buck Rogers may have been popular back in the good 'ol days, but how does it stand up in the early 90's? Hell, how does it even stand up to other strategy games released now? Let's find out...
At the start, you will be tasked with creating a party of six from five classes and five races. I really don't have time to get into what the special abilities or perks of each class race are (daily reviews are tough, ya know?), but I will list out your options. If you've played any RPG or Strategy game before, I'm sure you can pretty much guess what some classes do, and what races are capable of. It's just a twist on the traditional Human, Orc, Elf, Half-Elf sort of thing you find in all the good old RPGs. This time it's made for space combat.
- Desert Runner
Your party stats are creating using an old fashioned D&D dice roll. Get the stats you want, and move on to the next party member. You are commanding this group as a rookie party of NEO (NEW EARTH ORGANIZATION) cadets to battle against the rise of the opposing interplanetary militaristic organization, RAM (RUSSO-AMERICAN MERCANTILE).
Let's just say, the story in this game gets QUITE involved. So, if you're looking for a good tale of treachery, deceit, space travel, space war and interplanetary conquest, well then you may have just found the game you're looking for. Unfortunately, your characters don't really interact with anyone..they're cookie cutter, but the people you do see and encounter are the interesting parties. You just set the series of events into motion.
Time to talk about the nuts and bolts of this game. It's broken up into numerous views, as you would expect from a RPG Strategy. You've got your Solar System view which is used for interplanetary travel as well as initiating space combat. There's the overworld view, which basically allows you to walk around the planet you are on. It also allows you to initiate ground combat. Then you've got the Adventuring view, which is a nice little 3D view of the area your party is located in, also another way to start up some ground combat. Finally, there's the two combat views. Land Combat and Ship to Ship combat, which is where you will be spending most of your time!
The true glory to this game is its epic use of the RTS gameplay style. It's simple, yet addictive and quite the challenge. If you've ever played X-COM, this game is one of the precursors to it. And if you liked X-COM, well, then you'll feel right at home. Combat is all about positioning your party, targeting your enemy, and deploying your maneuvers in ways that will prevent the least amount of damage to your party. Or, you can be like me and just try to bum rush your enemy, but that takes out all the strategic fun.
Besides battles, you'll spend a lot of your time leveling up your party as well as equipping them with new gear. Such is the way of a traditional RPG.
This wasn't really an easy game to review, because there is a lot of ground to cover. Too much in fact for someone who is doing daily reviews. I'll just say this. It's a hidden gem that deserves a lot more attention than it's gotten. Hell, ask around and find out if anyone has ever heard of this game.
For a game, to be released on the Sega Genesis back in 1990, BUCK ROGERS really stands the test of time by remaining to be one of the better RPG strategy games I have played in a very long time. If you can move past the simplistic graphics, and the somewhat campy space battle storyine, you'll enjoy it immensely.
Hell, it's the simplicity of the game, and the well crafted battle system that makes me want to keep coming back to it. I for one, am glad I discovered it. Even if it was 25 years too late.