Moonbase, the Lunar Colony Simulator puts the player in command of a base on the moon. You have to supply the oxygen, water, power, heat and shelter for the entire colony. Starting with a virgin lunar plain rich in minerals and elements (but alien to everything human), you establish your shelters and life support facilities while keeping an eye on your population, supplies, and support levels from earth. You succeed only if your city becomes self-sufficient.
It's SimCity on the Moon! Well, sort of...
Graphically, Moonbase is pretty primitive by today's standards, but not bad given the limitations the developers were working under at the time. The artwork for the buildings is rather amateurish and there's minimal animation, but it's decent and feels a lot like the early Maxis simulations.
The user interface is less than optimal in many ways; there is no way to rotate buildings, and you can't see what each individual building looks like until after you've placed it (a problem that was fixed in the re-branded 1993 update Lunar Command), therefore it's impossible to see where the power and thermal connectors are, which is quite important for the base layout. The Habitat module and certain others must also be properly aligned in order to share a common power and heat connection. The need for a huge network of power cables and coolant pipes, that have to connect to one specific point on each industrial building, can become cumbersome as your base gets larger.
Surprisingly, there's actually an amount of hard science to the nuts and bolts of gameplay, although it must be said that this doesn't necessarily enhance the gameplay experience. For one thing, there are very few industries available; you can refine oxygen out of the lunar regolith and occasionally find water from ice deposits, mine for the insanely rare and valuable Helium-3 (the only useful element the Moon possesses in large quantities), and manufacture electronics and solar panels from the other materials found on the surface, but that's about it. You can build lab facilities and radio telescopes to increase your NASA grant and hotels to attract tourists, as well as a few miscellaneous utility and habitat facilities.
One major drawback is that after the initial creation is over you're liable to lose interest quickly. The few disasters that do happen are generally pretty easy to recover from, and more annoying than anything else.
Overall, Moonbase is a brave attempt at a serious managerial simulator that's brought down by some annoying gameplay issues and a poor balance between realism and entertainment. All that being said, this game still offers a few solid hours of entertainment and challenge.
This game wasn't very popular, but I loved it. It made a great change from SimCity. Its very similar to most sim games, but being on the moon has a whole new angle. You have to cope with starting a colony on the moon, making sure you can accommodate the right number of workers and tourists, as well as produce all the elements to sell on the markets. It's a real management kind of sim game.
Like most sim games you start off with a certain amount of money, and every year you are given more money from NASA. But as you progress, you grow, and produce products to sell on the market such as LLOX, electronics, materials etc. That's how you make money, therefore its good to keep an eye on the stock market and know when to buy and when to sell (hence the management type sim game).
When you are erecting the buildings all over the Moon, you have to make sure that everything is connected to both power and heating (must get quite cold there). You can have roads etc, and the moon colony soon turns into a big massive galactic city.
Here are some quotes I found from the back cover of the game (thanks to some fanatic's Moonbase site):
"Select and clear a site for the Lunar colony ... build landing pads ... erect habitat modules ... set up power stations and grids ... create mining and processing facilities ... supply essential life-support services to the colonists. Comprehensive socio- and economic models from KDT Industries - a NASA contractor - animate and enliven you base."
"Explore the lunar surface for new mining sites. Process the raw materials you find into oxygen, water and helium-3, then use then internally or sell them to Mars missions. Build hotels for fat cats from Earth."
Moonbase is a really fun game, it's a great challenge and you would enjoy it. It's a good game for getting the feel of those really involved sim games. Warning: Save your cash, you WILL run out of cash.
Moonbase might as well be called "SimMoonbase": it is a simulation of mankind's first base on the moon. You can build living modules, oxygen production plant, science labs, and a few more buildings. The building types are very limited, and the goal seems to be just maximizing your income from shipping production (helium, etc.) to earth. A small, interesting simulation that unfortunately offers much fewer options and replay value than SimCity.
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