Blast from the Past: Spaceward Ho!

Blast from the Past: The Micronauts
To Game or Not to Game?
ho screenshot
This screen shot of a game of Spaceward Ho! looks rather busy, but don’t let that fool you. This is a relatively simple game.

Imagine you are in charge of an alien race that must expand across the galaxy. You send out spaceships to find new planets, then you have to rework those planets so they can support your species. Along the way you strive to increase population levels and to raise funds to keep expansion rolling. Then the worst happens and you run smack into another alien race doing the same as you. It’s war! And intergalactic war at that. All with ships that look like flying sharks, planets that wear cowboy hats, and special events that happen on holidays.

I’m talking about Spaceward Ho!, a computer video game that was first released in 1990 by Delta Tao Software. Originally created for Macintosh computers, this strategy game has earned its fair share of praise and a number of awards, and it was inducted into the MacWorld Game Hall of Fame. The game proved so popular it was reviewed not once, but twice in Dragon magazine, in issues 196 and 202. Even Wil Wheaton back in 2013 tweeted about his excitement when Spaceward Ho! became available for Android through GooglePlay.

Spaceward Ho! alive and kicking

Despite its age, Spaceward Ho! continues to be available, with its fifth edition having been published in 2003 and versions now out for Windows, Palm OS, iOS, and Android.

wheatonWhat keeps an older game like this around? The fan base, for one. Online play continues to this day, and the last few years have garnered some new fans with the Android version of Spaceward Ho!

But besides that, the sheer fun of the game keeps it alive. Where some science fiction exploration and combat games have a dark, sometimes even dour aura about them, Spaceward Ho! is all about having a jolly good time.

ho ship screenThe graphics are proof of this. Not only do the planets have cowboy hats atop them, but if you play the game on December 25, those same planets will sport Santa hats throughout the day (of course you can change the date on your computer to December 25 at any time and get the same effect). Thanksgiving in America is also shown some love because on that date the planets will wear pilgrim hats.

And then there are the spaceships you create. As the game goes on, your technology levels will increase depending upon how much money you expend there, and this allows you to upgrade the range, speed, armor, weapons, and more for your ships. With each new upgrade, the various types of ships will look just a little different than they did before. Eventually you will be able to make spaceships with giant noses, or that look like a shark, or that look like a wolf, etc.

Silliness abounds in one of the best games

ho galaxy screenEven a number of the planets within the game have silly names, and more than a few should be recognizable to sci-fi fans. And if you win a game, you get to create a name of your own for a planet.

Also, the game play is relatively simple, especially by today’s standards, which makes it perfect for those who don’t want to spend hours upon hours, or even days or weeks or months, playing a game.

So, get out there, build those ships, mine those planets, and blast away at alien enemies. All with a few laughs.

And remember, while you’re at it, Stay Nerdy!

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Follow Ty Johnston:
A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.

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