Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space is frequently abbreviated into BARIS. In this old game, the player takes on the role of an Administrator for NASA or head of the Soviet space program. The ultimate goal of BARIS is to be the first to accomplish the feat of a successful manned moon landing.The developers included actual historical events, including real space hardware and other proposals for a manned moon landing. However, certain changes were made to sacrifice historical importance and allow development of proper game balance and reduced complexity.
The player may assume the role of a person within the Soviet Union or United States with the power to administer all aspects of the respective space programs. Each player will have to negotiate their way through:A navigational menu, Funding of hardware purchases, Research and development, Recruiting and training astronauts, Conducting launches.
With the ultimate goal of accomplishing a moon landing, it is necessary for the player to work through some specific achievements to prevent glitches and produce success. Skipping one of these achievements will lead to penalty points and slow the progress of the moon landing.
At the core of this game, the player must achieve success in a variety of space missions ultimately resolved with dice rolls. Each space mission must meet certain requirements for success in completion of the actual moon landing. While placing a satellite in orbit may only have a few steps to success, the actual moon landing could have as many as twenty steps.
BARIS was developed by a company called Strategic Vision who worked hard to enable the player to experience simulated space launches and some of the headaches and triumphs of project success or failure all in the context of balancing fact and fiction for the game to make sense. The elimination of some rocket programs and addition of docking ability of a particular spacecraft were some changes made in order to improve the flow of thought surrounding space travel. Other than these minor changes, BARIS contains major hardware components actually used in space flight.
While some early reviews advertised this game as being appropriate for players less than ten years old, others thought the game was too complex. It was also described by The Guardian as being “rather lifeless.” While hoping for a CD-ROM version, Computer Gaming World thought that the “game should appeal to anyone with even a casual interest in space exploration.”
For those players looking to experience space at some time in their lives, it appears BARIS could be as close as it gets for the common user. The realism in the actual challenges administrators and astronauts face in successful and unsuccessful space programs are strategies included in the game. While there may be more technically advanced similar games, BARIS allows the beginning player to develop some basic skills for facing projects including many hurdles that need to be overcome for successful completion. It is gratifying to note that BARIS may educate students and teachers on some of the real cause and effect relationships involved in space travel.