Reach for the Stars
Reach for the Stars was originally released by SSG back in 1983, when asterisks and ampersands were used to make graphics in computer games. Having created the game, codesigners Roger Keating and Ian Trout effectively launched the genre of 4-X space games - explore, expand, exploit, exterminate. In 1989 the game was re-released with, although primitve by today's standards, a better class of visuals.
Reach for the Stars is a conventional empire-building game set in space. Your task is to research new technologies, build advanced ships, explore neighboring star systems, and eventually conquer the galaxy as you expand your forces from your home planet. Along the way you'll encounter alien races, fight massive space battles, and invade enemy-held territory.
Reach for the Stars plays out over a square map grid containing various star systems. Each system can have multiple planets, and these planets vary in levels of habitability for each race in the game. Once a planet has been colonized, you can develop it by building industrial, defense, research, shipyard, and training facilities. There are only six different building types total, and these can be upgraded from one level to another. Planets produce one new building per turn, assuming they have enough resource points to do so.
The player starts off with one planet that has Level 1 technology and a middle level environment. Three types of ships are available:
Scouts - very inexpensive, incapable of fighting or carrying colonists. These can be used as a low-cost, low-risk means to learn the composition of unknown star systems or the locations and makeup of enemy fleets.
Transports - incapable of fighting, but can carry colonists
Warships - incapable of carrying colonists, but can fight
Starting players have limited funds, and have to decide where to invest the funds (technology upgrades, ships,or environmental upgrades). Upgrading a world's planetary environment, for example, means that its population grows more quickly, improving production; this is a mixed blessing, however, because if the population grows beyond the maximum allowed for that planet, the costs to feed the population skyrocket. Building a lot of ships early can win a player the game, if the player finds his enemies' home planets before they manage to upgrade their military technology; on the other hand, it can lead to a loss if the player's opponents upgrade first and attack with superior ships.
Each turn was divided into two sections - a development phase, and a movement phase. In the development phase players worked on planetary production, deciding what each planet would produce that turn. In the movement phase players had the option to send ships to other star systems, to explore, colonize, or conquer.
Because the game evolves along so many different axes of possibility, the game offers tremendous replay value. It is quite possible to save a game on the first turn, and have it play out differently each time it was restored.