Exclusive Scan: Geopolitique 1990 (SSI, 1983) - Commodore 64 (C-64) Version

Bill Loguidice's picture

Good news, everyone! I've got a special Armchair Arcade exclusive today. Attached to this very blog post and freely available to download is a nearly complete scan in PDF format of SSI's classic computer strategy game, Geopolitique 1990, from 1983, Commodore 64 (C-64) version. The 31 page PDF clocks in at 35.63 MB and features the box front, box top, box bottom, box side, box back, special notice and registration card, disk and catalog, scratch sheet map from the full notepad (blue), double-sided reference card, and the manual itself. As you can tell, this is the typical pre-1985 SSI deluxe bookshelf (oversized) packaging. If you'd like to play the Apple II version in your browser, you can do so here. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this semi-forensic scan of the game billed as "A Political, Economic & Military Game of World Dominance".

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Geopolitique 1990.pdf35.63 MB

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Robotnik
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Joined: 11/17/2010
a complex struggle for global domination in a future past

First of all thanks a bunch to you Bill for uploading this, it's highly appreciated!

Geopolitique 1990 is one of my all-time favourites on the C64, a game devised at the apex of the 80ies cold war period with the fear of a global nuclear war looming menacingly at the horizon. Since it's from 1983 you can't expect much in terms of graphics here, in fact the game is written in BASIC and the only thing you will see apart from text is a rather crude map of the world made up from charset. Geopolitique radiates an atmosphere of antiseptic sterility which you will either find quite adequate for the theme presented or just plain boring.

 YAY, ASCII charset ftw! Wait...where's Australia?Geopolitique 1990 (C64 version): YAY, ASCII charset ftw! Wait...where's Australia?

The player takes the role of the president of the US with the aim to amass enough political prestige, economic power and military might, before the soviets (played by the computer) grow too powerful. To do this you have to manage your limited ressources efficiently to increase industrial output of raw materials which in turn can be used to produce and maintain task forces, further expand your industry or initiate negotiations with minor countries.

While negotiating with minors you can try to reach economical, political and military agreements to fulfill your preset goals and/or try to hamper the USSR by forcing the minor to accept a neutrality agreement thus canceling all of it's agreements with the soviets.
The success of these negotiations will depend on the political orientation of the country, your prestige and the presence of your task forces. Each agreement will earn you prestige while each failure to reach agreement will cost you prestige depending on how much pressure you tried to apply. You can even try to declare a limited war on a minor to force him into submission but this will in turn increase world tension level and clear the way for more "hardliner types" to enter the soviet politburo.

 If you came here looking for graphics...well, welcome to hell!Geopolitique 1990 - diplomacy screen: If you came here looking for graphics...well, welcome to hell!

If you or the soviets decide the game can't be won by political means the second stage "geowar" will start, a war simulation of strategic maneuvers to invade enough countries for a total of 60 victory points. The side that scores 60 vicory points for two consecutive turns will be declared the winner. If you played your cards right in the politcal phase this will greatly increase your chances to win geowar.

What I especially like about this game is the multitude of decisions you have to take like judging when it's better to bail out of a fruitless negotiation with a minor and risk a loss of prestige or apply brute force and increase the chances for geowar to happen. There are also lots of random events like burning embassys, espionage scandals and military coups taking place all the time so the world map stays in constant motion. While avoiding geowar usually is the preferred way to go you will also have to keep a close look at your military and military agreements with minors so that in a worst case scenario you will not get caught with your pants down. A multitude of possible scenarios from which to choose at the beginning of the game allows for added replay value. While graphically clearly inferior to "Balance of Power" (which in my opinion is clearly influenced by Geopolitique) I find it in turn vastly superior in gameplay terms compared to it's successor where every crisis almost always led to disaster unless you constantly backed down. Also you CAN actually wage a war in Geopolitique (whether this is a desirable thing to do is another matter though!) and don't get a premature game over and a moralizing lecture to boot as in BoP.

What I DON'T like about the game is the hellishly awkward interface (we're talking 1983 BASIC prompts here!) with absolutely zero graphics, no undos and of course no sound. The procedure to access and keep track of the positions and stats of armys and fleets during geowar is an exercise in frustration to say the least. The only way to facilitate this was to print out the screen map and use counters from a board wargame...which in turn is a rather unique experience for playing a computer wargame that I actually find quite enjoyable.

Because of it's frustratingly cumbersome interface I would recommend the game only to true hardcore wargamers/grognards with lots of patience who are willing to invest some time to digest the manual beforehand. There is absolutely no way you will be able to play this game written in sluggish 8bit BASIC without the proper mindset (for example building more than 20 military units will cause the game to crash) - don't say I didn't warn you! :)

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Thanks for the additions,

Thanks for the additions, Robotnik, fascinating stuff!

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Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Maps
Robotnik wrote:

The procedure to access and keep track of the positions and stats of armys and fleets during geowar is an exercise in frustration to say the least. The only way to facilitate this was to print out the screen map and use counters from a board wargame...which in turn is a rather unique experience for playing a computer wargame that I actually find quite enjoyable.

Check Page 9 of the PDF. It didn't come with counters, but it did come with a full 8.5"x11" notepad with many sheets of double-sided maps. The double-sided part is a particularly nice touch. I'm not sure how you're supposed to keep track of things without counters (I think mostly Avalon Hill computer wargames featured those--SSI would often feature grease pencils and laminated maps as an alternate to notebooks), though. Is it practical to mark the map up with pencil? I assume that's why they gave so many map sheets on the notepad.

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Robotnik
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Joined: 11/17/2010
The laminated map and pencil

The laminated map and pencil as featured in "Computer Ambush" would have been a more convenient solution, I agree. But even using those appears much more impractical to me than having simple counters representing fleets and armys to shove around instead of constantly erasing and updating a laminated map. All they would have had to do is to include a single sheet of cut-out counters instead of the massive notepad of double-sided maps.
A strange decision indeed - maybe just to "confuse the russians"? It's a cold war game after all... ;)

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
That is true, Robotnik. I

That is true, Robotnik. I have a fairly complete (though not 100%) collection of SSI games boxed and I don't recall any of them containing pieces, though of course several had laminated maps (like one of my all time favorites, Colonial Conquest). It might have been a philosophical thing. Certainly Avalon Hill (makes sense considering their roots and the fact that they'd have access to the manufacturing) and others did include counters.

I too have a fascination with videogame/board game hybridizations, be it on various computers or even on console with the famous Odyssey2 games.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Fooblitzky?

Geopolitique sounds like a very intriguing game to me (with my fascination with politics). It also sounds like it'd be a fairly easy game to port and update, since it was written in Basic! Did this game ever achieve a cult following, like Balance of Power did?

Bill Loguidice wrote:

I too have a fascination with videogame/board game hybridizations, be it on various computers or even on console with the famous Odyssey2 games.

I recall a videogame/board game hybrid produced by Infocom (of all companies) called "Fooblitzky" (sp?). I never heard much about it, but it sounded kind of cool. Of course I never played it, but it sounds like it could be a "collectible" game.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Fooblitzky. Yep, I have it.

Fooblitzky. Yep, I have it. It was Infocom's first graphics game, albeit a graphics game that used ASCII graphics to maintain Infocom's ability to do cross platform development. I have yet to try it, partially due to the fact that it requires a minimum of two players. There's only so much time with the wife and other gaming distractions for us, like our present one with Plants vs. Zombies on the Xbox 360...

As for Geopolitique, I'm not aware of any type of following, but it is said to have inspired Balance of Power to a degree. Who knows how true that is?

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