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Publisher: Delta Tao    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: 601

Spaceward Ho! 5
March 3, 2003 | Chris Ritchie

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Spaceward Ho! (SH) has been an inexpensive and relatively independent source of Macintosh strategy gaming for many years. Delta Tao, the makers of SH, have made this game a labor of love, as opposed to money. The final product is a quick, efficient and ultimately fun space-conquering simulation game for the Macintosh. Humor and lightning fast gameplay add to the overall effectiveness of the game, making it one of the more enjoyable titles I have played in a long time.

The first incarnation of Spaceward Ho! came about in the early 1990s. The first version was released in 1991. For a game legacy to be continued for more than 10 years by the original producers is almost unheard of in the video game industry, and all the traditional sequel rules (movies or games) are thrown out the window by Spaceward Ho! 5. Delta Tao didn't seek to make the game more complex , they strived to keep it simplified and slip-streamed, a noble goal for a market dominated by the flashiest, newest and most complex features. Even within the realm of strategy games, the rule of thumb is the larger the instruction manual, the more enjoyable it is to play.

With the latest incarnation, version 5.0, Delta Tao has once again improved the game without relying on bells, whistles and flashy colors. The game is a monument to the successful ability of independent publishers to create a dynamic and enjoyable game without the bankroll of a major corporate investor. Gameplay and enjoyment comes before everything else in Spaceward Ho! 5

Gameplay: Strategy First
With the removal of a complex system, strategy is the primary focus of this game. There are only two resources that need to be managed in the game: metal and money. Every planet has a certain value of metal which is automatically mined for you. Planets which fit closely into your race's environmental needs (like good gravity, temperature etc) have the ability to produce a profit for your empire. Planets that are too far out of your race's comfort zone will never become profitable and should only be strip mined and quickly abandoned. Resource management is not the primary component of this game, it is the skillful deployment of the ships that are built from these two resources that will allow you to conquer your opponents.

The ships themselves are relatively simplistic, you can customize the ships you are building based on certain attributes such as range, speed, weapons, shields, and miniaturization (less metal used, more money to produce). All of this customization is done by simple slider bars, allowing you to quickly create the specific ship you need for the task at hand. There are only 7 basic ship units to choose from; scouts, fighters, tankers, colony ships, dreadnaughts and special bio-ships, each with specific abilities that serve to compliment and reinforce one another. Forming fleets of ships is essential to your survival, some ships are better at attack/defense, like the dreadnaughts and fighters. However, they require refueling when they are exploring enemy territories, so a tanker must accompany them on their excursions. Commanding certain ships to defend, attack or arrive late to battles is instrumental in determining the outcome of conflicts.

Battles themselves are instantaneously fought, when you move your fleet onto a planet an enemy is occupying, the two fleets automatically duke it out. The winner is based solely on a comparison between the weapons and shields of the fighting fleets, detailed control of the battles is impossible. Being able to review the battle after it finishes is the only way to really know what has happened.


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