miscom: The Reagan-era psyche, crammed into 80×24

Stepping away from pseudogames for the present, here’s something that definitely qualifies as a game: miscom.


Supposedly reaching back to 1997 for this, miscom adopts the time-honored Missile Command theme, and does a decent job of transplanting it to the text-only format.

Your cities are located along the bottom, defended at the center and on each end by a missile station, over readouts of their ammunition stores. The yellow targeting reticule moves with the HJKL keys, and the space bar triggers a launch from the nearest station with ammunition left.

Send up a volley and the explosion will detonate any missiles in its range — and score points for you. Losing all your cities is the end of the game. Survive to the end of the round and get bonuses for remaining cities.

Sorry, no sound. Bombers, in this rendition, appear as a single reversed cursor block. I don’t recall seeing any MIRVs, but it is sometimes hard to follow missile tracks, as the game gets going.

Of course, you knew all that though, because Missile Command, in one form or another, has resurfaced again and again over the past 35 years. That’s probably more a testament to the plot than it is to technological advances, since the newest versions I’ve seen don’t add a whole lot to the basic structure.

miscom does well for a program that is quickly approaching its second decade … although the complaint could be made that for a game 17 years beyond the original arcade release, it doesn’t bear a perfect resemblance.

I have no comment in that sense; after all, robohack was a challenge at 80×24 and in ASCII, and I don’t begrudge miscom for trying the same stunt and achieving “only” a workable, playable state. My only complaint is the HJKL keys, which I still can’t seem to manage when the action gets quick. 😡

You might dismiss the entire Missile Command genre as an offshoot of Reagan-era warmongering, and an attempt to subconsciously assuage the fear of a looming nuclear apocalypse in a generation of teenagers learning to love the technology age.

Or, you might just enjoy miscom for what it is: A decent text-based rendition of an arcade classic of 35 years ago. 😉