C64 Review of M.U.L.E. from Issue 2

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


The initials stand for Multiple Use Labour Element, but the creatures they refer to look very similar to the animals we know and love. Put simply, this is a trading game where mules produce goods for you and you try to make as much money as possible by selling them. It is also one of the few computer games for FOUR different players, although the computer can control up to three of them if you're on your own.

The game is set on the planet Irata (Atari backwards -- ho ho ho), where the four characters, which you can choose from eight aliens, try to develop its resources. A spaceship lands you in the only town with each player having a small amount of money and goods, depending on which character he has chosen.

Surrounding the town are a river, a number of mountains, and mostly plains. This area is broken up into plots of land, and at the start of each turn a cursor moves across the screen allowing you to pick a plot. You can only get one plot per turn on the beginner's game, and you will be in competition with the other players for them.

Having selected your plot, you can go and buy a mule in the town and outfit it. There are three resources which can be tapped: smithore, energy, and food. Once outfitted to get one of these goods, you can install the mule on your plot where it will produce units of the good at the end of the turn. Its success will depend on its location, food going best near the river, energy in the solar rich plains, and smithore in the mountains.

If you've got any time left you can go and gamble in the pub (you never lose), or go Wampus hunting in the mountains (bet you can't catch one). Once all four players are finished a random event may occur, like a planetquake, acid rain, pest attack or pirate raid which can dent your productivity.

The mules now get on with producing and you may get the occasional bonus or bad news scroll across the screen. You take the fruits of their labour to the store where you can trade them with other players or the store itself. Each turn you will need certain amounts of energy, food, and of course money, to keep your mules producing.

You may have shortages or surpluses of goods so you can buy some and sell others. This is done on an interesting auction screen, where sellers at the top and buyers at the bottom move towards each other so as to meet at a mutually acceptable price. If no one is trading, the store itself may be able to sell you goods. You cannot sell below a critical level which are your essential supplies.

After trading has finished you are shown the financial state of each player and the colony's overall situation, before returning to the land screen where you can choose another plot. The beginner's game lasts for six months, at which point the ship returns to check on the colony's progress and award the title of first founder to the player of greatest worth. BW.

Advanced mule marketing

Once you've mastered the beginner's game you can move onto the standard and tournament games, which introduce new features and are both run over 12 months. The standard game had land auctions for random individual plots and also the ability to sell plots. You will also find that mules run into short supply and vary in price, and you have more control over the auctions being able to sell below your critical level of supply and charge enormous prices for goods in short supply.

The tournament game introduces a new commodity, crystite, which sells for high prices but is vulnerable to pirates and not always easy to find. It also has collusion whereby two players can transact a private deal without the general interference of an auction free-for-all. This can be used for lots of dirty dealing against any dominant player.

The text of this review was taken with Dimitris Kiminas' permission from the Gamebase64 site, where a fully htmlized version of it exists.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Dimitris

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 67%

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piete - 3 Nov 2010
One of the best games ever on C64, Atari and now on PC! Go to www.planetmule.com

It is about the only game I play on the emulators (single-player), for multiplayer either Planetmule or the real original thing.

Rating : 100%
Midnight - 11 Nov 2005
i Adore this game, even if it is simple. although i much prefer it on the nintendo rather than the atari. You can learn alot about economics with this game.

Rating : 90%
alessio - 7 May 2005
simple..... dead boring! avoid

Rating : 10%
Iain - 12 Apr 2005
I first played this game a few months ago after reading favourable comments about it all over the web.

It's pretty good and was probably quite original back in the day. The economics of it are interesting but it's just too simple compared to today's economic/strategy games.

Rating : 70%
Bob Wade
I found this to be an excellent trading game. The complexities of pricing and the need for swift action make it more absorbing than most. The graphic action also adds variety and the characters and mules are well animated. Although it won't appeal to all gamers, it should interest a wide range of people, giving you plenty to do in a well-presented program.
Gary Penn
The comprehensive instructions and helpful hints make it easy to get in to this game. The combination of frenetic auctioneering and strategical development make it difficult to get out. The simple but representative graphics and the boppy, catchy tune, all added to the fun. Recommended to both novice and skilled traders alike.
Julian Rignall
A really funky bop tune paves the way into an involved and boring game. Unimpressed by the graphics, I played the game in hope of excitement. I found little. Apart from a few breaks (complete with funky bop) and trying to sell products, there was nothing to keep me interested.
Delightfully illustrated instruction booklet.

A trading game, but in a bright new format.

Not many graphics, but what there are are well animated and fun.

Not too simple, and economics may put some off.

Funky tune plus effects during game.

Three different games and so much to do. Great for four players!

The best pure trading game we've seen.