• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatCommodore 64
ReviewShaun B. and Andy

Main review

Advanced Space Battle is a Risk-styled game set in a galaxy of 36 civilisations strewn over the same number of planets. Long ago, war mongering was in abundance there, with each planet wanting ultimate power over all others, but after many generations of this struggle for supremacy, a peace was forged. With the galaxy still in a peaceful and stable state, there are plans to bring it under the control of one supreme ruler – you. With the game set, it’s time to move your armies to invade and take control of the surrounding planets. Sounds simple, eh? Advanced Space Battle is a turn-based strategy game for one to four players and comes in two versions, being “Classic” and “Advanced”. In the former, it can be played against a computer-controlled opponent called “Deep Jones”, whilst the latter may only have real human competitors. Once you’ve selected the version that you want to play, you can then decide how long the game will last (counted in years, from 20 to 1000) and how many orders (or “turns”) each player can make per year. Finally, you must choose the shape of the galaxy and then you’re then ready to play. I’ll deal with the classic version first.

The classic version is a much simpler and quicker game than the advanced. Each player will start with 100 ships to command (except for Deep Jones, who will have more due to not having a human brain). Initially, you must send out fleets of ships to invade and conquer nearby planets, and each invaded world will have its own industry that will vary from 0 to 15, and will therefore produce that number of ships per year. Worlds still under control of its natives will carry on producing ships throughout the game, building formidable defences as it progresses. Occasionally, native worlds will send out its own fleets to invade other planets, which can cause a problem for all players, including Deep Jones.


As your empire grows, so does your military prowess, unless things go drastically wrong. In theory, it’s important to look at the map and grab important strategic points then accumulate your forces attacking potential. Doing so will also act as an important part of your defence, but often you are invading blindly or on old planetary data, as the game allows you to view the number of each world’s armed forces. Each battle is weighted in favour of the defending world, so it’s necessary to send out more ships to assail than needed. When the game is over, (when the number of years have come to an end or it is decided to end the game via the “big menu”), the score for each player is calculated on the total fleet size and how vast each players empire is.

In the advanced version, the rules are basically the same as above, but you must remember that a good dictator is a caring one. As you expand your empire, you will need to build research and development units, industry, infrastructure and modernise each world, as most will be left without anything after your invasion. This is done by turning each planet into a self-sustaining one; by ensuring that industries are profitable and the public sector meet the demand of the population. Well-balanced planets will never riot and produce capital that can be pooled with other parts of your empire where needed. And as you modernise industry, you get the opportunity to do the same with your armies, making you a fearsome and successful emperor, in the hope that your adversaries aren’t doing as well as you so that you may take control of their planets and thus win the game. Advanced Space Battle is entirely engrossing, as it’s not just a turn-based strategy game, but has elements of SimCity and the likes that keeps the player compelled. If you only buy one Protovision game for your beloved C64, make it this one, you won’t be disappointed.

Second opinion

I have to be completely honest, if I was asked to produce a list of my favourite game genres, strategy or “turn-based” games would turn up pretty much near the bottom… although having said that, my personal gaming history does include a few recognised “strategy” classics. In the early days, I wasted months of my life playing Elite, while later on I became incredibly addicted to SimCity (a game which I regularly play on my Amiga to this day). I’ve also played quite a few Sid Meier creations, including Civilization and Colonization. These games have one thing in common – they have taken complex and otherwise yawn-inducing concepts and dressed them so that even idiots like me can access and enjoy the thoughtful, grey matter exercising gameplay.

Advanced Space Battle on the C64 presents itself as a professional production; the packaging and clear, informative instructions are to a good standard. You can play the game using a joystick, the keyboard or a 1351 compatible mouse. All options and choices are made through an intuitive user interface; the graphics and window/menu system are functional as opposed to awe-inspiring, however, with the galaxy map screen scrolling being more than a little jittery. The computer opponent AI provides a decent challenge, which is pleasing in a game of this type. The music is really rather good, being quite Matt Gray-esque, which is no bad thing with its bass and drums thumping away in the background; there are even different tracks from which you can choose, via the menu system.

The gameplay is entirely absorbing once mastered, with two types of game on offer that differ significantly in approach. In the faster “classic” game (a simplified version of the “advanced” game), you must grow your empire by attacking and defeating neighbouring planets and civilisations within a galaxy, in a time limit and set number of moves that you define at the beginning of play. The longer and more complex “advanced” game is similar to the classic game, but now you must take into account the management of resources and populations (à la SimCity) on the worlds that you conquer, as your empire slowly expands across the galaxy.

There is a lot of program on offer here which should keep even the most ardent game player occupied for quite a long time and this justifies the fact that this game isn’t a free download. I can’t simply state, though, that you should purchase this game because I know that there are many people who just aren’t fond of this strategy genre and Advanced Space Battle requires a bit more effort to engage with than the classic games I mentioned at the beginning – the gameplay isn’t immediately accessible and will take a while to become proficient at, what with the vast number of options and information available. Practise does, as always, make perfect. If you would like to “try before you buy” (and I strongly suggest that you do), there is a freely downloadable Public Domain game called Space Battle Deluxe (a precursor to this title) on the Protovision website; this download does however lack all the music, graphics, options and running speed of Advanced Space Battle but it does give you a taster of the gameplay on offer in the commercial version, which I wholeheartedly recommend if this style of game is your cup of tea and you’re not at all expecting an arcade style romp.