As I’m sure you all know, I’m a big fan of NASA and the space system. I talk about it all the time, there’s the “Today in Space” WOTS specials every Sunday, not to mention the expansive catalogue of Cool Things From Space that I’ve found around the house. Sure, the space program has suffered massive failures over the last twenty or thirty years, but no amount of spaceship explosions or malfunctioning robots will keep me from loving the space program. In fact, that’s pretty much the coolest stuff ABOUT space travel, isn’t it? In this spirit, I present today’s loving NES ROM Friday, straight from our ovens to yours: “Space Shuttle Project.”
Space Shuttle Project is the most detailed space shuttle simulation ever made for the NES that I’ve ever played. And that’s saying something. Every single thing you do in this game is a tiny little challenge that you don’t know about or how to actually complete until you just hit a bunch of buttons and it either works or fails in a different way. Even the first screen has a little number thing you have to remember and if you get it wrong, you lose one of your five very valuable lives. Also notice that my love for space travel is not greater than my love of naming video game characters “ASS.” Tee hee.
Your first mission is something about putting a satellite into orbit. Exciting? Not unless it’s some sort of doomsday satellite with a smiley face on it, which I don’t think this is. Difficult? Like the dickens. Between you and the satellite are a billion minor button pushings at the right time, all of which I found out through trial and error. Mostly error. First you’ve got a little elevator thing where you’re Mr. Fantastic and you have to flip some switches, then drag another guy into the shuttle with you. Launching is another massive hurdle in itself, with you having to press buttons randomly to make your engines fall off and to adjust your axis appropriately. I’m not even kidding, this game is extremely boring, even for a space shuttle simulation game.
Once you finally get into orbit, you have to push the satellite past two dozen very tiny satellites who are all in your way. I may know quite a bit about space travel, but I’m fairly sure they could find somewhere in orbit to put the satellite without accidentally hitting EVERY OTHER SATELLITE AROUND THE DAMN WORLD. Again, that could just be my naiveté. The final stage of the first mission is to land the shuttle and, I won’t lie, I never managed to do this. It took the button mashing of taking off to a different direction where you’d hit the button, then it’d respond whenever it damn well felt like. If this NES game is any example, it’s amazing that shuttles even land in the first place. What’s that? You say you want to know EXACTLY what it was you have to do for one simple space shuttle mission? Well you’re in luck, my friend!
There you have it. The story of one man’s dream of getting into space shot down once more, as if learning astronauts had to be in good shape in the fifth grade wasn’t enough of a buzz-kill, Nintendo had to go and make this game, too. Thanks for killing another generation’s ambitions to be astronauts, Nintendo. THANKS A LOT!