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Game #3094
Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace    View all Real Dogs in this genre
RPG   First-person

Rating: 7.46 (142 votes)

Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace box cover

Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace screenshot
Arguably the worst RPG ever from SSI, Spelljammer is a tedious, flat, and even ugly-looking RPG that somehow manages to exclude all the elements that made TSR's Spelljammer paper RPG world a memorable one. As in the TSR original, Spelljammer is set in a futuristic world that seems like a mix between sci-fi, fantasy, and steampunk. In this alternate universe, people travel to distant worlds through the use of psychically-controlled ships called "Spelljammers". You are given command of your very own spelljammer ship, with a promise to run errands for various characters until you stumble upon the larger (and quite cliche) plot. The game is downright awful in every respect. Games Domain's review highlights some of the most annoying aspects very thoroughly:

"Spelljammer suffers from a limited plotline... a VERY limited plotline. In fact, you may miss the fact that there is one at all since it isn't brought up until later in the game and seems little more important than the missions you accept in the taverns. There's no great "save the world" plotline, nor even a "get your enemy before he gets you" thread. There is no foozle. As a great fan of the SSI/TSR Gold Box Series, I was surprised to find this glaring omission. The plot is the key to any good RPG and this lack significantly impacts the game. It is the difference between dungeon crawling and role-playing. There is no thread to tie the individual elements of this game together. With a good plot, one can overlook a myriad of less than perfect features. Without one, even the most dazzling features will fall short. Since this game has neither, it fails utterly as an RPG game.

The second most important aspect of an RPG is character development, and the game fails on this count as well. You do create your own captain, with the traditional choice of abilities, races, and character classes familiar to those who have played others of the SSI/TSR games. An added characteristic of this game is prestige, which changes depending on how well-known your character becomes. However, creating a personae pretty much ends there. There are no mechanisms for character development and you don't even know what your captain looks like since no portrait is generated.

Spelljammer is a case of what might have been. With an interesting premise and a series of popular and well-executed games already under their belt with the TSR team-up, one would think that "getting it right" would be a no-brainer. Instead, they ignored the very things that made their other games popular: a cohesive plotline, richly developed NPC's, and a three dimensional world to explore.

One might forgive some of this if they were forging ahead and blazing new trails in computer gaming, but it doesn't happen here. The game gets mired in mechanics and lacks any feel or direction for the characters themselves. With their expansion into space, this game falls flat." Bland, banal, and boring -- avoid this Real Dog if you can help it, unless you are curious about how bad a game from SSI can really get.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Al Escudero
Developer: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Publisher: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Year: 1992
Software Copyright: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Theme: Science Fiction, Licensed
None that we know of
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links: Official Spelljammer Site, Spelljammer 3E: Return to The Void, TSR D&D Archive: Spelljammer
If you like this game, try: Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, Planet's Edge, Skyrealms of Jorune: Alien Logic

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