On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first people in human history to step onto the surface of another celestial body. This achievement cannot be underestimated, and no words exist to fully convey how monumental and how important it truly was. Naturally, as Monday saw the 40th anniversary of that small step and giant leap, celebrations across all media have been presented. Indeed, even in Flash games one can find a marker for this incredible moment, with Apollo 11 - Mission To The Moon.
So who is responsible for this special game? None other than our old friends at Games 2 Win. If you don't who they are, well... You know all those really ridiculous games that involve stealing kisses or putting hot teachers in compromising positions? Yeah, these guys make all of them.
I came across this game thanks to this ringing endorsement: "NO ONE EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER PLAY THIS GAME!!! ITS LIKE 30MINUTES I WILL NEVER GET BACK! long story short dont play this game" Well, when I read that, I knew what I had to do!
Apollo 11 takes you through the important moments of that important journey, putting you at the controls as you take off, travel to the Moon and splash back down to Earth. That actually sounds like a really cool concept for a game, providing a significant challenge, but one that could be tailored to most gamers if done correctly. Plus, you get to learn a little about the actual Apollo 11 mission, which is no bad thing. For instance, I learned that travelling to the Moon is piss easy.
From the very beginning, you're given no challenge whatsoever. Everything is controlled through the cursor keys and the space bar (that's kind of appropriate, at least.) During the take-off sequence, you're told exactly what buttons to press and when to press them. There's no chance of making a mistake, as the entire procedure is laid out right in front of you.
So apparently launching a Saturn V rocket with three men strapped to the front of it is easier than you'd think. No wonder so many chimps were used at first; you'd have to be pretty far down the evolutionary ladder to screw this up.
Once you're in space, it's just a matter of orbiting the planet and picking up enough speed to escape Earth's gravitational pull and slingshot your way to the Moon. Man, when you think about it, that sounds really dumb. But then that's why I don't work for NASA!
Anyway, one thing I learned from this game was that the spacecraft had to be turned occasionally to prevent any one side from overheating under the unfiltered rays of the Sun. There's a little more challenge here, but you're still told exactly what to do and when to do it. The spacecraft even slows down so you have more time to press the space bar!
There's also a mini game where you have to find and photograph the Moon. Somehow I thought that would have been pretty easy - you know, what with it being a lunar mission, and all.
Landing the lunar module is actually kind of fun, if only because it provides something akin to a challenge. Look, I understand if the main focus of this game was to educate the player, but you still need to include a little fun. Remember that - fun? It's why you call it a "game" in the first place? Never mind - this level is over way too quickly.
And then suddenly we're back hurtling through the Earth's atmosphere, trying to keep our craft level before releasing the parachutes that carry us gently back to the bosom of our beloved home planet. Did you know that the inside of that thing smelled like a portaloo on the third day of a music festival? Now you do.
Even the final screen congratulating you is as dull as Henry Kissinger reading the dictionary. And I don't know if I like the jingoistic tone, either. Come, comrade - surely we can stand together as brothers?
You could argue that the Apollo 11 mission was the most important event in human history, the culmination of a technological evolution that had been going on for millennia and which continues today. And there's nothing wrong with a game trying to teach us all a little about this incredible event. But Apollo 11 - Mission To The Moon is edutainment without the entertainment part. With a grand vision but an amateurish approach, its only saving grace is its brevity.