Balance of Power: The 1990 Edition

Moby ID: 260

Description official description

The objective is the same as in the original Balance of Power: use your military, covert, and industrial forces to make your country the most prestigious in the world while avoiding nuclear war. However, it is now 1989, and the Communist Block is crumbling...

Chris Crawford, who rarely ever made a sequel to a computer game, was besieged by mails asking him to update his classic from a few years before to reflect the new state of the world. Russia was falling, the Iron Curtain was shattering, and smaller countries were beginning to assert their own regional power with more freedom from the bipolar world of the Cold War.

The result was the 1990 Edition. This game featured an updated database, but the most significant new features were: 1. The multipolar level, where small countries could go to war with their neighbors on their own. Of course, you could help them out (or encourage them!) by sending in military aid.

  • 18 more countries, bringing the total to 80.

  • A "Crisis Advisory Board" of four people, who would give you advice during international crises. The nice thing about being a Superpower is that the little countries do whatever you tell them, but you still have to watch out for your main rivals (USSR or the US)!

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Screenshots

Credits (Windows 3.x version)

14 People (4 developers, 10 thanks)

Design
Programming
Adapted By
Playtesting
Advice and Support
Contributors

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 14 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 18 ratings with 3 reviews)

A Cold-War Diplomatic Simulator

The Good
Lots of data to ponder. Tends to show that George Washington was far wiser than us pea-brainers today when he counseled against foreign entanglements.

The Bad
There have been others like it: Shadow President and its sequel, CyberJudas, come to mind, as well as a couple of more regional ones. In any case, the main knock against BOP has always been its moral posturing, and the detrimental effect this has on gameplay. In BOP, if you or your opponents--the Russkies--initiate a nuclear war, the game is over and you lose. However great that sounds to politically-correct ears, in practice it makes the game suck. That is to say, the game is reasonably fun up until that one out-of-the-blue escalation that renders all your previous hard work and diplomacy moot. Then you're nothing so much as pissed off.

The Bottom Line
Russian roulette. In the world of BOP, countries are dice-rolling machines that respond instantaneously to your moves, with little to no room whatsoever for maneuver. Make the wrong decision, have the computer roll the wrong number, and KABOOM! Game over.

Windows 3.x · by Jim Newland (56) · 2016

the only game of foreign policy

The Good
That's it! Finally a good simulation of making decisions in the real world.And it's quite old:made in 1990.

In the beginner level,you only have to push the turn button and you usually win ,by not scoring negative points on military and political interventionism.However,if you decide to see this masterpiece at it's full potential,you have to play in the Multipolar world,where every turn countries are invaded by other minor powers and you have to restrain your allies,while questioning USA's decisions to send 100000 troops into Iran or military aid of 2 billions to China or another 5 billions to Israel.

The worst thing you can do is messing with the playground of the other guy(unless it's an unsignificant African or Asian country) ,sending troops in foreign countries outside your sphere of influence(even in friendly Iran or Iraq) ,or plotting coup-d'etat's-that usually triggers a lose-lose scenario like...

I protested to US action to aid China with 100000 troops and escalated into DefCon4 crisis ,where if I backed down I would have lost 5700 points of prestige in the world ,otherwise..BOOM!

Each country had a point value attached to it ,ranging from 1(Burkina Faso) to 500?-1000(China) .You can influence and gain these countries by sending troops ,supporting the gov or the rebels with money or troops,establishing treaties,threatening with sanctions,imposing embargoes,destabilizing and overthrowing the government through coup-d'etat.Be carefull though! If you're USSR(I always play them:) and China is a communist superpower allied with the Americans, you cannot destabilize it ,so the best bet is to cut trade relations and wait for them to come to their senses(that happened in 1995 in my last game...changing score from 235 USA to 123 USSR to -260 USA to 480 USSR!)

I only won once or twice at each level...if you're unsure about what to do...remember this:never engage crisis over minor African,Latin American or Asian countries,it's not worth it.Always play nice and swell.



The Bad
The game lasts only 8 turns!!! So,what was supposed to happen in 1997?The end of the world as we know it?

There's a lot of statistics for each country,but it's unclear how the number of phones in Romania affects policy.

You have to have ,actually,a great sense of who's who in the world ,otherwise you'll never understand why Syria in sending troops in Iraq to help the insurgence against Saddam.



The Bottom Line
Finally, a game worthy of Popeye,the sailor man (our president:)

Windows 3.x · by lucian (36) · 2016

The ultimate simulation of the Cold War

The Good
It is a game where you have to AVOID the big war. It is necessary to decide in very difficult situations and every decision is crucial.The advisors help a lot but you cannot trust them blind. Every player can adjust the level of difficulty to his own abilities. In the multipolar level the game is a real SIMULATION of the world. You have to consider a load of facts. There is much background information given about the countries in the game and about how the game works in the manual. The scoring system is genious.

The Bad
Some information has to be gotten from the same menu again and again every turn for every country. That is a lot to do, a bit too much. It would have been better if there had been a screen with all the information every turn, which the player could customize.

The Bottom Line
As one of the two main superpowers of the Cold War you have to gain influence on more parts of the world. There are a lot of different forms of influence, and so there is very much to do. But you have to be careful because if you or your enemy starts a nuclear war you will both loose. The game is a real masterpiece of computer diplomacy.

Windows 3.x · by Mr Creosote (366) · 2016

Trivia

Covermount

The game was included as a free game on the coverdisk of issue 24 (May 1991) of Amiga Format, the UK's biggest Amiga magazine (at one point it's biggest computer magazine). The magazine also included Interphase, Vaxine and Archipelagos at different times.

The practice of cover-mounting older games was common in the UK for several years, but in mid-1991 it was banned for 16-bit systems, and restricted to 2 ex-commercial games per issue for 8-bit systems (such as the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum)

Credits

Chris Crawford in the Acknowledgements section:

I conceived, designed, programmed, developed, and tested this game. Yet, no such project is truly single-handed; every designer owes a debt of gratitude to a large number of people who lent him their advice, their assistance, and their sympathy.

He credits his wife, Kathy, for consulting him about all "big decisions" (he mentions helping with the images and posing for the pic of an anti-nuke protester).

Disks

This game came on an unprecedented twelve floppy disks!

Awards

  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (issue #00) - #70 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"

Information also contributed Martin Smith

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Raphael.

Amiga added by EboMike. Windows 3.x added by Patrick Bregger. Macintosh, Apple IIgs added by Terok Nor. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Shampoo-Girl, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST.

Game added September 2, 1999. Last modified August 30, 2023.