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The year is 1986. You take on the role of the US President or the Russian General Secretary. You have the full industrial capacity, covert forces, and military might of your country at your command. Your job? To make your country the world's most powerful and prestigious over the course of your eight years in office. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It would be if the other guy didn't have his finger poised over a red button that could wipe out the world!

You must use diplomacy, make treaties, issue risky, covert CIA or KGB actions, or riskier, direct military intervention to prop up third world countries or help their insurgents and win them to your governmental philosophy: Capitalism or Communism. The world is a big place... and the other guy could start a nuclear war over a country as tiny as Tunisia. This game is the ultimate Cold War simulation. Every action requires careful analysis and the ability to judge your opponent (computer or human) and his reaction. The game features 62 countries, each carefully researched with up to date (as of 1985) information regarding their government, demographics, resources, etc.


Balance of Power MSX Soviet diplomatic relations
Balance of Power MSX An extract from the Burma Times
Balance of Power MSX The Soviet and American spheres of influence
Balance of Power MSX Diplomatic rap sheet for Sweden

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Alternate Titles

  • "Geopolitics in the nuclear age." -- Subtitle

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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).


This game was probably one of the first to include a "Nightmare" level.


The manual actually contained a bibliography... how many games today can claim that?

Subversive party

For each country in the game, there's a "subversive" party/organization listed for it. For the United States, it was "Democrats".


This was one of the earliest Windows-only games. You'll notice how similar the game is to the Mac interface (and you'll know why Apple sued Microsoft over the similarity!). It came with a Windows "Run Time" version for users without Windows/286 so they could just play the game.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
    • March 1991 (issue #42) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time in category Strategy Games (editorial staff choice)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #78 in the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #11 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (blowing up Earth)
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang and PCGamer77

Related Web Sites

  • Chris Crawford (biography of Chris Crawford, creator of Balance of Power, its sequel, and many other games. Written by Chris himself! (site offline after 2005, but has a copy))
Игги Друге (46428) added Balance of Power (MSX) on Mar 09, 2007
Other platforms contributed by PCGamer77 (3234), Raphael (1261), Kabushi (209748), Terok Nor (26757) and Belboz (6576)