It doesn’t happen very often that games are both entertaining and educational, but this is what Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager is all about: providing the perfect vehicle to experience space exploration. Based on the race to the moon from early 1960s to July 1969 and developed in cooperation with Dr. Buzz Aldrin, former U.S. Air Force combat pilot and NASA astronaut, who took part in the first moon landing mission and was the second human being to walk on the moon, the game task the player to win the race against either the Soviet or US space agencies.
Managing budgets, improving hardware, recruiting personel, and launching space missions is all part of this turn-based strategy game that might have a realistic premise, but still offers enough game-y fun. Featuring both a campaign and sandbox mode, one can either have specific goals or simply have a more open-ended experience without political pressure. With real-life machines like the X-15 and PKA space planes, the Sputnik satellite, the Mercury, Voskhod, Apollo and Soyuz manned spacecraft, and the Mars Viking probe, realism still prevails, though.
Having started as a a personal project in January 2007, based on the 1992 title Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space, Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager was released in 2014 and is now finally available on GOG with a 50% launch discount (no pun intended) that will last until July 26th, 4pm UTC. Anyone interested in the history of the program, can either consult the Buzz-opedia that provides background information on the real programs, missions and hardware throughout the game. But there’s also a book published in early 2016 describing its development process. The book can be downloaded for free or bought as a physical copy from Amazon (see the appropriate US links).