The Space Bar
|The Space Bar|
|Publisher(s)||Rocket Science Games, SegaSoft|
|Designer(s)||Steve Meretzky (director, interactive screenplay)
Patricia Pizer (interactive screenplay)
Tom Bok (interactive screenplay)
Ron Cobb (concept art)
|Release||June 30, 1997|
The Space Bar is an adventure game co-developed by Boffo Games and published by Rocket Science Games and SegaSoft in 1997. The game featured a 3-D environment which allowed the player to rotate (as opposed to Rocket Science's earlier production Obsidian in which the camera was usually fixed), and a humorous cast of aliens in the framework of a mystery. The player fills the role of a detective, interacting with characters and objects via a first-person interface. The name itself is a pun, as the game takes place in a bar in outer space—literally a "space bar" rather than the space bar found on a computer's keyboard.
Created at the end of the mainstream lifespan of the adventure game genre, it received positive reviews but enjoyed lackluster sales and proved to be the last game produced by either Rocket Science or Boffo Games. Famous more for being the death knell of two once-promising game developers than for its innovative gameplay and outstanding graphics for the time, it has garnered little in the way of a following over the years. This is due mostly to the difficulty of its gameplay and several annoying bugs that crept into the final version of the game.
When the game was released, The Sci Fi Channel held a giveaway on its website. By finding and clicking on certain banners scattered throughout the site, the visitor was able to enter the drawing. One of the prizes was a copy of the newly released game.
Originally, Rocket Science Games was set to publish The Space Bar, but when their previous games sold poorly, Rocket Science looked to outside publishers for the needed cash to keep developing, SegaSoft then became Rocket Science's sole publisher. After publishing two titles for Rocket Science, they released the Space Bar, but by the time the game was finished, SegaSoft was shutting Rocket Science to cut their losses after the financial failure of the previous two titles and gave the game only a limited marketing push.
Reviewing the game for PC Gamer US, Allen Rausch called it "a return to the older style of adventure gaming, reminiscent of Infocom at its best." Cindy Yans of Computer Games Strategy Plus praised the game, but considered it extremely difficult and wrote that "you should expect at least 80-100 hours of gameplay... and that's if you're a well-worn, inspired, dedicated, doesn't-have-a-life game addict." In Macworld, Michael Gowan wrote that The Space Bar's "writing is generally amusing and the visuals quite nice", and he called it "good for a diversion" for Star Wars fans.
Writing for Computer Gaming World, Scorpia called it "a game that just misses the mark." She believed The Space Bar had unrealized potential, and she criticized its puzzles for relying on trial and error. While she felt that Meretzky brought "some genuinely humorous touches", Scorpia argued that the game's "social satire and parody are often overdone and overlong", and made for comedy inferior to that of Superhero League of Hoboken. She summarized, "This one is best for those with a high tolerance for frustration." Computer Gaming World included The Space Bar in its 1997 holiday buyer's guide. The editors called it "one of the year's best adventures", and hailed it as "a first-rate title that showcases a master designer at the top of his game."
- Rausch, Allen (October 1997). "Space Bar, The". PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on March 2, 2000.
- Yans, Cindy. "The Space Bar". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on February 9, 2005.
- Gowan, Michael (February 1999). "Macworld Ultimate Gaming Guide; Name Your Game". Macworld: 179, 181, 182, 184. Archived from the original on August 10, 2001.
- Scorpia (December 1997). "Bottoms Up". Computer Gaming World (161): 421, 422.
- Editors (December 1997). "Monster Buyer's Guide; 6. The Space Bar". Computer Gaming World (161): 135.
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