S D I (video game)

S.D.I. (video game)

S.D.I. (Strategic Defense Initiative) is the name of two unrelated video games. The first is a 1986 action adventure computer game developed and published by Cinemaware. The other is a 1987 arcade game by Sega. Though these games are largely unrelated—for the most part their only similarity is in name—they are both set during the Cold War.

Cinemaware S.D.I.

This game was released near the end of the Cold War. According to the game introduction screen, it takes places in October of 2017 -- obviously, in a universe when the Soviet Union did not collapse in 1991. The game uses the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative (S.D.I.) as its plot device. True to its name, Cinemaware also looked to Hollywood for some inspiration of the storyline. The storyline is reminiscent of several secret agent movies (such as the 007 films From Russia with Love and Moonraker). The game assumes that both the USSR and the United States have their own version of S.D.I. protecting their respective nations. The American station is never referred to by name. However, the manual and the in-game text indicate that the Soviet facility is called V. I. Lenin Defense Station. It is also mentioned that the Soviet station has laser cannons for defense against fighters.

In the game, the player takes the role of the commander-in-chief of the American SDI system, who according to the game manual is a General named Sloan McCormick, presumably in the United States Air Force. McCormick has his headquarters in the American space station, which monitors a network of twelve anti-missile satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the United States. The game's advertising blurb, available at Mobygames, indicates that these American satellites employ particle beams. The plot states that Russian revolutionary extremists, led by discontented members of the KGB have gained control of several ICBMs, as well as space launch facilities needed for deploying manned orbital fighters. Because they have received no response to their demands for the Kremlin to surrender and for the Americans to abandon their SDI system, the revolutionaries have begun using their seized assets to periodically launch fighters against both space stations. They have also begun periodically firing waves of nuclear missiles at the United States. The player engages the enemy projectiles and enemy ships using a space-based fighter. The player must destroy the incoming missiles lest they wreak destruction upon the U.S. The player must also make repairs to the defense satellites that become damaged during the battles.

Later in the game, the player continues the role of McCormick as, in order to finish the game, McCormick must make a desperate attempt to rescue his lover -- he does not necessarily have to succeed. She is the Soviet station commander, and according to the manual her name is Natalia "Talia" Kazarian. She is placed in grave danger because her station is eventually boarded by the enemy forces, so McCormack must attempt to fight his way past them and reach Kazarian before she is killed. The manual even goes so far as to say that she is at risk of torture, but this is not shown. It is interesting that "Kazarian" is definitely not an ethnic Russian name. In fact, it can be confirmed if one goes to the web site that the name is from Armenia, or, in the counterfactual universe of the game where the Soviet Union did not fall in 1991, it is from the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The concept of a high-ranking female officer in command of an orbiting Soviet military installation is also interesting when one considers certain realities of gender discrimination -- even in light of such exceptional luminaries as Major General Valentina Tereshkova. Complex issues of Soviet racism and Soviet cultural assimilation would certainly have impacted the life of such a person as the fictional Natalia Kazarian. A person in such an important position of authority who was not an ethnic Russian might well have been a carefully vetted 'pet native' prize pupil, selected for special treatment on the basis of political reliability and above-average potential, with perhaps a special dispensation to attend Moscow State University.

Ports

As with most Cinemaware titles, S.D.I. was developed first on the Amiga, the most capable home computer of the era. It was then ported to other popular systems. It was eventually released for the Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, Amstrad CPC and the ZX Spectrum. Some versions were published by the Mindscape Group instead of Cinemaware.

Sega S.D.I.

The arcade game is similar in many ways to the much earlier Missile Command, the principal difference being that the player controls a single satellite that they can move to avoid incoming missiles.

The game is notorious for having an attract mode animation that depicts a nuclear weapon detonating between the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

It was ported to the Sega Master System, released in some countries as Global Defense.

Reception

A review in Computer Gaming World praised the Atari ST game, particularly for its touching ending sequences. The review also noted the game "relies more on arcade elements than the other Cinemaware games".

References

External links

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