In Space Ace, the evil Commander Borf is out to conquer the Earth, using his “Infanto Ray” that can turn ordinary adults into infants. Borf is a less-than-credible villain, appearing as a jazzed-up, sci-fi version of Bluto from Popeye. Even the beard is pretty much the same. And it’s got a similar dynamic, as the muscled, heroic Ace gets hit by the Infanto Ray and turned into the weak and nerdy teenage Dexter.
As Dexter comes into being, Borf abducts Kimberly, Ace’s partner and–we suppose–his girlfriend. Dexter must transverse some pretty strange places to get her back and save the Earth once more.
Each of the approximately 15 scenes can be played as Dexter or Ace once you energize. Dexter must avoid creatures more than Ace as he simply doesn’t have the bulk or muscles to fight them effectively, while Ace gets to blast things more. What’s interesting is that these scenes change depending on which character you are playing.
One of my favorite scenes has you face off against your double, which involves lots of dodging no matter which character you are playing. It is obvious that the designers had lots of fun with this game, as some of the scenes are quite funny, such as the motorcycle chase, or the scene with the roller-skates, where you avoid holes on the way to your destination. There is a scene on an alien trash heap where you try to avoid becoming recycled by trash compactors, and a planet with alien dogs trying to eat you.
At the end, Dexter/Ace faces off against Borf in hand-to-hand combat to rescue Kimberly. Once he does, Borf returns, trying to blast Ace with the Infanto Ray. If you get hit here, you become a baby in diapers and you lose the game. Otherwise, you save the earth and are treated to a cute ending.
This game seems rather contrived in parts, but has a genuine sense of fun beneath the surface. Whether or not you played it in the arcade, it’s worth a replay on the Mac.
Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair were the first and, so far, only games originally produced on laserdisc. This means their graphics are far ahead of their times, and still appear superior today.
Sound is equally good. The whole game is like a Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, I think they did adapt the story for one.
Once you get past the hokey exterior, there is a genuine sense of fun in this game. You’ll chuckle at the game even as you try to stay alive.
This is an exceptionally hard game to master. The movements required to win must be learned slowly, by trial and error. You may wish to replay the game once or twice, but once you have won once, it’s pretty much over.
An extensive manual, covering all the scenes in the game and giving backstory and hints.