About the M.U.L.E. Game

M.U.L.E. is a multiplayer computer game for the Atari 800 and Commodore 64 home computers of the early 1980s. The game simulates supply and demand economics on a far away colony planet. The object is to become the colony's First Founder, who, of course, is necessarily identical with the richest (and probably meanest) man on the planet.

There are always four players participating in the game: at least one human player and up to three computer players, i.e. the computer controls any of the four players that is not controlled by a human being at the other side of the screen. There is also a computer demo mode available where the computer plays all four players.

M.U.L.E. setup

Being considered the groundbreaking classic in multiplayer computer gaming in today's view, M.U.L.E. actually was widely underestimated at it's time. Other than the popular arcade games of the eighties like Arkanoid, Frantic Freddie or The Last Ninja, M.U.L.E. had simple graphics and did not depend on profane Joystick skills; like chess, it required thinking skills and strategy to win, especially when playing against other human players. In addition, M.U.L.E. was somewhat complex to learn: at a time when electronic entertainment was still new and when people had little experience in dealing with more complicated virtual games.

For a further introduction to the M.U.L.E. game, see Christian Schiller's World of M.U.L.E. and Jack's M.U.L.E. page, which has a comprehensive guide to playing M.U.L.E.

M.U.L.E. was originally released in the US by Electronic Arts in May, 1983. Like all EA games of that time, M.U.L.E. came in a flat box of appr. 9 inches (22.3 cm) square that was redolent of a record sleeve.

In Europe, M.U.L.E. was distributed by Ariolasoft, a company that belonged to the Bertelsmann Group. During the 1980s, a copy of the Ariolasoft M.U.L.E. cost DM 79.90 at Kaufhof, a large department store chain in Germany. Eighty Deutschmarks equaled about US $35 to $40 at that time ($30 in 1984, $27 in 1987 and $46 in 1989, to be more specific). Since in Europe traditionally everything is smaller than in the US for some reason, the Ariolasoft box was merely large enough to fit a 5.25 inch computer diskette into it, while the European M.U.L.E. manual was a very downsized version of the original.

Two M.U.L.E. boxes

Left: The original version - right: the European Ariolasoft version

As M.U.L.E. was introduced more than two decades ago for computer systems long obsolete now, it is not easy to find an original copy of the game today - if not on eBay.

Although it is said that of the Commodore and the Atari version only 30,000 copies were sold, sometimes one of them shows up on eBay. When I registered with eBay back in May '99, one could see about 1-2 copies within three months there, most of which in used condition, some of them new in their original shrink wrap. High bids ranged from US $28.00 to $50.00 for a used copy of M.U.L.E., complete and in fine shape, while shrink-wrapped copies went for prices between $36.00 and 77.00. In comparison, ordinary EA game like, say, Heart of Africa or Racing Destruction Set, usually ran for around $15.00 on eBay.

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