You might not think much happened in 1876. Sure, it was a leap year, which is always a little exciting. And let’s not forget that it’s the year Melvil Dewey first published the Dewey Decimal Classification system, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, and two men flew to Mars in their steam powered rocket.
39 Days to Mars tells of Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter as they pilot the HMS Fearful on her maiden voyage. The “spaceship is the pinnacle of victorian engineering, designed by the brightest minds of the age. However, Albert and Baxter are not the brightest anything, and are both eminently unqualified to be piloting a spaceship.”
Through the medium of pointing and clicking you “must keep the two explorers alive through the trip by attending to their needs, while at the same time keeping the ship from falling apart and solving the problems that arise.”
The game is currently on Kickstarter and it’s already passed its goal. Almost doubled it, in fact. See it at work in the pitch video below:
Your day to day play of the game is about more than just feeding your inept spacefarers. they need to be kept amused and distracted. Else they might just resort to fisty cuffs.
“To survive the trip to Mars, Albert and Baxter need to regularly eat, sleep, and amuse themselves (so as not to die of boredom),” writes the game’s developer Phil Buchanan. “This would be easier if the fire hadn't run out of coal and if bedsprings weren't so squeaky. The Mechanical Navigation Computer has got a virus, the Interstellar Transport Engine is low on fuel, and Baxter snores. It will take all of your talents and a little bit of good luck to get both pilots to Mars in one piece.”
I’m enamoured with the 39 Days’ art style. The papercraft aesthetic and simple cartoon artwork gives the expedition a childrens’ book quality that ties in perfectly with the story. I can imagine night after night reading my nephews the next tale of Albert and Baxter’s exploits. Buchanan’s game will let you play through them, instead.
Something else that’s caught my eye is the $10 reward tier. As well as a copy of the finished game you receive a kit to make a papercraft steam engine.
Read more about 39 Days to Mars and back the project on its Kickstarter campaign page.