Encounter at L-5

By Walter Salm (Electronic Fun April 1983 pg 65)

 

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By ? (JoyStik January 1983 pg 56)

 

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By Scott Stilphen

 

The idea for a paddle-based shooter is a good one, as is the game’s back story.  However, an endless supply of all-too-easy enemies to shoot at is not.  The manual describes L-5 as a human colony beyond the orbit of the Moon but, although in astronomy terms, "L5" is a Lagrange Point.  There are 5 such Lagrangian points.  With our planet, L5 is 1 of 2 stable Earth-Moon Lagrange points (the other being L4) that are located in the same orbit as the Moon and are both the same distance from the Moon as they are from the Earth.  As for having a human colony in space, Gerard K. O'Neill’s first published paper on the subject, “The Colonization of Space”, appeared in the September 1974 issue of Physics Today.  A 1976 book by O'Neill, “The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space”, envisioned large manned habitats in the Earth-Moon system, especially near stable Lagrangian points.  There was an active "L5 Society" that formed in the mid-1970s, influenced by O’Neill’s writings, and a major effort was made in the 1970's to work out the engineering details for creating such a colony.  A news blurb in the February 1983 issue of Videogaming Illustrated (pg. 7) correctly notes the error in the manual's description of L-5 being located beyond the Moon's orbit, but then incorrectly claims L-5 is a point between the Earth and Moon!  The locations of L4 and L5 form equilateral triangles with the Earth and Moon.  Whether or not the game's background story was based on either O'Neill's ideas is unknown, but if it was, it would be the only redeeming value the game has.  And the point of this little dissertation?  I found the manual more interesting than the game, and that should never happen.

 


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