Electronic Arts is now considered The Worst, but it started its life as one of the most innovative companies out there, and M.U.L.E. was an early release that showed this innovation. In a landscape of alien spaceships and road races, M.U.L.E. was an economic simulation. It reached into gaming areas that few others were looking into, including an innovative multiplayer system. It also had a great theme song.
M.U.L.E. didn’t sell well, apparently, but it is still regarded highly as a landmark game.
As for me, well…I owned a pirated copy of it and played it from time to time, but here’s the thing. There’s a boardgame called Planet Steam which I enjoy enough that I’ve bought it multiple times. Every time it’s brought up, someone mentions it’s basically “M.U.L.E.: The Board Game” and I always say, “NO. It’s an economic game but it’s not really that similar.” Well, in reading about M.U.L.E. for this post I have to admit yeah, Planet Steam is “M.U.L.E.: The Board Game”. I just didn’t remember M.U.L.E. that well. (But I don’t know if it’s more “M.U.L.E.: The Board Game” than M.U.L.E.: The Board Game.)
I played M.U.L.E., but it wasn’t a favorite and I wasn’t particularly good at it. Like a lot of Commodore 64 games, the fact that I had a bunch of them I’d pirated meant that there were few I really dug into, and something as subtle as M.U.L.E. couldn’t hold my attention as long. Still, I can hum the theme song from memory to this day.