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The Space Bar is a 1997 graphic adventure game developed by Boffo Games and published by Rocket Science Games and SegaSoft. A comic science fiction story, it follows detective Alias Node as he searches for a shapeshifting killer inside The Thirsty Tentacle, a fantastical bar on the planet Armpit VI. The player assumes the role of Alias and uses his Empathy Telepathy power to live out the memories of eight of the bar's patrons, including an immobile plant, an insect with compound eyes and a blind alien who navigates by sound. Gameplay is nonlinear and under a time limit: the player may solve puzzles and gather clues in any order, but must win before the killer escapes the bar.
The Space Bar was conceived and directed by Steve Meretzky, a former Infocom employee who had previously created titles such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Meretzky hoped to design a graphic adventure in the spirit of text-based interactive fiction games, and to recapture that genre's breadth and level of interactivity. The Space Bar began development at Boffo Games in May 1995 under publisher Rocket Science Games, whose co-founder Ron Cobb—designer of the Mos Eisley cantina in Stars Wars—served as the game's art director and concept artist. Its 18-month production was troubled, and Rocket Science went bankrupt before the game's release. The Space Bar was ultimately launched by publisher SegaSoft in July 1997, several months after its completion.
The game was a commercial flop, and Meretzky has described its sales performance as possibly the biggest disappointment of his career. Critics highlighted The Space Bar's extensive content and number of puzzles, and regularly noted its difficulty. Some praised it as a welcome return to its genre's roots, although Computer Gaming World found the game poorly designed and needlessly abstruse. The Space Bar became the second and final title released by Boffo Games, which folded in fall 1997. Steve Meretzky later joined WorldWinner to become a developer of casual games.
Gameplay and plot
Video Review and Screenshots
The Space Bar System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP
- Processor: 200 MHz
- RAM: 32 MB
- Video Card: SVGA
- Hard disk space: 1.85 GB