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Among the BESM-6 games there was a "Moon Landing" game; the only one available in both English and Russian versions. The binary survived but it is not runnable (yet).

The description said that its Pascal source was acquired "at an international computer exhibition", without mentioning its name or the year.

Here is a slightly edited GOST 10859 dump of a part of the disk block which contains the English strings used by the game:

1125.0150:  MISSION CONTROL OUT.0000YOU BLEW IT AGAIN. WELL,
1125.0160:   THIRD TIMES THE CHARM.....000HOW DOES IT FEEL T
1125.0170:  O TASTE DEATH TREE TIMES....??NEXT TIME BRING AL
1125.0200:  ONG YOUR BIBLE.000DO NOT APPLY TO NASA FOR A JOB
1125.0210:  . YOU’LL NEVER MAKE IT.0YOU’VE RUINED SIX MISSIO
1125.0220:  NS NOW. TURN IN YOUR SPACESUIT.00000.......SPLAT
1125.0230:  .  NOT SO GOOD.  INEXPERIENCE PERHAPS.0000000008
1125.0240:  MISSION CONTROL CALLING LUNAR MODULE: MANUAL CON
1125.0250:  TROL IS NECESSARY FOR LANDING. WHAT IS YOUR EXPE
1125.0260:  RIENCE: 0 1 2(STANDARD) 3 4 5 6 7 8 9(NO EXPERIE
1125.0270:  NCE) ?YOU MUST SPECIFY A FUEL RATE EACH 10 SECON
1125.0300:  DS. RATES MUST BE ZERO OR BETWEEN 8 AND 200 LBS.
1125.0310:  PER SEC.0000YOU HAVE 000 LBS OF FUEL. CAPSULE WE
1125.0320:  IGHT IS NOW 32500 LBS INCLUDING FUEL. COMMENCE L
1125.0330:  ANDING PROCED.0000FIRST RADAR CHECK COMING UP:  
1125.0340:  TIME(SEC) ALT(MILES + FEET) VELOCITY(FPS) FUEL(L
1125.0350:  BS)000DON’T WASTE TIME TRYING TO BURN AT THAT RA
1125.0360:  TE.000FUEL OUT AT  SECONDS.000ON THE MOON AT 000
1125.0370:   SECONDS.000IMPACT VELOCITY OF 00000 F.P.S.00000
1125.0400:  FUEL LEFT 00 LBS.000000↑PERFECT LANDING. YOU LUC
1125.0410:  KY JET JOCKEY.000000000(A GOOD LANDING, NOT GREA
1125.0420:  T, JUST GOOD.0000000000)BUCK ROGERS YOUR NOT, BU
1125.0430:  T CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE DOWN.00000HEAVY CRAFT 
1125.0440:  DAMAGE, YOU MAY NEVER SEE EARTH AGAIN.000000000=
1125.0450:  THERE’S NOW A NEW LUNAR CRATER 00000 FEET DEEP.0
1125.0460:  PERFECT RECORD! NO FAIR USING CALCULATING AIDS.0
1125.0470:  00000[NASA WILL DEDUCT   $ FROM YOUR PAYCHECK EA
1125.0500:  CH WEEK00000FOR THE L.E.M. YOU WIPED OUT.000000*
1125.0510:  FOR THE 0000 L.E.M.’S YOU WIPED OUT.

It is not reflected in the English messages, but, according to the instructions in Russian nearby in the dump, entering Tn at the fuel rate prompt, where n=1..9, switched to a shorter time interval rather than the default 10 seconds. T+ meant going back to the 10-second interval.

None of the three ATARI BASIC versions is an exact match.

Googling the failure messages ("How does it feel to taste death three times", "Next time bring along your Bible", "Turn in your spacesuit") doesn't bring up anything relevant. Does anyone recognize the game?

Curiously, in the Russian translation there is a blunder: "Turn in your spacesuit" is mistranslated as "Put on your spacesuit."

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 24, 2019 at 12:14

2 Answers 2

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I can't speak to the exact origins of this particular copy, but the way the terms are used suggest this is a version of the 1971 original which you can find at Jim's page on the topic. Especially clear are the game-outcome outputs which were part of block 5 of the original code, they are in the same order although the exact phrases have changed.

The original was in FOCAL, and there were many ports. FOCAL reappeared in the Soviet Union during the 1980s as part of their PDP-11 home computer runs. So it possible that it arrived on the BESM from that route. But it was more likely ported from one of the dozens of public versions that were widely available in the 1970s, including 101 BASIC Games. Curiously, that version contains what I consider a bug: line 5.92 asks you if you would like to continue, whereas the equvalent line 440 in 101 asks you and then goes ahead and continues no matter what.

I doubt the reality of more salacious story of stealing the code claimed here. I suspect that was added to make it more interesting.

p.s. The version you point to are MS BASIC, not Atari. It's just being hosted on Kevin's Atari site.

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  • Do you know that FOCAL appeared in the Soviet Union with the miscellaneous PDP-11 compatibles? Another possibility is it was available earlier on the Tarasov line of PDP-8's, perhaps having been imported from Hungary
    – OmarL
    Apr 7 at 3:09
  • The help page describing the provenance of the game did not imply stealing. I believe that the game was pretty much freely distributed, and receiving a printout at an exhibition after asking politely would be a way to get it.
    – Leo B.
    Apr 7 at 4:51
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Looks like a near exact copy of "Lunar Lander" to me, a game we commonly played on IBM mainframes in 1973.

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  • That's plausible. I wish the source code had survived, but alas, googling the relevant phrases does not find anything.
    – Leo B.
    Apr 5 at 8:33

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