Personal Computer News13th May 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #010
Somewhere in the Caribbean - or is it central Africa - lies the tiny, troublesome and fundamentally bankrupt Republic of Ritimba. Its two main industries are bananas and revolution, although nowadays revolutions are often imported from the neighbouring - and hostile - Republic of Leftoto.
El Preidente is a reasonable man, and realising the futility of trying to hold on to the reins of power for any length of time, has decided to divert as much money as possible from the treasury to his pension plan.
You are cast as the dictator of Ritimba, and your goals are first, to stay in office for as long as possible, second, to get as much money out to Switzerland as possible, and third, to take yourself out of Ritimba before the Ritimbans take it out of your hide.
No expense has been spared - it looks like the aid budget was paying - to bring you a particularly slick and colourful text game. It starts with the Ritimban national anthem on a loop - 'Press any key when you can't stand it any longer', as the instructions say - and proceeds through gunfire sounds, raspberries from the secret police if you're unpopular with them, to the dead march.
The country's running expenses tick away as the game goes on, and each month one of the interest groups, the army or peasants for example, comes to you with some request.
After the audience you usually get a chance to please a group, strengthen a group, raise cash, or please yourself. The latter can involve increasing your bodyguard, buying an escape helicopter - very bad for your popularity, that one - or moving half the treasury's current funds to Switzerland.
Sooner or later, you face a revolution. You can try to crush it (if you succeed you get to shoot the ringleaders) or run.
Dictator seems fairly simple on the first few plays, but as you get the hang of it you find it actually has hidden depths. I initially thought I'd worked it out when I managed to play-off all the groups against one another, crushing a series of revolutions on the way, but then I ran into a new problem. If everyone's too weak to start a revolution, how do you run away?
It's certainly the Duce of a job being a dictator.