From IFWiki

Author(s) David W. Riggle
Publisher(s) n/a
Release date(s) 1979
Authoring system C
Platform(s) UNIX Linux MS-DOS Amiga Commodore 64
Language(s) English
License(s) Freeware
Color effects None
Graphics None
Sound/Music None
Cruelty scale Tough

How It Begins

Battlestar begins in a luxurious stateroom on a battlestar in space. Unfortunately it is at the tail-end of a battle, and the battlestar is on the verge of being destroyed. The protagonist needs to find a way off fast. Of course, one just cannot simply swim away from a spaceship, so there are complications.

The story gets more complicated though, and its author describes its setting this way:

In the days before the darkness came, when battlestars ruled the heavens...

Three He made and gave them to His daughters,
Beautiful nymphs, the goddesses of the waters.
One to bring good luck and simple feats of wonder,
Two to wash the lands and churn the waves asunder,
Three to rule the world and purge the skies with thunder.

In those times great wizards were known and their powers were beyond belief. They could take any object from thin air, and, uttering the word ‘su’ could disappear.

In those times men were known for their lust for gold and desire to wear fine weapons. Swords and coats of mail were fashioned that could with‐ stand a laser blast.

But when the darkness fell, the rightful reigns were toppled. Swords and helms and heads of state went rolling across the grass. The entire fleet of battlestars was reduced to a single ship.


Battlestar is an early interactive fiction game. Originally written in C for the PDP-11 in 1979, it is arguably more about story and less about puzzles than many other titles of that era. The author, David W. Riggle, gives himself a bit of in-story presence by referring to himself as His Lordship, the honorable Admiral D.W. Riggle.

The most recent version, 4.2, came out in 1984.

It is one of the regularly included games in all flavors of BSD Unix, and it is one of the included programs in the bsdgames package available for most flavors of Linux. It has been ported to many operating systems.

Notable Features

  • The feel of the game is dramatically different across what may almost be viewed as three separate scenes, and the wildly different descriptions of the game with some making it sound like a pure sci-fi game and others making it sound more like a fantasy or jungle survival game.
  • The player does not get to use compass directions unless a compass is obtained. The directions right, left, ahead, and back are all that is available sans compass.
  • Space travel in a big space with resource management and enemies. If you manage to get to a planet save your game; you may not be so lucky next time.
  • Although it is not the focus, the story does contain some adult themes.