Rockstar was also the name of a text-based game in a similar mould to Dope Wars, which was published for DOS in 1989 by a company calling itself Wizard Games which was based in the town of Kelso, Scotland. The game's objective is split into two parts - firstly, to achieve fame as a rock star, then to scale the heady heights of superstardom, all through the wonders of ASCII, and avoiding death, bankruptcy, or falling out of the limelight.

The game itself is plainly done for laughs. You start having "learned how to play, and formed a band" and you pick your name and select one of five difficulty levels ranging from "incompetent" to "masochistic," and then you set out with your manager, Dodgy Sam, to chase fame. You do this by touring on various scales, from the dodgy local pub and club circuit, to a series of European or American stadium-fillers; releasing singles and albums; and doing promotional gigs here and there. The game tells you to "generally plot a campaign for world domination" That's in between drinking, partying, holidays to exotic destinations, and spending time in and out of rehab clinics. Generally it attempts to simulate (albeit rather loosely) trying to survive in the rat race that is the music industry, with a general overtone of satire and parody.

One of the best parts of the game is the imagination that the developers obviously went to in inventing fictitious names for your rivals. Groups have names that are most often stupid, indecent, or both, and there's a list of "stock" names for songs that are equally offbeat. The band names are either gentle parodies of well-known artists at the time ("Royal Highness" = Queen, "Strangely Brown" = Simply Red, "Shag & The Piles" = Sniff & The Tears) random ("Sofia Le Legs", "A Whale", "What's That?") or just silly and vulgar ("Samantha Fart", "The Groin Goddess", "Annie Abortion", "Horshit.") Not that this matters, of course, the whole tone of the game is meant to be unexpected and off-colour anyhow.

Not to mention unpredictable. Many a time will a message pop up at random, either one which has an in-game effect or one just to add atmosphere, which adds a whole lot of colour to the game. For instance, during an afterparty while on tour, a player may receive the message, "The two groupies you woke up with this morning tell you they have AIDS!!", or something similar. Or, in hospital, you may end up "being sedated after indecently assaulting a nurse." Or, upon signing with a new record company, Dodgy Sam may exclaim how "This'll pay for my new Jag!" None of these messages really has any effect, but it's nice to see a spot of atmosphere here and there.

Speaking of unpredictability, there's also the sort of random happening which actually means something. Very frequently you may get invitations to party hearty, ranging from the editor of a newspaper inviting you to a champagne reception, through Sofia Le Legs's bassist inviting you to an orgy, up to your mother inviting you to share some heroin. (!!!!) Yes, heroin. There's a lot of drugs flying around in Rockstar; aside from drink, you can become dependent on weed, speed, acid, scag, and nose candy. Often taking drugs (especially LSD) will result in strange things happening to the screen, such as the colours going all wrong, a static effect flashing across it, boxes with random words like "SEX," "DEATH," "OH NO," and suchlike flashing up at random, and whatnot. Indeed, one of the nastier surprises in the game is that once you pass the first phase and become a rockstar, you begin to have less and less control over your narcotic intake; "Sometimes the temptations of drugs are too much for a rockstar!" might appear, and then a few weeks later you might OD on heroin and end up in intensive care without warning. Another particularly irritating surprise is that your record company might refuse to release your killer album because it has a rude word in the title - though understandable.

There's no way of actually finishing the game; once you've breached the "Megastar" rating you can, in theory, go on indefinitely. There is only one end to the game, and that is "DEATH - The Ultimate Trip" which can come in myriad ways, including "massive internal bleeding as a result of a doctors error," "Feeling depressed, you try to jump in a river and drown. You succeed." and, in my opinion the saddest of all, if you're declared bankrupt, you might "have a stroke, and waste away." Indeed, part of the fun is seeing how long you can last against fighting off drug addiction, health problems through stress, manipulative record companies, and being described as "almost as boring as Rampant Rampage's lawyer!" For the record, my longevity personal best is something like 11 years in game time.

So, in all, Rockstar is certainly worth checking out, even if it's 16 years old! I believe you can acquire is from various abandonware sites across the web. I have to say also that there aren't very many games that age so well as this one...