I learnt what "Metamorphosis Alpha" was all about thanks to a review-discussion article in the first issue of "White Dwarf" magazine back in the summer of '77. Although that review was inspirational, I was already heavily committed to D&D since late in the previous year. Sadly, as a youngster with very limited funds, and D&D even then having four supplements available, MA remained just beyond reach. But I never forgot it, and some of MA's ideas, including from a further piece in "White Dwarf" 5 on adding mutated food plants and finding safe water to the game, went on to feature in my D&D campaigns. Fast-forward 36 years, and finally I have a copy of MA, thanks to the marvels of the Internet and PDF files! And it's every bit as inspirational still as I'd once hoped.
Yes, it's from a time when RPGs were in their infancy, and like the wargame rules from which they grew, it was generally expected that you'd need to amend or create some rules to plug gaps as you went along. Then as now though, a strong background setting and development can always overcome any "inconvenience" that might be thought.
I don't recall any comparable RPG set exclusively on a "generational" starship like Warden, one where if all went well (not what happens in MA, of course!), the crew and colonists were expected to continue their lives in a managed, fully-functional, enclosed ecosystem on-board, leaving it to their ancestors to reach and colonise the destination planet. Subsequently, the third and fourth editions (and presumably also the seemingly imminent fifth) changed MA's setting more towards that of a "sleeper" starship, where the crew and colonists were maintained in stasis units until arrival, and where the ship's main computer had become insane.
Weirdly, it's this alternate setting which forms the basis for the short adventure included here, albeit this is largely unrelated to the craft as detailed in these first edition rules! While both concepts have their merits, it's a little disappointing the original premise seems not to have been thought strong enough to fully support here. Similarly, instead of doing a proper revised edition, the "official errata" are simply tacked-on separately, while despite claims of grammatical and spelling corrections having been made, a more thorough check would have been beneficial in places.
I understand WardCo's energies are probably thought better concentrated on the newer editions of MA, but this primary setting shouldn't be ignored by gamers, since there are some beautiful ideas here that deserve exploration, and which won't be found quite the same elsewhere.
[5 of 5 Stars!]