Blitzkrieg bop: Hunted Cow announces Dan Verssen’s Lightning War for mobile and desktops

By Jove!

By Jove!

This has been Hunted Cow’s Summer of Licensing Love. The Scottish developers have already lined up partnerships with Victory Point Games and Decision Games to bring their tabletop titles to digital, and they just told me that they’ve got one more hook-up to announce.

Hunted Cow have agreed to bring Dan Verssen Games’ Lightning War series of hobby card games to iOS, Android, and desktops, with the first title arriving in Q2 of 2015. The Lightning War games include five tabletop card games released between 2004 and 2008; four WWII-themed games and a modern “War on Terror” one. Hunted Cow’s deal extends to the entire quintet.

The Lightning War games are quick, low-complexity card games that simulate historical battles. In the D-Day game, for example, there’s five cards in the middle of the table representing the five beaches assaulted in Operation Overlord — each of the two players (Axis vs Allies) has cards marked with historical units that he plays to counter his opponent’s moves and take the beaches. A whole head-to-head match takes less than an hour.

Hunted Cow chief Andrew Mulholland told me that the first release to arrive next spring should be either Lightning: Midway or Lightning: D-Day. This will be DVG’s first return to mobile since Phantom Leader, a game that I really enjoyed back in 2012 despite the amateurish quality of the app.

There’s vanishingly few videos of these games being played on YouTube so after the jump, some chap just takes Lightning: Poland out of its box. And then doesn’t play it for some reason.

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Neuroshima burning: Neuroshima Hex gets update, new army

Apparently, the midwest is awash in Iocaine powder

Apparently, the Mississippi River is awash in Iocaine powder.

 Neuroshima Hex is one of those board games for iOS that we always seem to forget about. We shouldn’t. It’s a great implementation that’s been polished to a fine sheen over the past several years and, unlike a lot of board game apps, still routinely gets updated with new content. Unlike, oh, games like Big Daddy’s Creations stablemate Eclipse…cough, cough.

Today Neuroshima Hex was updated once more, bringing in yet another army, this time it’s the Mississippi. In the world of Neuroshima Hex, the Mississippi River is a polluted wasteland of deadly fumes and toxic sludge, which houses a race of mutated warriors who are now available as a $2 IAP. Of course, Big Daddy’s Creations also did some bug squashing and, to top it all off, has put nearly all their games and IAP on sale. Check out the list over at the BDC site.

Neuroshima Hex is available (and on sale) for both Android and iOS. Watch a trailer after the jump.

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I want a new drug: Spacechem meets Theme Hospital in Big Pharma


I want my corners.

Finally, a drug tycoon game. Sadly, it’s not the drug tycoon game we all wanted the most (namely, one that lets you play as Stringer Bell) but it’s definitely something I want to play.

Big Pharma is being published by British indie gaming national treasure Cliff Harris, the maker of Gratuitious Space Battles and the Democracy political sim series, and it focuses on the entirely more legal and (cough) ethical domain of pharmaceutical manufacturing. It looks like a marriage of the great sandbox business games of the 1990s like Transport Tycoon and modern assembly line puzzlers like Spacechem.

Big Pharma gives you a factory of drug-making machines and challenges you to use them to make a profit in a dynamic marketplace where flu remedies won’t sell well in the summer and sudden epidemics might boost demand for a particular pill. It looks like there might be some moral decisions to make about which drugs you choose to invest in, as the ones that do the most good may not always be profitable. You will fund expeditions into rain forests to find new ingredients and determine the composition of your products yourself.

This one’s being developed in Unity, so while PC is the lead platform right now, Harris told me this afternoon that tablet ports would be a snap, and are definitely on his radar.

I love the concept, I love the art, and I love that it’s coming to us via the hard-working Cliffski. Big Pharma will be playable at EGX this week — where I will be myself. I’ll get my mitts on it and let you know more about it soon.

Many more screenshots of Big Pharma after the jump, and you can follow it on Facebook.

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Ante matter: Sci-fi card game Starbase Annex is out now on iOS

Ante matter.

Cleared to dock.

Starbase Orion creator Rocco Bowling’s latest game is now out worldwide on the App Store. Starbase Annex is set in the same universe as Bowling’s Master of Orion-inspired 4X game but it’s much simpler. Despite the 4X theme, this is definitely the least complex game that Chimera Software have put out yet, so don’t go into this expecting a card-driven Twilight Struggle featuring Bowling’s creepy-crawly aliens or anything.

An individual game of Starbase Annex plays quickly: you get points to buy ship and colony cards that you lay on a hex board across from your opponent, then manoeuvre your fleets to try and capture hers’. There’s no multiplayer here, just a nice, long single-player campaign against increasingly devious AIs. It’s good light entertainment and there’s plenty of it.

Rocco told us right here in the PT Forums that an Android version is in the works, but for now this one’s just on the App Store for $2.

Review: Matchstick Memories

I'm a sucker for a theme that isn't terrifically depressing.

This puzzle was more fun when I was matching swords.

My first thought, upon hearing the pitch for Matchstick Memories, was that it had great potential to remedy a serious problem with classic interactive fiction: as I read most IF games, I’m basically playing Spock (Leonard Nimoy style, not the new-fangled, emotional Zachary Quinto version). I might have some investment in the story, but I always have as much time as I like to rationally evaluate my options. Even worse, the authors know this, so they have to write their choices so as not to make the better option so obvious that the distinctive freedom the book offers effectively disappears. So, not only do I feel like that bizarre abstraction, Economic Model Man, but the story also ends up feeling contrived for maximum uncertainty.

Matchstick Memories (henceforth MM) offers interactive fiction in which your performance on a variety of puzzles determines your choices. You’re still the ruthlessly efficient Economic Model Man, but now there’s some gameplay standing between you and your decisions. It’s well-suited to players who’ve ever imagined that successful life choices might hinge on the thousands upon thousands of hours of games you’ve played (which, as a man with a gig reviewing games for a website, I have).

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Michael Brough’s Helix will spin you right round on iOS soon

Right round baby.

Right round baby.

The inimitable Michael Brough has got a new game for us soon, and it’s a big shift from the roguelikes he’s been making lately like 868-HACK and Zaga-33. In fact, it’s probably best described as an arcade game, but being a game from the Mind of Brough, it’s not quite like any arcade game you’ve ever played before.

Putting neat labels on Brough games is like Helix is like trying to write an OK Cupid profile for Sybil, but Helix is a little like playing Geometry Wars on Pacifism mode: you’re besieged by creeps that want to kill you, and you’ve got nothing to shoot back with. Instead, you make orbits around them — draw the right pattern while avoiding contact with the bad guys, and they’ll destroy themselves.

Helix might be a little more reflex-oriented than some of Brough’s other stuff, but it’s still a Michael Brough game, so you can bet we’ll be playing it around here. Brough told me he’s getting very close to releasing it on iOS — he’s just sorting out some iOS 8-induced bugs in his final build.

Watch a gameplay video after the jump, and read Nowak’s review of the peerless 868-HACK from last year.

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Sunday Almanac: Odds, Ends and Odd Ends

Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats on the way in. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called.

Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats lurking in the entryway. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called. Sorry about the glare — unlike Mr Hopper I’m a crummy photographer.

This week’s Almanac isn’t a story or a rant; it’s just a clear-out. My sinister office here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap is almost completely papered over with post-its and notes written to myself on the backs of Woolworth receipts and racing forms — I can hardly keep my plans for superweapons straight from my schematics for mind control devices. Intolerable.

After the jump: small updates from developers we care about and stuff that has slipped through the cracks over the last couple of weeks.

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Name that rune: Super Glyph Quest is coming in early October

Funny, I've been called a tiny bore.

Funny, I’ve been called a tiny bore.

We had some good fun earlier this year with Glyph Quest, the fantasy/puzzle RPG from husband-and-wife team Leanne Bayley and Alex Trowers. One fact you might recall about Glyph Quest was that it was made while Leanne was very, very pregnant — probably not easiest state from which to concentrate on game development.

In a couple of weeks, Bayley and former Bullfrog man Trowers will be launching semi-sequel Super Glyph Quest, which is “pretty much all the things we wanted to get into Glyph Quest but just didn’t have the time to with the baby on the way,” Leanne says. (Said baby is absolutely beautiful and can be seen here, by the way.)

Super Glyph Quest will have new glyphs in the puzzle matrix and new spells to cast (over 70), more monsters, quests, crafting… more everything, basically. It’s going to be a nice premium three-dollar game with no IAPs.

I’ll let you know when it arrives on iOS, and you can try the original Glyph Quest for free to see if it casts any particular spell on you. The Super Glyph Quest trailer is below.

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