Word/Puzzle Game of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Calculords

By Owen Faraday 09 Dec 2014 0
"How will I ever use this," you ask the algebra teacher. "TO AVENGE THE EARTH." "How will I ever use this?" you ask the algebra teacher.

We love weird around here, and you couldn't fill an egg carton with games that were weirder than Calculords in 2014. When I interviewed creator (and Web comedy notable) Seanbaby about it last year, he said that Calculords was "a weird idea that [he’d] never get to see unless [he] made it."

You'd be a fool to argue with that: Calculords is a game about arithmetic. The last game about arithmetic that you played was probably Number Munchers back in the late 1980s.

Calculords is a collectible card game and lane-battler. You deploy your troops (from your custom-built deck) onto the battlefield where they knuckle down into a sumo bout to push the enemy's army off the map. The wrinkle here is that each card in your deck has a numerical value: you use the finite supply of numbers in your in-game calculator to make sums, products, or differences to make the numbers you need to put your boots (or treads, or tentacles) on the ground.

Calculords is so insidiously good that it's one of a tiny handful of video games on any platform I've beaten multiple times this year. I think I'm on my third go-around at this point, still refining decks, still topping high scores. Calculords is wrapped around my brain stem like a Tau Ceti eel and I never want it to stop squeezing.

Calculords is what the app stores are all about: strange self-published that would never get a second look from a major publisher but that strike a chord with a cult audience. It's also an ideal mobile phone and tablet game -- the tactile pleasure of deploying squads of Mutate tentacle horrors with the calculator just wouldn't be the same on a keyboard or controller. Calculords is beautifully, wonderfully, memorably unusual -- and it's one of the best games of 2014.

Perennially Mohawked creator Seanbaby and his studio Ninja Crime have been updating and improving the game all year -- an update that added a new low-level boss called STARDOG (a dog from the stars) arrived back in August. Seanbaby also graced us with a two-part strategy guide for the game back in February.


To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.
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