restoring old games

Resotration Games is making a name for itself by taking old games from decades past and retooling them to modern standards.  They have had great success so far with the redone versions of Indulgence, Stop Thief!, and Downforce, all of which have gotten excellent reviews.  But now we get to the one that everyone has been talking about, that everyone has been requesting, and one that Tom has personally been asking for, and that is Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar.  Back in the day this game was more toy than game, in that it was just a roll and move game where every now and then you tossed marbles into the Vul-kar idol and they rolled along their designated paths knocking people over.  This may be entertaining for younger kids, but we want and need something more, and Restoration Games aims to deliver.

In the new version of the game you are tourists trying out the new attractions at a dangerous new park (sounds like a familiar dinosaur movie), and as we know, that kind of visit always goes swimmingly.  And by swimmingly, I mean nearly everyone is killed.  So your job is to snap some pictures to show you went, grab some treasure along the way, and get off the island before Vul-kar’s wrath dooms you all.  In this version of the game the dice are replaced by cards, and each card gives you a number of movement points and then a special action you can take.  Some of the special actions let you rotate trees for protection, rotate the Vul-kar idol where the marbles come out, launch some marbles, or even move other players into danger.  Once you snap at least three pictures you can call the hello-copter and get off the island.  But in the end, it’s the most points that wins so you better grab some valuable treasure along the way or you may end up surviving the trip, but losing the game.

The game itself looks epic and the toy factor is still off the charts, but at least the game will play much better and offer choices and strategy instead of just blind luck.  The base game itself comes in at only $60 plus shipping, which is actually a really good price considering.  Also available in this campaign are three expansions, each offering new gameplay elements for the game.  The Last Adventurer can be added for $25 and adds a whip wielding fifth player to the game, player powers, and gives snakes and a giant boulder to Vul-kar for his use.  Wreck of the Crimson Cutlass can be added for $40 and adds a whole new board to the game that allows you to explore a shipwreck, just don’t get shot by the cannon.  And finally Crouching Tiger, Hidden Bees can be added for $15 and adds to the danger of the island with a tiger and swarms of bees.  You can check out more on the Kickstarter page and back for your copy today!

In the board gaming world, it’s easy for older titles born before the recent golden age to fall into obscurity and rarity, even those with sound and unique design features. The market demand for new editions, reprints, and remakes remains high because of this, and there’s a certain nobility and appreciation to try and redeem lost or forgotten games with a new face-lift. It’s finally time for a publisher to use that demand to preserve those games and revitalize outstanding great ideas and fun. Today marks the arrival of Restoration Games whose goal is to do just that. As described via press release:

“Restoration Games is a new company, whose mission is to take games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, fix them up, and bring them back for the modern gamer. The new games pay homage to the spirit of their predecessors but feature updated art and graphic design and improved rules and mechanisms.”

Formed by attorney and game designer Justin D. Jacobson in partnership with prominent designer Rob Daviau, Restoration Games is kicking off their debut with three titles slated for release for Gen Con 2017: Stop Thief!, Indulgence, and Downforce. From the descriptions to follow, it can be seen that Restoration Games is taking the task of remastering these titles with sincere quality in mind.

Stop Thief! is a family-style deduction game published in 1979 that used a small electronic device that would play a variety of noises representing the last traces of a criminal while they were escaping. Up to 4 players used those clues to deduce where the suspect was and hopefully where to find them. The 2017 remake will be replacing the “Electronic Crime Scanner” with a free mobile app which promises better sound quality and a dynamic range of functions. The level of commitment to bring a game like Stop Thief! up-to-speed by utilizing mobile technology is impressive by itself.

Indulgence will re-implement Dragonmaster, a trick-taking game for 3-4 players published in 1981. Dragonmaster itself comes from a long line of “trickier” trick-taking games, tracing back to Barbu from the 1930s. Indulgence will feature a re-theme of papal intrigue within the Italian Renaissance, with players using tricks to fulfill variable contracts. The newest iteration will feature beautiful art on par with it’s fantasy predecessor, produced by Chelsea Harper.

Downforce is the latest and most refined form of Wolfgang Kramer’s Top Race, originally published in 1996. Up to 6 players bid on racing contestants while simultaneously playing cards to manipulate the standings. Kramer’s original design had seen many versions with continuously improved rules, and Restoration Games has promised that Downforce will be the best to date with “component quality befitting it’s pedigree”.

This is all incredibly exciting news, to have a publisher willing to put such stern focus on older games for the betterment of the gaming community as well as gaming history. Admirable still is that Restoration Games is open to suggestions! Simply visit their website to suggest games for them to work on, or take a survey to essentially vote for what you’d like to see next. Be sure to follow their Facebook page for more announcements, and look forward to these great games and more at Gen Con 2017.