Retro styled video games are making a comeback. There is just something about the awesome 8 and 16 bit side scrolling action that many gamers simply can’t let go of. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that that fondness has spilled over into table top games. The occurrence is, of course, less frequent than in the video game world, but nonetheless there is an increasing amount of board games that use retro-styled graphics and try to emulate one (or more) of the beloved video games of the past.
Button Bashers Turbo, which is currently on Kickstarter, is one such game. A fighting game for 2 – 4 players, Button Bashers Turbo actually does a decent job of recreating the feeling of an old school 2D fighting game. Players start off by selecting two of the 12 playable characters. Each character has their own large, unique player card which describes each of that character’s moves. These character cards also have a health gauge and a difficulty number.
I almost forgot that the fighting games I grew up with assigned a difficulty rating to each of the selectable characters. This difficulty number represents how difficult it is to play/win with that character. Characters with a lower number typically have moves that are easier to pull off or they have some type of bonus that gives them a slight advantage. Characters with a higher difficulty number have moves that are harder to activate, but those moves tend to be worth the extra effort. At least that is how it was in the video games. In Button Bashers Turbo, I didn’t notice that the higher difficulty rated characters had moves that were any more difficult to play, but rather their moves might have been a little more advanced rules-wise.
After each player has selected their two characters, a stage is then selected. Stages have global effects that can benefit or harm the characters. For example, the Siberian Battle Ground causes 1 damage to opponents for each directional card the active player adds to their hand during the Bash phase. Once the stage is selected, the Bash deck is shuffled, cards are drawn, and the battle begins.
A nice mechanic in Button Bashers Turbo, one that is truly inspired by great fighting video game classics, is the ability to swap out your active character. And just like the games of yore, the inactive character gains health. This aspect really feels like old Capcom game, which is great. In addition to being able to actively swap out your character as an action on your turn, there is also an ability that can be played against you to kick you off the screen, in a manner of speaking, forcing a character swap. But you’ll need to draw the right buttons in order to do this.
Another keen aspect of most fighting games is the combos. In Button Bashers Turbo, the combos really shine and certainly have the flavor of their 8-bit counter parts. Stringing together a few combos, which deal extra damage just from the fact that a combo was performed, is surefire way to turn the tide and devastate an opponent.
Each of your character’s moves has a certain button combination needed to execute it. Buttons come in the form of cards, which are drawn from the Bash deck at the start of each player’s turn. Like the fighting games of yesteryear, you’ll have to “push” left, right, punch (that’s just one example; there are plenty of other button combinations that will activate different moves) in order to perform a special move. Each character has their own special moves which have their own button combinations. Characters also have access to basic moves that are not unique and any character can perform.
The Bash deck is the central draw deck. The back of each card has a Bash Value which lets you know how many cards to draw on your turn. You’ll always keep only three cards, but the Bash Value goes up to seven, which allows you the chance to cherry pick cards better suited for your combos.
The fighting/action of the game feels a lot like the old school fighting games Button Bashers Turbo was modeled after. And that’s a good thing. Once you get into the game the flow continues to be decently fast paced. Even though it is possible to play a large number of cards/combos on your turn, it is never clunky and there isn’t any heavy math involved in order to resolve damage. This is also a good thing; it keeps things simple like they should be. Another nice thing is that reference cards, which spell out the turn order and list the common abilities, are also included.
The review copy I received was not a final production copy, and so some level of forgiveness is given to the quality of the components, rule book, etc. That is not to say the quality of the components was bad, because it wasn’t, however, a few typos were noticed on the cards. These were minor, such as “pr” instead of “or”. And quite truthfully, even traditionally published games have typos from time to time. Another thing that I feel is worth mentioning is that the ability text on the character cards is small. And some abilities, the Iaijutsu Counter for example, uses even smaller font (in order to fit all of the text in the designated space) than other abilities on that particular card. Not a deal breaker, but I do wish the font was perhaps a tad bigger.
If you are a fan of battle card games, Button Bashers Turbo is certainly worth checking out. It is fast paced, easy to learn/teach, and has classic video game charm that will appeal to many console gamers. Head over to their Kickstarter page and lend your support.