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Tabletop Throwbacks – 3 New Games That Bring Old School Cool

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The 80’s were pretty rad. So I hear. I was a baby in the 80’s and mostly experienced its bad-but-in-a-good-way pop culture once it had been repackaged and recycled for 90’s kids. Whether it’s driven by nostalgia or something else, the cycle of reaching back into the past to provide something new for the present is never-ending. Not even the tabletop is safe from this cycle of reprinting and updating. While some things deserve to buried deep in our memories, mining the past can often unearth a few gems. These three games bring classic titles to a modern audience in very different ways but are all worth exploring, dudes and dudettes.



Downforce is a perfect example of the cycle of recycling. It’s a re-implementation of Top Race, itself a re-implementation of Formula Ein. This latest edition comes to us from Restoration Games whose entire existence is focused on bringing classic games back to the table. In Downforce you don’t sit in the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 race car. Instead, you sit in the $1.5 million Pininfarina Xten office chair of the men and women who own these racing teams. From your cushy seat, you’ll bid millions on cards and bet millions on your own team – or your opponent’s teams – with the goal of ending the game with the most money. Winning is great, sure, but it’s secondary to collecting the millions you need to become a mogul of the track.

Unlike most racing games, your fortunes are not tied to your car. Round after round you’ll play cards that move your cars and your opponent’s cars and send them screaming down one of two tracks. At a few points during the race you’ll get to bet on which car you think will win. This is where the game gets pretty interesting. Do you bet on your own car that you bought specifically because you have all the good red cards in your hand? Or do you bet on the yellow car precisely because you don’t have any yellow cards and hope your opponent’s play them for you?  A few special powers add a wrinkle to the strategy and ensure things are never predictable. I am loving this game; it’s my most played game of 2017 that isn’t called Star Wars: Destiny and the simple rules make it easy to play over and over. This is a can’t miss update to an old classic and with expansions already in the works, Restoration Games is going to ensure the game keeps fresh.



Get your hands out of your pockets, no quarters needed! IDW has launched their line of officially-licensed Atari games with Centipede. Nicole Klein and Anthony Amoto, together with Dead of Winter designer Jon Gilmour have reproduced the arcade classic faithfully while adding a few new wrinkles. In two-player mode, the game will play out just like the 8-bit classic. One player takes on the Gnome. They’ll draft some dice to move across the bottom of the board blasting mushrooms and monsters with their wand. Meanwhile, the Centipede player snakes their way down the board. While movement is automatic, this player manages a hand of cards to throw spiders, fleas, and more at the gnome.

Where the game makes a big departure and ramps up the tension is in the 4p team mode. In this mode, the Gnome and Centipede have become friends and have launched an attack against another partnership! This highly tactical and chaotic mode has teams working together to blast and eat their opponents. With two centipedes worming their way across the map, bugs flying across the board in both directions, and Gnomes competing with each other for those dice drafts, this mode ramps the retro fun up a notch. Like Downforce it clocks in around 45 minutes and the familiar art style makes it easy to convince a few people to enter this magic forest.

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Tunnels & Trolls Adventures

Untitled design (3)This last game is not a board game, but a digital implementation of the classic Tunnels & Trolls adventure system. Created in 1975 by Ken St. Andre, Tunnels & Trolls is the original solo-RPG experience. It’s a system that feels like D&D meets a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure classic. Your character will move through adventures making tough choices and fighting monsters hoping to gain fame and fortune. Published by MetaArcade, the app operates on a freemium model. Adventures can be played free through an ad-supported model, or purchased and explored as many times as you want.

I’ve lost a number of hours to this game, 5 minutes at a time. Pinog, my diminutive Hobb adventurer, has escaped dungeons and run exotic drugs. He’s fought Balrogs in caves and goblins in bars. He’s even (unsuccessfully) attempted to betray a general and slide a knife between his ribs. Exploring an adventure feels a bit like exploring a rogue-like. Your first few runs are filled with mystery and untimely death, but the experience makes you stronger and smarter. By the time you’ve explored the various endings you’ll be infiltrating gangs and captaining ships like a pro. The app is currently available on iOS and Android, though a Steam launch is coming soon. The Steam version will come bundled with the app creator so you can create your own adventures and share them in the marketplace! I’ve got my own plans for this; I hope your character isn’t afraid of heights…


What do you want to see updated for modern times? Tell us in the comments!  And be sure to tune in to our tabletop game show Game the Game with Becca Scott every Wednesday at 4 PM PT on Twitch and Alpha to stay on top of all the great games out there.

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Featured Image Credits: Rafael Cordero

Image Credits: Rafael Cordero, MetaArcade

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Raf Cordero writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. Chat with him on Twitter @captainraffi.

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