Friday, September 9, 2022

Bolets: old school video game feel in nine cards

Bolets is a maze-building game for one that uses Ricochet Robots mechanics and NES aesthetic. 

That’s a fun sentence to write.

Bolets was originally part of this year’s nine-card contest. You use one card to track your health, enemy crows and your points. One card is the goal card that ends the maze/board. And the other seven cards are what you use to create the

Short and sweet version: you are building a maze with overlapping cards and tracing a line through it. The line follows the same rules as Ricochet Robots. Move in a straight line until you hit a wall or a rock. Than, you make a 90 degree turn. Oh and you can’t cross your own path. (Which isn’t the case in Ricochet Robots but Bolets is a smaller space so it needs that restriction)

(And I found out that Ricochet Robots was indeed an influence on Bolets. But Alexander Randolph was a major influence on modern board game design in general so that’s like saying the Beatles were an influence on a song)

But, oh, there’s more. Bolets isn’t just about navigating the board. You get points for crossing over and collecting mushrooms. There are also flowers that give you health back.

But what gives Bolets some teeth are the crows. Three or more visible crows will cost you health points. Five will automatically lose you the game. You can defeat a crow before moving over them but it costs you a health point. You can also cover them up with cards and stones.

(And you can earn stones by either earning points or sacrificing health)

Bolets is simple enough that it doesn’t need a theme. But the theme of picking mushrooms in the forest on the way to Granny’s house makes the game intuitive. The old school video game aesthetic really helps create the narrative.

I feel that Bolets has brutally simple core mechanics but managed to juggle more elements than I’d expect in a game that’s basically seven cards. The game is simple but that simplicity was paired with very intuitive gameplay.

I have been enjoying Bolets. I do wonder about the long term replay value but that’s forgivable in a free nine-card game. I think Bolets real success is on being so accessible.

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