8-Bit Box Review
Quick Glance: 8-Bit Box by Iello
Game Type: Anthology
Number of Players: Varies on the game
Mechanics: Bluffing, hidden movement, push your luck
Difficulty: Light-Moderate depending on the game
Introduction/Overview: 8-Bit Box is a new anthology game series by Iello Games. Anthology games have had a rather uneven history. On the good side is the Piecepack, a sort of universal toolkit which has yielded hundreds of games, many of them good. On the downside, we have Stonehenge. The less we say about Stonehenge, the better. So, I came to this one slightly apprehensive but excited because I thought the theme was so cool.
Gameplay: Each of the three games that come in the base 8-Bit Box have vastly different gameplay styles. I especially appreciate this since they all do use some of the same basic components. Let’s take a quick look at each game.
Pixoid – Pixoid is a hidden movement maze racing game for 3 or 4 players. Think Pac-Man. One player runs around the maze, trying to grab the four bonus cubes, the other players are trying to stop them. Each turn the Pixoid player survives, they score a point. At the end of 12 turns, or after they are tagged by another player, they get 1 point for each turn they took and bonus points equal to the number of bonus cubes they took. The other players get points equal to the number of turns the Pixoid player DIDN’T take. The game goes until each player has a turn at being the Pixoid. Fast paced and fun; Pixoid has a surprising amount of bluffing.
Outspeed – Think of Outspeed as an F-Zero racing type of game for 3-6 players. A deck of 12 track tiles are shuffled, and 1 of 4 finish line tiles are then placed on the bottom of the stack. On a turn, each player chooses one of up to three options of routes on the track tile. Each option has a fuel cost listed as well as some sort of benefit.
At the same time, players all choose their option and then reveal them simultaneously. But be careful! Some of the track options can only be used by a certain number of players. If more players choose those options than are allowed, all those players pay the cost but get NONE of the benefits. The race goes until either the finish line tile is played, or all the racers run out of gas. It’s very important to stay up with the leaders in Outspeed. If you should ever fall too far behind, you are eliminated. Lots of press your luck in this one.
Stadium – Stadium is an odd duck of a game. For one thing, it’s a team track & field game. So you can only play it with 4 or 6 players. Before the game starts, you will build the track. Each track section represents one of the sporting events that will take place. The thing is, all of the events start face down, so you have no idea what you might be doing! There are 16 different events that are possible to play, but you will only use 10 in any given game.
Each player starts the game with 25 energy points. During each event, you will be expending some of that energy in order to try and get the gold medal for your team. The events all play very differently from each other. In some cases you’ll be paying energy in concert with your teammates, only you can’t talk to each other. In other cases, you’ll be blindly bidding energy, hoping to expend more than your opponents. There are some ways to regain energy (but they are infrequent)...just watch out for the doping test.
Rulebook: Each rulebook is well written and easy to understand. This makes sense given the games are meant to emulate classic arcade games. There are actually two rulebooks for Stadium. One to get you started, and another that breaks down each event in detail. They are both well-written and give plenty of examples.
Theme: As a child of the 80s, this box speaks to me. I grew up playing all of these games and even though I've traded most video games for board games, I still find joy in the classic games from time to time. This gives me a chance to share the feeling of those games, without having to rely on 40-year-old electronics.
Set-Up/Takedown: Each game takes a few minutes to set up. Like I mentioned in the above section, there are tons of pictures in the rules, so nothing is all that difficult. Tearing each game down only takes a second or two.
Components: This is the one part that’s a bit of a mixed bag. The common components that you use in each game are wonderful. The controllers are super thick cardboard, they will last a lot of games. And plastic cubes!! Bliss!!! The unique cardboard inside each game is a little thinner than I’d like (in fact, one piece in my personal Pixoid box ripped upon punching). Also, because of the standard game box size, things are just a bit smaller than I like. Overall though, this is a really nice set.
Solo-Play: Not in the base box, however, there may be solo games in the future
Final Thoughts: 8-Bit Box is quite honestly the game that has me most excited me this year, and is the best anthology game I’ve played. It takes my nostalgia for 1980s era video games and combines that with modern board game play. Plus, they've already hinted at the next couple games in this system: one sounds like a Double Dragon style fighting game, and another sounds like a Legend of Zelda style action-RPG. I can't wait to see how this system grows over time.