Monday, July 17, 2017

Thunder Alley & Apocalypse Road

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Thunder Alley is a pretty great NASCAR racing game by Jeff and Carla Horger, published by GMT. Read more comprehensive reviews of Thunder Alley’s clever racing and drafting mechanics here and here.

Neither I, nor anyone I’ve played Thunder Alley with, have been NASCAR fans. But as an evocative simulation of bump-and-grind team racing, Thunder Alley has succeeding in making nearly everyone who has played it in our games say something like “Wow, I never really cared about NASCAR, but if this is how the tactics work, I could pay more attention.”

I admit that we haven’t followed up on that by following NASCAR. But we’re all looking forward to playing the game again, it’s an elegant design that’s extremely fun.

And speaking of looking forward to playing …. What I’m really looking forward to is the Car Wars style version of Thunder Alley, cars with weapons racing on closed circuit tracks! The game-in-the-making is called Apocalypse Road. It’s presently at around 337 orders on GMT Games’ version of crowdfunding, the Project 500 system (aka P500) that requires 500 pre-orders to get published.

P500 preceded Kickstarter, it’s one of the early crowdfunding systems. P500 works extremely well for GMT but I’m not certain it’s working as well as it could be for Apocalypse Road. GMT mainly publishes historical games. It has some science fiction successes, but they’re considerably less wacky-looking than Apocalypse Road. I’ve got a hunch that few GMT P500 people were ever into Car Wars. I believe that Apocalypse Road will benefit from getting noticed by a wider fantasy/science fiction-oriented gaming audience.

Take a look at the ApocalypseRoad development page. It’s combat racing, something like automotive roller derby: you’ll score points for completing laps with the cars on your team and for eliminating opposing cars. You can build cars for speed or for combat or maybe you’ll want both.

I’m fond of the Horgers’ recent Grand Prix. It’s a lot more predictable than the madness of Thunder Alley. But I’m hoping for the chaos of weaponized racing, and hope the game gets noticed by people who like a good car war. 

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