You’ve probably seen photos of the crazy highways of Tokyo, with loops of the Shuto Expressway criss-crossing with on-ramps, off-ramps, sideways-ramps and itself in multiple levels. (Not going through any buildings, though. The Gate Tower Building is in Osaka.) The Expressway turned out that way, at least in parts, because of the 1964 Olympic Games. The first bit of Shuto Expressway was opened in 1962, and for the Olympic Games Tokyo wanted to present an efficient, modern transport system. Building this way was the cheap and quick way to have the Expressway connect much of the city.
It’s obvious that there’s a game hidden in that story. Many designers could have done it, had they thought of it. Resource management, worker placement, a tight time limit, contract cards to connect certain neighborhoods… . But many designers didn’t think of it. Naotaka Shimamoto and Yoshiaki Tomioka did, and they made a very different game called Tokyo Highway.
Marie Cardouat’s game illustrations have always been in a style fitting for beautiful children’s books, and that is still just as true in HOP!. Beyond the illustrations, the game’s story is equally made for kids. After finding a book describing a magical kingdom in the sky, the child heroes of HOP! decide that they have to see the realm of magical creatures living in the clouds for themselves. And once that decision is made, it is a matter of moments before they are floating into the sky, each carried by a handful of balloons. And just like that you’re in the middle of a dexterity game for the whole family, and prettier than pretty much any other game out there.
Panic in Meeple City. Giant monsters are converging on the city, and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to stop them. Within minutes they start throwing cars, tearing down buildings and … MUNCHING MEEPLES!
Will there be a happy ending for anyone?
A game as old as bone. It’s not an expression I get to use a lot, since we review the newest games we can find. But in the case of Oss, it’s not wrong, because Oss is based on the old, old game of Jacks. The game where you throw sheep bones in the air and pick up other sheep bones before you catch the first one again. But don’t worry, Oss is the more hygienic variant of that, and you don’t have to worry about being haunted by ovine spirits, either.