Game Concept and Design: Mark Major Published by: Twilight Creations Suggested Price: $49.99 2-7 Players 30–60 minutes to play
20 double-sided module tiles, 1 evacuation pod tile, 4 reference cards, 36 rescue cards, 1 six-sided die, and 127 plastic figures (7 player robots, 50 colonists, 60 creeps, and 10 super creeps)
You’re a crack team of rescue robots, launched into space to help the humans at the Jupiter Deep colony get out of whatever predicament they've gotten themselves into. And it’s a big one this time. The station has been invaded by creeps — alien creatures that snack on humans and multiply until they consume all life in the area. Use your special tools and abilities to save them before the colony blows apart. Jupiter Rescue is an exciting cooperative strategy game in which 2 to 7 players work together to evacuate colonists before they’re converted into alien creeps. Players take 5 actions to move, drive back the creeps, and use powerful programming cards. The board and dice rolls determine creep advancement, and double-sided tiles allow for hundreds of station variations.
To many board game players, and game players in general, say the word "cooperative" and they shy away from the game. Games are the rules and mechanics that drive challenges between individuals, they are not (usually) friendly and cooperative affairs where all players are out to help their associates. Well THAT is the general rule, but along comes Twilight Creations JUPITER RESCUE and the table turns a complete 180 and and cooperation IS most definitely the name of the game.
The players take on the role of maintenance Robots on the human occupied Jupiter Deep space colony which is being invaded by the evil nasties known as the Creeps along with their powerfully named Super Creep companions. The colony is a large modular Space Station made up from a number of hexagonal tiles. These tiles show the passageways and small rooms that allow the humans (and the robots) to move through the Space Station. A few of the tiles also contain Power Plants and Command Points, which are the lifeblood of the Space Station itself, and must be defended at all costs until all of (or as many of) the humans have been evacuated. Evacuation is by a separate tile - the Evacuation Pod - that is attached to the Space Station and can be moved off (to safety) and returned to (anywhere on) the Space Station by a player's robot with the necessary skills and abilities.
The Space Station is made up of hex tiles placed adjacent to each other so that there are airlock doors between each tile. Robots and Humans can move through these doors but they automatically open and close so shooting or any combat through them is generally impossible - only Robots with skills like "sniper" are fast and accurate enough to fire through the closing doors. The Creeps do not move, but instead arrive each turn by the roll of a die, landing on outer-edge tiles where the number matches the die result and slowly filling each tile. Once a tile is full entirely of Creeps it splits off from the Space Station and the Creeps return to the supply - they can come back but the Space Station is now smaller and this usually has more outer edges plus the number of invading Creeps creeps up. When a Super Creep arrives on the scene it plonks down on a Command Post or Power Plant which is really bad news for the Humans.
At first this seems like it is going to be easy to rescue all the stupid humans who, for some crazy reason, have all congregated in the centremost module of the Space Station. Each Robot has 5 Actions on their turn and these are: Move one space. Attack: a Creep on the same tile as your Robot. Command: Move a Colonist who is on the same tile as your Robot one space, and Trade: Trade cards or share an ability/skill with another Robot on the same tile. You can also use your Robot's Special Ability and/or play a card or cards from your hand. There is no order to taking these Actions and you can do each more than once, as many times as you like actually, but you only have 5 Actions unless something occurs to change this; when it changes it is usually for the worse and you get to hold less cards and thus have less possibilities. Robots and Humans (aka Colonists) can only move via the passageways and cannot pass each other because these passages are narrow and low. This means that if you don't confer with each other during the game you can easily leave a Robot in the passage that blocks the Colonists from moving, and only owning players can move their own Robots. As I say, at first it all goes easy, you move your Robots off the Evacuation Tile and move the Colonists onto it. The Evacuation takes place immediately once 7 Colonists are onboard or with less Colonists if the Players use a card to move it earlier. Robots count towards the number 7 of bodies on the Evacuation tile.
Once the Evacuation tile moves away from the Space Station the humans are removed from it and set aside. You need to save 28 to win the game. However, the Creeps have something to say about this and once they get a foothold on the Space Station it is quite difficult to shut them down. Before the player's turn ends the Creeps make their move and kill any Human in the spaces adjacent to them, one Creep can take out 2 or 3 Colonists if the players don't pay attention. There is a spiralling track that the dead Humans are placed on which shows the speedy decline of the Humans on the Space Station and in safety.
The game quickly goes from being an easy evacuation to becoming a balancing act with your 5 Actions - that suddenly don't seem to be anywhere near enough: When do you move the Robot? How many Action Points do you use on the Colonists? Do you spend 3 APs to use the Robot's Special Action ? The last few turns are little less than panic stricken mania and nerve-wracking fun. Cynics will possibly think of this as just a remake of a Zombie survival game with Creeps instead of Zombies but it is more than that, much more. It has all the hallmarks one expects from a Twilight Creations production: Heavy duty durable card tiles, glossy durable playing cards and Soft plastic figures in different poses for the Robots (one of each of seven colours in typical gun-toting pose), the Humans (pinky beige characters doing a reverse "Usain Bolt"), the Creeps (weird brown aliens with mouths in their stomachs doing some version of the Watusi I believe) and the Super Creeps (dark blue anomalies). You can open the box for the very first time, read the rules, and begin playing in less than 20 minutes.