I’ve been waiting over a year for Iron Marines to come out. My whole family loved Ironhide Games’ Kingom Rush trilogy, and I hoped that a cartoon RTS would combine the challenge of Homeworld with the quick fun of the Microgames I played as a teenager.
I’m now halfway through the second planet, and while I’ll probably play through to the end, it feels kind of…flat. One reason is that the missions so far have been more-or-less linear slugfests: go here, shoot everything, then go there and shoot some more. A deeper reason, though, is that I’m tired of killing aliens, even ones that have been made to look like slimy bugs or sinister robots so that we’ll know it’s OK to blast them.
What I’d like instead is a game where my job is to rescue people—or animals, or art treasures, or anything else. I can imagine a game where each family of levels has you dealing with a flood, a forest fire, or an impending volcanic eruption, and your score is how many people you get to safety, minus how many rescuers you lose. If you’re trying to save wild animals (or the denizens of a zoo), you may have to shoot some to save others, but you should lose points for that, not earn them.
My daughter and I started designing a board game around this idea two years ago, inspired primarily by Matt Leacock’s brilliant co-operative game Forbidden Island. We didn’t get very far, but I still think the idea is a good one. The closest thing I’ve seen is Kevin Lanzing’s Flash Point, which is apparently going to be available electronically in a couple of weeks. I’m going to buy a copy; if any other game designers want to build something like it, I promise to buy a copy of your creation too when it comes to market.