95 out of 100
Kentucky gaming company Twilight Creations, maker of the new Jupiter Rescue, exploded onto the scene in 2002 with its famed Zombies!!! game of miniatures that brought classic Romero-style zombie-thrashing to tabletops everywhere with quality art and miniatures.
In 2014, Twilight Creations launched a new game from designer Mark Major that revisits another exciting retro genre: sci-fi monster robots. Jupiter Rescue gives players the chance to rescue screaming space-colonists and blow up horrible monsters on a retro space station.
As with other creations from Twilight, Jupiter Rescue has excellent production quality. The art on the cards and tiles harks back to the adventure, polish, horror, and fun of the retro age of space travel, when men were visiting the moon every other year and colonies on Mars looked not too far off. The plastic miniatures are durable and a little bendable, making them fun toys even off the board. The robots are delightfully cartoony, a great juxtaposition with the abject monstrosities that are the Creeps and Super Creeps, while the colonists are frozen in screams.
Jupiter Rescue is a cooperative game with all players working toward the common goal of rescuing the colonists. Each player chooses a robot piece that acts as his or her avatar on a space station besieged by destructive aliens. To give a sense of individuality (and a little edge against the horde), each player receives a “core ability” from the Rescue Deck of power-ups, such as smashing through creeps as a Juggernaut, Teleportation, or being able to manipulate the board with Module Control.
Gameplay in Jupiter Rescue is novel in its flow of danger. Each player’s turn consists of four phases. First, the player takes five actions, which combine moving themselves or colonists, attacking, and trading gear. Next come Conversion and Invasion, when new Creeps are placed on the board and any colonists next to a Creep become infected and turn into monsters themselves.
The placement system uses numbers on the tiles to reflect a roll of the dice, meaning they could pop up anywhere on the edge of the board and creep inward. With automatic kills from the robots, the game become one of strategy, with most of the luck coming in the final phase when players draw Rescue cards.
Most of the cards are power-ups, but some are Setbacks that can cause the Creep horde to surge forward, making drawing a card a nerve-wracking experience.
Jupiter Rescue is a cooperative board game for two to seven players. It is a moderately long game, taking between 30 and 60 minutes to play through, making it a great flagship for game night without exhausting the players. The rules are straightforward, but the possibilities are endless. Alternative rules for building mazes or allowing robots to scoot around pieces make the game perfect for any group’s preferences, whether taking it a little easier or cranking up the difficulty to astronomical levels.