I love arcades, I love board games, I love pixel art. And Kemble's Cascade ties them all together beautifully with a unique game mechanic that simulates a scrolling video game playfield. Everything in the box is made with a love for classic games and it shows. From the Manual, to the Player Cards, to the fake wear of the Box, to the variety of enemies. Kemble's Cascade was my surprise board game discovery of the summer. If you die, you can just insert another quarter and play some more.
The playfield is constructed from cards placed in a set of expandable, plastic troughs. Some of the cards are blank, others contain threats: asteroids, black holes, aliens. Each player gets glory points for destroying the threats on screen, and at the end of each round the board "scrolls" downward. All of the cards slide down (in their well-designed troughs). The bottom set of tiles are removed (along with any players on it) and a new set of tiles and enemies are put at the top.
This game has everything a modern gamer would expect, but in board game format:
• Achievements: just as in all modern video games, you can earn extra points by completing specific tasks you are assigned (destroy X asteroids, scroll off the board, upgrade weapons, etc.).
• 16 Bit Pixel Art: The art feels like it was taken from an unreleased Wing Commander seuqel.
• Scrolling: The scrolling gameplay mechanic really shines in the boss battle at the end, when the scrolling game field is no longer refreshed, making the game board small and smaller with each round.
• Power Ups: You need to pick your Ship Upgrades: better weapons, better shields, better engines? The choice is yours.
• Energy Balance: Each round, you can decide to move and/or fire, which uses more energy, or you may opt to power down, which restores your energy and allows you to upgrade your weapons and defense.
• Boss Fights: Enemies fire automatically on their turn. Some of the bosses are multiple cards long and require several hits to take down.
• The game features a unique mix of Co-Op and PVP moments: to defeat the bigger enemies you will need to cooperate, but you also want to take out your fellow players to make sure you keep your name on the high score board.
– John E. Williamson
by Z-Man Games
Ages 13 and up