Oh this? It’s my after dinner Cognac. The brand is quite interesting. The barrels are floated down the river Charente to a small port on the Atlantic where they are loaded by hand into a small sea going vessel sailed by immigrant sailors from the Ivory Coast.
Every year for the season, they brave the North Atlantic squalls and icebergs to allow this Cognac to touch my lips. On board, they entertain themselves by having bear fisted battles, sometimes even with weapons or robotic appendages. The twist? The must do so without leaving a 4 ft line made along the deck.
Oh, that? That’s my bathrobe. Well of course I have clothes on underneath, I’m wearing shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt. I’m not a pervert.
I understand that today is your 18th birthday. Is that correct? Well, have I got a game for you. Dragon Punch designed by Koen Hendrix and published in the US by Level 99 Games is a 2 player game which captures the essence of a 2-player fighting games all in 18 cards.
Okay, technically it’s not just 18 cards now, but it was when it was submitted to the 2014, 18-Card Microgame Contest. Street Fighter II, VirtuaFighters, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, all those games lost, like tears in the rain. I’m happy to announce that the tears are no longer lost. You’re not old enough to understand the ref… Oh my, you’ve obviously been gifted with an old soul.
Speaking of old souls, Philip K. Dick and I were having lunch together for the first time. We’d just finished all of the dinner rolls we could eat, after eating our side salads and crackers. The table was a mess of cracker wrappers and bread crumb and there was ranch dressing everywhere. Eventually our post dinner began to stall conversation. We’d just finished discussing the merit of the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and why it wasn’t adapted for film. Forks were turning on tableclothes, and I think he was about to leave. So, I pulled out Dragon Punch.
Looking at the disarray before him, his arm swept across the table, “what about the mess we’ve made?” Philip asked, for some reason in a ridiculous French accent. “It is impossible to play a card game on this table.”
“But we don’t need the table,” I said in my best impersonation of a TV gadget salesman. “We don’t even need to be sitting down.
Of course, Phil was blown away by this. Then, we made a scene. I mean, can you imagine the entire restaurant staring at us standing by our table and playing this really compact game. And as we played I told him about my favorite mechanisms in the game. Dinner was saved.
What do you mean Philip Dick is dead? I played T.I.M.E Stories with him just last week. We have a saved game. For heaven’s sake I saw him get into his spa… My mistake, it wasn’t Philip Dick after all, it was Dick Phillips. We just happened to be talking about Philip Dick a lot.
Where was I? Wake up child, this is pure gold.
Oh right, the best mechanism in the game was what I’d call, the Flip and Twist mechanism. Let’s have a look over here. Here we have some cards from Dragon Punch:
While looking at the Dragon Punch cards you’ll notice the bottom half is upside down. That’s because, with the exception of your character card, you may only use the top action. Both players start with only the white attacks. Both players select there action for the round and then they reveal their cards to each other at the same time. When you take a High Kick to the face, you must Twist a card 180° so that the red background is on the top.
You can flip any card, and while this makes you stronger it also brings you one step closer to death. Because once a card has been twisted in this manner, it can’t be untwisted. That leads us direcely into scoring.
Please, do wake up. This is good stuff you’re missing.
Scoring is driven by twisting these cards. So if you flip the ones on the inside you’re opponent isn’t going to know which you flipped. Unless, of course, you only have one unplayed card and it’s the taunt card which allows you take your flipped cards and put them back into your hand, and it’s not really worth flipping. Not if you want to hit back.
Once all of your regular cards have been flipped you’re out for the round, best 2 out 3 wins the game. What makes this special is the interplay between the stronger moves and the damage you’ve taken. It’s an excellent mechanism and it’s worthy of emulation. Obviously, this isn’t the first game to use some of these ideas, but the way they come together in Dragon Punch makes something magical happen.
Dragon Punch captures the spirit of a 2-player arcade style fighting game so well that I rated it a 10. It’s a game that does exactly what it sets out to do, and it will be in my pocket at GenCon this year while standing in the myriad lines I’m likely to stand in. I hope to teach it to new friends and get them to see the magic of the game. It will remain in my collection forever.
This was the most slept on game of the contest, maybe because it was so far back in the geeklist and people just got bleary eyed before they made it there. But don’t let yourself get bleary eyed. It’s currently the most slept on microgame out there. This game is in serious need of a full retail release, and should find it’s way into the hands of Tom Vasel and Quentin Smith in the UK division, stat.
Currently the only way to get this gem, if you’re in the US, is to go through Level 99’s Store. Hopefully, Koen might drop in and give us some information as to availability elsewhere. I’m sure if you live in the UK he can just deliver it to your door in person.
Ah, there’s the rest of the gaming group’s at the door. Well it was lovely talking… and you’re still asleep.
Come in, Dick.