Startup publisher Restoration Games this week shared the specifics for its planned initial products, remakes of three older titles: Stop Thief, Dragonmaster (now to be Indulgence), and Top Race (now Downforce). Redesigns and nostalgic reprints are nothing new in the game business (see for example, Winning Moves’ classic versions of Sorry and Life, or Fantasy Flight Games remake of Dune as Rex) but the mission of Restoration Games is a little different. As Justin Jacobson, company president, explained:
We’ve certainly seen lots of reprints of hobby games. And you can count on Hasbro to release new versions of Monopoly on a regular basis. What we haven’t seen is new versions of these older mass market games. These are games that didn’t become evergreen titles but are still beloved. For a variety of reasons, those games have been largely forgotten. But because they are older, they suffer from being of their time. Roll-and-move for example. We’ve simply gotten better about designing games in the past several decades. So we decided to take these modern design concepts and apply them to these forgotten games. You get the spirit of the game that you love in a well developed package you will enjoy.
Stop Thief is a deduction game put out by Parker Brothers in 1979. What made it special at the time (for 12 year old me, included) was a handheld electronic device that played audio clues as players tried to find the invisible thief on the game board. In the new edition of Stop Thief, Restoration Games promises a mobile app to replace the device with more sophisticated game play and better sound quality.
Dragonmaster, a 1981 title from Milton Bradley, is a trick-taking card game with different contracts set each round by the dealer. Restoration Games’ version, Indulgence, keeps the same general game-play but features 20 possible contracts and makes it about papal intrigue during the Italian Renaissance.
Top Race, one iteration in a series of card-based auto racing games by Wolfgang Kramer, is being brought back by Restoration as Downforce. Besides the name change, the new version is pretty much a reprint with a component upgrade.
We chose the first three games, in part, because they fit three different visions of what a restoration can look like. For Indulgence, it was about smoothing out the game play while keeping the high aesthetic standard of the original. For Downforce, this is a brilliant design by a legendary designer. We just wanted to make sure this new generation of gamers got to experience it. For Stop Thief, it was about showing what technological advance can do bring a game back—in this case, replacing the crime scanner with a smartphone app.
Restoration Games expects all three to be ready in time for Gen Con 2017. But don’t you go expecting to see them in the traditional long, flat board game boxes.
Alas, no. We looked into it. Those largely disappeared with the advent of the quad-fold board. But we are always looking at ways we can reimagine those bits of past design in new ways.