If you've never played former BioWare programmer Henry Smith's fantastic Spaceteam, you're missing out on one of the best computerized party game experiences there is.
For those who are unfamiliar, Spaceteam is a game for two to four players -- or more if you use some of the "experimental" modes that aren't guaranteed to work -- that demands communication and fast reflexes. Cast in the role of a starship crew, you're each provided with a randomized control panel, and every so often an instruction appears on your screen, and it must be fulfilled to bring the ship closer to the next sector.
Here's the twist, though: there's no guarantee that the instruction on your screen applies to your panel. If it doesn't -- and it usually doesn't -- then you'll have to bark out that order to your fellow players in the hope that someone will hear it before everyone else starts shouting over each other. Occasionally you'll all have to deal with wormholes and asteroid fields by flipping or shaking your devices in unison, too, adding further chaos to the mix.
As you progress through the game's sectors, things gradually get more and more difficult. Sometimes your ship's translation system malfunctions, causing a panel's label to become indecipherable hieroglyphics, requiring everyone to determine what it is by process of elimination. At other times, the usually text-based labels on the controls are replaced by symbols, some of which are considerably less obvious than others. Expect lots of shouting of "Set the thing that looks like an alien having a shower to 5!"
The game as a whole has a lot of similar appeal elements to something like FTL -- you can even imagine you're the little people running around on that game's beleaguered spaceship if you want -- but it's a much more immediate, easy to understand game. It's little more than Simon Says, essentially, albeit with the additional chaos factor that having several people barking instructions at each other brings. But it's often the simplest games that are the most addictive, as many of you no doubt know already.
Up until now, Spaceteam has been an exclusively iOS affair, but yesterday saw the release of an Android port. Even better, it allows cross-platform play over Wi-Fi -- the iOS version also allows play via Bluetooth, but Wi-Fi has greater range and generally better reliability during the game anyway. Like its iOS counterpart, Spaceteam for Android is a free download with optional in-app purchases for additional features, marketed as a means of showing your appreciation for the developer rather than a means of nickel-and-diming players.
The fact it's a free download means there's pretty much no barrier to entry -- particularly now it's available for Android devices, too. So next time you're hosting a party and are surrounded by people fiddling with their phones, get everyone playing together! Download the Android version here, and the iOS version here.
Now hurry up and set the shift sanitizer to 3, vent the plasmaflaps, purge the thing that looks like a baseball bat and turn on the gurnograph. No, the gurnograph. Turn it on. Turn it on! Now! WORMHOLE! EVERYBODY FLI--
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