Developed by Juniors at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Bontãgo is a unique and intense 3D abstract wargame. From the official site: "Players begin with flags (one color for each player) spaced evenly around the edge of a large disk, called the field, balanced on a fulcrum in the center. Around each flag is a circle representing that player's controlled area. Every few seconds a block appears on each player's cursor. The players must place the blocks somewhere in their controlled areas. Players can place the block at any moment in the allotted time, or can hold it until time is up and the block will fall on its own and be replaced by the next block. The goal of the game is to encompass all of the world flags in the controlled area. To expand the controlled area, the player must build upwards and outwards. The radius of the controlled area (and thus the area the player may place blocks in) is determined using the height of the player's structures perpendicular to the disk. If controlled areas of opposing players meet, a hole is formed in the disk in the overlapping region. The first player to possess a continuous area containing the world flags wins.
Blocks are given randomly to players and come in a variety of semi-random shapes. The base block unit is a cube. Several types of blocks are made as a combination of base units. Specialty blocks can be attained by extending the controlled area around gift boxes randomly dropped on the map during the game. The next block the player receives after encircling the crate will be a specialty block. These include volcano, earthquake, rocket, and other blocks. Smashing a specialty block in any obvious way will activate it."
Based on a powerful 3D engine, Bontãgo looks good and plays great, especially when real-world physics plays a big role in the game. You can activate certain special blocks to tilt the disk on its fulcrum, which makes towers fall and blocks slide off the game world - wrecking havoc on your opponents as a result. Other special blocks such as volcano and black hole are all fun to use - and even more fun to watch the results in real-time. Although the rules are simple, strategic thinking, quick reflexes, and a bit of luck are necessary ingredients to winning. Taking the "range of influence" concept in strategy games (e.g. Rise of Nations and Kohan) as a starting point, the design team expands the concept in innovative ways to create a truly unique and addictive game. The real-time nature of the game means you will always be pressed for time, and it is even more fun in multiplayer mode, which allows you to play against up to 8 human players via LAN or the Internet. Last but not least, Bontãgo includes a built-in MP3 player which allows you to listen to your favorite music while playing. Bontãgo is a well-deserved winner in the "innovation in game design" category of the 2004 Independent Games Festival. A must-play for fans of real-time strategy and wargames in general. Two thumbs up, way up!
Note: This download is the "lite" version, which includes one background and contains no music. For the "full version" which is the identical game except for more music tracks and background, visit the official site.Reviewed by: Underdogs