Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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If you’ve come to Galaxy Trucker looking for a grim, seedy simulation full of illicit stimulants, questionable encounters with alien females in the docking bays of intergalactic refueling depots, and tiny, pine tree-shaped air fresheners then you may be a bit disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re after an iPad adaptation of a 2007 board game classic that has been nominated for multiple awards, then I have much better news for you.
Apparently, in the future, interstellar freight hauling vehicles are made out of jumbles of leftover pipes. Yeah, it seems like a weird choice to me, too. Now, pilots of these long-haul junk freighters are competing with one another for the most choice parts in an attempt to cobble together a ship that will withstand the rigors of deep space, pirates, and the occasional meteor shower. Oh, and also still turn a profit while doing so.
Returning veteran truckers with light years of experience under their belts will feel right at home with Galaxy Trucker. However, newcomers may have a slightly harder time easing into things. Even after playing through the tutorial, I still felt a bit confused about a lot of aspects of the game and it wasn’t until I played a dozen or so quick games and found the comprehensive instructions hiding in the menus that it all started to make a lot more sense. Before getting frustrated, at least give the manual a casual skim.
Galaxy Trucker offers abundant multiplayer options (quick match, pass-and-play, and both real-time and asynchronous lobby-based games), but the addition of a single player campaign mode is where it gets to showcase a lot of its style and humor. As the galactic map slowly unfolds, players will be tasked to take on specific jobs, from ferrying VIP aliens through pirate-infested space to navigating a ridiculous chain of meteor storms to just regular old runs (with maybe a friendly side bet or two thrown in by your fellow truckers). It wraps the core gameplay in a fun, flavorful skin that offers an incentive to keep going for those who may not be into just playing an endless stream of vanilla games.
The real-time ship building mechanic is appropriately frantic and tense as players sort through piles of facedown ship bits, trying to find the right mix of weaponry, shields, power, crew modules, and thrusters to craft their optimum vehicle - or at least one less crappy than their opponents. If the idea of real-time pressure bothers you there’s also a turn-based option, so no worries there. Half of the fun comes not in the actual hauls themselves, but in the mad scramble to find a blaster or thruster with the proper set of connectors to fit that final open spot on your ship blueprint. Really, this is the steepest part of the Galaxy Trucker learning curve, but the most rewarding once you get the hang of it.
Galaxy Trucker was a board game I’d seen around for years, but still had never played before this review. Now having done so I’m quite interested in seeking out a boxed copy for my collection, and I’m sure you’ll probably feel the same. It's fast-paced, weirdly designed, endlessly replayable - pretty much everything you could want in a board game or its digital adaptation, if you ask me. I still feel like it could have used at least one pine tree air freshener, though.