Add-Venture from QSoftz
Reviewed by: Eric Pankoke
If you were like most aspiring young children, one of your fantasies was to stealthily take over the world… umm, yeah… Anyway, regardless of childhood aversions, Qsoftz was kind enough to help you fulfill these desires electronically with the release of Add-Venture for the Pocket PC. So how engaging is world domination? Read on to find out.
If you’ve played Risk, you know the basic premise behind Add-Venture. A combination of up to eight human and computer players each start out owning several countries scattered around the globe, and ultimately one of them ends up with everything. You start the game by picking a number of opponents between 2 and 8. At least one player must be human, and the rest can be a combination of human and computer. For each computer player you can select one of 3 difficulty levels: Novice, Advanced and Intelligent. At this point in my global conquest career, I’m still trying to survive the novice players. The one thing conspicuously missing from this game in terms of multi-player play is true multi-player play. You can play hot seat, but there is no internet or Bluetooth capabilities in this game, which is too bad given that this is the perfect type of game for it.
Once the players have been established the game begins. Each player is assigned a certain number of countries across the global based on the total number of participants. The game is turn based, and each player has 3 phases during their turn. In the first phase you are awarded a certain number of troops based on the number of territories you hold. In addition, for each round that you successfully conquer at least one country you are awarded a card. Once you have 3 or more cards you can start matching. A match is 3 of a kind (air, sea or land), or one each of air, sea and land. There are also wild cards that can be used as any of the three. Selecting 3 land cards gives you 4 extra soldiers, 3 sea cards gives you 6 extra warships, and 3 air cards gives you 8 extra planes. Trading in one of each rewards you with 10 extra land troops.
Once you’ve redeemed any cards you wish to use and placed all available troops you enter attack phase. To attack a country, you simply click on the county you wish to attack with, then click on the country you wish to attack. You keep clicking on the country you’re invading until (1) you’ve conquered it, (2) you’ve run the attacking country down to one troop, or (3) you decide to give up. If you successfully invade the country, it will change to match your color and all but one of the troops from the invading country will be transferred to your new conquest.
After you’ve had your fill of attacking you enter the movement phase, where you can transfer troops between any countries you own. To transfer troops, you first click the country you wish to transfer troops from, then click the country you wish to transfer troops to one time for each troop you wish to transfer. You can continue move troops around until you have everyone where you want them, which is one nice feature that most Risk clones don’t offer.
This cycle continues once for each player each round until someone has conquered the entire planet. If you successfully invade the only country a particular player has left, you will wipe that player from the board and all cards they had not yet played will be transferred to your control. This could be a great advantage to you if you can defeat someone that has a lot of cards.
Overall I think Qsoftz did a solid job of recreating the atmosphere of a risk style game. While Qsoftz boasts on their site about AI that’s “sensitive to the weak players”, I didn’t always feel like that was the case. However, I suppose one tends to get a bit paranoid when they are continually losing! Anyway, there certainly is a lot of challenge here, with being able to choose from a large number of players and skill levels. If you’re worried about running out of scenarios, you won’t cross that bridge for quite some time.
The graphics in Add-Venture are decent. There are no fancy special effects or wonderful hand drawn cinematic sequences, but everything is clear and well drawn, and while the interface elements are small so that they can fit in enough controls for eight players, there’s never really any question as to what anything is. Although obviously not necessary, it would have been nice to at least have some quick animated scene when one player completely eliminates another.
The sound effects are sparse yet sufficient. Actions such as taking over a country or losing a battle produce a small tone, and taking over a continent results in a cool little chime unique to each continent. Sadly, however, there is no music in this game. A little background tune, even if there was only one, would help offset the not-so-action oriented pace of the game.
I love turn based strategy games, and there’s no question that Add-Venture is a solid contender in that category. A solid strategy engine and decent audio and visual elements make Add-Venture an easy game to come back to again and again. Now if they could just add in some true multi-player and spruce up the aesthetics a bit, Add-Venture could rank at the top of the charts!
Solid strategy engine
Many variations of number of players / skill sets
No true multi-player
Though supposedly balanced, the AI does sometimes seem “out to get you”
Overall Rating: 7/10