Zachtronics is preparing its latest game: Last Call BBS
Redmond-based indie studio Zachtronics was founded by Zach Barth, designer of sandbox builder Infiniminer, aka the game Notch ripped off to create Minecraft. After that, Zachtronics made a name for itself with 2011’s SpaceChem, which dresses like a game about synthesizing chemicals for space colonies, but sneakily teaches you about programming and building circuits. It, and other Zachtronics puzzle games that are either explicitly about programming (like TIS-100, Shenzhen I/O, and Exapunks) or sneakily about programming (like the alchemical device builder Opus Magnum), have been dubbed “Zach-likes” by fans. The studio has, however, made games in other genres, like the AI-themed visual novel Eliza and the alternate-history strategy game Ironclad Tactics.
Last Call BBS seems to be the culmination and combination of everything Zachtronics has done over the last decade of indie game development. It is a collection of eight puzzle mini-games (“although some of them are quite big, at least the size of TIS-100 (opens in a new tab)“), all accessible via a fictional retro computer called Sawayama Z5 Powerlance. A BBS admin called The Barkeep filled this big red PC with games for us, and helpfully they’re “fully cracked and ready to enjoy!”
These eight games run the gamut of the studio’s styles, from expected Zach-likes to games having more in common with its other releases like the competitive Solitaire of Nerts! Online or Infinifactory’s block and conveyor construction works. There’s also one about assembling Gundam models? Here’s what Zachtronics has to say about the eight:
- 20th century food court: Design factories to produce food as they did over 700 years ago in the 20th century. Keep your costs low and your machines running fast!
- STEED FORCE Hobby Studio: Assemble robot models based on the anime hit Steed Force right on your computer. No sandpaper required!
- X’BPGH: The Forbidden Path: Enter a cursed world and create strange sculptures of flesh in exchange for eternal life. The master is happy… but can you trust him?
- Sawayama Solitaire: It wouldn’t be a Zachtronics release without a brand new solitaire game. This time it’s a new version of Klondike, the “classic” variant of solitaire.
- Dungeons and Schematics: Try your hand at these enticing tile-based logic puzzles. Can you map the dungeons and steal all the treasures?
- ChipWizard™ Professional: Build integrated circuits using wires, transistors and capacitors. Wait a second, is this a game or a CAD program?
- HACK*MATCH: EXAPUNKS’ tile-matching mini-game, fully remastered with single-player campaign and head-to-head local multiplayer (with Steam Remote Play support).
- Kabufuda Solitaire: Create matching sets of Japanese kabufuda cards in this retro remake of the challenging original solitaire game that debuted in Eliza.
That’s a lot of gaming. Plus, there’s some sort of overarching mystery to solve about the Sawayama Corporation responsible for this weird PC and the Last Call BBS run by the enigmatic Barkeep.
Unfortunately, Last Call BBS will be a last call for Zachtronics. As Zach Barth said Press X to learn (opens in a new tab) earlier this year (thanks to RPS (opens in a new tab) for the tip), he works as a high school computer science teacher these days. Given how many people have picked up programming elements from the games he’s worked on, that seems pretty fitting, but obviously full-time teaching doesn’t leave a lot of free time for game development. .
Last Call BBS will be available on Steam (opens in a new tab) and PC Game Pass starting July 5. As with previous Zachtronics games, it will launch in an Early Access version, but quite complete. Seven of the games will be included, and it’s expected to leave Early Access after “one or two months”.