Title: Last Call BBS
Platforms: PC (reviewed by)
Release date: July 4, 2022
Last Call BBS is the latest, and sadly, final, game from developer Zachtronics, a great company if you’re looking for games built with complete creative freedom. But Last Call BBS has something more than just existence as a game – it’s a full -on time machine.
The Last Call BBS provides a “retro experience” and while that’s perfectly done to death, nothing happens as much as the level of reliability provided by this game.
You find yourself with an old PC from around before the turn of the century. If you’re an older dog in your 40’s or later like me, you’ll perfectly feel it the second you start it. A small memo program opens and the former owner, the mysterious “Barkeep” informs you that he keeps his BBS servers open after all these years if you want to try to keep going.
After that, you have access to your hard drive, computer settings, memo app, and a solitaire game. Opening your hard drive, you will see an internet connection icon that allows you to access three different old sites: a world clock, a stock ticker, and Barkeep’s old BBS channel known as Last Call, a place where you can download cracked games. .
Every time you connect to one of these your computer will linger while you hear it dial out. The familiar sound of dial-up internet will ring in your ears as you try to make a connection. If you play this game in mute, you will miss a lot here.
From there you have the ability to access seven different games to download. It ranges from a variety of solitaire to a futuristic food-making sim, to a dark and depressing puzzle game, to a unique game that lets you create and paint Gundam-oops , I mean “Steed Force” models.
But you can only download one at a time, and if you do, you will need to download the game. No download lasted more than four minutes but there was something that took me back to my adolescence as I suddenly got up and waited for a big progress bar to fill up.
When you’re done, you’ll receive a notification that to avoid excessive server traffic you’ll have to wait 15 minutes before you can download anything again so it’s time to play what you have.
Luckily, even if you download randomly, you’ll be interested in each game because they’re all so unique. For example, there is a Sudoku-esque game that lets you discover maps of Dungeons and Dragons. But the trick is that monsters can only go to the dead ends, and a treasure chest means it’s in a 3 × 3 room with only one door.
There’s even a little bit of a story. As you progress through the various games, you unlock many notes from the mysterious Barkeep. You can hear him talk about his time as a hacker, his time to go to conventions to find new freeware (ask your parents), or even his lamentations of ” one who has gone away “. Taking the time to learn each game allows you to learn more about the former computer owner.
This can be a little tricky because some of these games obviously don’t come with their manuals and they can be hard to figure out, like how to download things back in the day. You think of a game where you have to make nachos and pretzels to move on a conveyor belt simply until you realize you have to properly wire the machinery to get all the parts to work. right. Some of these games really require a frame of mind for engineering and programming to get into.
One of my personal favorites though is definitely not the hardest of the batch, “Steed Force Hobby Studio”. According to notes, Barkeep was really interested in building models based on a popular anime called “Steed Force” (it was Gundam) but at the time the models were very expensive to import. As someone who has been building Gundam for over two decades, I can assure you. So he made a sim that allows you to create and paint it on the computer.
You can remove the nippers and pop the pieces out of the frames. You can paint them, and the painting is very nice. You can use modeling tape to cover the parts you don’t want to paint and just go to town with the recommended paint sets for each model. There are six colors per model that don’t allow for a ton of variety but you can still do a few things to kill it. There are also decals.
When you have finished the game you are allowed to download an animated gif of your finished project. Here is one of mine.
Unfortunately, once you’ve painted the three it’s over. There are no options to reset them or anything, they just sit in their box and look great. You can repaint it, but what monster paints a model that is already done?
Last Call BBS not only offers seven amazing mini-games but an amazing real experience that takes me back to my senior year of high school tying the family landline while I download shady programs from on hard to find websites. My only complaint is that while it’s about the real experience of not knowing how to play the games you download (the tutorials on the games are pretty modern) these games are complicated. I gave both of them a solid time each and after, I can’t tell you how I went through the first stage. Also, as is evident in the second form of Solitare, the cards are so ugly that they feel like they were thrown by Gambit directly in my eyes. Some vision problems and hard to understand games apart, this is a strange trip to the past and I recommend it for all older players.
Last Call BBS (PC) Score: 8/10
In general, Last Call BBS won’t keep you locked up for weeks, but if you can remember enough to compute in the 90s, it’s a perfect memory lane trip. So make sure the line is free, and download it on the World Wide Web today!