Mutually-assured destruction in WarGames: WOPR for iOS and Android

In what is possibly the least timely movie tie-in of all time, MGM and Be-Rad Entertainment have released a new mobile game based on the classic 1983 movie WarGames. It’s available now from the App Store for iOS along with the Amazon Appstore and Google Play for Android devices.

WarGames: WOPR is a puzzle/strategy game that casts players in the role of the titular War Operation Plan Response computer from the movie. The game loosely follows the plot of the movie, beginning with Matthew Broderick’s character hacking in and starting a “game” of Global Thermonuclear War. It’s up to the player to resist various characters’ attempts to prevent World War III and upgrade WOPR’s capabilities as much as possible.

Gameplay in WarGames: WOPR takes place on a grid filled with various symbols. The player must match groups of three or more symbols by drawing lines between them horizontally, vertically or diagonally — similar to forming words in games such as Boggle and Zynga’s Scramble with friends. Matching different symbols has various different effects — matching missiles does direct damage to the opponent character; matching radar dishes fills a bonus meter with special effects triggering when it reaches 100%; matching green crosses restores health; and matching dollar signs acquires cash.

A number of additional systems are added atop these basic mechanics. Firstly, sometimes “enemy damage” tiles appear on the board, which must be matched with missile tiles within a certain number of turns to prevent damage. Secondly, as the game progresses, the player gains access to a number of different “tactics” cards. These can be used for a variety of purposes ranging from immediately launching all missile tiles on the board to dealing damage over time to the enemy or manipulating the symbols present on the board. These special abilities cannot be used at will, however — they must be unlocked using the game’s persistent currency of RAM, earned after each mission (or acquired via in-app purchase) and then triggered using the temporary in-game cash currency which players have during a single match. Tactics cards can also be upgraded between missions using RAM.

WarGames: WOPR thoroughly embraces its 1980s heritage with retro-style graphics and fonts (even including an option to display TV-style scanlines), a chiptune soundtrack and synthesized speech. While the game does follow the movie’s plot loosely, the primary focus here is on gameplay, not storytelling, so the short text-based narrative sequences are designed to not get in the way of the action. The simple gameplay mechanics coupled with the Tactics system provides a surprisingly strategic-feeling experience that nonetheless embraces the short, snappy play sessions that the most successful mobile games tend to be built around. There is plenty of content for players to enjoy, too, with 40 levels to complete (each with three difficulty settings), all the Tactics to unlock, Game Center leaderboards to top on iOS and a bank of eight achievements to chase. An option to play competitive multiplayer matches would doubtless be gratefully received by the player base, but the basic game mechanics would require some fundamental redesigning to make that work.

As it stands, WarGames: WOPR is a high-quality, fun mobile game that makes good, subtle use of the WarGames license. At the time of writing it does not appear to be listed on any App Store leaderboards, but check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.