Bontago


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dancemonkeyBontagoPlaying with blocks is a universal experience, being not only fun for all ages but also an essential tool in development. Students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology have taken that basic structure and created a marvelous strategy game that involves not only stacking blocks but, in a stroke that some would call brilliant but I call mandatory, knocking your opponent's structures down.

Bontago is a Windows-only territory-grabbing, block-stacking, real-time strategy game (phew). Beginning in your "corner" of a circular arena you must expand your territory by stacking blocks as high as possible, in an attempt to envelope the central white goal flag. There are numerous power-ups that you can also claim, some that directly attack your opponent's stacks of blocks (rockets, volcanoes) and others that actually affect the entire playing field itself (earthquake, a heavy anvil that tilts the arena). You can only drop blocks in your current territory, and blocks dropped in overlapping territories are ejected from the map. The next block in your queue is shown on your display tetris-style, though I never really found myself looking at it. You would do well to go through the brief tutorial, as there are camera controls and block manipulation controls mapped to all three mouse buttons.

And trust me: you must also learn how to "throw" blocks. It's a necessary skill for tossing the odd power-up, but in a pinch you can also throw an ordinary block of your own to try to knock over your opponent's pieces.

The game has a few play modes, including solo play, sandbox and multiplayer. Though the website has some interesting screenshots showing what fun you can have in the sandbox, I didn't really try it out. Why not just get some actual blocks? I tried multiplayer but the options seemed limited to LAN and typing in an actual IP address of a hosted game. Unless I missed something, there was no match-up lounge for multiplayer games, which seems like the next critical step in the evolution of the game client.

The solo mode is very configurable, including not just options for number of opponents but the effect of gravity, number of goal flags, frequency of power-ups, etc. You can even specify a music folder for the game to serve up mp3s while you play, though you have to type an absolute path in a box: there's no browse dialog; and it seemed to just play it all in alphabetical order. I was listening to the Afro-Celt Sound System Volume 1 every time I launched the game.

The game itself was fun. I just played against the computer game after game after game, getting my lunch handed to me until I finally developed a workable strategy. You can very quickly take the central flag by stacking ever higher in one spot, but that leaves you extremely vulnerable to attack. You're better off striking a balance between tall thin towers with some squat stable strongholds in between so that if you lose a tower, you don't lose all of your progress.

Both versions of the game are free, the Lite offering almost-full functionality, only leaving out backgrounds and music (but you're listening to your own anyway, right?). The full version has it all, but weighs in at a hefty 23 MB download, rather than the svelte 4.11 MB or so of the Lite version.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

29 Comments

alchemy101 April 15, 2007 2:47 PM

Is anyone else getting the text all garbled with this?

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hello! long time jayisgames visitor, and this is my first post!! lol. anyway, this game looks great and all, but it wont start up! it goes into the load screen and just sits there! :( (i did download the heavy version, lets try light. might work.)
ps: it wont even let me get out! i had to restart! :(
any help would be greatly appreciated.

>>

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Anonymous April 15, 2007 2:52 PM

Wowee wow wow wow. Wonderful. Original, smooth, creative. Just great all over. Never seen anything like it. The only problem i can see is the lack of a lounge area. It boasts like it's meant to be multiplayer, but aside from a LAN game, i don't really see how they're system would be practical. Anyone here want to host a game?

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Jack Ohzis Author Profile Page April 15, 2007 3:15 PM

(Replying to myself on a comment made in the last game)

Hmm... well I guess it wasn't the snake one, 'cause that was before it, but somethings definately weird...

Oh, but what's this... Bontango..?.. i wonder if it has similar physics to toblo or something like that. I must try it out, oh yes.

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I'd love to host a game, trouble is I'm having similar difficulty to jesman... the game just runs poorly on my system. I have only a Celeron processor, which I'm guessing is my specific problem.

I first downloaded the large version, but that took 5 minutes to load, and another 10 minutes to display the main menu. :x

I next downloaded the Lite version and that loaded MUCH faster, and the menu was manageable, but the game was unplayably slow. ;_;

Otherwise the game looks fantastic. I guess I need to upgrade my PC. :/

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Jack Ohzis Author Profile Page April 15, 2007 4:27 PM

Well... The most obvious and practical thing to do would be to just give out our IP addresses all crazy-like and ask each other if they'd lke to play. I'm not scared of anyone hacking me, or anything, cause I'm just that stupid. Mine is: 192.168.1.100. Have a nice day, yes? -MANAX

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Jack Ohzis Author Profile Page April 15, 2007 4:31 PM

Awww... I feel sorry for you jay. I always pictured you having some gigantic room full of every type of computer known to man, a personal Internet Service Provider, and fifteen square yards of random heaps of metal that somehow all work together to give you the best setup known to mankind. If you saw what I'm workning with, you'd be amazed that it could load minesweeper. If you haven't thought of this before, turn everything on the absolout lowest quality possible. Also, no reflections and what-not. -J.R.O.

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How do you throw blocks!?!? I'm stumped.

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Anonymous April 15, 2007 5:29 PM

I can't throw blocks either for some reason - i can in sandbox, but otherwise, I'm stumped.

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MANAX - that IP address you posted is your local address supplied to you by your router. No one will be able to reach you with that unless they are on your LAN (LOCAL area network).

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Throwing blocks - yes, that was a tough one for me.

You grab the block and kind of give your mouse a "tossing" motion in the direction you want to throw the block. The key here is that you have to release the block before it crosses out of your "territory", which is sometimes a challenge to judge.

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Jack Ohzis Author Profile Page April 15, 2007 5:40 PM

Oh, yeah, Jay. I forgot. In that case, do you know an easy way to figure out your IP, 'cause I'm clueless and there's no way I'm going to remember it. -M.E.V.

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I think it's best no one posts their IP address publicly on the site. I don't publish any comments with email addresses, I think the same should go for IP addresses as well.

If you want to find someone to play against, try findind someone on the CasualGameplay IRC channel. Surely you can find and download a standalone IRC client for your computer if the Java client doesn't work.

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Throwing blocks - I can only throw the special ones, not the normal blocks

Ip adress - Go to start menu, then run, then type ipconfig/all to see your ip address, but that still wouldn't work for the game, as you undoubtedly have some sort of firewall up.

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thats not going to give you the ip, just your local network ip. to get your real ip just try googling 'whats my ip' or something and click on a website.

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PapaChabre April 15, 2007 9:19 PM

If anyone wants to play this game over the net I suggest downloading Hamachi (http://www.hamachi.cc/) and broadcasting your pseudo IP as opposed to giving out your real IP. Actually, if the game works with Hamachi, you could make a group specifically for people who want to play this game and it would kind of be like a out-of-game lobby.

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Evilwumpus April 15, 2007 10:05 PM

Cool game. Sometimes I can win easily, when no "gifts" get sent my way. Other times, all the gifts fall on the computer's side. Also, gifts can chain-react because breaking open a crate will activate it right away, and then if it moves your blocks around it can push the blocks onto another crate, which pushes the blocks into another crate...

Overall, it's a cool game.

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the 'misc' tutorial lists keys for mp3 control, ctrl+R toggles random play

why they're hidden away there rather than in the options menu I have no idea!

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Cool, another fan of the Afro Celt Sound System?

I'm also working on a game involving block physics. Those seem to be pretty popular in student game projects. :p

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I have every Afro-Celt album... now do I listen to every Afro-Celt album? That's another story.

I'm generally a fan of anything on the Real World label. Peter Gabriel's music isn't as fantastic as it once was, but his taste in artists is.

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I have every Afro Celt album except Seed. There are songs I like on each of them, but I don't always like listening to the whole CD. It sounds like you don't like some of their CDs - which ones?

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This is an awesome game.

I was very irritated with sometimes getting my blocks rotated very strangely, and being totally unable to get them back to anything remotely sensible. It would seem like I was turning the block by smaller and smaller amounts, carefully getting closer to my target rotation, when BAM the thing would spin itself to the most unhelpful way up possible.
Then I went back to the tutorials to happily discover that if you hold down "mouse button 3", hitting Home will spin the block to its original orientation.

Also, I don't think that it's possible to throw a normal block in non-sandbox play. Specials only.

Can you tell that I have no trouble running the game?

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You got the download file sizes a the bottom mixed up.

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This game looks fabulous. Unfortunately it doesn't work for me. I am able to load and navigate through the menu just fine, and it takes merely seconds for that. However as soon as I attempt to start a tutorial (or a game for that matter), it changes from full screen resolution to normal, and says that it has encountered a problem and needs to close.

Anyone else experiencing the same problem?

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You can win a six post game on the largest map with a single tower 87 ft tall. Yeah... too much time on my hands XD...

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Huh. My friend and I keep trying to set up a game with our IP addresses, but nothing seems to work. we have made the game exempt from firewalls, but that didn't work. any suggestions?

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This game looks awesome, but I can't even get the menu to load... it looks like it's about to say "Botango" or something in the white bar, then it just flashes and disappears and the whole screen flickers :(. Their forums are down, so you can't even look for support in there.

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I really wanted to try this game but the mouse cursor is completely invisible in the game's menu and it's infuriating. =(

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The link has to be renewed, because it led to a certain "bontago.com" that did not contain the game, only advertising links.

Google-ing the game did work, though, after a few bad leads.

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