Immortality is a drag. Ask any angel: it is all hanging about on clouds, twanging harps and wearing long dresses. One day, though, during a brief respite in the war between good and evil, the cherubs got together with the devils. Between them they created a game to fend off the monotony they called it Antago.
An Othello/Checkers hybrid, Antago has few rules but bucketloads of strategy. The angel and devil face up across a board, five squares by five. Each takes it in turn to place pieces on the board with the aim of getting five of their own in a row. The angle uses cute clouds, while the devil plays with huge spiked balls.
The players can only reach the very edge of the gameboard, so they are unable to directly affect the pieces in the centre. However, when a new piece is conjured where one already exists, the new ball or cloud dorces the present one a square forward, with a knock-on effect down the line. If there is already five in the row then the last piece is simply pushed off the board into oblivion.
Subtlety and cunning are requied as lines are manoeuvred to create a winning row (any row of five will do). When the board clogs up with red and white blobs, the skill of disguising your potential line becomes increasingly important: with just one piece, you try to bump the balls to produce a winning line from nowhere. The one rule is that you cannot knock the last piece placed by your opponent into the void. It can be moved, but not destroyed.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Antago is cute. The Angel sports a nightshirt and halo, the devil a potbelly and horns. Floating around the board they bodycheck each other mercilessly out of the way. They even drop subtle hints about the speed of play, filing their nails, looking board or reading hymn sheets between slow moves. These caricature sprites are juxtaposed with swirling surreal backgrounds and backed up with an eerily atmospheric theme tune, making Antago an instantly attractive game.
Playing against the machine, interest can be sustained with a batch of pre-generated boards. These add extra conundrums and complications. The game's real charm, though, lies in one-one contests against a friend, when it is a head-to-head, knives-drawn, backstabbing fight.
Undeniably cute and instantly playable, Antago is destines to be an occasional game rather than a lasting passion. Even its twee characters and wild backgrounds cannot compensate for the lack of long-term solo appeal. In one-on-one mode it is great, but alone even the horde of pre-configured boards cannot sustain longterm interest.