Full disclosure: A review copy of Please Fix the Teleporter was provided by Gravitation Games.
Alright, we’ve had the opportunity for a few real-time games, a few dexterity games, and basically whatever I can talk my housemates into playing with me. That’s usually quite a bit! Not always that much, but it’s some stuff from time to time. This week, I got maybe 5 or 6 different games to the table, so I’m now writing them all up for y’all’s benefit! Makes me miss the days where I was playing 5 – 7 games per day, but those days are long gone. Sad times. Instead of dwelling on that, let’s talk about Please Fix the Teleporter, new from Gravitation Games!
In Please Fix the Teleporter, you are about to learn about extremely-aptly-named games. You are a teleportation expert who needs to … do their job, and fix the Teleporter. Good news, the nefarious Emperor Korlax is currently trapped and scrambled in your ship’s teleporter. Bad news: so is the captain. The captain signs your paychecks, so it’s roughly to your benefit to get them out of the teleporter before they’re permanently fused to Emperor Korlax and this game becomes My First Body Horror. It’s a race against time, though, so you get a few more people on it to help out. Will you be able to restore these two to their original states? Or will this whole thing just end up a mess?
Basically nothing to do, here. Shuffle the cards:
Give each player a set of teleporter signal tiles in a color:
You’re ready to start!
In Please Fix the Teleporter, you need to … do that. But you don’t have much time! Currently, your captain and his mortal nemesis are scrambled together and you don’t want any weird teleporter accidents like they have over in Starfleet.
To start a round, the player who won the previous round flips the top card of the deck. Players must then assemble the image on the card as quickly as possible. The first player to do so slaps the card to indicate that they got it. If they are correct, they take the card as a point. If they’re incorrect, they lose one of their cards to the bottom of the stack.
That’s about it! Play until one player has taken 5 cards. That player wins!
Player Count Differences
I wouldn’t necessarily say that there are major player count differences in Please Fix the Teleporter, beyond the solo game. This is mostly because (and this will be a frequent point) there … aren’t that many components to mess around with, and there’s no direct player interaction. You simply get the four tiles into a specific configuration, slap the card, and move on. This means that the games will potentially take longer at higher player counts. This is, of course, assuming all players have a roughly equal skill level, as it will take additional rounds to end the game if no player is significantly faster than any other. Beyond that, you’re not really competing to be anything other than first, and you can’t affect other players, so having more players shouldn’t be any major difference. I actually think I’d probably prefer playing it with higher player counts; I kind of want the game experience to be a bit longer than it currently is. For the solo game, it’s essentially just a time-attack against 6 cards. I appreciate the star-based scoring, frankly; there are a lot of games in this space that would just have you see how many you can get through in two minutes or so, which feels less satisfying than “you completed 6 cards in ~48 seconds; here are three stars”.
- Keep in mind that the border will always form a complete square. This was a very helpful realization for me, at least, since it meant that I now always had kind of a guiding star when I was trying to assemble my jumbled signal. Before that, I was just slapping pieces however I thought they’d fit, which obviously wasn’t working. If you aren’t getting that border completion, you’re definitely not going to end up with the right image.
- Also note that the orientation of the tiles may change, so don’t rely on the output image looking a certain way. This one throws players off during their first game. Typically, you’re used to a consistent orientation of cards, and that’s just not the case for this game. Everything is jumbled! You should expect that! If you’re expecting the cards to flip a certain way, you’re putting yourself at a light disadvantage. The problem is, a light disadvantage in a game with rounds that last only a few seconds is essentially just losing the round.
- This game relies a lot on how quickly you notice certain features, so there’s not a whole lot you can do in terms of “strategy” for a game this short. I think this comes up decently frequently with games like this, honestly, and that’s fine. There’s only so much you can write about strategy with rapid-fire, real-time games. That makes it fun, sometimes! It just needs to be what you’re looking for. Not everyone is a huge fan of real-time games. For this particular game, I would say that this is the kind of real-time game that benefits most from repeat plays, as you get used to seeing what the various combinations are. Not that you memorize them, but that you just become a bit quicker every time that you play. You can’t really strategize that; it’s a skill thing.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Very cute theme. I mean, it’s a little bit of very light body horror, but in a fun, comical way! Nobody’s spliced together yet; they just are going to be that way if you don’t hustle and get them sorted out! That’s why you don’t use teleporters, probably. Just future space fax machines. Something something The Prestige something something. Anyways, it’s a very silly conceit, and it works.
- Highly portable. Most very small games also have this as a bonus attribute. I have yet to see a smallish game that I haven’t found to be particularly portable. That’s good! Just kind of expected, as well.
- I really like the art! It’s very good for a spacey body crossover game. It’s similar in energy to The Captain is Dead but it feels a bit more right for this kind of game? I’m not sure, but I like it.
- Plays very quickly. This game is really over in 5 minutes or so; you can bust out a few rounds pretty lickety-split. Nothing wrong with that, though I will say there’s very little difference between a “round” and a “game” since there’s effectively no player interaction.
- You may want to ensure that all players start a round with the same tile configuration, since there are so few tiles. You don’t have to do this, but it essentially introduces variance that may be good or bad. If you happen to have randomized your tiles so you’re one fewer swap / flip to the required point, you’re at an advantage. It’s equally likely (or it stands to reason, at least), that you could also be at a disadvantage due to random chance. No way to tell in advance, unfortunately. I prefer to even the playing field, but if players want to take the risk, that might be something you’ve got to let them do.
- Be careful around that card slapping, if you have aggressive players. This kind of has two problems. One, you do have some risk of aggressive players swatting each other (be careful with rings and such), and that’s all well and good, but also players moving quickly at a card can potentially cause damage to the game itself. It’s also not terribly COVID-friendly to potentially have hands touch, so you may want to have a stop phrase or something as a stopgap solution until everyone’s vaccinated, in case you’re managing to have socially-distanced game nights.
- I kind of wish there were more tiles. This game reminds me a fair bit of Nine Tiles, and I would say they have similar energy. This adds rotations to the mix where Nine Tiles has additional tiles, and I actually prefer the additional tiles to the rotations. I think having more tiles slows the game down a bit whereas the rotations and only four tiles means every round can feel like it’s moving at a breakneck pace. That’s alienating for some players in a way that I haven’t seen from Nine Tiles. It’s just … very quick. I actually kind of wish games and rounds lasted longer, so I’d love to have a bigger, multi-tile version of this just to draw the game out a bit.
Overall: 7 / 10
Overall, Please Fix the Teleporter is pretty fun! I think, unfortunately, it loses a bit of steam for me because one of my favorite games happens to also be a real-time, tile-laying puzzle game (Nine Tiles Panic) that also happens to specialize in being cute, fun, and highly portable. That’s mostly a me thing, not a y’all thing, but it’s important to mention since it provides context to what I like and don’t like about this title. My major bit of criticism is that this game almost feels too fast, for me? The reason why is that while the rotation element adds another dimension of difficulty (pun intended, emphasis mine, etc.), it doesn’t go far enough, in my opinion, to make the rounds feel much more engaging. That’s kind of the advantage of NTP and games like it; having scoring elements to the game means that the outcome of a round isn’t strictly binary. You didn’t “win” or “lose” the round; you made progress towards a scoring goal. I think something like that would push Please Fix the Teleporter closer to the ideal, for me, but that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Please Fix the Teleporter benefits from its simplicity by instead being a dead-simple entry in this genre. You’re not explaining scoring cards or trying to create examples to give context for what certain terms mean; you’re just saying “make this image, but faster” and seeing if players can do that or not. It’s definitely its own thing, in that regard; sort of the distilled essence of the genre. Those kinds of games are nice because they’re a lower-commitment way to determine if this type of game appeals to your players. You don’t necessarily want to just roll a new player into more complex titles if they’re not looking for that sort of thing, after all. It can be helpful to have something gentler to ease into it, especially in a space like real-time games, where player skill is a big factor. This is kind of the reason why I bristle a bit at games explicitly “replacing” other games, especially in situations like this. Please Fix the Teleporter is a fundamentally different game than Nine Tiles Panic (or even Nine Tiles). Those games may appeal to you more than others, but I imagine there are plenty of folks for whom the reverse is true (especially folks who don’t have access to a pipeline of games from Japan). That all said, while I’m generally looking for more complexity than Please Fix the Teleporter gave me, I still enjoyed the experience of playing it. And if you’re a fan of real-time games, sci-fi themes, or just silly concepts, you may enjoy Please Fix the Teleporter as well!