South Pole Bebop’s turn-structure makes its PVP duels sing

At the bizarre intersection of very specific Jazz subgenres and tight-tactical gameplay comes South Pole Bebop; Where penguins, seals and puffins face off against each other and zombies!

I’ve got to be perfectly honest, there’s a lot to like about Sentience Inc’s South Pole Bebop. It’s full of tight, terrain-based tactics featuring knock-back and, well, all that good stuff that Into the Breach gave us. Not only that, but there’s a deck-building element, and it’s all done in a clean, easy-to-read style. There’s a lot going on, but it’s hard to feel out-of-your depth when it comes to the controls. Feeling out of your depth while in-level though? That’s a completely different situation.

South Pole Bebop is what the developer’s call a PVPVE game. You’d be correct to think, ‘Dann, that’s a lot of V’ because it is. You’re taking three upgradable units into battle to protect two bases and destroy the units (or bases) of your opposition all while zombies appear between turns to try and destroy whatever its close to.  The only reason that this all works is because there is an intent turn for the zombies, that is that players get to move between the zombie turn — with the zombies spending the first half of their turn popping into existence or moving in a way that clearly indicates what they’re going to do next. The players then go. Then the Zombies attack.

It’s such a simple change to the Team-Team-Team style that other games use, although there’s still a fragmentation in that you can only move one character at once. This means that it goes: Zombie, Player 1 (1st), Player 2 (1st), etc etc, Zombie. This staggered turn structure gives an absolute mass of opportunities for strategy and tactical chaos. Wipe out an enemy and you restrict their options massively, however they gain more flexibility because you’re likely to draw more attention from the zombies (who don’t care about your battling between bases). Alternately, if you see that they moved one of their units already, why not now knock them into the path of a zombie with a cool ranged or melee attack?

South Pole Bebop

It’s early days for South Pole Bebop. After playing their demo over and over again (experimenting with messing with the opponents in different ways) while working at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco, I had a long chat with the development team. They’re at a point where the core mechanics are in the game albeit not accessible in the current online build. They’re actively looking for a publisher, but have plans to try and run it as a live-ops game; Not getting as ballsy as to pitch it as an eSport, but definitely planning battle passes and season-like content that would bring new cards, powers and characters to the game.

I really enjoyed my time with South Pole Bebop, and am genuinely excited for the game that it could become.

South Pole Bebop is in development for PC, it’s expected to launch in Summer this year.

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