Connect Four is a solved game. If the first player drops their first disc in the middle column, their opponent can't stop them winning (read this masters thesis to get technical). It's still a spot of fun, but how can we reinvigorate Connect Four? How can we find it a vibrant competitive scene? Simple: round out the mental challenge with an element of physical skill by combining Connect Four with curling. For extra flair, add a disc-devouring tabletop alligator. That's Cuckoo Curling [official site], a delightful free two-player etSport (electronic tabletop sport, yeah?).
Cuckoo Curling is simple: pick a lane, watch the power meter to slide a stone down it, then let it fly. Then the other player has a turn, sending their own stone away and maybe trying to knock yours away. The first to connect four in any direction wins. Connect Four with curling, yeah? Or maybe Connect Four with shuffleboard. Point is, it's a fun twist on an old game, and goodness me the presentation is delightful!
Everything's in-world on a view of a Cuckoo Curling... court? arena? pitch? Anyway, player turns are shown on a flip pad which rolls over, posters on the walls pop up with information, a little speaker tootles out pleasant music (by Riko), and spectators in the bleachers raise banners when something happens. Lovely! And then there's that alligator chomping down stones which settle out of bounds.
Cuckoo Curling is pay-what-you-want, with no minimum, for Windows and Mac from Itch. The main menu lists a 'Solo Challenge' mode as coming soon, though given creator Grenadine's tiredness evident in a post-mortem blog post I wouldn't hold my breath. Also, this trailer is ace:
Ta to Warp Door for pointing this out.