Month
August 2013

Ten Euro-Games Every Board Gamer Should Own

The other day I started to look through my gaming shelf to see what my wife and I should play. While looking through, I realized that most of my collection was made up of euro-games. This really got me thinking about why this was. I then realized that by game mechanics, euro-games were way more fun to play. Even though they don’t have as great of a theme as ameritrash games do. I had a great thought that hey maybe I should put together a list of games that every board gamer should own in their collection. In this list I’m going to start out with the best gateway games and work my way to the meatier games, so here goes. [...]

Journey’s End

Despite all of this we loved the game, and I think there was more to this adoration than just being able to call one of your warriors Arsebum. The very fact the pace of the game was so slow allowed Tony, my brother and myself to play it together. We gave our characters personalities, argued over the way to go, shouted at the TV in unified anger when we had tripped over an invisible bit of stone in the maze losing 5 strength points, laughed at each other’s jokes during the dull slog looking for the Bridge across the river and cheered when we found the castle. We may have never actually reached the End but the Journey was fun in itself. [...]

Payday 2: The Heist

The most enjoyable way to play Payday 2 is with three of your friends who actually use microphones. When the missions are pulled off flawlessly you will feel extremely satiated as a player, but communication and precise planning are necessary, even on some of the easier and shorter selections. One stupid mistake can cost you an entire run, and this will happen 99.9 percent of the time you even attempt, making robberies that don’t end up turning into the last act of Dog Day Afternoon both extremely rare and immensely rewarding. [...]

Battle Chess

Battle Chess is obviously a chess game developed and released way back in 1988. The cool thing about it was that all the pawns where animated and you could see them killing each other in interesting and funny ways. When I was playing it I was still a kid so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was trying desperately to discover all the killing animations that were available. [...]

Gamer Profile: Ashly Burch

I really like games that are deceptively complex and that don’t hold your hand at all. One of my favorite modern games is Spelunky, as a point of reference. Harvest Moon is actually incredibly nuanced and difficult (I failed miserably the first time I played it), but — potentially unlike Spelunky — it’s an absolute joy to play no matter how well or poorly you’re doing. It does an awesome job of creating a simplistic but deep world that feels real and is filled with secrets and possibilities that aren’t apparent on the surface. Also, I think competing in festivals and courting a potential wife is empirically fun no matter who you are. [...]

Whomp ‘Em

Some of the stage designs are questionable. Among Let’s Players and others, the final level has gained notoriety for being rather difficult and just plain cheap. These design errors are evident elsewhere, though: Several areas force the player to make blind jumps, which is hardly ever fun. At least the player can aim the spear downward, likely helping the cause in these cases. There still remain, though, a few spots in which it is tough to tell which elements are mere background and which are needed platforms, along with dubious practices in enemy regeneration. [...]

Delve Deeper: Treasures and Tunnels

Delve Deeper is an excellent game. It’s smart, unique, easy on the retro-loving eye and, now that the Treasures and Tunnels DLC has been released, pretty huge too. Fresh off the indie forges of Lunar Giant and costing less than one (rapidly devaluating) dollar, Treasures and Tunnels extends the game with 10 new levels -including the brilliantly named Big Orc Candy Mountains- and 25 brand new relics; that is 50% more Delve Deeper maps, 30% more treasure and absolutely no extra fat. Oh, and apparently each level is custom-tailored to be tackled by different teams of dwarfs, whereas each new relic is designed to influence both new and old maps. [...]

Luigi’s Mansion

Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though. [...]

The Obsolete Gamer Show #36

This was a great interview. William started out in a band and then made his way to screen acting and then voice acting working on L.A. Noir. He has worked on a number of screen projects and was even a body double for Nic Cage. Not only is he a gamer, but he even invented a drinking game for the Atari 2600 classic game Warlords. [...]

First Time to PAX? A Guide to PAX and Other Large Gaming Conventions

This is when setting a schedule comes in handy – more so if you’re a reporter. Panels are great to attend – but you have to plan to be at them not only the time they’re at, but an hour or so earlier to be in line for that panel. For really popular panels, you may need to be in line earlier than that. I recall one year I had wanted to get into the Tell Tale Games panel. I found out that people had been in line for four hours. FOUR. HOURS. My mind was blown. [...]

Exploring the ColecoVision

Unlike the blocky, low-resolution games found on Atari’s machine, Coleco’s games were like having an arcade in the home thanks to the Z80A processor that powered it. Indeed, many of the games it hosted were arcade conversions and most of them were close to arcade perfect – a term that had to be invented for their machine. [...]

Stunt Car Racer

The raison d’etre of Stunt Car Racer is the tracks – glorious, insane, rollercoaster-like tracks that leave you gripping the joystick for dear life as you hurtle through the air after burning up impossible ramps, then gritting your teeth as you plummet back down, engine still racing, the screen cartwheeling as you miss the track by inches and smash into the dirt below with a bone-shattering crunch. At a time when racing meant dodging in and out of identical 2D cars, Stunt Car Racer did vertical – and how. There was even a loop-the-loop… [...]

Spelunker

I got this game for like .99 a while back. Thought it was worth the money just for the cool light on the cartridge:) Lights make everything better! The game is Spelunker made by irem according to the game case, but when the title screen loads up it says Broderbund Software….There isn’t much for controls, directional pad moves from side to side, A jumps and B uses your drill. Thing is it’s insanely easy to die, jump down a couple pixels to far, you are dead and you will be dying a lot. Check out my gameplay video… [...]

R-Type Dimensions

My past experiences with the R-Type games weren’t overly immense. A brief stint at a Timezone in Sydney back in the 80’s , the rental-to-almost-purchase on the Master System 2 in the early 90’s, and a sequel on the SNES (R-type 3). A frustratingly hard game? Some could say that, but I’ll go with exuberantly challenging. For those who don’t know what R-Type is, it is a side-scrolling shooter, think 1942 but with a side-on perspective. The storyline is that there’s the evil Bydo empire invading the universe, you are a pilot of a small ship sent to stop this evil. [...]

Magical Tetris Challenge

You weren’t warned. You didn’t see it coming. A freakish tetronimoe outcast, it could take one of many forms. A weird zig-zag abomination, a ridiculously long one block beanpole or a ‘screw you’ lardarse square spanning many squares in width. It could be any of these, and they all mess your game up like no-ones business. [...]

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

Bionic Crisis was a game that contained both elements of chance and deductive reasoning. To set up, each player took one of the four Console Boxes and inserted a Console Card into it. The red and yellow board pegs are placed somewhere where everyone can reach them. Then the deck of Bionic Circuit Cards was shuffled, and one was dealt to each player, who kept it hidden from his or her opponents. Finally, the deck of Number Cards was shuffled, with each player given three cards and the rest placed face down for everyone to draw from during gameplay. Once set up, the play began. [...]

Atari Inc: Business Is Fun

From its very beginnings, Atari lacked (business) discipline and clear market direction. It is evident from this book, that Atari just wanted to be part of the video games action, no matter what. Co-founder Nolan Bushnell aggressively advanced the company and Atari’s market and popularity grew rapidly. It seemed that Atari could not put a foot wrong – everything they created, from coin operated machines to the Video Computer System (2600) console, turned to gold. [...]

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

It is great because this game was criticised like few when it first came out for the violence it contained that according to parents at the time would turn us all into killing machines by the age of 18… I haven’t still killed a person and I had a blast with the game. although from what I know in some countries the changed the pedestrians to animals or aliens for that same reason. [...]

Special Forces

CT Special Forces almost gets it right, but sadly falls a little short of being considered a notable Metal Slug clone. It definitely looks the part though, with rather attractive hand drawn graphics and a nice varied bunch of levels. A good range of weapons are grenades are also on show. The controls are also quite good, with the shoulder buttons used for throwing grenades and swapping weapons. [...]

Soul Calibur II

That reason was because Link from the Legend of Zelda was a playable character. Spawn was in the Xbox version while Heihachi from Tekken was in the PS2 version. I remember some fanboys of the other two systems saying Link didn’t even fit in the SC universe. Yeah I’m sure a weaponless fighter and an african-american demon from hell are perfect matches too. Link fit well with his master sword, bow, and bombs. [...]

Dominique Vial: Domsware

We were on our final “lycée” studies and we needed to prepare THE french exam named “baccalauréat”. It’s very important to make a big score to this exam because it’s the passcard to university and High Schools. Anyway. We spend a lot of time playing DM instead of working our final exams. Locked on my friend’s bedroom, our parents believed we were working on our studies! Ah ah ah! It was a really immersive and addictive game. And, for the story purpose, a friend of my elder brother was working on some computer science laboratory on some kind of “network”. He was helping us by providing us printed listings containing the precious answers to hard DM’s issues: these was from this mysterious “network”. Later and later I found the name of this guy on a W3C document: I then understood he was one of the first working on the internet and that was the mysterious network. He was a pioneer while we were exploring dungeons ! [...]

Dig Dug 2

This time around is Dig Dug 2 for the NES. We have been hitting a lot of NES games lately so it’s only fair to continue with them but the next couple of months will showcase other consoles, that’s for sure. This game is different from its predecessor as it takes place in the open. The first one took place underground. I’m guessing the monsters found a way outside and our little hero must blow them up once again. It’s not an amazing title, but it’s definitely worth a mention. [...]

Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra does not have the most polished presentation, but it definitely offers a challenge that makes hearty demands on a player’s reflexes and flight tactics. Fans of the genre will enjoy discovering the absolute to-the-pixel limits of the chopper’s hit box, while casual players may be intrigued by the sheer amount of action on the screen at any given moment. There are even boss fights to contend with. Better than the plainest of shooters but not quite as refined in its quality as the better titles, Twin Cobra is quite decent, and will be fancied by some while ignored by others. [...]

Kevin Cerdà: BeautiFun Games

This isn’t a really known game. However, I believe that it was really innovative at the moment it appeared. It was made by Mythos games, with Julian Gollop, creator of X-COM. In Magic & Mayhem you really felt like a wizard, combining spells in many clever ways (such as levitating and enemy and turning it into stone to smash it against the ground, breaking it into pieces). It was like a strategy game with the full base inside one single character that was able to move around and create minions out of nothing without any cooldown at all. Really surprising, fresh and dynamic. A source of inspiration. [...]

Dead Meets Lead

To the game’s defense though one could add that by featuring a shotgun it does turn itself into a rather lovely yet more traditional arena-shooter. One would of course be only partly correct, as the ammunition for the shotgun (and the rest of the firearms that are eventually unlocked) is far too sparse and in certain levels simply absent, which is a crying shame. Shooting the zombie hordes as a cursed pirate on a bleak exotic island is immensely enjoyable and goes on to show how great Dead Meets Lead could have been; especially if it had bothered to include a few save-points in its brutally hard levels. [...]

Droidscape: Basilica

The year is 4057, and a power-hungry Ecclesiarchy has plunged humanity into a new Dark Ages. One of few remaining Chronomancers dedicated to preserving the secrets of time-travel has been taken hostage on the gargantuan Basilica space station, and if he dies, an already dark world will get a lot darker. Only a small, unarmed droid named Bishop 7 can save him—and only with your help. [...]

Oracle of Seasons

Now the zones in the game are pretty interesting. Remember going to the dark world in Link to the Past, well, while the changes are not that drastic there are four different versions of every screen you are on when in the outside world. This is because of the four seasons. As I said, the seasons changing can help you get somewhere you could not normally. For instance, a lake in the summer is frozen so you can walk over it in the winter. [...]

SteelSeries & Valve Introduce The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition Headset

SteelSeries, the worldwide leader in professional grade gaming peripherals along with Valve, developer of Dota 2 and creator of The International Tournament, today announced the Siberia v2 Illuminated Gaming Headset Dota®2 Special Edition which features an exclusive in-game item, Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet. In addition to the new headset, SteelSeries will also roll out two new SteelSeries QcK+ mousepads featuring character artwork from the game. [...]

Switchblade

It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizeable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. [...]

Breaking down Everquest Next: The Rallying Call

Sony said settlements that are successful remain in the game forever, so what happens if you fail? Can you imagine the crying that will go out if you see videos of a successful settlement and you think it is really cool, but on your sever for whatever reason it failed? Would the risk vs. reward people find it cool that it was even possible to fail or will they be mad they have such “terrible players” that they could not even finish the settlement causing issues within that severs community? [...]

Chew-Man-Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar. In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console. [...]

Nintendo Museum Exhibition

The company history page on Nintendo’s US website even starts in 1985, with the NES! Completely skipping the first hundred year since the company started in 1889. A period, admittedly, when the focus was primarily on the Japanese home market. For that matter, the Japanese site shows the full history, but with very short statements only and without any illustrations. [...]

Wonderland

Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. [...]

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

The second Paper Mario game has an epically long quest with lots of quirky humor (there’s a tranny ghost who has a crush on Mario; I’m completely serious), and interesting characters. Be warned that the difficulty jumps for no apparent reason right at the end. Other than that, I can say that Thousand Year Door is a worthy successor to not only Paper Mario, but Super Mario RPG. [...]