Dominion review

Dominion is a game that’s been begging for a review by me for quite some time now. The game has been out since 2008, but I only discovered it about a year ago during my second year exploring this brand new world of tabletop gaming. It is easily my favorite game and the one I encourage every game player to try at least once.

Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion (currently published by Rio Grande Games in America) created a popular and broadly used mechanic called deck-building, which is just as simple as it sounds. The game starts with a small deck consisting of 10 cards: 3 Estates, Victory Point cards worth 1 point a piece; and 7 Coppers, Treasure cards that are worth 1 monetary value each. You shuffle the deck and draw the top five cards in preparation for your turn. (You can see your next had between turns. In fact, due to some card effects, you _have to_.) On your turn, play goes as such: Read the rest of this entry

Checkers has been solved!

http://www.usgamer.net/articles/tada-the-20-year-crusade-to-solve-checkers

It has been mathematically proven that if two extremely skilled players engage in a game of Checkers together and make no mistakes, then the game ends in a tie. This may be underwhelming to some, but this ultimately means that the game of Checkers itself is perfectly balanced. This looks pretty obvious on a superficial level. Players have all of the same pieces and a perfectly mirrored setup. In other words, it is a perfectly symmetrical game.

Except that one player gets to go first. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Bring ‘em Back: Games deserving of the remastered treatment

I am clearly coming off of a DuckTales Remastered high. What can I say? I liked the game. Classic level design and tight controls are what make games worth revisiting again and again. I am normally an advocate of new, original content, but solid games should always be revisited and kept in the public gaming consciousness. After all, these are the games that inspired today’s designers. Only by looking back can we really, truly see what makes games great.

So, I want more. Here are some games, in no particular order, that deserve to be remastered: Read the rest of this entry

DuckTales: Remastered – Woo-oo!

It seems to me that DuckTales Remastered doesn’t even need a full review. If you have a PS3, Wii-U (which sounds appropriate, given the property) or Steam, you should have this game. If you have a 360, you should get this game when it’s released in a month. It’s one of the best short platforming games out there. Read the rest of this entry

Super Dimension Century Orguss – whimsical space and time travel nonsense

At first glance, Super Dimension Century Orguss is a fluff piece of children’s science fiction that ultimately, and oddly, aims to sell fewer toys than its Super Dimension sister series (Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, both of which were adapted into the mega-series Robotech worldwide). At second glance, the series clearly has no other aim than to be a light-hearted science fiction piece of fluff television. It’s only upon a third glance that the viewer sees the series as a broken science fiction epic. Read the rest of this entry

Peter Capaldi: (12th) Doctor’s Choice

There is no doubt in my mind that Peter Capaldi will be an amazing Doctor. To say he is an amazing actor should mean nothing to a Doctor Who fan, since his character in Torchwood‘s Children of Earth series was so believable that his decisions, and final moments, made the series that much more devastating. And I have to admit, in somewhat of an ironic fashion, the fact that he is an older man is a breath of fresh air for the show.

But the news was somewhat underwhelming for me. Talk on various blogs about the possibility of a woman or a person of color (or both) portraying the Doctor got me more excited. The fact that the Doctor is another white male is just par for the course. I know that he will make an amazing addition to the series, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that a series about exploration and endless possibilities is stymied by its need to adhere to some silly status quo.

Why aren’t video games considered a mature medium?

Roger Ebert left us with the legacy of his insightful but sometimes misguided criticism of film. Many learned through him that film was more than just an entertaining spectacle on the screen. It’s about storytelling, acting, camera angles, etc. He peeled back layers of understanding that some might say detract from the movie viewing experience but others say enhance it. Along with that legacy, he also left us with the inspiration to continue doing what we love, no matter what. Despite his diminishing health due to cancer, he kept reviewing movies. His last blog post was literally two days before his death.

Video game fans see a slightly different man with a slightly different legacy. Roger Ebert was the most famous, loudest voice claiming that video games are not art. The video game press tried to take him to task, as did readers on his blog, but no one could convince him otherwise. Games enthusiasts view him as a stubborn old man who just wasn’t living in the present day. An old man who couldn’t see that new art is always emerging. Read the rest of this entry

Pacific Rim – the dream of the 80′s is alive in theatres now!

There’s a certain group in our culture who grew up through the 70′s and 80′s and had an understanding of the beauty present in giant mechas and robots. It sounds weird, but it’s true. How else can you explain the nostalgia for Transformers that has repeatedly managed to revive the franchise? Even knowing that the main purpose of the series is to sell toys, we knew that there was more there. Fans of Transformers have yet to see a big screen payoff (although the 80′s film has its moments), but IDW’s comics are an unexpected treasure. Godzilla fans get something great every now and then, although it seems Toho is hanging its hat for a while. (The upcoming American film is concerning but promising.) What we haven’t really gotten is the clash that our toys used to have. Anime only sates the appetite so much before the fans say, “I want to see real people in mecha punching monsters dead!” Yeah, our over excitement taxes our grammar a bit…

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim does more than satisfy our taste for giant destruction. It whets our appetite and makes us long for so much more. And it’s not because the movie is missing anything. It’s that the movie does so much and makes us believe that maybe we might someday get to see more like it. Read the rest of this entry

X-Men: The Arcade Game – theme vs mechanics

X-Men is one of the most popular beat-em-up games to have ever existed in the arcade. It helps that the game featured one of the most well known comic book teams and was often housed in arcade cabinets allowing 6-player simultaneous gameplay, but a bad game wouldn’t have managed to muster the staying power this game had. Actually, I should say has, as the game continued on in the minds of players who encountered it in the early 90′s. When perfect translations of arcade games starting finding their way onto home consoles, X-Men was one of the ones people were most eager to see.

In revisiting it on the Playstation 3, I found myself transported back to a more simple time in video game history. While each of the six characters – Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler – were individuated by design, animation and the effect of his or her power, every character played almost exactly the same way. The point of the game, for the most part, was to clear the screen of enemies and move to the right. There was a story to follow, sure, but it’s not one that needed to be followed. Save Kitty Pryde and Charles Xavier from Magneto and other characters were comically made blatantly evil. Sometimes it seems like the game lampshades just how evil it made the characters, although this is made worse by the horrible translation. Magneto spouts some very infamous lines, but none more than, “X-Men, welcome to die!”

In retrospect, that’s pretty polite. Read the rest of this entry

The G-Word

Previously on Our Multimedia Culture… Gospel X, our intrepid author who claims he is too busy to regularly update the blog, decided to no longer include himself among those who call themselves geeks and nerds. He decided it was more important to focus on the things we like than the labels we use for ourselves. Isn’t that the point?


It’s been two and a half years since I wrote about no longer throwing in with the geeks, nerds and otaku. For the most part, it has been a very smooth road. It was surprisingly easy to navigate this identify, even when trying to put myself way out in the open to draw in others with similar interests. I created a group on Meetup that didn’t necessarily have to do with the labeled cultures, but those most interested all called themselves geeks. The trick was to create a group that appealed to them but didn’t use the label. I chose enthusiasts. It was regarded as a mere idiosyncrasy of mine, and no one asked why I didn’t just call it a geek group. And no one asked why I didn’t identify as such.

Unfortunately, in retrospect, I realize I just inserted one label for another. What’s the difference between enthusiast and geek in this context? Granted, I never said I was an enthusiast, but it doesn’t matter. One word for another.

Another issue is that in the associated keywords I chose included “geek culture”. It’s hard to win sometimes.

It’s also hard to win when you do admit that you no longer use the label and are questioned about it. I’ve learned this very recently thanks to the online communities I frequent. Discussion on the matter leads to being backed into a corner with the implication of your using us and them language. And people aren’t wrong, especially when I say something along the lines, “I don’t want to be associated with geeks because of such-and-such.” It’s a difficult situation to be in and one I need to learn how to navigate better. It’s important to realize that when people self-identify so strongly with an identity that makes them feel like they truly belong, it offends them to hear that you want nothing to do with it based on people they feel are on the fringes of their culture.

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