Category Archives: games

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

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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

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

Why I love board games

Shut-Up and Sit-Down Present: The Board Game Golden Age

I love this video and hate it at the same time for being able to express everything I’ve been saying about board games in an entertaining instead of meandering fashion. It’s a 40 minute video with some profanity, but that profanity is pretty casual over in the UK. Definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, it resulted in my adding more games to my wish list…which isn’t such a bad thing in the long run.

Settlers of Catan and game balance

The Settlers of Catan is an incredibly popular Eurogame (that is, European-style board game, which means less and less every year) that many credit for inspiring the current generation of more complex board games. The game consists of a (usually) randomly generated board made up of hexagons that each contain a resource. Players place settlements on the board at the vertexes of these hexagons and gain resources each time the number associated with a particular hexagon is rolled. Unlike some other games, this means that players actually gain things even when it is not their turn. Resource cards are used to build roads and more settlements, which earn players point and ultimately bring about the end of the game.

Some people consider this game a newer, better version of Monopoly. Basically, as you expand and create new settlements, you are acquiring new property. These new settlements also help you gain more resources, which are certainly a form of wealth. Also similar to Monopoly, the game seems to only reward the already wealthy. You did notice that about Monopoly, right? Read the rest of this entry

Metal Gear Rising’s existentialism

Metal Gear has largely been a series that waxes philosophically about life and war. It discusses the futility of war but also the question of what soldiers have left when there is nothing but peace. These ideas are not explored in any great detail, but it is nice to have a series of games that touches on them when many of the top-selling games seem to go out of their way to celebrate war and violence. Then, just to avoid the hypocrisy that plagues many violent films that ultimately are about peace, the Metal Gear Solid series of games allows the player to complete them without actually killing any of the enemies (well, maybe some bosses…) and may even provide rewards for it.

So what is there to explore in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game that was quite explicitly built around the game mechanic of being able to cut almost everything with a sword? Read the rest of this entry

I’ve seen the problem, and it is us

I talk a lot about my hangups regarding fan culture here, even going in depth as to my reasons for not wanting to label myself a geek or nerd anymore. It would be great if I could leave it at that. No one wants to read the incessant rants of cultural nay-sayer or, worse, a nerd shamer. But I can never be done with it so long as there is more fuel to add to the fire. Read the rest of this entry

Video games then vs now

The best video games are coming out today.

That seems to be the attitude of the voices on the internet. No matter how much individuals attempt to wax nostalgic about the games of yesterday, they rag on history and say that the medium has reached an all-time high for some reason or another. I base this off of comments heard on The Indoor Kids podcast (even the most recent one, which I am indeed picking out because it mentions Mega Man) and 1Up’s Retronauts podcast, where Bob Mackey has literally said that old games have looked like garbage because they were 8-bits. (I’m also picking on these podcasts because they are, quite honestly, my favorite video game podcasts.) Read the rest of this entry

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