Your preference between Castlevania II and III says a lot about your personality. One is a methodical, moody, starkly existential game about deciphering the obscure ramblings of a war-torn population, and the other is a Monster-mash action melee. One suits the pacing of a Jorowdowsky or Tarkovskiy movie, the other runs a marathon of James Whale Universal horror villians. One plays out of the story of a cursed man on an occult quest to resurrect a great evil, the other plays out the story of a holy man on a linear quest to exact justice. One is a brooding masterpiece and the other is a cheap rollercoaster.
Invest In An Oak Stake
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 16:03.|
Oh yeah, let that meat do its magic!
|Submitted by the99th on Mon, 01/31/2011 - 23:05.|
Messhof is the Charles Bukowski of games, and I say that having just discovered Bukowski for real the other night and then, you know, he was fresh in my mind. I could say he's maybe the William Burroughs of games? But That's Increpare, duh. Messhof isn't quite so misanthropic as Bukowski, but how else can you reflect on Randy Balma, so "drugged up on drugs", or the gag reflex of our meat-gouging protagonist in Pipe Dreamz?
...Lit by Flash
|Submitted by Tof Eklund on Mon, 09/20/2010 - 00:49.|
In 1981, after the original Dungeons & Dragons had spawned Gary Gygax's monstrous magnum opus, AD&D, and in the same year that IBM's Personal Computer hit the market, Milton Bradley did a strange and surprising thing. They released a moderately-complex fantasy boardgame with an electronic "tower" that adjudicated combat, random encounters, and even purchasing and haggling for goods at the bazaar.
This hybrid board/electronic game was called Dark Tower -- just in case you were wondering, it preceded the first book in Steven King's series of the same title by a year, but came after the story began to be serialized. This suggests that they were in simultaneous, independent development, as a title and a central, dark, tower is about all they have in common. The Dark Tower game shares a lot more with D&D, including a Tolkeinesque fantasy setting, random combat, and resource management (food and gold).
Perhaps due in part to the expense of the game, and certainly in part to an intellectual property lawsuit that Milton Bradley lost, Dark Tower soon went, and stayed, out of print. A "failure," it would have no clear successor, and the potential for hybrid electronic-board games, and especially for "geeky" ones, would die with it. But, to quote Lovecraft, "with strange aeons, even death may die." A number of fan-sites exist, of which the finest may be Arioch's, hosted at Well of Souls.
This comprehensive site features Bob Pepper's original art for the game (which appeared on film cells on a rotating carousel inside the tower, somewhat like a slide projector), along with detailed information about gameplay, and almost every imaginable related interest. But if you, like me, begged and pleaded your parents for a copy of the game and were denied (due to sticker-shock or simple lack of availability), you can now play the game without having to shell out $300+ dollars for a used copy that may or may not work properly.
The Hot Flash Games version of Dark Tower isn't the only adaptation out there, but it does a fantastic job of re-creating the look, feel and gameplay (complete with irritating quirks) of the original. The most obvious difference is that the original game supported 1-4 players and the flash version is single-player. Multiplayer games are "not yet supported," and there doesn't seem to have been an update since 2006, so I'm not holding my breath.
You start the game with a certain amount each of three key resources: warriors, gold, and food. You move one space on the map at a time, either facing random encounters (such as brigands or plague), or special encounters at a handful of locations, including "dungeon" sites with bigger rewards but larger bands of brigands, a sanctuary, and the most useful location, the bazaar, where you can buy more resources as well as purchase (hire?) allies: the scout, who prevents the "lost" encounter, the healer, who inverts plague encounters from bane to boon, and the monstrous-looking but nearly useless beast, who increases the amount of gold you can carry.
I still remember my cousins (who had the game, lucky sods) laughing at me for using all my gold to buy a beast.
To make a long story short, you have to adventure until you find all three keys needed to open the dark tower. Then you face the hordes of brigands within and, if you come out victorious, you save the kingdom and win the game. This is where the lack of multiplayer (computer of otherwise) really hurts - the game is a race against the other players, more like Dokapon Kingdom than anything else, just with much less emphasis on bashing your friends. The only dirty trick in Dark Tower is using the randomly-appearing Wizard to curse another player.
There is also a Java version of Dark Tower with multiplayer (human and/or computer) support that also attempts to correct some of the flaws in the original: you can download it from the "About" page of Arioch's fansite. Arguably superior, the Java version fails the "nostalgia test" -- it just doesn't feel like the old boardgame. This matters a lot, because an experience of what was (aeons ago, in electronic gaming time) and what might have been is the reason to play this game. In the end, Dark Tower isn't a lost chapter in gaming history, but it is an interesting bit of marginalia.
Panzer General Remake
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Fri, 06/04/2010 - 03:11.|
Suggested By:sebastian sohn
When you read reviews about wargames that are turn-based, you often see a reference to a WWII wargame, Panzer General, 1994 by SSI. PG Forever is a fan made remake of both Panzer General and the sequel, Allied General with a bonus, all new WWI scenarios. The game plays like an Avalon Hill war board game of the 80's but is simpler because all the bookkeeping is done by the application.
Blow Your Braids Out
|Submitted by the99th on Thu, 02/25/2010 - 13:38.|
It isn't often that we review classic games, but Nick Fortugno's, experience inspired me to give Chrono Trigger a replay. I'm glad I did, because I was one of those cliche'd individuals that this game made an impression on, and on an adult replay I've gained a lot of perspective on mastery of craft. CT is perhaps the genre king of Japanese Role-playing Games (the queen was not so much a game as a moment: Celes' attempted suicide in Final Fantasy VI). It gains this title for three reasons: first it capture the supreme essence of jRPG aesthetics with Akira Toriyama's character designs combined with Square's then budding sense of interface polish, secondly its narrative made use of archtypes in a way that perhaps seems cliche at first (as Nick pointed out skeptically when starting the game) but then deepens to a psychodrama of cuasation that would make Carl Jung want to write an analysis, and three it took the trite grind of jRPG combat and made it interesting through a handful of simple variations that in combination yield distinct boss fights all the way to the Lavos Core.
|Submitted by costik on Wed, 02/03/2010 - 00:19.|
Dani Bunten Berry was, along with Chris Crawford and Will Wright, one of the giants of the early days of computer games in the United States. Her work was, throughout his (later her) career, motivated by the idea that games should be social activities; as she put it, "No one ever said on their deathbed, 'I wish I had spent more time alone with my computer.'" This despite the fact that she worked in an era when multiplayer games were hard; her Modem Wars was the first commercially released head-to-head computer games to support online play, published at a time when only a small portion of PC owners had modems.
Let's Play Games
Tabletop Tuesdays: Classic Boardgames via Print-on-Demand
|Submitted by costik on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 18:25.|
Suggested By:Rich C
Rich Carlson has, using The Game Crafter, been recreating classic boardgames, one a week. So far, he's got Hex, Surakarta, a Fox & Geese variant, Three Musketeers and George Parker's Camelot (which is in the public domain). The image to the left is from "Space Ludo", basically Ludo with a space-y board designed by Rich.
Tabletop Tuesdays: Rock is Dead, Long Live Paper & Scissors
|Submitted by IanSchreiber on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 01:53.|
If Greg can dedicate an entire entry to Candyland, then surely he can greenlight an article on Roshambo (better known to Westerners as Rock-Paper-Scissors).
Rithmomachy, or, The Philospher's Game
Tabletop Tuesdays: The Lost Game of Boethius
|Submitted by costik on Tue, 11/18/2008 - 00:30.|
The story of Rithmomachy is extraordinary; once considered the most intellectually compelling game of all, even more so than Chess, played by men of learning across central Europe, and rivalling Chess for popularity, it gradually lost appeal, and by the eighteenth century, had entirely disappeared, except as described in moldering tomes.
King's Quest III Remake
An Absolute Classic
|Submitted by the99th on Mon, 02/18/2008 - 15:01.|
I don't know why I enjoy adventure games. Why do you enjoy them? Maybe it has something to do with the fluffy hippie-talk that Michael Samyn keeps publishing about people wanting stories over gameplay. That's probably not true, but good storytelling can definitely amplify weakly interactive gameplay into a meaningful experience, and the King's Quest series is according-to-Hoyle proof of that.
The game is remade with voice acting, relatively lush graphics (compared to the 1986 original), and a streamlined interface using the AGS engine. Purists are going to recall the exploratory joys of the text parser, but if you're a new-skool design geek like me, you're going to prefer mouse-driven context-sensitivity. Use an item, right-click to cycle over the the walking icon, and then mosey right along, pretty smooth.