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June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Filed under: Throwback Thursday — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Willis @ 9:00 am

You’ve heard the legendary tale of the landfill that Atari dumped all the unsold cartridges of E.T. into. Supposedly 3.5 million copies of the game were tossed. And when people started trekking to the dump for free games no matter how terrible it was, it was covered over in concrete. For some reason, people started to think that maybe this was just a legend even though a report of this happening was in the New York Times. Well, just last month they started excavating the site and finding all the old games.

And with that, there’s been talk of how bad E.T. really was. Polygon made a small list with games they thought might be worse so I took the Atari 2600 games on that list for a spin to see which one is the most sucky.

The Contenders:

Tron Screen

Can you beat my score?

Adventures of Tron – It’s similar to a Donkey Kong game where you have to climb ladders to get to where you need to go. What you need to do is collect all the weird flying objects while avoiding other objects. How do you tell the good from the bad? Trial and error. The crap part of this game is that it’s a single screen that only changes color when you switch levels… Or at least as far as I got because the hit box on the collectables is garbage but it’s gigantic on the enemies — A perfect recipe for frustration. But the game made sense, and there was a score that could be used to compare to friends. Definitely not the worse of the bunch.

 

Star Wars Screen

The walkers would change colors as they were hit

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Fly and shoot a never-ending raid of AT-AT walkers. It’s ice planet boring and a pain in the ass to control, but it kind of makes sense in a fucked up George Lucas kind of way.

 

 

King Kong Screen

That is supposed to be King Kong!?

King Kong – Take Donkey Kong and have it drawn by a 4-year-old using their off-hand. Then have that monstrosity throw what can only be described as cupcakes (with a candle) at you. When you reach the distressed maiden at the top of the building, repeat the horror again. I opted to run directly into the cupcakes when I realized that my life was Groundhog Daying… Because who wouldn’t want to run directly into a giant cupcake?

 

 

Fantastic Voyage Screen

Just flying up this narrow rainbow path, don’t mind me.

Fantastic Voyage – Fly your spaceship up some kind of rainbow road avoiding/shooting things in the way. I guess this is the titular voyage? I would never take this trip… it’s a tiny road filled with crap that is too small to shoot and to fast to avoid. The good part about this game is that the goal is pretty straight forward: fly up and shoot things. The most awful thing about this game is the noise that came out of my headphones. As you took damage/continued down the road it was like a heart monitor getting faster, and death was a loud and long flat-line tone. My ears tell me that this should be a contender for the worst of the bunch.

 

 

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Look at the snake, if it comes in the middle of the screen it is invisible because it’s the same color as the background.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – I don’t think I had the right controller for this game, but I was able to play a bit. You pick up your gear (like a gun and a whip) while avoiding a snake that blended into the background. Then I would fall down a pit and lose a life. Once there, bird enemies and some evil dude that would try to kill me. Sometimes I could shoot him, other times he took my stuff. It was possible to climb out of the pit, but you’d have to lose a life falling in again if you left.

 

 

 

Alien Screen

Baddies could also be Mousers from Ninja Turtles.

Alien – Take PacMan and make it not possible to kill the ghosts, and then take Frogger and make it impossible to move left and right. When you put that together, you get Alien. All the enemies were different colored T-Rex looking things. The whole time I was wishing the Predator would show up and end everything — the aliens, the game, me, this game journey I put myself in. Ugh.

 

 

 

E.T. Title Screen

My high (and only) score because I wasn’t willing to play again.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – The reigning champion of bad. You, as E.T., can run around avoiding the government officials that moved much faster. You could make E.T.’s head lift up that would teleport him somewhere random. There were little dots around that it seemed like I was collecting and the government officials were taking away from me. Oh, and there were pits of doom all over the place that once you fell in, you’d have to extend E.T.’s head and float out of the pit. And to top all that off, there was a death timer that ticked down as you moved. Did I mention all the pits? More pits than a cherry tree. This game is still the worst of the bunch. Because Pits.

I tried to put the games in order from bad to worst, let me know if you think that there’s something worse than E.T. on the 2600, because I am willing to put myself through that pain.

June 3, 2014

Tabletop Tuesday: Fluxx: The Board Game

Filed under: Tabletop Tuesday — Tags: , , , , , , — Willis @ 10:00 am

The Fluxx card game has existed for a while, and for what it is, I’m a fan. What the card game is, is a light, very random game that you can play almost anywhere in a shortish amount of time (10-30 minutes). The game has a bunch of different themed versions (Pirate, Zombie, Monty Python) that add a small amount of dressing to what the original is.

I can neither confirm nor deny that a picture of college-aged me was used as inspiration for a certain spot on this board.

I can neither confirm nor deny that a picture of college-aged me was used as inspiration for a certain spot on this board.

At their core, the Fluxx games are about having the “rules” change as the game is played. For example: the number of cards drawn at the start of the turn or the number of cards you can keep in your hand at the end of a turn. The difference between the board game and card game, is that in the card game, part of the randomness is your card draws of “Keepers” or the cards to be combined for a win, but in board game you move your pieces on to symbols that represent these keepers. This, of course makes it much easier to accomplish the goal. To make up for this, in the board game you have to do this 3 different times. But in the end, it’s still doing something pretty simple 3 times with the slight inconvenience of trying to do it before the other players or with them futilely trying to get in the way.

To win, just be the first player, and with your pre-game rule adjustment increase the movement by 1. Then just waltz through a few turns collecting the wins and game over. This removes all fun from the game. There seems to be no strategy that can be attempted to combat this tactic more than a slight delay. And the random cards and rule changes don’t affect the outcome so are therefore adding nothing to the game.

Final Rating:  1 “You Sunk My Battleship” out of a broken pop-o-matic Trouble bubble.

May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Halo 2600

Filed under: Throwback Thursday — Tags: , , , , , , — Willis @ 10:00 am


I was thinking of creating a new feature where I play some old games. Mostly because I want to play some old games. There are so many games from before I owned systems and before I had a job whereby I could buy my own games. So most of these games will be new to me, but it’ll have to do.Halo2600

For the first entry, let’s go all the way back to 2010 and the Atari 2600. If that doesn’t seem right to you, then you might be on to something. Halo 2600 is basically Atari 2600 homebrew inspired by the Halo series of games. From Wikipedia:

Halo CartHalo 2600 was written by Ed Fries, former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft, who was involved in Microsoft’s acquisition of Halo developers Bungie Studios. Fries decided to create a version of Halo for the Atari 2600 after being inspired by a book called Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System by Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort. The Atari 2600 had such limited RAM, only 128 bytes, that drawing Master Chief was difficult, and creating a game with other characters was even more so. Fries later stated that making the game taught him that constraint is sometimes a fuel for creativity.

The game itself is pretty small, even by 2600 standards. There’s a master chief sprite and a few enemy sprites and a few different levels. The controls are actually pretty good – a good 8 directions and on the ice level you continue to slide. My biggest beef with the game is the gun… You don’t start with it. Remember playing Goldeneye and respawning without a weapon — it was an instant death sentence and we’ve grown since then. Well, not so in Halo 2600, you have to find the gun before you have it. Also when you or an enemy fires the gun the sound is like a cannon firing. The difficulty is on par with actual 2600 games as it’s mostly about memorizing screens and enemy actions, and secondly about finding your way around. The Legendary Difficulty Mode (start the game a second time after first completion) is just the regular game, but the main character moves slower… Does that means that when I’m drunk, I’m playing life in Legendary Difficulty Mode? Now go try it yourself.

Final Rating: 3 Cortanas on a scale of At-Least-It’s-Not-Halo-2

May 27, 2014

Tabletop Tuesday: Mensa Select

Filed under: Tabletop Tuesday — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Willis @ 10:00 am

Mensa Select SealThe nerds over at American Mensa have come out with their 2014 list of new tabletop games that they find fun, challenging, and a good value. It’s their Mensa Select list of games.

  • Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension (Cryptozoic Entertainment, cryptozoic.com)Your starship has been sucked through a wormhole, you’re being sucked toward a black hole, and you’re out of fuel. With some quick mining of nearby astroids you’re able to get some kind of fuel, but it doesn’t work the way you’d expect it to… Gravwell is a race game, so it’s all about getting to the finish line first. The unique part is how ships move. Your movement is based on proximity to other ships on the board where you either want to move toward or away from the closest ship, but since moves are reveled simultaneously, and cards have a set priority, ships may not be where you expect them to be when you start moving.
  • Qwixx (Gamewright, gamewright.com) – Do you like Yatzee? If so, then this may be another dice game for you. It’s stupidly simple, roll some dice and cross some numbers off on your score pad. The trick is picking which numbers to cross off and how your dice luck will favor you in crossing more off. 
  • John Wayne

    Since it’s a wooden tile, you can assume this is your duke if you want.

    Pyramix (Gamewright, gamewright.com) – There’s a pyramid of cubes (like dice, but with Egyptian symbols on the sides) and the goal is to get points by collecting these cubes from the pyramid. The cool mechanic is the way cubes slide as ones below it are pulled out. The strategic element is for the big score, you want to have the most of a certain color and that’s worth what’s left of that color on the base. So focus too much on the color, and there won’t be much left, or focus too little and someone else will take those points.
  • The Duke (Catalyst Game Labs, catalystgamelabs.com) – Think of chess, but each piece is a tile. Then realize you only start with the king (The Duke) and 2 pawns (Footmen). Each turn you can move (or activate with some special pieces) these tiles or you can pull a new random tile from your reserves and add it to your team next to The Duke. To add to the interesting strategy, each tile is labeled with how it moves, and that’s because after you move, the tile is flipped and it shows some slightly different movement. It’s only a 2-player game (like chess) but seems to be a good abstract strategy game for when that’s what you’re looking for. Also, if you want to try it out, Catalyst Game Labs has a free print and play version of the game on their website.
  • Utopia Dystopia

    Who doesn’t like a good dystopia (if you’re not tired of them yet)?

    Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia (Stonemaier Games, stonemaiergames.com) – “You find yourself in a dystopian cityscape with a few workers at your disposal to make your mark on the world. Like most people in dystopian fiction, your workers are oblivious to their situation. This world is all they’ve ever known. You may use them at your whim.” This is a pretty heavy worker-placement game. The like most games of this type is to use your workers to get what you need done to take over. Some of the interesting things that Euphoria does, is that workers are dice and every time you pull them off of the board, you roll them. Add up the values of the dice, and if it’s too high (their intelligence), one of them leaves (she figured you out and doesn’t want part of your schemes). Also each player gets specific people cards who can slightly help them with certain factions that control parts of the board.

Qwixx seems pretty stupid for this list, I guess I need to give it a go, and see why it’s on the list.

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