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.
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 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
The 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.
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.
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.
Manny “ManRam” Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract to be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa by The Chicago Cubs and their President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who was with Ramirez for seven years in the Boston. So now he can teach all the young new players how to just be Manny being Manny.
“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”
Pedro Martinez was one of the best pitchers the game have ever seen, and he takes a little time from his roll of “Special Assistant” (We all know that just means him and Kevin Millar are the Sox official party starters, and they are good at their job.) for the RedSox to discuss the art and science of pitching.
“Pitching is both [art and science] and you have to put them together. You have to study a lot. You have to study the movement of your pitches – the distance your pitches move compared to the swing paths of batters. You have to learn to read bat speed against the speed of a fastball. You can tell a slow bat or a long swing, or a short, quick swing. You counter those things. If a hitter has a slow swing, I don’t want to throw him anything soft. I want to go hard against slow. If he has a quick bat, I probably want to be soft more than I want to be hard. You have to be able to repeat your delivery and be deceiving at the same time.
And one final story, about beer and bats…
The folks @CigarCityBeer announce Homefront IPA, a beer aged on Louisville Slugger maple bats.
Today’s STATurday is about looking for a job. This is from a survey of over 1200 people about their plans for looking for a new job. The biggest surprise is how often people keep their résumé up to date. If you haven’t switched jobs in a few years, do you really need to make updates every week?