Monday, June 29, 2009

We're on Podcast Alley

Howdy all,

Just letting the word out that we're now up on Podcast Alley. So take a look over there and visit us.

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-5c287e49b57e05d71e1bc1686748d38c}

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's In A Game? Ep 1

Welcome to a new segment that looks at the different genres within gaming. The first episode takes a look at miniatures. The crew discusses what first got them started with miniatures. What does it take to play a miniatures game?

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Arctic Scavengers Review

In Brief

C&C hitched up the dog sleds, loaded up the seal blubber, and headed into the frozen wastes of a new board game, Arctic Scavengers, this week. Jon, Scott, Eric and a few helpers guided their tribe members in the grim ice age of the future, digging through the ruins and fighting off each other for the last remnants of a fallen civilization... and had a great time doing it! Check out our full review below.

Arctic Scavengers - Scraping by never felt so good...

Arctic Scavengers is a game where you guide your tribe to success - whoever has the largest tribe in the end is the winner. Tribe members include all sorts of characters that you recruit with offers of food and medicine, the stuff it's going to take to stay alive in the harsh climate of the future. There are scavengers and refugees, but also specialists like hunters, scouts, thugs, and snipers to help you climb to the top.

Each round, you draw cards from your deck, representing these people as well as the tools you'll use to help you survive and grow. On your turn, you assign your minions to various tasks like scavenging the junkyard for useful tools, hiring new recruits by hunting up enough food to feed them, or preparing to make your stand for a valuable contested resource at the end of the round. As you acquire more things, they go into your deck, to be drawn in future turns and contribute to your growing tribe. You've got to pick the most profitable direction between scavenging, hunting, and fighting for dominance - this makes for a lot of interesting choices, the hallmark of a good game.

Perhaps the most interesting mechanic of the game is deciding whether or not to fight for the valuable contested resource each round. These resources can be powerful tools or expert specialists or large families - all things that will come in very handy in surviving the cold and hostile world (and scoring the most points). But, only one player can win the contest each round! So, if you are investing heavily in the fight, you aren't out scavenging the wastes or growing your tribe incrementally. It's a gamble - push your luck against the other players for the big payoff or not... but don't let them just walk away with the prize uncontested either! Heck, maybe even a bluff will be enough to discourage them from trying...

Right away, we latched onto a nice variety of strategies and got a chance to explore them. With the randomness of a deck of cards driving the game and a lot of strategies, it really feels like this game has a lot of replay value, too. We had no trouble throwing down 3 times in under 3 hours of play - it's quick and clever and stays fresh. And it stays pretty close, too. If you are picking up a lot of cards, it fills in your deck, making your turns less predictable - a nice balancing factor.

The production quality of the game was entirely acceptable, nothing flashy or especially cool, but very serviceable and thematic. There can be a lot of shuffling and handling of the cards, so sleeves might be a good investment.

From The Guys

Jon says:

For me, a good game should be about choices, and Arctic Scavengers brings choice in from multiple angles to provide a fair amount of decision making in a small package of a game. Fun stuff and worth checking out.

Scott says:

I'm a sucker for CCGs, and this game incorporates the deck building aspect of that genre into it's mechanics quite well. Plus, who can resist sniping a couple of goofs riding a sled down a pile of junk? Not this guy.

Eric says:

Savage struggle for survival in an arctic wasteland? Sign me up! Word on the street is that there are going to be a series of expansions and other coolness... this one's on my "must buy" list.

C&C Rating

At Consoles & Cardboard we.... Love it

Listen to Episode 8 of the Consoles & Cardboard podcast to learn how to win a copy of Arctic Scavengers for yourself!

Review by Eric Jome

Episode 8

Here and Now: Civ: Revolution, EVE, Sid Meier's Pirates, Free Realms, V:tES, AT-43, Drop 7

The CNC crew ventured out in Arctic Scavengers and let us know if they survived. Listen to the podcast to find out about the Arctic Scavengers giveaway. Contest ends July 1st.

Today's Topic: Game Store - What is the current state of the local brick and mortar game store?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bejeweled Blitz - What's my motivation?

Spent another hour on the Facebook version of Bejeweled Blitz the other night, and I was trying to figure out why the heck I was dumping so much time into a 1 minute game.

At first, I thought it was a slot machine kind of phenomenon - keep playing and I'll hit the jackpot. Then I shifted it to video poker - "I feel like I have control over the situation, therefore I can win!"

The reality, the game is a race to get make a trigger happen. The player can utilize various strategies to make this trigger (pulling down the multipliers) but the random factor remains to continually kick you back down.

If you have not checked out Bejeweled from Popcap games, do give it a look if you enjoy casual play. It's a standard "match 3" game, and cascades are quite possible.

In the Blitz version, the player has one minute to score as high as possible. Swing out to Youtube and you will be able to find some fantastic high scores out there. The question I always wonder - how many times did you get a low score before putting up that high one?

Anyway, the trigger has two parts:
- Eliminate 12 or more gems to create a multiplier on the board;
- match the multiplier to make it take effect.

The first part of the trigger is the strategy portion. It's possible to get the board into a state to make the multiplier drop. But getting it to match can take a fair amount of luck.

And yes, this leads one back to the video poker syndrome - you believe you have control over a situation, when the reality is that you have no such thing.

This train of thought has allowed me to put Bejeweled Blitz to rest. Maybe it can help you, too....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Episode 7

Here and Now: Medici, Blood Bowl, Werewolf, Jagged Alliance DS, Stone Age, HOD: Overkill, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer

Meaty Vs. Light Games - What makes up a simple or complex game? Does the length of time factor in?

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Prince puts you in the Movies

The Prince of Persia is one of the longer lived video game series. Born back in the age of the original Apple computer and the Commodore 64, Prince of Persia was an action puzzler that caught a lot of people's attention.

Reborn a few generations later with 3D graphics and environment interaction that hadn't been seen before, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was seen as another great game. And this version had a couple of sequels that appeared on the previous generation.

And now we have the latest incarnation, with a new "Prince" and a new concept of gameplay that challenges the definition of gaming.

Prince of Persia arrived from Gamefly and shortly went into my PS3 for a spin not that long ago. And that initial spin up was a joy.

The game's visuals were lovely to soak up, passing by the realistic for the art direction that made me think of a higher resolution World of Warcraft. Unified art is a good thing.

The controls were easy to learn and play with. Making the Prince wall run, slide down columns or swing from posts was setup in such a way that making mistakes in control were infrequent at best. For me, the toughest part in getting around the environments was transitioning from climbing vines to a wall run. Every now and then I found myself leaping off into space. This leads to that gaming change.

You cannot die.

Jump of a ledge, take one hit too many from a creature or boss, fall into some hazard that would kill you and your partner in world saving would use her magic to rescue you from which ever nasty would normally cause a respawn. This inability to truly fail makes this edition of Prince of Persia feel like you are playing a movie instead of a video game.

The benefit is a seemless experience that resonates unlike most other games that I've played before. No death screens, no re-loading, none of the restarts that you normally experience when dealing with most video games.

However, this path also suffers from making the game feel too easy. The challenge is lost when there feels to be a lack of penality for mistakes. And platformers, which is what defines Prince of Persia, live for making the player suffer.

So after my first round of play, I was torn whether to keep going to send it back as too easy. But the thought occurred that I could probably finish this game fairly quickly, and the dialog between the Prince and Elika had a quality that resembled the exchange between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone. They initially aren't interested, but they start to grow on each other and the relationship develops. This holds true for the protagonists of Prince of Persia and is a quality that kept me going for quite a while.

And then the second flaw hit me over and over and made me give up - that flaw was boss recycling. You fight each boss once in the intro for each section. Then you have three more opportunities, followed by a fifth time to finish the job.

So you've got roughly 26 levels, each one ending with a boss fight and a total of five different bosses. It wouldn't have been so bad if the one I kept facing could only be beat in a specific manner I could not seem to get the hang of. After several play sessions, back to Gamefly it went.

Oddly, it still remains the best experience that makes the player feels as if they're in a story more than a game. Most certainly worth the rental, and I may even pick it up if I catch it on the cheap.

So this gutcheck (which had a longer playtime than most checks) is very positive. Just be prepared for a smooth ride and start on the left side of the map for the most enjoyment out of the game.

Be seeing you,