game reviews

Zelda
The true challenge of playing Zelda was to get hold of a Wii. Here in The Netherlands the console has been short in supply ever since it launch. I was lucky to get hold of one at the beginning of May, and Zelda was the first thing I bought with it. It is a highly recommendable game and, as mentioned in game reviews elsewhere, it is one of the best games for the Wii and it certainly showcases the new consoles potential for and emphasis on gameplay, with a very pleasant atmosphere to boot.
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Lego Starwars II
The dramatic impact of Lego Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker that he is his father in pantomime is considerably less than in the film, but that should not spoil the fun. In fact, the absurdness of this premise is typical for the humor and originality of Lego franchise. The second installment of this series features the original trilogy and picks up where the first game ended and expands the gameplay of the previous title.
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Blue Moon City
As board games go Blue Moon City has a pleasant look and feel; the playing pieces come in white, light blue, purple and grey. This matches the futuristic and slightly new age theme of rebuilding an alien city. The players compete to collect cards, crystals and dragon scales, and ultimately for the favour of the gods of blue moon city. Blue moon city is a strategic, collecting and building game, which gameplay lacks the depth of a game like Caylus, but which main asset is that it can be easily played within the hour.
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Serenity Role Playing Game
When I saw the television series Firefly and the accompanying film Serenity I immediately thought that it would make an excellent role playing setting. I was not surprised that shortly after I spotted a rulebook for it at a local store. Unfortunately, it was a D20 system, the open D&D rule set, of which I am not particularly fond. Still, my role playing group decided to give the setting a go, so I went out to see of the book contained some good background material. To my pleasant surprise, I found a new version of the rules, which includes all dice except D20s, in which many ways suits my style of play perfectly.
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Super Mario Bros
Playing through Super Mario for some research, the game got me hooked (again). Sure, in many ways this oldie cannot compete with more recent games, but it crafted a genre out of nothing and in its purity the game still rocks. It is amazing how well designed the game is, considering the restrictions of its day and age. It is not difficult to play, but without a save game, it is a hard game to complete.
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Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
From the outset the premise is wonderful. Duke Nukem returns to its platform roots, but employs 3D technology to revamp the genre. The result is platform game that looks more solid than most platformers (Oddworld also makes use of 3D techniques), and more detailed than most shooters (the camera is controlled, so more attention could be spend on a smaller area). Combined with the typical Duke humour and gameplay you get a very 'solid' game. But not much more.
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Caylus
At a first glance Caylus is a complex game of construction and economy. There are buildings to be built, resources to be harvested, privileges to be earned, money to be made and points to be scored, all of this in several different ways. You cannot do it all at the same time, so you are always stretched between different priorities. You also have to keep an eye on what the other player might be doing. Their plans and actions might foil yours.
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Lego Star Wars: The Video Game
Yup, you heard right: Lego. Star Wars. Video Game. It is almost an overdoses of geek nostalgia. And the game itself is not half bad, either. It plays almost like a 3D Mario game, but with more combat thrown into the mix. You get to play a large host of characters, both the good guys and the bad guys. Each with a different combination of skills and powers. Beware of black Lego blocks: the dark force is strong in those!
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Tsuro
Play a tile, move your token, and stay on the board. That more or less sums up Tsuro, the game of the path. A game lasts for only ten to fifteen minutes and can be played with two to eight people. The design is as elegant as it is simple, which makes for a welcome change from all the complex and length games I frequently play. Additional bonus: it has a very nice look.
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Grand Theft Auto
GTA has been a hype, and I only reluctantly picked it up as any self-styled and self-respecting game scholar should at least know what the fuss was all about. But I was quickly won over when a friend of mine showed me a little of the game, a brief trip that included a visit to the "Ammu-Nation" outlet to gear up. The satirical name of the store got my attention and it surprised me that in all the articles and reviews I read of GTA this satirical dimension of the game did not really come forward.
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Junta
Recently a friend of mine discussed Junta and why he liked the game. Only a few days later I found it for sale and got it especially as pre-party entertainment for New Year’s Eve. It was an instant hit. In Junta the players represent the leading clans of ‘La Republica de los Bananas’. The small country survives on foreign aid and your sole objective is to transfer as much of the incoming money to your Swiss Bank account.
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Nuclear War
Nuclear War has been on my wish list for a while, and having to supply games for a New Year’s Eve gaming session was the excuse I needed to finally get it. As the name of the game implies the players represent the superpowers of a world on the brink of destruction.
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Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time
Ever fancy walking over walls Kung Fu style? Prince of Persia Sands of Time lets you do just that, and I love it. The Prince can do an assortment of moves taken from The Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and they are all important in getting through the 3D platform levels. The sword-fighting is fast and furious and once you get past the stage of frantic button pushing it is also quite enjoyable.
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Donkey Kong Country 2
A platform game par excellence, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is much fun to play. It features all typical platform gameplay, emphasising timing and control. Every progressive level requires more precision and better use of all the moves of Donkey Kong Jr. and Diddy Kong to rescue Donkey Kong from Captain K. Rool.
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Castlevania
t seems like ages since I last added something to this section. Between a new teaching job, writing papers and building websites I did find little time to actually play games. However, I managed to pick up some games for my NES and one of them is the excellent Castlevania.
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Simply Cosmic
Cosmic Encounter is the game that is supposed to have inspired Magic the Gathering. Simply Cosmic doubles as the simpler starter version and as an upgrade for the original game. Cosmic Encounter is a game where you have to colonise the other players planets. You fight by playing cards, there are also a number special cards that you can use to change or break the rules. Every player also has one special power: a special rule that only she can use. The game really resolves around getting right combos of cards, tactics and special powers.
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Carcassonne
Carcassonne is been a hit with my friends for w while now. In this game you score points by building cities and roads by placing square tiles next to the tiles already in play. There is number of tactics you can use and ample ways to hinder your opponents. It also offers opportunities for co-operation.
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Tomb Raider Board Game
Yes, there is a Tomb Raider board game! When I discovered it at a toyshop for only a little money (it was a left-over from the Holiday season) I had to have it. Managed to persuade some friends to play it last weekend and I must admit it is actually a nice game, and my friends agree.
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Magdar
Magdar has been sitting in my collection of board games for some time now, but I got a chance to play only recently. In this game you have to mine for mithril and gems before the demon Magdar destroys the cave. That does sound familiar, doesn't it? When played with the basic rules is not that good, but when the special rules and tiles are included is actually quite fun.
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Ghost Recon
Ghost Recon is a tactical shooter or a war simulator. Set in 2008 with communists/nationalist in control of the Kremlin again, you take control of US special forces unit ('The Ghosts'). You are sent on various missions to rescue pilots out of enemy hands, reconnaissance, or blowing up key bridges. Basically the game takes the form of a first-person shooter, but being a military simulation there are no armour or health power-ups to be found. You can be killed or taken out of action with a single hit, so don't try to rocket jump your way through these missions.
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Eternal Daughter
This is a game freely available on the Internet. Its graphic style and format would seem more in place on a hand-held console. It is a 2D platform adventure, a genre of which I am a great fan. It is also deviously hard and save points are far and between.
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Tomb Raider II – The Golden Mask
recently picked up a copy of Tomb Raider II for only a little money. I previously played the third instalment of series, but after reading a few references to the Venice levels and working on an article on platform games it was good 'research'. Although I like the spatial puzzles in Tomb Raider, Lara is very difficult to control which makes this game pretty frustrating from time to time.
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Blood Bowl
Blood Bowl is a great board game I have been playing since 2002. It is more or less a simulation of a fantasy American football game. You can have teams of elves, orcs, dwarves and of course humans, among others.
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