Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for March, 2010

Video Game Collection: 2010

Posted by sodaklady on March 21, 2010

My PS3 games as of March 2010.

I guess I’m very picky about what video games I spend my money on because I’ve only added a dozen to my PS3 collection since the last time I wrote about my collection 2 years ago. In my defense as a video gamer, I have bought some for the Wii but I’m less impressed with them all the time and would choose a PS3 game over a Wii anytime I’m playing alone. I’ve also acquired a PSP and a few games. Unfortunately, my old eyes tire of playing on a tiny screen in a pretty short time so the PS3 is still my console of choice.

Because I get so many visitors here who have searched for “video games” or “video game collection”, I’ve decided to add a thought or two for each game so they won’t be totally disappointed by finding only a picture and a list of games.

PS3
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction ended with a cliffhanger of sorts so I had to buy the newest one as soon as it came out, A Crack In Time. I enjoyed this one more than the previous one due to the fun I had playing as Clank and solving his puzzles. But… *raises right hand* I swear I will not purchase another R & C game. Their time has truly run out. Move on, please.

Rockband 2 was my husband’s idea and I have to admit that I didn’t really care for the music in it as much as the original, but then again I’m somewhere over 40 (in fact, I can’t even look back and see 40) so I’m not really the target audience. I wish they’d make one for us older gamers who would really enjoy songs from the 70s.

Mirror’s Edge is one I pre-ordered just from watching clips and playing the downloadable demo. A unique game in the first-person genre, playing a messenger freerunning around the city parkour-style, and also solving a mystery.  I recommend adding this to your collection if you haven’t already.

Resident Evil 5 is one I wouldn’t have gotten just for myself but my daughter has played all of the previous Nintendo games and besides, it’s a two-player cooperative game. We had a great time playing this even if I was the weakest link!

Lego Indiana Jones, The Original Adventures was o.k., but didn’t really come close to touching the Lego Star Wars games. Maybe it’s the characters, maybe it’s the setting, but in any case, I have no desire to revisit it even though I love two of the three movies.

Resistance: Fall of Man is another game that I downloaded the demo for and enjoyed enough to buy, albeit once the price had gone down. This is another 2-player cooperative game that Cori and I had a blast playing. In fact, we played it a second time on the higher difficulty. Great story as well as a fun game, and a better game than the most recent Ratchet & Clank games by the same game studio.

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is a fun pastime. It’s also harder and uses better physics than you would think from looking at its cutesy graphics. Not a “must have” game but one I enjoy every once in a while.

Infamous, from Sucker Punch, the same group who brought us the wonderful Sly Cooper games, IS a must have. This is a third-person shooter but instead of guns, you’re shooting with energy you acquired from being at ground zero during the explosion of a special weapon. The story is good but the best part is that you can choose if you want your character to use his powers for good or evil. Cori played it as the evil side, and I played as the goodie-two-shoes. Being from the makers of a great platformer game, our character has no problems climbing everything and anything in sight; our biggest gripe was getting him NOT to jump onto something!

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is another must have game if you like third-person shooters. It’s not just the story, which is first rate; not just the characters, which are well-rounded; or the graphics, which are excellent. It’s that you are pulled into the game the whole time you’re playing. You barely notice the loading and saving, and you have to be attentive even during cut scenes because you might have to shoot or jump during them.  I didn’t buy the original Uncharted because I didn’t enjoy the demo (tiny dot for targeting and never-ending flood of bad guys), but I am very glad to have this one in my collection.

Heavy Rain, one of the few PS3 exclusive games nowadays, is a wonderful experience.  I’m not sure what they call it, maybe third-person interactive, but it’s unique. You play as four different characters, each in their turn, as you try to find the serial killer dubbed The Origami Killer and saving the latest missing child before he, too, is found dead. During the game you will be able to make choices that change the storyline, sometimes even killing off one or 2 of the characters you’re playing. I’ve played it several ways, changing the ending each time, and still haven’t won the trophy for seeing all the endings.

Battlefield: Bad Company is another demo buy. It’s the story of four guys in Company B, where the misfits and troublemakers are assigned, who go chasing after the gold used to pay mercenaries by our fictional enemies. I’m still playing this one for the first time with my second in command, my husband, who watches, advises and keeps track of my health. We’re having a good time with this, and get many laughs from our goofy squadmates.

Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway is still to be played. It’s unique to my collection in that you command one or two teams to help you with your missions. I’m not sure how well I’ll fit the style of play but I enjoyed the demo. And if my second in command will transfer to my new unit, I may be able to handle the extra burden of command. 🙂

PSP
LocoRocco 2 was my first game when I got my PSP. The original one made me wish I had a PSP at the time so the second game in the series was a pretty logical choice. I haven’t regretted it. A unique, fun game with good music to accompany your gameplay.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 was another one that was not a hard choice. I enjoyed the PS3 version and wanted to have an on-the-go version. Like its big brother, it’s fun for short periods and I’m glad to have it in my collection.

Dark Mirror, a Syphon Filter game, is a good shooter but, as I mentioned before, is hard on my eyes. If I ever finish it, I think I’d like to get the next one, Logan’s Shadow.

Resistance: Retribution is more in the Resistance universe, following the original Fall of Man, and Resistance 2. Another very good shooter for the PSP, and hard on the eyes. Maybe I need a very large magnifying glass. I’ll get through it one of these days.

Daxter I chose because I wanted something lighter, and a platformer rather than a shooter, and I was tired of Ratchet & Clank. This is a pretty good game but I’m not as big a fan of Jak & Daxter as some so I don’t feel compelled to play it.

Burnout Legends is a race game I got because I love the Crash mode on Burnout 3 for the PS2. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s great fun. This also fills the “race” genre hole I had.

Finally, I wanted a downloaded game for the PSP, something that was always available, something light and fun, something I could play and put down at the drop of a hat. After a day of research, I chose Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.  This is a cross between an RPG and Bejeweled, the casual game of switching jewels to form matches of three or more. So far, I’m loving it. It’s got the puzzle aspect of Bejeweled without the pressure of being timed. It’s got the character-building aspect of an RPG for replayability.  For me, a very good choice.

FUTURE BUYS
There are a couple of games I still have on my “to buy” list for the future:
Red Faction: Guerrilla
Call of Duty: World at War
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Wolverine

These have been out for a while but were not ones I felt the need to spend the full $60 for. On the horizon, and contemplating a pre-order, is ModNation Racer. This just looks like so much fun!

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Wild Kingdom Rummy

Posted by sodaklady on March 16, 2010

I was browsing the newest Reviews the other day and came across The Gaston Game, a rummy variant. This in turn led me to an article about a contest for people to design a rummy variant. I love rummy so I read through all of the entries, marked a few to try, and picked Wild Kingdom as my first to try for a couple of reasons.

First, the cards have 3 characteristics so that melds can be of varying strengths allowing them to attack other melds of lesser or equal strength. Oh, yeah, lets add more conflict to rummy.

The second reason is that you can pick up anywhere in the discard pile, adding everything above that card to your hand and using the card you picked up, 500 Rummy-style. I’ve always preferred 500 to vanilla rummy with the added tension that a wrong discard can be fatal. That, and grabbing a handful of cards – mmwwaahaahaahaa!

RULES
I had no problems understanding the rules, and no unanswered questions. There were examples for everything that is unique to this rummy variant. And I thought the addition of a glossary for theme-related game terms was very nice touch.

DESIGN
The card design is very good, the subtle colors, the lovely pictures of the animals, the iconography, and the paragraph at the bottom giving a brief description of the animal, which I think is a nice addition. The one problem we had was finding a way to see which animal we were holding since the animal name is at the top right and all the way at the bottom left, and that in tiny-sized font. I would have preferred the name to be under the icon at the top left.

Some cards from Wild Kingdom. Image by Rebekah B., the designer

GAME PLAY
The theme of the game is groups of animals battling each round to see who is superior.  The Land Group have green borders, Sea Group has blue, Air Group has yellow, big Cats are Orange, and King of Beasts are purple. There are only 3 King of Beasts cards and if you manage to make a meld of them, it’s an automatic win for that hand, leaving your opponent with zero points.

Melds are made up of any 3 cards of one Group, regardless of animal. But within the Land, Air and Sea Groups are 3 Families, each with 3 distinct Animals. The more characteristics your meld has, the stronger its Rank. So a set made up of a Gorilla, a Polar Bear and a Frilled Lizard is the weakest set being made up of three different animals from different Families (apes, bears & lizards) of the land Group. If your set is Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear and Brown Bear, it’s a higher Rank, being made up of all one Family. The King of Beasts (male lions) is the highest meld.

The Cat Family is a special Group which can be used either for a meld OR discarded to the Carrion pile to use its special ability. An Eye of the Tiger card lets you peek at your opponent’s hand, the Fast Mover with a cheetah on it lets you play two melds instead of one this turn, and the lion cubs on the Bonus cards are set aside for extra points to the player who has the most cards in the Group that wins the battle this hand.

In keeping with the theme, when played, melds of a particular Group can attack any other Group that is of equal or lesser Rank. A card is taken from the attacked meld and placed in the Carrion pile. This can be useful not only to cut down your opponent’s field but to strengthen one of your own meld’s Rank by eliminating an odd animal from your set. A set is never more than 3 cards but can be attacked and herded so as to leave only a single card in the “set”. It can then be strengthened as long as you do not decrease its Rank.

Herding is an interesting ability which can help both yourself and your opponent.  You can take one or two cards from any lower-ranked melt to form a new higher-ranked meld. You can rearrange your own field with this ability OR steal animals from your opponent. In the latter case, you could very well be increasing the strength of his meld, making it harder to attack in future.

OPINION
First, there’s a lot of rules here to give Wild Kingdom its special twist on rummy. This makes it both a unique and interesting game but also challenges you when it comes to teaching it. It also means it may take a hand or two to come to terms with all you are able to do, how you can manipulate not just your own sets but your opponent’s to your advantage. In my opinion, it’s worth the effort.

I loved the theme, and the rules supported that theme very well. I loved the extra depth of card play and think there’s a lot of game here for a rummy variant. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys card games and is looking for rummy with punch.

My husband’s opinion? He wanted to know if this can be bought or is it just for download? From my non-gamer spouse, it won’t get any better than that.

Posted in Card games, Do-It-Yourself Games, New Game, Reviews | 1 Comment »