Tag Archives: Games

Special Features presents: Girls X Battle (or how I spent part of my hiatus)

Well, hello there. This is going to be a completely different and probably highly unusual post for something that I never thought I would be doing here. Okay hang on, I can already hear you asking this: “What are you talking about, this is just another post about anime right? There is nothing unusual about that right? “ Well…erm…no. While it is partly about anime, this is actually a post about a videogame. Hello? Is everyone still there? No I have not gone completely mad, and I also haven’t been replaced by my evil twin clone brother (though I admit that is what an evil twin clone brother would actually say). No worries, it’s still me, but allow me to explain for just a few seconds how I came to write this completely insane post. Well most of you know by now that I went off on a two month hiatus and just came back a few weeks ago. It was a necessary choice, and one that I did not make lightly.

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Oh no, not this hiatus crap again. I am out of here!

During that time while waiting for my father to get his surgery, most of the time I felt sad, down and pretty much without energy. There were days I only spent time watching videos on YouTube and doing nothing else. One day though, while I was browsing through the appstore on my Ipad, I came across a game that was called Girls X Battle. (For all of you thinking pervy thoughts right now, no it’s not that kind of game…ughhh). What drew my attention to it was the fact that it seemed to have an anime feel to it..a lot in fact. So, as I had nothing better to do anyway I decided to download this free game and see what it was about. And I am glad that I did. This may sound strange but when you are in such a dark place, sometimes really simple things can at least help you pass the time. As this game did for me. I became completely addicted to this one, with it’s simple while at the same time pretty cool looking graphics, awesome gameplay and the enormous amount of content it contains.

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This girl is called Javelin. She is my number one girl, and she is lethal!

So what exactly is this game about? Well if you are looking for a deep storydriven game, I would advise you to skip this post and go check something else out. There is a campaign mode, where you follow a storyline, but basically this game is about collecting animegirls  powering them up and using them in battles. (Wow..I wonder why the game is called Girls X Battle). When the game first begins you will gain your first battlegirl and she takes you trough a small tutorial explaining the basics of the game and granting you access to the so called academy. As much fun as that part is (there really is a huge number of girls, and you will cross paths with new ones every week), what I really like about this game is the enormous number of features it contains and that open up when your academy grows stronger.

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The main menu. It’s from here you can start all the action: no…not that kind of action, sigh….

Just when you think you have seen everything something new appears which you can explore. There is a player vs player mode, where you can battle agains other players with your own team of girls. A study where you can read stories, visit your girls (and eventually even marry them..erm in the game that is) and which you can customise to your heart’s content. You can join a guild where you can help out other players and of course fight guild battles. There is a workshop where you can create items that make your girls stronger. The list goes on and on. The biggest draw to the game however is powering up your girls, and of course discovering new ones. Every time you gain a new one it takes shape in the form of a cool looking card that you can add to your collection. I currently have 81 of them, and there are supposedly over 150 of them right now, with new ones being added to the roster nearly every month. While this game looks super easy (and it is), there is actually a very deep strategy element to it.

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My team, fighting the good fight!

And that comes in the form of finding out which girls work best with each other. Some teams are stronger than others, and can defeat players that have a much higher level. It takes a lot of experimenting and fine tuning, but that really is part of what makes this game so much fun. So are there any downsides to this game? Well…yes. This game is free to play, but ofcourse as with many of these games you can also spent money on this one that allows you to progress easier and buy more girls. Sometimes you will encounter players that are simply unbeatable because they must have spent a small fortune on the game. But, I do have to say this game really can be played without ever spending a single coin on it. There are always weekly events that offer gifts in some form or other that are free for everyone. Girls X Battle is a game that you will enjoy especially if you love anime. There are a lot of easter eggs hidden in the game that refer to well known anime series. The girls themselves are very cool as well, and even though there is a very small element of fan service no one will be offended by it as that really isn’t the focus of the game and it really is totally harmless.

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I just had to throw in yet another picture of Javelin 🙂

So, if this post is not enough to convince you to try this game out, just download it and see for yourself. I am not responsible for getting you addicted to it though. If you do decide to give it a whirl, be sure to look me up. Use my invite code: 1142b349989ef, while you are at it. I am called Dorine Ivy in the game (sadly Raistlin was already taken and this is a totally random name) and I am playing on server 142. Well if there was something I had never ever thought would happen it’s me writing a post about a videogame. But, well there you have it. What’s that? You still believe I am Raistlin’s evil twin clone? Well I guess I now have to get back to writing “normal” posts again to convince you of the truth. Then again…I don’t think I ever was very normal in the first place. Thank you for reading, and see you soon!

 

 

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Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale, Japanese (animated) movie (2017)

The world of computergames is vast. Some say it is currently one of the biggest entertainment mediums, bigger even than Hollywood movies. Many of you already know this but I used to be a very fanatical gamer. One could argue that I was so fanatical that it wasn’t even healthy anymore. But that’s a thing of the past now, as I have stopped playing computergames altogether, well on consoles that is. I do play the occasional game on my Ipad, but that’s nowhere near the level of games that I was used to playing. Games these days are becoming ever more immersive, with virtual reality being one of the latest trends. Putting on special goggles, gamers can experience the gaming world in a way that is almost lifelike. I do say almost, as of course the technology isn’t anywhere close to the things you sometimes see in science fiction movies. Two years ago, around the time when my blog was up and running for a few months, I discovered the anime Sword Art Online, which focusses heavily on virtual reality gaming. It fast became one of my alltime favorite animeseries and now I have a huge collection of merchandise from that series (proving once again my point that I can truly become obsessed when I like something).

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Don’t look now, but I think you might have something stuck in your ear.

Last year a movie that was a follow-up to the series saw the light of day, and now I finally had the chance to see this one for myself as it was released on dvd two weeks ago. (Well here in Europe anyway). Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah it was! It is the year 2026, and the world is under the spell of the Augma device, a new system that allows players all over the world to simulate reality while still being conscious. As a few years prior players became trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art online, that used a full dive system, this new device is deemed much safer. We once again meet up with Kirito and Asuna, both survivors of the horrible SOA event, and not surprisingly both are also using the Augma to play the newest and most popular game Ordinal Scale. Although Kirito doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself as much. But then a new event is introduced to the game: old boss monsters from the Sword Art Online world begin appearing accompanied by the mysterious AI idol singer Yuna. What at first seems like a fun and welcome addition to the game, soon begins to take on a much more sinister shape. With Asuna’s life on the line, Kirito has to find out what is going on, before it’s too late. But it might already be too late, for Kirito seems to have met his match in the form of a player that is able to counter his every move….

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Gotta love Asuna’s new look in this film.

Sword Art Online is a series that is hated upon by a lot of animefans. I’m not going to start up that old discussion as I am here to talk about this movie. Suffice it to say though that I am a huge fan of this anime, in fact so much so that it has taken up a spot on my personal top 3 of favorite animeseries. When I first heard about the fact that there would finally be something coming out that would continue the storyline I was delighted. At the same time though I also felt anxious. What if it would suck? Well, having finally been able to see this film now, I am very glad to let you all know that my fears were unfounded. If you are a fan of the animeseries you will love this. Let’s talk about the storyline first. One of the things I really liked about it, is the way it treated the main characters of Asuna and especially Kirito. It was very refreshing to see the latter being out of his element and not the powerhouse player we are used to seeing in the series. Kirito really struggles within this new life and death game, and it takes him a long while to adapt. Asuna also at a certain point becomes very vulnerable, and it’s a side we are not always used to seeing from the starstruck couple. It’s their relationship and love for each other that continues to be heartwarming, and very touching though.

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GET READYYYYYYY: FIGHT!!!!

Another thing I liked about the film’s story is some of the questions it asked that really made you think.What if you were able to forget about things from your past that were not very happy thoughts or events?  Would you do that if you were able to? Or are they a part of your life no matter how unhappy these memories might be? I think that is an intriguing question and one that could almost be the topic for an entire post or at the very least a lively discussion. The movie runs for two hours, and it is in my opinion just a tad bit too long. Some of the story elements felt a bit forced, and a few of the side characters had way too little screentime, but were probably just added to the mix for the fans. Nevertheless there are also quite a few things in it for fans of the original series that will in all likelyhood give you a few goosebumps. On the action front the film doesn’t disappoint. Even though it’s not a full on fight fest, there are enough action scenes in the film that make it very satisfying. The fights also feel much more threatening and dangerous.

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I just love my special edition boxed set version of this movie 😀

 

While the animation might not be as beautiful as some of the higher level animefilms out there, I still found it to be very decent, with some spectacular setpieces. The new outfits for most of the characters also worked quite well and had a really nice look to it. Another thing that plays a big role in this film is the music. With the introduction of the new character of Yuna, an AI idol singer, there were quite a number of scenes that featured her singing. At times it almost felt as if I was watching a new installment of the  Macross saga. But I have to admit that this element did work quite well and wasn’t distracting in the least. The music featured in the film fits the tone of Sword Art Online and as such is very pleasing to the ear. Even though the film can be watched on it’s own without any prior knowledge of the world of Sword Art Online, you will find it more enjoyable if you first watch the original anime. If you hated SOA in the first place, this movie won’t make you love the series all of a sudden. For the fans though this is a more than decent follow up to the original anime and with the words Sword Art Online will return at the end of the credits, we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of Kirito and Asuna. And I would not have it any other way. Link start !

I give Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale a 8 out of 10 score.

Xenoshyft Dreadmire, a boardgame for 1-5 players by Cool Mini or Not (2016)

In the time where I still played computergames, there was a certain type of mission that I always truly hated. I can tell you that many a controller almost died, when I let out my anger on that helpless piece of machinery. The type of missions that I am talking about, is the ones where you had to defend a base from a couple of waves of enemies. Usually there was a timer, and you saw that one advancing in agonizing slowness, while the health of your base dropped faster than you could even blink. Aagh, I get frustrated by even thinking about it. But we all know that anger can lead to the Dark Side (yes Master Yoda), so I’m pretty glad I don’t play computergames anymore. No, these days I am back to oldschool gaming. You know, those games that don’t use computers or controllers, otherwise also known as boardgames. Last year I purchased the excellent card/boardgame Xenoshyft Dreadmire. In this game for 1-5 players you have to defend your base from being overrun by alien enemies. Wait, what? Erm….that can’t be right? Can it?

Components

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Yup…it’s a pretty big box. 

This being a cardgame it is probably not going to come as a really big surprise that this game contains cards. And a lot of them as well. You will find close to 400 cards in this box, that feature the different types of enemies, troops, weapons and other stuff that you are going to be dealing with in this game. But these aren’t just any normal types of cards. No, you will find that the illustrations on these are serious works of art. The vile enemies that you will face in this game are absolutely disgusting and horrid creatures. And the illustrations that depict them are truly the stuff of nightmares. Also included are a couple of cardboard boards, on which you will place the cards as well as the troops to defend your base (more on that below). Rounding out the game are a couple of plastic tokens that you use to keep track of health and powers, and a rules booklet. (Well, duh …you do want to learn this game don’t you?). The rulebook is written very clearly and gives enough examples to learn you the game in basically no time at all. And if you have trouble remembering a rule, you can find it quite easily during gameplay. Besides the rather dull boards, the components are top notch, and awesome to look at.

Game overview

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Hey, I already said the artwork for this was amazing right?

This game is being described as a strategic base defense deck builder. That is quite a mouthful isn’t it? But it is not as hard as it sounds. This game takes place in a science fiction universe where the Nortec Corporation is trying to recover the very precious resource called Xenosathem. This being the ultimate energy source that powers weapons and basically provides unlimited power, it is a highly coveted commodity. But it also has a nasty side effect: it turns the indigenous lifeforms into horrifying monsters. Of course this doesn’t stop a greedy corporation from wasting precious human lives in order to recover this stuff. And that’s where you, the players come in. This game simulates one of those mining operations, where you have to defend the Nortec base from being overrun in a series of nine game rounds.

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Just a couple of the friendly neighbourhood creatures you will encounter.

Everyone starts of with a set of basic lowlevel cards. Some of these cards can be used to buy new troops and weapons in order to make your deck of cards more powerful. And that’s where the word deckbuilder comes into play. When everybody has bought their cards the “fun” begins. The troops and weapons you have purchased are placed on a player’s lane, and will be your first and only line of defense against the horrible creatures that are trying to destroy your base. Of course there is a limit to the number of troops and weapons you can place, and as such players have to think strategically what they are going to be using. When everything is placed, the enemies enter an opposing lane. There are three waves of enemies that players need to survive, and each wave consists of three rounds. So in other words players need to overcome nine rounds in order to win the game.

Each wave you can buy more powerful stuff, but the enemies also become stronger. After the enemies are placed combat begins. Enemies deal their damage to troops first, but when there are no troops left, the base gets damaged instead. The base has a certain amount of damage it can take, and when it’s down to zero, it’s game over. So that in a nutshell is how this game gets played. Pretty simple huh?

Difficulty

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Definitely not something you see every day…..

This game is quite easy to learn. Especially if somebody is around that has played the game before and can teach it to other players. But even if you play the game by yourself, it’s relatively easy to get the hang of it. It’s the winning part though, that is an entirely different matter. This game is brutal. I have played it solo for about 7 or 8 times now, and I have not won the game even once. The closest I got was to round 8. Even when I played the game together with other players, that was the highest result that I have so far managed to achieve. There is a luck factor in this game as well (some combinations of enemies are just so powerful that no matter how well you prepare, you can’t really do anything about it), but it also comes down to thinking a lot. And that’s what I really like about it. Figuring out certain combinations of cards that really work well and manage to achieve great results is just one of the fun things this game has in store for you.

The Verdict

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It goes without saying that it takes a while to put sleeves on these cards. 

Well, what can I say this game is awesome. Even though it is incredibly tough, and victory has still eluded me so far, I have had a truly fun time playing this game. The cards look amazing, and the mechanics of this deckbuilder work really well. Not only that, it provides a good challenge, and because of the sheer amount of cards included no two games are ever the same. This is a game for people who love science fiction, and also enjoy to use their brains in order to beat a game, and not just luck.

I give Xenoshyft Dreadmire a 9 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Coming up next……

Earlier this week I realised something that actually shocked me a bit. In a little bit less than two months we will be saying goodbye to the year 2017. I don’t know if this is just me, but seriously this year has rushed by so fast! But maybe the reason might simply be it’s because I’m getting older or something like that, but I do wonder where this year has gone off to in such a hurry. As the year 2018 is already slowly beginning to appear on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to let you all know what will be coming up next in these last two months of the year on my blog. I will try to release some diverse content so that hopefully everyone is going to have something to look forward to. So let’s take a look into the crystal ball of the future shall we?

Anime

imageYes anime is definitely still a part of my blog. It has been lacking a bit in the past few weeks, I have to admit, but let me just ease your minds: there is plenty of that still going to be heading your way. Ergo Proxy is a series that I know a lot of you have been waiting to hear my thoughts on. Rest assured the post for that one is coming this month. Girls und Panzer is an unexpected delight. I had skipped over this series quite a number of times in the Crunchyroll line up. But because of a recent post from The Otaku Judge on the Girls und Panzer film, I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did. Other anime you can expect reviews for are Deadman WonderlandThe Skycrawlers and Bakemonogatari.

Tv series

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I am really playing catch up to a lot of things at the moment, and as such have fallen  behind on some of my favorite television shows. But that does not mean I don’t occasionally start with something new. Television series based on movies are usually a very bad idea and have an awful track record. Ofcourse there are exceptions to this rule, and the Lethal Weapon tv series certainly is one. Prison Break returned this year to our small screens with a one time 9 episode event series. It used to be one of my alltime favorites, and that’s why I am really looking forward to watching this. Star Trek Discovery is the newest Star Trek tv series, and while I am still debating on whether or not I actually think it’s a good show, it’s certainly not bad either. Besides reviews for these three series, you can also expect posts for Homeland season 6, The Walking Dead season 7, and Fear the Walking Dead season 1.

Korean Dramas

imageKorean dramas are so much fun, but unfortunately as with almost everything I have really started to run behind on these (sorry Kay). The first one is Pinocchio a somewhat older series, but one that I have so far been enjoying for quite a bit. The second is one that has been on my to watch list for ages and that’s Missing 9. The main reason for watching this one is that it includes one of my favorite Korean actors Jung Kyung-ho. The second reason is that it reminds me a lot of Lost, an alltime favorite series of mine, as it tells the story of a group of people that survive a plane crash and get stranded on an island. Both of these are up for reviews in the coming months.

Movies

imageNo big suprise that of course movies will also remain a big part of this blog (at least I hope it won’t be a surprise that is lol). Yesterday I saw the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok. It was a fun filled film, and that one will be up first when it comes to movie reviews. With the releasedate of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, coming ever closer, I am planning on doing a series of posts similar to the Countdown to Halloween feature. And it will be given the name Countdown to The Last Jedi (duhhhhh). I’m not yet going to reveal which movies will be included, but of course they are all going to be science fiction. Other movies you can expect reviews for are John Carpenter’s classic Christine and Justice League. But with movies I expect a few others to be added to this list along the way.

Books

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Ughh, my Good Reads to read list is growing daily, and I probably won’t be able to complete it until I am close to entering a retirement home. I do want to finish a couple of books by the end of the year though, so I still have hope of including at least a few reviews for those as well. I am currently right in the middle of the Sisters of Battle Omnibus written by James Swallow. Part of the Warhammer 40000 universe, it has so far been a very entertaining read. For those who want a bit of nostalgia, I’m also planning a review for the Mini-comic collection of He-man and the Masters of the Universe. The last two books on my list for this year are The official making of Big Trouble in little China and the Star Wars novel Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. This last one especially is one I am really looking forward to as it marks the return of my favorite villain from the Expanded Universe that became canon again (erm, yes I am going to explain that one when I write the review for it).

Boardgames

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Yes, I still play boardgames, even though the last review for one of those dates back to May this year. I hope to publish at least one more review for a boardgame and that is for the incredible Xenoshyft Dreadmire. This is a really fun but incredibly tough deckbuilding game, in which you have to defend your base from a horde of bloodthirsty alien creatures. The artwork for this game is off the scales, and it will be a delight to show it you in all it’s creepy glory.

In closing….

So, that’s pretty much what I have planned for the final two months of this year. In between these posts I also hope to catch up on some tags and awards that I haven’t yet made posts for. As with all things, these are all plans that can be subject to change, as you never know when real life decides to throw a wrench into everything again. But hopefully that won’t happen. In closing I want to thank each and everyone of you who continue to support my blog. I really could not do this without you! So: Thank you all 😀 Let me know in the comments section below if there are any things that you are looking forward to in particular (or if there is nothing on this list that grabs your attention, which is fine as well of course, but I definitely hope that’s not the case lol). Thank you all for reading, see you on the next post!

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game for 1-5 players, by Upper Deck (2014)

I have been doing a lot of Alien posts the past few weeks. I have to admit it is in part because of the release of Alien Covenant, but also because I simply love this franchise. Most people have at least heard of the movies in one form or another, but there is an entire universe build around these films that people may not even be familiair with. For starters there is the comic book series that expands the story beyond the movies, but there are also a lot of novels that are just as good. In 2014 Upperdeck, the publisher of the highly succesful Marvel Legendary cardgame, released Legendary Encounters. This time you would not be playing with your favorite superheroes, but instead take on the roles of the beloved characters from the Alien movies including Ellen Ripley. Is the game any good though? How about I tell you it is one of my alltime favorite games? Let’s dive right in, and see what makes this game so much fun to play.

Components

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The intimidating black box, complete with an Alien Egg as a cover.

When you open this monstrous box of goodness the first thing you will notice is the beautifully crafted “mousepad” playing mat. Why call it a mousepad? Well because it really is a mousepad, only one that covers pretty much your entire table. This being a cardgame it will come as no surprise that the rest of the contents of this game are cards. And quite a lot of them, 600 in total to be exact. All of the cards are beautifully illustrated depicting the many characters, Xenomorphs, and other situations that can  crop up in this game. But more on that down below. Last, but not least there is ofcourse a rulebook that is pretty easy to understand, and does an okay job in teaching you the game. If you still find it hard to learn the game there are some excellent playthrough videos for this game that you can find on YouTube.

Game overview

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The “mousepad” gameboard.

This game allows you to play through all four of the original Alien movies. Yes you read that correctly, you actually get to replay the four classic films. Here is how that works. When setting up the game, you pick the scenario for the film you wish to play. Each movie has three corresponding mini decks of cards, that contain different objectives that the player needs to accomplish. But these decks also include the many enemies, and events that can seriously mess up a player’s well laid out plans. This game isn’t called a deckbuilding game for nothing. When the game starts a player has his own personal deck of standard cards. These cards can be used for two things.  The first thing you can do is purchase stronger cards. In every game the player’s can select cards from the HQ that contains new characters that, once purchased are added to a player’s deck to make it stronger. And with these new cards you are able to buy cards that are even more stronger. Hence the name deckbuilding game.

The second thing you can do is attack enemies with these cards before they are able to hurt you, as well as complete objectives in order to progress through the scenario of the film. For instance when you choose to replay the movie Aliens, you need to kill three colonists from Hadley’s Hope, set up Sentry Guns, and finally defeat the Alien Queen. All of this should feel very familiar if you love the movies, and this game certainly oozes atmosphere. Each player get’s an avatar that represents the player, and that has a certain amount of lifepoints. As with most games you are dead if your lifepoints total ever reaches zero. But this being a cooperative game it is still possible to win if the other players manage to complete the objectives. As a fun sidenote,you can also make life miserable for your fellow players by becoming an alien yourself.

Difficulty

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A closer look at how the gameboard looks after set-up.

This game is very easy to learn. The best way to learn this game is by letting someone who already knows the game teach it to you while playing it. It will take you under 10 minutes to get to know the basics of the game, and from there it is an easy road to get to the game’s finer points. Winning the game however is less easy. There are some scenarios that are pretty tough to win, and will require all of a player’s skills to overcome. You can almost hear Hudson crying “Game over man, game over” way too many times. But a win is definitely not impossible. As the game is so much fun to play, it will not bother you at all if, even through all your best efforts, the game ends up in a loss.

The verdict

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Some of the cards that you are able to buy during the game, all of them characters from the first Alien film.

If it wasn’t already clear to you, I absolutely love this game. Being a huge fan of the Aliens franchise in general, this game seriously manages to recreate the atmosphere of the original films in the best way possible. Because of the sheer number of cards, and situations that can arise during the game, no two playthroughs are ever quite the same. I have played this game primarily solo, and it works exceptionally well. It is one of the best solo games in my collection, and it is one of those games that I keep very close at hand. What might interest you to know is that there is also a Legendary Encounters: Predator version of this game. That game is just as much fun, and let’s you play through the two original Predator movies. You can even combine the two games and let Ripley face the Predator, which is awesome. Last but not least an expansion for the Aliens game was released that adds more characters, a hardmode for all four movies (as if the game was not hard enough already), but also allows a player to play as the Alien Queen herself!

All in all I cannot recommend this game enough to everyone who is a fan of the Alien films. Just remember: in space no one can hear you scream! As a final note I want to say that this review is written especially for Madame Vintage, who loves the Alien franchise just as a much as I do, and has been a great friend and supporter of my blog the past few months. If you haven’t already, check out her awesome blog of movie reviews and subscribe. You won’t be disappointed! Finally ofcourse the score for this game, which should not be too much of a surprise.

I give Legendary Encounters: an Alien Deckbuilding game a 10 out of 10 score.

 

Resident Evil, Uk/German movie (2002)

I used to be a very fanatical gamer, until a completely insane online Call of Duty session pretty much ended my gaming days. I lost interest in the virtual gaming world, and went back to old school gaming otherwise known as boardgames. But that does not mean that I don’t look back on my gaming days with some great memories. One of my favorite horror games was Resident Evil. I remember a scene from the first game where you walked along a quiet corridor, and you pretty much knew something was going to happen. And ofcourse it did in the form of a horrible dog that came crashing through the window. I literally let my controller drop from my hands, that’s how much of a jumpscare I got. In 2002 Resident Evil made it’s way to the big screen, and has so far spawned five sequels. Today I rewatched the first movie which I had not seen for quite a few years.

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Some parties can get completely out of hand.

In Resident Evil the Umbrella Corporation has taken over the world by storm. The public knows the company only from their consumer goods, but the true money comes from their bioweapons research. It is a secret that they have been able to hide so far. But then something goes horribly wrong at one of their underground facilities known as the Hive. A special group of commandos is sent out to investigate. It is not long until they meet up with a mysterious woman who has lost most of her memories, and is only known as Alice. It soon becomes apparent that the artificial intelligence of the facility called the Red Queen has taken matters into her own hands. Most of the staff of the Hive have been killed off by her or so it seems. The real reason for this behaviour however is that the genetically engineered T-virus has been unleashed in the Umbrella facility. A virus that has truly horrifying consequences, as Alice and the commandos are about to find out…..

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Here doggy, doggy, doggy…..

I guess pretty much everyone that is a gamer knows that most movies based on popular videogames, have been a total waste. However I have always liked the Resident Evil films. Yes I guess they could fall into B-movie territory, but that doesn’t mean that they are not a lot of fun to watch. Quite honestly I had forgotten a lot of details from this first film. I was also pretty amazed that this movie is already 15 years old. Resident Evil does not have a perfect script, but that is not why you watch a movie such as this in the first place. On the action and horror front however it really does things right. The action scenes are done well, and the creatures featured in the film are pretty amazing to look at. Especially the fan favorite Licker monster taken straight from the games.

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Eveybody has those moments where you just feel trapped at your work. 

 

One other reason to watch this movie is actress Milla Jovovich. She plays the part of Alice, and does so very convincingly. If you pardon my language, she really knows how to kick some serious zombie ass. Her co-star Michelle Rodriguez also portrays a strong woman, and both women have a great onscreen chemistry that works incredibly well. The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable, except for maybe James Purefoy, who tries to make the best of the script that has been handed to him. All in all though this first Resident Evil movie does a pretty good job of bringing the game to life. Even if you have never played the games before, you will enjoy this film if you are into horror or action movies. The movie has a good pace, and certainly can’t be accused of being boring. Sometimes it’s just okay to sit back and watch a nice and simple popcorn movie, as I like to call it.

I give Resident Evil a 8 out of 10 score.

Labyrinth the Boardgame, a boardgame for 1-4 players by River Horse games (2016)

One of my favorite alltime childhood movies was Labyrinth. This fantasy movie from 1986 featured David Bowie as the evil Goblin King, and a young Jennifer Connelly as Sarah. Made by Jim Henson, this wonderful feelgood film had a young girl facing challenges in a magical labyrinth in order to save her baby brother from the clutches of the wicked Goblin King. This film has gained quite a cult following, and it recently was announced that a sequel to the movie is now in the works. Sadly ofcourse without David Bowie who unfortunately died last year. In 2016 the movie celebrated it’s 30th anniversary, and because of that a lot of new merchandise was released, most notably the boardgame I am about to review. If you are interested in reading more about some of my favorite childhood films, you can find them here. But now onwards with the review.

Components

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As a huge fan of this movie I was delighted to see it represented in such a lovely way. The components for this game are of a very high quality and look amazing. Contained within the box are five miniatures that represent the most important characters from the movie, including Ludo, Sarah, Sir Didymus, Hoggle and ofcourse the Goblin King himself. The board itself is a representation of the Labyrinth from the movie and looks okay, but could have been designed a little bit better. Also included are six special dice, 4 character sheets, various cards and stand-up figures and a bunch of tokens. Rounding out the game is the rulebook that explains the rules in a very clear and precise manner, as well as containing some lovely photographs from the movie.

Game overview

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In a game of Labyrinth each player takes on the role of one of the characters from the movie. The Goblin King is controlled by the game itself. Labyrinth is a cooperative game, meaning that either everyone wins, or everybody loses. Just like in the movie players are on a race against time to rescue Toby, before the clock strikes midnight and Toby becomes a goblin forever. Each character has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. For example the loveable Ludo has enormous strength, but is a bit slow in the brains department. These traits are represented by a corresponding die.

Labyrinth is played in a series of turns. During each turn a player moves his or her character across the board. The object of the game is to find the entrancecard to the Goblin city and by doing so, face a few final challenges and defeat the Goblin King. By moving across the board, players get to reveal cards. These cards almost always involve taking some kind of test by rolling a die. Failing at a test usually has a nasty side effect, but also takes up precious time. After each player has taken it’s turn the Goblin clock advances by one hour. When the clock is back in it’s original position the players lose the game.

This really means that players are under constant pressure in order to find the card that represents the entrance to the city. When the entrance is finally found, the action moves to the Goblin King’s castle, where the players have to defeat a couple of enemies in order to have Sarah face her final challenge.

Difficulty

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From a rules point of view this game is very easy to learn. The rulebook explains things very well, and pretty much everyone can learn this game in about five minutes. The game itself depends a lot on luck in order to win it. The game relies heavily on the results of the dice that are being rolled, and if you are unlucky in that department, the game can be lost very easily. That being said, there is a little bit of strategy involved in this game as well. By having players work together, it becomes easier to complete certain tests. All in all though this is a very simple game, and it does not pretend to be anything else either. Honestly from time to time, it is nice to have a game that doesn’t have you look up every single rule each time that you play it.

The Verdict

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Whether or not you will like this game will probably come down to if you are a fan of the film or not. For me, it was a wonderful experience, and it was really nice to see a lot of scenes from the movie being brought back into life this way. It’s hard not to smile when you have to repeat a certain quote from the movie in order to pass a test.  On the other hand, this game can at times be quite repetitive. The game really is not much more than having your characters race across the board, and rolling dice to complete tests. But this game is simply put, made for fans of the movie. It manages to really recreate the spirit of the film, and that’s one of the most important things for a game that is based on a movie. The score you find below my review is given as a fan. If however you have never seen the film, or hate it with a vengeance (Shame on you! Kidding ofcourse), you might want to deduct one or two points from it, depending on whether or not you like games that depend heavily on luck.

In closing I want to dedicate this review to Ludija, who is a huge fan of this movie. Hope you enjoyed reading this, and as promised we will play this game soon 😊

I give Labyrinth the boardgame a 8 out of 10 score.

Eldritch Horror, a boardgame for 1-8 players by Fantasy Flight Games (2013)

Now, this review is long overdue. I have had this game for quite a while now, but because of a lot reasons it has taken me a while to finally make this post. Before I get started I want to say that I dedicate this review to Kurt aka the Vitruvian Gamer. If you like boardgames, and also enjoy seeing them in action, I highly recommend to check out the boardgame channel of the Vitruvian Gamer. Not only is this one of the best boardgame channels out there, Kurt is a really kind person who always takes the time to answer any comments you post on his videos. And all of his videos are a lot of fun to see, and really help you to learn the rules of a certain game. I have included a Link to a playthrough series of his of this game, so you can watch the game in action, and ofcourse subscribe to his channel. (Which is pretty much a no-brainer). And now on with the review of this great game, which really has become on of my alltime favorite boardgames.

Components

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This being a Fantasy Flight game, the components are absolutely top notch. Contained within the box is a lot of awesome stuff. The gameboard looks simply amazing, and depicts a map of the world across which you are going to be travelling in order to stop an ancient evil from rising. Also included are an enormous amount of cards that are used in a lot of different situations that will arise throughout the game. We get cards for spells, artifacts, assets, and encounters to name but a few. In total there over 200 cards that can be used in the game. Ofcourse there are also a lot of tokens included, that will be placed on the board in a variety of situations. Rounding out the game are 12 investigator sheets with matching tokens and plastic stands, which are the roles that the players will take upon themselves, and 4 standard dice. Last but not least we get two rules booklets, one to help you quickly get started, and the other a reference guide to be used when the more difficult situations creep up during a game. The rulebook is well written, and because of this system with the usage of a reference guide, it will not take you very long to set up the board and start your first game.

Game overview

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In a game of Eldritch Horror players take on the roles of investigators, who are in a race against time to stop a being of immense power. This so called Ancient One is intent on bringing about an age of darkness, and possibly even end the entire world. Eldritch Horror is played in a series of gamerounds. Each round has three phases, that are resolved in the same order every time.

First off the players will spent some time to take actions. These range from moving across the board, gain assets that might help them during the game, or even rest in order to regain some strength. Next up is the heart of the game, the encounter phase. During this phase pretty much anything can happen. Players might get attacked, become cursed, gain clues which might help them to stop the Ancient One, or any other number of exciting things. This phase is really a lot of fun, and because of the number of cards that are included within the box, you never quite know what might happen. Finally the Ancient One takes it’s action, which is resolved by drawing a card and play out what happens. This usually means something bad, that will hamper the investigators, and sometimes turns the entire game upside down.

As this game is a cooperative game, either everyone wins, or everyone loses. To win the game, players need to find enough clues to resolve a number of mystery cards that put an end to the rise of the Ancient One. If they can’t do that before the Ancient One awakens (depicted on the board by a timer called the doom track), this usually means the players lose immediately or it becomes incredibly hard to win. Sometimes certain cards can also bring about the end of the game. This creates a tense atmosphere with players racing across the world to put a stop to the rise of the Ancient One.

Difficulty

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Now one would expect that a game with this many cards and tokens to keep track of, will be quite hard to learn. Honestly, you might be really surprised by this when I say that is not the case. Reading the rulebook takes you about half an hour, and after that it will be not much longer and you are off to playing your very first game. The great thing is that when a certain situation arises throughout the game, you take out the reference guide and will quickly find the rule you are looking for. This works extremely  well, and because of that it will really not take you very long to learn the game.

Winning the game is a whole different matter though. Because of the sheer amount of situations that can arise in Eldritch Horror, no game is ever the same. There are a lot of ways you can lose though, and this does depend a lot of times on luck as well, I will not lie to you there. Sometimes getting a bad dice result on a very important test might cost you the game. I have so far only played this one solo (and really this is one of the best sologames out there), and have not yet managed to win. That said, this game is so much fun, that quite frankly I have not even cared about losing the game.

The Verdict

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I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect game. Every game has it’s own flaws, but this one most certainly comes very close. Ever since I have bought this game, I have been enjoying it more and more with every session. Having recently bought a few expansions for it, it has become an even better game. The fun thing about this one, is the enormous amount of situations that can arise. One moment you are in a city being chased by evil cultists, and then you might find yourself in a icy cave tracking down an ancient artifact. One might argue that the amount of encounter cards for the cities in the basegame, should have been more. But that really is a minor note, to an otherwise splendid game. If you like adventure movies with a small touch of horror, this game is most definitely for you. I highly recommend it, and if you don’t always have friends to play a game with, this game provides a very satisfying solo experience as well.

I give Eldritch Horror a 10 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

 

Attack on Titan Deckbuilding Game, A cardgame for 1-5 players, by Cryptozoic Entertainment (2016)

Most of you probably know by now that I really enjoy watching anime. Another thing that I like doing just as much is playing sci-fi and fantasy boardgames. I have been looking for a decent anime boardgame for quite a while now. There are a few of them out there, but most of these either aren’t any good, or are not based on an existing anime series. However things have finally changed with the arrival of a new cardgame, by publisher Cryptozoic Entertainment. What is even more awesome, is that it is based on one of my alltime favorite anime series: Attack on Titan. Now all we have left to do, is to find out if it is actually any fun to play, and if it manages to capture the atmosphere of the series.

Components

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Now, this being a cardgame it will probably be not much of a surprise that the key components for this game are cards. Included within the box are 188 normal size gamecards, depicting various characters, Titans, locations and equipment from the show. Each player takes on the role of one of the main characters from the anime, and these are represented by 7 oversized cards (and if you are lucky enough to get the first printing of the game you get Hange as an extra bonus card). Also included are five cardboard tiles representing the walls, 7 (or 8) Hero standees, and a bunch of small tokens representing lifepoints for the Titans. Now these lastnamed tokens are very small, and I dare say a bit too small. As such you have to be careful not to misplace them, as they are definitely very easy to lose. This is a minor gripe though as the rest of the components really look very cool. The cards contain very clear imagery straight from the anime. Rounding out the set is a rulebook, that teaches the game in a very straightforward, but easy to understand way.

Game overview

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The object of this game is to destroy four Arch-Titans that are picked randomly at the start of the game. The playing field is made up out of five walls that represent five different districts. Each player starts with a set of basic cards that allow you to buy new (and more powerful) cards to strengthen your deck, and cards that allow you to move through the different districts. And here is where things get interesting. Each district has an inside portion of the wall, where cards are placed that you can buy for your deck. These can be new weapons, powerful allies, or even new locations that allow you to do a lot of cool stuff. With each round and new card you buy, you will get a more powerful deck of cards, hence the name deckbuilding game.

And you are definitely going to be needing these cards, as there is also an outside portion of each wall. Three guesses as to which friendly beings might appear down there? Yes, ofcourse the Titans. Every time a new card gets drawn from the main deck of cards, this might be one of those monstrosities. A Titan has only one objective, to destroy the wall of a district, and make things even more difficult for you. Every time a  wall gets destroyed you lose a district, and all the cards that were still there for you to purchase. And trust me, these walls can come down pretty fast. The really big Titans can, if you are particularly unlucky, destroy a wall in one round. When all five walls are destroyed, you lose the game. (And one could argue humanity as well).

Gameplay can become very tense like this. You will continually have to make very difficult decisions. Do you take a risk and buy a new and powerful card that might come in handy, but by doing so leave a wall defenseless? Or do you play it safe, and patrol the outside portion of the wall, and defend against a new Titan that might appear. The normal Titans can go down fairly easy. But the four big Arch-Titans are an entirely different story, and require a lot of good cards to take them down and win the game.

Difficulty

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This game is not very difficult to learn. Players who are already familiar with these sort of games, will find a lot of the mechanics similar to other deckbuilding games. That said, there also a lot of things that set this game apart from all those other deckbuilders out there. The travelling between districts for instance, is something that I found to be very unique, and really captured the spirit of the Anime show. When a new Titan appears, and your character races to the outside portion of the district to defend the wall, I could almost see the anime series in my mind. Great stuff! Even players who are not familiar with these type of games, will find no real difficulty in learning this game. Winning however, is an entirely different matter. So far I have only played this one solo, but this game can go downhill pretty fast. Especially when the first Arch-Titan makes an appearance, you will have to think quick and act fast in order to save the walls. Honestly though, I like a challenge, and I really enjoy games  that make it tough to win.

The Verdict

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If you are a fan of Attack on Titan, you are going to love this game. One of the things this game does right, is capture the atmosphere of the anime series. The travelling between districts and defending the walls, is a very clever mechanic, and really captures the feel of this great show. I already love deckbuilding games, owning quite a lot of them, and this one really tries to set itself apart. In my opinion it succeeds in this mission. There are just enough different cards contained within this baseset to keep things interesting for now. In the future though, this game will definitely need some expansions, to add more variety to the game. Still for now, this game contains enough value for your money, and I highly recommend this one to Attack on Titan and deckbuilding fans alike.

I give the Attack on Titan deckbuilding game a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: Merchandise

It has pretty much become a fact of life that whenever a certain franchise becomes popular, the merchandise is never far off. And why not? Certainly for fans it is pretty cool to own something from a beloved movie or tv show. It ofcourse also has a downside, and that is it usually is not very kind to the contents of your wallet. When there is money to be made, they usually know how to cash in on something that is very popular. I’ll be honest, I can be highly influenced by advertisements. Especially if I like a movie franchise or tv show a lot, I pretty much begin to collect stuff from it. Ofcourse there are certain lines that I don’t cross. If I have to cough up an amount of money that I have to work a year for (yes, I like to exaggerate lol), than I say thanks but no thanks. But if it is something that I really like, and the price is right, than I really like to add another piece to my collection. Showcased below, for your enjoyment, are three franchises that I enjoy collecting stuff from.

Star Wars

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Ever since seeing Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, I have been a massive Star Wars fan. I love science fiction, and without a doubt Star Wars will always be my favorite galaxy, far, far away. Over the years my collection has been growing a lot, and it contains novels, action figures, trading cards, artbooks, comics, and games. We are about a month away now from the latest installment hitting the theatres, and I am already looking forward to it immensely. The problem with Star Wars merchandise is that there is so much to buy and collect, that it is almost impossible to keep track of it all. Still, with no end in sight to what is on offer, there is a lot to enjoy for fans.

The Walking Dead

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What can I say, ever since first seeing the first episode of this incredible tv series I have been hooked. After learning it was based on a comic book, I started with collecting those, and when the tv series became popular, the merchandise train got on board as well. The Walking Dead has some truly awesome action figures on offer from McFarlane toys, as well as novels that expand the story, and some very cool boardgames. Though the range is not as wide as Star Wars, there is still enough on offer for fans, to start collecting stuff.

Sword Art Online

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Earlier this year a friend of mine told me to start watching an Anime series called Sword Art Online. Honestly, at the start of the show I did not enjoy it. Sure, the storyline was interesting, the animation looked cool, but I just could not get into it. However I did continue to watch, and I am really glad I did. This series has become one of my alltime favorite Anime shows, and as is usually the case with things I like, I just had to start collecting some stuff. A few months back at the Amsterdam Comic Con (which is pretty much the same as the American version, only smaller) I found some truly cool items, which are on display at the picture above. This collection is at the moment pretty small, and I don’t think it will grow as big as my Star Wars or Walking Dead collection. Still, if I come across something interesting, I will probably add it to the existing pieces.

Final thoughts

Merchandise can be a lot of fun. As long as you can contain yourself and don’t go overboard with spending money, I see absolutely no harm in starting a collection of cool stuff. The biggest problem I think is that whatever you start collecting, there is usually way too much on offer, or too little. Some movies or shows, that are a little bit less popular, have almost no merchandise to collect. That can at times be frustrating, especially if you are a fan. On the other hand, with too much on offer, it usually comes down to what should I buy? You can only spend your money once (duh) and with so many cool items on display, it can become very hard for a fan to make the right decision.

So what are your thoughts on merchandise? Do you like it, hate it? If you are collecting stuff, what are some of your favorite pieces? Let me know in the comments section. As always, thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!