It’s not often that a new gamebook series hits the market these days, but Fighting Fantasy publisher Wizard Books has just launched a new product likely to bring page-flipping to a different demographic. The Football Fantasy Gamebooks allow players to control the actions of football (i.e. soccer) teams, playing either solo or against a human opponent. Each book represents a different team and features a design by gamebook veteran Jon Sutherland and extensive visuals by Lone Wolf illustrator Gary Chalk. It’s hard to say whether these will get an American release in the immediate future, but British collectors can find them in stores everywhere while Americans can get them shipped in via amazon.co.uk or the overseas bookseller of their choice.
Archive for October, 2004
If you need some Halloween excitement and you don’t have time for one of our RPG suggestions, all is not lost. Thanks to the wonders of Invisible City‘s latest free Game of the Month, you can participate in a Cthulbeque. That’s right — if you have the strength and sanity to battle indescribable horrors from beyond, it turns out that they make mighty good eatin’. What better way to spend the evening?
This ICv2 report taught me a couple of things I didn’t know: 1) that Hasbro had planned to ship its new gamers’ Milton Bradley game HeroScape to small game retailers a month or two ahead of the mass market, but shipping snafus forced them to go straight to the big boys, and 2) upcoming HeroScape expansion packs may ship first to the hobby market to make up for it. A date for those packs hasn’t even been announced that I can find, so I guess wait-and-see is the order of the day. And no, we still don’t have a copy. Dammit.
Since the last update I posted, Rio Grande Games has produced not one but two newsletters. They’re fairly similar, though, both previewing the same new titles. We now have photos and descriptions of the forthcoming Carcassonne releases, plus there are first looks at Niagara, a gem-collecting canoe-racing game with a 3-D board; Heart of Africa, a simulation of 19th-century colonial trading companies; and Naval Battles, a World War II game which will presumably appeal to more than just the pure simulationists (unless its publisher has decided to head in a new direction, of course).
The VsTank Micro IR Battle series is a line of small remote-control tanks, about two and a half inches long, the sort that you plug into the controller to recharge. They have a few features you might not be expecting, though – such as infrared sensors on top that detect when they’ve been hit by (oh God oh God) the infrared shooters on the ends of the tanks’ cannons. No joke. They are also equipped to shake when hit and eventually stop moving until reset if they take one hit too many. Tanks retail for about $20 each. Is this the future of miniatures gaming or am I full of crack again?
When I first got a draft of this review from our freshman staffer Dave Chalker, I had just gotten back home from watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back on Chris’ big screen, and I thought up this brilliant announcement post that had Dave as the young Padawan and all this other crap. I have since forgotten it. Also, I have not thought of anything clever regarding Halloween and the fact that it’s a haunted-house game. Whatever, anyway, he reviewed Avalon Hill’s Betrayal at House on the Hill and I guess he liked it, gimme a drink.
Or perhaps I should be kinder to WizKids and characterize their “Open Letter to HeroClix Players Worldwide” as merely mysterious. I mean, they must know that a focus on collectors and the most hardcore of hardcore fans is what almost destroyed the comics industry, right? And that you have to be pretty hardcore to attend a convention, right? And that the focus on things that casual players can’t get is the primary reason their casual players are dropping out like pregnant high-school students, right? So their motivation for drawing attention to all this in an otherwise content-free release must be subtle indeed. Fire up the conspiracy theories!
I forgot to mention something else I noticed yesterday during my sojourn into the world of mainstream children’s retail. I idly picked up a copy of manga warhorse Shonen Jump and it fell open to what looked like a page of tips on playing Go. It turns out that Hikaru no Go is a Yu-Gi-Oh-esque tale of a boy who seeks to become the best Go player he can be. What possible commercial force can be driving a medium that usually props up trashy CCGs to start pimping a hard-to-expand (let alone copyright) classic game… albeit one that beats chess up and takes its lunch money? I don’t know but I’m glad to see it.
So, they were out of HeroScape at Toys’R'Us, but they did have the X-Pod Collector’s Pack, which is exactly the box I wished they would make back when I first noticed the X-Pod Play-Off web page. Another thing I didn’t mention is that X-Pod Play-Off is designed by gamelab, the same studio that did Junkbot, World Builder and a slew of other great work you’ll find linked from their site. Eric Zimmerman of gamelab co-wrote a beautiful book called Rules of Play that features commissioned games by James Ernest, Richard Garfield, and others.
In a quiet announcement that apparently wasn’t sent to its news announcement list, GAMA promoted Anthony Gallela to the position of Executive Director. Gallela served as GAMA Operations Director and GAMA Event Manager previously, and co-owns one of the biggest game conventions out in my neck of the woods, Kubla Con. So, I’ll voice what everyone’s thinking: Congratulations. Now, fix GAMA, and be quick about it. No pressure.
Well, perhaps that’s putting it a bit strongly… but Mongoose Publishing will be having an open house on November 6th which will feature a live appearance by Lone Wolf gamebook author Joe Dever. He will be chatting and signing autographs. Only one catch — you’ll have to be in England at the time. More details are available here. Speaking of all things Lone Wolf, Mongoose is also offering some nice new freebies for their RPG based on the gamebooks including character sheets and a D20 conversion of the first adventure. Check it out here.
I’ve been wondering when this year’s successor to Epic Duels and BattleBall – that is, this year’s cheap, silly WotC game with a Milton Bradley logo on it instead – would come out. Turns out it came out in June and I just missed it. Oh, and it’s $50.
Heroscape looks to be a simple, flexible combat game, without any of the cool little gameplay uniquenesses that made BattleBall so appealing… but I guess Epic Duels was that way too… but Epic Duels was cheap. On the other hand, a lot of gamers will buy Heroscape just for the massive collection of plastic hexes. Even just one of these boxes will do you pretty well for Classic BattleTech; two of them and you’re stylin’ like the Dwarven Forge booth at Origins, for just a C-note. If I had other uses for the terrain I would totally jump on this, and the gameplay does seem to have its fans, but I’m not comfortable calling this a real successor to Epic Duels at this price point. When it comes to MB games, I want the game to be worth the dough, and the lavish bits to be all gravy. I guess I want too much. I will probably wear down and buy this eventually unless someone warns me off (hint).
I guess that if I spend the bulk of three days playing a web game, I should probably post about it. Nothing special about it, it’s just addictive like whoa. Or woe.