Blog Archives

Raid & Trade

Remember when Indie and Marion Ravenwood duked it out for control of the crystal skull? Yeah, that would have been a better movie.

Negotiation in games is great, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s also a beast to pull off. You’ve got to provide something worth haggling over, hopefully provide avenues for weaker-willed players to thrive (they are weaker-willed, I call it like I see it), add a dash of risky speculation, and probably figure out how to keep those two from spending the whole night shouting at each other. You know the pair I’m talking about.

Tomb Trader isn’t the usual fare from Level 99 Games. It’s a diminutive thing, just seventy-ish cards and some ultra-cheap tiddlywink tokens. Fortunately, it’s also a surprisingly solid negotiation game for five reasons.

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Exceedingly Excellent

At least they're having fun with it.

BattleCON is one of my favorite game systems. Ever. If I were to compile a Top Ten list — which I haven’t and probably won’t, so don’t ask — then Devastation of Indines would almost undoubtedly be right near the top. It’s incredible.

Perhaps for that reason, Exceed almost goes out of its way to look like a pretender to the throne. Or is that an usurper of the throne? Either way, D. Brad Talton Jr.’s other fighting-game simulator seems intended to sit quietly alongside its predecessor despite looking so similar that the cards might have been swapped at birth. Exceed bills itself as a lighter alternative to the cerebral brain-crunching and jaw-busting fun of BattleCON, right down to the fact that it ships in smaller, more affordable boxes. Whether it’s better, on the other hand, is the tougher call. So tough that I’ve had my hands on a review copy for about nine months and haven’t yet come out and said it.

Well, I’m saying it now: Exceed is better than BattleCON. And yet it isn’t something I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend. How’s that for a quandary?

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The Space-Biff! Space-Cast! Episode #5: The New Millennium

Staged shot, so don't climb up on my back about how badly I'm doing.

In today’s episode of the Space-Biff! Space-Cast!, Dan Thurot and Rob Cramer speak with D. Brad Talton Jr. (the D is for Danger) of Level 99 Games about ushering in the New Millennium — the heralded thousand years of Millennium Blades, that is. We also reminisce about collectible card games, being nerds, and jerky cousins.

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Usher in the New Millennium

Good to see you again, old friend — er, old nemesis.

I’ve always wanted to play a collectible card game in a competitive environment. There’s something about watching a deck take shape over weeks and months, toying with ideas and builds whenever new cards are released, and then testing the mettle of your creation in the crucible of a tournament. And when that’s done, you do it all over again, learning from your mistakes and capitalizing on your successes. Unfortunately, I simply lack the time that I’d need to invest in such an endeavor. I’d say, “Maybe if I were younger,” but I didn’t have all that much free time when I was a kid either. Maybe when I’m older.

Good thing Millennium Blades is finally here, because it satisfies my hunger with one of the most rollicking fun games I’ve ever played.

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Dragon… PUNCH!

Tammy had always known her two years of community rec center Judo would eventually pay off.

There comes a moment in all our lives when we must kick and throw and taunt and launch fireballs, to say nothing of the possibility of launching an electric uppercut. For many of us, that moment goes by the name

DRAGON
PUNCH

and pretty much centers around either standing in an unbearably long line or passing the time at a crummy restaurant.

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Has BattleCON Been Exceeded?

Over-the-top characters settling their differences through pugilism. If that doesn't smell like Indines, I don't know what Indines smells like.

At first glance, Level 99’s forthcoming fighting game, Exceed, looks suspiciously similar to their flagship fighting game, BattleCON. Don’t believe me? Take a look:

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Don’t Resistor

After all these years of smoke and feuding and blood-stained cities, only they remain. Them and their contested highscore at Pac-Man.

I’ve long been of the opinion that the highest authorities in the land, the dudes who carry matching sets of nuclear launch keys with grave determination and a too-wide gait that hints at unbroken years of constipation, really ought to hire some regular guy off the street. Just to sit in on their super-secret meetings. To sip coffee in the corner and look bewildered while they talk about foreign policy. That way, when someone gets the bright idea to transfer control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to a digital mind with genocidal tendencies, that guy can twiddle his thumbs for a bit before clearing his throat, leaning forward, and putting them straight.

“Hey, that idea? About the murder-bot and all our nukes? It’s, ah… I don’t know how to say this nicely, Mr. President, but it’s shit.”

And that’s how we’re going to prevent RESISTOR from happening.

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Welcome to Bright Sunny Indines

A love story... nay, a love SAGA to weather the ages.

In a lot of ways, Indines seems like the ideal tourist destination. It’s bright. Sunny. The people are exotic and vibrant, and have sexy, unfamiliar names like Kallistar Flarechild and Zaamassal Kett. The general populace has long ago gotten used to inter-planar travelers popping into existence left and right, so there’s nary a grouse to be heard about bloody foreigners or damn tourists or anything ugly like that.

It’s so nice, it’s almost easy to forget that there are apparently only two careers in Indines: university professor and punching bag. More often than not, they’re the same job.

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Out of the Dimly-Lit Past

Note that I cropped out their eyes. Art!

While there’s a part of me that marvels at how it’s been two years since I reviewed Noir as part of the Minigame Library, and ponders at how much I have changed and grown and aged over the past 24 months, mostly I think of that part of me as an unoriginal nitwit. We’re reminiscing now? Thinking about how I was once a fresh-faced 26 year-old? No time for that — there are murders to solve. Poor Irma is too busy being dead to pine over her lost youth, so why should I mope over mine?

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Old Blades, New Ideas

Alternate Title: "The Blades Themselves." Mostly because I love the First Law trilogy.

Millennium Blades is a game about a group of friends playing a game called Millennium Blades. And while you might think I’m being sort of a jackass since any game can be described that way (“Uno is a game about a group of friends being too bored to play anything but a game called Uno”), you’d actually be wrong. Because Millennium Blades really is a game about playing a game. And that game is called Millennium Blades.

Hold on, let me explain.

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