Chris Handy’s first Pack O Game has been something of a wild ride, ranging from delightful highs to more than one stretch of tedium. Much like a bus journey, perhaps? Nah, not really, as anyone who’s ever ridden a Greyhound across any significant distance can attest. There comes a point of self-annihilation, usually when the Great Plains stretch out before ye, where you come to comprehend that nothing you have ever experienced has occurred beyond the inverted reflection of light against your retinas, the imposed firing of nerve endings or vibrating cochlea. It’s a moment of tremendous enlightenment, if perchance you permit it to be. Otherwise it might consume you, as only falling upward into the black night sky could do.
Anyway, BUS is a rather good conclusion to the Pack O Game!
I’m a big fan of Pixel Tactics. Look, I’ll prove it, right over here, here, and here. I never even got around to reviewing the sprawling deluxe set, because, one, I had nothing interesting to say that hadn’t already been said, and two, there was so much stuff in that big box.
Which is why I struggled to pull the trigger on Mega Man Pixel Tactics, which promised not one, not two, but three new boxes. On the one hand, I’ve never minded more of a good thing, even when we’re talking ice cream and more of a good thing will make me ill for two days. On the other, I still haven’t seen everything my current collection of Pixel Tactics has to offer. Which, considering I have the exact same problem with BattleCON: Fate of Indines, seems to be a recurring theme with D. Brad Talton’s designs. The guy is dangerous like a good fast food restaurant.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with word games. Raised from birth to compete in Scrabble, I can identify all the best two- and three-letter words. I’m the guy you accuse of cheating when playing online. But I’m not cheating. It’s just that I’m a robot with a singular purpose, and that purpose is to spell QUICHES on a triple-word score.
With that level of programming rattling around my head, you’d think SHH would be my sort of thing. So let’s talk.
For today’s review, Dan Thurot was tasked with looking at a kid’s game — Scuttle!, an adventure of piratical treasure-hoarding — while unfortunately not possessing any kids of the proper age. His daughter can count to twenty, but even simple arithmetic is a little out of reach. In order to determine whether this is the Best Game For Kids, he has enlisted Brock Poulsen, who owns as many as THREE TIMES the number of children. You can handle that math on your own.
Thus far, the best titles in the small-as-a-pack-of-gum Pack O Games — which I only just now realize is a very, very light pun — have navigated the sweet spot between simple and too simple. By presenting a slender set of rules that still gives everyone some latitude in how to behave, games like HUE and GEM seem deeper than their ninety-second explanation would imply, generating tension through the guesswork of who’s in the lead and how to reel them back in.
FLY, on the other hand, is the simplest of the lot. But does that push it into TKO territory?
At some point, I really ought to acknowledge that each of the titles in the Pack O Games consists of only three letters. Speaking as a wordsmith, that alone is an achievement. I picture Chris Handy lying awake at night, struggling to name his latest creation. “GNT? RBY? NYX? DMN?” He furiously blots out the combinations of letters that fill his notepad, then calls out to his wife, rousing her from her sleep. “What’s another word for a bijou?” he asks, wiping away the perspiration on his forehead with the back of his hand.
Meanwhile, GEM is a game about the high-powered world of diamond auctioning.