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The GameGuy: The “Back in the Saddle” Edition
By Mark H. Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My readers (all four of them) may have
noticed that it has been six months since the last GameGuy. The emails have
poured in. All you okay? What are you up
to? We need more GameGuy. Actually, not quite. But to answer the unwritten
(and perhaps unasked) question, I’ve been very busy —designing games
(www.locknloadgame.com) and writing books (Games
That Sell). Too busy to write this column that at least I ―if no one
else but my four readers― love.
I didn’t make E3 this year and never missed
it. On the other hand, I did make the two biggest retail game conventions in
North America: GenCon and Origins. Neither is a haven for computer/video
gaming, although GenCon did have quite a few heavy hitters (EA, Atari) in the
lineup, but both are an electric experience.
Jordan K. Weisman is truly turning the
world upside down. You may remember the guy; he designed a game called
BattleTech, and founded FASA. Well FASA is yesterday’s news, but Weisman’s new
company (Whiz Kids) is turning the gaming world on its ear with their combat
dial, collectable miniatures games: HeroClix,
MageKnight, and MechWarrior Dark Ages.
They’re cool, they’re tactile, and they’re simple enough to teach my eight-year
old in fifteen minutes.
Also cool is the new line of Milton Bradley
games. I own two: Star Wars: Epic Duels
and Battle Ball. Epic Duels is a tactical combat game with pre-painted miniatures,
while Battle Ball is Blood Bowl lite. Both take about ten
minutes to learn and another five to teach your kids. These companies so get
it. Gone are the times when I could spend hours at the gaming table or in front
of my monitor playing games. Doing so now garners hard stares from the spouse
and sexless nights. It just ain’t worth it.
Games and gaming are a sick hobby.
Okay, not really, but the hobby certainly
breeds some strange press. Just browsing a gaming newsletter when I come to a
section titled, “Cure Your Summer Blahs with a Computer Upgrade.” Summer Blahs?
Excuse me. I just spent six months enduring the cold, snow, sleet, and rain,
and I’m supposed to feel blue because the summer slow game releases? Puhlease
folks, get a life.
Different topic, but just as strange… back
page of a gaming magazine makes a semi-humorous stab at folks trying to break
into the journalistic side of the gaming industry. It lists some requirements
such as championing obscure games, ‘dissing popular games, and grammatical
ignorance. Unfortunately, there is a bit too much truth in the humor for
comfort. In an industry with way more applicants than jobs, it seems like many
reviewers worry more about making a name for themselves than reviewing games. I guess that’s cool… if you don’t mind
trashing a development team’s two years of blood, sweat, and tears just to bag
another pocket-change review.
Extremely Tight Takes and the Final Word
Recently played a few games that need
comment. Codemaster’s IndyCar Series
is close, but no cigar. Perhaps a PC version with a nice wheel would pull it
off, but on my PS2 the cars are just way too squirrelly. It’s easy to make a
difficult racing game; the challenge is to make a fun one.
Vietcong… not a bad effort. I love the music, and the ambiance is great.
Unfortunately, the VC are pretty damn stupid. Granted they were just militia,
but when a Vietcong’s foot protrudes from a corner, I shoot it, I hit it, and
the VC does nothing, you have some AI problems.
Sorry, I’m not trying to be different, but
I like Dreamcatcher’s Emergency Fire
Response. The thought of a tactical, real-time strategy game in which you
save —rather than destroy— is just too cool. Game looks good too. Monte Cristo
designs it; so I hope the missions are not quite as tedious as those in their
Finally, the IDSA says that PC/Video games
earned billions of dollars in 2002. Do you think they could take some of that
money and make a game wrapper that doesn’t take a Swiss army knife and thirty
nimble fingers to unwrap? Out.
© Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
H. Mark H.
Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written over
40 books and designs games including his soon to be released Lock ‘n Load
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