Chris Ingersoll

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Do you remember the end of Skyward Sword? When Link had to plow through wave after wave of bokoblins as he made his way to the center of the Sealed Grounds? Wasn’t that an awesome change of pace for the Legend of Zelda series? Well, if you liked that, you will absolutely love Hyrule Warriors, which takes Koei Tecmo’s successful Dynasty Warriors franchise and applies Nintendo’s world of Hyrule and its storied history. READ MORE

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Risk is one of the all-time classics and is probably among the first five games the general populace thinks of when they hear the term “board game.” It’s also, to fans of modern board gaming, right up there with Monopoly as a horrible game design that just kills fun. That said, conquering the world with military force is still an attractive theme, so it’s no real surprise that “improved” versions of Risk have cropped up from time to time. READ MORE

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The original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, despite its ridiculous title, was one of the best early offerings on the 3DS. It made several of our year-end top ten lists, was a runner-up to our Best 3DS Game award that year and was a virtual lock to make our 3DS Best to Own Forever list earlier this year. And it would have, were it not for the fact that a sequel, Curtain Call, was about to be released.

Curtain Call takes everything that made Theatrhythm great and adds more of it: more songs, more characters, more titles from which to draw those songs and more of the original’s “Dark Notes,” now turned into the new Quest Medley mode. It even removed some of the minor flaws, like the pointless (if optional) tap-fest Intros and Epilogues and restricting the characters’ skill slots to a specific type. READ MORE

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Hades has recruited minions of evil in an attempt to obtain Merlin’s magic crystal, which would allow him to take over the Magic Kingdom as his own personal summer home. Merlin can’t fight them off alone, so that’s where you come in. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to intercept these baddies via magic portals and use your spells to thwart them.

This is the narrative behind Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, an interactive experience that can be found in the Disney theme park in question, first introduced in 2012. Sorcerers is a curious variation on a collectible card game, in that there is no actual purchase to play other than entry into the park itself. Those interested in playing simply need to visit the firehouse in Main Street USA (or the outpost behind one of the shops in Liberty Square) and talk to one of the cast members there. READ MORE

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It’s easy to see why Ancient Rome is a fertile inspiration for many game designers. The Romans’ interest in politics, military tactics, art, architecture and religion all offer different elements that can be mixed together into an interesting whole. Stefan Feld’s 2011 title Trajan mixes six aspects of Roman culture, but ties everything together with a mechanic that is decidedly African instead of European. READ MORE

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When Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first announced, the respective fan bases of both franchises were sold almost immediately. The two camps have a significant overlap, and those fans had just been exposed to something they knew they wanted very badly yet had never even imagined could be possible. Even fans of only one half of the mix were intrigued by the possibilities of the two worlds colliding. READ MORE

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At the outset of Over the Moon Games Studio’s debut offering, The Fall, a figure in an advanced combat suit plummets towards a planet for reasons never explained. Seconds before slamming into a rocky outcropping, the combat suit’s self-defense systems automatically kick in, initiating antimatter shielding that lets the suit blast through the obstacle without harm. The figure then proceeds to carve a fifty-meter hole into the surface before finally coming to rest.

This self-defense system is operated by an artificial intelligence called an armored robotic interface device (ARID), which is also capable of piloting the suit independently should the user within become unresponsive. After a fall like that, “unresponsive” is probably the best-case scenario, but since almost all of the suit’s diagnostics and advanced functions were disabled the AI has no way of knowing anything more than that. Driven by its Asimov-like three parameters — “must not misrepresent reality,” “must be obedient” and “must protect active pilot” — it decides that finding medical attention for its pilot is its primary objective. READ MORE

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The Marvel-vs.-DC comic publisher rivalry has played out for decades on the printed page and subsequent adaptations. Movies, animation (both features and series), video games, action figures and even various role-playing game systems have all drawn from the deep rosters of both companies’ history of creativity. In 2012, two deck-building games were released: one Marvel (published by Upper Deck), one DC (published by Cryptozoic). I have only recently been able to play them both, partially thanks to recent expansions, and wanted to compare the two head-to-head as is contractually required of Internet fanboys. READ MORE

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Last year I talked about Dragon Whisperer, a fine if unremarkable trick-taking game with some beautiful art design but no substance to match it. Playing Dragon Whisperer left me wanting more from the intersection of Hearts-style game play and fantasy adventure. Amazingly, a few months later I stumbled upon the Kickstarter campaign for Tricked-Out Hero from Prolific Games, which appeared to offer just that and decided to give it some support. READ MORE

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I was disappointed in last year’s Ascension offering, Rise of Vigil. The energy/treasure mechanic made the set too insular when applied to older releases, and getting the most treasures seemed to have a direct correlation to winning more often than not. When its expansion, Darkness Unleashed, was released, my local store had difficulty getting a copy in and yet I made no effort to pick it up elsewhere. I just didn’t care for more of that kind of gameplay, so I let it slide by.

This year’s new set, Realms Unraveled, feels more like the Ascension I’ve come to love, to the point where it almost feels as basic as the original release, Chronicle of the Godslayer. Of course it isn’t quite that simple, thanks to some new tricks I’ll get to in a minute, but a lot of the extra additions from previous sets are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately that includes Trophy Monsters and Events, two changes I enjoyed, but you can’t have everything. READ MORE