Chris Ingersoll

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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

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As part of Snackbar Games’ July column shuffle, Gaming Unplugged‘s Chris Ingersoll uses his local multiplayer knowledge for something more digital in this Multitap entry.

When Graham discussed the best options for handheld local multiplayer experiences, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was mentioned as being “by far the deepest.” Well, thanks to our little feature column shake-up experiment, I’m here to get into that deepness a little more. You can consider this my sixth Hunter’s Notes if you want, although I’ll be taking a more traditional approach to writing for this one. READ MORE

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Drinkbox Studios first released Guacamelee! for the PS3 and Vita last year. It made appearances on two of our Staff Picks lists, but due to circumstances beyond our control, it never got an official Snackbar review. Thankfully, an updated Super Turbo Championship Edition was recently released to all the home consoles, giving us a chance to correct this oversight.

This finely-crafted love letter to both Mexican culture and video games in general is, at its core, a Metroidvania-style adventure with a combat emphasis taken from arcade-y beat-’em-ups. As you progress through the game, you will receive new attacks and other moves that will aid you in exploring the various areas in which the story takes place. As a Metroidvania, there will inevitably be backtracking as your new abilities gain you access to areas that were previously closed off, but most of it is narratively justified until you reach the endgame. READ MORE

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The worst outcome for a first-time game designer is, ironically, capturing lighting in a bottle. Yes, you get all the benefits that come from a brilliant creation that captures the hearts and minds of players. But what can you do for a follow-up that could possibly compare favorably? This was the situation in which Greater Than Games found itself as it had to release its new cooperative space-ship deckbuilding game Galactic Strike Force in the wake of its monumentally-successful cooperative comic book superhero game Sentinels of the Multiverse. Did the team recapture the magic of Sentinels, or did it hit the somewhat inevitable sophomore slump? The answer is a little of both. READ MORE

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Seven years ago, Uwe Rosenberg’s Agricola took the modern board gaming world by storm, winning award after award and entrenching itself firmly atop the BoardGameGeek.com ratings, where it still resides comfortably as the third highest-rated game of all time. Its not flawless by any means, and many gamers opt to not even use the best — and to be fair, most complicated — aspect of the game: the occupation and minor improvement cards. The “family game” version sacrifices variability for simplicity, but loses little to none of the worker-placement struggle to avoid starvation as you develop your own farm. Now Rosenberg has revisited many of his Agricola mechanics for a sequel of sorts in Caverna: The Cave Farmers, which eliminates the cards altogether to provide one unified experience. READ MORE

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Let’s be honest right up front and admit that the Mario Kart series has settled into the same familiar wheel-spinning evident in a lot of Nintendo’s long-running franchises lately. Of course, there really isn’t that much room for improvement, since the series has been incredible for just about its entire run. Mario Kart 8, like most of its predecessors, adds a couple of interesting new minor features, mixes up the roster (now including five babies and seven Koopalings!), and of course provides 16 incredible all-new tracks along with the now-standard 16 retro courses without noticeably breaking anything important. READ MORE

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The whole “Mayan Calendar” doomsday scenario of late 2012 was an amusing, if ultimately pointless, event that will largely vanish into memory as time passes. For board game fans, however, it will forever be immortalized by the brilliant Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, designed by Italian Daniele Tascani with help from fellow countryman Simone Luciani. Tzolk’in appeared on a truly impressive number of year’s best lists from late 2012 to early 2014, winning a half-dozen awards and nominated for at least twice as many more in that span. READ MORE

gu_spyrium3Worker placement is a recurring mechanic in a lot of modern board games. One of the very first games to use this mechanic was Caylus, designed by William Atta almost ten years ago. Nearly a decade after his debut creation, Atta has returned to the worker placement mindspace and turned it into Spyrium with some unique modifications. READ MORE

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With the ability to turn production sketches directly into in-game assets, the UbiArt engine supplies some breathtakingly delicate visuals to Child of Light. The unique graphical design, combined with a haunting piano-dominated score, bring the story of Aurora’s journey through Lemuria to life in a way that will be remembered for a long time. While not flawless, this odd blend of turn-based RPG and flying platformer is certainly an experience worth investigating. READ MORE

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One of my very first Unplugged columns covered the deluxe version of Cheapass Games mainstay Kill Doctor Lucky. I’ve been a fan of James Ernest’s quirky game design philosophy for a while now, but my only experience with one of his flagship titles was not a favorable one due to one or two problems that really dragged it down. Fortunately, a new card-only version of KDL has eliminated these and made casual homicide fun again. READ MORE