Chris Ingersoll

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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

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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