Geek Out

3 Lists of 3 Star Trek: The Original Series

Jim handed me two Star Trek 3 Lists of 3 last month and somehow your uncle Geekly only posted one of them. My bad. I don’t have a whip on hand, so I may have to flagellate myself with my back scratcher.

Thanks for the Trek article, Standard Issue Star Trek Geek Jim.

In my last Star Trek article, I listed The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine ahead of The Original Series. Lest some of our readers take that as a knock on The Original Series, I want now to give credit where it’s due and explore some of what makes TOS special.

Things to Love about Star Trek: The Original Series

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Optimism

Each Star Trek series reflects its time in a certain way. Now, with everything happening in our twenty-four-hour-news world, it seems the product of that is post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. In the 1960s, we faces race riots, the Vietnam War, and the threat of mutually assured destruction with the USSR. Somehow, Star Trek managed to imagine a future that had taken all of that and persevered onto better things. I know, in Trek canon, there is an apocalyptic war, but we survive it and we prosper.

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Diversity

In a time when Americans feared a communist takeover of the world, we see Chekov, a Russian, on the bridge of the Enterprise. Twenty years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we see a show put a person of Japanese ancestry, Sulu, on the bridge with Chekov. An African American woman, Uhura, is a bridge officer herself. This is the world we’re still striving for today.

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Philosophy

Star Trek has always had episodes that posed philosophical questions, but it all began with The Original Series. Yes, there were plenty of episodes that focused on seducing green women, but TOS questioned its viewers with what we might do in a situation where we found ourselves the inferior life form, and how we might respond should a superior life form treat us as indifferently as we, at times, treat our own planet’s less evolved animals.

Best Characters

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Captain Kirk

You knew he’d have to be here, so let’s skip the how and get into why he’s a special character without having to compare him to other Trek captains. James Kirk is the prototypical romantic idea of a starship captain. He’s young to hold such a high rank, he’s handsome and charismatic, but he’s also evolved in a way that fits with the idea of our future the show sets out. Yes, we can get into his sexual proclivity and criticize the character for that, but episodes like Balance of Terror and The Enemy Within do a great job of complicating Kirk as a character and showing an appreciation for his gentler nature, his respect for life, and the effects of the strain of command.

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Spock

Another one you knew would have to make the cut, but let’s talk about why. Spock introduces us to Vulcans on the show, but he’s only half Vulcan. In that way, he’s a surrogate for the audience in understanding the differences between the races, but in another, very progressive way, he represents the joining of worlds the show hopes for, and what is mirrored in the civil rights movement of that time.

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Bones

Doctor McCoy is gruff, old fashioned and at times, even a little backward in his thinking by comparison to the other characters aboard Enterprise. Somehow, however, there’s still a place for him. He’s still a part of that world, still thrives in it, and the crew is better for having him there. Maybe this is Roddenberry’s way of acknowledging there will always be holdouts where progress is concerned, and maybe that’s okay.

Things We Can Forgive

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It’s Pollyanna

I love the optimism in Star Trek. It’s probably my favorite things about the franchise, but there are some things that get a little too sugar-coated. One thing that comes to mind is Gene Roddenberry’s insistence that currency does not exist in the Federation, despite references to “credits” in the show. Who would volunteer to scrub plasma conduits, or wear a red shirt in a landing party if they weren’t being paid? What does the Federation do if not enough people aspire to mine dilithium on colony worlds? Do they force them? That’s suddenly a much darker world, isn’t it? Even so, I’ll take a little wishful thinking over mindless pessimism. The issue of currency rarely comes up in the show anyway.

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Retcons

For those who don’t know the term, “retcon” means retroactive continuity. In essence, it’s what happens when a story contradicts itself and needs to be explained away. The Klingons’ appearance, and the changing color scheme of crew members’ jerseys are examples of this in the show. Gene Roddenberry described himself as a notorious revisionist, and told fans whatever the most recent instance laid out should be taken as canon. Given that Star Trek boasts improvement and evolution as some of its major themes, can’t we accept a little revising now and then?

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It didn’t do more

Simon Pegg, in promoting Star Trek: Beyond, expressed disappointment in the fact that some fans bristled at Sulu’s portrayal as homosexual in the movie. This was meant as an homage to George Takei, who originally portrayed the character, and is homosexual himself, but I think this portrayal may have undercut Roddenberry. We may feel discouraged by the intolerance we see in our daily lives today, but there’s no denying that whatever bigotry exists in our world, it isn’t the same as the institutionalized intolerance of the past. Some have said Gene Roddenberry would have loved to portray a gay character, but we have to remember he was facing bans in the south for having an interracial kiss on screen (Kirk and Uhura). Roddenberry may have wished he could push the envelope further. Today, an interracial kiss on screen isn’t even noteworthy, so before addressing the social issues Star Trek didn’t tackle, it’s only fair to acknowledge that we today aren’t up against the same things Roddenberry was in the 1960s.

Hopefully giving a little love to The Original Series assuages some of the perceived shade my last Trek article may have thrown in that direction. If you’re a die-hard fan of TOS, and you still feel I’ve wronged the classics, just remember that all I’ve really said is Star Trek is a franchise that has improved on itself. Would Gene Roddenberry have wanted it any other way?

Tabletop Games That Would Make a Good Movie

Your uncle Geekly made a list like of tabletop games that would make a good movie three or four years ago, but a lot can happen over the course of years, Uncle Geekly’s a fickle bastard, so the list would’ve changed two weeks after the first one. Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Nah, too scary. Ouija? Ach! Hollywood already made a movie about that since the last list. Maybe the following five games would make a good movie.

And yes, there have been good board game movies. Clue was one, I think. Unfortunately, they’re rebooting it. Ugh!

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Scythe

At first glance, someone may think of Scythe as a war game, but it’s more of a cold war game. It’s set in an alternate sci-fi fantasy version of post-World War I Europe. The technology used to fight The Great War far exceeds our current tech. One look at a gargantuan Mech is a great cue, but despite its vast technology, this world is more of an agrarian continent destabilized by conflict.

Scythe’s story changes depending on how gamers play, but the overall concept has the makings of a political thriller with plenty of espionage. This is a cold war game after all. It’s just a cold war game with Mechs, and that’s awesome.

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Pandemic: Legacy

The original Pandemic made the first list of this type, and one could argue that there’s already a Pandemic movie out there (Contagion), but Pandemic: Legacy adds what at first can be viewed as a subtle layer of storytelling that becomes so pronounced toward the middle of the game (gamers play a finite number of games, usually 24, because there is a story that unfolds like a movie or TV show) that you realize you aren’t playing base game Pandemic anymore. I won’t spoil anything here.

But the fact that I could spoil a tabletop game for someone suggests that it could make a great movie or TV show. I’m not that picky.

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Gloomhaven

People have seen high fantasy movies where the heroes join forces to conquer a common evil or foe. Gloomhaven shakes things up by having these “heroes” motivated by selfish endeavors and that needs to happen more in high fantasy stories. The city of Gloomhaven is down on its luck. You can kind of guess that by its name. Its “heroes” or anti-heroes don’t mirror the world in which they live.

This has the potential to be a dark movie, but in the hands of the right people, Gloomhaven could have some of the deepest fantasy characters.

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Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter may come off as a Walking Dead clone, but like Walking Dead, the zombies aren’t the most engaging thing about the story. The survivors take center stage. In Dead of Winter, players don’t know who the traitor is in their midst, they don’t even know if there is a traitor. This set up has the trappings of a good psychological thriller.

The setting of a zombie-apocalypse in the bitter cold adds another layer of tension. Finding out that food rations go missing or there aren’t enough being produced as before or that items like coats and firewood go missing would call into question everyone’s loyalty.

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Fireball Island

Sometimes you just want a dumb action movie about grabbing treasure and getting the heck off an island. Hire a resident actor of weird roles like Tim Curry, Johnny Depp, Neil Patrick Harris, or Jim Carrey and add them to the formula of a huge volcano god puking fireballs, and you’ll have yourself a hit. You just need a volcano god puking fireballs.

These five games can’t be the only ones good for a movie adaptation. Slap me upside the head with a VHS tape—those are ancient movie viewing devices for younger readers—or let me know about it in comments. If you like what we do, subscribe to our page to get updates and then you can let me know how wrong I am as soon as possible.

My Favorite Storytelling Elements Spider-Man “Kraven’s Last Hunt”

Most critics dub “Kraven’s Last Hunt” the greatest Kraven story ever told and one of the best Spider-Man stories. It features plenty of comic book action, but the character studies are what set “Kraven’s Last Hunt” from other Spidey tales.

The world no longer appreciated Kraven’s physical prowess. It no longer marveled at his courage, and most animal rights activists condemned him—he was a hunter after all—and the world he lived in no longer made sense. Before he met Spider-Man he’d never known defeat or humiliation. Now Kraven has fallen ill. He knows the end is near, but before he goes, he vows to reclaim his honor and prove his superiority over Spider-Man. He went out for one last hunt.

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“Kraven’s Last Hunt” embraces Kraven’s personal struggles. It blends aspects from classic literature and recurring themes to find a deeper truth. Kraven doesn’t just want to kill Spider-Man. In fact, Kraven doesn’t kill Spidey when he has the chance. He buries Spidey alive on his complex and assumes his identity. There’s even a moment where Kraven rescued Mary Jane, Spidey’s new wife, and she can see through Kraven’s disguise. Kraven falls short of being a hero. He never was one. This is a story that questions what it means to be a hero.

Kraven also thinks he can drive Spider-Man past the point where he ceases to be a hero. A rat-like monster named Vermin stalks the streets of New York while Spidey rests six-feet under. Kraven beats the creature unconscious, brutalizes him, and takes him prisoner. After Spidey comes to, he wants revenge for the time Kraven took from him. His anger leads him to Vermin, who Kraven uses as pawn to see if Spidey is strong enough to do unto Vermin what he did. Spidey proves that he’s strong enough not to.

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There are so many themes of what makes a hero and what makes a good person that it’s easy to see why “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is high on most critics lists of Spider-Man stories. It not only portrays Kraven at both the height of his powers and the lowest, it does a great job in its portrayal of Peter and Mary Jane’s young marriage.

Readers see how MJ deals with Peter’s disappearance and how she’d react if Peter ever died in action. It’s a great window into the life of someone who must stay up late, worrying if their loved one is okay. In short, “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is a triumph and a must read for any Spider-Man fan or Spidey newbie.

Is there anything about “Kraven’s Last Hunt” that you liked that I didn’t mention? If there is, message me and I’ll give you Jim’s phone number to complain to him. Or you could let us know in comments.

Getting Started with Cooperative Board Games

Let’s talk about cooperative board games—cause you’ve gotta have friends. These are games where the players compete against the game, not the other players seated at the table. It also happens to be one of your uncle Geekly’s family’s favorite gaming types. That could be due to a lineage of sore losers.

They’re sore losers, not me. No, really. They’re terrible. I have no idea what you’re talking about. No, you’re a stupid, doodoo face, and I don’t want to play with you anymore because you cheat. Cheater!

You don’t have to worry about cheaters as much with cooperative board games, and there are plenty of these games out there. The problem is that some of these games aren’t that good and others are too difficult to get into. Don’t worry. Your uncle Geekly will point you in the right direction of some good beginner cooperative board games.

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Pandemic

I almost didn’t put this one on the list, but I’m sure tabletop game purists would cry foul if I didn’t. You made a list of great starter cooperative games and you didn’t include Pandemic? Shame!

Calm down. It’s on the list.

Players assume the roles of people trying to stop a global pandemic. The diseases behave like you’d think diseases may behave and that makes sense, since the game’s designer Matt Leacock happens to be a medical doctor. Come to think of it, I could use a physical. There’s a growth I’ve been meaning to have examined. I should give him a call.

Anyway. The game scales extremely well, meaning that it plays just as well at two players as it does at five, and there are varying levels of difficulty. You’ll see this in other Leacock games—spoiler alert: one will show up later on this list—and the inclusion of easier difficulties allows players to start small and go for something more challenging later. The theme is also one people can get behind. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen players name the various diseases, even though these diseases are represented by little more than cubes.

The one gripe I may have about Pandemic is that there can be a tendency for an alpha gamer (a player who tells other players what to do) but give them a few kicks to the cubes and they’ll stop. Pandemic is one of the games that put cooperative games on the map, and it’s easy enough to learn for new gamers.

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Hanabi

Hanabi is the odd game on this list. It’s a simple card game for folks who don’t want a more complicated game, so it’s easily the most streamlined game here. It also encourages non-verbal communication. It’s like Freddie Mercury once said, give me your body.

Well, maybe not, but body language and positioning cards a certain way in your hand does come into play here. Hanabi uses a deck of cards numbered 1 through 5 in various colors or suits. Players must place these cards in order by suit, but the catch is that each player’s hand of cards is facing away from them, and the other players must give their teammates clues as to what’s in their hand.

Hanabi forces players to create their own language as they’re only able to give simple clues like “this is a 5” or “this card is yellow.” It’s up to the player receiving the information to figure out what was intended. While “this card is a 5” usually means don’t discard it, idiot, because there’s only one 5 of each color in the deck, “this card is yellow” could mean that the card in question plays on the communal play pile or if yellow is already finished (as in the 5 has already been played), “these cards are yellow” could mean that you need to discard those cards and get new ones.

No one can say anything besides short clues about cards in other players hands. I’ve never seen a more tense game where little is said.

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Forbidden Desert

Yep, Forbidden Desert is the other Matt Leacock game. I also could’ve gone with Forbidden Island here, but it’s kind of a Pandemic light. Forbidden Island is worth the play if Pandemic or Forbidden Desert sound too complicated. Did I mention that Matt Leacock is the king of cooperative board games? Well, if he isn’t, he’s close.

Forbidden Desert adds moving location tiles and sand tiles to bring home the theme of a desert and its shifting sands. Players can lose four or five ways but can only win if they find the parts to an ancient, Jules Verne style flying contraption and escape. Anything is better when you add a steam punk.

Players also have variable powers like they do in Pandemic and these powers are based on occupation, and the flying contraption is one of the best implementations of a toy piece in a board game. I don’t know the last time I placed one of the pieces in the flying contraption. I usually have the task of dismantling. Your uncle Geekly’s a little salty about that.

Like Pandemic, Forbidden Desert is clever and finds a way to make the desert its own character. That’s always a strong point for a game. I can’t wait to see what Leacock’s third game in the trilogy Forbidden Sky will bring. It just came out at GenCon 2018.

Final Thoughts

Even if a cooperative game is more complicated than the ones on this list, it’s easy to teach new players because players join forces to beat the game. Players want their teammates to succeed so a cooperative game is a great place to begin for a new gamer, but the games on this list are very assessible. If you don’t think so, I’ll dump a bucket of cold water on Jim.

Know of any other great beginner cooperative games? Let us know in the comments.

3 Lists of 3 Mini Games in Video Games

There are some mini games—small games within larger one—that are more fun to play than the original video game in which they’re found. Mini games are so pervasive in video games that there are some video games that are nothing but compilations of mini games. Uncle Geekly’s looking at you, Mario Party and Wario Ware.

But which mini games are the best in the business? Which ones are ones someone could play for hours on end without finishing the main questline? Your uncle Geekly will give you his answer with this week’s 3 list of 3.

Great Mini Games

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Project Gotham Racing 2 (Geometry Wars)

Geometry Wars had its humble beginnings in the popular racing game Project Gotham Racing 2 as a hidden joke. The designers threw in this minimalist retro puzzle game, and it became so popular that it received a standalone release, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.

This twin-stick space shooter had such addictive gameplay and stunning visuals that gamers didn’t care about the game’s uncompromising difficulty. Slap me around and call me novice.

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Super Monkey Ball (Monkey Target)

Rolling monkeys inside giant, transparent spheres is no easy task. I never got into Super Monkey Ball’s main game, but I’m up for a multiplayer game Monkey Target any time. Your monkey rolls down a huge ramp, and once they’ve built up enough momentum, those large balls open up to form wings. Then, players glide their monkeys gently through bananas and power-ups to land on targets found in the middle of the sea.

Gliding is relaxing, Monkey Target’s controls are far better than Super Monkey Ball’s, and the mini game is joy. I could play—and have played—this mini game all day.

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Animal Crossing (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Who needs a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic when you can collect in-game NES cartridges in Animal Crossing?

Sure, this one’s a little bit of a cheat because they’re classic NES games coded within a Wii game, but I got excited whenever I found an NES cartridge in Animal Crossing. I picked up Donkey Kong Jr. Math. Woo hoo!

 

Final Fantasy Mini Games

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Final Fantasy X (Blitzball)

I was going to make this list by incorporating Final Fantasy mini games within the larger list of great mini games, but I came up with 2 out 3 games coming from Final Fantasy, so FF’s getting its own list. I’m not even sorry.

The first one in this list is the one I didn’t include at first because the premise is the strangest of the three: Blitzball. Final Fantasy X’s Blitzball is underwater soccer meets basketball. It makes no sense. It’s also awesome.

I don’t know how many hours I wasted playing Blitzball instead of finishing Final Fantasy X’s main story line. I didn’t care that Sin was going to destroy Spira. I want to sign the best Blitzball goalie Nimrook to a long-term contract. I’m also going to transition from Wedge, who’s a great shooter early game, to a combination of Nedus (very fast and a great prospect for shooting) and Nav Guado (great counter-attacking forward). I’ll assemble a team that no one can beat. Mwah-ha-ha!

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Final Fantasy (Chocobo Racing)

Final Fantasy VII introduced chocobo racing, and it was a blast. The breeding system didn’t make a lot of sense, but the actual act of racing your chocobo (those are ostrich-type creatures for those who don’t play much Final Fantasy) played well. You had to know when to sprint your chocobo and when not to. I’m king of the chocobos.

The mini game was so popular that Final Fantasy brought the sport back for several iterations. Final Fantasy XIII-2 had a complex system where players could develop their chocobo’s statistics. You had to strike the right balance to achieve victory. Final Fantasy XV allows players to ride chocobos in the open world, which felt great, especially when Prompto makes up words for the song that plays every time a chocobo graces the screen.

“I like to ride my chocobo all day.” Me, too, Prompto. Me, too.

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Final Fantasy VIII (Triple Triad)

I find that most gamers fall into one of two mini card game camps: Triple Triad or Gwent. While I admit Gwent is a great game, it got its own release separate from The Witcher after all, I’m in the Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad camp. I’m an older gamer. Deal with it.

I never used Quezacotl’s Card Mod Ability on any rare card. Keep your 100 Megalixirs; I want my Bahamut card. The same goes for three Diamond Armors. That Seifer card is too awesome.

I even cast the card capture spell so many times I lost count. I didn’t even care if I won a battle, I just wanted my cards. Sure, it’s a little like Pokemon, but I had to collect them all.

 

Fun skill checks that may as well be mini games

This one may need a little clarification. There are games within games, but there are also skill checks that can happen (like sneaking or fishing) that can occur within a game that’s really another mini game within a larger game. Here are three good examples of skill check mini games.

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Bioshock (Pipe Hacking)

A lot of games feature some lame computer hacking mini game—I’m looking at you Fallout 3’s word searches and Mass Effect 2’s matching blurry lines of code that you couldn’t pay me to play—but Bioshock took the classic game Pipe Dream and added a steampunk twist. One had to find and match pipes to make water flow where you wanted it to before the water escaped the system.

It’s a fun mini game that gets a little old after the hundredth hack, but it’s a great throwback in an equally great game.

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Fishing)

Gamers can fish as a mini game or skill check in numerous titles. Legend of Zelda even has several titles in its series where fishing is possible, but Ocarina of Time proves to be the best of the best.

The big payout is a piece of heart, but I liked it when I caught a fish so big that the guy who runs the plays deemed it “illegal.” Screw him. I threw his hat into the pond.

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Skyrim and other Bethesda titles (Lockpicking)

Skyrim started the old hair grip and screwdriver method of opening locks. Bethesda has perfected this rumble controller feedback, dexterous challenge. I know that I’d never be a great lockpicker in real life, but for a few hours, I can pretend with Skyrim, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Fallout 3.

There are too many mini games to list here. Let us know what your favorites are in the comments and if you don’t agree with any of the games on this list, you can challenge me to lockpicking duel in Skyrim. First one to 100 wins.

Crazy Things Video Game Developers Charged Money For

Video gamers have to put up with a lot from developers. Increased costs for additional content and hidden fees have become the norm. While developers can—and will—defend practices like extra downloadable maps, loot boxes, and microtransactions in addition to a game’s original $60 asking price, there have been things video game developers have charged players that make no sense.

Fortunately, your uncle Geekly is good at nonsense, so here are some crazy things video game developers have charged their customers and hoped their customers wouldn’t notice. Buckle up; this’ll be a bumpy ride.

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Mortal Kombat (Easy Fatalities)

Mortal Kombat is known for one thing: gore. The gore doesn’t get more gruesome than when it comes in the form of fatalities.

Usually, players input a series of buttons to execute a fatality after their opponent is weak enough. We’re talking about your opponent swaying back and forth on wobbly knees, but Mortal Kombat X sold the aptly named “Easy Fatalities” as downloadable content. Developer NetherRealm Studios insisted that it was to help players experience every part of the game, but it’s just a cash grab.

Fighting games center around pressing the right combination of buttons. If someone is playing Mortal Kombat X and doesn’t remember a button combination, they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to pull off a fatality. You’d still win the game; you just wouldn’t have the extra animation. Learn the controls.

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Metal Gear Survive (Extra Save File)

What? Someone had the grapes to charge players for an extra save space of a game they bought? Yes. Yes, they did. Screw you, Konami.

This scrapes the top of a very ugly iceberg for Konami. They’ve produced some terrible add-on content before and charged folks full price for unfinished games that were nothing but extended demos—we’re looking at you Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes—but the worst thing Konami has charged players for is the privilege of occupying more space on their hard drives.

We’re not talking about one of the better Metal Gears either. Metal Gear Survive must be the worst thing with Metal Gear in its title. Ugh!

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Asura’s Wrath (The True Ending)

Unlike a lot of other games on this list Asura’s Wrath is very good—I recommend it as it’s a sort of interactive anime that blends mythology and sci-fi—but it’s on this list because of an unsavory practice that many other games have duplicated: teasing a better and different ending. The game does more than suggest that there will be a sequel—we’re still waiting—and instead of doing that, Capcom added new downloadable content entitled “The True Ending.”

While it didn’t cost that much, this true ending proved the first in the line of game developers screwing over their customers with unnecessary content. I don’t care about a slightly different ending. Where’s “the true sequel?”

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Final Fantasy: All the Bravest (Buy Randomized Characters)

Remember how I said that Metal Gear Survive was the worst thing with Metal Gear in its title? Final Fantasy: All the Bravest may be the worst thing with Final Fantasy in its title. Square Enix marketed this game as a mobile game for Final Fantasy fans, but it’s nothing like a typical Final Fantasy game and the developer pumped the game with so many microtransactions that it’s made as much, or more money than, a typical Final Fantasy release, even though it’s free to play.

The worst of these microtransactions comes from buying characters ($0.99 apiece). It’s bad enough that players can’t unlock characters, but All the Bravest adds another level of shade by making these characters random when players buy them. That means that you can purchase the same character you already have. And let’s face it, Final Fantasy has been around so long that there are as many bad characters as good ones. Who wants fifty Snows and no Tifas or Clouds?

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Street Fighter X Tekken (Fighters Already on the Disc)

Street Fighter X Tekken is another case of a game pioneering some bad industry practices. Many games allow the player to unlock additional characters through downloadable content. If a gamer’s lucky, the absence of these characters won’t matter. In others the character in question could fill plot holes—ahem, Mass Effect 3–but Street Fighter X Tekken makes this list because Capcom didn’t do a good enough job of hiding this extra content.

Several additional characters existed at the game’s launch, but players had to purchase a code to download them onto their copy. This reeks of greed. Since these characters were fully developed at the game’s launch, it felt like Capcom gave players a partial game. Again, many developers have copied this practice or have taken it to new heights of low—Star Wars Battlefront 2—but Street Fighter X Tekken started a dirty precedent.

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Tales of Vesperia (Character Experience)

JRPG fans are used to a few things: androgynous protagonists with big hair, scantily clad females with large assets, and grinding—the process of fighting previously conquered areas for experience and levels for your characters. Tales of Vesperia takes the idea of grinding and flips it on its head.

For about $5 players can buy experience points. Okay, that’s bad enough. But that’s only for five levels or so. For another $10 players can purchase more experience that’ll afford them more levels. Great. It might seem silly to put this gaffe on the list. NBA2K and other sports games have charged players for in-game experience points, but players can ignore this offering. Heck, JRPG fans shouldn’t fall victim to this avarice because they’re used to playing long hours to raise levels. The issue is that Namco doles out too little experience in Tales of Vesperia.

The only way to level up any of your characters in a meaningful way is to pay for it. Foul!

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The Saboteur (Nipples)

To understand why nipples in a video game would be something someone would pay for, one must understand the video game rating system. A protagonist can blow people’s brains out of their eye sockets. A game can even zoom in on said brains oozing out of an eye hole in slow motion and the worst a game will get is a Mature rating. But no one can show nipples.

That’s fair. Children see brains flying out of orifices all the time; they don’t ever see nipples. Filth! Filthy little boob hats.

To avoid a higher rating (Adults Only), Electronic Arts omitted every nipple in The Saboteur and allowed players to pay for DLC that returned the omitted nipples to their breasts.

Why? Not that I’m a prude, but why would anyone pay to have digital nipples placed on virtual breasts? And why would Electronic Arts omit nipples to avoid a higher game rating? No one looks at those ratings. Put the nipples on the breasts.

Full disclosure: I just wanted to say nipple and breast several times and drop a boob hat reference in this write up. Mission accomplished.

Maybe you like microtransactions for random characters or you like paying for characters who are already in a game. Maybe there are other examples of DLC and microtransactions that you don’t like. Feel free to share them with us in the comments.

Stay geeky.

My Favorite Game Mechanic: Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Sometimes you want a game that’s easy to learn. Sometimes you want a blast from the past. Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger happens to be both, and your uncle Geekly found a lot of enjoyment out of the game. So much so, that I can’t wait for the next game of the Choose Your Own Adventure series.

If you’ve ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you’re seventy-five percent familiar with this game’s mechanisms. Seriously. House of Danger adds a simple skill check system, but the rest of the game follows the original book. Yes. R. A. Montgomery released a Choose Your Own Adventure book of the same name in 1982.

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I think this game came at the right time. Many games borrow ideas from the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books (T.I.M.E. Stories and most escape room games), but House of Danger commits to recreating one. It’s simple, but it works.

Since the pages (of the novel) are split into individual cards, it’s easy to play the game as a family—and in saying you’re playing the game I really mean that a family or group of friends is reading a book together. I like how House of Danger draws the players’ attention to the Choose Your Own Adventure style of books.

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There were a few moments where die rolls took over the game—I’m looking at you, braving the underground maze—but the bulk of the game when I played with my family was engaging with the written material and making choices that went well or went horribly wrong. And yes, there are moments that make someone what to say that they never did that. Their finger was on the previous page the whole time.

It can be difficult to add a new element to something or manipulate how a story is consumed, but House of Danger does a good job of capturing the feel of a Choose Your Own Adventure, while making it feel new. The added die rolls and progress tracks don’t detract from the original fun.

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Many gamers won’t like that House of Danger has limited replay value, but it’s cheap and like the novels, you can gift them to someone else when you’re done. Sometimes it’s nice to have a finite number of plays. Sometimes it’s nice to relive the past. It also doesn’t hurt that House of Danger is inexpensive.

If you don’t agree with me, go to page 472 or you can leave a comment.