Unpopular Opinion: Short Runs

You can never have too much of a good thing. Well, Uncle Geekly begs to differ. I haven’t done an unpopular opinion in several months and this one may sound like an idea a lot of people share, but when one breaks down what it means, it doesn’t take long to see why it’s difficult to put into practice.

Part of what makes Firefly special is the fact that it only lasted one season. It never had the opportunity to run its characters and world into the ground, or finish it’s story (I’m not so happy about that aspect), so in a round about way, I like that Fox unceremoniously dumped it after 14 episodes. To be fair, I love Firefly and wished it ended the way Breaking Bad did; tell a tight story with a defined, planned ending.

Breaking Bad knew when to call it quits and did a great job with an ending in mind years before it had a chance to lose its way. Arrow wasn’t spared this fate. The first two seasons were some of the best superhero television I’ve seen, but the next five or six seasons never could capture that magic. The only thing that stays constant for the creative process is that at some point the creative team will lose interest or run out of ideas.

It’s a balancing act of figuring out how long a television show, or other medium, this isn’t specific to just television, can remain relevant and leaving the audience wanting more, and that’s where I’ll get to some current, sacred flamingos. How many seasons does Rick and Morty have before it becomes The Simpsons or Family Guy? When will Westworld and Black Mirror lose their integrity? Have either of them already done so? Would another Souls or The Witcher video game or two cheapen the series? Okay. I believe The Witcher won’t have another entry and if it did, another one would–most likely–cheapen the series.

It’s easy to see when a series loses its way after the fact, but most Rick and Morty fans will be watching the series when it jumps the proverbial great white some time during its next eight seasons. Cartoon Network renewed Rick and Morty for eight seasons and if the show makes it that long, which I don’t think it will, there’s a greater than 86 percent chance Rick and Morty will be a shell of itself. (Note: 86 percent of all made up statistics use the number 86.) The scarcity of something can add value and the projects that know when to call it quits, or at least when to hit the pause button, can be some of the best.

What made Star Wars fans hungry for more content after Return of the Jedi was that they had to wait 16 years for The Phantom Menace. With Disney increasing the production schedule to a Star Wars movie being released every twelve to eighteen months, few people have time to anticipate the next entry of the series. The same can be said of Marvel movies. To be fair, Marvel’s production schedule is like Star Wars on steroids: three to four movies a year. Yikes! Having said all this, I wonder if I’ve done too much with this site.

Eh. Uncle Geekly isn’t that talented anyway, so there isn’t that much quality to be lost with more frequent content. What are your thoughts on this subject? The idea of short runs adding to a project, not the quality of this blog. I may pass all blog complaints to Standard Issue Star Trek Geek Jim, so he can yell at me via yodeling telegram. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Getting into Shōjo Anime: Some Good Starters

It sounds as if Anime Season will take a break for the foreseeable future but before she leaves for an extended Otaku O’clock, she agreed to share her list of some good starter Shōjo anime. For those of you not in the know, Shōjo roughly translates to girl and Shōnen means boy, so we’ll be trading some ninjas wielding oversized swords for romance and slice of life stories with this list. Take it away, Anime Season.

My other write ups tend to explore Shōnen anime more than Shōjo anime. Shōjo isn’t a genre I watch as frequently but the following series are accessible in most legal streaming services (because, you know, Japan is cracking the whip on those illegal services, man).

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Fruits Basket (2001-2003)

When it comes to starter Shōjo anime, Fruits Basket was one of the first ones I thought of. It has the basic Shōjo structure: Girl must live with—or near—a bunch of guys for plot related reasons, girl befriends the guys and doesn’t want to leave them, and a love triangle ensues. This structure sets up romance that most Shōjo series are known for.

However, in the case of Fruits Basket, there is a strange element that sets it apart from other Shōjo anime. I’ll spare the details since it’s included in every synopsis one can find about Fruits Basket. Since a lot of Shōjo have that romance structure there are some that added in an extra element to make themselves more unique. Fruits Basket incorporates the Chinese Zodiac, teaching viewers what each Zodiac is and encouraging them to learn more about it. It’s also pretty accessible and can be found through multiple streaming services. It’s easy to get into and helps one get accustomed to the Shōjo genre.

Fruits Basket has a straightforward story and continuity. For those who are just getting into anime and want to explore the Shōjo genre, Fruits Basket is one I’d recommend.

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My Love Story!!/Ore Monogatari!! (2015)

If one is interested in cute plots featuring role reversal, My Love Story!! is a good start. It has an easy-to-follow storyline featuring the stereotypical best friend character in Shōjo anime as the lead. The main character Takeo wants focuses on getting a girlfriend, but none of the girls like him. His best friend Makoto has zero interest in girls, but every girl falls for him. Forget girls. Makoto has zero interest in anything. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to smack that bored look off his face.

Eventually, Gōda finds a girlfriend, Rinko Yamato, and a series of events follow. Gōda performs chivalrous acts and Rinko’s friends don’t approve of him because of his looks. The story is full of cute character moments (such as Rinko baking sweets for Gōda and him gushing over her baking) and takes the time developing each character. I’d recommend it for those looking for something that has a simplistic structure and good storyline.

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Revolutionary Girl Utena/Shojo kakumei Utena (1997)

Who wants to be a prince? In the case of Utena Tenjō, that’s all she’s dreamed about since she was rescued by a prince at age eight. Eventually, she joins Ohtori Academy where she gets into the Dueling Game (challenges to possess the Rose Bride—Anthy—to “revolutionize the world”). Throughout the series Utena duels to protect Anthy while making friends along the way.

This series is a blend of Shōjo and Shōnen elements (such as the action scenes and the protagonist rising to be the strongest character). The series focuses on Utena’s nobility and features her aiding other characters. It has good character development and isn’t too long, spanning thirty-nine episodes. If nothing else, Revolutionary Girl Utena is worth the watch since it features a strong female protagonist who beats all the guys. I’d recommend it not only for those looking into the Shōjo genre but for those who enjoy strong female progatonists.

 

Final Thoughts

Not only are Fruits Basket, My Love Story!!, and Revolutionary Girl Utena great for those who are just getting into the Shōjo genre, but they’re rewatchable. I’ve found myself turning on Fruits Basket in the background on my tube TV I had mounted on a metal folding chair while doing my freshman science homework. Maybe that was more than you needed to know about my high school life.

Know of any other good Shōjo starter anime? Let us know in the comments.

3 Lists of 3 of Stan Lee

Uncle Geekly was remiss with not publishing a write-up for the late, great Stan Lee a few months ago, but that may be because it’s difficult to boil such an uncanny comic book giant with a small write-up. Ergo, a 3 Lists of 3 may be in order.

But Stan Lee is only as human as the characters he helped bring to life, so one of the following lists may cite some issues fans had with his work or more specifically, the assigning of credit. Even with his faults, Stan “The Man” did more good than most comic book creators. The world lost a legend.

A Pioneer

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Humanizing Superheroes

There’s a tale of Stan Lee’s—it may be a legend by now—that goes like this. Before the dawn of the Marvel Age (when the Fantastic Four first launched) Stan was frustrated with writing the same thing. He told his wife Joan he’d quit, so he could write the stories he wanted to write. Joan responded to Stan that if he wanted to quit, why not write the stories you want to write in comics? If you fail, you wanted to quit anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Stan did what his wife suggested, and the results were character-driven stories that showed superheroes as flawed people. The Fantastic Four fought like any family. Johnny Storm was a hot-head (I’m sure the pun was intended), Peter Parker struggled with most everything (money, school, and getting picked on), and Hulk has anger issues. What made these heroes great was that they had to overcome their shortcomings.

Some of the great comic book characters of the time dabbled with this concept, but Stan Lee made it a point that all his characters would have flaws. A character’s flaws and the conflicts that ensue are what makes a character interesting. Look no further than “This Man, This Monster” where The Thing must make the choice to be The Thing in order to save his friends and family.

Relatable characters existed in comics before the Marvel Age, but Stan Lee’s storytelling spark thrust them to the forefront.

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Interacting with Fans

To call Stan Lee charismatic is an understatement. He acted as cheerleader for his characters as well as his fellow comic book creators, but he stood out equally with his interaction with fans. Stan Lee could give a master course in how to communicate with and respond to fanboys and fangirls.

If a fan caught an error on a page, they could write in and let Stan know. He’d write them a personal letter, complimenting their keen eye. The Marvel No Prize offered no monetary reward, but there are some folks who hold onto their letters today and treasure them. Stan also had his “Soapbox” where he’d tackle issues and concerns fans had with their favorite characters or in their personal lives. He comforted those whose family members went to Vietnam. And just two or three weeks before he passed, Stan posted a video about how fans shouldn’t worry about his health. His left hand is doing okay, but he’s worried about his other hand. That’s when he unveils a toy Hulk fist on his right hand.

He was a joy to the end.

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An Epic Story

Stan Lee had a great sense of scope and grandeur. Comic book stories rarely went beyond a single issue, but Stan, along with his bullpen, stretched them to multiple issues. I’m not sure if Stan could envision the twelve issue plus story arcs that came decades after the Marvel Age, but he and Jack Kirby were trailblazers with the original story of Galactus.

Fantastic Four’s “Galactus Trilogy” spanned three issues and if it wasn’t for Stan revitalizing the industry, he wouldn’t have been given the latitude to make something that was “supposed” to be a single issue and give it more weight. The “Galactus Trilogy’s” success led to other comic book companies and other mediums to question preconceived notions for their art.

Controversies and Personality Flaws

It’s that time where I cover some of the less tenable things in Stan Lee’s past. There aren’t that many because he’s a legend for a reason, but he did manage to rub some people the wrong way, so I’ll include them here to show another side of Stan Lee.

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Credit Where Credit is Due

I hinted at this one already, but Stan Lee often received credit for single-handedly or predominately creating the Marvel Universe. That’s false. Stan Lee had plenty of help. Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Marie Severin, Joe Simon, Bill Everett, and even Stan’s brother Larry Lieber did a lot to shape Marvel’s stable of superheroes.

Many fans blamed Stan Lee for taking too much credit and that may hold some truth, but Stan’s fame may have come from needing to be the company’s front man, it’s icon. With Stan Lee as the face of the franchise, Marvel moved a lot of product.

Still, there’s a debate for who had more creative control. When Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby switched the titles they worked on (Ditko with Hulk; Kirby with Fantastic Four), to shake things up, the adventures in which the effected characters embarked changed to resemble the artist’s vision. If Stan Lee was the only one responsible for the stories, that wouldn’t have happened.

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A Shameless Self-Promoter

Have I said how charismatic Stan Lee was and how communicative he was with his fans? Well, he was, and some critics viewed his loquaciousness as shameless self-promotion or even arrogance.

There’s a good chance he was to some degree—aren’t we all at times?—but Stan Lee promoted everyone and everything. He could’ve named Hulk, The Hulk, but he had to be “The Incredible Hulk.” Spider-Man wasn’t just Spider-Man, he was “The Amazing Spider-Man.” So, Jack Kirby wasn’t just Jack Kirby, he was Jack “The King” Kirby because even Stan knew how influential Kirby was, even if some fans didn’t.

Here are some of my other favorite names Stan gave the Marvel Bullpen:

Gil “Sugar” Kane

“Gorgeous” George Perez

“Roisterous” Ralph Reese

“Nefarious” Neal Adams

Steve “The Angry Man” Ditko

“Jocular” John Byrne

“Arachnerd” Jim Salicrup

And yes, Jim Salicrup worked a lot on Spider-Man; I’d love a nickname like “Arachnerd.”

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He Left Comics for Hollywood

To be honest, I don’t qualify this one as a personality flaw or a controversy. I had to include it because when Stan Lee moved to Hollywood in the 1980s to start Marvel’s cinematic wing, many fans questioned his love for the medium that made him famous.

That’s crap. By the 1980s, Stan Lee had been working on comics for around forty years, and most people retire at that point in their careers. Stan Lee didn’t retire. He began what he thought would make Marvel omnipresent: a movie empire. While he didn’t succeed as much as he wanted to then (mostly TV shows, cartoons, and made-for-TV movies), Stan Lee was right in accessing that cinema would eventually make Marvel one of the hottest brands on the planet.

A Legacy

An Ambassador

I’ve used the term icon and giant to describe Stan Lee, but let’s throw in ambassador of comics to mix. Stan Lee promoted comic books his entire life. Even though it may not have been what he wanted to do with his career (he wanted to write novels), he made the art form his own. He empowered others to pursue it as a legitimate career path. He, along with others, put comic books on the map.

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The Movies

Thank goodness we have all those Stan Lee cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each one shows how loose, carefree, and fun Stan Lee was. He never took himself too seriously. There may be a lesson there.

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His Stories and Some Quotes

 Here are some of my favorite Stan Lee stories, in no particular order, that may be worth checking out:

“The Galactus Trilogy” Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #48-50

“This Man, This Monster” Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #51

 “If This Be My Destiny” Amazing Spider-Man #31-33

 “How Green Was My Goblin” Amazing Spider-Man #39-40

 “Spider-Man No More” Amazing Spider-Man #50

“Captain America Joins…The Avengers” Avengers #4

The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #1-6
This one comes with a caveat; The Hulk didn’t take off as well as Marvel would’ve liked, but one can see Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the drawing board with each issue, reworking the character so he could work.

“The Eternity Saga” Strange Tales #130-146

And some quotes:

“Forced idleness is a terrible thing.”

“The only advice anybody can give is if you want to be a writer, keep writing. And read all you can, read everything.”

“The pleasure of reading a story and wondering what will come next for the hero is a pleasure that has lasted for centuries and, I think, will always be with us.”

“Face front, true believers.”

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

“Excelsior!”

“Nuff said!”

Video Games with a Lot of Mods

I like a lot of mods for my video games. I can’t win half of the games in my library without them. Okay, I’m not that bad, but who wants to figure out the exact pressure point for a locked door when a mod with show you a color wheel with where you should place your bobby pin? Yep. That’s a Bethesda game or two, and they’ll make this list, but there are so many other modding communities out there. Which games have the most mods?

There are some your uncle Geekly likes more than most, so he decided to make a list of them. Here goes nothing.

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Fallout 3 / Fallout New Vegas

I could’ve put either one of these games or both on this list by themselves. Modders have made tons of mods for each of these games (unique weapons, new content, better graphics, show me where to place my lockpicks), but I put them together because of one ambitious mod: A Tale of Two Wastelands.

As the name implies, A Tale of Two Wastelands stitches the two games together into a single experience. Holy coconuts!

This means you can create a character for one of these games and ride a train from the Capital Wasteland to the Mojave Desert and back again. Imagine playing both games with the same character. You can.

Minecraft

Minecraft

What? Minecraft’s on this list, but players can build anything they can imagine. Why would you need to mod a game like that?

Because it’s awesome.

Sometimes thousands of options for textures aren’t good enough, you need millions. What’s it to you if I loaded Minecraft, and a game of Pokemon broke out on my computer? It’s my prerogative.

And gamers have as many options in this game as grains of sand in my shorts after I visit the beach, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Warcraft III

Other games may have passed Warcraft III with sheer number of mods, but the original video game—the OVG if you will—that introduced many gamers to modding is Warcraft III.

Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and perhaps multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) genre wouldn’t exist without someone modifying a map from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne. There’s also a lot more modding that happened with the expansions.

Just about any intellectual property can be found in the Warcraft III modding community: anime, comic books, Lord of the Rings, Mass Effect, and Star Wars to name a few. If you can think of it, there’s a good chance something like what you thought of exists.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization V

The Civilization franchise may have progressed beyond its heyday, but Civilization V’s modding community makes it memorable. I’ve lost count of how many cheats and historically accurate civs and specific scenarios I’ve downloaded. It’s in the hundreds.

And that’s if you don’t count video game character, comic book, and other sci-fi fantasy civilizations. Who wouldn’t like to play as Princess Peach and stomp Mario, Luigi, and Bowser? I’ve played at least a few dozen DC Comics versus Marvel Comics campaigns.

Civilization VI hasn’t been out as long, and some of the mods don’t work as well as Civ V, but I trust there will be tweaks made and more modders moving to the new game. If not, I’m okay with going back in time to Civ V.

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Skyrim

I could’ve added more Bethesda games but decided to stick with two franchises. Skyrim makes the list because of the volume of mods it has. One of 2017’s Skyrim the definitive edition’s biggest claims was that console players could use the thousands of mods available for PC gamers.

Additional content like side quests, companions, and houses are a nice touch, but the greatest mod may never come to fruition. One mod group is attempting to convert Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind to Skyrim’s graphic engine. It’s unlikely this mod will be released before Elder Scrolls VI and fans may not want it then, but a Morrowind add-on would be an incredible addition to an already stellar lineup of content.

There are so many games with so many mods. If you can think of one, reprogram me into a fire-breathing dragon. Or you can leave a comment. If you’d like to read more of our content, you can modify your email by subscribing.

My Favorite Element: Nier Automata

Uncle Geekly finished one of 2017’s best role-playing games Nier: Automata. Come to think of it 2017 was a great year for Japanese Role-Playing Games with Persona 5 also becoming available worldwide six months after its initial release. But we’re going to discuss Nier: Automata in this writeup and how it takes a novel approach to storytelling that I haven’t seen too many video games attempt.

To say Nier: Automata is off kilter would be an understatement. I enjoy that every weapon has its own unique backstory that players can dip their toes into. Weapon Stories are a recurring element in the Nier and Drakengard series as are multiple plays of the game revealing new potential endings. Nier: Automata takes the latter element and makes it work—alternate endings don’t always pan out that well in Nier and the Drakengard series—by showing the game through the eyes of its two protagonists.

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Nier: Automata is broken into two parts and two main characters: 2B and 9S. There are moments through the first playthrough where 9S disappears for long periods of time. He explains most of his absences but showing what 9S goes through offers a lot to the overall experience. As soon as I saw that I’d play as 9S during a second playthrough I shuddered. There are moments that I’d rather not experience first-hand, but at the same time, I played on because I wanted to see them out of morbid curiosity.

Not every story can be enhanced by a second telling by another character, but Nier: Automata makes a great choice in showing 2B’s and 9S’s story. It’s obvious that they’re co-protagonists and it would’ve been a falsehood to not show 9S’s journey.

What are your favorite elements of Nier: Automata? Are there any other video games that do a great job of showing two protagonists’ stories. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Getting Started with Pick-Up and Delivery Games

Howdy, folks, Uncle Geekly’s back with another group of starter board games. For those of you who are new to the site, our starter game series takes a common or popular game mechanism and picks some good games that feature that mechanism but are easy to learn. Many of these games on these lists will start easy and work their way to greater complexity.

In today’s list we’ll cover pick-up and delivery games, and this mechanism works like its name suggests: players will pick up items from one place and deliver them to another. It’s a simple mechanism that finds its way to several great games, but there are two issues that came up when compiling this list of starter games.

First, many designers don’t believe in having a straight pick-up and delivery game (it’s too boring), so you won’t find too many games with pick-up and delivery as the only mechanism and only a handful more that will include pick-up and delivery in a group of two or three mechanisms.

The second is that by adding extra game mechanisms, designers make many pick-up and delivery games more complicated, so there will be games like Firefly and Freedom: The Underground Railroad that are excellent pick-up and delivery games (a couple of my favorites) but slightly more complex than a starter game should be for newcomers.

Enough about the games that won’t be on this list. Let’s talk about the ones that made the cut.

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Deep Sea Adventure

We start with the simplest game of the lot, Deep Sea Adventure. Sure, this game has a push your luck element and uses roll/spin and move, but it’s the closest game to pure pick-up and delivery. Players assume the roles of deep-sea divers. There are four levels of treasure (tokens) with a number (points one can score) printed on the front and the level denoted in dots on the back. The tokens get shuffled and placed in a wavy line protruding from the submarine (where the players pawns start), going from level 1 to level 4.

Players take turns diving into the sea (by rolling two specialty dice numbered from 1-3) and try to go as far as they can, but beware. All players share the same oxygen tank and when the oxygen level reaches zero, the round is over and only those who returned to the submarine with treasure in hand score points that round.

Deep Sea Adventure is charming. It doesn’t look like it would have much strategy, but it’s a lot deeper (pun intended) than first glance. Do you push your luck and go deeper, or do you turn back around with the treasure or two you picked up early on, so you know you’re scoring that round? There’s even a built-in catch-up mechanism where the higher scoring tiles are easier to get to in future rounds, so players who are behind early in the game can score a heap of points in round two or three. I’ve even considered picking up as many level one and two treasures as I can in the first round and since those lost treasure tokens get added to the end of the treasure path in stacks of three, I can claim them later in the game for big points.

Like I said, there are plenty of play styles and stratagems for this easy-to-learn game. Deep Sea Adventure may be marketed toward kids (if you don’t believe me, check out this adorable how to play video by Oink Games) but there’s enough going on to interest adults. You can find Deep Sea Adventure at most Barnes and Nobles but be on the look out for a small package. Oink Games come in small boxes and while I haven’t played all the Oink Game titles, most of the ones I’ve played are at least baseline good.

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My Little Scythe

I know that I said this before, but pick-up and delivery games have a knack of being very complicated. Case in point, My Little Scythe is a simplified, or child-friendly, version of Scythe, which happens to be on a lot of people’s best games of all time, but the original Scythe is far too complex for a starter pick-up and delivery game list. Heck. My Little Scythe makes the list by a skosh.

My Little Scythe was designed by a father and daughter, so that the father could play his favorite game with his young daughter, and it follows various animals of the animal kingdom as they prepare for the harvest festival. Players take turns earning trophies by earning specific accomplishments. There’s a lot going on in this game, but no single game mechanism is that complex. That said, I won’t spend too much time with how to play My Little Scythe because this isn’t a “how to play” write-up, it’s a starter game write-up. If you’d like detailed rules explanations, check out Rodney Smith’s video at Watch It Played; Rodney does excellent work. For now, let’s focus on what makes My Little Scythe a good pick-up and delivery starter game.

My Little Scythe takes an interesting look at pick-up and delivery. There’s a strong worker placement element to it—so it would make a nice addition to starter worker placement games—but two of the four trophies needed to trigger the end game (the harvest festival) requires players to pick up four of one kind of resource and drop them off at the castle (centrally located on the board). At least four of the remaining possible six trophies players can earn can be achieved by picking up resources and controlling them. In My Little Scythe, players are considered to have control of resources if their pawns occupy the same space as a resource. If the player controls the resource, they may spend it for other items. That’s a clever distinction that doesn’t show up in any of the other games on this list. So, I guess one could consider My Little Scythe a pick-up and control game.

There are so many other elements going on with My Little Scythe that I won’t mention the rest of them here, but each element works well and the whole is an easy game to learn and teach others. I wanted to include it here because of the interesting twist My Little Scythe makes with the pick-up and delivery mechanism. I know that it’s following Scythe’s lead, but we need more games that add wrinkles to well-established game mechanisms.

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Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert seems to make it on a lot of these lists, but it does fit the pick-up and delivery mechanism requirement and it’s a darn good game, perhaps the best of the Forbidden series, but that’s because I haven’t had the chance of playing Forbidden Sky as of this write-up. In Forbidden Desert players are stranded in an inhospitable desert. They must find and collect (or pick-up) the parts to a flying contraption and deliver the completed machine to the launch pad, so they can escape.

It’s been six years since Forbidden Desert’s initial release, and I still marvel at the way shifting sand is represented by drawing desert cards, shifting land tiles in the direction the cards command, and placing sand tokens atop the land tiles that moved that turn. It feels right. It plays like an unpredictable desert storm.

The way players must uncover both a vertical and horizontal tile for each object to reveal which tile one of the parts resides is brilliant; no game plays the same way twice. This also adds to the storm’s unpredictable nature and the fact that players can get buried in sand adds to the atmosphere of being lost. If the tile your pawn stands on moves, your pawn moves too, and board’s state may be far different from the end of one of your turns to the beginning of your next. Again, this adds to the players’ feeling of hopelessness—at times—or they may find the board moves in their favor and that’s wonderful.

I’ve said it before, but it remains true, Forbidden Desert is an excellent game. It also happens to be an excellent pick-up and delivery starter game. Pick-up and delivery may not play as big of a role in the turn to turn aspects of Forbidden Desert, but the only way players can win this game is by picking up and delivering the flying contraption to the launch pad.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we’ve covered some games you either haven’t played or haven’t considered pick-up and delivery games. Uncle Geekly tried to go with a mix of games that use predominantly pick-up and delivery (Deep Sea Adventure), implement pick-up and delivery as the only way to win but doesn’t include it with the turn to turn action (Forbidden Desert), and found one that provides a twist to a popular mechanism (My Little Scythe).

Know of any other great beginner pick-up and delivery games? You can deliver your questions, complaints, and suggestions in the comments.

3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take 2

No. It’s not Anime Season (our resident anime geek). Uncle Geekly’s back with another anime 3 Lists of 3. If you didn’t catch Take 1, this series hopes to provide a starting place for people new to anime. It differs from our typical For Starters series because I won’t go into too much detail with each series—for the most part—and it’ll act more like if you like this genre or subgenre, you may like this title.

Truth time. I’m breaking that mold with the group of lists this week. Uncle Geekly will focus on some of the more popular anime subgenres that aren’t as prevalent in the West. With that said it’s time for 3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take Two.

Psychological Anime

I won’t go into too much detail with how to spot a psychological anime because Arthifis of Anime Shelter does a great job of breaking down the genre with his writeup. For those of you who want to take a deeper dive into what makes an anime psychological you can check out Arthifis’s article. To save time, I’ll skip to a paraphrased bullet point definition that Arthifis unearths:

1) The anime puts its characters in high amounts of psychological distress. We’re talking multiple levels of psychological tension.

2) The anime includes mind games, meaning that the characters win by lying or manipulating others.

3) It focuses on psychological illness.

4) It messes with your psyche by showing the viewer a perspective that greatly differs from the norm.

Few of the following anime use all these four points, but they’ll use at least a couple. Here we go.

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Death Note

The characters of Death Note play mind games. Lots and lots of mind games. A death note, a notebook that allows its owner to kill someone they think of by writing their name in the book while thinking of their face, drops in the lap of precocious high school student Light Yagami. Like most people who receive a gift like this, Light brands himself the god Kira and starts killing criminals worldwide. An enigmatic and equally intelligent detective known as L hunts Kira and so begins the chess match.

There’s a lot to unpack with Death Note. It’s one part murder mystery (in the vein of Columbo because the viewer knows who the killer is, it’s just a matter of how and if they’ll be caught), cosmic fantasy, and philosophical—as well as psychological—thriller. Kira or Light wants to be a bastion of justice and decency, but he has flawed judgement. At one point, L questions Kira’s logic: if all the world’s criminals disappear, then the only murderer left in the world is Kira.

So many moral questions are posed with Death Note, no wonder it’s one of the most popular psychological anime.

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Paranoia Agent

I went back and forth between two Satoshi Kon titles with this second pick: Paprika and Paranoia Agent. Kon was the grand master of psychological anime and it’s shame we lost him so young. One could pick any number of Kon’s work, but I went with Paranoia Agent because it’s not as familiar to the western world—and it happens to be excellent.

Paranoia Agent centers on a serial killer—or serial baseball bat basher—little slugger and how he terrorizes the town. Well. That’s Paranoia Agent’s hook. The story goes on and off the rails from there, forcing citizens to face their inner demons. I don’t want to say too much, but there’s plenty of trauma and psychological stress/tension in Paranoia Agent and it deserves a little more love.

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March Comes in Like a Lion

Some don’t like March Comes in Like a Lion because it may not have as much of a story as they would like, but that’s due—in part—to the fact that it’s character-driven. The series follows the everyday life of a 17-year-old Shogi player Rei who lives by himself after his parents and sister die in an accident.

Rei shuts himself off from his foster family and doesn’t have many friends. His only interactions—at first—are out of obligation. March Comes in Like a Lion deals with psychological trauma, loss, and mental illness in a way few other anime attempt.

Isekai

Isekai loosely translates to stranger in a strange land and like the Robert Heinlein novel of that name (Stranger in a Strange Land), main characters in Isekai are foreigners in a strange land. Sometimes the characters are humans exploring new worlds, but it can be flipped with a fantasy character thrust in the mundane modern world. This may seem like a niche genre but for anime, it’s more prevalent.

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Spirited Away

I had to include this one. To date, Spirited Away is the only anime to receive an Academy Award and it happens to be an Isekai. Ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino (later renamed Sen) is trapped in the spirit world, and the spirit world is nothing like our own—to put it mildly. Sen faces discrimination because she’s still alive and not a spirit. She gets lost in this world, but ultimately finds her place in it.

Spirited Away is anime that must be experienced. I could break down each moment, of which there are several classic one, but the journey makes this bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) work.

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The Devil is a Part-Timer

The title The Devil is a Part-Timer is odd, but it works. The Devil is forced into a human suit and he must work a part-time job to sustain himself. Yeah. This is the oddest show on this list—maybe—and the most over-the-top. If the Devil flipping burgers is your brand of comedy, The Devil is a Part-Timer has you covered. You’re bound to find a few chuckles.

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No Game No Life

No Game No Life could qualify for the next list of anime too (Game), but I included here because sending famous online gamers to a world in which all they do is play gambling games is more of an Isekai concept. Sora and Shiro are two of the best gamers in the world and when a god from another reality Tet challenges them to a game of Chess and they win, they’re sent to a reality known as Disboard.

No Game No Life is another strange entry, but it wouldn’t be a stranger in a strange land without a little strange.

Game

Yep. I had to include the game anime genre because I’m the tabletop game geek of the group, but game anime are really common as well. Game anime involve a game being played. We’re talking board game, video game, or the most dangerous game. Not joking about that last one. Anything that sends the main characters into a game or follows characters who happen to be a part of a game fits this genre. Let’s get our game on.

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Sword Art Online

I’m not the biggest Sword Art Online fan. The premise is okay, virtual reality video game players are stuck in their favorite online game and must win back their freedom, but the story is uneven (the story should’ve started later in the series—around episode nine or ten). Still, Sword Art Online ushered in a wave of game anime.

Sword Art Online instituted a lot of the tropes viewers will see in other game anime, so it’s a great place to start for the genre.

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Btooom!

If you like Sword Art Online, you may like Btooom!. This time players of a violent video game (one in which players bomb other players) are put on a deserted island where they play the game in real life.

Btooom! explores the difference between video game violence and real-world violence. It asks if video games beget real-world violence. Either that or it’s a blast. Main character Ryota Sakamoto doesn’t want to hurt anyone and wonders why someone would want to make a live-action Btooom! game. Btooom! traverses Truman Show waters to show that all is not what it seems.

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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

This list has gotten too serious. Let’s go with a series that features a tabletop RPG (like Dungeons and Dragons). Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Features self-aware RPG characters. Not only do these characters know they’re in an RPG, they know what they’re stats are; their stats are tattooed on their backs. So, it’s not uncommon to see someone read another person’s back to see if they can pull off a feat before asking them to do it.

Can you leap that gorge? No, your dexterity isn’t high enough. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? may be the least reverent of titles in any of these lists and that’s saying something. I included The Devil is a Part-Timer. Yikes!

I hope there are plenty of anime in these lists for you try out. I’m sure Uncle Geekly got something wrong. Please direct all complaints to Anime Season; she reads the comments—I think.