Since the dawn of electronic handheld gaming, there has been conflict between mother and child. The mother wants chores or homework to be done, but there’s always “just one more level” or a high score just out of reach. At some point, the mother will resort to simply hiding the device in the hopes of boring the child into productivity. The child, of course, instead leverages their boredom into searching for their game. They inevitably find the device, and the cycle begins anew. Japanese developer hap Inc.’s free Hidden my game by mom (sic) series distills and translates this conflict into a delightfully absurd escape room puzzle game format.
One of the greatest memories I have of my Good Ol’ DaysTM working at Pocket Tactics occurred in 2014 when Owen went apoplectic regarding Atari’s botched release of RollerCoaster Tycoon 4. Seriously, go read his review. It’s a beautiful thing. Not only did RCT4 fail to bring a fascinating simulation to mobile, it basically became the face of the free-to-play downfall of the App Store. Here was a classic title with promise that was retooled to wring as much cash out of players as possible, fun be damned. I had given up on seeing a decent RCT game ever make its way to mobile but then this week I spotted something else over at our old digs. A five-star review for something called RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic. What the hell?
The Cold War is singular in world history for the level of political complexity combined with the possibility for diplomatic failures to bring about a conflict which could engulf the known world in a horrifying level of destruction. But the period of the Avignon Papacy offers similarly high-stakes drama and intricate machinations, and is relatively unfamiliar to most modern audiences. As such, it’s an ideal setting for a heavy-weight successor to Twilight Struggle, or perhaps a highly thematic, negotiation-heavy behemoth (a role which, admittedly, is likely adequately occupied by Here I Stand). Avignon: A Clash of Popes isn’t one of those. It’s a small game which is actually less portable on an iPad than in physical form. It aims to offer a light, quick, but tense two-player contest between Rome and Avignon, in which each tries to recruit the support of influential people. You also occasionally recruit peasants, which probably won’t help much, but you never know.
Despite what you might be hoping, Avignon: A Clash of Popes does not feature Stephen IV and St. Peter performing the fish slapping dance. Nor does it feature Boniface VI riding a pegasus while holding the severed head of Sixtus II. Despite that, it sounds like a pretty great game.
I’ve spent the last ten days doing not much more than yelling at children and trying to drink away this never-ending headache. No luck thus far, but tomorrow the sun shines again and the house belongs to me and me alone (and the dog, but he’s way less annoying than the kids). As such, I can start looking at the App Store again to see what I’ve missed. In theory, there shouldn’t be much as the App Store has been shut down over the holidays. You can imagine my surprise this morning when I awoke to find that an expansion to one of my favorite games was released early last week. Pretty sneaky, sis.
“Captain Drigo, sir, system VXG-0199 is now in view of our long-range sensors.” Drigo turned from yet another review of the ship’s inventory projections to face the helmsman. “Visuals if you please, Mr. Gupta.” A three-dimensional image of a star appeared before Drigo. It was a type-G, a yellow dwarf, as promised. Drigo let out an inaudible sigh of relief. That was one anxiety laid to rest. “There she is, sir. A beauty, is she not?”
I love me some Martin Wallace and Steam: Rails to Riches is one of his finest contributions to game shelves everywhere. A digital version was released last year from Acram Digital and it was polished and shiny with one glaring exception: no online multiplayer. Today, that’s been remedied. It’s just been updated to include asynchronous play and I think someone needs to organize a tournament.
I’ve not kept my admittedly somewhat disturbing love for Pathfinder Adventures well hidden since its release earlier this year. Despite its bugs and garish, in-your-face pleas to spend money, I simply haven’t found a better game on mobile all year. Despite being a card game that feels awfully themeless on the tabletop, Obsidian managed to create what might be the best RPG experience currently available on an iPad when they ported Pathfinder over. The only thing holding it back was the slow leak of new content. Over the past few months, that slow drip has turned into a steady stream and yesterday we finally reached the end of the road. The sixth and final adventure deck in the Rise of the Runelords campaign has been released.
Season 2 of new content for the super heroic cooperative card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, is underway in full force with the just released mega-expansion, Vengeance, which is live on iOS, Android, and PC/Mac.
Talisman may lack deep strategic or tactical gameplay but it more than makes up for it with the fun of exploration and so much damn content. Seriously, it’s gotten to the point that I can’t keep track of all the expansions for this beast. Dungeons, Cities, something called the Highlands? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s all good as every new expansion adds more unknown to each game until you never know what you’ll draw. That’s when the game gets really fun. Today, Nomad updated Talisman yet again with more content, two new characters to play with: Martial Artist and Saracen.