New game acquisition: Ultimate Board Game Collection (PSP)

Yesterday, I traded in two NES games (Mickey Mousecapade and Pinball) and two Gameboy Advance games (a pair of Yu-Gi-Oh titles). These were garbage and thus, not worth much. But that’s okay, I didn’t want much.

I decided to grab Ultimate Board Games Collection for the PSP.

Yeah, I know, “Board games? Really?” Well, bite me, I like board games. Some of them, anyway. This collection included 20 digital renditions of classics, including Go, which was what caught my attention. I wouldn’t mind marking territory and scoring ataris while on the road, so I sprang for it.

The collection so far is pretty good. It’s got a decent selection, including public-domain versions of board games you played as a kid (Connect Four is called “Quattro” here, and while I haven’t played it, there’s a game called “Naval Battle” which I’m guessing is just Battleship), and every game has a tutorial–although cryptically, you access it by clicking the head in the lower-left corner during the actual game (rather than, say, there simply being a “tutorial” option on the main menu). It usually does an adequate job explaining how the game is played, using both a text explanation and a helpful graphic.

So I played Go first of all, and right off the bat found one thing to be disappointed about: the only board size options are 9×9 and 13×13 (a standard Go board is 19×19). I’m not sure if the bigger size has to be unlocked, or if they simply didn’t include it because of the PSP’s small screen size or something. Anyway, I do feel a bit let down, as it makes the experience less authentic.

Now, Go is a game that relies a lot on intuitive thinking, and for this reason computer AIs are normally not good at it–this game is no exception. Even when I set the game to “hard” (which does nothing but remove all handicaps) the computer plays like an idiot. It seems to think that the idea is to put stones wherever he can, which leads to him cluttering up territory and making needless sacrifices, which means its always an easy win. The good news is, apparently I can play this game two-player with anyone who happens to own a PSP, and they don’t need to own their own copy of the game. So ideally, I’d be able to find a human player somewhere. I believe I read somewhere that you can also play by trading the PSP itself between players.

So I skipped on over to the other games. There was a game called Gomoku (essentially Tic-Tac-Toe, but its five in a row and you play with Go stones) which… well, either I really suck, or the computer is much better at this game. Seriously, it seems like the comp always gets into a position of “no matter what you do next, human, I’ll win on the next turn!” I’ve managed to beat it three times… and it won five.

Oddly enough, there is a 3D Tic Tac Toe on this collection, and I always kick the computer’s ass at that.

Then I skipped around and looked at Mahjong. My dad used to play old computer versions of this all the time, and honestly it always frustrated me because I never understood the rules. Thank god for that built-in tutorial! Now that I understood how this game is actually played, I was able to somewhat enjoy it. Basically, in Mahjong you find pairs of matching tiles and remove them from the board, but there’s a catch: the matches have to be free on either the left or right. The idea is to clear the board, though usually what happens is you play to a point where there’s no more possible matches and the game just ends. I wonder if there’s some kind of superstition about this, like whoever actually clears the board will be blessed or something. This is normally a solitaire game, but there is a two-player mode on this collection, which seems to be just a race to see who can clear their board first. It also gives you a choice of different layouts, and tilesets that replace the Chinese iconography with blocks that look like they came from a children’s nursery.

That’s a thing about board games. A lot of them seem like they would actually be pretty complicated to set up and play if you were playing them for real. They almost demand to be played through a computer or a video game. It just is so convenient, saves so much time and effort. And (and this goes back to when I used to play collectible card games) there were no rules arguments–if the computer allows it, it goes.

So anyway… Kakeru… even with the help of the tutorial, I don’t understand this game. Then again, I’m not good at math. Didn’t even bother with some of the Sudoku and stuff on here. Tried Anagrams and the virtual Jigsaw puzzle (which lets you import photos, so technically you could use this to preserve that Jem and the Holograms puzzle you bought as a kid).

Last game I tried in my trial run was Reversi, a public-domain version of Othello (no relation to the Shakespeare play). It’s another black-versus-white game, except this time you’re trying to sandwich the enemy pieces between your own in order to win converts. (Incidentally, I once played a variant on the NES — the 7up Spot game–which was like Othello but with different rules: it was enemy pieces who were adjescent to your move that switched colors, not those who were sandwiched between two of your pieces. This made the game slightly easier, in my opinion. And no, this variant rule is not included in this collection, likely because it was invented by Virgin games–and they later recycled it as a puzzle in The 7th Guest… 7th Guest? 7up? I smell a conspiracy!) The computer is really good at this game, and I only managed to beat it once. I had a version of this on the NES and I was never very good at that, either.

So… first impressions are ultimately pretty good. Its a collection of classic board games, about three that I really like and the rest I can get used to or play when I need a break from fucking Ninja Gaiden stage 6-2 ARRRGH. I wish the Go game allowed a full-size board and had better AI, but I’m not gonna hold that against it. It was worth the trade-in.

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25 thoughts on “New game acquisition: Ultimate Board Game Collection (PSP)

    • Reminds me of this time I got a Batman style boardgame. It had these sections fit just to look like a comic book, and it even came with a crappy NES game. You moved the figurines sideways to get to…something. The game was really boring.

      Speaking of which, I disagree with the Batman sucks blog. I think you over analyzed its plots and morals, but that’s just what I thought of the blog.

  1. It was obscure, I’ll say that. You had to climb these ladders (like in Donkey Kong) and throw batarangs at what I think was an army of Jokers. It was very bizzare, I don’t have too much memory on the NES game, but the board game was similar to that. The NES game was based on it, I think. Anyhow, the board game was very much like a cheap version of shoots and ladders, only with awful artwork and a misleading instruction manule.

    We went from that, to Batman:Arkham City. Very interesting.

    • Googling revealed to me a board game called “Batman: the Robin Climbing Game” which sounds like it might fit your description, but I’m unable to find any mention of a video game in that style, or a Batman game that was a pack-in with the board game.

      I’m going to assume you’re getting the NES mixed up with some other console (likely the Atari 2600 or maybe the Commodore 64).

      • Well, I got the same results searching it up.

        You see, I think kid cartoons can be funnier at times then adult cartoons for one reason:

        Subtlety. Family Guy, South Park, Squidbillies, they go crazy with that kind of thing because they realize there technically out of the age ghetto.

        But it gets a little boring or disgusting fast, while shows like Rocko’s Modern Life and Regular Show use more subtle and less obvious innuendo.

        Shows like The Simpsons use both of these aspects (usually), and that’s why its funny to any age range.

        Would you agree?

      • Also:Not a big fan of anime. Aside from DBZ, Cowboy Bebop, the Miyazaki films, and a handful of others, anime never really offered me any plot I was truly interested in.

        It was either focused on panties or plots only turbonerd could enjoy.

    • Getting back to the Batman board game thing, someone on Digitpress suggested that perhaps you received one of the NES games on the same day (or close enough) to the board game and that’s why you’re mis-remembering it as a pack-in (there were three NES Batman games, one of them is usually considered a classic, while I think the other two are generally considered good).

      I think you need to see more anime if you think they all either focus on panties or “plots only a turbonerd could enjoy.” Just to note some anime I found recently that don’t fit either description:

      Cardcaptor Sakura could’ve easily been a pervy series, but instead it avoids that stuff outright, and the stories aren’t exactly complicated–just awesome.

      Sailor Moon, too.

      Ranma 1/2 gets a little pervy at times, but considering it was a common gateway anime, I’d hesitate to say it has “plots only a turbonerd could enjoy.”

      Hikaru no Go… no pervy elements from what I’ve seen. You could say that being about Go makes it “for turbonerds” but then again, the anime and manga were responsible for (and meant to) get people INTO Go in the first place.

      Those are just a few easy ones from recent experience, and all four come highly recommended. To be honest, it seems to me that it’s American animation that is becoming increasingly more nerd-centric. Like G.I. Joe Renegades and Transformers Prime… who exactly wanted G.I. Joe and Transformers to be dark and serious? Well, the nerds who like to overanalyze toy-based cartoons, of course. Most people prefer the original versions because of how light, silly and non-committal they were.

      It doesn’t help that American writers primarily just fake it when they try to be dark or mature. All they do is have a moody atmosphere and a minimum of comedy relief. You’re still telling a story about giant robots who carried their dick war to Earth–its still inherently a campy and corny premise, no matter how much window dressing you give it. The original version had the right idea by being tongue-in-cheek and not taking it more seriously than it warranted.

      Maturity doesn’t come from just having people scowl alot, it comes from themes and concepts. An American series might have a character get killed just for shock value–revealed when he or she is instantly forgotten (or else just given token mentions) in future episodes. Compare that to something like Robotech, where its actually meaningful when it happens.

      Just saying.

      • Dude, I’m a nerd. You got a problem with that :/?

        I hated the original Transformers and G.I Joe, because they weren’t funny, just seemed stupid to me. That doesn’t mean I over analyze them, I just dislike them.

        Whats wrong with them taking themselves seriously? Yes, they take themselves too seriously at times but I found them more fun to watch then previous generations.

        You see though, they are more mature (At least Prime). Look at one episode, it deals with the signature revenge plot but does something interesting-the character who gets revenge feels no better. The episode. The themes and concepts are better, too.

        The original wasn’t tongue in cheek, it took itself even more seriously (look at the movie, there is a lot more pointless character deaths then in Prime) and ended up being a cheesefest, it wasn’t intentional.

        I don’t get giving praise to something that seemed funny and fun, but the majority of that wasn’t even meant to be funny and fun.

        The argument you gave could just as easily apply to the original Transformers.

        And you made the signature mistake of referring to the shows fanbase as a bunch of nerds who over analyze. For that, I just have to discount your argument.

        I hate the original Transformers for the same reason I hate the Michael Bay movies-no character development, just explosions and one liners.

      • Also, I’m curious, have you seen Transformers Prime?

        It has some comedic moments, so you can’t say its constantly dark.

        And a lot of character deaths actually matter, and have more then some token mention.

        I just have a distaste for anime. I feel its not superior to western/European animation, and that it has turned into something incomprehensible.

        I prefer western animation over anime, its really just a culture thing.

        I didn’t like the original Transformers because it was too simple, like many anime these days. Like I said, your argument could just as easily be applied to the original transformers.

        I don’t get why people seem to think Japanese writers are somehow naturally better then American writers.

    • One, you’re blowing my one-off use of “nerd” out of proportion. Like it or not, it’s a word that really does mean something and saying that using it automatically makes my argument invalid is just a cheap cop-out. Truth and logic are not dictated by how offended you are.

      A guy realizing revenge isn’t satisfying actually isn’t particularly astonishing–I remember an episode of She-Ra using that one, and that was in 1985. And that’s what I mean–anything these “mature” shows do has been done before. Just people think they’re brilliant or mature because either people aren’t familiar with older works or else don’t see the forest for the trees. You’ve demonstrated a little of that yourself. These shows aren’t mature–they just claim they are, and a lot of people don’t have the requisite knowledge or experience necessary to see that they’re being pretentious.

      That’s part of why I tend to be anti-American–since our culture tends to block or heavily censor anything not-American, we’ve become incestuous and its lowered our standards, to the point where we see amazement in something that isn’t amazing. This is actually why literal incest is a bad thing–because the mixing of genes from already-similar pools results in an inferior offspring, versus ones that mix from wherever.

      I would say more but my time is limited. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow or whenever I can.

      • *sigh* You seem to have slightly missed my point.

        I live in Denmark. I’m not American.

        I don’t mean to sound blunt, but whats mature and what isn’t is subjective. I’ve seen plenty of anime and I simply don’t think its as mature or interesting as some people say.

        I normally like debating with you, but I can see this is going no where.

        The show I’m talking about is actually popular in other countries from what I here (even Japan), and sense it doesn’t have a big toyline, you can assume its somewhat popular in the teenage/adult audiences there as well.

        I agree somewhat, but I just have to discount a bit of what your saying when you say “they don’t realize what there watching is cliche and pretentious”, which implies that the fans of the show are illiterate and have only seen 5 shows in there life.

        “And that’s what I mean”-No, last time I checked you were saying these shows weren’t mature, not cliche. Are you trying to make these details fit together?

        Subjective, all of it. Just because a fan thinks it did something unique or mature doesn’t mean they don’t have the experience to judge something or that they don’t have the literate knowledge to review it-just means they have different tastes and views then you when they watched it.

        The shows never claim there mature, they simply use tropes/cliches/devices that fit in a mature work.

        Here’s one, the show uses the “War is Hell” in a mature way, or at least as mature as quirky robots can make it. You could argue that’s been done in A:TLA or Grave of The Fireflies, but the show puts its own unique spin on it.

        Have fun with my wall of text, and hopefully writing another wall of text 🙂

    • Forgive me for not being a careful reader–was pressed for time earlier, and usually I respond to internet stuff while in the middle of things.

      I’m not meaning to be offensive when I say stuff like that. Actually, I say that kind of stuff because I’m drawing from experience. I remember when I was young, and how things looked to me back then. And a lot of shows I used to think were so adult and mature… when I came back to them later, I realized they were actually kind of childish and stupid. Not just TV either, but books (particularly Dune) and video games as well.

      Really, “maturity” isn’t something that can be defined strictly–it has to be felt. and its not just a matter of comparing one work of fiction to another, but also how it compares to one’s personal thoughts and experiences. Case in point, the Dune books (by Frank Herbert) are littered with philosophical musings that sounded deep and insightful to me at fourteen, but today (now that I’m nearly thirty) I realize that its all just empty New Age nonsense that often flies in the face of reality.

      That’s part of why I’m more into anime these days. It’s something that’s hard to explain because I can’t just point to any one or two all-encompassing things and build a case, but a lot of times in western animation they have events, dialogue or otherwise stuff that just feels “wrong” to me. On the flipside, anime often feels “right” in terms of the characters, philosophy, world, setting, how people react to other people and whatnot… whenever I have a problem with an anime, it usually comes down to either “the story isn’t fleshed out enough” or “its a retread of something better.”

      Unless the box has the title “Vision of Escaflowne,” “Record of Lodoss War,” or “Avenger.” In those cases, the problem is just that they suck. Seriously, those are the worst anime I’ve ever seen.

      • And forgive me for over analyzing.

        You know, I’ve had some similar experiences. I used to think Tosh.0 was mature because of its content, but really its just an excuse for a guy to make jokes on HIV and politics. For some reason I used to like the plot of Super Mario Bro.s, even though the game barely has a plot.

        I actually like anime, I mean sure, the majority of it is either for Otaku/school girls but every once in a while, I find something wonderful that makes me think “This is what our kids have been missing this whole time?!”.

        Only major gripes with it is that a lot of shows either run too long or too short, and that for some reason we like to see sword fights in the sky with characters talking about how there master strategy works. I really love the animation style of anime, though, it just looks so artful. Roger Ebert would be proud.

        I’ve been thinking of doing a project that involves a western animation short film.

        It’d be set during World War I and would deal with things like imperialism, colonialism, what liberty actually is, and a bunch of other stuff.

        That seems like a “Grave of The Fireflies” type thing, but it’d be either CGI or in the animation style of Legend of Korra.

        Its unfortunate, really. Animation is a great tool for conveying opinions, satire, comedy, and many genres, but very few people seem to want to use it other then a way to “distract the children/laugh at Seth Mcfarlane”. Which is the same reason I’m into Pixar and The Simpsons, they are so close to accomplishing this, and for most of it they have.

      • The worst anime I’ve seen?

        Can’t remember the name, but it was basically the plot of Harry Potter and Gundam, only with more panty shots and AWFUL dialogue. I quit the show out of boredom, it had a blue haired girl and a talking crow that was supposed to be a parody of the sorting hat from HP. Bizzare and dull don’t go together.

        Another peeve I have with anime:

        Why do people need green/purple/blue spiky hair all the time? Why is this treated normally even though its an unrealistic and eye-poking hairstyle? Does the universe the characters live in have some sort of barber shop gone wrong? Mind boggling.

      • IHello, Demon God Of Chaos from Tvtropes here (*I’m not gonna try and make you like the site, I understand that already).

        Have you ever thought of Live-Blogging the Pretty Cure franchise when you have time? Because I think you’d find it interesting.

    • The trend of technicolor hair seems to be toning down lately. Cardcaptor Sakura’s characters all have normal hair colors (except for the Clow Cards, obviously), and same goes for K-On. Although I couldn’t stand K-On. You might say it turned me K-Off.

      As for why it happens, I think it might be because, well, colors are fun, and a colorful universe is visually stimulating, especially to a young audience. I must admit one of my turn-offs with some modern western animation is that they seem to prefer intentionally dulled or muted colors. I like colorful. Rainbow Brite and I would get along pretty well.

      There’s also cultural precedent, such as Kabuki plays.

      • I like the unrealistic hairstyles though, but I’d be more tolerable of them if characters with normal hairstyle at least commented on it.

        I mean, only 5% of the human population has orange hair.

      • Speaking of weird hair colors, I’ve been watching this show on the History Channel called “Vikings”-and I swear one character just has an obvious 80’s style haircut.

    • I just realized something.

      That thing you mentioned–the guy who wasn’t satisfied with revenge. That’s kind of an example of what I’m talking about. It sounds mature on the surface, but then you realize its always either that or else “revenge begats revenge, begats revenge”–both are clearly moral lessons with an obvious message: Don’t seek revenge.

      And then, its an empty message primarily because its never challenged (either in or out-of context) or examined in any meaningful way–at least, I’m guessing so, from my experience with Western Animation (if you know the name of the episode, I’ll watch it just to be sure). Yeah, that particular guy wasn’t satisfied, but there could be a reason for that, or a deeper substance behind it. Some people actually *would* be satisfied, and either reaction could say something about the character. But often, it’s just used as moralizing.

      I’ve seen a few episodes of TF Prime, and one in particular rubbed me the wrong way. I forget all the details, but Megatron wound up trapped and immobile, and this kid had some sort of drill-tank he thought of using to kill Megs… but he chose not to because of some honor B.S. To someone who doesn’t know better, it may sound all wisened and stuff (and I’m sure Christians like it because it harkens Jesus’ pacifism), but once again this is just trite moralizing. Out-of-context, its clear that the only reason it happened was because the writer realized he wrote himself into a corner and needed an out, and in-context it’s a just plain stupid decision that nobody in their right mind would’ve made (at least, he should’ve been chastised to hell and back when he told the other Autobots–from what I know of TF Prime, he probably got pats on the back and reassurances that he did the right thing).

      It’s the same deal as Batman refusing to kill the Joker. All that happens is the Joker causes more and more terror and leads to more and more innocent deaths, but somehow we’re supposed to believe Batman is right.

      By contrast, when Megatron begs for mercy in the 1986 movie, Optimus scoffs at it and very clearly would have shot if Hot Rod hadn’t gotten in his way. Un-heroic as it might be, this is a perfectly realistic reaction, and there wasn’t a single member of the audience who could fault him.

      This is one way anime (at least, good or half-decent anime) is superior–its willing to examine morality in full and point out how complex life is in contrast to a person’s ideals. Take the first few episodes of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, for example: Dr. Tenma (no, not Astro Boy’s father) is given a choice between operating on a Senator, or saving a little boy at the cost of his career. He, of course, chooses to save the little boy… and then Tenma’s boss (who was a political bootlicker who wanted to fire him for not choosing the senator) winds up dead and replaced by a new guy who promotes people solely based on performance. Standard tale of a nice guy getting rewarded? No: ten years later he meets the kid he saved, and he turns out to be a psychopathic serial killer, and also a detective suspects Tenma of his former boss’ murder. Even so, the rest of the series only happens because Tenma chooses to hunt down the killer and undo his mistake when he could’ve simply let him be. This is the kind of story an American writer would be challenged to write, because it doesn’t present an ambiguous right answer to any of the questions it poses–things simply are. This is what makes good anime work.

      Likewise, all the romances in Cardcaptor Sakura and Robotech. There’s no attempt to make broad statements about the social issues or stigmas surrounding them–they just *are*. This is the power of anime. That it can tell stories without having to worry about pleasing moral-obsessed demographics.

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