#SpiderMan, another movie tie in board game review

July 18, 2012

I had meant to post this back when the Amazing Spider-Man film came out but I just didn’t get round to it.

Anyway, with this film out this is a good time to review the Amazing Spider-Man board game.

game cover

Look out Spider-Man! Here come the guest stars.

First, a word on how I came to have this game; I have no idea. It was just in our house when I was growing up. So too was Monopoly, Cluedo and Battleship. I remember getting Yahtzee for Christmas, but this Spider-Man board game was just always there. Maybe it was my brothers.

Growing up I never played this game properly. I just used it like a basic roll dice and move type of game, going round the circles until finally getting to the middle to win. Honestly, it has only been recently that I have finally gotten round to reading the instructions on how to play.

board

Despite all the images of Spider-Man, there is technically no Spider-Man in this game

For a game named after the most popular Marvel comics character it is actually something of a letdown to discover that in playing this game you don’t play as Spider-Man. Rather, you play as one of these four other Marvel characters; Thor, Iron Man, Hulk or Namor the Sub-Mariner. Since all of these characters have been Avengers, I could have reviewed this game for that recent film. But going back to Spidey, where is he? His image is all over the board game but as a character in the game he is just not there. Although it is not stated it is implied that since you are racing to get to the centre of the board where Spidey is, you are perhaps rescuing him. This is more Marvel Team-up than an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man. 

So, since you get to be another Marvel character, does your playing piece look like them? No; this game is from way before intricate playing pieces. I suspect that the age of this game may be as old as those old style Marvel cartoons; the ones where the animation consisted of panels from the comics with a few moving bits added.

playing pieces

See, that green one is Hulk, and that red one is Iron Man

Hence you get colour coded playing pieces; green for Hulk, red for Iron Man, etc. However, you do get two playing pieces per character, which is odd. Maybe the heroes have clones? Then again, since we are in the world of Amazing Spider-Man, best not mention clones.

Iron Man

As I mentioned, before the object of the game is to get to the middle, where Spider-man is. As you go around the circles you face various villains and collect points for each one you subdue. Sorry, that makes it sound more involved than it truly is. Actually you just land on a spider web and you pick up a villain card; fight over. Each villain card has different point allocations, such as the Ring Master is worth 2 points and Boomerang is worth 1. Also, those are actual Spider-Man villains, of which there are very few named in this game. I confess my Spider-Man knowledge is not that extensive but I am pretty certain there was never a Spidey villain named Lion Face; he’s worth 3 points incidentally. You never lose in battle against the villains but you sort of face up against the other heroes (hero fights, how very Marvel). If you land in the same square as another hero you knock them back to their home base and they have to start again.

Villain cards

Shooter? Lion Face? Thunder Bull? Maybe they were villains in the old 60s cartoon.

Play is controlled by cards. You pick up a travel card when it is your turn and follow the directions to move that many places. Some travel cards work against you by making you go back to the start.

Once one player reaches Spider-Man with both of their playing pieces the game ends and a point tally is taken. There were special bonus points for being the first and second person to the middle. Whoever has the highest score wins.

It is fairly simple but the difficulties arise from having to go completely around each circle and land on the right spot to gain entry to the lower level. The more players the harder it is to avoid being knocked back to your respective home base.

Roll call

Really it should read an exciting game with all these other guys…

I like this game; it is fun and not too hard. The emphasis is on accruing points and not just racing to the centre. If only you actually got to be the Amazing Spider-Man. I give this game 3 Dice.

 3 dice


#DarkShadows; another movie tie in board game review

May 8, 2012

Last night I went to a preview of Dark Shadows by Tim Burton, featuring Johnny Depp. In case you don’t know, my super power is winning free movie tickets. I rather enjoyed the film and so as a tie in, similar to how I reviewed my Hulk board game for Avengers, here is my review from a few years back, of the Dark Shadows board game. Scroll down to the end to see an image of the original Barnabas and you can see how for Depp’s take they kept the hairstyle and the cane.  Enjoy.

“As part of the all week Halloween theme here at the blog, here is another game appropriate to this time of year.

This game also happens to be my most recent purchase having picked it up about a fortnight ago at the Belmont swap meet.

Allow me to introduce the Dark Shadows game.

Dark Shadows game box

Now, “Dark Shadows” is a television show that I have often heard about but never actually seen. I have heard it described as a supernatural soap opera starring a vampire so it sounds cool.

The board game upon first inspection looked to be a pretty cheap cash in. There was no board as such, just a large fold out playing sheet and some very half hearted playing pieces. For instance, you can be a candle, or a clock. Still, in Monopoly you can be a top hat so perhaps a clock is not that bad. At first I was thrown by there being no dice, which made me wonder if all the pieces were there, but a quick look at the instructions revealed that no dice was needed; just the playing cards. I haggled to have the game for $2, not expecting much, only thinking it would be good to have the game for the novelty factor.

Dark Shadows player pieces

The player pieces. Everyone wants to be the wolf…

My partner and I gave the game a quick run through. The play is interesting. All your moves are dictated by the cards that you can pick up. You have four cards dealt to you, and when it is your turn, you pick up another card from the deck. You now must discard one card to have four cards again, and hopefully with the card you throw out you use it to move. Each step along the board corresponds to an aspect of the cards. It could be the colour of the card, red or black; the symbol on the card, such as a spider or a bat, or the number on the card. Say you have a black spider card with a 1 on it. If the square in front of you is either black, has a spider on it or a number 1, then you can move. Sometimes this means that you are picking up cards and are not moving for some time, but the same can easily happen to your opponent. When we played it my partner didn’t move from the start position until she had picked up cards 5 times. Later, I lost with only a few steps to go because I could not pick up the card I needed and my partner did and just sailed right past me to win.

Dark Shadows game sheet

The sheet that your pieces go around. Note the squares; to move you must play a card that has an aspect of that square, such as colour or symbol.

I thought that the game could take hours but with two of us we raced thru it in under half an hour and never once noticed the time. We were engrossed, trying to take advantage of the shortcuts that rely on having three in a row of the same card. Do you save up for that or take a chance that you will draw those cards?

Really, it might look like a cheap game, with a ‘fold up like a road map’ type of playing sheet, but this really is a game that draws you in and provides plenty to look at, since the illustrations are great. For instance, the card symbol for the glass has a skull in the wine so my partner called it the Skulled Wine card, which I thought was pretty funny. Also the pictures for the pick up and discard pile are a treat so it is a pity that they get covered.

 Dark Shadows draw and discard pile

I’m giving this game 4 dice. It is an absorbing and fun game with unpredictable play and lots of cool visual stuff to look at.”

4 dice

Dark Shadows game collectors card of the vampire Barnabas

The playing cards contained two of these collector cards of the vampire Barnabas. I love the suggestion of putting these in your wallet.


#Avengers tie in. HULK THROW DICE

April 27, 2012

Instead of adding to the internet yet another review of how marvellous The Avengers movie is (and yes I did go and see it opening day here in Australia) I thought to do an Avengers tie in post and review my old Incredible Hulk board game.

cover

This game hails from the time of the Bill Bixby/ Lou Ferrigno TV show but this board game relates more to the Hulk comic book than the small screen version. For one thing the Hulk is fighting against the Abomination and secondly Banner has his alliterative first name of Bruce instead of David which the show went with.

alien abomination

Calm yourself comic nerds - we all know the Abomination is not an alien. Well, some of us do.

But wait, comic book fans say; why does the board game cover call Abomination an alien? Relax, the instructions inside reveal that the Abomination is back on Earth after having been exiled in space. I’ll have to check Hulk comic history to see if that ever happened in Marvel continuity.

Hulk destroy

HULK WEARS BIG BOY PANTS! NOT NAPPY LIKE ABOMINATION

The playing board of this game is bright and colourful and reflects the destruction that the Hulk can wreak with smashing sound effects all over. This game could almost tie in with the new Avengers movie what with all the destruction of a major city that is represented on the board. This game could also have been re-released for the last Hulk movie since the Abomination was the villain in that.

Game board

More sound effects than a bowl of Rice Bubbles

The good news is that the two to four players who get to play this game don’t have to fight over who is Hulk.  You all get a Hulk of your own, each one differentiated by the background colour of the playing piece. So even though each Hulk is green you would probably refer to them by the background colour which means that there is a Red Hulk in this game which is strangely prescient.

Blue Hulk

HULK FEELS BLUE

Of course, even though you get to be Hulk you also have to be Bruce Banner at some stage. Each playing piece stands up in two ways, one way showing Bruce, the other Hulk.

The aim of the game is to change from puny Banner into the Hulk so that you can then defeat the Abomination. The Abomination is represented by a cube and he does not really fight back. You push him to your coloured side of the board which is on the opposite side of the board from where you started. When your piece is in Banner mode you can move two spaces at a time and the first objective is to go to a stress square so you can change and then as the Hulk take on your foe.

Stress square

You would be stressed too surrounded by all the destruction

The playing pieces nicely represent this transformation and once you are Hulked out you can start to throw the special dice. You can throw either an arrow a Hulk fist or a Banner face. You don’t want a Banner, because back into a weakling you go.

dice sides

When it came to playing Paper Scissors Rock, Hulk only understood how to play Rock.

If you roll an arrow you can start to collect the city destruction cards which are scattered across the board. As you pick these up you reveal the destroyed cityscape underneath which you as the Hulk leave in your wake. The city is also now in colour which says something about the urban renewal that the Hulk brings but I am not sure what.

If the dice comes up showing a fist and if you are near the Abomination cube you can start to SMASH! Which is to say, you begin to move the Abomination cube to your respective corner. First Hulk to get the Abomination in to their coloured section wins.  

Blue corner

HULK SMASH, I MEAN, PUSH

The play is pretty straightforward and simple. The more players the better so that the numerous Hulks all get to tussle over moving the Abomination. If you knock the Abomination into another Hulk they get slammed right across the board and get changed back into Bruce.

pUNY bANNER

PUNY BANNER

The more destruction cards you pick up the better (again what does that say about the Hulk?). If you have two destruction cards you get to extend your go and throw the dice again and increase your chances of getting the Abomination right where you want him.

Simple, colourful and fun I give this game 3 dice.

3 dice


Dark Shadows; another Halloween game

October 28, 2010

As part of the all week Halloween theme here at the blog, here is another game appropriate to this time of year.

This game also happens to be my most recent purchase having picked it up about a fortnight ago at the Belmont swap meet.

Allow me to introduce the Dark Shadows game.

Dark Shadows game box

Now, “Dark Shadows” is a television show that I have often heard about but never actually seen. I have heard it described as a supernatural soap opera starring a vampire so it sounds cool.

The board game upon first inspection looked to be a pretty cheap cash in. There was no board as such, just a large fold out playing sheet and some very half hearted playing pieces. For instance, you can be a candle, or a clock. Still, in Monopoly you can be a top hat so perhaps a clock is not that bad. At first I was thrown by there being no dice, which made me wonder if all the pieces were there, but a quick look at the instructions revealed that no dice was needed; just the playing cards. I haggled to have the game for $2, not expecting much, only thinking it would be good to have the game for the novelty factor.

Dark Shadows player pieces

The player pieces. Everyone wants to be the wolf...

My partner and I gave the game a quick run through. The play is interesting. All your moves are dictated by the cards that you can pick up. You have four cards dealt to you, and when it is your turn, you pick up another card from the deck. You now must discard one card to have four cards again, and hopefully with the card you throw out you use it to move. Each step along the board corresponds to an aspect of the cards. It could be the colour of the card, red or black; the symbol on the card, such as a spider or a bat, or the number on the card. Say you have a black spider card with a 1 on it. If the square in front of you is either black, has a spider on it or a number 1, then you can move. Sometimes this means that you are picking up cards and are not moving for some time, but the same can easily happen to your opponent. When we played it my partner didn’t move from the start position until she had picked up cards 5 times. Later, I lost with only a few steps to go because I could not pick up the card I needed and my partner did and just sailed right past me to win.

Dark Shadows game sheet

The sheet that your pieces go around. Note the squares; to move you must play a card that has an aspect of that square, such as colour or symbol.

I thought that the game could take hours but with two of us we raced thru it in under half an hour and never once noticed the time. We were engrossed, trying to take advantage of the shortcuts that rely on having three in a row of the same card. Do you save up for that or take a chance that you will draw those cards?

Really, it might look like a cheap game, with a ‘fold up like a road map’ type of playing sheet, but this really is a game that draws you in and provides plenty to look at, since the illustrations are great. For instance, the card symbol for the glass has a skull in the wine so my partner called it the Skulled Wine card, which I thought was pretty funny. Also the pictures for the pick up and discard pile are a treat so it is a pity that they get covered.

 Dark Shadows draw and discard pile

I’m giving this game 4 dice. It is an absorbing and fun game with unpredictable play and lots of cool visual stuff to look at.

4 dice

Dark Shadows game collectors card of the vampire Barnabas

The playing cards contained two of these collector cards of the vampire Barnabas. I love the suggestion of putting these in your wallet.


Board Game Review: It’s Funky Phantom Time

October 26, 2010

I don’t post any where near enough game reviews and with one recent Halloween inspired post, why not another?  So here is a game that would be suitable to play on Halloween. It is the Funky Phantom.

Funky Phantom board game box

Now, me, I cannot every say the title of this game without grunting it like James Brown intoning “it’s the funky drummer, the funky drummer”. All of which goes to show I really do like music too much.

But who is The Funky Phantom? He is the titular character from an early 1970’s cartoon from Hanna-Barbera. However, this was one cartoon that I had never heard of until I came across this game in an op-shop. Turning to Wikipedia reveals that the show was produced by an Australian company. The premise had overtones of Scooby-Doo with teenage characters solving mysteries, aided by the Funky Phantom and his ghost cat Boo. They even had a green coloured vehicle with a name painted on the side; theirs was the Looney Duney. Significantly, for the game that I am about to talk about, the kids originally unleashed the Funky Phantom when they set an old clock to midnight.

Looney Duney from the Funky Phantom board game

The copy of the game that I found for $2 at an op-shop is in very good condition. It had all the cards and playing pieces and was only missing the dice.

Funky Phantom board game

The action is pretty straightforward; you go round the board clockwise hoping to land on ghost squares. When you do you can pick up a card. The objective is to be the first player to get enough cards with numbers that add up to 12. This is in reference to the Funky Phantom being released from his clock when the hands were set to midnight. Adding to the game play is the condition that other players can steal your cards if they land on the same square as you. Also, amongst the cards are cards of Boo the cat, which allow you to change direction. So say it was 6 spaces back to a ghost square and you just threw a 6, play a Boo card and you can go back and pick up a card. The cards themselves only have numbers ranging from 1 to 4 so you need to have collected at least 3 cards before you can claim victory. A word on the cards however; they are little squares and when piled up are very hard to pick up.

Close up of Funky Phantom board game with instructions

The game is designed for the younger player but that is no detriment to enjoying this simple and effective game which is fun and quick to play. Bigger cards which are easier to pick up would have been good.

Rating 3 Dice

3 dice

Funky Phantom board game instructions


Games Review – Rubiks Race

July 22, 2010

Yes, at long last, a games review. Finally. Here we go.

A little while back I posted about how I saw a sequel to a book from my Lost Library Thing collection at a Sunday morning swap meet. Now, faced with that book, I displayed restraint and chose not to buy it, but believe me I bought plenty else that day and one thing was this game.

There was a guy there who had a whole bunch of board games, including Jenga and a trivial pursuit type of quiz game plus this. I was tempted to get Jenga, but upon reflection, I reasoned that I can still buy Jenga nowadays, but this could be the only time that I ever see Rubik’s Race.

So I opened the box, counted the pieces and satisfied that they were all there, I paid him the $5 he wanted for it and took it home.

I played it that night with my partner LP.

I don’t know if this is a genuine Rubik invented item, although it claims to be on the box but to be honest it is not at all like a Rubik’s cube since you are not out to get all of one colour together. Rather, you are trying to recreate a pattern of colours.

The set up is simple. As the instructions show, you shake the Boggle like box to get what pattern of tiles you have to create and then you go. On each playing side you have one space free and using that you must arrange all the tiles to recreate that pattern. First person to do it wins the race. It made me wish that I had played more Tetris on my sister’s Gameboy when I was younger, so that I had better spatial awareness of how to shift tiles, but oh well. I soon got the hang of it and it was really satisfying to be able to slam down the frame onto my finished set of tiles and win the game.   

Rubik’s Race does not deserve to be forgotten. I would rather play this than Connect 4 which so often ends in no winner at all. I’m giving this 5 dice.


I’m game if you are

November 24, 2009

The first computer experience that I ever had was games based. I was just behind the generation that brought home these new fangled computer games; in my case my older brother who had the parentals buy him a commodore or something. I remember it ran on tapes; you had to put the tape in and let it program the computer and then you could play. Want to change games, put in another tape, wait, let it load and away you go. The computer itself just consisted of a brown and orange keyboard with a tape deck in the corner; it just plugged into the tv. We had a Pac-Man rip off called Pâk-Man or something (he was shaped like a square) and a flight simulator game and a downhill skiing game that I really loved. When you crashed and died it played a funeral march. Read the rest of this entry »