Category: Games

Gobblet: A game of strategy

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It’s hard to find games that level the playing field between the generations, yet challenge both adults and children. The joy in a child’s eye when they know they’ve legitimately beaten a grown-up in a game of skill is priceless. Gobblet is one such game.

The rules are deceptively simple. Imagine a game of tic-tac-toe on a four-by-four grid. All you need is four pieces in a row to win. But things get complicated when you have three sets of pieces, each set made of four pieces that fit nicely into each other. Players take turns putting their pieces on the board. Once a piece is on the board, players can move them to a new space or “gobble” their opponent’s smaller piece. Strategy becomes key, and simple strategies learned by kids after hours of tic-tac-toe practice pay off with wins in Gobblet. Other rules, such as, “Once you touch a piece you have to use it,” make Gobblet a memory game. Players find themselves asking, “What was under that piece that I gobbled last turn?”

Another cool aspect to abstract strategy games like Gobblet is that you can play them online. Go to www.ashokappliance.com/gobblet/home.htm and try it out. Because of the multiple awards this game has garnered–making it quite popular–finding it online and in stock may be difficult. We found our copy at Five Rivers, 2285 Warm Springs Ave.

Let’s Go Camping 

This is a drinking game similar to 20 questions. It is very easy to play and perfect for, well … a camping trip. You’ll need a lot of beverages, especially if you are playing with stupid people.

First of all, the judge thinks of a place. Then it is up to everyone else to discover what the place is by making statements about what someone might find at that place.

For example, let’s say the judge chooses a car lot. The first person who asks the question does so in the form of a statement: “I’m going camping and I’m taking a garden hose.” We’re not sure why they have to say camping, but if they didn’t, the name of the game would be called something else other than “Let’s go camping.”

It is up to the judge to determine whether that object can or cannot be found at the place. If that object can usually be found at the place, in this case a car lot, then they have made a correct statement and do not have to take a swig of their beverage. If their statement is incorrect then they have to take a swig. In our example, a garden hose typically would not be found at a car lot so the person would have to take a drink.

This game involves lots of interpretation as objects can be found in many places. One adaptation of the rules is that objects which could possibly be found at a place only require players to take a swig, while those players guessing objects never found at a place have to drink their entire beverage.

Quake 4 

Sometime this fall, Quake 4 is set to hit PCs and the new XBox 360 machine. The hype is already getting gamers excited and if the preview of gameplay (www.gamespot.com/promos/quake4/play.html) gives any clue to how the game will actually look and feel, well, this is a new evolution in gaming.

The story of Quake 4 picks up where Quake 2 left off in 1997. Although defeating the Strogg enemy leader, his army of mutated cyborgs continue threatening humanity. It’s your job to try to take out a few-not as a leader of a squad, but as one of the grunts taking orders.

Based on the Doom III engine, the game includes added features like the ability to drive vehicles such as the “hovertank,” the “walker” and increased artificial intelligence not only from the foes, but from allies as well.

Unlike the recently released Halo 2, in Quake 4 you’ll be able to carry every single weapon you’ve encountered. “Mods” will be available for your weapons not only from your mates, but salvaged from the hearts of your enemies. Shotgun not splattering those Stroggs like it should? Switch over to the rocketlauncher and blast those creepy crawlers away.

During the course of the game, of course, you’ll be captured. No good game these days lets you blow through everything without some hardship. But instead of escaping, you’ll be turned into a Strogg yourself. Who knows what’ll happen.

Unveiled in early August at QuakeCon, an annual gathering of Quake fans in the Dallas metroplex,Quake 4 is generating a buzz not heard since Halo 2 came out last year. What’s more, making it an XBox 360 game, one of the first for the upgraded system, is sure to make it an instant classic.

It’s no wonder the game looks so advanced. Id software, the creators of the original Doom (1993) and Quake (1996) have been setting the bar in the first-person shooter video games from the get-go.

Big Nasty Mounted 

Riders in both pro classes on Sunday topped out the previously unclimbed 460-foot, 62-degree incline monster hill in New Plymouth this past weekend. The Big Nasty hill was the only one of the six in the North American Hillclimb Tour that had still been unclimbed. Dirt flew, riders crashed and many did not make it trying to conquer the Big Nasty using a line to the left, made slightly easier from the day before when volunteers chipped away at a ledge that proved unsurmountable to Saturday’s riders. In the end, though, during the five rider shootout for first, four of the top five riders in the open 701+CC class topped the hill. The line favored by most who got to the top veered to the right up a small draw, avoiding the killer ledge. Dusty Beer-an appropriate name for the dirty sport of hillclimbing-kept his No. 1 ranking with an amazing 10-second ride up the beast. He literally flew up the hill as if chased by demons, which were busy melting the spectators with oppressive heat on the field below.

The ESP Game 

How great would it to be psychic, to have the power of extra sensory perception? We’re talking about reading minds, predicting the future, moving objects with our brain. We all have those moments where we know someone is going to call … and they do. How about feelings of deja-vu? That’s psychic stuff, right?

Well you can play this little game and find out just how psychic you are. Visit www.mdani.demon.co.uk/para/esp1.htm, for a variety of ESP tests devised by Michael Daniels PhD, senior lecturer in applied psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.

Take tests guessing what cards are, and the more you guess right, the more likely you have psychic abilities. Randomness says you will get 20 percent right. I scored about five percent. I’m not sure what that means. Thankfully, links to other websites where you can train your psychic abilities are available.

The Choking Game 

We normally have a little fun with this column but this game is no laughing manner. The Choking Game (also known as the Pass-Out Game, the Fainting Game, the Tingling Game and the Something Dreaming Game) has allegedly been the cause of death for two Idaho kids this past year, one a 10-year-old boy in Island Park and the other a 13-year-old girl in Nampa. This typically two-person game involves a choker and a chokee, although a riskier solitary version can be played too (among adults there are even more variations involving “other” activities). The rules are simple: Air is restricted to the chokee by the choker until the chokee passes out. Players claim a “buzz” but this is really the screams of millions of neurons dying painful deaths. The danger is obvious: death. But the game can also cause the blood vessels in the eyes and face to break, an attractive look for when kids go back to school.

Psychologists believe that risk-taking among youth is common, but recently there have been more incidents involving injury. Some blame television shows like Jackass and Fear Factor in which crazy stunts involving extremely risky behavior-some just for the sake of experiencing pain or revulsion-are played out.

Karl Rover 

Two teams of equal size line up against each other holding hands. One side (the incumbents) pick a person on the other side and chant, “Karl Rover, Karl Rover, send so-and-so on over.” This person has been identified as a CIA operative and must now leave their team and rush headlong into the opponnent’s team line. Selecting which link may be the weakest between two teammates is the strategy here. If the CIA operative manages to break through the lines, he chooses one person from the incumbents to rejoin his team. If the operative fails to break through, then he must join the incumbents team. Good strategy includes picking the weakest opponents if you are the team selecting, or targeting the weakest links if you are the CIA operative. Beware the Supreme Court ruling, an obscure loophole in the rules which forces spectators to join the game in a “jail” for not identifying rule breakers. Ultimately, and unlike in real life, all players will end up on one team, leaving no losers except the spectators in Jail.

Online Seduction 

Losers can now strike out at home

From the people that brought you AXE, the men’s body spray that is sure to get the ladies attention, we now have Mojo Master, an online game developed by Wild Tangent, in which you attempt to seduce 100 3D girls, including Tiffany Fallon, 2005 Playboy Playmate of the Year.

No more humiliation in front of your friends at a bar-you can now pick up virtual women at home, in your underwear if you’d like, just like you’ve secretly always wanted to do at a bar.

The game designers have applied theories of male/female interaction from expert studies of seduction for you to navigate. If you successfully “seduce” all 100 you become … the Mojo Master. Each girl is derived from a personality matrix and you must use the “moves” you learn along the way to bag ’em. You can build your own persona with clothes and “bling,” then work your way through 28 venues in seven cities. But wait, there’s more. This fall you’ll be able to compete with other “playas” live, online.

Just how did we come to this? Well, as the advertising industry continues to seek out unique ways to reach the young men and women in our society that have stopped reading newspapers and watching TV, companies find new ways to introduce their products. You can bet that at some point in the game, you’ll have to use the new AXE Unlimited body spray to attract the ladies. Oh, and that fragrance makes those “brazenly gorgeous 3D-rendered girls” swoon.

Strangely, it isn’t just about making the “move.” A device called a “Seduction Compass” describes girls using five elements: light, fire, earth, ice and shadow. Each represent the different physical and mental types exhibited by the game’s ladies, just like in real life.

As “playas” master their “moves,” they collect phone numbers of girls and add them to his personal mobile phone book. (T-Mobile, take note).

You can play Mojo Master online at www.mojomastergame.com.

20 questions 

A classic game with an artificial intelligence twist

Twenty Questions is a game with very simple rules. One person thinks of something and through a series of up to 20 yes or no questions, the guesser must determine what it is. Over time, players learn to hone in on the objects by asking general questions at first such as, “Is it an animal?” or “Is it bigger than a breadbox?” Eventually, the game depends upon the obscureness of the object chosen and the skill of the interviewer.

It was predictable then that eventually someone would write a program that would play the interviewer. In comes 20Q, a round toy about the size of a yo-yo. A small LED scrolling text window asks the question and you scroll to the answer. Since no AI has ever exceeded the full capabilities of a human mind, the toy does establish a few guidelines and takes a few shortcuts, like asking if it’s animal, vegetable or mineral with the first question. Follow-up questions can be answered yes, no, unknown, irrelvant, probably, doubtful, sometimes, usually, rarely and give-up.

We were amazed that this little device actually could get it after about 15 questions. You can also play it online for free at www.20q.net.

Halo 2 Revisited 

New maps, deadlier weapons and cheats fixed will revitalize the game

Not since the highly anticipated release of Halo 2 almost six months ago has the gaming world been excited about something new. Tired of old multi-player maps on Xbox Live, the creators of Halo (Bungie) have released four new player maps to download to reinvigorate the popularity of the game. Two of the maps, Containment and Warlock, are available free with Sanctuary and Turf, which will cost you about six bucks. On June 28, Sanctuary and Turf will be free but the officialHalo 2 Multiplayer Pack CD will be available for $12 with nine maps and video features.

Also recently released is an auto-update which fixes someaggravating cheats. One, called the standby sneak, allowed unethical players to freeze opponents and move to other positions. Other cheats included the ability to pull flags through walls (in capture-the-flag games) and fly through the air with an energy sword.

Additional changes to the game include improvements on certain weapons, increasing the damage underappreciated weapons can cause, decreasing the timers on grenades and reducing the dual-weapon damage that made certain weapon combinations almost unbeatable. In other words, they’re balancing out the playing field.

One anticipated unpopular move by Bungie is a full leaderboard reset. Everyone gets to start over. For those of you that suck, this is a chance to prove yourself again.

Whether playing Halo 2 by yourself, with friends or online with players from all over the world, there’s one other experience you must try. At the Northgate Reel Theater (6950 W. State St.), every Friday night at midnight, gamers take over several theaters and play each other … ON THE BIG SCREEN! If you’ve every played with four people on one Xbox you know it can be difficult to play in your tiny little screen quarter. However, on a theater screen it’s like you’re in the game itself. Admission is $3 to watch and $10 to play, but fighting it out with seven other players on a huge movie screen is worth the cost.

My gaming partner and I made it down there last Friday night and were lucky to find two empty game controls. We paid our Hamilton and began playing. Selecting a preset player I hurried through and accidentally selected “Default” as my profile name. This, unfortunately, set the tone for my play. Now I play quite a bit-I feel guilty sometimes for the amount of time I spend on the console-and consider myself a decent player, able to hold my own on Xbox Live. The competition in the theater was fierce and other players trounced me in kills 10-to-1. It was humiliating. I wonder what kind of dedication and time it takes to reach a proficiency level like those players had. I fear I’ll never have the amount of free time to achieve such levels. I think I’ll accept “Default” as an appropriate title for myself from now on.