Archive for the ‘Board Games’ Category

Meet the Mindflex

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


Concentration is a must in Mattel's MindFlex... So is a willingness to wear clips on your ears.
Concentration is a must in Mattel’s MindFlex… So is a willingness to wear clips on your ears.

Thanks to Mattel, we are now one step closer to the wishes of the science fiction nerd in us all. The ability to move objects with one’s mind has long been the subject of great interest but it seemed to be too far in the distant future. Game designers at Mattel, however, have decided that the future is NOW.

It may be physically impossible to simply move objects with your mind but thanks to the new technology involved in the production of the Mindflex, one can experience the satisfaction of actually using telekinesis to play this one of a kind game. The Mindflex is like no other game currently on the market. It’s a huge step up from the same childhood board games we’re used to; moving objects along colored squares, racing to the finish,  all to beat an opponent. This unique game allows a player to move a foam ball through various obstacles using nothing but their mind.

The foam ball is held in the air by a movable fan nozzle which is controlled by the human mind. The player wears a headset which has a forehead sensor that rests above the left eyebrow and clips that attach to the earlobes. These accessories allow the game to read the brain waves that the player is sending out and change them into data that the unit can understand which corresponds with the ball moving in various directions as the player learns to alternately focus and relax their mind. The Mindflex is a very versatile toy that both children and adults can equally enjoy and there are a variety of games that the players can select and keep track of scores. A variety of hoops, hurdles, funnels, and a teeter-totter can be positioned however you choose on the game console. Players use their minds to move the ball under, over, or through the obstacles. Several games test speed while another challenges players to lift a ball up and through a funnel, shooting it across the game console to score points.

These are the only cons I can clearly identify: Mindflex is not multi-player friendly as players must take turns in order to see who can score the highest. It is not a game that players can use simultaneously. Also, as intriguing as the game is, it might prove difficult for some. Concentration techniques will vary from person to person and patience as well as a willingness to experiment are rewarded. The cons still do not take away from the true uniqueness of the toy or make it less enjoyable to play. Fans of mazes and brain teasers will appreciate the mental challenge and creative types will like designing the obstacle courses. Mindflex makes a great party game and might be an impressive Christmas present for the boss.

A Hasbro-mance on Xbox Live

Friday, March 20th, 2009
Will it let you spell bad words? Try it and see...

Will it let you spell bad words? Try it and see...

This week Hasbro Games along with Electronic Arts now have a nice selection of old school goodies that you can download to your Xbox 360 console. I myself grew up on a few of these games like Scrabble, Boggle, Battleship and Yahtzee. The download is titled ‘Hasbro Family Game Night’ and it provides a platform, or game room, for you to add these family favorites to your online gaming arsenal. The initial download is free but to acquire an online playable version it’s going to cost you 800 Microsoft points ($10). Now mind you that is for each of the titles too. The cool thing is it looks like they will be adding more games as the year progresses.

I picked up Scrabble first and was able to get in a few heated games at launch. At first try the EA server was down (not a suprise being the first day and all), but then it wasn’t long until I was able to find a random group in the ‘Quick Match’ option. As expected, a game of Scrabble is not fast paced at all. I mean you can play your turn, get up, grab another beer, take a bathroom break and come back before your next turn has started. The only peev I encountered was the inability to see the board very well when it is not your turn. I would like to be able to scan for possible word slams before my turn actually starts. I think that would keep that gamepace up and not have to start looking for a high scoring play at the beginning of your turn. Other than that, the onscreen adaptation is nicely done – very stylized and you can even download different room themes to fit your style (some of those are even free which is a plus!).

I plan to pick up a few more of the titles, Yahtzee seems like a good choice next, and I think that it would be nice to see some other Hasbro games like Stratego, or Clue available. I’m sure they will be rounding the bend soon enough.

-Crutchboy Out

The end of board games as we know it?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Coming to a Con near you!

Coming to wreck a Con near you!

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Pass go – and click. Classic board games like Monopoly are going virtual under a partnership between Electronic Arts and Hasbro as the whole family from children to grandparents become gamers.

Games like “Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition,” “Battleship” and “Boggle” have entered the digital world with EA using the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to showcase upcoming spring releases aimed at the burgeoning casual games market.

A new version of “SCRABBLE” for PSP and Nintendo DS introduces a SCRABBLE Slam mode that challenges players to get rid of Slam cards by spelling words.

Those wishing to go green can save paper by playing “Trivial Pursuit” on Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2.

After releasing “Hasbro Family Game Night” on Wii and PS2 last fall, EA is offering all of the games on Xbox Live Arcade.

Gamers can buy games individually or the entire suite, which includes “SCRABBLE,” “Connect Four,” “Boggle,” “Yahtzee,” “Battleship,” “Sorry!,” and “Sorry! Sliders.”

But despite the recent influx of board games going digital, Hasbro isn’t about to lose its lucrative board game business.

“I don’t think you can ever replace the experience of pulling out a box of “Monopoly” and playing in front of the fireplace with your family over the holidays,” said Chip Lange, EA Hasbro vice president and general manager.

Instead, Lange foresees video games giving franchises like “SCRABBLE” and “Yahtzee” new life through online connectivity that allows families to play together from across the country.

The virtual world also opens up new gameplay options like a 30-minute speed game of “Monopoly.”

“The cardboard version of “Connect Four” is limited to connecting four checkers in a row, but we can do things like blow up checkers in the digital version and it adds a lot of new strategic gameplay mechanics,” said Lange. “These video games keep the brands relevant in the digital age.”

I think it’s awesome that we have the technology to play Monopoly and Uno with friends around the world sitting in our living room continuing to keep these classic games alive, but I still remain a board gamer from the start. From the first time opening up the box, to the excitement of learning the rules, to the sounds of dice hitting cardboard are important elements of my entertainment that the Xbox can’t duplicate. Well, technically I’m sure it could, but you know what I mean. -Crutchboy and his two cents.

Battlestar Galactica Board Game : The Frackin’ Review

Friday, January 9th, 2009
Who you calling a toaster?

Who you calling a toaster?

Amongst our team at, we have been known in the past to delve not only into the land of video games, comics and rpg’s (did I just admit that? Shhh!) but also into the realm of board games. Ok, well, when time and schedules allow us to anyhow. I pretty much just end up collecting them because my co-workers live miles away which makes game nights few and far between. Nonetheless, with the final season of Battlestar Galactica arriving next week, I thought it would be refreshing to talk about one of the most awaited table top releases (for me) of this past year.

During our excurison to the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle (PAX 2008), I ran across this game at the Fantasy Flight Gaming tables which I attempted to purchase during day 2 of the expo. To my dismay, the company had sold out of BSG on day 1 and politely told me I could currently bid on one at Ebay starting at $140.00. Well, I decided to wait untill last week to pick one up after its release. After several trips to my local nerd store, I acquired one for $50, a very welcomed birthday gift from my editor Gritskrieg, thanks again! Ok, enough babble, let’s talk some frackin’ board game dorkyness.

First, I’d like to say the game has an excellent presentation. The game board features a map of the Galactica and its important areas such as The Admiral’s Quarters, The Brig, The Hangar, Research Lab, etc., all of which allow you to activate a certain ability in the game. They range from drawing extra skill cards, launching Vipers, or fire the ship’s weapons at oncoming cylon raiders. There are plenty of cards (I’d say about 4 types of decks you will be drawing from), some awesome 3D ships (Vipers, Raiders and Raptors) for dogfights, 10 nice portrait standups of the main characters, one of whom you will be representing , and one 8 sided die. There are a lot of rules and phases for the game which will escalate the learning curve here (discouraging some players) but once you absorb it all, there are some really intriguing elements to the game play including some role-playing. Yeah, geeks!

See that Brig over there, that's where your parents live.

See that Brig over there, that's where your real parents live.

Each player chooses their character, selecting from Adama, Apollo, Roslin, Baltar, Boomer, Tigh, Chief, Starbuck, Zarek and Helo. Each wields 2 strenghs and 1 weakness, which will in turn provide some interesting gaming combinations. For example, Tigh has the ‘alcoholic’ penalty making him throw cards away, while Baltar has the ‘delusional intuition’ perk allowing him to draw extra cards. For those that follow the series, the abilities will make perfect sense but I can see for others, they will just be one more rule they have to remember. 

The object of the game is for the humans to travel 8 units of distance home (to Kobol) by making the Galactica jump through space by use of the FTL drive (Faster Than Light, damn I’m a dork). Simple enough, huh? Well, during each player’s turn, a crisis card is drawn which will present an obstacle that the team must combine abilities to overcome. Each character posesses certain areas of expertise. For example Baltar’s are Politics, Leadership and Engineering, while Boomer (a pilot) has Tactics, Piloting and Engineering. Sometimes this event will be a Cylon attack with Raiders  - so the pilots will have to activate vipers and physically chase and destroy them – while other events call for the team to donate skill cards to overcome a downfall like food shortage or a civillian revolt. These skill checks require all of the players to place skill cards in a pile (face down) dictated by the crisis after which the result is calculated (pass/fail). One event may require politics or tactics while another may call for engineering or leadership. The players may or may not control characters that have those skills, hence a well rounded party and assortment of abilities is always encouraged for survival.