Which Mario Tune is the Best?


Let’s begin with an objective fact: the Mario games have the best music of any video game series ever. We’ve all gotten one stuck in our head, and if your anything like me it leads to and endless parade of every opening world song in the history of the series. If you’re the type who likes to whistle, they’re the perfect songs for that pastime, because they’re jaunty, happy, and neverending. It helps that they’re from what is likely the most consistently amazing series of video games ever, because that means you’ve probably played almost all of them until your fingers bled. Such an important topic clear presents an important question: which Mario game has the best tune of them all? Continue reading

Cult of the Overrated


Healthy skintones? Overrated.

Last night some friends and I had a conversation over a board game, as is our tendency. The chitchat wandered over to games that for whatever reason we didn’t like much. Eventually this turned to my well-documented dislike for 7 Wonders. Most people at the table weren’t big fans of the game either, but none of them had quite the depth of my own antipathy. So for the sake of conversation, one of my friends began to offer up counterpoints to my complaints, just as a way to show me that it’s not as bad as all that. One of his points is that the game is so well-loved that it clearly struck a chord with a lot of people, which is true though not much of an indicator of quality. But thinking about that got me unreasonably annoyed. Rather than just not liking 7 Wonders and moving on with it, I found myself getting irritated that there were people out there who do like it. This is, of course, asinine. There’s no reason why other people enjoying a game should bother me. And yet I still found myself just a little resentful that a game I didn’t like was successful. My perception clearly doesn’t match with the prevailing opinion. As a game, I would call 7 Wonders “overrated”. Continue reading

Training Wheels

I pledge allegiance to training wheels

Training wheels for America

Being the guy who reviews games means that I’m usually the guy teaching them. This was the case even before I started writing about games regularly, since I was one of the buyers among my friends. I would decide what I wanted to play, buy it if no one had it already, and then teach it to everyone else. Teaching is something that most gamers need to figure out, and I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But lately I’ve grown weary of being the teacher. I’m not sure if it’s a function of too many games, or a growing sense that more and more games require “training wheels” to enjoy the experience. But either way I’m tired of learning and teaching games. I’d much rather play them. Continue reading

Roller Coaster Robots – Steam Park Review

Steam Park

The best rides are the one with robots.

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

For a member of the “gaming press” I’m not particularly good at keeping up with all of the buzz that comes out of the Spiel in Essen. It’s one of the biggest gaming events of the year, but most of what gets released is totally outside of my knowledge. I’m not sure if Steam Park was some hotly anticipated game or a dark horse that no one knew about before. But I do think that it might turn some heads and become something that people talk about now that it’s out. It’s an unexpectedly fun game, one that leavens its family leanings with some good old fashioned silliness without sacrificing decision-making. As such it will satisfy a broad range of people. And at the risk of making it sound trite, it’s a pretty cute game too. Continue reading

Thanks For Nothing, Amazon


This isn’t me. But it totally could have been.

I consider myself a reasonable man. I have to be, since I share a house with a small child whose religion involves sacrificing a third of his food to the floor gods. I didn’t go into a deep depression when Ohio State lost the Orange Bowl, a game with zero impact. I even drove all the way to Hutchinson, KS, in an ice storm, stopping every 20 miles to chip the ice off of my windshield wipers. Continue reading

A Friendly Knife-Fight – El Grande Retrospective

El Grande

Lord Dour the Unenthusiastic

One of the most unfortunate tendencies when discussing board games on the internet is the way games are described solely through their mechanics. It’s like someone asking how dinner was, and being given a list of ingredients as a response. Such a description is technically accurate, but falls short of giving any actual information. Any game is greater (or less) than the sum of its parts. It’s not the individual pieces that determine how a game functions, but rather how they synchronize with each other when combined with human opponents. Continue reading