Flights of The Electribird

Through Games, Events and Multimedia

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Spring Time for Traditional Gamers

Sorry for the lack of posts here, people. With work, physiotherapy (irrelevant story) and family-matters, I’ve barely had time to do anything blog-related for months. I have therefore crammed in as much of my nerdiness from those months here as possible and will pretend that’ll be enough to get any form of forgiveness for my absence.

GothCon 2015

While most people were busy celebrating Easter, I had an object from my bucket list scratched off  – I got to attend my first boardgame convention! I’ve been dying to go to a convention like this for years and now I’m glad to share my experience of what occurred at this year’s GothCon in Sweden.

Before stepping inside, I had to wait for a friend of mine to arrive (can’t play games without another player, of course). Luckily, there was a fight going on for me to observe in the meantime…

Don't ask me who won...

These knights demonstrated their might for people’s amusement.

Then my companion for the day arrived and we stepped inside for some fun. We had to take different entrances into the building to get to certain areas. An example of such an area, was the manga/animé-style games, where we got to try out a card game I’ve never seen before.

The artwork inside looked better, though...

How can you resist a game with the word “ninja” in the title?

Before the game began, the players have to set up the cards to create the game field. From what I recall, there was some shuffling involved to select the ninjas for each players “randomly”, but the image below show how the game field looked like in the end.

I have no idea if we did this right...

After setting up the river cards between each base card, the ninja cards are placed to guard the way to the other side.

Then it was time to get the game started! The first player starts the turn by rolling the three dice. Each dice has a colour that matches the colours of the symbols marked on each ninja and the amount you roll on each dice decides how far you can move a ninja with that colour symbol along with the ninjas below. If the ninjas land on an area where the other player’s ninjas are located, they battle using a rock-paper-scissors kind of system (red = rock, green = scissors and blue = paper) associated with a number that shows how much damage each ninja can deal and take (which comes in handy in case of a draw or if the ninjas meet a boss ninja, which has all 3 colour symbols on the card). When the turn’s over, the second player gets to go through the same process, from rolling the dice to move the ninjas to fight whoever’s in the space they’ve ended up on, as well. Once a ninja reaches the opposing player’s base, the game is over.

Ninja Taisen gets a 3/5 from me. The gameplay appears to be simple and easy to learn at first glance, but there were still a lot of things in the game that caused for a lot of confusion. To be honest, I’m not even sure if what I’ve written about the game is accurate enough! But it was still intreresting to play and had better artwork than most of the Asian-themed games present at the same area at GothCon.

My companion for the day and I then moved on to find where the new games were being demonstrated and advertized. We ended up getting stuck at a booth that belonged to the game company Myling Games for a very good reason. Apart from the many goodies and items they were selling at their huge table, they were also demonstrating a game that we were lucky enough to test – Privateers! (yes, the exclamation mark is included in the name).

Good thing we didn't have to set anything up ourselves...

The prototype of Myling Games’ upcoming game, Privateers!.

Since the game was already set up when we arrived at the booth, my friend and I got started right away, with the guidance of a game leader. From what I could understand, there were 3 phases for the players to follow:

The Player Phase: This is where the players do their things, like move their ships, fight battles, etc.
The Enemy Phase: This is when the non-playable characters in the game do their stuff.
The Influence Phase: This part was handled by our game leader, so we didn’t get to learn much about this, but it seemed like a part where the scoring was handled after both players and non-playable characters have done their parts.

So there my friend and I were, rolling dices, moving ship pawns and reading cards for over an hour. We had almost no idea what we were doing and most of the time was spent on checking the rulebook, but you could still tell a lot of effort, heart and soul had been put into making this game. The historical accuracy about pirates had been mostly nailed, a lot of weird stuff had been added for comical effect and the game designer has clearly made sure the game is as gender neutral as possible by adding male and female sides to certain character cards. In all, this is a very fun game to play, but there was still a lot of work to be done on it at the time, since it was still in beta…

This demo version of Privateers! gets a 3/5. Some of the cards were fun to read and there wasn’t a moment in the game where you didn’t feel like you weren’t in a 17th-18th century piratey world, even if the weird stuff may not always belong to that world (the sense of humour and the subtleness makes up for that, though). Since the game was still very incomplete and complicated to learn at the time, half of our game time was spent on digging through the rulebook and talking to the game designer for clarification, which took a lot of the fun away. Luckily, Myling Games asked my friend and I for our inputs and advice and promised to take them under consideration for when the game recieves another update. Thankfully, they kept their promise and the rulebook (which you can find as a PDF-file here) has been updated a lot since then. I’ve also been told not long ago that this game has a fundraising campain going on at, if anyone wants to help them get the game produced as soon as possible, so I can test the game again and give it a proper rating.

Time really flies by fast at these conventions! We spent so much time at Myling Games’ booth, we missed out on almost everything else at the convention, like the game auction and a tournament for a Star Wars miniature game. But we did get to try out one more game before we left.

Malifaux is a miniature game, where a group of gremlins and a mad scientist and his undead goons (at least those were the figurines we got to play with), each with specific statistics to pay attention to, are battling it out on a Western-style battlefield. By using a regular deck of cards (except for the jack, queen and king), my companion and I tried to knock each others’  figurines out so often, we nearly forgot the aim of the game, which was to take over the sign figurines which have been placed around the board, if I remember correctly…

Malifaux, all set-up and ready to play!

Malifaux, all set-up and ready to play!

The rules of the game may have been too complicated to remember, but the game still gets a 4/5 from me. Once you get the hang of the rules and all the stats for each character, the gameplay becomes a breeze, if not too simple. Luckily, simplicity doesn’t have to be a bad thing…

In all, GothCon gets 3/5. I really wish the day could have lasted a little longer. My companion and I got stuck on so many awesome stuff, we missed more than half of what was going on during GothCon this year. I have to admit, they didn’t advertize much about the stuff that was going on (or I completely missed it), but the stuff we got to experience was enough to keep us occupied for hours and lose our way. I also wish the convention wasn’t so spread out, because it’s quite easy to lose your way when you have to leave the building and enter it from another entrance to reach a specific section of the convention…

Retrospelsmässan 2015

Those who were young gamers between the 70’s and 90’s know the charm of the old games they grew up playing and don’t hesitate to share the joy with their young, just like young gamers today know how famous old titles are today due to the cult status they hold  now and to the sequels to the most popular ones among them are still popping out to the retail market every now and then. Since most of those old gems are getting harder and harder to come by today, it’s a good thing they have conventions for those. In Sweden, that convention was called Retrospelsmässan (translates to “Retro Game Convention”).

If you think no one cares for old games anymore, think again. The line to the convention was so long, it covered an entire block! Thousands of people of all ages stood in line to access the convention, both in and out of costume.

Don't let that mask scare you!

Can you see the cosplayer in this photograph?

This wasn’t even half the line, just half of the line that formed behind me! People had come from pretty much everywhere to attend this convention.

I wonder how he could fit through the doors...

I never saw Pac-Man, but his car was here.

To prevent people from getting bored, other cosplayers had been hired to entertain the crowd in line. Strange, considering how much effort some of the visiting cosplayers had put in their costumes…

Poor Kirby seems to be out of shape...

Yup, even Kirby made a short appearance!

But eventually, we made it inside the building, where the real fun began right after we paid the entrance fee. The first thing my companion and I discovered, was the kids’ corner. Here, they had set up art stations, game consoles and small arcade machines for them to play with.

The kids seems fascinated by the old NES consoles and the table version of Pac-Man.

The kids seems fascinated by the Nintendo consoles and the table version of Pac-Man.

Lots of templates were available for those who liked to create fanart using beads.

Lots of templates were available for those who liked to create their own art using beads – or you could by finished artwork at the shop about a metre away…

In the speakers, event commentators could be heard for a little while. It didn’t take long for them to be spotted either, since their tables were not only close to the children’s corner, but also close to the information desk. When they were done talking, their voices got replaced with some well-known music from various games, like Superfrog and Batman for Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

These gentlemen were chatting away loudly as the first part of the convention was in full swing.

These gentlemen were chatting away loudly as the first part of the convention was in full swing.

I wonder if there was another purpose for the information desk...

Got any questions about the event? Get in line and hope they have the answers you need.

The place may have been small, but the booths were many and everyone of them had something for sale or on display. If it wasn’t a modded game console from the 80’s or 90’s or an antique computer in mint condition, the sellers had something tailored done to show off.

Their customers got ripped-off big by their broken merchandise.

One of several booths, who sold modded game consoles and other used stuff.

Imagine one console to rule them all...

Some modding companies had both modded game consoles AND game consoles that they make themselves!

And sold quickly, by the look of it.

Even old computers, like Commodore VIC-20, were available for purchace!

Already have the desired device? Don’t worry, the games for them were being sold there too!

Mostly for Nintendo's consoles, no doubt...

Cartridges… game cartridges everywhere!

I hope the games still work...

You can really tell the games were played a lot in the past by the quality of the packaging.

They bring memories back, don't they?

Even these old gems for Nintendo’s consoles were being sold off to whoever grabbed them first!

Hardware and software in all their glory, but there were of course more stuff than that for sale! Fan merchandice and spare parts could be found pretty much everywhere, both the real deal and knock-offs.

Or perhaps you're into something else?

Any sign of your favorite?

Batteries not included.

Parts available for all your assembly-required needs.

At least this one wasn't opened.

Old figurines and toys of characters from various comics, cartoons and games, like M. Bison here, could be found in their original packaging.

But what kind of game convention would this be without something to play and observe? An arcade and exibit area had been set up in a dark corner.

Too bad we couldn't play with it.

A lego computer for humans.

She liked it so much, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I wanted to play too.

An arcade version of Tetris.

MAME... can it get more awesome?

A portable game console – retro style!

At least we didn't have to pay to play!

A retro game convention without a pinball game? Blasphemy!

This part of the room needs more light...

This NES was one of the few consoles set up and ready to play, with a few game cartridges to choose from.

And what about the cosplayers? Apart from the few I saw while standing in line outside to get in, several more could be found inside, both hired ones and visiting ones. Most of them vanished as quickly as they appeared, while others popped up a little too much. There was also a corner, where a photographer had set up a camera for visiting cosplayers to have their pictures taken in front of a green screen.

The predator didn't say much, though...

A predator had a chat with Captain Haddock and his friend.

Judging by his perkiness, I take it his weapons got confiscated earlier.

Deadpool goofed around a little here and there.

I don't know who's blood's on his fan, but I hope it's not Mega Man's...

Air Man appeared to be looking for something or someone (Mega Man, maybe?).

And last, but not least, a game tournament was in full swing when we arrived and a couple more started later on. Several games were being played on a large screen at the end on the convention hall.

This game was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

A lot of spectators were watching during the Zelda tournament.

This convention got the fine grade of 4/5. It took hours in the rain to get inside, the convention hall was small and my friend got stiffed on a broken Wii, but it was worth it once we were inside! Not only was this like taking a trip back in time, I was able to find the things I’ve been looking for in the past and bought them for a price that would make a cashier facepalm if they were brand new! I was also impressed by all the different kind of people that was there and that the place wasn’t just crowded by old-time gamers. This generation’s gamers were there too, no matter what their reasons for coming was, and they looked like they were having fun too. I just wish the cafeteria served warm food a little longer, because I ended up starving about 1 hour before closing time…


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Nintendo DS – The Best Travel Companion a Gamer Can Get!

My family spent this Christmas on a train to Stockholm this year. In exchange for using my laptop, my brother let me try out his Nintendo DS, which was an unusual experience. I grew up with Game Boy and am a proud owner of both a Game Boy Color and a Game Boy Advance, so this was definetely something else. I’ve tried Nintendo DS before (my classmates have them), so playing it wasn’t any news to me, but to use one on a trip was new to me, which gave me a traveller’s perspective of it. Now, the Game Boys can be pretty clumsy and take up a lot of space in the carry-on luggage. The Nintendo DS, however, takes up as much space as a pocket mirror, which is excellent when you bring a tiny purse or decide to stick with the inner-pocket of your jacket. Then we have the games. Forget the thumb-muscles, the pen’s the ruler now! With a pen as the control device, the gameplay’s a lot more different than on the Game Boys. The pen’s a lot more quiet than the buttons, so that’s something, but losing it during the trip is not an option you want to live with. Good thing I never lost my brother’s pen, because he’d never let me hear the end of it. Another problem with the Nintendo DS was the microphone. Sure, I don’t mind talking to a game console on the train, but there are bad things about it too. As I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, my brother told me about a screaming competition somewhere in the game. Screaming in commute vehicles is where I cross the line. The other passengers are going to be stuck with you for at least 30 minutes, so why bother them with noise you wouldn’t be able to stand yourself? Nintendo should’ve added room for a headset on the Nintendo DS, because you never know when you need one.

As for The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, it’s a fun game to play and will surely take you back to the past. Too bad they ruined the feeling of Zelda with the childish graphics. Even the characters looked like they came from a childish version of Grim Fandango. As a matter of fact, the ship repairman on the first island looks EXACTLY like Glottis (the yellow demon in Grim Fandango)! I hope my brother lends me his Nintendo DS again soon so I can finish the game to the end, because I’m certainly enjoying the fact that I have to litteraly blow out the candles in the game!