At one point in the 1990s, the Genesis seemed like it could help Sega overtake Nintendo and claim the video game throne. While the SNES ultimately prevailed in the 16-bit battle, Sega’s beloved console has retained a dedicated following over the years. Though many iterations of iconic Genesis games have been rereleased in the past few decades, most ports were imperfect, and didn’t captured the fun and delight of playing the originals. For the Genesis Mini, Sega worked with the developer behind the lauded Sega Ages ports, and this partnership delivers the classic experience the Genesis deserves.
What Is It?
Following the examples of the miniature consoles from Nintendo and Sony, the Genesis Mini sports the appearance of a smaller Genesis and crams a ton of the platform’s most classic, iconic, and popular titles into it. Each game allows you to set three restore points, so you can save different states as you play. You’re able to choose from different backgrounds and screen filters, and can sort the massive library of 42 games by name, release date, or number of players.
Some of the games support multiplayer, and the package includes two controllers that look and feel like the familiar three-button Genesis gamepads. I love how these address two common complaints from competitors’ classic consoles: The Genesis Mini controllers have sufficiently long controller cables, and they give you the ability to access the main menu from couch rather than getting up to press the reset button. Also, if you felt burned by Sony not including an AC adapter with its PlayStation Classic, fear not: The Genesis Mini comes complete with a wall plug.
The Genesis Mini’s 42-game library is relatively huge compared to the 30 games on the NES Classic, 21 games on the SNES Classic, and 20 on the PlayStation Classic. The games list ranges from mainstays like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Ecco the Dolphin to games that never even released on the Genesis like Tetris and Darius. Mega Man: The Wily Wars, which gathers the first three Mega Man games into one package, is a great addition, and it’s nice to have games like Castlevania: Bloodlines and the punishingly difficult Contra: Hard Corps appear.
The list also includes several games that epitomize Sega’s lean into over-the-top attitude of the ‘90s, like Comix Zone, Vectorman, and ToeJam and Earl. For the RPG fans, Phantasy Star IV is a great inclusion. Unfortunately, many of the games included in the bundle feel like bloat and don’t hold up (like Virtua Fighter 2), but that won’t stop the nostalgic among us from enjoying them. Still, it’s painful to see those titles taking slots that could have been occupied by Sonic the Hedgehog 3 or Sonic & Knuckles – though the Sonic series is well-represented in general.
When you combine the nostalgia-fueled form factor with strong emulation, the Genesis Mini is compelling package for fans of Sega’s most popular system. While the number of games is substantial, the quality is inconsistent – but you can easily ignore the duds. The library includes plenty of good games that are still a blast to play, making the Genesis Mini is a great way to take a stroll down memory lane.
The Sega Genesis Mini launches September 19. For more on the Genesis Mini, check out our episode of New Gameplay Today below.
This isn’t our first trip to Final Fantasy XIV’s Eorzea Cafe in Akihabara, but our last visit was five years ago. A lot has changed since then, for both the cafe and game, making us eager to revisit, especially with the new menu items crafted in the image of Shadowbringers. Since this was our second visit, we wanted to go all-out and order up quite an impressive feast, complete with drinks and dessert.
This first gallery showcases our feast in all its glory. We got everything from an Aramigo beef bowl to our very own potion drink.
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After eating, we got up and took in the atmosphere, which you get a glimpse of below. Yes, you can log into your Final Fantasy XIV account and play while there.
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To learn more about the cafe, you can visit the official site here.
The concluding season of Game of Thrones is now behind us. And if you watched, you’re sure to have an opinion about how it all turned out. Dire Wolf Digital’s recent release of Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker gives you the chance to see it all play out again, almost certainly with a new ending, but with your gathered friends cast in the roles of the conniving lords and ladies of Westeros, along with all the lying, backstabbing, and trickery you’d expect.
Oathbreaker is a social deduction game built to be played by five to eight players. The high player count means that it’s best suited for a larger get-together, perhaps as the main course in a board game night of other fun but lighter party games. An individual round plays out in around 45 minutes (presuming you don’t get too bogged down in discussions about who is a traitor), but I suspect many play groups will recognize the potential inherent to multiple playthroughs in succession, letting the winners of one session dictate the power structure of the subsequent attempt to control the fate of Westeros.
While the game’s focus on deception and deduction are welcoming to any player, it should come as no surprise that being fans of the show (or, at the very least, the books) makes the experience far more rewarding. In addition, be conscious that the game demands lying, underhanded statements, and trickery from almost all the players; that won’t be the right fit for every gaming group, so bear that dynamic in mind when you consider ideal play groups.
Bluffing games are a familiar fixture of the party game scene. Fun releases like The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow and Avalon can offer many hours of laughter and lying. Oathbreaker distinguishes itself through the asymmetric nature of the player roles. A single player always takes on the role of the king or queen of the kingdom, while everyone else adopts the role of recognizable nobles from the Game of Thrones universe. Some of those nobles will be designated to remain loyal to the sovereign. But in every game session some of those nobles will secretly be conspirators working to sow chaos in opposition to the king or queen’s rule. Figuring out who is who is key to winning the game.
The game unfolds through a series of missions, which usually reflect recognizable moments and events from across the Game of Thrones fiction. Perhaps the Battle of the Bay unfolds in one round, while in another there’s an effort to hire the Faceless Men. Each noble carries a hand of cards that can be played onto missions, and each card exhibits various icons. No matter the situation, each mission can only be completed if the correct type of influence icons are played onto the mission (represented abstractly by Crowns, Ravens, and Swords). A completed mission means greater order in the land, and a step toward success for the sovereign and their loyalists.
Meanwhile, Sabotage icons counter that influence, helping the conspirators undermine the king or queen, and ensuring the failure of the mission. Whether you play helpful influence or unhelpful sabotage, it’s all done in secret. Cards are played face down. When those cards are revealed, that’s when the real discussions begin, as everyone begins to charge each other with treachery. Is Arya a traitor to the crown because she didn’t help out more in the attempt to rout the Wildlings? Did Tyrion manage to trick the conspirators from playing cards to a mission by adding all those helpful cards to the mission, or was he just trying to regain the queen’s trust after the blatant sabotage he committed in the previous round?
Over time, the king or queen is given their own opportunity to sway events with decrees, especially ones that bestow favor or suspicion onto a given noble. Do you dare to help Ned Stark in a subsequent round after the king has marked him as duplicitous the round before, or are you dooming your house to fall as well?
At the end of the game, the success or failure of various missions helps determine whether chaos or order reigns, but the ruling player also gets to make guesses about who was and wasn’t loyal, which can further adjust the scoring. In addition, favors and suspicions played on each player can add order or chaos to the track.
And in one final twist, every noble has also been harboring a secret ambition. Even if your side (loyalist or conspirator) has come out ahead, you only personally win if you also fulfill your ambition, represented by a secret card you receive as the game begins. Perhaps you have been gathering honor to be like Jon Snow, or you are power-hungry like Cersei Lannister. The various missions you’ve been involved in net you these resources, like coin and power, so it’s yet another variable that must be factored in if you want to be one of the winners.
Taken together, Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker offers a deeper bluffing gameplay loop than many similar games, with far more factors to monitor. The king or queen must juggle constantly shifting alliances and actions by every player at the table. Each noble must be judicious in their use of cards. Loyalists must find ways to really prove their fealty, especially because the conspirators are actively trying to shade their every action. Meanwhile, conspirators must simultaneously sabotage enough missions to bring down the king or queen, but still find ways to gather the resources they personally need to win at the end of the game. There’s a fascinating interplay between these competing goals, especially since almost everyone at the table has different paths to a win.
Oathbreaker includes some excellent optional rules to customize play. An 8-player variant includes both a king and queen, working together to maintain order, and a smart system for how that works – making it far more doable to manage the large number of players sitting at the table. Among other options, I also really like the “Order in the Court” option, which expressly forbids nobles from speaking unless it’s their own turn, thereby limiting the cross-talk or conspiring that often unfolds among experienced bluffing game players, and consequently speeding up play.
Licensed projects connected to movies and TV shows sometimes get a bad reputation, cashing in on popular properties with simplistic gameplay models or low-quality components. That’s not the case with Oathbreaker. This is a rich and nuanced social party game, and a great pick for play groups who have tired of more straightforward options in the genre. Two separate double-sided game boards (each for a different player count) offer a beautiful map of Westeros and a way to track missions and rounds as they pass. The card and component art is mostly photography from the show, but that imagery does a great job of recapturing the personalities that so many of us followed for the many years that Game of Thrones was unfolding. This is a satisfying and well-produced release that you’ll be happy to see laid out on the table.
If you feel like your gaming group is ready for a rewarding trip into the world of Ice and Fire, Oathbreaker does an excellent job of capturing the vibe of deceit and underhanded dealings. It’s also one of the most innovative twists on the bluffing game concept to release in recent years, and well worth a look for the many fans of that playstyle.
If you just can’t stomach lying to your best buds over a Saturday evening’s entertainment, worry not. There are plenty more great tabletop recommendations waiting for you over at our Top of the Table hub. Click on the banner below to explore those options, or drop me an email if you’d like some personalized recommendations; I’m always eager to help you find the right game for your friends or family game night.
Tokyo Game Show is upon us, and we’re currently in Japan to cover the show. As we do every year, it wouldn’t be a trip without showing you some of the cool gaming-related stuff around, which includes dedicated restaurants and cafes to some of the most popular Japanese gaming franchises. This year, we had the pleasure of visiting the Square Enix Cafe in Akihabara, which currently has a Final Fantasy XIV collaboration going on. The cafe is filled with memorabilia from all of Square’s franchises, such as Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts to even the niche SaGa and Octopath Traveler. Then there’s the food and drinks, which are all designed to showcase various characters and places from the games. Since it was Final Fantasy XIV’s time to shine, all the food we ordered represented that game. You can check out our extensive galleries below to get a sense of the atmosphere and food.
The first gallery showcases the locale and memorbillia on display
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This second gallery is all about the food and drinks AKA the presentation
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Want to learn more about the cafe or even visit yourself? You can do at the official site here.
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Monster Hunter: World Iceborne is less than a week away (at least if you’re playing on console, anyway), so we decided to catch up with Iceborne producer Ryozo Tsujimoto at PAX West 2019 for a quick chat before we head to Hoarfrost Reach.
GI: Okay, so were there any weapons that you wanted to add or thought about adding to this expansion?
Ryozo Tsujimoto: you know, in terms of creating a new weapon is something that we do always consider. I mean, there’s there’s a lot of various things that we always consider when creating Monster Hunter. But, you know, it’s not something that we want to force in. So in terms of taking a new weapon, for example. We only want to put in a new weapon if it makes sense. And if if we collectively think like, that’s a good idea, because if we take the approach that like, you know, this specific aspect has to be in the game, then there’s always there’s always that fear of redundancy. Like for example, with a weapon, we don’t want to create a weapon that somehow creates redundancy of a weapon that’s already in the game, we want to make sure that if we include something like a new weapon, it offers brand new gameplay, and is something that fits into the arsenal of what the player has. So this time around, rather than focusing on trying to think of a new weapon, we thought of new mechanic which is the clutch claw. And we figured by incorporating a clutch claw it’s something that applies to all weapons and we’re able to increase the breath of gameplay across every single weapon so it’s something that all players will be able to enjoy.
How much harder is Iceborne than the base game in terms of difficulty?
so in a Iceborne you do have the additional rank the the master rank. And yes, you can consider it more difficult. But the thing that we also want to stress is that there’s a lot more variety in the gameplay as you get higher rank in terms of the complexity increases for example with with having to think more about the elemental and the types of elements are what’s effective against what monster that’s something that you have to take into higher consideration. So as you get further and further into the the end game content, that’s something that we wanted to stress with not just difficult, it’s more about offering the player different aspects that they have to think about.
So how did you determine which monsters to bring to bring back?
So with the success of monster on world, reaching a larger global scale and bringing in a lot of new players into the franchise, we thought that this would be a good opportunity to kind of let those players get a feel for the what’s been offered in the past. So we figured, hey, what better way to introduce some of the more popular monsters, some of the more flagship monsters that people have come to love in previous games. But on top of that, because, you know, it’s it’s totally different climate and ice born. We wanted to also make sure that whatever monster we’re selecting, it makes sense in that environment. Making sure that that there’s everything feels natural, and everything feels like it fits into a very logical system.
So why can’t we skip cutscenes?
We understand that request has come up but we just love for players to watch these at least once.
So what’s your favorite returning monster? And what’s your favorite new Monster?
In terms of brand new Monster I think my favorite so far is Velkhana, its flagship monster for Iceborne. In terms of returning monsters, my favorite is Nargacuga. This was one of the monsters that appeared in monster freedom unite. And in Japan this was a title where we got to see a lot of success and really saw the growth of the franchise. So kind of keeping that in mind Nargacuga has a special place in my heart.