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Matt Chat 110: Betrayal at Krondor

Here's a venerable classic from the archives: Betrayal at Krondor! I was inspired to review this game after stumbling across Feist's novelization at the used books section of a local thrift shop. I played this one back in the day, but only because I received it free with the purchase of the sequel, Betrayal in Antara. I think both games are worth playing today, but decided to go with the earlier one since I'm also a fan of Feist. Enjoy! If you do decide to buy the game from GOG, please use my link so I'll get a kickback (no extra cost to you!). It's only $6 for both games with full manuals and no DRM, so there's really no excuse not to pick them up.

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Top Five Reasons Why You Should Care About Armchair Arcade

Hi, folks. I thought that today, in the spirit of the "top" lists that are so ubiquitous these days, I'd offer you a list of five reasons why you should care about Armchair Arcade. Many of you may not even know what it is or how it got started, but even those of us who've been around since the early days might like a little refresher and a personal view. So, here goes.

Reason #5: Founded in 2003. That's right, folks, Armchair Arcade has been around for eight years. Actually, its birthday is in September. There's not many non-commercial websites that can make that claim, especially not many dedicated to vintage games and computers. You should feel comfortable making this your home base, because you can rest assured we are here to stay. You can read our about us page or our FAQ to learn more.

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Matt Chat 108: Cannon Fodder and Mega-Lo-Mania

How'd you like to hear Jon Hare himself perform the awesome theme song to Cannon Fodder? In the fourth installment of my interview with famed C-64 and Amiga designer Jon Hare, we talk about his most famous games after Sensible Soccer: Cannon Fodder and Mega-Lo-Mania, as well as the monumental but ultimately failed effort to complete Sex, Drugs, & Rock'n'roll. And, oh yes, we get to hear Jon break out the acoustic and do a one-off live taping of the famous Cannon Fodder theme. No true Amiga fan worth his Paula would even consider missing this one.

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Another great ...

Another great episode, this guy is very interesting to listen to.

By the way, somehow I had missed Sensible were behind Wizball, loved that game :o

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Matt Chat 107: The Sensible Side of Jon Hare

I'm back this week with the third segment of my interview with Jon Hare. In this section, we finally get into the meat of Sensible's catalog, with Jon describing the creation process behind Parallax, Wizball, Sensible Soccer, Wizkid, and SEUCK. Jon's never played Smurf Hunt! Some great stuff here for any fan of the good ol' days when the Amiga reigned supreme.

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Matt's Adventures in Bogotá

 Dual-Purpose.Case Mod: Dual-Purpose.Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Bogotá, Colombia, to attend and present at Campus Party Colombia 2011, a fantastic industry event that evolved out of LAN parties. The place was packed with thousands (tens of thousands?) of gamers, most of whom stayed up all night playing multiplayer games and then sleeping in tents provided by the event. It's like a summer camp for gamers! In the past few years, though, they've been adding on game development features, with the government and Colombian companies trying to spur some interest among young people in building games. I assume they realize (correctly) that a strong interest in making videogames will lead to a flowering of many related industries, including many that are good for business.

I could write a book about my adventures, but I'll just stick to the highlights. Two were getting to see Captain Crunch (John Draper) and Nolan Bushnell. I didn't get to meet CC, but did hear him speak (he sounds like Dennis Hopper). Somebody asked him what he thought about Anonymous, and he replied with something very witty: "Anonymous? I've heard of them. That means they're not good hackers." Haha!

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Supreme Court Says No Evidence of Violent Games Harming Children

Looks like the videogames industry has scored an epic win at the Supreme Court. The Court says games are protected under the First Amendment and that there is no evidence purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. I'm really happy to see this, since all of the opposition I've seen are politicians who have never played games just desperate for an easy hinge issue. I think it might also raise the profile of videogames.

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The Next Videogame Crash Coming Soon

Everybody who's been gaming or awhile is well aware of the Videogame Crash of 1983, a period that saw the collapse of the American console market and a strange period when many people thought the videogame was dead. The causes are numerous and hotly contested, but it's likely just an unexciting story of a bubble that popped. One strain of the story I've always found interesting as it is improbable, is that two games are primarily responsible for the crash: Howard Scott Warshaw's E.T. and Tod Frye's Pac-Man, both for the 2600. In both cases, we're talking about massively hyped games that sold tremendously well, but then got returned to stores in droves. My thought for today is whether something like this could happen again--could a rapid-fire succession of massively disappointing games topple the industry like it did in the 80s?

We've recently seen five games that by all rights "should" have been great--expectations were high, fanboys Games Industry Not So MuchGames Industry Not So Muchnumerous, and, for the most part, very talented people were in control. However, in each case, the major critics either dismissed them as mediocre or blasted them as if they were almost personally offended by their perceived lack of quality:

Duke Nukem Forever. Metacritic score: 55.
Alpha Protocol Metacritic: 72 (Gamespot: 60, IGN: 63).
Hunted: The Demon's Forge. Metacritic score: 63.
Alice: Madness Returns. Metacritic score: 75 (IGN: 65).
Dungeon Siege 3. Metacritic: 73 (IGN: 65, Gamespot: 60).

Even Nintendo seems to be having problems. Despite the waves of hype the 3DS is currently receiving over the re-release (yawn) of Ocarina of Time, I still see the whole thing as another Virtual Boy with a much better marketing campaign. I see an upcoming backlash, though, as more purchasers find that they aren't getting full refunds when they try to return the devices that give them headaches. That's the kind of episode and bad publicity that can make anyone think twice about buying a game. As for Nintendo's new console, it sure looks like that "U" stands for "Useless." Sony, of course, is unlikely to ever recover from the PSN nightmare, and Microsoft doesn't seem far behind. Even if the new console is great, who can justify it in this economy?

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Jon Hare on Generation F

"At one time we experimented with putting beer in our drinks machine at work...That was a mistake."

Everyone's favorite cynic is back with another round of foreboding about the present and future state of the videogames industry. In this episode, Jon and I continue our discussion of the ups and downs of the casual and mobile market, Speedball 2, then dip into the early days of Sensible Software and what set them apart from the competition.

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Alice: The Madness Returns, Returns, and Returns...Look, there it is again!

It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.Let me start by saying I haven't played Alice: Madness Returns and will probably never play it. After all, avoiding games like this is why I read reviews, such as this one, this one, and this one. If you don't want to read all those, let me sum it up for you: The baby has turned into a pig.

It's funny how so many quotes from Lewis Carroll's work seem appropriate here. Consider:

March Hare: Have some wine.
(Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.)
Alice: I don't see any wine.
March Hare: There isn't any.
Alice: Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it.
March Hare: It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited.

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