Mole Rats in Space


Electronic games are any games that include an electronic component, or online versions of games that also belong to another category.


Eh. After watching three episodes of The Toy Box, the toy-focused, Shark Tank like television show on ABC, I’m not impressed. Though, perhaps I’m jaded from 9 years attending Toy Fair… Actually, some of the toys in the first three episodes of The Toy Box weren’t bad. But not bad just doesn’t cut it. I mean, Mattel, who promises to produce the winning toy, doesn’t need a televised national competition to come up with dolls that have ballet costumes and a couple of extra degrees of articulation.

Not that a decently made new doll, or nested foam sports balls, couldn’t find some room in the marketplace. These ideas, though, do nothing for a large established toy company like Mattel, which has many designers on staff, as well as existing relationships with experienced outside inventors. Frankly, I don’t think the average viewer either is going to be much impressed.

The concept, I believe, has a lot of potential but the first three episodes so far haven’t realized it. The mentors representing the first on-screen evaluation stage are far too calm and gentle. Here’s a guy who sold his house and moved back in with his mother to finance production of a kind of plush he didn’t realize was already in the market from a different company. Another contestant’s brilliant idea is to make a stiff curved swing-set seat specifically for kids to stand on. Does that really require $130 specialized equipment? Definitely not. But throughout, the panel of expert mentors is calm and polite and barely challenges the inventors other than to express “concerns”. Liven it up guys!

By the way, let me say from personal experience, with an emergency room visit and stitches to the head, that standing on a swing-set seat is not a safe activity for children!

The second evaluation stage in each episode—before a panel of four children judges—you’d think would be a lot more fun to watch. Unfortunately, it just isn’t. Eleven year-old actors paid to look young and recite adult lines are lacking in chemistry and spontaneity.

Now maybe you think differently. Maybe you have more confidence in what will come out of this series. If so, you should know that the final chosen toy—whatever that will turn out to be—is already in production and will be sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us beginning May 20th. Toys “R” Us is also running a sweepstakes, where the grand prize includes travel for four to Los Angeles, a tour of Mattel headquarters, $1,500 in gift cards, and a meeting with the show’s winning inventor.

Also, if you think you have the perfect toy or game for Mattel, MysticArt Pictures is already casting inventors for a second season. And a U.K. version of the show has been licensed to Electus International. Maybe that one will be better. I hope so.

Boards to Bytes

Tokaido, a game from publishers Funforge and Passport about traveling the East sea road in Japan, is now available in digital form (Android and iOS). At first glance, it appears to do a good job of maintaining the tabletop version’s beautiful aesthetic. There’s strategy for sure but the board game, at least, I enjoyed as much for the journey as for the winning. Single player, pass-and-play, and online multiplayer options are all available.

Zynga, in collaboration with Hasbro, has released Boggle With Friends. Available on Android and iOS, Boggle With Friends has both head-to-head and solo game modes, and is free-to-play with in-app purchases.

Also licensed from Hasbro, Marmalade Game Studio has released mobile versions of Clue (A.K.A. Cluedo) for Android and iOS. Right now, it’s single-player only but a multiplayer mode is planned.

Dungeons & Dragons-based Planescape: Torment is coming back in an Enhanced Edition from Beamdog playable on PC and mobile.

 

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Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThe latest deal at Bundle of Holding is for Traveller20, the d20 adaptation of Traveller and a fantastic resource for any version of the game. The Player’s Collection is priced at $12.95 and is already a pretty good deal but it’s the Referee’s Collection that really ramps up the value, which starting at $27 includes the full rule set, several setting books, more starship guides, separate adventures, and a campaign book.

For the month of March, Academy Games is bundling Fief, the Fief Expansions Pack, and Fief Buildings Pack for $130.

Dog Might Games is offering free worldwide shipping on all its wood boxes and trays this week only. It’s also giving away a $180 flaming birch Adventure Case on April 1st.

Apps from Asmodee Digital are on-sale at discounts of up to 60% for the next several days. Ticket To Ride, Small World 2, Splendor, Mysterium, Potion Explosion, Pandemic, and Colt Express are all included (Android, iOS, and PC), as are even some in-app purchases. Mysterium on Steam and in-app Ticket to Ride USA 1910 are excluded, however.

Until the launch of Mora Games’ crowdfunding project, the company is collecting email addresses for a giveaway of three copies of Wages of War.

Susan Polgar’s The Polgar Method of video Chess lessons is 60% off.

With Passover approaching, Amazon has a coupon for an additional 15% off TorahLine from 613 Games.

Other Amazon deals:

Savage World Bennies are 15% off direct from Pinnacle Entertainment.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away The Village Crone from Fireside Games and, along with the Crazy Like a Box Board Game Community, is giving away one-year memberships and a copy of Rising Sun (currently on Kickstarter).

Hasbro’s Toilet Trouble and Fantastic Gymnastics are $2 off at Toys “R” Us.

For the game’s 15th anniversary, Spectrum Games has a complete bundle of Cartoon Action Hour ebooks for 80% off.

March Madness means 30% off on basketball products from Strat-O-Matic. And the start of spring training means 25% off on card sets for select baseball seasons.

The prices on printed versions of the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual have been reduced $5.

Complete ThinkFun’s customer survey to be entered in every future monthly giveaway by the company. And don’t forget to mention Purple Pawn as one of your sources for information.

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Later this year Beasts of Balance ($100) is coming to big box and specialty stores in North America. Currently the game was only available in mall-based marbles: the brain store, but they’re currently going out of business.

This app-driven dexterity game has you stacking cool sculpted creatures on a sensor, powering them up on the app by placing energy elements, interacting with the app while certain pieces are placed, and evolving and changing the creatures: Toucan and Octopus have formed OCTOUCAN! It’s a crazy fun game that’s been available in the UK for a while now.

Also at the show were two add-on creatures, the Omnibeast and (the Yogscast) Lalnalion, currently available on Sensible Object’s Beasts of Balance website for £15/$20 each.

This article was updated to reflect the locations Beasts of Balance will be available in later this year.

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Lightseekers

Lightseekers, a new entry in the toys-to-life category, makes use of Bluetooth communication to deliver two-way communication between action figures and computer app, no special portal required. Thus, the figures not only show up in the video game, but can also respond to in-game events with vibrations, lights, and sounds, can be modified with weapons and other physical attachments, and can even be used as live controllers.

The software for Lightseekers is being produced by PlayFusion, the toy line by TOMY. Besides the figures, that product line includes a collectible card game, playable either on its own or through augmented reality as enhancements to the video game.

Lightseekers will launch at Toys “R” Us online on April 17th and in-stores July 1st.

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Experiment 7 is develop, with license from Wizards of the Coast, a Dungeons & Dragons-themed virtual-reality Chess game. Dungeon Chess (for Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift) will feature animated game-play, a variety of environments (like the Yawning Portal tavern), and iconic D&D monsters as Chess pieces (e.g, dragons as kings, beholders as rooks, drow as pawns, and mind-flayers as bishops).

Remote multiplayer and AI opponents will be available.

Release of Dungeon Chess is planned for later this year.

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesPolice in New Delhi, India arrested a man for replacing cash in an ATM with fake 2,000 Rupee notes he got out of a board game that he had purchased for his nephew. The police were alerted by bank customers who were given currency guaranteed by the “Children’s Bank of India”.

Hasbro has applied for a U.S. trademark on the smell of Play-Doh.

Already banned by FIDE for misfeasance at the Bulgarian Chess Federation and improperly diverting money from Chess tournaments, Silvio Danailov and Vladimir Sakotic have allegedly used illegal means to take over the Serbian Chess Federation and have sent threatening and blackmailing emails to the president and board of the European Chess Union.

Teen siblings, Dorsa and Borna Derakhshan, have been banned by Iran Chess Federation from playing in domestic tournaments and representing the country at international events. Dorsa played at the recent Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival without wearing a hijab. Borna played a game against an Israeli.

A 23 year-old mother in Hong Kong was arrested by police for abandoning her baby (only 18 days old) unattended at her mother’s house so she could go play Mahjong. In consideration of the weeks she already spent in police custody and the support of her family, a magistrate sentenced the mother to just 12 months probation.

The Ningdu County Committee of the Communist Party of China has banned local officials from playing Mahjong. The goal of the order is to combat gambling, though it applies to any occasion, on-duty or off.

Between the two separate Mahjong games police raided in Davao City, Philippines, they arrested 11 people and confiscated gambling money totaling 320 Pesos (no more than $6.50).

A Denver-area high school principal was found guilty of 3rd degree assault for kicking his wife between the legs and punching her in the ribs. The incident occurred after he called her a “cheater” during a game of Backgammon. It’s unclear whether by cheating he was referring to the game or their marriage.

A man and woman were captured on video surveillance shoplifting $400 worth of Magic: The Gathering cards from a Walmart in Potsdam, New York. State police eventually caught the pair when they tried to sell the cards.

The makers of Secret Hitler, a Mafia-like game about the rise of fascism, sent a copy of the game to every member of the United States Senate, thinking maybe the education would do them good.

Sophisticated Games, which owns the rights to the original board game version of Ingenious (also known as Einfach Genial), registered a U.S. trademark for “Ingenious” and began demanding that the game’s designer, Reiner Knizia, pay a royalty for using that name on related game designs. Rather than acquiesce, Knizia has come up with a new name for games in that series—at least the ones for which he has the rights. So for example, there’s AXIO Hexagonal and AXIO Octagonal now available to play online. Under license from Sophisticated Games, though, Thames & Kosmos will be publishing the original in board game form as Ingenious later this year.

For the second month in a row, a car crashed in to a game shop. This time, the incident occurred at the Spielbound board game cafe in Omaha.

Portal Games has had its PayPal accounts frozen pending delivery of First Martians. The bulk of funds in those accounts were for preorders of the game. However, Portal assures customers that the move by PayPal will not interfere with delivery.

First in Parliament, then on Facebook, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar criticized the Leader of the Opposition for skipping a session of Parliament to officiate at a dog show in Brussels. Another MP responded by pointing out that a Government Minister had also missed a session to take part in a Backgammon tournament.

The immediate past president of the Northern Region Chess League in Malawi asserts irregularities in the latest election of officers. He claims that the president of the Chess Association of Malawi, who presided over the balloting, refused to let all local Chess players vote (as required by the organization’s constitution) and instead only accepted the votes of players who had participated in the last tournament.

The resignation of the president of the Japan Shogi Association wasn’t enough for members upset that the group’s leadership had banned a prominent player on suspicion of cheating but without evidence. A no-confidence vote has resulted in the ouster of three more board members.

As with Bridge and Chess, supporters are trying to get Sport England to declare Scrabble a sport.

A New York City police officer visiting the Virtual Crime Information Center for some training recognized the man on a wanted poster as a regular at the Chess tables in Washington Square Park. And so police went to the park and arrested him.

Two of four men in an SUV, who robbed and shot up a Dominoes game taking place in the parking lot of a Houston convenience store, were captured by police following a second incident later the same night.

An argument broke out between two people playing Dominoes in Dolores Park, San Francisco. One slashed the other’s arm with a pocket knife and escaped on-foot.

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Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesFor the next few weeks, the prizes that come with Chick-fil-A kid’s meals are mini games from Educational Insights. To get the full-sized versions of those games at 20% off direct from Educational Insights, use coupon code “GAMEPLAY”.

Spartan Games has packaged up some bundle deals in Halo Ground Command (Covenant and USNC) and Halo Fleet Battles (Covenant and USNC).

The Mum Diaries (UK) is giving away the Multiplication and Writing Letters games from Cartamundi’s Fundels series.

Over at Bundle of Holding, the latest offering is for the Classic Battletech RPG (originally published as MechWarrior third edition).

Buy one HexBug Battle Ground, get one 35% off.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away one copy Quodd Heroes from Wonderment Games and three copies of Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy from Adams Apple Games.

Animal-themed products are on-sale in Eagle-Gryphon Games’ Safari Sale.

Find 77 games in Fat Brain Toys “Biggest Sale of the Year“.

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White Wolf’s World of Darkness returns to digital with Vampire: Prelude (iOS, Android) and Mage: Refuge (iOS, Android) interactive fiction apps.

Support for Clank! has been added to the Renegade Game Studios Companion App (iOS, Android), providing “mini-quests” and a solo game mode.

GMT Games is working with HexWar Games on digital versions of Commands & Colors: Ancients and Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. Ancients will launch first in this summer, followed by Napoleonics in the fall or winter. At launch, the games will support PC and Mac. A couple of months later, there’ll be support for iPad. Android support will come eventually, probably.

The previous implementation of Dominion online is no longer. It has been replaced by one from Shuffle iT. Accounts, though, were transferred, supposedly with usernames and passwords intact.

Victory Point Games’ Hunt: The Unknown Quarry recently launched on Steam. It’s a “deductive combat game” for 3-6. One plays a monster trying to escape. The others are hunters. A whole group can play with just one purchased license.

Online accounts for Fantasy Flight Games, Days of Wonder, and Asmodee have been merged. If you had an account, you should have received an email.

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Retail Games

Beirut, Lebanon has two escape room locations, Exit Beirut and Escape the Room Lebanon, each with two individual rooms to escape. Also recently opened in Beirut is the game, pop-culture, and comic shop, Multiverse.

On Kickstarter, Keiran Franklin is raising money for a game cafe in Brighton City Centre, UK. At 8BitBoards, customers will be able to play both board games and retro console games.

Game Kingdom Games & Hobbies in Bullhead City, Arizona does sell some board games but is primarily a public play space for tabletop and video games.

Milwaukee-area retailer, Board Game Barrister, is opening its fourth location March 1st in the Mayfair mall. It’ll be a relatively small location for the chain but will still have play space.

Opening soon in Rochester, Minnesota with 1,900 square feet of retail and play space is D6 Games.

BlackWater Roasters and Gaming Cafe opened on the east side of Cleveland last week. It serves pastries, sandwiches, fresh roasted coffee, and of course, board games.

After running pop-up shops, convention booths, and special events, B&E Games recently opened a retail location in San Jose, California.

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