Screenshot of Valhigen Graveyard in Pool of Radiance

This week I’m giving my thoughts on the first of the Gold Box games, Pool of Radiance, after the conclusion of the first part of my Let’s Play, which I didn’t capture gameplay footage of this time, so this review is going to be strictly a talking-head review.

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The first two parts of what I’d call the “Shadowrun Returns Trilogy” – Shadowrun: Dead Man’s Switch, and Shadowrun: Dragonfall, showed steady improvement over their earlier installments, reaching a zenith in Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Dead Man’s Switch re-introduced the game mechanics and the world of Shadowrun to video games after decades of absence, along with telling a story that adapted parts of the setting that hadn’t been adapted before.

Dragonfall, for the first time, took Shadowrun, in video game form, out of Seattle – and in the process gave some fanservice to the game’s very vocal German fan base. It also demonstrated elements of the evolution of PC RPGs that the first game lacked – regular party members each with their motivations and story, along with quests specific to those characters that helped to progress their story. However, both games had some mechanical hiccups that made them frustrating to play.

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When I beat Shadowrun Returns: Dead Man’s Switch, I enjoyed the game but found it lacking in a lot of respects. While Dead Man’s Switch was an RPG that captured a bunch of the feel of the world of Shadowrun and invoked one of the classic adventures from the game, it was missing some of the dynamism of the RPG that other PC RPGs brought to the table. Shadowrun Dragonfall addresses these concerns and creates an RPG that is a more marked improvement over its predecessors.

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The Podol Plaza Auction

After taking care of the bandits in Kuto’s Well, you’ve got a few options ahead of you. In order to reach the Cadorna’s Textile House, you have to go through either Mendor’s Library or Podol Plaza. You also get your first quest specific party member here – a quest to liberate the Temple of Il-Mater, which has been defiled into being a Temple of Bane on the other side of the river. This gets you a sixth party member, the cleric who is carrying out this quest – and he’ll stick with you until you complete the quest. Which means he’ll stay with you for any other quests you do between then and now – so that quest can wait.

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Oriental Adventures was a sourcebook for AD&D 1st edition that sort of re-imagined and re-interpreted the game to fit a setting inspired by various stripes of Asian cinema, with varying degrees of success. However, two things that book did moderately well was to present a setting in microcosm that used the mechanics and the book’s non-weapon proficiency system. What it didn’t do well was to create classes and races that were conducive for adventuring, and it didn’t create a setting that a standard adventuring party could be inserted into.

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AD&D 1st Edition received a smattering of different settings. The longest lasting of those were the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Dragonlance settings. However, a little less memorable one is Kara-Tur, which was born out of the Oriental Adventures sourcebook. While it would later be folded into the Forgotten Realms, on the outset it was very much its own thing. (more…)

Keep on the Borderlands is a lot of people’s first experience with a pre-written D&D adventure. While it isn’t the first published D&D adventure, or even the first 1st Level D&D Adventure, it’s one of the first ones with a drawn out map and wilderness environment combined, and many people’s first D&D adventure – including mine. Since the first time I’ve played the adventure, I’ve played many more RPGs in a multitude of systems, and had an opportunity to GM a couple times. So, I’m revisiting the adventure. (more…)

Probably one of the first sourcebooks put out for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was Deities and Demigods, a book with a collection of beings that would provide something for your Cleric to be, well, a cleric of. However, it doesn’t really hold up very well, particularly compared to later deity books for later editions of AD&D and D&D. (more…)

I don’t know if you know this, but I like tabletop RPGs. I really like tabletop RPGs. So, when I learned of the massive amount of scholarship going around RPGs and the history thereof, I got really excited. Though not the first book on the topic that I picked up (that being Of Dice And Men, which I reviewed in the fourth issue of my fanzine) this is one of the first, and one that warrants some discussion. (more…)

Get Hoodlum at Amazon.com
Get Hoodlum at Amazon.com

I’ve been a fan of gangster films (with gangsters of most types), ever since I discovered Shadowrun when I was in middle school. So, I’ve become kind of familiar with the genre (though I’m not even going to pretend I’ve seen seen everything the genre has to offer). So when my Netflix recommendations popped up Hoodlums, I added it to my queue – as I had not seen a gangster film set in the classic gangster period featuring African Americans, and I was kind of hoping it would be a good take on the genre, and that it would portray it’s subjects appropriately.

The Premise: Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson has just gotten out of prison in 1936 (in the midst of the Great Depression) and has returned to Harlem where, he intends to get back into helping “Madame Queen” Stephanie St. Clair in running the numbers business (an underground lottery). However, Dutch Shultz has been muscling in on her turf, and has been getting the attention of district attorney Thomas Dewey, with Lucky Luciano (representing the Commission of New York’s mafia families) attempting to maintain order. Being that this is the kind of film that it is, things go out of control, and a gang war is waged across the streets of New York. (more…)

Buy Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls from Amazon.com
Buy Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls from Amazon.com

Well, I have finally beaten Final Fantasy I, the Game Boy Advance version, just in time for yesterday’s recap of Nintendo Power’s Final Fantasy I Strategy Guide. I also got my review done, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any video recorded of the Game Boy Version, which is the version of the game I used. However, I was able to get the audio recorded, and thanks to WordPress.com’s ability to embed audio from SoundCloud.com, I was able to upload it there and embed it here, so you don’t need to muck around in Megaupload.

So, with that, I hope you enjoy the review.

Before the review, here are a few more links for other versions of Final Fantasy I for you:

  • Final Fantasy Origins for the PS1 (from Amazon.com and eBay)
  • Final Fantasy I for the PSP (from Amazon.com)
  • Final Fantasy for the NES (from eBay)
  • Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls on eBay

If you do want to download it from Megaupload, you can do so here.