“The Battle Warehouse is Even More On Fire Than In Winspector” – It’s FIRE FORCE

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Quote, of course, from the inimitable @dril

It is sadly possible that before long I will be intensely frustrated with Fire Force, because the things I liked about its first episode are things that will probably end up less prominent, and there is a whole fascinating world of things I will not like lurking in the wings unless it lives up to some interesting foreshadowing and pulls off some good revelations. But nevertheless the first episode has spectacular energy to it, combining great aesthetics of combat, a visually impressive setting and a concept that is simple, elegant and effective for setting up an ensemble-cast superhero series. It is not far removed from a Super Sentai series (or perhaps even more like Rescue Fire or one of the Metal Hero series like Winspector) – a team of heroes themed around the emergency services fight monsters related to their specialisation. In this case, in the distant future(?), people often explode into flaming skeletons and it falls to the FIRE SOLDIERS to kick the skeletons to death and shoot them with guns.

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Tabletop Game Review – 6 Minutes of Power Remaining

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to personal experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes.

6 Minutes of Power Remaining is by Kris Ruff

A lot of the games in the Emotional Mecha Jam focus on humanising the mech in these mecha stories – often through making it a role played by a player, whether or not it is actually a sentient AI. This opens the theming of the games up to wider questions touching on those explored by cyberpunk fiction; whether or not a meaningful bond can exist between a human and an inanimate, or non-sapient object. And, indeed, when one considers the relationships forged in war between human and AI, there is the question of whether something made as a weapon can feel friendship or love.

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Tabletop Game Review – Death Sentence

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to personal experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes in detail.

It took a lot longer than I initially assumed it would for me to find the right words to review Jeff Ellis’ (@manyeyedmonster’s) Death Sentence; I thought it would be a straightforward review, as I had very easily discussed the thematically similar 36 Minutes as an exploration of unglamorous death in military science-fiction. I think I needed time to unpack my thoughts, and perhaps the immediacy of my response to 36 Minutes was part of why I couldn’t launch straight into forming opinions on Death Sentence. Any game that goes into death beyond killing as a natural mechanic of conflict resolution is going to be personal, and potentially troubling, for the player. You could very well say that even in a game where the expectation is one will fight death should be personal and troubling.

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Tabletop Game Review – 36 Minutes

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes in detail.

Christine Prevas’ (@cprevas) 36 Minutes is not an enjoyable game to play. It sits strangely within the genre it evokes because it plays out in real time a very particular sequence of suffering and death that absolutely would have a huge, unwelcome emotional impact on some players. You could roleplay it differently, and if anything make it more fitting within its genre, but I think doing so would require a significant distancing between player and character that the game does not necessarily encourage. Perhaps that is the intention; it certainly feels like something intended to take players out of the safely expected bravado of what is often a heroic, noble kind of war story. On the other hand, if you are trying to do something like that, something that wholly subverts the usual methods of a genre to question its implicit associations, that in turn is an act which needs interrogation.

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Two Illustrative Playthroughs of “Alone in the Station Remnants”

This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

These two pieces of short fiction are my attempts to play the solitaire RPG Alone in the Station Remnants.

The most interesting thing I found about the experience was the challenge it presented in holding two registers or prose voices in mind and being able to switch between the two, presenting a narrative from two very different and incompatible approaches.


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Tabletop Game Review – Alone in the Station Remnants

Note: This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

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A screenshot from Ace Combat 7 (2019), illustrating perhaps the sort of derelict military spaces that AitSR is about exploring.

Alone in the Station Remnants by caro (@seaexcursion) is, a very interesting solitaire writing exercise/character piece; solitaire roleplaying games, in the form of journalling or letter-writing games, are fascinating to me as a writer and fan of fiction and I greatly enjoy trying them in their various forms. A modification of Takuma Okada’s Alone Among the Stars, a game of space exploration and painting expansive, dreamlike worlds, Alone in the Station Remnants brings the scale down to the intimate level, and adds an interesting parallel narrative aspect that absolutely sold it to me as good.

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“Vengeance.” How Gun X Sword Does, And Does Not, Endorse It.

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As I continue to watch Gun X Sword I’m struck by several things. Firstly it does not get significantly less uneven in quality. Secondly, the El Dora V episode feels even by the halfway point like a weird anomaly of sincerity – although other episodes, in their own ways, hit equally weird and interesting concepts. Thirdly it is a series that has an unbelievably strong villain even before he actually does anything.

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“Adios Amigo” – Why You Might Want To Stick Around for Episode 3 of Gun X Sword

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I started rewatching Gun X Sword just after beginning to play Super Robot Wars T and was seriously wondering after two episodes if it was actually as good as I remembered. I would fully understand someone, after two episodes of the series, being just about done with it because the opening absolutely does not touch the show’s real strengths. You have two episodes of character humour that might be grating without the opportunity to get to know the characters, and of incidental combat against largely irritating villains. There are flashes of interest, for sure – the moments where the mask of slacker comedy breaks and Van shows his crazed side suggest there is something more going on here, made all the clearer by the fact the setting is called The Endless Illusion. But ultimately it is a kind of badness driven by simply being ordinary when you have probably, if you have been convinced to watch Gun X Sword, entered expecting something extraordinary.

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“I CAST FIST” – It’s Rune Soldier Louie (And Some Other Fantasy Anime)

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There are quite a few comedy fantasy anime in the vein of The Slayers and, unfortunately, most of them are varying degrees of quite sexist. Even The Slayers has some episodes that really don’t hold up as very good, although it also has some extremely funny episodes and some action scenes that work quite well. There are certain tropes that come through in a number of the series in this vein that, depending on execution, feel a little awkward; lots of cross-dressing, lots of jokes where the punchline is pretty much “man tries to spy on woman and gets punched” and so on. The execution varies for better or worse, but nevertheless it seems this sort of adolescent humour is a recurring theme and it’s wholly understandable that that might not appeal to people so much. Konosuba goes perhaps even further by having a masochist-fetish defender and various other more direct sex jokes.

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“We Can Dance If We Want To” – It’s Kamen Rider Gaim

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Kamen Rider Gaim is a very different beast to the previous series in the franchise I had watched and enjoyed; perhaps the closest comparison is 2018’s Kamen Rider Build in terms of tone, storyline and general feel, with heroes on all factions trying to get ahead of each other and eventually realising this is playing into a greater threat’s hands. But even so it is quite different, and the purpose of this review is not really to compare the series directly but to talk about what makes Gaim so compelling to watch.

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