Six of the Best Superhero Tabletop Role Playing Games

SUPERHEROES/ROLE PLAYING GAMES – Six of the Best Superhero Tabletop Role Playing Games

Six of the Best Superhero Tabletop Role Playing GamesThere’s a TON of Superhero Tabletop Role Playing Games (RPGs) out there. I own quite a few. I thought I’d point out six that are worth taking a closer look at.

These are by no means the only ones worth looking at. Just a few of the good ones.

If you’ve read my blog enough, you know I love the superhero genre and I also like tabletop RPGs.

I also, occasionally run games. When a person does this, they are usually called a “Game Master” or GM for short.

Some tabletop RPGs are “crunchier” than other. Which is to say, they have more complicated rules. Others are not so bad. Some take more effort to GM, others take less because of the rules and resources available. Some are even easy to improvise.

Some games allow a lot of versatility in character creation and gameplay. Others are more restrictive.

Below I take all of these things into account.

 

Champions Complete

Champions is the granddaddy of the superhero tabletop RPG genre…well…sort of. I should say, it’s the granddaddy of the versatile, character generating, superhero Tabletop RPG genre.

Champions Complete is the latest 6th edition of the HERO system rules in one books.

Versatility

When it comes to character creation you can create anything you can imagine. The sky’s the limit. The HERO system is especially designed to be the most versatile rpg out there. Its deep.

As far as versatility of superhero play and how well is simulates comics, it’s good but not great. You can’t get too creative with your powers. If you want to do a crazy stunt that fudges the boundaries of your powers, you pretty much can’t do it. If you didn’t buy the ability, it’s off limits.

Crunch – Very High

This system is deep, the basics of the system is actually very simple, but it’s very glandular. It can make for some slow deep fights.

The character creation can be a huge burden. Lot’s of math, lots of looking stuff up. We’re talking hours per character.

It’s best to buy the computer program that helps you generate characters, if you’re going to be using this system a lot.

GM Friendliness

As I said before, the gameplay system is deep. It will take a lot of work to really learn it so that it plays fast. Character creation is just too much work. Which means inventing characters on the fly is out. Hours of prep work will be needed.

However, the Champions source book is an encyclopedia of superhero ideas and resources worth owning even if you’re not planning to run this system.

 

Mutants Masterminds

Mutants and Masterminds (M&M) might as well be called “Son of Champions.” It’s a slightly less math intensive version of the HERO System. Although the M&M is a superhero system, only.

It’s based on a slightly streamline version of the D20 system.

Versatility

M&M is just as versatile as Champions. Any superhero and power you can think to create you can create. The sky’s the limit.

As to the versatility of play in how it captures the comic book feel, it’s quite good. Players get “Hero points” which can be spent on “stunts” that allow them an occasional, one time only, extra power or rules brake when the story or moment calls for it.

This makes the M&M game feel more superheroic .

Crunch – High

The game play system is simple in theory. However there’s a lot of small crunchy rules to keep track of.

It’s much easier to make supers in M&M. However, it’s still not fast. Character creation takes quite a bit of time and there’s still a bit of math and looking up powers involved.

GM Friendliness

Again, because of the time it takes to make characters, it’s difficult to make characters on the fly. However, the best thing about M&M is that it had the DC Universe license and you can get source books with stats of the DC heroes in them. In fact, this is the version I own and I love it.

Source books for running different superhero genres in M&M are great too.

 

Super Powers Companion (Savage Worlds, Second Edition)

Like HERO System, Savage Worlds is meant to be a complete and versatile system. It’s also meant to be a faster and simpler playing game.

The Superheroes Companion is a source book for Savage Worlds that helps you play superheroes in the system.

Versatility

In order to cut down on complexity, the versatility of the types of characters and power that can be created using the Superheroes Companion isn’t as robust as in Champions and M&M. That said, it’s not bad at all.

However, it does capture the heroics of superhero play very well. Players get points called “Beanies” that are awarded to the player by the GM or other players which can be used to do superheroic stuff and break rules.

Also, the inclusion of “exploding dice” just takes it over the top. “Exploding dice” is when you roll the highest number on a die and when you do, you get to roll it again and add the extra number to the roll.

Crunch – Medium

Character creation can take about 30 minutes or less in the system. Almost no math required.

Fighting is fast, furious and fun. Everything is very straight forward. Super easy system to learn.

It’s one of my personal favorite systems.

GM Friendliness

One of the few systems, that I know of, which require almost no prep time. You can easily make characters up on the spot.

Fights are really fast. The system is super easy to learn. It’s really a great system to GM.

 

BASH!

BASH! was especially designed for kids and for education. It was designed to be simple enough for almost anyone to pick up and play.

Versatility

It’s not quite as robust as Champions and M&M but it’s quite good. Character creation is quick and easy.

As some other games above, BASH! has what it calls a “Hero Point” which every character is given at the beginning a session. It allows rules breaking to simulate heroic action. It also includes type of “exploding dice” that occurs when doubles are rolled.

Crunch – Medium

The game play system is simple but it’s very math heavy, requiring multiplication. The reasoning for this is to teach math calculations to kids as the game is played.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. I kinda found myself looking forward to the math. It’s very helpful.

Character creation is very simple and fast.

GM Friendliness

Very easy to improvise. Characters can be created on the spot.

Resources for the game are a bit limited, but a lot of them are free.

Not as many resources in the system to help a GM come up with story ideas.

 

ICONS

A simpler superhero game from the designer of Mutants and Masterminds. This is the pick up and play superheroes game based on the FATE system.

Versatility

This game is not meant to have a versatile character creation system. It’s simply supposed to be fast.

You randomly roll up a character, and in about fifteen minutes, you’re ready to play. There is an optional point buy system but it’s not fun as rolling up a character. The powers here are limited.

However, the gameplay is VERY open. It’s a very versatile system in that it allows players to really play out their powers in a very limitless way.

Crunch – Lite

The game is based on the FATE system. It’s really a very lite system. Easy to pick up. Easy to understand.

GM Friendliness

This is a very easy and fun system. It’s unique and expressive. You can play this game without prep time. Characters can be created on the spot.

Resources for story and adventure creation aren’t very robust.

Still, this is a great system. Especially if you just want to get a game up and running fast.

 

Prowlers & Paragons

Prowlers and ParagonsProwlers & Paragons (P&P) is the game I just recently became aware of. The art for the game really caught my eye. It’s the best things about the books.

That said, it’s also a pretty good system.

Versatility

Like Champions and M&M, character creation in P&P is very robust. You can make anything you can think to make and you can do it relatively quick.

This systems emphasizes, storytelling over rules. This makes it very easy to simulate superheroic situations you might find in comics.

It has a points systems called “Resolve” that is awarded to players many different ways. The “Resolve” points can be use do to, many things that play up the heroic aspects of characters in play.

It also has an “exploding dice” system, that only make the game that much cooler.

Crunch – Lite

P&P is very rules lite. It’s meant to be more about the story than the mechanics. The mechanics are there mostly to enforce creativity.

It’s easy to learn, and easy to play.

Character creation is simple. Almost no math required…almost.

GM Friendliness

When the players are inputting as much story into the game as the GM, it can only make the game easier to run. This is much more a collaborative storytelling session than it is the GM having to come up with everything.

Characters can be improvised on the fly. There’s plenty of resources and idea generators in the book to help create adventures.

Great superhero game system.

What’s Your Favorite System

Do you play superhero tabletop RPGs? What’s you’re favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

 


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If You Watch Arrow, You may Enjoy These Other Green Arrow Shows.

SUPERHEROES/TV SHOWS – What to Watch if you Like the ARROW TV Show.

If You Watch Arrow, You may Enjoy These Other Green Arrow ShowsThe TV show Arrow has introduced Green Arrow to a larger audience than the comics have. If it’s made you a fan of the character and makes you crave a bit more of him, I’ll show you where to get more.

Besides the comics, which I recommend, there are other shows Green Arrow makes an appearance in that you might be interested in. So I’ve made a list.

Here’s what to watch if you like Arrow.

DC Showcase: Green Arrow

This a short animated film starring Green Arrow.

While picking up Black Canary at the airport, Count Vertigo and the Merlin show up and are up to no good.

If you’re curious about how different the Arrow TV show is to the Green Arrow character as he’s originally been written in the comics, this is a great way to find out.

 Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited (JLU)

In JLU, you will get much deeper into the character of Green Arrow than you do in the animated short above. You especially, get to see how well he interacts with other superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

He’s a very entertaining guy on his own but when he meets Black Canary in the show, it gets even more fun.

If you’re interested, here are the episodes of the shows where he is most prominently featured:

  • “Initiation”
  • “Fearful Symmetry”
  • “The Cat and the Canary”
  • “Double Date”
  • “Flashpoint”
  • “Divided We Fall”
  • “To Another Shore”
  • “Patriot Act”
  • “Far From Home”

 Green Arrow in Young Justice

My favorite animated superhero cartoon also features Green Arrow, although, not a lot. He only make a substantial appearance in two episodes in season 2 of the show, and one is very dramatic. Those episodes are:

  • “Salvage”
  • “Satisfaction”

The thing that makes Green Arrow worth watching in the show is his relationship with Roy Harker, his protégé. Roy in Young Justice reminds me a lot of the Roy in the Arrow TV show.

I think, as a fan of Arrow, you might find this version of Roy fascinating. Especially when you discover what happens to him in season 2.

 Green Arrow in Smallville

If you’re more interested in a live action version of Green Arrow, you can always give the Green Arrow of Smallville a try.

This version of the character was played by Justin Heartley and is no where near as dark and brooding as the Oliver in Arrow Still, he’s very much the antihero of the show.

That said, he’s no less interesting and heroic. He’s also quite a bit wittier and much more humorous.

Green Arrow made his appearance beginning is season 6 of Smallville and he stayed on till the show’s end. His role in the show is pretty significant .

I recommend giving this Green Arrow a try as well.

What Did I Miss?

Did I miss anything?  Let me know on the comments below.

Otherwise, what do you think? Have you watched any of the things above? What do you think of my suggestions?  Comment below.

 

 

 


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Top Ten CG Animated Movies

MOVIES/ANIMATION – Top Ten CG Animated Movies

Top 10 animated cg moviesToday I’m writing about the best computer generated animated movies that have come out in recent years.

This type of animated film is relatively new, but it’s really taken animated storytelling and managed to broaden it greatly. Especially in the eyes of mainstream audiences.

You’d think this list would be dominated only by Pixar  and Dreamworks films. Well, you’d almost be right, but I decided to clump some of the Pixar and Dreamworks CG films into series.  This frees up the list to allow other great CG films to get put on the list.

So let’s get started.

(Some of the links below are affiliate links. Thanks for your support.)

10. The Adventures of Tin Tin


There have been many directors who have attempted to make motion capture movies that look right. Beowulf, Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, all have gone into the “uncanny valley” territory, that happens when the you rely too heavily on the computer  to do all the work.

This has made these movies, not only ugly, but not worth watching.

Along came Tin Tin.  A motion capture  CG movie done right.

Tin Tin does away with the attempt of making it’s characters super realistic.  Also, when watching Tin Tin, it becomes obvious that the animators enhanced and touched up the motion capture until it looked just right.

I’m pretty sure they added and took away from the performances to make it all work.  THIS is how motion capture is done well. When motion capture and animators work together in harmony to make something animate look right.

On top of that, the movie was directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.  The movie comes across like an adventure movie in the same vain as his best Indiana Jones movies. It’s so much fun.

More animated movies should be in this genre.  I’m looking forward to the sequel.

9.  Rango


Rango was a unexpected surprise.  A great western told with animals.

The unique look and feel of this movie was fascinating.  It was odd, quirky, and fun.

Watching Rango, I wasn’t expecting much of anything, but it was a great surprise. Fun story, interesting characters, a unique genre.  It really blew me away.

It became one of my favorite CG movies. A must watch for anyone who’s a fan of CG animated movies and westerns.

8.  Surf’s Up


I have to admit, I’m a little bias about this one.  I went to Sony animation studio to visit a friend when this movie was in  development.  I had lunch with the concept artists and  I was blown away by the concept art for this movie.

This movie is totally fun and completely underrated. Mostly because it has been overshadowed another movie with singing and dancing penguins, whose name we will not mention.

Surf’s Up is nothing like that other movie.

So much of the dialogue is improvised by the actors.  It’s funny, and that art direction is beautiful. The character designs are fantastic, the animation acting it awesome.

Also the water effects are pretty spectacular.

This movie is great.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

7.  The LEGO Movie


Oh boy, this movie rocks.  One of the funniest CG animated movies ever.

It also doesn’t actually look like a typical CG movie.  It actually looks like the movie was animated using Legos

It’s a surprisingly deeper movie than it seems at first.

It was written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys who brought us Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  A movie that also belongs on this list (only if it was on this list Tin Tin would be knocked off  so  I’m mentioning it here.)

This movie is super  awesome.  It’s about Legos and  who doesn’t love Legos?

Watch it!

6.  Tangled

I had to put at least one Disney movie in this list.  Tangled made my list for a few reasons. It’s a typical Disney formula princes movie that actually works well.

The art direction is beautiful.  I love the colors.

I like the character designs of the protagonists a lot.

And it’s the last Disney movie Glen Keane worked on before he left Disney.

If you were to watch a CG Disney movie, this is the one I’d recommend.  Yes, I like it more than Frozen.

5.  The Croods


I absolutely didn’t expect this movie to be as good as it is.  It’s really good.

I laughed, I cried. One of Dreamworks’ best movies and it was overshadowed by Frozen, which came out the same year.

If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re doing yourself a  great disservice.

I highly recommend watching The Croods. It’s awesome!

 

4.  Toy Story (Series)


I’m totally cheating here.  I’m clumping all the Toy Story movies into the number 4 spot.  Otherwise they would take up most of this list.

What can I say about these movies? They’re kinda brilliant. They heralded the CG animation movement.

They’re deep, funny, engaging, moving…just about everything that makes Pixar movies great.

 

3.  Kung Fu Panda (Series)


Again, I’m clumping all the movies together here for the same reason I clumped the Toy Story movies.

I love Kung Fu, and I love animated action movies.  These movies combine the things I love and makes them work really well in an action comedy environment.

These movies where a great idea, well executed.

Great action, great story, great designs, fantastic animated acting.  You can’t go wrong.

2.  How to Train Your Dragon (Series)


Continuing with my clumping series together.  This series is made for me.  It’s a lot more action oriented than most animated movies out there.

Along with Kung Fu Panda, these movies really cater to my preferences in movies.

They’re also really cool.

You gotta watch them. I mean, who doesn’t love dragons?

 

1.  The Incredibles


It’s tough for a CG movie to beat this movie for me.  It has superheroes in it, great look, a great setting, fantastic characters,  amazing action,  and exciting and moving story, and it’s so relateable.

The acting is amazing, it’s funny…it’s got a great director…I mean, it’s just so good.

It’s absolutely the best CG movie made so far. It’s a tough movie to beat.

 

 

What are Your Thoughts?

Did I miss your favorite?  Have you seen all these movies? Do you think I’m missing anything?

Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 


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DC Animated Superhero Movies You Should Watch or Avoid.

ANIMATION/SUPERHEROES - DC Animated Superhero Movies You Should Watch or Avoid

DC Animated Superhero Movies That May or May not be Worth WatchingNot all the DC superhero animated movies are worth watching.  I’ve put the best of them on my Top Ten Animated Superhero Animated Movies list.

If you want the best of the best, read that post.  I won’t be writing about any of those movies in this list. Instead I’ll be writing about all the other movies that didn’t make that list.

I think I’ve watched every DC animated movie.  Except perhaps the Target Exclusive JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time movie.

Here I’ll write some very short thoughts about each movie and whether or not they’re worth watching.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

The first of the DC animated movies.  This one still holds up. It’s a great story, although it’s a tad predictable and Bruce Wayne seem a little out of character.

The character designs look a bit dated compared to the much more sleek designs in later movies.

Is it worth watching?

I say yes.

Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero

The second of the DC animated Movies.  This is yet another movie that hold up.  Although I think it’s a bit weaker than Phantasm.

Well drawn and well animated.

Is it worth watching?

Yes, I think it is. But you’re not missing anything mind blowing.

 

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

The uncut version of this is pretty darn awesome.  By far one of the best of the animated superhero movies.  Sleek designs,  a cool story with an incredible dramatic twist.

The portrayal of the Joker in this movie is one of the darkest. It’s a very intense movie and the hand drawn special effect are worth studying.

Is it worth watching?

Absolutely!

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

This is almost a remake of Mask of the Phatasm.  It feels the same only not as good.

The story is a bit dull, the designs are not as good and the quality of animation isn’t as good as it could be.

There’s a twist in this movie that’s…okay and unexpected but it doesn’t really save this movie from being kinda lame.

Is it worth watching?

You can pass on this one.

Superman: Doomsday

Alright, so this movie is really bad.  It just isn’t very good.  It’s the story of how Doomsday kills Superman.

The problem is that this story was done so much better in the Superman Animated Series. It had so much more resonance and pathos than this movie had and it was produced by the same people.

All that said, it’s a guilty pleasure because it’s got some of the best superhero fighting in an animated superhero movie.

People who think that the destruction of Metropolis in the live action Man of Steel was excessive, obviously haven’t seen this movie.

The movie looks great, and there’s some really good acting moments in it. Especially in the character of Lois Lane.

Is it worth watching?

Only if  you watch it to see some great fights.  Otherwise, pass.

Justice League: The New Frontier

Based on the comic by Darwin Cooke that, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t read yet.  It made me curious about how much better the comic might be.

I thought this movie was okay but it wasn’t as good I heard the comic was.  Thing is, I think the movie spoiled the comic for me and I didn’t much like the story here.

Batman’s voice was weird and the story was a bit upsetting somehow.

I loved the designs and the era this movie took place in.  It’s visually a fantastic movie.

Is it worth watching?

Sort of.  It’s not the best thing out there but it’s neat.

Batman: Gotham Knight

Batman goes anime in this anthology.  This is basically a Japanese retelling of the Batman Animated Series episode Legends of the Dark Knight.

It’s also following in the footsteps of the Animatrix animated anthology.  It allows Japanese animation directors to tell their version of a Batman story.

I like anime but I wasn’t very impressed with this movie.  I don’t even own a copy.  I though it was interesting but I’d rather watch the animated series version.  It was much more fun.

Is it worth watching?

I think so, if your a Batman fan and want to see interesting takes on the character.

Wonder Woman

I REALLY wanted to like this.   I think the movie is beautiful. And Nathan Fillion perfectly voices Wonder Woman’s love interest Steve Trevor.

There’s  a lot fun moments in this, but overall I just didn’t like it much.  I didn’t like Wonder Woman in this.  I don’t know why.

I loved her design, I liked the action, and the animation but the story was, meh.

Also, I don’t think it makes Wonder Woman a good role model either.  She’s a killer in this movie.

Is it worth watching?

If you like Wonder Woman, this movie is worth a shot. It’s the only game in town when it comes to stand alone Wonder Woman movies.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

I love Ed McGinnis’ artwork, however, I don’t think it translates very well into animation.  At least, not in the way it was translated in this movie.

I find a lot of the characters designs in this movie kind of ugly.  Especially Powergirl.

All that said, this is one of the more entertaining superhero animated movies DC has put out.  It’s adapted from a Superman/Batman comic written by Jeph Loeb that’s just as fun to read.

Is it worth watching?

Yes, this one is fun.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Yet another adaptation of a story from the Superman/Batman comics written by Jeph Loeb.

This time the art style was an adaptation of the late Micheal Turner’s.  I hate to say it but I really don’t like the character designs in this movie.  Especially the look of Superman and Batman.

The first time I watched it, it really left a bad impression.  I had a difficult time liking it.

However, my judgment has softened on this movie.  Especially because is has some of the best Wonder Woman fighting scenes in any animated DC product out there.

Is it worth watching?

Yes, I think it is.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

This is a Green Lantern animated anthology.  It’s actually quite fun.

Nathan Fillion voices Hall Jordan and fits the part perfectly.

The character designs are fantastic, the animation is great, and the short stories are fun.  However, if you’re not much of a fan of Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corp, you might not like this.

Is it worth watching?

I think so.  It’s fun.

Justice League: Doom

This one is an adaptation of Mark Waid’s Tower of Babel, Justice League story line.  It’s one of my all time favorite Justice League stories.

When I heard they were going to do an animated version, I was thrilled.  The movie even has the same character designs as my favorite animated superhero TV show, Young Justice.

However, when I actually watched the movie, it simply wasn’t the same as the comic.  They changed it just enough to make the story weaker and less dramatic than it’s comic book counterpart.

Is it worth watching?

Only if you’re a completest like me. Otherwise, pass.

Superman: Unbound

I borrowed this from friend who basically decided he didn’t want it back. It’s that good.

I don’t much like the character designs in this movie. Especially on Superman. He just looks wrong.  The action and animation is very cool though.

This is a story adapted from a Geoff Johns comic book story line. I haven’t read the comic this was adapted from but I sure didn’t like this story.

Is it worth watching?

I say pass.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

This movie has cured me from ever wanting to draw gigantically buff superheroes ever again.  I really didn’t like the designs in this movie.  The characters were so ugly they distracted me from the story.

It’s an interesting story.  It’s a lot of fun to watch.  I read the comics this movie was adapted from and they did a great job of capturing the essence of the comics.

Still, it’s not really all that great. It’s very interesting but…I don’t know. Perhaps if I watch it again.

It has, hands down, one of the most badass version of Aquaman in any animated anything.  He’s awesome and super scary.

After watching this movie, you’ll never see Aquaman the same way again. Respect the Aquaman.

This movie is a Flash movie however. And he’s a great character to watch.

However…the characters designs REALLY bug me.

Is it worth watching?

Yeah. It basically ushers in the New 52 era of animated superhero movies.

Justice League: War

The ugly designs continues with this adaptation of the New 52 Justice League comic, written by Geoff Johns.

I was disappointed with this movie. I didn’t like it at all.

This is also one of the worst depictions of Wonder Woman in any of the animated movies or series.  She comes across a bit dopey and her costume looks awful.

This is also the movie that introduced the Batman chin piece, that just looks weird.

The story wasn’t all that either, and none of the characters had any real chemistry.

There where a few laughs but…this movie just didn’t do it for me.

Oh and I thought Superman looked downright ugly.

Is it worth watching?

Pass on this one.

Son of Batman

What is up with the ugly designs? Chin piece Batman is at it again.  This time with his son Damian who is the only character in the movie with any kind of design appeal.

Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia show up in this movie looking super ugly.  This is the same designer who designed the beautiful looking Young Justice characters.

He’s obviously experimenting, and is going through a Peter Chung phase. Too bad we have to suffer through it.

This movie is actually a decent movie.

No where near as good as Batman: Under the Red Hood, but it’s okay. Too bad the character designs killed this movie.

Is it worth watching?

Yes, sort of.  It’s an okay movie if you can ignore how ugly everyone looks.

Thought?

What do you think? Which movies do you like most?

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on some of these movies.

If You Liked This, You Will Also Like

Top Ten Animated Superhero Animated Movies

 Top Ten Animated Superhero TV Shows

6 Reasons Why Watching Justice League Animated is a Great Way to Learn About the DC Universe.

8 Reasons Why AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES Animated Cartoon is the Funnest, Easiest Way to Learn About the Marvel Universe.

My Thoughts on Young Justice Animated.

Thoughts on the Legion of Superheroes Animated Cartoon.


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3 Reasons to Read MEANWHILE an Interactive, Print Comic Book.

COMIC BOOKS – 3 Reasons to Read MEANWHILE an Interactive Print Comic Book


Want to try reading an interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure type comic books? Meanwhile is the book for you.

Today I’ll tell you my experience with it.

As a comic creator I, like many other artists, have contemplated making a “Choose your own Adventure” like interactive comic. I know the reason I haven’t done it is because it’s WAY too much work. At least, that’s what I thought.  More on that later.

That didn’t stop Jason Shiga from creating one.

I became aware of the comic and Jason Shiga when listening to an episode of the Comics Are Great podcast. I don’t remember exactly which episode it was where I first heard about it, but that was where I was made aware of it.

I went to Jason Shiga‘s site and found some other of his experiments (which are no longer there) as well as his bio.

I was intrigued by the concept of the book and put it on my Amazon Wish List until it was the right time to purchase it.

Well, I bought the book recently and loved it.  Here’s the three reasons why I think you will too:

It’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Type Comic

MEANWHILE an Interative Print Comic Book (2)This it THE reason to get the book.  It’s so clever.  You start with a basic choice between vanilla and chocolate ice cream and next thing you know you’re traveling through time or causing the end of the world.

It’s so much fun to read.  The clever way the story branches around using “tubes” is ingenious.

The story splits and splints. And when you think you’re just going around in circles you find that you’re really not.

Which bring me to…

It’s Deep

MEANWHILE an Interative Print Comic Book (1)The comic is much deeper than it appears at first.  There’s codes in the game that allow you to access “secret pages.” The trick is to go through the branches of the story and MEMORIZE them once you come across them.

Once you get to the the right page that allows you use the code, you can follow the tube to the correct story path.

It’s pretty cool.  I haven’t been able to do it yet.

It’s a Great for Kids

Even though the book is a bit deeper than they can understand, my kids LOVE it.  They think it’s hilarious.   It’s also good for their vocabulary.

They love the decisions and the branching paths.

The art is cartoony and accessible.  It’s also fun and funny.  The story can be a little dark sometimes but generally it’s lighthearted.

Get It

I absolutely love this book.  It blows my mind that it even exists and that it’s as cool as it is.

Go get Meanwhile.

Creating Interactive Comics with Jason Shiga

As I’ve stated before, I’ve thought about making interactive print comics before but I thought it would be WAY too complicated.

Well, I was wrong.  It CAN be complicated, but it can also be very simple.

While doing research for links to Jason Shiga’s comics, not only did I find examples of much simpler interactive comics he’d made like this one:

MEANWHILE an Interative Print Comic Book example

But I also found a video where Jason Shiga shows you how to make a very cool one.He’re the videos:

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I so want to make some now.

Interview with Jason Shiga

And here’s an interview with Jason Shiga if you’re curious about him.

And this last video is Jason Shiga showing you the different kinds of interactive comics he’s come up with.

 

 

 

 


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Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review – Playing With Little Kids.

BOARD GAMES- Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review – Playing With Little Kids.


I managed to play the Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game with my kids.  As of the time of this writing my eldest kid is seven years old.  Today I’m writing a review of the game,and whether it plays well with little kids.

I managed to score a used copy  of this game at half price a while back.  I’ve been wanting to pick up the game and the others like it for a while.

I have to say, ever since that first game,  the game  has been on my mind ever since. I kinda want to get back to playing another session.  At the same time, I kinda want to NOT play the game again and just start a regular tabletop fantasy role playing game instead.

As I said above, I played this game with my kids.  The age range on the box says: AGE 12+.  My kids, whom I played this game with are, from oldest to youngest:  seven, five and three.

So the question is, what are the pros and cons of playing this game with kids that are so under the age range of this game?

That’s what I will write about below. I’ll explain the type of game this is below as well, but if you want a full overview of the game, there will be a video at the end that will explain it all.

(The links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for your support.)

Quick Game Overview

Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review - Playing With Little Kids (5)Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game is a cooperative board game where you play as one of five character adventurers who make their way through Castle Ravenloft.

Basically you go through a randomly created castle, fight monsters to get to an objective.  The objective varies depending on the scenario you choose to play from the adventure book.

The characters you play as are typical Dungeons & Dragons characters, and you can even customize them to an extent.

You move your character and fight, explore the castle, when  a new part of the castle is revealed monsters appear, they fight you, rinse and repeat until you reach your objective.  That’s the game in a nutshell.

My kids and I had a lot of fun playing the game.  Here’s the Pros and Cons when playing this game with little kids.

Pros

Cooperative

The game is a cooperative game which is the biggest benefit the game has when playing with little kids. It means you’re not in competition with them and you are suppose to help out.

The game box says the game can be played by ONE to five players.  The fact that it allows you to play solo, should give you a clue about the kind of help you can give your kids.

Especially if they’re really little like maybe three.  You simply tell the little one what his best move is and then you can simply help him do it.

“Move to this spot. Do this thing. Roll this die.  You did it! Good job,” the little kids feels like he did something great and you can move the game forward. It’s great.

Great Miniatures

Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review - Playing With Little Kids (1)The toy factor is great.  The game comes with some really fantatic Miniatures.  The kids LOVE moving the monsters and heroes around the board.  It’s eye candy.

It really gets their imagination going.

Easy to Explain

It’s really very simple to explain to them.  You just tell them what it is they need to do each turn and they just do it.  The game isn’t complicated.

It’s involved.  There’s things to keep track of, but I found, my kids could keep up with what was going on.

They new what they needed to roll, and if they didn’t, you just tell them and move on.

Cons

Requires Reading and Reading Comprehension

Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review - Playing With Little Kids (4)Ideally you want to play this game with kids that can read.  It will save you a lot of time if the kids can read their cards themselves. Otherwise you’re going to be doing all the reading.

On other hand, this con can be a plus if your kids are decent enough at reading that they can use the cards as practice.

Requires Math

Similar to the reading, this game is better if you’re kids are good at adding their own die rolls.

It’s no big deal if you have to do it for them.  They have just as much fun.

Just like the reading above, this con can be a pro if your kids are at an age where they can practice their addition skills as they play the game.

A Bit Burdensome

The reading, the math, keeping track of what’s going on where. Who has what monsters, who has what powers or items…it can become a bit much.

Keep in mind, this game can be played solo, that said, it really helps if don’t HAVE to keep track of everything and your kids can help out.

It helps if you set up the table so that you can give maximum help to the youngest kid.

Is it Worth Getting

Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review - Playing With Little Kids (2)My kids and I had a ton of fun playing this game. Granted, we’ve only played it once and we got some rules wrong, but it was fun none the less.

My five year old was ready to play it again right away and has been bugging me to play it again since.  I must admit, I feel the same.

This game and it’s companion games are VERY expensive but having played this one, I think they’re well worth it.  I’m absolutely going to be picking up the other ones.

And since they’re board games, their “operating system” doesn’t become obsolete. Although, they do run the danger of going out of print.

Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

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Gene Yang’s THE SHADOW HERO Comic Book Review.

COMIC BOOKS – “The Shadow Hero” Comic Book Review

Who was the first Asian American Superhero? Well the unconfirmed rumor is that it was a golden age character called The Green Turtle.

The origin of this hero can be found and read in Gene Yang and Sonny Liew’s book “The Shadow Hero” published by First Second books.

It’s a comic book/graphic novel and it’s a little over 160 pages long.

I received a copy of this book in the mail from First Second at Gene Yang’s request. For which I’m very grateful.   I wasn’t expecting it.

This week I’ll be reviewing the book.  Before I do though, I’d like you to watch this video of Gene, explaining the origins of the comic.

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The links below are affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

The Story

I’m not going to say too much about what the story is about.  That’s kinda the point of reading the comic.  I will repeat what Gene Yang said in the video above, it’s the origin story of The Green Turtle.

I will write about  the feel and the execution of the story and whether or not I liked it.

I did like the story.  It was very fun. There was a lot more comedy than I expected.  This is absolutely not a bad thing.

I think it helps going in that it will be a bit of a comedy.  But it’s not completely comedic.  People die in the story.  The stakes can be high.

Gene Yang THE SHADOW HERO Comic Book Review (4)There is one particular character, the protagonist’s mother, who’s there to make you laugh.  It’s odd because she’s introduced so seriously only to be portrayed so comically.  She’s fun to read.

She reminded me, so much, of a lot of my Asian friend’s mothers.

There are elements of fantasy in the story that I liked as well.  Although I kinda wished that they came into the story sooner.  The story starts off with them and they then get placed aside for quite a while before they appear again.

I found myself becoming impatient for them to show up.  They where the elements that fascinated me the most.

My favorite part of the whole story was the final confrontation with “the big bad.”  It was so good, I almost wished the set up to becoming the hero took less time so we could have more of the kind of stuff that was happening in the later part of the book.

The Art

Gene Yang THE SHADOW HERO Comic Book Review (3)Sonny Liew’s art is simply fantastic.  It’s just eye candy.

He’s go this really rough looking ink brush line that has so much life and energy.

His characters designs are fantastic and his acting is hilarious.  I love the way he layout pages too.

I can stare at the art all day long.  It’s so good.  It’s very unique.

The colors in the book and the way it compliments that line work is simply amazing.

I can’t say enough great things. It’s great to see an Asian person draw Asian people and not have it look like Anime.

Last Thoughts

Gene Yang THE SHADOW HERO Comic Book Review (2)If you’re a fan of Gene Yang, this won’t disappoint. It’s a fun read.

I wish there where a few more modern one shot stories of The Turtle’s adventures so we could see him in action.  That said, the book does provides a reprint of one of The Turtle’s golden age  adventures.

I found the idea of an Asian superhero from the 1940s fascinating.

It’s a universal story  that anyone can relate to. The human struggles the characters are going through are very relate-able, but I think it might be a bit more poignant and true to life if you’re Asian.

That said, I’m not, and I really enjoyed the story.  Can’t wait to see more from Gene and I have to look more into Sonny Liew’s work.

Check out “The Shadow Hero

 

 


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The Pros and Cons of Buying and Reading Digital Mainstream Comics.

COMIC BOOKS - The Pros and Cons of Buying and Reading Digital Comics

The Pros and Cons of Buying and Reading Digital Mainstream Comics (2)I’ve been reading a lot of digital comics lately. Being new to reading mainstream comics this way has made me think about what I like and don’t like about doing so. I thought I’d share my thoughts in this post.

In my last post I wrote about the Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid.  Since the Hybrid is an Android tablet I downloaded the Comixology App and the Kindle App into it.

Those are the two Apps I use to read most of the comics I purchase.

I tend to read a lot of mainstream comics.  DC and Marvel superhero comics, mostly.  Though I also read others.

This post is mostly about reading digital comics on the two devices I mentioned, and they’re about reading comics that I can download from those two companies.

Most of  the comics I download are NOT directly made to be read digitally.  They where intended to be read in print and where also digitized.

I’m certain that some of what I’m going to writing below doesn’t apply to all digital comics.  Especially comic that are intended to be read digitally.

Below you’ll read what I think are the pros and cons of reading and buying digital mainstream comics.  As I usually do in these type of post, I will start with the cons so that I can end the article on a positive note:

Cons

Not the Ideal Way  of Reading Comics

The Pros and Cons of Buying and Reading Digital Mainstream Comics (3)Unless you’re reading a comic especially designed to be read digitally, reading comics on a device is less than ideal. Even when you have a big enough device like I do, you come across problem pages.  Pages like double page spreads.

They effectively shrink the pages having the opposite effect they where intended to have.  This means you have to turn the device on it’s side and zoom a bit to read them correctly. Unless you’re reading it on a Kindle which doesn’t rotate the art, then you have to double tap on panels to get zoomed in panels.

It’s annoying.

I also don’t like having to occasionally touch the screen every so often to prevent it from turning off and going into standby mode. It puts unecassary pressure on you as a reader, and takes you out of what you’re reading.

When you DON’T have a big enough device, reading tiny comics or panel by panel slide shows of the comic, really takes away from the reading experience.’

Disposable

Once upon a time, comics were a disposable form of entertainment. They were printed on the cheapest paper and printed badly.  They didn’t have any real value.

Over the years, this has changed.

With digital comics, this mindset has come back.  I’ve found myself not caring about the digital comics I’ve purchased.  I just want to read them.

Once I’ve done that, I just erase them from my device. I really don’t care much about them after that.

It’s very odd because I don’t react this way with my digital prose books.

I think, if I really liked a digital comic I read, I would buy it again in print.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with most digital comics…

Renting Not Buying

When you buy a digital comic from the main sources of digital comics, namely Comixology and Kindle, you don’t actually OWN the comics you “purchase.” You’re more like renting them.  For example, say your whole comic collection is from Comixology.

Well, what if it goes out of business, or it get’s sold to another company which shuts it down, well what happens to your collection?  I mean, Comixology never really let you download the comics.

Not as a raw digital file, or pdf.  Only within the Comixology program.  Kindle does something similar.  Your more like renting the comics,  not really owning them.

You really can’t do anything with them outside the program once you bought them.

Pros

Beautiful Looking

The Pros and Cons of Buying and Reading Digital Mainstream Comics (1)Digital comics sure are pretty.  The colors are more vibrant. The lines are sharper.

In short, it’s difficult to find a more beautiful media to read comics in.

 

 

Potentially Cheaper

Depending on where you purchase your comic, you can get some decent deals.

Kindle comics tend to usually be cheaper, that said, the reading experience in Comixology is a tad more user friendly.

Most trade paperbacks on the Kindle (as of the time of this writing) are $9.99, meanwhile the same comics,on Comixology tend to be sold at the same cover price as the print copy.  I found this odd.

Meanwhile Comixology run sales every month on multiple comic lines. Depending on the sale, it’s possible to come away with some incredible deals.

The best part of all though is the fact that you don’t pay taxes on the comics. You pay cover price. So even if the comic you buy cost the same as the print version, you’re still getting it for a little less.

Convenient Comic Collecting

Because digital comics are…well…digital, they don’t actually take up any space in your house.  This means you could have paid for hundreds of comics and they won’t clutter up the place.

You don’t have to find a storage solution of them.

You also have access to your whole collection in one or a few devices. You can basically carry your comics anywhere.

It’s remarkable

Does NOT Replace Print Comics

And yet with all those awesome things about digital comics, they don’t really replace print comics.  At least not for me.  The biggest reason is the value of a print.  When I read a GREAT comic, I mean a mind blowing good one, I want to keep it.  I want the art at my finger tips.

Not a digital reproduction but I  want to own a copy of the artwork.

That experience simply can’t be replaced.

For example, I wouldn’t want to own a digital comic with great artwork without also owning the print version.  I want to HAVE that artwork.  I want to own it and be able to have it open and study it.

I don’t simply want a digital representation that requires electricity to see it.

Worth Checking Out

Is is worth buying and reading digital comics on these devices.  My answer is, “Yes.”

It’s a good experience.  At least for me.  What do  you think?

Do you have a device you can read comics in. What is it and how do you like? I’d like to know.  You can do so on the comments section  below.


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Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid Review

ART – Wacom Cintiq Hybrid Review


I recently picked up a Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid. NOT to be confused with the Wacom Cintiq Companion, which is a different device.

I was in need of a Cintiq.  I use one at work and it’s kinda become a tool that, as an artist, it’s tough to live without.

The problem is, Cintiqs are not only expensive, but they’re big, bulky, and force you to only work in one spot for long stretches at a time.

Sometimes, I like drawing in different places and I wanted something that was a little bit more versatile, like an iPod or an Android Tablet.  But those things where never as good as Cintiqs.  I kinda needed both.

Well, turns out Wacom made a Cintiq that IS both.  Here’s what I think of it.

(This post has affiliate links, thanks for your support)

The Good

It’s a Cintiq and an Android Tablet

Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid Review (3)THE number one best thing about the Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid is that it’s both a Cintiq AND an Android Tablet.  This means you get two devices for the price of one.

If you want a portable sketch book you can draw on with the same accuracy as a Wacom Cintiq, this is it. Download an inexpensive drawing App like Skechbook Pro, or better yet, Layer Paint HD, and you can draw anywhere.

Layer Paint HD creates artwork at 600 dpi. You can pretty much do professional drawing on that program alone.

Put if you have Photoshop or Manga Studio on your computer and want to work on one of those programs instead, simply hook up your Hybrid to your computer and the Hybrid become a regular Cintiq like any other one.

Not to mention it’s an Android Tablet so you can read comics and play games on it too. But that’s not REALLY why you get this.

It’s SO handy.

Which leads me to the next great thing about it…

It’s Portable

Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid Review (1)No more having to wait til you get home to work on the Cintiq, you can take it with you.

Sit on the couch and draw, take it to the park. the Zoo, the mall, a story meeting…etc.  Pretty much anywhere you can take a sketchbook.

Get some sun as you work.  It’s great.

And it comes with a stand that props it up.

Good Battery Life

The best way to work with this tablet is to obviously have it plugged in.  That said, you don’t have to.  It’s got a remarkably long battery life.

So far, I worked on it for about four  hours and barely saw it taxed at all.  It’s suppose to have a 12 hour battery life.  That’s pretty awesome.

Especially since I don’t plan to draw on it for that long without ever being somewhere I can plug it in.

The Bad

Not Enough Apps

I think the most annoying problem with the Hybrid is the very fact it’s an Android Tablet.  It doesn’t have nearly the amount of quality Apps you would find in an iOS device.

I have an iPod and an iPhone, there are drawing Apps I own in those devices that I would LOVE to use with my Hybrid but they aren’t available for Android.

That said, Layer Paint HD works well enough for my purposes.

It’s Got a Small Screen

If you’re used to working on a large screen Cintiq, this is going to take some getting used to.

You’re going to have to get used to either working on less drawing real estate or simply turning the menus on the screen on and off a lot.

The screen’s width is not as wide as a regular piece of paper but it’s a tad longer.  If you don’t mind this and can work around it, that’s not a big deal.

Otherwise, it might very well be a deal breaker, all the other pros aside.

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Who Should Get This?

This was a great purchase for me.  I tend to do a lot of my drawing on the couch or on the go.  I find it annoying to always have to be attached to a computer to do my work. Especially if my computer is a desktop located in one place.

The Hybrid let’s me draw anywhere I want and if I need to attach it to a computer, there’s always my Laptop.

I love it.

If this sounds like something you’d benefit from as well, I highly recommend picking this device up.  It’s a great investment.

You get two devices as once.


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Three Reasons ROBO RALLY is a Must Own Board Game.

BOARD GAME – Three Reasons Robo Rally is a Must Own Board Game

Three Reasons Robo Rally is a Must Own Board Game (1)While I can’t say that every board game I own is must purchase, I think Robo Rally designed by Richard Garfield (creator of Magic: The Gathering ) is a must. Below you’ll find the three main reasons I think this is so.

This is a surprising little game that went out of print for a while. I bought it because the idea of the game, appealed to my six year old.

Once bought and played, we were blown away at how much fun we were having.

In the game, you control a little robot. You’re objective is to be the first robot to touch all the flags on the board.

That’s it.

Everyone at the table preprograms their robot using cards at the beginning of a turn. Then in the second part of the turn, the robots all move at the same time and you see what happens.

As you might expect, robots crash into each other, fall in to holes, crash against walls and meet all kinds of other crazy hilarity.

It’s so fun.

So here’s the three things that make this game a must own:

1. Easy to Learn

Let’s face it, one of the reasons most people don’t like buying or playing new board games is because they don’t want to learn the rules.  Fortunately, the rules for Robo Rally are very simple.

Everyone gets a hand of nine instruction cards. From those nine cards you choose five instruction cards for your robot.  Once everyone has done so, you reveal the cards one by one and move your robot according to the instruction cards you’ve chosen.

That’s it, in a nutshell.  Don’t be afraid of to read the 10 pages of instructions.  They basically clarify some things like what happens when robots fall in holes, get hit by lasers, go on conveyor belts, run into each other…stuff like that.  It’s actually really simple.

It’s all the stuff that makes the game fun.

2. Plays Two to Eight Players

Three Reasons Robo Rally is a Must Own Board Game (2)It’s rare to find a board game that is fun with two and eight.  Robo Rally is one of them.

This is especially handy since I have such a big family.  There’s seven of us, and even though one of my kids is still a baby, at some point, he’s going to be old enough to join in the fun.

But even if you don’t have a big family, when you have friends over, you might end up with more than five players.  It’s often difficult to find a game that plays that many people and isn’t a party game.

3.  Fun For Just About Any Age

The age on the box says, “12+.” I played this game with my six year old and he LOVED it. Not only did he understand what he needed to do, but he even strategized.

I was very impressed. The game is deep but you can play it superficially and still have fun.

If you have young kids as I do, say around 3 or 4, and if you’ve trained them not to ruin cards, even they can play. They simply put down instruction cards in a chaotic way and then see what happens. Although, you may not want to keep count of their lives.

For everyone else, they add another element of chaos to the game that can make all the turns even more fun.

If you’re not playing with little kids, the “expert” maps will provide some crazy challenges for any adult player involved.

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Some Other Side Benefits

I found it interesting that it’s a game about programing robots. In a lot of ways, this is a gateway to real programing.

My son loved the idea that he was “commanding” a robot. I can see how I can latter explain programing, using this game as an analogy.

It’s also a really good way to teach the kids to think ahead and think logically. The challenge of telling their robot to do what they want within the limits of the cards they have on hand is great for them.

It’s a great puzzle.

I can’t say enough good things. This game is worth a purchase.

My kids are obsessed with the game and the experiences it creates.


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