Jan 31, 2006

More retro gaming fun

Neave.com is a beautiful, well designed and straightforward site, created by a very talented person (Paul Neave) , who coincidentally happens to be a gamer. He also happens to offer nine excellent retro games for our amusement (and for free). One of these games happens to be a little-known gem called Pac-Man. Another one of the obscure little titles featured is called Space Invaders. Have a look.

P.S. Interested in retro games? Then you might want to check some of my previous posts: this one, this one or perhaps this one. Pick your favorite.

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Adventure Lantern (Again!)

The February Issue of Adventure Lantern is waiting for you to download it... All you have to do is visit adventurelantern.com and enjoy 120 pages of gaming goodness in pdf format. You'll also find out that yours truly is now a member of the AL staff.

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Jan 30, 2006

Nintendo DS Lite

Nintendo announced that the new, 'lite' and not-so-radically redesigned DS is set to arrive in Japan on March. Definitely good news, but I can't help feeling that Nintendo is slightly overdoing it... I mean what is this? A redesign every how soon? Couldn't they have designed a marginally smaller, better and sleeker Nintendo DS one year ago? Has handheld technology evolved so fast? Oh, come on Nintendo, this redesign definitely isn't half as interesting as -say- the Gameboy Micro was.

Oh, and if you (you dear reader, not you dear Nintendo) are fluent in Japanese, see (exactly) what Nintendo announced by clicking right (wait for it).... riiiight... here.

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Olympian blogs....

Well, well, well... The Blog Olympics are now over and we have two winners... A Mr. and a Ms.. Take a look at their excellent sites: Whiskey Talking and True Blue Semi-Crunchy Mama. Congratulations to both of you!

And for those of you kind readers, who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, take a look right here (no gaming content featured). Or perhaps here.

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Jan 28, 2006

Freedom to Board Games

Gnome’s lair is supposed to be a general and cross-genre gaming blog, covering (almost) every one of the gaming categories I enjoy the most. It is supposed to be a place that will give you ideas on how to creatively and stylishly (or not) waste your time and money. Truth is that board games (beside Class Struggle and Zombies!!!, which I have already reviewed) haven’t been touched upon in recent updates, and this is almost inexcusable… How about then, if I make it up to you, by cyber-leading (I know it’s called linking) you to some of the best freeware games on the Net? Hope it helps me getting a pardon… Without further ado then, here is a nice selection:

Mesopotamia (found here) is a lavish civilisation-building board game in pdf format. It is intended for 2 to 6 players and can be played in less than 2 hours.

Robo Battle Pigs (found here) is an extremely innovative 2 player strategic board game, played on an 8x8 board, in which you get to program (yes, program) your pigs.

Battle for Moscow (found here) is not a board game as such, but more of a full-blown wargame, that let’s you recreate the heroic battle of Moscow in the Second World War.

Porno! (found here) is a roleplaying(ish) game for mature (in every way) audiences only. And yes, I guess this means you’ll have to be at least 18 years old to enjoy it, and also probably younger than 65. Extremely funny, fun and bonding in a demented way.

Finally there is the collection of Cheapass Games freebies (found here), who are none other than the legendary game creators of Doctor Lucky fame. Follow the link and enjoy more than a dozen professionally designed games.

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Out from Boneville and into the DVD case

I really, really like those guys and gals at Telltale. They are the kind of people that actually listen to what their fans have to tell them... This means that the beautiful Bone: Out from Boneville is no longer (just) a downloadable game. You can actually own it on a more substantial / physical form (on a CD evidently). Even get a deluxe bundle that includes the original (and first in the Bone Saga) Bone: Out from Boneville comic book.

Take a stroll down Telltale's website and find out what this is all about...

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Jan 27, 2006

Adventure Lantern issue #1

Just a short post to let you know that the first issue of Adventure Lantern has been released (in pdf and html format). It's mostly about adventure games. I thought you'd have guessed that.
Take a look .

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A Quake mod without guns (!)

I really don't care much for Quake (or any other FPS for that matter) mods. But this one is quite exceptional and totally original. It is called Bulldog Stadium and requires no shooting skills whatsoever. All you have to do is cross an arena. Oh, and not get killed in the process. It is fun, simple and intuitive. It actually feels just like playing with your childhood friends (provided of course they resembled hideous monsters, which I am sure they didn't).

Bulldog Stadium can be downloaded right here. It's less than 10 Mbs and you can even enjoy it on a Sega Dreamcast!

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Jan 25, 2006

PC Review: ‘Apprentice Deluxe’

Do you know what the difference between a “review” and a “critique” is? No? Yes? Good for you. You can skip the rest of this paragraph. If your answer was no though, all I can do is provide you with my (very personal and quite copyrighted) view: A review is a critique from a consumer’s point of view. It is there to tell you if something is worth the money it will cost you. A critique on the contrary, judges something on its own and usually on its artistic merits alone, without taking price into consideration. On the other hand, computer games tend to be reviewed, as is customary and as they are considered inferior to -say- movies or apparently novels. So what shall I do with ‘Apprentice deluxe’? It is a PC game (an adventure to be more precise) and it is freeware. Should I review it? Critique(sp.) it? Take it out for a beer? What?

Well, let me tell you. I am in neither a theoretical nor an analytical mood, so I’ll just review the bloody thing, taking into consideration that it costs nothing.

Apprentice Deluxe is evidently the Deluxe version of the famous and award winning AGS adventure Apprentice [If you want to know more about the free AGS authoring system visit the official site. It will also help you find out what AGS is.] The deluxe part consists of a full voice-over with almost professional voice quality, of some bug and graphic glitches fixes, of a brand new soundtrack and of multilingual support. You even get to toggle the voice-over or subtitles on and off. And since Apprentice and its deluxe sibling are literally the same game, I’ll be referring to both of them simply as Apprentice.

Apprentice has a simple, but enjoyable story, set in a traditional fantasy setting with ironic and satirical splashes. It is about a young wizard’s apprentice called Pib, whose not so epic quest is to collect the ingredients needed for his first spell and … that about sums it. Consequently the game is extremely short, albeit with allusions to a much grander story. The average gamer will not need more than one to two hours to beat it, and only if every item is looked at and everything explored.

Pib is controlled in typical point-and-click fashion, which does feel like the correct method, despite the minor control and navigation problems. There is for example no right clicking to alternate between actions. Then again the inventory system is well implemented, attractively designed and fully compatible with a fantasy setting. Dialogs are handled the Lucasarts’ way using dialog trees, and almost every puzzle (except one –no wait; except two) is inventory based and rather on the easy side. The only puzzle that truly requires lateral and bizarrely inventive thinking is the one in which you’ll have to produce cheese, but after you solve it (in typical try everything on everything else adventurers’ fashion) the game does explain the reasoning behind it, and it does actually make sense. In a weird and almost funny way, but sense nonetheless.

The most impressive aspect of Apprentice, being an amateur freeware adventure and all, are the incredibly high production values. The music is very good, the low-res cartoony graphics are excellent and carefully animated, the game is full with detail and everything is clickable and verbally described. The humor and the minor in-jokes are good too. Not Monkey Island or Monty Python level, but Pib’s comments will put a smile on your face.

Apprentice offers an overall very pleasing (and brief) gaming experience, which continues with the already released and much improved Apprentice 2. You can download both games for free at the website of Herculean Effort Productions.

That’s a (seven and a half) out of (ten).

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Jan 24, 2006

Adventure Beta testers wanted...

Feel like being part of the gaming industry? Have always enjoyed a bit of free gaming? You might then just be interested in Himalaya Studios' call for beta testers on their new adventure: 'All Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine'.
For further info visit :

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C64 nostalgia

Remember the legendary C64? Remember the loading problems? The impressive color graphics? Actually I don't, but I am not the disrespectful type. I do know what C64 meant (and means) to a lot of people. And those people (and us of course) are in for a treat.

C64s.com is offering a huge variety of Java emulated C64 games for free. Head over there and take a look at classy classic games like Adventure, Dizzy and Rick Dangerous.

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Jan 23, 2006

Warhammer Monsters, Mercenaries, Ogres etc.

In case you haven'’t figured it out yet, today's post is about the 'Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide'’. A 170 pages long, full color and (very) well-priced volume published by Games Workshop, that doesn'’t limit its content to neither monsters nor mercenaries. A great variety of armies are dealt with instead: Dogs of War, Regiments of Renown (up to the very recent like the cutely and aptly named 'Mengil Manhide'’s Manflayers'), Kislev and Ogre Kingdoms. Each army'’s units and models are presented, both in fully painted and in component mode(!), while every entry is accompanied by a short piece of fluff (sorry kitty). Obviously and as we'’ve come to expect no actual rules are included. On the other hand component codes and prices are mentioned. [You can find the Dogs of War and Regiments of Renown armylists here.] Oh, there are contemporary, collector'’s and archive models presented, as well as the Monsters, Siege and parts of the Mordheim ranges. Even drakes and golems are included...

The book also gives (brief) background information on relevant issues, such as the Tilean cities of Remas and Luccini or the Ogre tribe of the Blooded Gut. It is lavishly illustrated too.

The most impressive thing in the 'Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide'’ though, is not it's size or the amount of useful information included. Neither are the usual photos of Golden Demon winners'’ entries nor the dioramas and conversions presented. It is the fully converted Araby themed army by Justin Hill. It simply has to be seen to be believed.

Finally do check what G.W. has to say for this collectors guide...

P.S. I do consider this guide a very good buy. Just not intended for everyone. It is a glorified miniature catalogue after all.

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Gnomes, gnomes and Happy Birthday

:) and ;)

Medieval Total War 2

Yes, Medieval Total War 2 has just been announced and it will be hitting the shelves in 2006:

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Jan 21, 2006

Meet Critical Miss

Critical Miss used to be one of the funnier and definitely the wittiest Roleplaying Game webzine around cyberspace. It hasn't been updated for the past two years and doesn't seem like it's going to be anytime soon, but it still is only a (worthwhile) click away. This click should be right here, and it will transport you to the latest (ninth) issue of the world's only online gaming magazine for dysfunctional players. Enjoy. I know you will. Even if you don't consider yourself dysfunctional. This is humor of the John Cleese school. Or maybe not.

Just take a look now, will you?

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Jan 20, 2006

Homo Ludens affairs

Despite the popular / mainstream perception of video games as simple consumer entertainment products, I do believe they are art. Art in its infancy perhaps, but art nonetheless. Carolyn Handler Miller (best known as a screenwriter) author of ‘Digital Storytelling – a creators guide to interactive entertainment’ seems to agree with my views. This is the reason I am presenting her book.(By the way its ISBN is 024080510 in case you were wondering)

‘Digital Storytelling – a creators guide to interactive entertainment’, is an important contribution to the theory of play and fun, but also a scholarly analysis of interactive media (ranging from video games to interactive TV and the Internet). C.H. Miller provides a storyteller’s guide (not the White Wolf kind mind you) which is more of a historical-theoretical approach than a strict how-to, even though she covers (through case studies) the whole interactive storytelling process from concept to completion. The way I see it, such books are almost a must-read for relevant artists, researchers and even gamers. This book in particular is definitely one of the most complete ones in its field and therefore highly recommended.

The book is divided in four parts, the first being ‘New technologies, new creative opportunities’, the second ‘Creating entertainment rich environments’, the third ‘Media and models: under the hood’ and the fourth ‘Career consideration’. ‘Digital Storytelling – a creators guide to interactive entertainment’ spans 472 pages and is published by Elsevier and Focal Press. For further information visit Elsevier’s relevant webpage.

For further reading try ‘Homo Ludens’ and ‘Theory of fun for game design’.

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Jan 19, 2006

The XBOX360 'Brick-o-lage'?

Just bought your shiny new XBOX 360? Did you even manage to avoid meeting the infamous red lights of death?

Great. Now let us see what you'll do about the wonderful (and to be quite frank the ridiculously huge) power supply Microsoft designed. Hah. Take a look at what the 1UP staff came up with by clicking right here.

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Jan 18, 2006

Board Game Review: ‘Class Struggle’

Yes, this is Karl Marx. Yes, yes, he is indeed armwrestling a Rockefeller and both were the stars of an Avalon Hill board game's box-art. Not any board game's of course, but a game's created by New York University professor Bertell Ollman as a socialist alternative to Monopoly. Obviously in the 70s when such ideas were actually allowed (!). This infamous and nowadays obscure board game was (and still is) called Class Struggle.

(Oh, and since it was released in the 70s and then again in the 80s don’t expect the glossy/ultra-polished feeling of contemporary board games.)

Class Struggle manages to combine marxist theory, excellent humor and sheer fun. Each player is randomly (as in real life) assigned as a class and races towards the center of the board (in a spiraling way) in order to win the final confrontation of the classes. Should the workers or their allies win, it’s socialism. Should the capitalists or their allies win, it’s not. The rules are simple, logical and you can check them out here, on Bertell Ollman’s NYU page.

The one most interesting and enjoyable aspect of Class Struggle is the way in which real life is put inside the game mechanics. Here’s is an example of a worker’s Monopoly-styled chance card: ‘If you haven’t washed the dishes or made supper in the last week, move two spaces back’ (which is in game terms a bad thing). On the equivalent capitalist’s chance card you get told to move two spaces ahead (a good thing). Simple as that. Educating too.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

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Jan 17, 2006

Just a banal update

Simply take a look here for an interesting, though strange, Nintendo rumour.
One never knows.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

And now for a gnome's lair teaser :

Jan 16, 2006

Revolutionary Joy

Revolutionary not in a political, but obviously in a gaming and therefore not so revolutionary way. Joy nonetheless. Anyway. Revolution Report published an excellent Nintendo Revolution FAQ. On comrades. On to victory.

(okay. sorry about that)

Just click here and read the FAQ...

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Jan 15, 2006

PC Review: ‘Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None’

Truth is they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Point and click adventures don’t have the class and production values they used to have back in the 90s. The genre is no longer cutting edge, no longer adequately funded, but at least still alive.

Since the most talented designers like Jane Jensen, Ron Gilbert or Tim Schafer are no longer producing adventures, since budgets are being cut, production times shortened and since the need for decent storytelling abilities remains, developers tend to look back at classic literary or cinematic material. Be it Jules Verne, Alfred Hitchcock or Agatha Christie, you can’t miss when basing your game on such material. Or can you?

And Then There Were None the novel (written towards the end of the 30s) is considered as one of A. Christie’s finest moments. It is about a perfect, unsolvable and actually successful crime. About a perfect mass (if 10 people can be considered a crowd) murder committed by Mr. U.N. Owen. And Then There Were None the novel had already been adapted to film and theatre before the Adventure Company decided to publish the adventure game. Adapted -mostly- to critical acclaim.

What could then possibly go wrong in the adventure adaptation? I believe that it should have been obvious to the good people who designed the game. Despite being excellent material And Then There Were None has the problem of dealing with a perfect and unsolvable crime. A bloody unsolvable crime. As in: it can’t be solved by anyone, let alone by a geeky gamer. Thus all the player gets to actually do in this game is to be an observer who might just be able to save a few of the ten guests.
The player (a.k.a. you) gets to be Patrick Narracott, a character absent from the original, stranded along with the other ten guests on Mr. U.N. Owen’s island. Mr. Narracott is the sole person on the island who isn’t accused of a horrible deed (by U.N.Owen and through a gramophone disc and you’ll have to play the game or preferably read the book to find out more). This gives him the chance to roam around the island and interact with his environments in standard point and click fashion, solving rather easy and not very inspiring inventory based puzzles. Oh and not doing any actual detective work. Unless of course gathering five fingerprints (an optional task nonetheless) can be considered detective work.

Other problems include a constantly repeating and quite annoying musical theme, the inability to skip dialog (and there are tons of it), horrible 3d character models and a few glitches/bugs. On the other hand And Then There Were None is quite enjoyable and atmospheric (for the duration of the 10 to 15 hours you’ll spend beating it). Environmental graphics are okay and with some decent weather effects, the original material is excellent, the voice-overs almost perfect and if you buy the game in the U.S. you will also get the original book as a gift (or so I hear). The manual is also a nice addition, with its decent oldskool booky feel, and you might also appreciate the multiple endings, which also include the original.

So… I guess it really is up to you… This is an adventure that won’t thrill you, but in a peculiar way provide you with some hours of moody (and quality?) entertainment

That’s a (six) out of (ten).

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Orcs and Goblins on the way...

Those of you interested in Warhammer must have heard the rumors. The 'Orcs and Goblins' were supposed to be the next army book released by Games Workshop. Well, chances are the rumors were right. Just check the current editorial of Black Gobbo, which almost confirms that the greenskins will soon be WAAAGHing in their newest version.

All there is now left to do is wait and see if the Forest Goblins make their return...

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Jan 14, 2006

Board Game Review: ‘Zombies!!!’

This is the first Board Game Review (TM?) to appear on gnomeslair. It will be quite a short one too. Mind you it could have been even shorter. I could have just written: ‘Zombies!!! is a fun game about zombies by Twilight Creations. It’s fun and cheap(ish). The artwork is great. You should probably have a look.’

But I would never end a review there and obviously I wont.

I will instead try to explain, in a more thorough way, why Zombies!!! is a board game I tend to play each summer (mostly and in between and for the past two years that is) and still ain’t bored of it. Ok. I can’t explain why boredom hasn’t shown itself yet, but I can justify why I enjoyed Zombies!!! in the first place.

Zombies!!! is a game about survival, about destroying zombies and about making sure your opponents (1 to 5 opponents; do the math, that means 2-6 players) are serving as undead snacks. You (the model representing you actually) will be running around a zombie infested town (made of 30 beautifully illustrated cards and infested by 100 -yes 100- miniature zombies ), shooting zombies (a 4+ on a d6 destroys them), collecting health and ammo, searching buildings and playing the exquisitely dark and humorous and with great artwork action cards (there are around 50 of those). Your goal will be to be the first to butcher 25 zombies or the first to leave town using the helicopter. It is such a simple -yet so enjoyable- board game. You will probably even get to laugh.

Also check the game’s website. You’ll find free rules, expansions, the cutesy (freeware) Zombies!!! RPG and info on the other games and products in the Zombies!!! line.

As the blurb on the box says: This one’s a no brainer!

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

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Just a gnome's picture

This is the last time I am posting just a picture (at least until next time). Even though it's created by Zacharias. Even though it's a gnome and even though it's the pic I have in my profile. Anyway.

Jan 13, 2006


An unispired title introducing a highly inspired pic. (Created in less than ten minutes by the talented Zacharias, whom you don't know -but I do).

Click and enjoy.

Jan 12, 2006

Do you remember Dungeons and Dragons?

Of course you do. Not only you remember it, but also probably believe it is the prototype all RPGs are based on. The archetypal hack ‘n’ slash RPG. I guess you will also be familiar with the terms “d20” and “OGL”… How about a review of D&D then? Of its first edition perhaps? 1974 anyone?

Just read on… (preferably by clicking on the picture)

Jan 11, 2006

PC Review: ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’

The pc gaming genre I appreciate the most has always been the Adventure Game. I simply can’t stress enough, how much I enjoyed the vintage classics of Lucasarts and Sierra. How carelessly I danced around them wearing only a green wig and chanting ecstatically ‘Oi, oi, that’s life. Ei, ei, I love adventures’ etc. How I gloriously spent my money on them. How I desperately searched for walkthroughs. How many of them I actually missed. Pah. Those were the days.

On the other hand, I can neither stress how disappointed in Lucasarts I currently am. Not only have they dumped adventures, but also rejected any kind of creativity and/or originality by producing a torrent of mediocre and/or lackluster Star Wars action and(/or) ‘strategy’ games. Star Wars Battlefront was a prime example of this trend. A desperate clone of Battlefield 1942 with Star Wars models and textures, featuring awful gameplay.

Enter Star Wars Battlefront II.

It is not an original concept. It is a Lucasarts product. It is a Star Wars game. It’s not an adventure. It is a First Person Shooter with a strong multiplayer aspect. I honestly enjoyed it.

SWBFII is such an improvement over its predecessor it totally surprised me and reminded me how fond of Star Wars games (TIE Fighter is what I am actually referring to) I once used to be. There are lots of excellent maps, vastly improved game mechanics, four different factions, many weapons and classes to choose from, playable characters (Darth Vader and co.) that can be used in multiplayer battles, a decent single player campaign, driveable vehicles and even a small but interesting strategic mode called Galactic Conquest (unfortunately only for the single player mode). By far though, the most interesting new feature is the inclusion of space battles. X-Wings, B-Wings, Y-Wings, TIE Fighters and the rest are all there in a highly enjoyable space flight sim in the style of X-Wing versus TIE Fighter. You can even land inside enemy motherships and fight for tyranny or freedom on foot. You can even play capture the flag in space! Joy. Lots and lots of hours of joy actually, since this is a game that really has dozens of hours worth of gameplay to offer.

Obviously and unfortunately all is not perfect. The 3d engine seems a bit dated, a lack of overall polish is evident, there are some minor bot A.I. problems, no in-mission save points in the campaign and you get to play Princess Leia. On the multiplayer front you wont have any trouble finding people to play against, but you will have lag trouble in some of the larger maps.
And it definitely isn’t the most original or artistic game I have ever seen…

That’s a (seven) out of (ten).

Jan 9, 2006

Fictional Gaming Reality

Video games are definitely a decent way to murder your free time. But why not try other methods too? Like Role Playing Games (the pen and paper ones -doh!), Wargames or miniature painting. If you feel intrigued or are a seasoned gamer take a peek at one of my favorite online pdf magazines. Fictional Reality.

The current issue is full of reviews, news, battle reports, gaming and hobby tips. And there are more than 20 archived issues for your reading/gaming pleasure.

Enjoy this mag by clicking here.

Jan 8, 2006

PC Review: ‘Sid Meier’s Civilization IV’

You can call it Civilization, Civilisation, Civ or even Sid Meier’s Civilization. Fact is that even if you called it Bertha it would still be the best turn based strategy franchise ever. Some –the true fanatics that is- would even go as far as calling it the best gaming franchise ever. And now it’s even better. Not in a radical revolutionary way, but more in a polished thoughtful way.

For the three (3) of you who haven’t heard of Civilization before, let me explain. It’s all about guiding a nation through history in an intuitive turn based fashion. You’ll start from the stone Age, research yourself to literacy and the Bronze Age and keep expanding, building and fighting until your civilization reaches the stars or global domination (or, of course, until you get pulverized). On your way you’ll build wonders of the world like the Pyramids, you’ll explore and tame the land and maybe even lead a workers’ revolution. By the time you reach Civ greatness though, you will be nothing more than an empty shell of a human being. You’ll be thousands of hours closer to your death. This game is the greatest and most addictive time sink ever created.

Beside the three (3) aforementioned weirdos, the rest of the world should be happy to know that moving on to Civ 4 is definitely worth it. This seems to be the best Civ ever, even though no one can be absolutely sure unless two or three more years pass. Civ 4 sports a brand new 3d engine that can run decently on almost any modern PC or Notebook. It also features a new simpler but more tactical combat system, a never seen before government system, new religions that actually play a role (monasteries, prophets and missionaries are included), a faster game engine, decent (playable) multiplayer, new Wonders, Great People (something like wonders… but… ahem… in the guise of people), a richer tech tree, a beautiful soundtrack and an amazing attention to detail. Mr. Meier has also included the necessary modding tools that guarantee a torrent of interesting mods and free expansions.

A great game all in all. Great but obviously not groundbreaking. Civilization 4 is an excellent Civ, but even a moderately experienced player wont need to open the manual (the printed and not pdf manual that is). Civ is still an absolutely brilliant game. Just don’t expect to be surprised.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

Jan 7, 2006


If you were desperately looking for an excellent (and free) online retro gaming mag, I think REWIND will be a nice surprise. The first issue has been around for quite a while, and it’s full of great articles, ranging from game authoring tutorials and retro news to historical approaches in video gaming. Just take a look …

PC Review: ‘Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection’

Well, well…. It hasn’t been so long ago… I mean it’s only been 50 years since the founding of Namco and almost 30 years since the oldest game of this compilation was released. On the other hand this blog has existed for less than one day, and this definitely is the first PC game review to appear here. That’s quite a paradox. Maybe.

Anyway. Namco’s Museum is an almost decent (budget) collection of some classic, some not so classic and a few pointless games, hoping to please retro gamers, to teach new gamers some old tricks, to teach young dogs strange tricks or to please the average casual gamer. There are 16 games on offer, two of which (PacMania and Galaga `88) are unlockable by attaining (pretty low) highscores in PacMan, Ms. PacMan or the original Galaga, which are actually three of the best titles available in this compilation, and are decently emulated. The other games included are:

Dragon Spirit, which I had never played before, and is a passable top down shooter with an appropriately ridiculous backstory and cute graphics .
Pole Position and the radically samey Pole Position II, both aged beyond recognition (they used to be quite nice guys back then) but excellently emulated.
Galaxian, which has always been a poor man’s Space Invaders.
Mappy, the strange little unknown game that is fun for five minutes, but tends to get nervous, act stranger and gradually reduces the poor player to a horrified excuse of a person.
Rolling Thunder, a decent platformer/shooter with nice graphics.
Xevious, the classic Namco Classic.
Skykid, which is pointless, annoying and obscure, but I guess perfectly emulating the horror of being a skykid (?).
Rally-X, a very interesting car game. An absolute time sink.

Oh sorry, almost forgot. When (and if) you buy Namco Museum you will also be able to play Digout and Bosconian.

That’s the deal. Just take into consideration that there are virtually no extras (like interviews, photos, videos etc), very few options, very slight but usually annoying sound problems and the overall presentation isn’t as sleek as it should have been. And you could always download MAME for free instead. On the plus side you get to hear five ‘classic’ 80s songs while browsing through the games and it wont cost you a fortune.

That’s a (five) out of (ten).

About the lair

Oh, and if you absolutely have to know, this (the site - blog - thingie) is going to be about all kinds of games. In a reviewing way. Or maybe not. But there are definetely going to be other kinds of posts too. Some of them will be spelled correctly.
The time is nigh. Prepare thyselves.

Wait and see.


'Hello world'


... ahem ....


I just wanted to say...

'Hello world'

Jan 1, 2006

My fine selection of perfectly preserved links

Welcome dear and gentle reader. Welcome to a collection of mostly gaming related links to the rich ecosystem of varied sites and blogs that I deeply enjoy. Have fun clicking around and don't be afraid to suggest the inclusion of any site you deem worthy.

Contemporary Digital Pleasures

Rock, Paper, Shotgun: PC gaming and sheer brilliance; RPS is indeed the best the gaming web could ever hope to offer.

Game Cabaret: Armchair conversations on the darker, risqué, sides of gaming. Also includes a bit on porn.

Game Set Watch: And I quote "GameSetWatch features in-depth articles, interviews & opinions from the Gamasutra Network, plus industry jobs, exclusive alt.gaming columns and link round-ups".

Richard's Online Journal: Excellent writing, quality humor, unique content and a taste for the obscure make this one of rare gem of a blog.

from the gutter
: comics, games, technology, books, insightful articles and a huge archive of Nintendo DS (and some Wii) homebrew offerings.

Chamber of Horrors: All things horror, including more than a few references to gaming of all kinds.

The Artful Gamer: Games are art, art can't be defined, dialectics can answer almost anythings, and the Artful Gamer always comes up with intriguing articles searching for the poetry in video games.

Pacroid: Eclectic, pretty damn huge and quality gaming blog, that wisely covers all kinds of digital games.

Japan Gaming Guide: The aptly named guide to gaming in Japan. With a ton extra gaming goodness thrown in.

Game Hoot: A most eclectic and diverse gaming blog covering every modern gaming device.

Bits, Bytes, Pixels and Sprites: Complete with podcast and contemporary games coverage.

Pro-Gamer: One of the oldest surviving friends of the Lair and an all around gamer with a particular interest in the console side of things.

The World of Gaming and Electronics: A unique -though comfortably mainstream- perspective on video games and electronics in timeless blog-format.

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog: A blog with which we share the same gaming taste. Loveable and filled with stuff to enjoy via a keyboard and a mouse.

Tacticular Cancer: Silly name, amazing news outlet on all things strategy.

No Signal Input: Where Tom Mulrooney documents those life sucking things we call video games, MMOs and indie games.

Warhammer Online News: For all those WAR obsessed MMORPGers.

Games Guide
: The latest PC gaming facts.

Gaming on the Go: For all your PSP, DS, GBA, Gameboy, Game Gear, Atari Lynx, Pocket PC and even phone gaming needs.

Bagfull of Wrong: Home of the very best arena shooters and sterling indie games for him and her.

Creative Ludologists and the Crafting of Games

Grumpy Gamer: Ron Gilbert's hand-crafted blog, where people with an unhealthy obsession for Monkey Island tend to gather.

Slightly Deranged: The blog of Agustin Cordes of Scratches fame, covering old adventures, weird movies and of course the crafting of games.

Destructible Crate: Where Mike designs games and shares beautiful creations like Visiting Day and Reunion.

Space Cat Rocket Ship: The world's first liquid-fuelled rocket-blog and the virtual place where Pacian presents the world with his innovative games and excellent writing. Oh, and you must also visit (Text) Games for (Space) Crows.

The Pickford Bros' Blog: Read what two legends of the gaming industry have to say for themselves, their upcoming projects and their new and older games. Also home of the excellent Naked War strategy game.

xii games: Home of Vince Twelve and his amazingly innovative indie adventure games. Home of Anna and Resonance too.

304: The Number of the Ben: Where Ben shares his stunning games, his art and talks about games and game design.

Zenobi Software: The web corner maintained by the Balrog and the cat of Zenobi, indie developers and publishers of hundreds of text adventures during the 80s and 90s.

The Vintage Side of Gaming

Retro Treasures: An excellent blog (if I may), that brings you retro gaming oddities, rarities and bargains, and apparently searches eBay so that you don't have to.

Retro Gamer: The website of the glorious Retro Gamer magazine with all its rich content, web 2.0 bit, shop, collector's guides, blog and, well, more.

Retroaction Magazine: The most glorious of all PDF retro gaming magazines.

RGCD: The most glorious of all non-PDF retro gaming magazines.

GameSniped: The masters of retro rarities and oddities.

Vintage Computing and Gaming: Adventures in classic technology, with a healthy dose of impressive writing, great humour and retro scans.

The SEGA Master System Junkyard: Where the 8-bit SEGA machines are still being loved.

The Saturn Junkyard: A rich, constantly updating and ever expanding blog about all things Sega Saturn.

The Dreamcast Junkyard: The first of the SEGA junkyards and the glorious hub for all 128-bit Dreamcast gamers.

Retro Remakes: Home of a thousand flowery and mostly freeware remakes of classic games, the aptly named Retro Remakes compos, an excellent blog, a Bob and some pretty impressive exclusives.

Mersey Remakes - we make the cops look dumb: Where OddBob remakes, creates, reviews and enjoys stuff. Includes a War Twat.

Just One More Game: Fantastic blog with an unhealthy passion for all things retro, indie and -oddly- coin operated.

Spectrum Games: A treasure-trove of Spectrum games reviews, images, videos and misty eyed reminiscing. Run by the Retro Brothers.

Retro Computers: What could this be about, then? Another blog/site by the Retro Brothers.

The Joy of Sticks
: The definitive Atari ST blog and home of the utterly amazing Great Atari ST survey.

World of Spectrum: The ultimate ZX Spectrum archive, offering thousands of games for legal download, while also covering the hardware, musical and publishing side of everyone's favourite 8-bit.

racketBoy: A rather classic classic gaming site.

Retro Replay: Emulation news, retro blogs, a lively nostalgic community and more than a few retro reviews.

Fiercely Independent

TIG Source: A.k.a. the independent gaming source, TIG Source is the hub of all things happening outside the corporate world of gaming. A place of revolution, quality and impressively odd compos.

Indie Games: The Weblog: Where the allmighty Tim presents us with the latest news and releases of the indie world while interviewing the creators.

TIGdb: The ultimate (and growing) indie games database.

The Monk's Brew: An incredibly innovative game developer writing about game design, the evolution of interactive fiction, adventures, play and more.

Play This Thing: Excellent and thoughtfull reviews of the most interesting and intriguing games around. Covers everything from interactive-fiction to board games to web freebies.

Matty On Games: Indie games, retro games, indie retro games and new indie games for retro platforms along with some other stuff. Brilliant.

Bytejacker: The channel for indie gamers to watch.

Point, Click, Type in an Adventurous Manner

Adventure Gamers: The biggest and -according to thorough research- best adventure gaming site around, filled with reviews, previews, features and news. Got a rather lively forum too.

A Hardy Developer's Journal: An absolutely excellent gaming blog with a strong focus on the creation (and enjoyment) of indie and freeware adventures.

Adventure Classic Gaming: Reviews, news, previews, interviews with legendary designers, forums, walkthroughs and features on retro classics.

Adventure Lantern: The one and only (thus also the very best) online gaming magazine that deals with adventures of all kinds, ages and formats.

An occasional player's review: Quality articles, reviews, developing tools, news and bits on design with a distinct indie adventure flavor.

Emily Short's Interactive Fiction: All hail the interactive fiction goddess!

The AGS blog: The definitive source of AGS news and thus a lovely place to discover the shiniest indie and freeware adventure games.

The International House of Mojo: All things Lucasarts covered, meaning all things Telltale, Double Fine, Autumn Moon and Ron Gilbert are being covered too.

The Lively Ivy: Hand-crafted adventure games, comics, art and an excellent sense of humour.

The Infocom Gallery: The reason the Internet was created: tons of Infocom info, scans, and a chance to play all those classic text adventures online. For free of course.

Mostly Gamers - Definitely Unsortable

Father Krishna's Wii-kly Sermons: Everyone's favourite FK and dear friend, the Father, blogs on anything that catches his gaming fancy and/or tickles his musical sense.

Barts News: Games! Software! Technology! Japan? Add some Spectrum loving, a PSP and voila!

Stray Dog Strut: Wisdom is to be found in barking up the wrong tree and being tasteful in games.

The Lost Level: Located in a (probably damp) maze of twisty little passages, the lost level revels in its coverage of RPGs, CRPGs, non-analog & non-digital games, fantasy artwork and much more.

The Red Bull Diary: Smart, political, stylish and with a thing for games.

Lameazoid.com: Exploiting games and toys since 1998 and occasionaly mentioning the Commodore 64 and some robots.

NebachadnezzaR's Place of Awesomeness: The awesome gamer/novelist from Portugal blogs on all things cinematic, heavy metal, console gaming and, well, gaming.

Old-Wizard: Intentionally fanboy-ish and filled with top 10 lists, this site could very well be a dadaist joke on the gaming/geek community.

Hunyak Blog: Media stuff, retro gaming, videos, a great sense of humour and an appettite for the obscure.

SlackerGamer: Nice, mostly mainstream and RPG-y.

Of Tables, Tops and Dice

Purple Pawn: The ultimate RPG, CCG, board game, card game and wargame news site.

Dungeon Mastering: Tons of info and advice for, well, mostly Dungeon Masters (not necessarily of the BDSM kind, mind) and RPG enthusiasts with a D&D fetish.

Bell of Lost Souls: WH40k, WHFB and miniature gaming news, articles, tactics and opinions.

Yehuda: Board-games, RPGs, game-crafting and It's Alive, all wrapped up in one of the oldest and most impressive analog gaming blogs around.

Dane of War: Roleplaying, wargaming, warhammering and zombie-loving.

"Roll Dice and Kick Ass!": Militant geek culture at its finest. Especially for people who love to move game pieces around.

The Vintage Gamer: Excellent podcast on mostly older games, many interviews, some bits on video games and an unhealthy longing for R'lyeh.

Warhammer Fantasy Tabletop Gaming: Self-explanatory really.

Forbeck.com: Matt Forbeck’s official website and blog, thus a place for fantasy novels, Blood Bowl and glimpses at everyones beloved Mutant Chronicles.

StupidRanger: Never Adventure Alone. An amazing and lovingly collective RPG blog aporting top quality writing.

Ramblin Gamer: Warhammer 40k, Heroclix, Battlefleet Gothic, Champions, Hero and a ton of analog gamng pictures.

Web Visual Artists

Deitrix ArtWorks: Home of the demented, surreal, creepy and extremely talented. Also virtual home of Deitrix and his beautiful abominations.

Walls of Gaming: A place for all your lovely wallpaper needs.

Tom Sheehan's Photography: Top quality photographs of Boston's historic South Shore coastal towns and beyond.

Tech, blogging and other stuff

gHacks: Daily tech/web/etc news, tips and links. An excellent resource.

Darscom - Captain D rides again: Books, e-books, audio-books, fiction, poetry, reviews, and anything else that comes to a captain's mind.

Ben Kudria's blog: Not sure I understand everything Ben talks about, but surely you tech savvy lot will fare much better.

Peek 'n' Poke: Walkthroughs, guides, FAQs and stuff.

Mainstream, Mainstream, Mainstream

Eurogamer: Almost like RPS, but bigger and not quite that smart. Still, Eurogamer is the best in mainstream-multiformat gaming and sports sopme excellent writing too.

: The art & business of making games and some truly in-depth coverage of all things game-y.

Kotaku: Like Joystiq, only different.

Joystiq: Like Kotaku, only different.

Fora and places of discussion

Retroaction forum: The forum of everyone's beloved online pdf retro gaming magazine. I help with the moderation bit.

Retro Gamer forum: Incredibly lively and smart. All your retro gaming questions will be answered and you can even leave your feedback on the mag.

Video Game VS: Lovely fanboy battleground. Quite shocking at times.

The Warhammer Forum: Does exactly what it says on the tin, with the added bonus of providing a space to discuss anything Games Workshop.

Empty and Dead-ish Places that mostly R.I.P.

The Elderly Gamer

PC Game Space Race Victory

Power Up

A Slime Appears

The Game Drone

Rendered Beauty

The Happy Gamer

Superfluous Gamer

Random J Blog

The Download Munkey



Games * Design * Art * Culture



About Gnome's Lair

Not surprisingly, Gnome's Lair, this very blog, is the same blog people of all races and fetishes used to call the random gnome's random lair. It also happens to be my blog, which is mine (not yours) and very definitely belongs to me. I, on the other hand, have a theory and -quite obviously really- use the alias gnome when writing on them internets. Don't really know how I came up with it, mind, though most people that actually know me prefer to call me by my real name: Konstantinos. Oh, and I absolutely do not look like this dark and marvelous creation of Deitrix:

Now, despite being an urban geographer myself, Gnome's Lair is all about gaming in all of its many and varied guises. It is thus about computer & video games, old games, new games, indie games, adventure games, free games, board games, ludology, game creation, RPGs, books on games, games on books, and well the theory of and in games. It is not about geography or planning.

Contentwise, if I were you I'd expect a slight emphasis on most things free, indie and retro, especially if somehow related to adventures (text or graphic) and the glorious ZX Spectrum, as this particular gnome's favorite games do include Manic Miner, Monkey Island (the first three), Sensible Soccer, Civilization, Grim Fandango, Space Quest IV, The Hobbit, Gabriel Knight 3, Day of the Tentacle and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Care to find out more? Try this Blogger Profile. Or simply contact me.

I am currently writing for :

More of my articles scattered around the web:

You can also find me over @:

Oh, and I'm playing games around these places too: