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Preview: Matchsticks for my Eyes

Matchsticks for my Eyes

Writing about worlds of wonder

Last Build Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2018 04:46:10 +0000


Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is manga’s answer to Dune

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 04:46:10 +0000

Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a magnificent science-fiction manga, richer and more complex than the movie of the same name. Both the manga (1982-1994) and the movie (1984) chronicle the adventures of Nausicaa, a courageous young princess and aviator who becomes the saviour of a devastated world. While the movie … Continue reading "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is manga’s answer to Dune"

Nintendo Switch: all I wished for, and more

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 06:28:08 +0000

A much-anticipated treat. The Nintendo Switch is a technological marvel: docked and connected to a TV, it offers the power of a traditional console; unplugged, it offers the flexibility of a portable device. I’ve kept an eye on the Switch since before launch, and when I saw a good Boxing Day deal from Amazon Australia, … Continue reading "Nintendo Switch: all I wished for, and more"

The movies I saw in 2017

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 02:17:30 +0000

Hello, and welcome to the first part of my 2017 wrap – the movies I saw at the cinema. In a later post, I’ll discuss the notable games I played. The movies can be divided into several tiers, from great to bad:   The Greats Blade Runner 2049 – Overall, my movie of the year. … Continue reading "The movies I saw in 2017"

Clippings: Strategy Gaming in November; Discounted Wargames

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 00:51:36 +0000

Hello, and welcome back to the site! It’s been a bit of a break as I juggle real life and other projects; however, I still keep one eye on what’s going on in strategy games. November is set for a number of releases, including: Empire Divided, an expansion for Total War: Rome II that depicts … Continue reading "Clippings: Strategy Gaming in November; Discounted Wargames"

Quick impressions: Victory and Glory: Napoleon

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 00:01:02 +0000

Victory and Glory: Napoleon is a simple, elegant PC strategy game that places players in charge of France during the Napoleonic Wars. It bears a heavy boardgame influence, namely a design philosophy that emphasises clever abstraction over detailed simulation. The strategic layer is a race against time: Napoleon must crush his rivals before Britain can … Continue reading "Quick impressions: Victory and Glory: Napoleon"

Classifying the Total War games

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 07:24:40 +0000

Two different emperors prepare to defend their worlds. In Western Europe, circa 400 AD, a Roman emperor inspects his comitatenses and scholae, the successors to Caesar’s legions. A universe away, a different emperor raises his magic hammer, and beckons his griffon into the skies. They are united by circumstance — and the design of their … Continue reading "Classifying the Total War games"

A plethora of PC strategy game companies

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 05:05:22 +0000

Strategy gaming is vibrant and multi-faceted; that’s my take-away from mapping out selected strategy game publishers, developers, and games. Here are three observations: The first is what a broad tent the chart represents. Some of these publishers (Paradox, Slitherine) have a strong overarching brand as strategy game houses, while for generalists such as SEGA, the … Continue reading "A plethora of PC strategy game companies"

Westerado: a short, sweet journey into the Wild West

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:57:42 +0000

Short, clever homage to Westerns. Westerado: Double Barrelled uses a simple premise — find the gunman who murdered your family — to take the player on a romp through the genre’s tropes: bandits, six-shooters, a crooked tycoon, a cowardly sheriff, horseback chases, blue-coated soldiers, and a protagonist who looks awfully like the Man with No … Continue reading "Westerado: a short, sweet journey into the Wild West"

Musical Monday: “Fuego de Pasion” (Tropico 4), by Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:50:06 +0000

This week’s theme is another jaunty favourite from Tropico 4. As with the rest of the game’s soundtrack, it’s licensed music – the original can be found on the “Elementos” album. Enjoy!  

Musical Monday: “The Secret of Monkey Island” (composed by Michael Land)

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 05:14:23 +0000

This week’s song is Video Games Live’s performance of “The Secret of Monkey Island” theme (a studio recording is also available as part of VGL’s “Level 3” album). Enjoy!

Stellaris, one year on

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 06:36:02 +0000

Amidst the brightly shining stars, the Mushroom Domain’s legacy shall endure. The Mushrooms were not the galaxy’s most populous species. They did not control its largest empire. Yet they were its most influential. It was a Mushroom-created federation that brought peace to the galaxy and defended it against an invading scourge, and it was a … Continue reading "Stellaris, one year on"

Musical Monday: “Together to the Stars (United Empire Theme)” (Endless Space 2), composed by FlyByNo

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:23:44 +0000

This week’s song is another case of “the music is better than the game”. While I was disappointed with Endless Space 2, this track is stirring, evocative, and — as an imperial leitmotif — suitably bombastic. Enjoy!

Endless Space 2 impressions

Sun, 21 May 2017 13:40:32 +0000

I have mixed feelings following my first game of Endless Space 2. I went in with high hopes: after bouncing off Endless Space 1, I went on to love Endless Legend. At first, I had a great time. Six hours later, by the time I finished my beginner game, I was bored. Its strengths and … Continue reading "Endless Space 2 impressions"

Musical Monday: “Through the Gates” (Conquest of Elysium 3), composed by Mattias Westlund

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:14:47 +0000

I encountered this week’s song a number of years ago in Illwinter’s Conquest of Elysium 3. To me, it’s a very “high fantasy” song, conjuring up images of bold heroes riding out into the great wild. Enjoy!

Clippings: Total Warhammer 2, Nintendo’s Mobile Business Model, Fallout 4 Mods

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 17:18:38 +0000

Creative Assembly has announced Total War: Warhammer 2 – press release here. Notably, it will allow owners of the original Total Warhammer to play a “mega-campaign” that combines the maps of the two games, a feature I remember being discussed when the first game was still in development. Eurogamer has an excellent interview here. PC … Continue reading "Clippings: Total Warhammer 2, Nintendo’s Mobile Business Model, Fallout 4 Mods"

Clippings: Afghanistan ’11, Julian Gollop, Video Game Photography, and more

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 17:52:03 +0000

Strategy gamers are in for a treat this week with the release of Afghanistan ’11, the sequel to Vietnam ’65. Like its predecessor, Afghanistan ’11 captures the experience of waging counterinsurgency warfare against an unseen foe. The Taliban lurk, place IEDs, ambush convoys, and occasionally emerge in force. Just as important are logistics and the … Continue reading "Clippings: Afghanistan ’11, Julian Gollop, Video Game Photography, and more"

In search of Cathay: exploring historical strategy games set in China

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:29:28 +0000

This post discusses some of the notable games that explore the history of China – a fascinating subject crying out for more attention. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Any discussion of strategy games set in China must begin with KOEI’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, whose first game dates to the NES. Set amidst … Continue reading "In search of Cathay: exploring historical strategy games set in China"

Musical Monday: The Music of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 16:12:30 +0000

In honour of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this week’s music is a blast from the past. I’ve chosen three very distinct songs from 1991’s A Link to the Past – the Hyrule Overture, LttP‘s upbeat, “we’re off on an adventure” world map theme; second, the imposing Hyrule Castle theme; and perhaps the most interesting of … Continue reading "Musical Monday: The Music of Zelda: A Link to the Past"

Clippings: the design philosophy of Breath of the Wild, building a career out of mods, subscription gaming, Tooth & Tail

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:12:17 +0000

This week’s top read is Chris Thursten’s (Eurogamer) analysis of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which frames its design in the context of games such as Far Cry 2 and Morrowind. These titles expanded the list of available verbs and then encouraged the player to experiment–a philosophy that, the article argues, goes on to guide Breath … Continue reading "Clippings: the design philosophy of Breath of the Wild, building a career out of mods, subscription gaming, Tooth & Tail"

Musical Monday: “Super Mario Bros Theme”, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 02:50:59 +0000

In honour of the release of the Nintendo Switch, this week’s theme is the Greatest Video Game Music orchestral version of the Mario theme. Enjoy!

Clippings: Frog City’s Imperialism, Ubisoft’s VR, Kickstarter, Persistent Video Games, Steel Division: Normandy 44

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 16:34:47 +0000

Last night, I fired up Imperialism, the classic 1997 strategy game casting the player as a nineteenth-century Great Power in pursuit of world domination. It holds up remarkably well. There are two notable features about its design: (1) it’s elegant, with much less micromanagement than a Civilization or a Paradox game; and (2) it captures … Continue reading "Clippings: Frog City’s Imperialism, Ubisoft’s VR, Kickstarter, Persistent Video Games, Steel Division: Normandy 44"

Clippings: JRPG Translation, Stagnant 4X Games, CK2 Retrospective

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 15:41:26 +0000

US Gamer interviews two of the people who localised Playstation RPG Vagrant Story. Notably, one of the interviewees is the superb Alexander O Smith, who subsequently worked his magic across titles such as Phoenix Wright, Final Fantasy XII, and the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre. Well worth a read for JRPG fans and those interested … Continue reading "Clippings: JRPG Translation, Stagnant 4X Games, CK2 Retrospective"

Clippings: Counterinsurgency, Mars, RPGs

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:59:52 +0000

Several years ago, I wrote about Vietnam ’65, one of the most interesting asymmetric strategy designs I’ve encountered (and a fine “short-form” exception to a genre typified by sprawl). Now, Tim Stone at the Flare Path has posted a good preview of its upcoming sequel, Afghanistan ’11. I look forward to picking up the game … Continue reading "Clippings: Counterinsurgency, Mars, RPGs"

Musical Monday: “The Hyperion Overture” (Starcraft II), performed by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 15:15:06 +0000

Musical Monday kicks off for 2017 with an orchestral performance of the Terran theme from Starcraft II. Enjoy!

Clippings: low-spec strategy gaming, what Nintendoes, and 4X sales

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:55:46 +0000

Welcome back to Matchsticks for my Eyes! At present, my gaming comprises what’s playable on an ultrabook with Intel integrated graphics.  Over the last couple of months, this has included: Hearts of Iron IV – following the launch of Together for Victory, the Commonwealth-themed DLC, I had a great time leading (the newly expanded) India … Continue reading "Clippings: low-spec strategy gaming, what Nintendoes, and 4X sales"

My gaming year: 2016

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 11:33:30 +0000

Hello, and welcome to my gaming wrap for 2016. For me, the year was defined by five new PC strategy games — Stellaris, XCOM 2, Total War: Warhammer, Civilization VI, and Hearts of Iron IV, each of which I really enjoyed. I also dabbled with a few new releases in other genres (Titanfall 2 and … Continue reading "My gaming year: 2016"

Musical Monday: “Scarborough Fair” (Civilization VI), arranged by Geoff Knorr & Phil Boucher

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 09:24:57 +0000

Welcome back to Musical Monday! This week, I present “Scarborough Fair”, the old folk song used as the English theme in Civilization VI. There are two really cool things about the game’s music – first, the quality of the music itself, and second, how each civilisation’s theme evolves over the course of the game – … Continue reading "Musical Monday: “Scarborough Fair” (Civilization VI), arranged by Geoff Knorr & Phil Boucher"

Musical Monday: “Amen” (Medieval 2: Total War), composed by Jeff van Dyck

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:18:14 +0000

For years, the music of Jeff van Dyck was a crucial part of the Total War games. Some of his tracks were thrilling; others stately. This, the menu theme for Medieval 2, is sombre and thematic – enjoy!

Musical Monday: “Cadiz” (Expeditions: Conquistador), composed by Leonardo Badinella

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:06:50 +0000

Back in 2013, when Expeditions: Conquistador was new, I featured a gentle, atmospheric overworld theme from its soundtrack. Three years later, I still listen to its excellent music. This week’s piece is the bold, triumphant “Cadiz” – enjoy!

EB Expo 2016: Dishonored 2, Gravity Rush 2, More Lego

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 03:26:20 +0000

I attended the EB Expo using a media pass supplied by the organisers. This year’s EB Expo continued the event’s shift away from gaming-specific content towards being a general pop-culture fair. It included the usual big-name video gaming exhibitors – all three platform holders (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo), major publishers such as Ubisoft, and hardware … Continue reading "EB Expo 2016: Dishonored 2, Gravity Rush 2, More Lego"