The Culturepin is about a lot of things, but it is primarily about contemporary culture. I say this to allay any confusion that may arise in my readers about the recent pattern of discussing video games. But if home video game consoles/entertainment centers are not a bona fide part of our daily life, then I don’t know what is. Unless you’re Amish. In which case you are not reading this blog.
I want to offer some insights into the gameplay of Peter Molyneaux’s pre-Fable 2 release: Pub Games that offers a Vegas-meets-Ren Faire scenario that after some investment of time affords an enormous amount of satisfaction.
The lure of Fable 2 Pub Games is the fact that money earned (“won”) can later be merged into your main character in the game (once it is released October 21st.) Seemingly simple at first, certain complexities creep up as you delve deeper. For example, the real money to be made comes from playing the tournaments which, mercifully, afford you 1000 gold of play money to get in and get you started.
I was immediately partial to Fortune’s Tower – a form of Poker wherein you place bets against the odds of an increasing number of cards that threaten to double up and knock you out of the proverbial ring. The most important thing to know when playing Fortune’ Tower is that if your row of numbers does NOT equal 15 points or more, then you are losing money on that round. However, if you are down more than a couple of rows and the GATE card has already been used, take what you can and get the hell out because you will likely bust. So in spite of anything I say after this about how I bet, it follows the above strategy.
I found the most success taking my chances – betting high in the first of twelve rounds and tempting luck as far down the pyramid as I could go before busting. If you manage to get to the bottom of the pyramid without having to call on your Gate card, that offers you a Hail Mary pass on any double-ups, you have a good chance of winning the value of all the cards on the table. If I continued to lose with my high-roller bets as I went through the rounds, I would back my bets all the way back to the minimum by round six in order to prevent further annihalation.
Then there is the Roulette/craps hybrid that is my Achilles’ heal. By pressing the left trigger you can see the odds against all positions on the table – I play this like I play real Roulette – insisting on my favorite numbers (usually loved ones’ birthdays), Pairs, Triples, Runs and Keystones and stick with that. The reason being – if the dice roll in your favor you win big and likely finish in the top five which grants you the special item card you are going for.
One of the things it took me a second to figure out is how to level up. You do this by playing solo and not in tournaments. Evidently, the longer you gamble and the higher the stakes, the more XP you get. I can tell you whther or not the amount you are betting is pegged to the amount of XP though; its like in Vegas – you stick at those slots long enough and you miraculously start receiving free drinks. Stick with it and before you know, new game options will open up.
But let’s get back to to the third type of tournament in the game: The Spinnerbox. at first I could not for the life of me figure out how a game of pure chance could ever grant me the win. Then I realized that you can stop the Spinner at any point by pressing the A button a second time, rather than wait for the slots to stop spinning. In tournament mode, understanding this is key. What is even more “key” is getting the hang of the sweet spot: as soon as you start the Spinner, watch the discs cock up and get ready to roll. The instant before the spin, hit the A button again. It’s a feel thing, but I swear on my life, once you grab that sweet spot, you will win every single time. I don’t know how this could be an exploit – it has to be built into the game or otherwise how would you win a tournament, which seems to be based on how many times in succession you actually manage to hit the sweet spot.
Give it a try. I assure you this is the way to win and win big.
Fable 2 promises to be a rich and evolved next-gen game. Molyneaux himself has admitted that he doesn’t want it to be a game that you play multiple times but rather delve into deeply on the first and only pass. They have programmed an exhaustive amount of complexity into how your character unfolds so that the ultimate climax to the story is a long way coming and the journey to it is as dense and interesting as possible. Something, that I wish the creators of Spore had implemented. I love Spore, but the urgency to get to the final stage left me wanting.
Exploring the deeper possibilities of the this mere Xbox Live teaser to Fable 2 means really good things are on the horizon.
Please be sure to leave your comments on this article – I am interested in hearing your own experiences at the Albion gaming tables.
A few years back I was at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles and on a whim, picked up a book called Lucky Wander Boy by D.B. Weiss. Upon reading it, it reminded me of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 in its post-modern sleight-of-hand mind-fuckness where the line between protagonist as anti-hero, my id and reality were blurred as it referred to a piece of software called MAME that allowed me to run original standup arcade ROMs on my home computer. One of these games was called Lucky Wander Boy and as the author of the book would tell it – to play the actual game led one down a very mysterious, even dangerous path.
With some healthy skepticism in place, I searched for the game online. Imagine my astonishment when it showed up as a download! Marketing tactic? Nope. It was the real deal.
Here’s the thing. A lot of us have game consoles and spend way too much time reading bullshit threads about how PS3 and Blu-Ray trump Xbox 360s and back and forth ad nauseum. But there is a thing about the old standup games wherein the farther you go back the more pure the gameplay is. You boil down to the perfect game, ie., Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pong or Donkey Kong and you realize there really is no way to boil it down further from there.
Well, imagine the joy for us dying Generation Xers when by simply pressing the number 5 on your laptop keyboard you can have as many quarters as you want. Pressing the number 1 or 2 for number of players sets you loose into Arcade nirvana. And yeah, if you actually figured out how to move out of moms basement by now you can even smoke cigarettes in your home arcade as you suck back that Orange Julius – just like the old days!
Even better, you can play versions of these games that you never even knew existed – bootlegs, demos, revisions, and international versions! Total. Heaven.
So, how do you get your hand on these pretties? Too easy. Run a search for MAME32 and MAME32 ROMS. Used to be heavily protected, even considered piracy, and I am not certain what the actual hard laws concerning this sort of use is these days, (so I hereby absolve myself of any liability by stating that if you download and or use these ROMS you do so at your own riskj) but since almost every old school arcade is going out of business, you are effectively participating in an examination of our cultural history and identity and paying respects to the soon to be forgotten art form that was tabletop/standup arcade gaming.
Here’s an example of a site for ROMs and emulators.
There are many others. Enjoy, padawan.