Yesterday, Lady Gaga, a contender for world’s most famous person, made the dreams of innumerable men come true when she, a woman, asked you, a man, what “fortnight” is.
Now, there’s two different dreams here. There’s the dream of a beautiful, successful woman asking you about your favorite video game, the wildly popular and divorce-causingFortnite, which due to it being all over the news lately due to its implosion and subsequent resurrection, is clearly the subject of Gaga’s tweet. Or there’s the dream of pointing out that she, a woman, spelled it “fortnight,” which (rubs hands together) actually means “a period of two weeks.”
The only one allowed to make this joke is the dang Dictionary, which it did.
It’s easy to imagine the tweet was, like we’re thinking that Adele tweet was a few weeks back, just a bit of trolling. As plenty of fans were quick to bring up, Gaga is a noted fan of Bayonetta. Her gaming bonafides are murky, obviously, but she’s no noob.
This being Gaga, some famous faces popped up, not the least of which being the ultra-famous gamer Ninja.
But to scour the comments of such a post is to expose one’s self to all manner of oddness—be it memes, shitposts, video clips, or delightful comparisons to Cher.
But nothing is funnier than those who replied earnestly to Gaga’s question, explaining to her that, you see, Fortnite is a video game. A very popular one. And, now that you are aware of it, perhaps we can play together. Here is my screen name.
Currently, there are more than 26,000 replies to this tweet.
The following contains spoilers for Untitled Goose Game.
Untitled Goose Game, the new Switch and PC/Mac title from the developers at House House, is a good environmental puzzle game about a bad goose. You play as the goose, and your mission is to terrorize a small village by—for lack of a better term—being a huge asshole. You throw their clothes into a fountain when they’re not looking, you use the dedicated honk button to scare them into dropping and breaking glassware, and you orchestrate miniature disasters that cause very minor property damage—all by just doing the things that a particularly cruel goose would do. To be fair, though, the vast majority of the people you encounter in the game are no better than the goose, with most of them rudely shoving you away even when you’re not doing anything mischievous. Really, they’re all jerks and they deserve to have their lives briefly thrown into disarray.
That’s how things stand for most of Untitled Goose Game’s relatively brief runtime, at least up until its penultimate level (the game is sort of an open world, but you get specific puzzle-like tasks to complete in each area). After going through a garden and some yards, the goose arrives at a small pub with an outdoor seating area. The first task here is to get past a particularly overzealous anti-goose guard, and the game gives you a hint on how to do this by adopting an iconic piece of equipment from the stealth genre: a cardboard box. Whether it’s an intentional nod to Metal Gear Solid or not, the game is clearly indicating that—while it may have been a puzzle game before—this is now a sneaking mission.
Stealth was an important component of the previous levels, but most of them were big enough that you could run away from the townsfolk or stash the items you were trying to steal far enough away from them without getting caught. The pub, though, is a much more confined space with a lot more people to keep track of—any one of whom may notice that something is out of place and disrupt your attempt to, say, set a little table by stealing a plate, a knife, a fork, a pepper grinder, and a candle (one of the actual tasks in the area). To make this easier, Untitled Goose Game evenpicks up another hallmark of the stealth genre by having crawlspaces that go under the pub’s patio and instantly confound any pursuers, much like an air vent would in a traditional stealth game.
It uses a visual language that players may already be familiar with from outside of Untitled Goose Game in order to show them how to adapt the goose skills they’ve already developed for a slightly more difficult challenge. It’s a very clever sequence, but Untitled Goose Game doesn’t stop there. For as well-designed as the pub is, everything after that is a wonderful twist on the rules that Untitled Goose Game has established up until that point. After the pub, the goose goes to a model village that is a miniature replica of the very town you’re in, and some of the tiny figurines and recognizable landmarks from earlier in the game can be grabbed and ripped apart.
There are no guards or challenges here, but the game is doing two more smart things. The first is that it’s giving the player a chance to let loose and fuck up the town in a very direct way as a cathartic reward for having done well enough to reach the final area. The second is that it’s reminding the player of the path they took to get here, which is important for the game’s final challenge: retrieve a golden bell from the model village and carry it all the way back to where you started the game. That means going backward through each of the previous areas, keeping in mind how you were able to do it the first time and thinking quickly to figure out how to get past new obstacles that have been placed, all with the added challenge of the bell in your beak. If you move your neck too much or use that wonderful honk button, the bell will ring and summon any nearby townsfolk—all of whom are very invested in getting their bell back.
Here, the entirety of Untitled Goose Game reveals itself to be a brilliant piece of game design. Every single thing you’ve done up until grabbing the bell has been a lesson, and you have to keep all of it in mind in order to make your way back through the village. Each person presents a new challenge that is informed by their original challenge, whether it’s as straightforward as knowing how to pass through someone’s yard without getting caught or as complex as knowing which specific item to hide in order to get a man’s attention and divert him away from the only exit.
The initial puzzles, while very charming and entertaining (mostly thanks to the goose’s animation and the way the music ramps up when the goose is in trouble), are all a bit simplistic. The game gives you a vague instruction to do a thing, you watch the people in that area to see how they interact with their specific surroundings, and then you do the thing. Taken as a whole, though, each of these puzzles fit together in the final mission and work to create a thoughtful stealth challenge that elegantly ties up the whole experience in a nice bow.
The secret life of one Polish dentist apparently involves coding a horror game in MS Paint.
World of Horror is the passion project of part-time dentist Pawel Kozminski. It’s a retro throwback RPG that draws on the work of Junji Ito, a Japanese horror manga artist, and H.P. Lovecraft, creator of Cthulhu and all things Eldritch. The game is set in a small seaside Japanese town just as the “Old Gods are reawakening, clawing their way back into a world that’s spiraling into madness.” It features a series of branching stories helmed by five playable characters, and gameplay involves turn-based combat and “unravel[ing] puzzles and mysteries through spells that sacrifice sanity.”
Perhaps the most impressive thing about World of Horror, however, is that Kozminski created the entire game in MS Paint. Usually, game developers save themselves the horror of creating complex works in such a dated program by using custom animation software. Not Kozminski, who told Engadget that he specifically chose MS Paint for its limitations. “Creating art in Paint is actually really inspiring and somehow relaxing. The limits of the program really force you to get creative with it, which is a huge thing. I guess 1-bit black-and-white art is the closest I can get to simulate that comic book feel, too.”
Demos of the game have been floating around since 2017, but Kozminski’s profession and program of choice seem to have mostly flown under the radar until the Engadget profile. The fact that this is the brainchild of a dental hygienist, a merciless driller of teeth, who is also patient enough to create an entire game in MS Paint is truly the stuff of nightmares. (Just look at this tweet from Kozminski.) It’s slated to hit PlayStation 4, Switch, and Steam later this year (hopefully in time for spoopy season). In the meantime, you can download a demo here.
Could someone do us a favor and go check on Hasbro, please? Ostensibly one of the most boring companies in the world—give or take a quick acquisition of the Tupac catalog here or there—the board game giant has taken a sharp, highly unsettling veer into the political of late, wandering into instances of trouble that’ve been decidedly non-pop-a-matic in nature. A few weeks ago, the internet reacted in collected befuddlement and horror to the company’s release of Monopoly: Socialism, ostensibly an attempt to use the classic “Fuck All Landlords” past-time to model the tenets of socialism for kids, but practically a mean-spirited series of lazy jokes with a decidedly pro-capitalist bent. That’s to say nothing of Monopoly For Millennials, with all the industry-ruining, avocado-toasting hackwork you could want.
No less bizarre (albeit slightly less immediately objectionable): Today’s announcement of Ms. Monopoly, a board game meant to draw attention to the obvious and actual real-world evils of the gender pay gap by positing a world where women both start with, and receive, more money than men. (Also: Aging plutocrat Mr. Monopoly has been replaced by the titular Ms. Monopoly, a “self-made investment guru” who’s also “an advocate whose mission is to invest in female entrepreneurs.”)
And while the idea of making people think about gender pay disparities in a straightforward context—like playing the world’s most boring board game together—is actually a neat one, the “How do you do, fellow kids” energy is strong with this one. Rather than buying up property, for instance, players invest in women-led innovations like “WiFi, chocolate chip cookies, and bulletproof vests,” and make their way around the board by hopping into the waiting, widely deregulated backseats of rideshare services. (And now we’re thinking about “Gig Economy Monopoly,” an idea that comes complete with the grim specter of looming death.) There are also weird little touches like the game’s Chance and Community Chest cards, which offer different cash values based on gender; women only get $50 for going to see a women-led superhero movie, for instance, while men get $100, presumably as…insurance against their impending emasculation?
Anyway, this whole thing seems designed to give someone an aneurysm, although we’ll be damned if we can figure out who. Ms. Monopoly is out in stores later this week.
As someone obsessed with handheld gaming consoles, Nintendo’s Switch should have been the ultimate portable system for me. Instead, it actually made me nostalgic for Tiger Electronics’ LCD handhelds; arguably some of the first true portable video game systems. They were cheap, durable, simple, and addictive, and 30 years later I find myself missing that experience.
I don’t have a lot of free time to devout to playing and finishing games these days. I’ll occasionally have a few minutes of boredom I’m looking to kill, but I don’t think I could even load Breath of the Wild in that amount of time. That’s where the cheap LCD games of the late ‘80s and ‘90s excelled. They were bite-size snippets of action with a goal that was rarely more involved than registering a new high score. They required no serious commitment and there were no tutorials to slog through. You could easily hop in into a game in a couple of seconds, enjoy a few minutes of satisfying button mashing, and then quickly stash them away until you needed to feed your gaming addiction again—minus the side effects of losing hours of your life or blowing your budget.
Founded by Arnold, Gerald, and Randy Rissman in 1978, Tiger Electronics got its start making simple electronics like phonographs, but transitioned to interactive toys and LCD-based gaming devices in the early ‘80s. For a while the company’s most notable product was a series of portable game devices based on Universal’s 1976 King Kong remake featuring a knock-off version of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. It led to a legal dustup between Universal and Nintendo over who owned the rights to giant apes, which Nintendo eventually won, but ultimately decided not to take down Tiger Electronics in the process.
A few years after the Kong controversy blew over, Tiger Electronics settled on a design for a series of electronic handheld games that the company would eventually sell millions of in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. The first games in Tiger’s new lineup, released in 1987, were sports titles like football, skeet shooting, and baseball, which also happened to be the first Tiger handheld I ever owned.
Before Tiger’s new line, portable gaming systems always came with a premium price tag. I can remember drooling over mini tabletop arcades in catalogs, but never actually putting them on my Christmas or birthday wish lists for fear of maxing out what my parents were willing to spend. Even Nintendo’s Game & Watch handhelds were on the pricy side, but in 1987 Tiger Electronics changed that. Its new handhelds featured a gratuitous use of plastic—from the housings, to the buttons, to even the display covers—and simple segmented LCD screens, barely a couple of inches in size, that could only display a limited and crude collection of graphics and animations. If there was such a thing as disposable video games, Tiger’s handhelds came close to being that.
Gameplay was equally basic. Tiger’s Electronic Baseball played more like an enhanced home run derby where the player’s team never actually takes the field. Just two buttons were used to swing at every pitch and then strategically advance your players from base to base—with “strategically” being used very generously here.
But the 10-year-old version of me didn’t care, he absolutely loved this game, bringing it on long road trips and even smuggling it into Sunday school every week. I also didn’t care that Bases Loaded on the NES was a vastly superior experience; Tiger’s version could come with me anywhere, I didn’t have to take turns playing with my siblings, and I didn’t have to wait until my parents were done watching something on TV. Playing it today I rarely get past a couple of innings before losing interest, but the simplicity is exactly why I still keep games like these in easy reach, and keep coming back. They scratch an itch without destroying my productivity.
All the corner cutting also meant that Tiger Electronic’s handhelds were usually around $20 each, easily accommodating the budgets of most 10-year-olds reliant on allowances or birthday money for income. The plastic still feels cheap and my baseball game is covered in scratches and scars from being endlessly dropped and rage-thrown, but it’s one of my few childhood electronic toys that still works fine 30 years later. Tiger had found the perfect balance between price, durability, and addictiveness to hook a generation.
It also helped that the company was almost obsessive about licensing popular properties like movies, video games, and even TV shows. Unlike a console game these handhelds didn’t require months of complicated development. Tiger could churn these games out quickly, and it did just that. Mortal Kombat, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, GI Joe, Captain Planet, Full House, The Little Mermaid—if something was pop culturally relevant in the ‘90s, there’s a good chance there was a Tiger Electronics handheld game made for it.
So why isn’t Tiger Electronics a dominant name in gaming today? The brand is definitely still around, now owned by Hasbro, but the clock started ticking on the company’s cheap and simple approach to handheld gaming on April 21, 1989, when Nintendo’s Game Boy was released. It was more expensive than Tiger’s handhelds, but every game offered unique gameplay, graphics, and sound, and game carts could often be found competitively priced. Tiger eventually released its own cartridge based system in 1997, the Game.com, that included online connectivity and a touchscreen, but the Game Boy Color arrived soon after, and Tiger Electronics simply wasn’t big enough to take on Nintendo any more.
I’m not going to pretend like I still turn to Electronic Baseball for all my gaming needs, the Switch is definitely my goto console now. But despite being portable, I’m hesitant to travel with it for fear of damaging or losing $300 worth of gear. It also doesn’t really provide instant gratification, and more often than not as an adult that’s what I’m looking for. Smartphone games come close to filling that need, but sometimes I just want to mindlessly mash buttons for a couple of minutes, hitting home runs or beating up baddies, without having to worry about killing my phone’s battery, waiting for app updates, or all the other distractions of modern gaming. Tiger Electronics game me exactly that 30 years ago.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
Every time I obtain a new Switch game from Nintendo’s eShop, I worry. Will this be the one that forces me to archive or delete something else from my SD memory card in order to make room, and if so, how am I supposed to choose?
When I got my Switch back in 2017, I felt invincible, at least from a free memory standpoint. I’d purchased a 128 GB micro SDXC card, which isn’t the largest supported size but is pretty far up there. It was enough for all my launch games—Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, Skylanders: About To Be Cancelled, et cetera. But then Nintendo had to start releasing a dozen or more indie games a week on top of its big first-party stuff. Now, only two years and five months since the console launched, there are more than 2,500 titles on the Switch. I only own maybe 150 of them, and there’s no way in hell all of those will fit on one memory card.
And so, every time I want to install a larger game, I get this.
That damnable X, indicating there’s not enough room at the inn-tendo for the latest game I want to play. That X is the prelude to one of the most gut-wrenching moments of Switch ownership. What do I get rid of?
I appreciate that Nintendo gives me options when asking me to kill my video game babies. I can choose to archive my games, which deletes their data from my system but leaves the icon, or I can delete games completely, removing all but their save files from my system. The choice seems easy enough. Archive the games and keep their memory alive, right? But if I leave the tile, with the little redownload icon beside the game’s name, I am constantly reminded of my failure to show both self-control when buying new games and managing my storage space.
I don’t need to keep the icon for Senran Kagura: Peach Ball on my Switch. I am a mature adult and have no need for a game that involves hitting ninja women in the chest with pinballs. Besides, I am playing through it on PC. But the decision to remove its data from my system, made recently as I downloaded my preview copy of Astral Chain, was agonizing.
Maybe one day I will want to play boobie pinball while on the go. Who knows when I will get the itch to play Towerfall again? I can’t delete Musynx or Gal Metal or Aaero; they are rhythm games and those are my jam. So what if I haven’t played two out of those three in nearly a year? Why am I tearing my hair out over this? Why does it bother me so?
I have a feeling it’s because we are deep in the age of digital downloads. I am a collector. I like to look at the things I have. I’ve worked hard for those things, and tucking them away out of sight feels wrong. I suppose there’s only one real solution.
To me, my dusty and bitter plastic friends. Soon you will be legion.
Cats ask very little of us. They need to be fed, brushed, given water and toys to play with, and have their litter changed. In return, they provide love and companionship, tempered only with the annoyances of some occasional early morning meowing and ill-timed explosions of barf.
Because cats, for all their redeeming qualities, are also great at yacking stuff up in the last place you’d want them to, a live streamer who goes by JadedBlue will now be taking a break from playing games on the internet. As a perfectly framed clip shows, his cat Kelsier decided to cut short a Twitch broadcast yesterday by ralphing with such incredible volume and direction that it broke a computer.
The video proceeds like a low-stakes horror short: JadedBlue is playing a game, hears some disconcerting meows and asks “What’s the matter, buddy?” After recognizing the first of several disgustingly wet-sounding cat gags, he looks to his left, pleads “Oh, dude…dude,” and the stream abruptly cuts off. Kelsier the cat, full of feline dignity (and hastily eaten food), yartzed so hard it cut the video immediately.
Warning: the below tweet contains photograph evidence of cat puke.
This is the nature of the world. Cats are not stuffed animals. They are living, breathing creatures whose affection comes with a few small caveats—like that sometimes, in exchange for all the good they bring, they’ll vomit straight into the top of your computer, costing you hundreds of dollars and interfering with your video game streaming schedule.
Perhaps the best-known game coming out this week is Super Mario Maker 2, a sequel much anticipated by many of us here at Kotaku, not to mention Mario fans everywhere. But that’s not the only cool game on the docket this week. There’s a Switch port of the original Devil May Cry, plus the 2019 remake of fighting game classic Samurai Shodown, and also, the long-awaited release of the English version of Judgment on PS4. And so much more!
Monday, June 24
Heavy Rain | PC
Azuran Tales: Trials | Switch
Devil May Cry | Switch
Horresco Referens | Mac, PC
And All Would Cry Beware! | Mac, PC
Tuesday, June 25
Samurai Shodown | PS4, Xbox One
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night | Switch
Judgment | PS4
Car Mechanic Simulator | PS4, Xbox One
Monster Jam Steel Titans | PS4, Xbox One
We. The Revolution | PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Super Neptunia RPG | Switch
World of Warcraft: Rise of Azshara | Mac, PC
Wednesday, June 26
Victorian Mysteries: Woman In White | PC
Thursday, June 27
The Sinking City | PC, PS4, Xbox One
Furwind | Switch, Xbox One
War Tech Fighters | Switch, Xbox One
Sega Ages Virtua Racing | Switch
Sega Ages Wonder Boy: Monster Land | Switch
Friday, June 28
Super Mario Maker 2 | Switch
F1 2019 | PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tuesday, July 2
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers | PC, PS4
Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered Edition | Switch
Apex Legends Season 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One
Will: A Wonderful World | PS4, Switch
Thursday, July 4
Stranger Things 3: The Game | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
This Saturday is Free RPG Day, an annual celebration of role-playing games mostly observed at local game shops. Participating stores are handing out free stuff including game modules, dice, and t-shirts, as well as hosting games and other events. Here’s what to look forward to.
Get something free
The idea behind Free RPG Day is that everyone gets something free from their local game shop (donated by game publishers), and hopefully they buy something while they’re there—or a free game sparks their interest in a publisher’s other offerings.
To see what your local shop is giving away, check their website and their social media pages. And to find local participating shops, search on the Free RPG Day site.
The free stuff usually runs out by the end of the day, so show up early and don’t expect guaranteed freebies. That’s only part of the day’s fun, anyway.
Play a game
Most game shops also have a few tables where customers can play games, not just today but all the time. These games can feel a little intimidating, but an event day is a good time to work up some courage and ask how to join in. It’s like showing up to church for the Christmas Eve service—a good shop will be especially trying to win over converts today.
Again, check the social media for your local shop to see what they’ll be playing, and to ask them directly how you can get involved. You might even need to sign up ahead to get a seat.
Download a game
There are thousands of RPGs that are always free, all the time. DriveThruRPG, “the largest RPG download store,” is advertising its wide catalog of free games and modules. It’s a mess of offerings with little explanation or guidance, but an experienced gamer can look around and try anything interesting—and since it’s free, you can download a ton of material and sort through it later. This is a good weekend to discover a new game or a cool scenario for one of your favorite games:
If you’re new to gaming, that array of options can be a little overwhelming. Let me steer you toward one-page RPGs, which are much less complicated and usually free. I wrote a whole guide to this exciting genre, which skips the chunky rulebooks and supplements and even the weird dice. You can play a game with nothing more than a few dice and a sheet of paper.
If you’re still intimidated, find one friend who’s experienced with RPGs and have them run the game as your dungeon master.
Host a game
If you already have an established gaming group outside of a store, and you’ve got all the gaming stuff you need, this is still a great day to play your own game, especially in public.
To play at a bar or in a park—or anywhere a group of people can talk and laugh without being rude—play one of the minimalist RPGs listed in my other post, or one of these other options:
Lost in the Fantasy World: You’re modern kids trapped in a D&D-style universe, fighting to get back home. You have to choose between helping people in this world and reuniting with your own families. It’s Jumanji meets Stranger Things meets The Neverending Story.
Or find a game on the OnePageRPGs subreddit, where I got all of these. Many of these games are posted by their creators, so you can ask them directly for any rules clarifications, or find their other work. Now go inside and play!
Analog WeekJust because ‘there’s an app for that’ doesn’t mean you have to use it. This week we’re going analog, reminding ourselves that we can live—and live _well_ —without smartphones, and seeing what’s worth preserving from the time before we were all plugged in 24/7.
Even though I had plenty of access to PC games and consoles as a kid (ah, the amazingness that was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System), I loved going to the arcade. While I probably spent way too much time trying to master titles like Smash TV and Cyber Sled—and, of course, side-scrollers like Golden Axe and The Simpsons—I also spent a some time with the games that required a bit more physical skill: Skee-Ball, countless basketball games, or that game where you had to throw a football through the holes.
I don’t get around to the arcade very much anymore, but when I do, I prefer to spend my time trying to earn tickets for novelty prizes instead of broadcasting my poor Dance Dance Revolution skills to the world. I always forget to research what I’m going to play before I go, though. While learning some tricks for mastering miniature free throws might not make me the Steph Curry of the local mini-golf center, at least it will help me not burn through my through my cash/tokens/credits with little to show.
The next time you’re hitting up the local arcade—or gaming-themed bar, or whatever—here are a few pointers for getting better at the games you might find there.
First, try to pick a basketball-themed game that’s easier by default. Don’t go for the one where you have to shoot what amounts to a free throw at an unconventional angle—or worse, a three-pointer (if such games even exist). Also, look at the ratio of the ball you’re shooting against the hoop you’re trying to put it in. Tiny ball, gigantic hoop? You’re golden. Regular ball, regular hoop? Trickier, but not impossible. And does the hoop move at all or do anything else weird? You can still find plenty of shooting success, you’ll just have another variable to contend with.
What’s most important about these games, I think, is to establish a consistent rhythm. Don’t grab one ball at a time, line up a shot, and let it rip—you’ll waste valuable seconds. Think quantity over quality. You are a shooting machine, not a sniper. Use the first few shots to gauge how much force you’ll need to put the ball in the basket (nothing but net is easier and faster than banking the ball off the backboard), and then make sure you’re queueing up a new ball the second you’ve released your shot. Repeat as necessary for however many seconds the game runs. Celebrate your insane score.
And if you really want to impress your friends with your arcade-basketball skills, there’s always the two-handed approach:
This one gives me anxiety, as I have always been terrible at Skee-Ball and will likely always be terrible at Skee-Ball. While I feel like mastering this game is all about practice and repetition, apparently bending your knees while you throw is a good method for ensuring you aren’t bouncing the ball on the lane—affecting the accuracy of your shot—instead of gently rolling it up. When in doubt, make like Lil Jon and get low to the ground.
While some people simply aim for the hole, I’ve found that others like to bank the ball into the hole by targeting a specific spot on the wall near the hole you want. It’s a lot easier to see this in action than visualize it, so here’s an example of what I mean:
As always, maintaining a consistent form is key. The more you play, the more you’ll start to figure out the pattern for exactly how far back you’ll want to bring your arm, how much force you’ll want to apply to the ball, et cetera. Your stance is critical, too, as Skee-Ball team captain CarneyVorous wrote last year:
“You’d never think it, but skeeball is 80% lower body. Your stance is the most important part of your game. Everyone’s stance is unique so figure out where your feet need to be in order for you to be most comfortable and get the velocity you want. For my stance, I need my left foot firmly planted and lined up with the inner edge of the left bumper. My right leg crosses behind my left and my right foot is up on the tip of the toes, so I’m balancing a bit with my core and also pushing myself forward a bit.”
Also, when you’re just getting a feel for the game, don’t be afraid to go for lower points. Tempting as it might be to start tossing your ball at the hardest corner spot—a hundred points, or however your game counts it—going for the top spot in the center, or the one slightly below it (for fewer points), is a fine strategy. You don’t want to burn yourself out by consistently missing the hardest shot when you can build your muscle memory and earn more points, in general, by targeting something a little easier.
Air hockey also gives me anxiety, because I invariably end up playing one of my friends who likes smashing the puck like an angry Hulk. Speed is important to winning at air hockey, since it’s a lot easier to block a turtle than a bullet, but mastering the game involves two words: control and offense.
While you can probably get away with just slamming straight-on shots at novice players, better air hockey players will be able to defend against that pretty well—unless you’re great at fake-outs. Attacking on the angle is trickier to block. And even if your opponent is successful, you might have a shot at a quick straightaway (or another angled attack) on the part of the goal they’ve left expose. That’s especially true if they weren’t able to add much power to their block and you can capitalize on the ricochet.
Exploiting your opponent’s natural tendency to move their defense in the same direction as your offense can also be a quick and easy way to win:
While you can’t ignore defense in air hockey, I think you’ll find more success—especially against more amateur players—by going after them like a sith. If you’re taking four times as many shots on goal as your opponent, you’re going to have much better odds of scoring and, with luck, you’ll wear them out from the barrage of flying pucks.
If, or when, you need to take a bit of a breather, use the triangle technique to protect your goal:
One thing I haven’t addressed in this brief roundup of tips is your grip. That’s a highly personal choice, so I don’t have any great strategies for you there, other than noting that whatever grip you use should give you lots of striking power via the fingers, wrist, and arm. Don’t grip the center of striker like you’re grabbing the emergency break on your car; try placing a combination of fingers in the curved groove between the center and the edges, which should help your speed, striking, and subterfuge.
How easy it looks. You stare at a screen, you tap a button to align a block on top of the block below it, and you repeat this a bunch of times until your stack touches the top of the screen. You then win a huge amount of tickets, some amazing prize, or the validation that you defeated one of the harder games your arcade offers.
First off, let me offer this sobering advice: If it’s a digital game, those who manage it can mess with how the game works—be it the game’s overall difficulty, the payouts, et cetera. That’s why I stick to games that require more physical skills, but it’s hard to deny the incredible payouts some of these trickier titles can give out (if you win).
I am terrible at Stacker (and similar variants, like the game where you’re balancing blocks on each other), so I’ll leave it to the pros to help out with this one. As one Stacker enthusiast wrote:
First trick is never listen to the music. It sounds like the beat matches the movement of the blocks, and it does- at first. But the closer you get to the top, the more and more slightly askew the music is to the movement, it’s meant to throw you off.
Secondly, never build in the center of the screen. When the blocks move from side to side, they slide right off the screen, then “bounce back” onto the screen. That “bounce back” time can VARY, even slightly, and can throw off your game. By picking one side -for me, I pick the right, as I am left handed- and build the stack there, as it gives me the longest time to prepare for my next strike as the blocks move across the screen.
Building the stack in the center is the WORST idea, as it gives you the least amount of time after a “bounce back” from the edge to react, but everyone tends to use the center thinking it’s the best place. Every win I’ve had is by building a tower against the side of the screen.
And third, examine the large prizes. Is the machine stocked right up? If so, odds are it was recently refilled, and the odds of a win are lower. If you visit the same machine twice a few days/weeks apart, and the items are the different/missing, a win has occurred, also resetting the win counter. However, if you visit it a few days/weeks apart and the large prizes are the same, your odds are much better as there’s been plays, but no wins.
Sounds easy, right?
You’ve surely seen this game (or some variation of this game) before. If not, here’s the basic setup: There’s a big circle with a bunch of lightbulbs (or LEDs). You insert your quarter/token/whatever, and the bulbs or LEDs cycle to create the illusion of a single “light” spinning around the circle. When you hit the button, the light stops on whatever bulb or LED its on, and you get a certain reward. Your goal is to stop the light on the jackpot spot, which is a lot easier said than done.
This game appears like it’s all physical skill and timing—certainly true—but that doesn’t mean that it’s locked down. Again, those who set the game up in their establishment can adjust the game’s difficulty as they see fit. As one Redditor describes:
“Back when I played, the difficulty setting for the jackpot was 6 milliseconds. To put this in perspective, a few things: The timing window available to the operator is between 2 and 20 milliseconds. The out of the box factory setting for Spin-N-Win is 5 milliseconds. And back then I was able to hit roughly 1 out of 4 games, and ‘Captain Fecktard’ – the AP that is not in good graces at our store, was banned previously and then allowed to return – was often averaging closer to 1 out of 3. At this point, AP was viable on Spin – but TOO viable as there were people that didn’t have any sense of what makes for a reasonable payout limit hammering it elsewhere.
When Global Settings were introduced, shortly after Tippin’ Bloks had its software changed, the setting was changed to 4 milliseconds.
I could no longer hit 1 out of every 4 at this setting, and for the brief time I tried to play it like this was getting closer to 1/8.
That said, there are stores that are not set to the standard. I won’t say ‘set correctly’ because there are, in some states, legal regulations regarding games of skill that require them to have a higher window for the jackpot. Arcade laws are weird. NO, I will not mention specific stores, because I don’t trust this forum of (currently) 5,163 subscribers to not have at least 20-50 people that would either start going every night or possibly staying for 12 hours open to close on a Wednesday and go murder it.”
Is there a trick to Spin-N-Win? Yes. And it’s almost one-hundred percent mental. If you’re having a slump or just not getting the timing right, the onus is on you to walk away. It might not be your fault; the game might just be set in such a way that it’s incredibly difficult to nail the exact jackpot light you’re targeting. I’m sure you can get the win every now and then, but why waste countless quarters/tokens/credits on something so difficult?
Conversely, if you find a Spin-N-Win (or similar game) that you’re destroying, don’t assume that’s going to be the case for every iteration of that game you run into. If you can, stay on that game for as long as possible, because you’ve found the diamond in the rough that’s going to pay off big—I hope.
Again, another incredibly easy game—you position a crane over a prize, you hit a button, and the claw magically drops down and grabs whatever you want. Simple as that.
If you’ve ever sunk a few bucks into one of these arcade games, you probably already get the sense that they’re not what they appear to be at first glance. The claw on the end of your crane always seems to be about as strong as a newborn baby, and would probably struggle to lift a loofah, let alone the huge stuffed animal you’re hoping to win.
In this case, there’s no real strategy you can use to win the prizes you seek, aside from the obvious tips of “make sure your claw is landing where you want it to go” and “try to go for prizes that aren’t really packed in there.” I think the best approach is to consider the line from War Games before you waste your time and money:The only winning move is not to play.
According to one arcade owner, who was quoted in a 2012 article on Smithsonian.com:
Most machines have a CMS (Command Module Settings) which allow the owner to change a couple factors:
* Chance of winning. Win/Loose, typically 1/12 In Cali or 1/15 In Nevada!
* PSI of claw. Most claws are 5-8 PSI requiring 10-13 to grab an item. Note, the setting module for the PSI is usually manual, there are springs on the claw that have little red marks. The module will tell you which mark to tighten the spring for the desired effect 🙂
* Cost/Accepted Money. Either DBA(Dollar Bill Acceptor) or Coin
Under California law my claws are set to 1/12 which means 1/12 players will have a chance to win. The example I used before is a ‘toy’ requires 10 PSI to lift. My claw during 11/12 tries will apply 4-6 PSI, or just enough to shuffle it or barely pick it up. During the 1/12 tries the claw will apply 9-11 PSI, sometimes picking it up and dropping, some successful 🙂
And, no, your “align the key with the hole so you win a prize” game isn’t much better. From that same Reddit thread quoted in the Smithsonian piece:
“When the tech came to install it he asked ‘’Do you want auto-lose installed?’
I was like ‘What?? Auto lose? Sounds fishy?’
Turns out that particular machine has an algorithm that knows each X/Y/Z of the key hole. So say in order to win a prize your key needs to be at 50/50/10. if you correctly line it up at 50/50/50 the position is relayed to a CMS that slight adds a 1 or 2 degree alteration to keep you from winning. The only way to fix this is aim low and left/right until you find the way the machine is changing it.”
The ‘Jump Rope’ game
Ah, Jumpin’ Jackpot. While this is probably one of the few arcade games that might actually cause you to break a sweat while you’re trying to win tickets, you don’t have to get a leg cramp to beat the machine on this one.
The premise of the game is simple. A light travels around in a circle. Your job is to jump so it doesn’t “hit” you—really, so it isn’t activated at the same time you’re standing on the pressure-sensitive pad.
The trick to win this one is easy. So long as the arcade’s operators don’t give you grief, don’t stand on the pad at all. Instead, use your hands to simulate jumping. You’ll be a lot more accurate—and a lot less tired if your plan is to park yourself on this game for some time.