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Il mio viaggio nella Storia del Cinema: dal 1965 al 1968
E con questo ho finito il diario di viaggio per ora, perché sono alla fermata del 1969 e ne avrò ancora per qualche settimana prima di vedere tutto quanto voglio vedere. Poi metterò nero su bianco. Alla prossima! 1965 Prima di dare una rapida scorsa a quest’anno con qualcuno dei film che ho amato di più mi piace fare anche qualche altra segnalazione: tra le mini-serie è nota quella con Juliette Greco: “Belfagor”, che è un mystery molto lento per i nostri gusti, ma l’ho finito lo stesso tutto perché mi piaceva. Parte quest’anno la felicissima serie di “Giochi senza Frontiere”, che per una ventina d’anni fu uno degli appuntamenti più amati dei telespettatori italiani. In tv vanno ancora i fantasy come “Strega per amore”, con Larry Hagman prima di far soldi col petrolio. Esordisce Sally Field nel telefilm “Gidget”, aveva 15 anni. Passiamo ai film allora, ma devo lasciare da parte Zivago, Connery, Dentone, Giuletta degli Spiriti, Michael Caine, Leone, Burton, Carrà e Julie Andrews. Ahimé. “Repulsion” di Polanski è una delle più belle prove di Catherine Deneuve, che più guardo i suoi film più entra di prepotenza nella classifica delle mie attrici preferite. La Deneuve qui è una ragazza che ha qualche problema: è ossessiva, soffre di disturbi psichiatrici, ha delle allucinazioni. Il suo status peggiora una sera che resta da sola a casa. Nessuno si accorge veramente di quanto soffra e la ragazza peggiora sempre di più, con risvolti drammatici. Dico solo che la scena della crepa nel muro è fenomenale. “Io la conoscevo bene” di Pietrangeli, è un film con Stefania Sandrelli e Mario Adorf. La Sandrelli ha avuto tipo tre carriere: quella di giovane star italiana, quella post-Brass e quella di attrice di esperienza che sta vivendo adesso. Il suo sguardo timido e dimesso di questo film ha molto in comune con quello della Cardinale prima maniera. La Sandrelli vede infrangersi sul selciato le sue speranze di diventare una star del cinema perché gli uomini che le girano intorno la sfruttano e la illudono. Tra questi c’è Adorf, che è un attore che mi piace un sacco. Un genitore tedesco e uno italiano, Adorf si è mosso senza problemi da un set all’altro mostrando enorme versatilità: lo trovi nelle commedie italiane anni ’60 e lo trovi nei film tv tedeschi alla Derrick, per lui nessun problema. “La vita corre sul filo” di Pollack, con Poitier e Bancroft è un thriller che si svolge nello sguardo di Sidney Poiter e nell’ansia di aiutare una donna che dall’altro lato di un telefono amico segnala la sua volontà di suicidarsi. Poiter non è esperto, ma è di turno, e ormai ha preso in carico il caso. Tutto quello che deve fare è trattenere la Bancroft a lungo, molto a lungo, affinché possano rintracciare la chiamata e impedire il suo gesto. Questo film è interessante perché non c’è mai nessuna allusione al colore della pelle di Poitier, non è rilevante per il plot. “Rapimento” di John Guillermin con Patricia Gozzi, Dean Stockwell e Melvyn Douglas. La Gozzi l’ho citata già in un film con Hardy Kruger. A me questa attrice piace molto, è davvero intensa e drammatica. Qui veramente siamo in un contesto di puro e assoluto squallore, perché la Gozzi vive una vita solitaria in un luogo isolato col padre Melvyn Douglas. Un giorno arriva nei dintorni un evaso, e la Gozzi fa amicizia con lui. Lei ha bisogno di vivere, mentre il padre vorrebbe tenerla in casa e buttare la chiave. È uno di quei film che sembra che fuori sia autunno e che piova anche se è mezzogiorno di una giornata di maggio. “La decima vittima” di Elio Petri, vede Mastroianni e Andress in un futuro imprecisato darsi la caccia a vicenda. C’è una specie di reality show in giro in cui ci sono i cacciatori e le prede. I cacciatori devono uccidere 10 prede, e le prede devono sfuggire loro. Non si può mai sapere i gusti della gente. Questo futuro ha comunque i colori degli anni ’60, lo stile e la criniera di Ursula Andress che guarda caso è una delle più brave cacciatrici. Deve far fuori Mastroianni, ma prima vuole un po’ giocare al gatto e al topo. “Bunny Lake è scomparsa” di Otto Preminger, è un cupo thriller con Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley e Laurence Olivier. A dire il vero Olivier ha una parte molto marginale, fondamentalmente è il film della Lynley e di Dullea. Per chi non avesse dimestichezza con questi volti, la Lynley fu attiva a cavallo tra i ’60 e il ’70 ed è una delle vittime del Poseidon, mentre Dullea è la star di 2001 Odissea nello spazio ed è un attore che si è sempre fatto i fatti suoi, non è mai diventato star di prima categoria, ma si è scelto delle parti interessanti come questa qui. Insomma Dullea è il fratello di Lynley, e non si trova la bambina di lei. L’hanno portata a scuola, ma nessuna l’ha vista, le maestre non l’hanno vista, le amiche nemmeno. Questa bimba non esiste. La Lynley se la sarà immaginata? Lei è certa di avere una bimba, è certa, esiste! “Il collezionista” è uno dei film meno noti di William Wyler, con Terence Stamp e Samantha Eggar. Stamp, di lui non c’è mai da fidarsi. Ha deciso che invece di collezionare farfalle gli piace collezionare ragazze, e un giorno cattura la Eggar e la chiude nel suo scantinato. Lui non ha fatto niente di male, la Eggar viene trattata coi guanti, ha da mangiare, ha di che svagarsi, ha tutto, basta solo che sia felice di essere reclusa a vita da un pazzo e che non provi mai a scappare, che ci vuole? 1966 Eccoci al ’66, che bello quest’anno di cinema, bello! Qualche riga su altri generi e poi passo ai film che mi vien voglia di ricordare. “Qolga” è un corto che ho trovato in youtube del regista Kobakhidze. Si tratta di un ragazzo che vive da solo lungo i binari del treno e ha un’amica che ogni tanto lo va a trovare. All’improvviso un ombrello prende vita e inizia a volare da solo. In quest’anno parte la serie “Tre nipoti e un maggiordomo”, con Brian Keith e 3 baby star, ciascuno con la sua dose di sfortuna personale. Questa serie ha i colori e le moquette giuste per immergersi negli anni ’60. Ovviamente questo è l’anno di “Star Trek”, di “Batman” e “Mission impossibile”. Si tratta di tre serie di culto che tutti ovviamente ben conoscono. Tra i rari film tv di buon livello degli anni ’60 c’è uno di Rossellini: “La presa del potere da parte di Luigi XIV” che è anche uno dei film preferiti del padre da parte di Isabella. Poi esce la famosa versione animata del Grinch che ruba il Natale. “Chi ha paura di Virginia Woolf?” è il film che regala a Liz Taylor il suo secondo oscar. Ci sono solo 4 personaggi (vabbé 6 c’è una scena al bar) che sarebbero Liz Taylor e il marito Burton, George Segal e Sandy Dennis. Sono uno più bravo dell’altro. Nel film sono due coppie, una che sta insieme da un po’ e l’altra di recente formazione. Burton e Taylor hanno un passato difficile da superare, ma tirano avanti. La loro casa è lo specchio della loro persona, è piena di cose ingombranti e fuori posto, e tra i due ci sono frecciatine ogni secondo, qualcuna passa inosservata e qualcuna fa assai male. I due sposini sono praticamente scioccati. La scena cult per me è quando Liz Taylor dichiara al marito che pur con tutti i suoi difetti non è comunque un mostro. Sandy Dennis pure brava assai è una delle attrici dimenticate di fine anni ’60. “Persona” è un film di Bergman in cui ci sono due donne, Bibi Andersson e Liv Ullmann. La Ullmann è muta e la Andersson è la sua infermiera. La Andersson parla parla e la Ullmann ascolta e ascolta. Il legame tra le due è forte e particolare. Si vedono sempre più spesso e la Ullmann sembra migliorare, mentre la Andersson mostra una certa inquietudine. Parla, ma a se stessa, e la Ullman risponde anche senza dire niente. Lentamente i loro volti cominciano a somigliarsi sempre di più, e la voce di Bibi diventa la voce di Liv. Non c’è più distinzione tra le due, sono diventate una persona sola. Si stanno fondendo. Ma non è mica possibile una cosa simile. “La nera di…” è un film di Ousmane Sembene, cioè uno dei primi e rari film di autori africani. La storia è molto semplice, c’è una ragazza senegalese che va a servizio in una casa di una coppia francese. Lontana dalla famiglia la ragazza ha il suo lettino, le sue riviste, le sue scarpe, le sue sensazioni, ma la coppia presso cui lavora la considera come il vaso a centro tavola o il quadretto appeso accanto alla porta. Le giornate passano e la ragazza si spegne poco a poco. Tutto qua, ma provate a vedere lo stesso se è tutto qua. “Incompreso” è il drammone strappalacrime di Comencini con Anthony Quayle che diventa vedovo e non si accorge della sofferenza del primogenito, che si sacrifica per il bene del fratello minore viziato dal papà. Non che Quayle sia cattivo, per carità, è solo che non se ne accorge. Il ragazzino gli vuole bene lo stesso e un giorno un ramo fa crac e lui si fa male. Madonna quanto si piange con questo film, cioè è impossibile, nel senso che è non-possibile non commuoversi quando papà e figlio si parlano finalmente a cuore aperto. L’attore protagonista ha recitato solo questo film, oggi è un medico, è stato bravissimo con almeno 4 esse. “La caccia” di Carlos Saura è un film in cui ci sono alcuni amici che vanno a caccia di conigli. Fa troppo caldo. Dovrebbero dar retta ai conigli, ma invece si mettono a ricordare il passato e non so chi glielo fa fare, perché da quel momento nessuno più è al sicuro, e si danno la caccia a vicenda. Vediamo chi ci resta secco. Davvero c’è tanto in quest’anno: Manfredi e Adorf alle prese con San Gennaro, le solitudini dell’uomo e la donna di Lelouch, i russi che sbarcano negli USA e Fahrenheit 451 di Truffaut. Poi Polanski gira Cul de Sac con la sorella della Deneuve, Eastwood non manca un colpo e le foto di Antonioni di Blow-up dove le mettiamo? Mi sono divertito un sacco con la partita di poker di “Posta grossa a Dodge city”, e l’asinello Balthazar di Bresson è uno dei finali più drammatici della storia, non pensavo che avrei retto tutta la visione di “Andrej Rublev”, e invece sì, e poi c’è il realismo mai visto della “Battaglia di Algeri”. E potrei anche continuare. Uno dei miei anni preferiti insomma. 1967 Siccome col 1966 ho preso per le lunghe, volevo sintetizzare col 1967, ma pure qui c’è un sacco di bei film. C’è pure “The big shave” che è uno dei primi lavori di Scorsese. Un uomo si rade e si taglia. Purtroppo per lui, il taglio non è un taglietto, giusto così perché si trova in youtube e dura 5 minuti. Il mio film preferito di quest’anno è “La calda notte dell’ispettore Tibbs”. Io non l’avrei mai detto, mi dovete credere, ci avrei scommesso nemmeno 2 centesimi perché i polizieschi un po’ mi stufano, e poi i film che parlano di razzismo negli anni ’60 siccome li sto vedendo in sequenza ne ho visto un casino e poi forse il titolo non mi ispira, ma invece sono rimasto attaccato subito dai primi minuti, adoro Steige e Poitier, e quando Poitier schiaffeggia a sorpresa il tizio nella serra vi giuro è una delle scene più intense e belle e vere, ho cliccato su 10 su IMDb e da lì non cambio idea. Il problema è che ho messo 10 anche a “indovina chi viene a cena?” che ha il dubbio onore di essere il film dagli albori al 1967 che ho visto più volte in vita mia, ne conto con certezza 6. Potrei dire di che colore sono i fiori nei vasi e quanti calzini ha Tracy nell’armadio. In questo film per me funziona tutto, mi manda dei brividi di nostalgia di un’epoca della quale sono un prodotto culturale, sono un GenX nel midollo probabilmente e sarà per quello che questo film non mi stanca mai. Non ce la faccio a non segnalare almeno il titolo di “A piedi nudi nel parco” e devo dichiarare che anche se il finale di “Riflessi in un occhio d’oro” è qualcosa di davvero particolare, Robert Forster in quel film è di una bellezza sconvolgente. I colori di “Le Samourai” di Melville sono elegantissimi, il film è una goduria per gli occhi. Poi ci sono i filmoni da macho di Lee Marvin tipo “una sporca dozzina” e c’è Paul Newman e Dustin Hoffman, Dirk Bogard fa venire i brividi in “Tutte le sere alle nove” quando torna a prendere possesso della casa coi 7 figli che ha abbandonato e in “La bisbetica domata” la coppia Burton-Taylor funziona anche se mai lo diresti in quell’ambientazione lì. “Gli occhi della notte” vede Audrey Hepburn nei panni di una cieca che vive al piano terra di una bella casa dove ogni cosa è giusto dove deve essere, ma a quanto pare Alan Arkin è convinto che ci sia anche qualcosa che gli serve per evitare di essere accusato di omicidio. La Hepburn è all’oscuro di tutto (oddio che battuta) ma scema non è, così quando uno strano visitatore si insinua in casa sua con le scuse più formidabili lei inizia a sospettare. È uno dei thriller meglio congegnati mai visti questo qui, e non è nemmeno di Hitchcock! Non avevo mai realizzato quanto siano importanti le lampadine nel frigorifero. “New York: ore tre- L’ora dei vigliacchi”, questo titolo mi fa cagare però il film è bello. C’è la gente che prende la metro per tornare a casa, però è tardi e due grandissimi stronzi e cioè Tony Musante e Martin Sheen hanno voglia di divertirsi a modo loro, così entrano nella metro e iniziano a infastidire uno dopo l’altro tutti i passeggeri. C’è una quantità di arroganza, prepotenza e violenza gratuita in questo film che davvero la mascella si spacca dalla rabbia repressa che ti suscita. Si vede che il film funziona. È quando tu stai per fatti tuoi e questi ti devono bullizzare e non solo: la gente non alza 1 dito per aiutarti! Veramente, questo film è fatto bene. Per non parlare dei poliziotti che appena riescono a entrare nel vagone con chi se la vanno a prendere? No quello proprio non l’ho potuto soffrire! Bel film. “L’armata a cavallo” di Miklos Jancso è un film che fa venire il mal di testa. Siamo in guerra, è la guerra civile russa, ma non è importante, potrebbe essere una qualsiasi guerra. Qui non riusciamo a prendere posizione, la guerra fa schifo non importa di quale fazione tu sia. 10 minuti di film con gli occhi di una fazione e i loro progressi e le loro vittime, nemmeno fai in tempo a riconoscere i volti di queste persone che vengono fatte fuori dagli avversari, e Jancso ti trascina altri 10 minuti dalla loro parte, ti fa vedere i loro progressi e le loro vittime, i loro villaggi desolati e le torture. Ci rimani male, ma ecco che si passa all’altro punto di vista. E’ un film intelligente ed elegante. C’è ancora lo choc incredibile di “Gangster Story” con il picco di bellezza di Faye Dunaway e il sangue che esplode sulla bianca pelle di Bonnie e Clyde, così come bianca immacolata è la schiena di Catherine Deneuve, perfetta protagonista di “Bella di giorno” di Bunuel, altro film simbolo dell’epoca, un’epoca in cui andavano i film di sexploitation tipo “Vixen” e roba del genere, pieni di tette e recitazione di serie b, ma che entravano a pieno nella cultura di fine decennio, che si sta avvicinando a quel ’68 di cui tanto spesso abbiamo sentito parlare come di una sorta di spartiacque culturale. Per finire, è intelligente e complesso il volto di Bekim Fehmiu in “Protest” di Fadil Hadzic, ma che le h e le z non ingannino, il film si vede e si capisce perché parla di un’insoddisfazione che non ha bisogno di vocabolario. Poi c’è il cult camp “la valle delle bambole” con la sfortunata Sharon Tate, gli occhi penetranti della Mangano in “Edipo Re”, centomila spaghetti western, è l’altro drammone di Bresson “Mouchette”, con protagonista una ragazza che racchiude in sé tutto il bullismo subito da tutti gli adolescenti della storia della Pubblica Istruzione, veramente solo chi ha il cuore di pietra non si commuove con questa ragazza qui. 1968 Non mi pare vero che sto scrivendo del 1968 perché è l’ultimo anno che ho finito di vedere e anche se questa carrellata non vale poi molto almeno l’ho portata a termine, il che per me vale molto. Prima di iniziare una piccola deviazione: in quest’anno c’è l’esordio di Spielberg, col corto “Amblin’” da cui quindi deriva la sua casa di produzione che è la Amblin Enterteinment! Altro corto è lo sperimentale “Hermitage”, di Carmelo Bene. Tra le mini-serie esce quest’anno l’Odissea di Franco Rossi. Fu un clamoroso successo riproposto dalla tv nostrana per vent’anni. Il ritmo è lento, ma i volti di Bekim Fehmiu e quello di Irene Papas sono senza tempo. Grandissimo l’episodio con Polifemo e ovviamente il finale coi Proci. Prima di diventare nota come cantante e presentatrice, Loretta Goggi era una precocissima attrice e la “Freccia Nera” fu uno dei suoi più noti successi. Ok, allora andiamo veloci veloci, con lo stiloso “Diabolik” che era il bel John Phillip Law; le torture che patisce Alan Bates nell”’uomo di Kiev” pochi altri nella storia; Sordi è medico nella muta e Franco Nero aveva gli occhi più celesti mai visti. Sellers fa pisciar sotto anche le statue in “Hollywood Party” mentre la Vitti prende in mano la pistola e si colloca nella sua dimensione comica dopo anni di Antonioni. Rod Steiger è un gay represso ne “il sergente”, mentre Terence Stamp non fa preferenze di sesso in “Teorema” di Pasolini. Steve McQueen è l’essere più figo mai apparso sulla terra in “Bullitt” e “Il caso Thomas Crown” ma nemmeno Clint Eeastwood scherza e voglio vedere chi scampa a un impiccagione come in “impiccalo più in alto” e chi è scazzato come lui in “L’uomo dalla cravatta di cuoio”. “Fuoco!” di Gian Vittorio Baldi è la sorpresina nell’ovetto Kinder del 1968. Siamo in un paesello del sud Italia e un tizio spara alla statua della Madonna durante una processione, poi si barrica in casa, con la moglie e il bambino che se la fanno sotto, e col fucile in mano si rifiuta di uscire e di dare spiegazioni. Poche parole, un set poverissimo, nemmeno tante spiegazioni ma per 1 ora e mezza sei nella casa e forse nella testa di questo ragazzo. Bellissimo film! “La sposa in nero” di Truffaut è la storia della vedova nera Jeanne Moreau (quanto mi è piaciuto questo film) che si era sposata da 5 secondi che le ammazzano il marito sulle scale della chiesa. Pensa prima di buttarsi dalla finestra poi decide che invece le conviene dare la caccia ai killer del marito. La curva della bocca della Moreau è perfetta per questa parte e vi assicuro che il modo in cui si ingegna per far fuori quei quattro è incredibile. Purtroppo questo film mi fa anche venire in mente la storia di Marta Russo ma lasciamo perdere. “L’urlo del silenzio” è il film che Alan Arkin per me prima valeva 6, 6 e mezzo mentre adesso invece sotto il 9 non scende. Arkin è un sordo muto ed è così solo, ma così solo, che lui il lockdown ce l’ha di default. Mi fa venire la forchetta in gola. Comunque sia affitta una camera in una casa con una famiglia sgangherata ma tutto sommato ok, e fa amicizia con Sondra Locke. Ma nemmeno lei è il vaccino che può curare la sua solitudine. Malinconia a quintalate. “Duello nel Pacifico” di John Boorman ci sono 2 persone solamente e cioè Lee Marvin e Toshiro Mifune. Sono in guerra e sono da soli in un’isola sperduta. Ognuno dei due vuole far fuori quell’altro, ma alla fine prevale la voglia di sopravvivere, chissenefrega se devo chiedere aiuto al nemico. Il finale di questo film, io sottoscritto dichiaro che David Lynch l’ha visto e gli è piaciuto. E ora acceleriamo su quel pacco gigante pieno di innovazione che è “La notte dei morti viventi”, sul sudore e il calore di “C’era una volta il west”, il mio Leone preferito, sull’indelebile statua della libertà del “Pianeta delle Scimmie”, sui brividi che fanno venire lo sguardo di Sidney Blackmer e i sorrisi di Ruth Gordon in “Rosemary’s baby”, uno dei film che più mi ha fatto cagare sotto in vita mia, per dire due righe in più su “Kuroneko” di Kaneto Shindo, che è la storia di una vendetta operata da due donne vittime di stupro e poi uccise da una gang di samurai. Le due diventano dei fantasmi e uno dopo l’altro, in un’atmosfera onirica e agghiacciante conducono i samurai nel loro nascondiglio per farli fuori senza pietà alcuna. Un film con le palle. Mi rimangono 2 film, il primo è “2001: odissea nello spazio” e io ho paura a parlare di Kubrick perché su Kubrick tutti hanno un’opinione e sanno argomentare meglio di me, così mi limito a dire che questo film l’ho visto come quando giochi agli incremental e fai prestige. La prima volta 15 minuti, la seconda volta ho retto 30 minuti, la terza volta 1 ora e la quarta volta finalmente avevo le skill giuste e ho goduto da pazzi. Il mio film preferito del 1968 è “The Swimmer” di Frank Perry e Sydney Pollack, con Burt Lancaster. Lancaster si mantiene bene anche se ha già i suoi anni sulle spalle, e un giorno compare nella villa di amici, si fa una vasca in piscina e poi dichiara che se ne torna a casa a nuoto, passando da piscina in piscina, di villa in villa, lungo tutta la vallata. Armato solo del suo costume, si incammina verso la seconda piscina: una vasca e due chiacchiere coi padroni. Le persone che vede sono inizialmente cordiali e felici di parlare con lui, ma a ogni villa qualcosa non sembra andare per il verso giusto: c’è chi sbruffa, chi gli rinfaccia qualcosa, chi esplicitamente lo manda a quel paese. Lancaster stesso perde lo slancio e un po’ il sorriso. Se a un certo punto si sentiva così bene da poter reggere il confronto con un cavallo, improvvisamente si fa male e inizia a zoppicare. La villa successiva pare più lontana, e più ostile. Ad ogni villa scopriamo un pezzo della vita di quest’uomo, e lui con noi. Non possiamo sentire l’acqua sulla pelle, ma ti monta l’ansia. Lancaster pare invecchiato, i suoi piedi sono sporchi, i suoi occhi lucidi, le sue labbra sofferenti. Un’altra villa, e pare trascinarsi, e una piscina ancora, e nuota a fatica, e finalmente casa. Non ho dormito la notte perché non volevo fare il mio sogno ricorrente in cui sogno di partire dalla mia casa di bimbo per arrivare alla mia casa attuale, e parto di corsa per poi andare piano, sempre più piano, per poi trascinarmi, fino a che non vedo la porta in lontananza, e non riesco ad aprirla, mai.
Zodiac's Message In The Misspelling of Words and The Mistakes He Made In Letters.
Zodiac meticulously hand drew his ciphers, but his handwritten letters were sometimes sloppy and often contained spelling errors. Theories about the misspelled words vary. But I think they do have a purpose. I was looking at the dragon card message when I realized the obvious. Zodiac was meticulous with his correspondence. Nothing was included that wasn't meant to be there. Because he put in so much effort, he wouldn't have allowed for any mistakes. If you read the message you will notice that he misspells a word, only to spell it correctly a couple lines down. So he knows how to spell correctly. There are no mistakes in any of those letters. The misspellings are meant to be there because they serve a purpose. 1) The first mistake is the last word of Line 6 - "butons". Now, if you write the correct spelling "Buttons" above "butons" and cross out the matching letters in each word, you are left with a "T". 2) The next mistake you will come to isn't a misspelled word, but contains one. The Zodiac is talking about all of the buttons he sees people around San Fran wearing. One of his examples is "Melvin eats bluber". The Melvin Belli reference aside, this was a mistake. There never were any Melvin eats blubber buttons. The buttons actually said "Melville eats blubber". So, write that above his mistake and cross out the letters that occur in both words. You will get N, L, L, E, B. 3) Next is the word "considerbly" which will give you an A. 4) Then another "Buton" which will give you a T. 5) Lastly for this message, another "Melvin's", which will give you N, L, L, E. So all together you have ( T N LLE B A T N LLE ) You can make that into several things. I first saw the last name of one of the prime Zodiac suspects, Arthur Lee Allen. Remember, Arthur Lee Allen lived with his mother, whose name was Bernice Allen. B Allen? TELL B ALLEN NT BALLET or BATTLE? It may just be nonsense. But there are obvious clues in the letters besides the ciphers. For Instance, the 13 cipher with the map of Mt. Diablo. The 13 cipher uses letters and symbols from the face of a 1968 Zodiac Watch Company Sea Wolf watch. Now, Zodiac drew the watch company's symbol (his symbol) of the circle and cross over Mt. Diablo. He then wrote 0, 3, 6, 9 and "Set to Mag. N." next to the 0. (FYI, a model of the Sea Wolf had a compass N,E,S,W dial around the face). So, the 3,6,9 are all in the correct place where they would appear on the watch face. BUT THE 0! The 0 is where the 12 o'clock should be. I think there may have been a 0 on the ring around the watch face as well, but can't remember. Now, in the same letter Zodiac drew his circle and cross with "-12". He was saying there wasn't a 12, there was a 0. Because Zodiac -12 SFPD - 0. Was this his location in relation to the SFPD and not his body count? Also, the South Lake Tahoe letter and victim Lass. She worked at a casino there. In the 13 Cipher, you can clearly see that the first word plainly says C A S I N × O. The message on the postcard in question said "Peek through the pines". Could he have meant, "Peak through the pines", as in mountain peak? Zodiac had said that the cipher related to radians and inches on a map. The first and last letters of this cipher are C and G. In geometry, C represents radians, G represents gradians. I am not extremely proficient in math, but I can't see where it actually does represent what he says it does. I think he was lying..Go figure. A while back I took a different approach to the 340 or 408 Cipher, can't remember which one I used at the time, and I lost everything because that computer crashed. I have an anger issue with computers. I punch them too much, which greatly affects their performance. But all of the symbols used are actually astrological symbols that, in turn, represent specific numbers. They are symbols that are used to make a person's astrological chart, like for the moment they were born. It gets difficult tracking down the meaning of each symbol when you know nothing about astrology. But, I went one symbol at a time and replaced them with their numeric value and it actually read real coordinates of longitude and latitude. The first coordinate was a place in Northern California, near the Nevada Border, by the Scott Warner Wilderness Area. I only finished the first two lines, so I don't know if it would have lead to something of actual importance. But I think it would have been just another dead end or another puzzle. All of the tangents, leads, and circumstantial evidence can lead you in so many different directions. I know a lot of people were very excited when they discovered the 1952 Tim Holt Red Mask comic book. The issue that featured Lady Doom and the Wheel of Death. The wheel listed ways to die, like "Death by Knife", "Death by Gun", "Death by Rope". So the Zodiac's message scratched into the car door at Lake Berryessa appears to be directly linked to the comic. People began looking at Tim Holt. But even more curious was the illustrator of the comic book, Frank Bolle. He signed his initials in the artwork "FWB" in a way that is extremely similar to one of the symbols designs Zodiac used later on (not in a cipher). Frank Bolle wrote a comic strip in 1971 called Alexander Gates. The character was an astrologist. Frank Bolle is deceased now, but the coincidences were strange. Despite all of this, I can't get by the idea that Zodiac wasn't just one or two people, but the result of several events. The first couple killed were David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen. I do not believe Cherri Jo Bates was a Zodiac victim, but was later claimed for understandable reasons that I will discuss. I read an interview with Betty Lou's family after the murder, and I was left with the feeling that there wasn't really any grieving. The father, Verne Jensen, struck me as odd. Verne Jensen was a career Army officer, and was working at the GSA in that area. One thing that I noticed was that Betty Lou had siblings, or at least one sibling, an older sister. After she is pictured in that interview, you don't hear of her again. From my understanding, the relationship between Verne and his youngest daughter Betty Lou, was somewhat rocky. Betty Lou was sort of the black sheep. She wanted to date boys when she was too young, and had been in trouble with her parents before that. On the night of the murders, she was supposed to be at a school function, and I believe her parents had forbid her from going on a date. So, perhaps Verne suspected something, or saw her pull away from the diner in a boys car. But he followed them out to a remote lover's lane spot. He had been upset about how her activities made the family look. It would not have been good if she was whoring around with some boy. And kids go out to lover's lanes to have sex. It's that simple. Instead of going to the school function like she was supposed to, she went to the diner with the boy to meet friends, then went to the lover's lane. Verne pulled up, and in a fit of rage, ordered them out of the car. One thing led to another and he shot David Farraday in the back of the head. Betty Lou was back from the car. Perhaps he had ordered her to go back to his car. But then, out of anger and fear, he shot Betty Lou. She was shot five times, opposed to David's one. There was some prejudice and a connection between her and the killer. Six months later..Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau are parked in a dark, remote lover's lane. A car pulls up, leaves, and comes back about ten minutes later. The two can't see because of the lights from the car behind. That's why they think it's a cop. The killer fires multiple rounds into the car, killing Darlene. Michael survives. Darlene Ferrin was a married woman. No matter how you try to spin this, the husband could not have been happy with her activities. So, perhaps he drove by and saw them parked. Or one of his friends did. They pulled in, verified it was them, went to get a gun and came back. Once again, Darlene was killed. Michael survived, but probably not on purpose. I think different ammunition was used in this killing, as opposed to Betty Lou and David. After that, the killer got scared. If it was Darlene's husband, his only thought was that he would be the prime suspect. So he panicked. Three blocks from his house, across the street from the police station, he called the police and reported the murders. He also said he was responsible for the other two murders six months before, and hung up. Why would he do that? The first two murders were shocking, and everybody in that area knew about them. He didn't want the police to suspect him, the natural suspect in this type of murder. So he claimed to be the killer of the kids at both places. If the police went on the idea that one psycopath killer was responsible, and if the husband had an airtight alibi for the time when Betty Lou and David were killed, then he couldn't have been responsible for any of them. I don't know if Verne wrote the first letter, or he did. But it solidified the idea that one person was responsible for the two seperate instances. Anybody who followed the case at the time would know this. So then we have the Lake Berryessa murders, which was well planned. Someone had followed the case and made himself a Zodiac costume to hide his identity. But this killing wasn't like the others. The killer tied up his victims and used a knife. And he did it in broad daylight. He was using the Zodiac image of the killer that had been created in the news. To tie them into the others, he wrote the dates of the murders and played off the Tim Holt comic book. Then came Paul Stine, which didn't match any of the others. In that time, letters were written which the Zodiac established his identity, taunted the police, threatened more killings, and included cryptic ciphers to mislead the police. The Cherri Jo Bates murder became known as a possible Zodiac killing, and the writer gladly claimed credit. The more killings, the more locations, the more times, if all tied into one suspect, would essentially disqualify any of the killers (one, two, or three people). Because not one of them could have been in all those places at those times, and that would have provided an alibi. One thing that the writer of the letters could count on, was the fact that he could claim the previous murders and not worry about the real killer stepping forward and saying, "No he didn't. That was me." Because Verne would have just wanted to be forgotten about. And handwriting analysis was not very good at the time. You will notice that some Zodiac letters are sloppy and some are neatly printed. They vary. I wouldn't doubt if the ciphers are all just nonsensical bullshit. The more murders you tie into one person, the more of an airtight alibi you create for yourself. Because, if one person was responsible for all of them, then an alibi for just one would disqualify you as the killer for all of them. Lastly, you have to look at serial killers before and after. Serial killers kill for personal reasons. It something that is very private to them. They usually have one safe spot where they feel comfortable. Ed Gein had his farm and was somewhat of a recluse. The Green River Killer had a remote spot on the Green River. John Wayne Gacy had all of his bodies under his house. Richard NG had the bodies under a remote cabin. Ted Bundy broke this rule, but killed in the same manner as he travelled across country. But the bodies were mostly in one private location. It would probably have really bothered any of them to have their private locations discovered. None of them wrote lettter after letter claiming responsibility for killing. All of them killed by one method. The last thing any of them wanted was to be a suspect, or to be in the spotlight. None of them wrote letters to shame the police. They were all very private people. So, Zodiac strays away from this. It doesn't match the profile of a serial killer. It's not what a serial killer would do, because it's not why a serial killer actually kills. I don't think we will ever know who the killer or killers actually were. Thanks for reading, Matt Brubach
Playing cards make the ideal gift, particularly the many beautiful custom decks available nowadays. Almost everyone can use a deck of cards at some point, so they have an instant and universal appeal, especially if a deck has some customized artwork and is packaged in an appealing tuck box. In this list I want to focus on some of my favourite decks that have come out in the past year 2020. This year has been a challenging year for many of us in light of the coronavirus that has swept across the world. But in the middle of all this darkness, there have also been some bright spots, which include the brand new crop of custom decks that have appeared in the marketplace. The suggestions I'm making are very much a matter of personal choice, and other playing card enthusiasts might make other choices. I haven't seen each and every deck that hit the market in the past year, and there are undoubtedly plenty of other worthy decks that qualify for a list like this. I've also not included any decks that have haven't yet been produced, even if they have been crowdfunded. This list strictly covers decks that you should be able to obtain from online retailers and resellers. I've also not included so-called "hype decks" that sell out almost immediately at the publisher level (e.g. Fontaines), but only those that enter retail channels and are more widely and readily available. I've also included links to where you find them at PlayingCardDecks so that you can see images of the tuck boxes and cards for each item, and because they're the retailer I personally buy playing cards from the most. But you should be able to find these decks at most online retailers.
Several series of playing cards have become brands of their own, and achieved nearly cult status from collectors. This past year has seen some great additions to the line-ups from popular series that include big names like Jerry's Nuggets, Cherry Casino, and NOC. ● Jerry's Nugget Aqua Playing Cards - Jerry's Nuggets are a modern icon in the world of playing cards, due to the cult status of this deck, which was praised by cardists around the world. It was originally printed in the early 1970s, and was so much in demand in recent decades that copies fetched over $500 in the secondary market. A very successful reprinting of the original blue and red decks happened in 2019, and in the past year we've seen multiple reprints in different colours. Among my favourites in this series are the bright colours like orange, yellow, and green, which have all appeared in the past year. But there's also something for those who prefer a more muted look, such as steel and black. For more in this series, seeJerry's Nugget decks. ● Cherry Casino Tropicana Teal Playing Cards - The Cherry Casino decks capture a retro vibe, and are a throwback to the old fruit machines from gambling halls, with their distinctive cherry artwork. For me the real appeal of this series lies in the gorgeous card backs, which have a metallic sheen making them feel instantly different from all other decks. The face cards are all quite standard, so that makes them ideal for card games or card magic. Multiple new colours continue to appear in this series, such as Flamingo Quartz Pink, and most recently McCarran Silver. For more in this series, seeCherry Casino decks. ● NOC 3000X2 Purple Playing Cards - The acronym NOC originally stood for Nothing Only Colour, and in line with this the initial decks in this series were all very minimalist. Many people like to collect and use the NOC decks, and over time the series has evolved somewhat. The most recent releases show some new splashes of creativity, and with the NOC 3000X2 deck we travel into the future, past the year 3000. Vibrant purples and pinks inhabit the landscape of the cards, for a very modern and flashy look that is particularly well suited to cardistry. This particular deck is also available in a matching pink version. For more in this series, seeNOC decks.
There are several big brands that you can count on for quality, and this year was no exception, with big companies like Theory11, Ellusionist, and Art of Play all continuing to contribute wonderful playing cards to the market. ● James Bond 007 Playing Cards - When it comes to glamorous tuck boxes, it doesn't get much better than the luxury of playing card producer Theory11. This wonderful deck is a tribute to agent 007, James Bond. I collect most of the Theory11 decks, and this one is particularly terrific, with a supreme tuck box, and Bond-inspired paraphernalia on the court cards and on the card back. Close observers will find many Bond gadgets and more. Theory11 have put out several stylish releases in the past year, another one being the Hollywood Roosevelt deck. For more, seeTheory11 decks. ● Shadow Masters Legacy v2 Playing Cards - One of the companies at the forefront of the custom playing cards movement was Ellusionist and their Black Tiger deck continues to be a modern icon. While they've since been overshadowed by the many custom decks produced in the crowd-funding era over the past decade, they continue to produce some memorable decks from time to time that are worth picking up. The Shadow Masters Legacy v2 is a black deck in the classic Ellusionist style, and represents the kind of thing that made them great to begin with. A jet black background is the chief feature of this deck, and the red and white used for the artwork and pips stands out beautifully against the inky black. This deck compares favourably with any other deck from the modern era. For more, seeEllusionist decks. ● Yellow Wheel Playing Cards - The brand Art of Play is the home of influential cardists Dan and Dave Buck. Their Red & Blue Wheel decks are among my all-time favourite decks, with gorgeous metallic inks as part of a split-pip design. The Yellow Wheel deck is their latest entry in the Wheel series, that retains the original card backs but now in yellow. But the highlight is the card faces, with the split pips employing a stunning metallic silver that complements the cards beautifully. This is a completely custom deck that is certain to impress anyone who sees it. Art of Play produces many new decks each year, and their Henry & Sally deck is a fun novelty release also worth checking out. For more, seeArt of Play decks.
They are a very select group, but there are some notable designers in the playing card industry who have developed a real name for themselves, have generated a large following of loyal fans, and continue to produce high quality custom decks on a regular basis. ● Italia Radiosa Playing Cards - Italian designer Giovanni Meroni is the man behind Thirdway Industries, and his playing cards are in high demand from collectors around the world. His signature style is immediately recognizable in each of his decks, and this one is no exception. Along with its companion Italia Segreta, it's themed around the wonders and secrets of Italy. The unique court cards are the real highlight, showcasing Giovanni's usual creativity and style. The number cards are also fully custom. These are the kinds of decks that will hold their value well in years to come. If you want even more vibrant colours, check out Modern Idols, from the same creator. For more, seeGiovanni Meroni decks. ● Postage Paid Playing Cards - Behind the brand Kings Wild Project is Jackson Robinson, who is one of the few professional designers that actually makes a living out of designing playing cards. This deck was inspired by the idea of playing cards functioning as postcards, each with its own stamp and post paid stamp. All 50 US states are represented on different cards, and everything about this deck is fully customized. This deck was produced in only limited numbers, so it will be out of stock in most places. But if you're quick, you can still grab Jackson Robinson's General Admission deck, which applies a similar concept to tickets, with each card representing a vintage ticket stub from the early 20th century. For more, seeJackson Robinson decks. ● Kodiak Playing Cards - From popular designer Jody Eklund and his Black Ink Playing Cards Company, comes this delightful deck of playing cards that is geared to the poker player and collector. The cards have a very classic look, but offer a fresh take on the designs of the court cards and pips. Jody is highly respected for his approach to graphic design, and these cards will prove an excellent choice if you like playing card games, and want to bring something stylish and attractive to the table. For more, seeJody Eklund decks.
Most magicians can perform their magic with any deck, but typically they prefer to do card magic with a deck where novelty and customization are minimal, so as not to distract from their magic. These decks are well suited to performing magic, and contain bonus gaff cards or other secrets that enable them to produce miracles not possible with ordinary decks. ● Card College Playing Cards - These decks are a tribute to the most outstanding modern teacher of the fundamentals of card magic, Roberto Giobbi. Mr Giobbi is the author of Card College, a series of best-selling books which are the modern gold standard for learning card magic. Available in red and blue, these decks are simple and practical for the working magician, and as a bonus each contains two double backer gaff cards. If you want more luxury, check out the stunning Luxury 3 Deck Set, which has even more stylish cards, individually numbered tuck boxes with unique origami style features, packaged in an attractive acrylic box - the ideal collectible or gift for magicians. ● Remedies Royal Blue Playing Cards - The Remedies decks come from popular creators Daniel Madison and Daniel Schneider, and this is a successor to the Remedies Scarlet Red deck. Many collectors love the Black Roses brand of playing cards, and collect whatever they produce. This blue Remedies deck has a classic and minimalist look with bold blue card backs, and is very functional and practical. The inclusion of a special Angle Zero gaff makes it ideal for magicians. ● DMC Elites Red v5 Playing Cards - Of all the marked decks I own, the DMC Elites is easily my first choice whenever I want a marked deck with cards that can be easily read from a distance, due to the clever and yet almost invisible marking system it uses. This deck has previously been released in several different colours, and now incorporates Tamariz's Mnemonica stack. All you need is the deck, but there is a terrific Passport book available separately, which will give you some great ideas for routines you can pull off with this great marked deck. For more, seeMarked decks.
Card flourishing has really boomed in recent years, and especially shines when cardists use a deck that has colourful and striking patterns optimized for cardistry, that enhance the visual aesthetics of cards in motion, as these decks show. ● Neon Orange Cardistry Playing Cards - This deck represents Bicycle's attempt to meet a demand for a relatively low-cost deck geared towards card flourishing. The card backs have a geometric design, and the faces are all identical and completely non-standard, showcasing the latest evolution in playing cards optimized entirely for cardistry. Bright colours ensure that the cards look visually appealing in fans, spreads, and flourishing moves. Alongside this vibrant orange deck is its blue companion, the Neon Blue Aurora deck. ● Autumn Circle Cardistry Playing Cards - Tally Ho is a classic brand that USPCC has been producing for a long time. The circle back design of the typical Tally Ho deck has become iconic, and is especially appreciated by those who enjoy card flourishing. Each year the folks at Bicycle produce some in-house decks for special occasions, and the Autumn Circle Back deck is a lovely result. The colours capture the warmth and glow of autumn leaves and the mood of harvest time, while the pattern on the card backs is perfect for cardistry. ● ArrowDynamix Cardistry Playing Cards - Given the high volume of cardistry decks appearing all the time, it can be difficult to come up with something completely original, but this minimalist deck has accomplished exactly that. Each card features a giant vertical arrow on the card backs, and a giant horizontal arrow on the faces. With carefully choreographed sequences and moves, you can create truly unique patterns and effects that you simply can't achieve with any other cardistry deck.
Do you love animals, or do you have an animal lover in your life? There are a lot of wonderful custom decks that are tributes to our four legged friends, or depict some of our favourite creatures. ● Woof and Whiskers Dog Playing Cards - The real appeal of this deck is the cute tuck box, which has cardboard ears that fold up, to complete the look of the friendly dog on the front of the box. I would have liked to see some more customization with the number cards, but it's still a very charming deck, with delightful custom artwork on the court cards and aces. This is one of two Zoo 52 decks, so if you like the Dog deck, you'll also want to pick up the Playful Paws Cat deck, which is equally cute. ● Aviary Playing Cards - There are a lot of independent creators that produce Bicycle branded playing cards with the help of industry giant USPCC, but this big name producer also releases its own in-house decks. This is my favourite of their four newest releases that hit the market at the end of 2020, and is a very classy looking deck with artwork inspired by a traditional look, but with adjustments to give it a custom feel, and the presence of several birds carefully positioned throughout the deck. Of the four new releases from Bicycle, the Sea King deck is also proving to be very popular. ● King of Tigers Playing Cards - If you're looking for a deck with bling, this is it. The card backs have a borderless tiger skin pattern, which has been printed with some of the latest technology that makes use of foil for a truly eye-catching look. The tuck box is even more glamorous. While the court cards are clearly inspired by traditional courts, the Jokers bring back the tiger theme strongly, and the tiger skin look recurs throughout the deck.
Recent years have seen some wonderful novelty decks themed around different kinds of food. These are always a great way to whet your appetite for a card game, or to show off to family or friends, and have proved a real hit with collectors. ● Squeezers V3 Playing Cards - Good luck getting your hands on decks from this extremely popular series from Organic Playing Cards, because they sell out quickly. These fruit inspired decks have delightful tuck boxes, and this grapefruit themed deck even comes in a tuck box that looks like a juice box, and is actually scented like grapefruit. The cards themselves are quite practical, but add humorous grapefruit themed elements to the court cards, and new bold colours. OPC's 2020 releases also included the watermelon-themed Carvers deck, while their current release sees the brand go in a slightly new direction with the corn-themed Shuckers. ● Noodlers Chicken Playing Cards - If you like the concept behind the Organic Playing Cards series, you'll probably also enjoy this deck, which has a similarly styled tuck box to the Squeezers decks, but represents a packet of ramen noodles. The orange colour on the card backs and pips has also been inspired by the noodles theme. The artwork on the court cards has a quaint and cute style, with each character depicted in a light hearted style quite different from standard courts, and all holding a bowl of noodles. For a final laugh, the Jokers provide us with the necessary packet of "chicken seasoning" to add to our noodles. ● Citrus Playing Cards - Created by Flaminko, the Deliciousness series has been somewhat overshadowed by the more successful fruit inspired cards from Organic Playing Cards. But I love the Flaminko decks, because they apply customization to all elements of the cards, including the pips. This novelty deck is well suited for card flourishing, card games, and collectors, and cleverly captures all that is juicy and wonderful about citrus fruit.
Music is another evergreen theme, and there's a solid range of lovely decks for the music lover, whether your taste is classical or more contemporary rock-and-roll. ● Composers Mozart Playing Cards - This deck is part of a series that also includes other composers like Bach. These decks are true collector pieces, and make a wonderful tribute to some of the greatest composers of all time. The tuck boxes have a very classical look, and metallic ink enhances the gorgeous card backs. Meanwhile completely custom artwork on the faces emphasizes a vintage and classical feel. They are great for music lovers and collectors, but if classical music isn't your thing, then check out the Rock and Roll deck. ● Piano Player Playing Cards - If the piano is your instrument of choice, this is a deck for you. The creative tuck box is available in two styles, one with two black keys and the other with three black keys, which means you can place two decks alongside each other to create a larger keyboard. Fully custom characters inhabit the court cards, with the keyboard motif returning in the details of the artwork. Small touches like this really make this creative deck a thing of unique beauty. ● Soundboards v3 Midnight Playing Cards - Remember the old walk-man cassette players? In the 1980s these revolutionary electronic devices were among the first to make your personal music collection portable. The Soundboards deck replicates the look of a classic walk-man, and the Jokers complete the look by bringing the cassette tape look into the box. This Midnight edition has a dark look, so you might also want to consider the red deck if you prefer a more traditional colour.
Fiction & Film themed Decks
Most of us love a good story, whether it's in the pages of a novel or on our screens. Here are some great custom decks that are loving tributes to some of the best from the worlds of fiction and film. ● Jane Austen Playing Cards - Fans of the classic novel will appreciate the loving treatment that Jane Austen's famous novels have received in this delightful tribute from the Art of Play label. Each suit represents a different novel, with the court cards featuring the lead characters in the story. The design of the characters is inspired by period costumes and reflects the fashions from the time in which the stories are set. The classy tuck case ensures that everything is nicely packaged and well presented. ● Star Wars Playing Cards - Theory11 achieved a real coup by acquiring the rights to bring the Star Wars brand to playing cards. They were the perfect company to ensure that the result was a classy deck that did justice to the world of the films. This pair of Light Side and Dark Side decks begins with a top quality and highly attractive tuck case, as we've come to expect from Theory11. The court cards all feature different characters from the movies, and the design is the perfect blend of customization and playability, making this a practical deck you can bring out for your favourite card game, or to give to the Star Wars fan in your life. A similar pair of decks was produced later in the year in White and Black. ● King Arthur Playing Cards - The result of a collaboration between Riffle Shuffle and Studio Muti, this pair of red and green decks tell the story of the famous Arthurian legend. For me it's a personal and nostalgic childhood favourite, in light of the adventure and imagination it evokes. But as impressive as these decks are, they pale besides the King Arthur Gold deck, which has gold metallic ink on the faces, and gold foil on the card backs, for a truly extravagant look. Inside and out, this is a stunning tribute to a timeless classic from the world of fiction.
So I cheated. I already have a section devoted to cardistry, so I figured I'd sneak in a second category, by including some cardistry decks that all have a space theme. These decks all feature colourful visuals that work well for flourishing, but can also be enjoyed by collectors who appreciate their vibrant colours and exuberant designs. ● Solokid Constellation Playing Cards - This set of twelve decks captures the twelve different star signs. It was produced by Bocopo, a company well known for producing colourful custom decks that appeal especially to cardists and collectors. These decks are typical Bocopo offerings, with evocative colours that are unique to each different deck, to help capture a different feeling for each and every constellation. If you like vibrant colour, you'll certainly find something to enjoy here. ● Stargazer New Moon Playing Cards - Several different decks have now appeared in the Stargazer series, but the recent New Moon deck is probably my favourite. The circular moon that appears on all the card backs makes it an ideal deck for card flourishing moves like spins and twirls. The face cards have some truly vibrant colours, and capture well the feel of a night sky bursting with colour and life. ● Sirius B v3 Playing Cards - I fell in love with the style of the original Sirius B deck, so this third edition was always going to win me over. The court cards consist of a blur of colours that look like paints mixed together, and this style has also been applied to the pips. The colours are the real appeal here, and the signature design of the card backs also looks very nice in card flourishes.
I personally adore transformation cards, and consider them to be one of the most fascinating and memorable types of playing cards there is. The idea is that you take the pips and incorporate them into a larger picture that forms a unique work of art, for each and every card in the deck. ● Cotta's Almanac #1 Reproduction Playing Cards - This historic deck was first created in 1805 by J.C. Cotta, and was the very first of its kind. Themed on the "Joan of Arc" play by Schiller, the beauty and creativity of these cards will still win over collectors today. Lovingly produced in a high quality modern edition, this recreation is the first of the entire series of Cotta transformation decks that is being reproduced by PCD. ● 5th Kingdom Playing Cards - This deck is possibly my favourite original release from PCD in the past year. It is an outstanding example of the creativity and originality of a semi-transformation deck, where the pips have been cleverly incorporated into the artwork. Each suit represents a different culture, turning each individual card into a work of art that can be admired and enjoyed. ● Pack of Dogs V2 Playing Cards - This transformation deck is the work of John Littleboy, who has produced a number of such decks in his inimitable style, including Pack of Dogs, Kitten Club, Mermaid Queen, and Bag of Bones. The number cards are my favourites, and in this deck each of these represents a larger art piece with a dog. Each suit has a progressive image, so they don't feel totally unique from each other. It's more like a series of consecutive snapshots, and you can use flip animation to tell the story. Littleboy's Kitten Club V2 deck applies a similar concept to cats.
PlayingCardDecks doesn't just sell playing cards, but Will Roya also uses his wealth of experience to team up with designers and graphic artists to produce high quality custom decks under the PCD label. Here are some great custom decks that were published in-house over the course of 2020. ● Astronaut Playing Cards - This novelty deck is a delightful creation that will please anyone who has an interest in space and space travel, in light of its unique theme. The Kings are all depicted as astronauts, while the Queens and Jacks represent space travellers. The card backs have a futuristic look with neon lights, and this look carries over to the number cards, which are highly customized with unique red and blue pips. ● Beekeeper Playing Cards - There are plenty of bee themed playing cards already on the market, but the artwork style gives this one a truly unique feel. Two decks were produced, one with light card backs and the other with dark card backs. This is a great novelty deck for the collector, because there's especially some delightful creativity to be found with the bee-inspired pips, and the detailed custom artwork on the court cards. ● Testament Classic Playing Cards - This is a Biblical themed deck created by artist Ben Green. It's intended as an art deck, with the images on the cards depicting Biblical characters from well-known narratives. Representing a dual love for playing cards and a love for Bible-inspired art, this deck will especially appeal to the collector.
I'm a sucker for highly unusual decks with a high degree of novelty, and even though these are not ones I'd typically use for playing card games, they have very unique features that make them stand out from your average custom deck. ● Starry Night Puzzle Playing Cards - Fancy a deck that doubles as a jigsaw puzzle? This clever deck takes its inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting, The Starry Night. The artwork on the card faces is all taken from the painting, and all the cards can be pieced together to make a single giant picture, thus effectively functioning as a large puzzle. Yet each card has clear indices so it's still something you can use for card games too. Definitely unique and out of the ordinary, this set of playing cards is a perfect choice for fans of classic art and paintings. ● Falcon Razors Deluxe Throwing Playing Cards - Rick Smith Jr has made multiple world records in throwing playing cards. His baseball background holds him in good stead, but anybody can learn to throw playing cards if you use the techniques Rick teaches. These throwing cards were a collaboration with legendary flourisher De'vo, and were featured in one of this year's viral videos from Dude Perfect, which featured Rick and his amazing card throwing. The cards are slightly thicker than standard Bicycle stock, to ensure extra durability and performance for card throwing. ● AQUA Invisible Plastic Playing Cards - If you're looking for something completely different, this might hit the mark. This is a ground-breaking deck that is the closest thing to being invisible. All the cards are made out of completely transparent plastic, after which a high gloss transparent printing is applied to selected areas of the cards to produce the designs and pips. So each card is effectively completely transparent, and yet you can see its unique artwork and determine its value and suit. The handling is surprisingly better than you'd expect for a completely plastic deck, and it's certainly something unique.
Other Gift Ideas
Do you want to let your gift recipient make their own decision about what to get, or are you not quite sure what to buy? Here are a couple of special gift ideas that might help out, even if it is to give your family or friends a convenient way to enable you to select your own gift! Firstly, there's a wide range of accessories available for playing cards, like card clips, card cases, and more. Alternatively, consider a gift card, which is available in amounts of $10, $25, $50, $100, and $200. There's also the popular Pip Box Club, which has been around for over two years. Subscribers get a selection of decks and goodies shipped to them each month, and offers great value with each box. Boxing Day Sale: Right now you can take advantage of a special sale at PlayingCardDecks, and save $10 off any order over $30 by using the code box20. This coupon is valid from Boxing Day until the end of 2020. Happy shopping, and happy holidays!
With the year coming to a close, & not really that many more movies to be hyped for or be on the look out for, except for maybe a few smaller budget films, as well as both Soul and Wonder Woman 1984 (if you were lucky to not have to wait till Christmas for WW84 to come out, then please reframe from spoilers), I think it's about time I get into my top 10 most Anticipated movies of 2021, now before I begin I should mention I have no idea if any of these will come out as they are originally intended, so if any plans get changed and this ends up becoming outdated....well life sucks first of all and secondly this is probably an older post. Secondly I do not know about any smaller budget indie films or independent movies coming out, so if you ask why a certain Indie film is not on my list then I probably don't know that they even exist. Finally this list is strictly my own personal opinion, so if my list isn't in an order you like, or if there is a certain film that should be in my list that isn't...well then that's probably why. Also I'd be interested to read your list. Anyways, with that out of the way, let's begin:
A tie between Dune and The Matrix 4 - Yep, out of all the films coming out in 2021, there are no two other films I am excited to see more then the Matrix 4 and Dune (which is why they are both tied as my number 1) I'll start with the Matrix 4. I absolutely loved the first film, I thought the second movie was an alright Guilty Pleasure that had it's moments to shine, & the third one...well....the less said about the third one, the better. But I have faith that the Wachowskis can learn from there mistakes and make an incredibly awesome proper finale to the series, if this is what it will be, & I believe it will be an excellent movie. With Keanu Reeves and Trinity herself apparently returning, & Hugo Weaving's Daughter (who I loved in Bill & Ted 3) being in the movie as well. On top of that from the looks of things, it may be returning to what made the first Matrix movie great. So yeah, pretty hyped. As for Dune, I'll admit I've never actually read the original book, nor have I ever watched the last attempt at trying to make Dune into a movie, but from the trailer alone, it looks pretty solid. Denis Villeneuve's direction looks absolutely breath taking, & the worlds and universe seen in the trailer looks very incredible as well. Not to mention very unique. It actually looks more like something out of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones then it does something like Star Trek or Star Wars. Not to mention the film looks to have a stellar cast. Either way I am pretty hyped for this movie, after Blade Runner 2049, I have faith that Villeneuve will make an excellent Sci-Fi film.
Last Night In Soho - I'm not even a fan of horror movies, & yet I am still hyped for this movie. Why? Because Edger Wright is directing it. That should probably tell you how much I love Edger Wright as a director. I absolutely loved the Cornetto Trilogy (especially Hot Fuzz, which is probably one of my favorite comedies of all time) and Baby Driver, & I think this film looks incredible. Not to much it has a stellar cast, and the premise sounds very interesting and could make for an amazing psychological horror film on the same level as something like Get Out or Midsommar (yes I know I said I didn't like horror movies but...well...let's just say my GF doesn't think the same as me). On top of that it's a unique mash up, Edger Wright directing a psychological horror movie, how awesome is that.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - Nicolas Cage producing and starring in a movie about himself re-visiting his most iconic characters, do I even need to explain any further.
MCU Spider-Man 3 - Like I said, this list is my own opinion, & in my opinion out of all the MCU movies and TV shows coming out in Phase 4, Spider-Man 3 is the second most anticipated out of all of them (I say second because...Well...you know...MARVEL's What if...?), & I think there's is a lot too look forward too, on the one hand it will continue from that awesome set up from FFH, with Spider-Man/Peter Parker now on the run after Mysterio framed him for what happened in London, & having to clear his name because of this, a concept I think would interesting exploring, especially since this means we can have villains like Kraven and Scorpion in the film, maybe Mysterio will even make a grand return, but on the other hand it also looks to be a Multiverse story featuring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man as well as Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, Jaime Foxx's Electro, and possibly even the OG MJ and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy...Which is were my worries start to kick in, if you asked me how hyped I was for Spidey 3 before this Spider-verse news came out, it would probably be number 2 or tied with both Matrix 4 and Dune as my number 1 somehow, but now that has changed, & don't get me wrong. Seeing Maguire and Garfield as there respective versions of the Web head is freaking awesome & it'll be cool seeing Molina return to one of his more iconic performances and Foxx being given a second chance at playing Electro after having to play discount Doctor Manhatten/One Man Blue Man Group in that Abomination from 2014, but I do hope they focus more on the On the Run stuff and less on the Multiverse stuff, or at least find a way to blend them together in a way that feels organic, because I feel it's too early to do the Multiverse stuff and I kindof wanted to see a more grounded (no pun intended) Spidey on the Run story to be honest. But even with that being said, like I said, yeah, seeing Maguire and Garfield back as there respective Spider-men will still be pretty sweet, & I think if done right this film could find a way to organically combine the Multiverse story and Spidey on the Run story extremely well. That & I am just so hyped for MCU Spider-Man after Far From Home, I wasn't the biggest fan of Homecoming, but I absolutely loved FFH, & I am hyped for whatever MCU Spidey throws my way.
Ridley Scott's The Last Duel - Not much on this one, but judging by the plot dealing with the last Duel to ever be recorded in France's history, & having a pretty decent cast and Legendary director Ridley Scott (and Directing something that ISN'T Alien related, thank god. I know it's his baby but Covenant was not the best movie ever made) I think this one is something worth having in the top five. Because, yeah, it does sound pretty interesting.
Elvis - Not much to say here, just a big Elvis buff & I really want to see this Biopic, as I always wanted to see a Biopic about the king on the big screen. Especially when Tom Hanks is involved.
A tie between The King's Man & The Suicide Squad - yep a tie, I'm sorry but that's just simply how I role. Let's start with James Gunn's the Suicide Squad, Unlike the last Suicide Squad film, this one is going to be directed by James Gunn, the same guy who directed Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 & 2, as well as 2011 Super. & from how the film looks not only does it look incredibly fun and over the top (right down to some of the costumes looking like they came straight out of the comics) but also it simply just looks incredible. I have huge faith in James Gunn, especially after the Guardians movies, & the simple fact he's willing to embrace the comic books and there obscurities. Now for The King's Man, this film just looks crazy and Insane, I am an absolute huge fan of the first Kingsman movie, the second movie was.....a movie to say the least, but this one looks like it'll be a fun ride. Especially with it being a prequel instead of an actual third movie, though I hope we get a third movie at some point.
Raya and the Last Dragon - Not much to say here, the Animation looks incredible, the story sounds intriguing, and overall I think it could make for yet another great entry from Disney. Also it's a relieve to see something original after the wave of Live action remakes we have been getting.
Godzilla vs Kong - Another personal pick, but for this one, it's just simply the final showdown we have all been waiting for, I have been a huge fan of Monsterverse so far, & I think it'll be amazing to see these two icons get the rematch they both rightfully deserve. Now hopefully Legendary and WB can work something out so not only can it actually be released, but also so it doesn't have to be delayed again.
No Time to Die - I really loved two of the Daniel Craig Bond films (Casino Royale and Skyfall) the other two not so much (Quantum of Solace and Spectre) but hopefully this will lean on the good, if not great side, especially since the film looks fantastic so far.
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Sunnyvale - 10/15 Weekend Event Live!
Strategy: (confirmed, what I finished with!) Sarah at level 2, Tyrone at level 2, C&T Convenients at level 3 with 3200 customers, Jay & Silent Bob at level 6. EDIT: This table is what I originally put up, please see the very bottom of this post for a Sunday night update with my final levels and how I got the final prize!
Character / Business
Prizes: Bubblemaker (character), Sexy Swiper (Lucy costume), Jay (character), Chasing Shamey (Donna costume), Shrooms (character), Jason Mewes (Jay costume) Leaderboard Rewards: Silent Bob (character), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob costume) Sheet: Jay & Silent Bob Strike Sunnyvale Hey-hey everyone, another week down and another weekend event here. Did everyone do okay with last weekend's event? I can't even remember, to be honest...I don't think I got every prize. Life has been super hectic as I try to get a lot of things done to start this new career. Some (great) news to share: my nursing license was approved and went active last Friday night! Pretty exciting, I think! I start new employee orientation at the hospital on Monday, so I'm not sure I'll be able to give much thought to this weekend's event, even though I love Jay & Silent Bob and all of the Clerks / Kevin Smith references in this event. Hopefully next week goes smoothly...I bought my first pair of non-nursing student scrubs this week, finally was able to get away from the boxy/crappy scrubs we had to wear haha. Like I mentioned, this event has Jay and Silent Bob, and costumes for the normal Sunnyvale residents that are based on Clerks and other Kevin Smith movies...if you haven't seen Clerks, Clerks 2, or Jay & Silent Bob Strike back, I'd recommend them! I suppose everyone has a different sense of humor, though. So this weekend's event is really weird. It's new, but not new...the multipliers and trunks/goals are based on events we've seen before (Sunnyvale Police Academy), but each business has two characters and there are 30 prizes...oh and there's collectors, too. So, I honestly have no idea what the strategy is at the moment. In the police academy event (and the events based on it), you have to work up then back down, so that's what the table above (and strategy) are based on for now. Please take it all with a grain of salt, as it's not for sure! Once everyone gets further into the event, we should have a better idea of what to do...I hope so, anyways. If I'm not around to update, I'll ask one of the other mods to pin a comment to the top here with updates/strategy for everyone! The sheet is up to date for this event, for the most part, but feel free to leave a comment on the sheet itself or here on the sub with changes/fixes/errors, and they'll get added in right away. Alright guys, have a great weekend, it's been a pleasure seeing familiar usernames! 10PM Thursday Update: I'm thinking this might be a last-business event...usually the devs mention it going up and down, so for now, please don't focus on the first business anymore than you need to until we get deeper into the event. Anything is a possibility! For now, here's what I have my characters/businesses at to open up the fourth business:
Character / Business
Level I'm At Currently
I only renovated Scrilla Villa to clear the "renovate 1 business" trunk at the top. I just cleared 50.0G to open the fourth business with these levels, hopefully that gives you guys some direction! 10AM Friday Update: Looks like my initial gut instinct was right, and this is an up and down event, similar to the police academy events. Sounds like you're able to finish the event with the first business, and without automating the last business. There is a post here by PuffY187 with the setup they used to finish the event, which should give some guidance in the meantime! 8PM Sunday Update: So I kinda went with the flow on this event since there was no for-sure strategy. I decided upgrading Jay & Silent Bob would be worthwhile since they affect all businesses, and would help move back down the chain. My final tally to finish the game was: Jay and Silent Bob at level 6, Sarah at level 2, Tyrone at level 2, and C&T Convenients Store at level 3 with 3200 customers -- I did not upgrade the collectors at all, and spent 200 hash (on two event trunks for the joints/liquor). I think this is a lot lower than what other people finished with, but as long as you finish that's all that matters. I'm going to make a table (below)
48 points: jesseaknight's comment in In the show St. Elsewhere, a character in the finale is shown to have thought of the whole series, which means he also made up all the shows that had crossovers with St. Elsewhere. This expands into the shows that were mentioned in the shows. There is at this point 419 shows in this universe
44 points: Derosa6037's comment in the longest single set at the laugh factory lasted 7h and 34m (by Dane Cook in 2008).
43 points: astronoob's comment in Margaret Hamilton, NASA's lead software engineer for the Apollo Program, stands next to the code she wrote by hand that took Humanity to the moon in 1969.
42 points: rus_reddit's comment in Rand Paul was the national debt for halloween in 2015. He said it was a very scary costume.
40 points: thejesiah's comment in Close Encounters of the Third Kind Geocache in Northern Italy
Nintendo's missing franchises and their chances of coming to Switch (long read)
“I want X for Switch”, “when is X coming to the Switch”, “X is perfect for the Switch!” How often have you heard or said these sentences? Quite a lot, probably, especially about Nintendo franchises. Nintendo fans really like first-party games, and they’re always asking for their favorites to come back. Problem is, even though Nintendo owns dozens of franchises, there’s only a few that are guaranteed to show up during any given console, so fans of smaller franchises are left wondering when they’ll play them again. Well, today I’ll try to mostly answer these questions. I’ll take a look at several, Nintendo-owned franchises and try to figure out what are their chances of coming to Switch. I’ll be basing myself on this such as release schedule, success of previous entries, popular demand, market niche and internal interest at Nintendo. However, keep in mind two things. One: Nintendo owns a shit-ton of IPs, and I won’t cover them all. I’ll focus on the ones that have multiple entries, and even then, I might skip a few if I feel I have no meaningful insight. And two: No matter what I or anyone else says, the chances for any of these games to come back is NOT ZERO. Nintendo is unpredictable and they’ll sometimes bring something out of the blue when you least expect it. This year alone we saw the return of Brain Age (a franchise not seen since 2012), Clubhouse Games (a sequel to a game from 2005), and Famicom Detective Club, a franchise with two games from 1988/89, which then received a remake in 1998 and then nothing until twenty two years later. Granted, it’s another remake, but it is still a modern installment in a franchise twenty two years dormant. If Famicom Detective Club can come back in 2020, so can your favorite franchise. Now, let’s begin, in alphabetical order: Art Academy Starting off with a small one. Art Academy is a series of drawing games that started on the DS in 2010 and then released pretty consistently over the following years, with three entries on 3DS and two (well, one and a half) for the WiiU between 2010 and 2016. Already this feels like a franchise with a pretty consistent release schedule, even though it hasn’t been seen for four years now. I don’t think any of the games were blockbusters, per se, but they also don’t need to be. They’re small games, probably inexpensive to produce that seem to do consistently well enough to get new sequels. There are several obstacles that present themselves to the release of a new Art Academy, but I think all of them are easily overcome. For starters, AA is the type of casual game that thrived during the DS/Wii eras, a Touch Generations game. Since the Switch released, many have noted that Nintendo may want to distance themselves from that era due to the failure of the WiiU, and there may be some truth to that, but I feel like this is starting to change. Again, this year saw the return of both Brain Age and Clubhouse Games, both casual, Touch Generations DS games. I feel like, at the start of the Switch’s life cycle, Nintendo was indeed trying to focus on core gamers, but now that they have secured that core gamer audience, they may be more comfortable releasing more casual fare. Furthermore Art Academy is developed by Headstrong Games, a British developer that doesn’t seem to do much other than AA. However, in 2017, that team was absorbed into its parent studio, Kuju Games. This move, which happened the year after the last AA game released, may have something to do with the franchsie’s MIA status. But, Kuju games is still active, having released a game just last year, and I don’t see why they couldn’t take up the mantle. Finally, some speculated a few years ago that AA was dead due to the Switch not having a stylus but, OH WAIT, Brain Age fixed that too! All in all, even though Art Academy is hardly a hot franchise, there’s very little standing in the way of its return, and little reason to doubt that it will. Chances: Good Chibi-Robo! We may have started on a positive note, but here comes a downer. Chibi-Robo is probably not coming back anytime soon. This cute little robot debuted in his self-titled Game Cube game, developed by Skip Ltd. Like most games by the developer, it was quirky and fun, and not very popular, but had its fans, and Chibi-Robo must have endeared someone at Nintendo, because he kept showing up here and there. He got two DS sequels, though the second one was Japan-only, already a red flag. In 2013, he starred in a 3DS eshop game that was very different from the main games, more of an experimental spin-off, and was not well-received. But the real final nail came in 2015, with Chibi-Robo Zip Lash! The game was announced to be a 2D platformer, and many fans identified the change in genre (from a unique adventure game to one of the most over-saturated genres in Nintendo consoles) as a total sell-out, and they were totally correct! The developers basically admitted that they did it to try and get more players (red flag). Series producer Kensuke Tanabe then said that if the game didn’t sell well, it could be the end of the franchise (RED FLAG). And then, the unfortunate but inevitable happened. Zip Lash was a critical and commercial bomb, and neither the developer nor the franchise has been seen again. Aside from the inevitable Smash Bros mentions, Chibi-Robo has only been seen on that infamous flaming tweet from 2018 (I told you someone at Nintendo really likes them). To make matters worse, there are increasing signs that Skip Ltd may be going under So, a struggling franchise makes a desperate move to gain fans, a developer expresses concerns for its future if the game bombs, said game bombs and now the developer may be going out of business? It seems the writing is on the wall. Now, even if Skip goes under, that is not necessarily the end of Chibi. Nintendo would still retain the rights, as they did for Trace Memory and Hotel Dusk after developer Cing went under. As for whether or not Nintendo would want to give the franchise a second (third? Fourth?) chance, it doesn’t look good Chances: Very bad Custom Robo From one diminutive robot to another, the Custom Robo series is and robo-battle series that began on the N64. It was Japan only, as was its N64 and GBA sequels. Afterwards, Nintendo did try to expand it, releasing a GameCube game in NA, and a DS game in NA and Europe. However, despite the fact that players of these games will attest to how good these games are, they didn’t seem to do very well, and the franchise has not been seen since 2007. There was one statement of internal interest, when a developer in 2014 said that he heard demands both inside and outside the company for a new entry, but that there were no plans for one, and he was unsure when there would be. Six years on, it seems there still aren’t. In fact, the developer itself, Noise, is also strangely MIA. Though they are officially still active, with their website being updated for 2020, they have not worked on a game since 2015. Then, in 2018, many fans watched in horror the news that Nintendo let the trademark expire. Some have pointed out that this isn’t as bad as it seems, as it refers specifically to games on optical discs, which Nintendo doesn’t make anymore, but I don’t know enough about the subject to say for certain. Regardless, it’s evident that Nintendo still owns the franchise, as Custom Robo content appears in Smash Ultimate. On the other hand, one of the series creators, Kohji Kendoh, is still thinking about it. He is working for another developer, and released a suspiciously similar game called Synaptic Drive just this year, as well as talking about Custom Robo in social media. It seems like a Mighty no9/ Yooka-Laylee/Bloodstained situation, in which the owner of an Ip is not using it, so the creator releases a spiritual successor. Bottom line, there seems to be demand for Custom Robo. A developer saw it six years ago, and the creator is seeing it now. Whether or not thinks this demand is enough to revive the franchise, is tough to say, but doesn’t look great. Not as bad as Chibi-Robo, though Chances: Bad Daigasso! Band Brothers Here’s a franchise Americans never got. Daigasso! Band Brother is a rhythm game released for the DS in 2004 and stars Barbara the Bat, who has an uncharacteristically risqué design for Nintendo. The game was Japan-only but seems to have been successful, it received a sequel in 2009 (released in Europe, but not NA), and another in 2013 for the 3DS. Despite not having received new games since then, the series is far from inactive. Barbara the Bat in particular, like Chibi-Robo, seems to have fans inside Nintendo because she pops up everywhere. She had cameos in a few other DS games, she was an AT in Brawl and a spirit in Ultimate, she was a costume in Mario Maker, she appeared in a comic strip with WarioWare’s Ashley, and the series has a Twitter account that was super active all the way up to April of this year (more on that later). In 2017, that account even tweeted a comic strip of Barbara demanding a Switch. That was probably not a tease of anything, as it’s been 3 years and nothing, but stuff has happened with the franchise even more recently. Last year, in 2019, six years after the release of the 3DS game, there were 30 songs added to the game in celebration of the series 15th anniversary. So as late as last year, Nintendo was celebrating this franchise with an in-game event. Now, the servers for the game were shut down earlier this year (hence the end of the Twitter account), and the game was removed from the eshop (as it is basically pointless without the servers), but with recent news that the 3DS has ceased production, it’s pretty clear that the game’s end is a consequence of the 3DS’ end, and not a lack of players. So if the series is alive, but can’t be on the 3DS, it has to go somewhere, no? Bottom line: the games are successful, the series is active, and the character is popular. I don’t know if Barbara the Bat’s next tour will be an international one, but I’m confident it will happen Chances: Very Good Dillon’s Rolling Western DRW is a unique western-themed tower defense game released on the 3DS eshop in 2012. It received mixed reviews, but had a dedicated fanbase, and was successful enough to spawn two sequels, one in 2013, and a post-apocalyptic themed one in 2018. With a game having released just two years ago, its reasonable to say the series is not dormant, so the prospect of a new game is always likely. The developer, Vanpool, who mostly works on smaller scale stuff like this, is both still active and still working at Nintendo. So, really the only reason to believe the series wouldn’t continue would be if the latest game bombed really hard. It’s hard to say that it did, as sales figures are unavailable, but it was a 3DS game in 2018, probably didn’t set the charts on fire. But then again, unless Nintendo had some really unrealistically high expectations, I don’t think it could have bombed hard enough to kill the franchise that fast. There’s not much more to say. There aren’t any rumblings of a return, but also no reason to be pessimistic. Chance: Above Average Earthbound Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: There will not be a Mother 4 The Creator of the series, Shigesato Itoi, has said that he would not work on a fourth installment, as he feels the story is complete. Now, normally, Nintendo could just say “screw creative integrity, let’s make a fourth game anyway!” but Shigesato Itoi directly co-owns the series’ copyright so they actually can’t. So unless Itoi changes his mind, or he dies and Nintendo decides to ignore his wishes (neither scenario is completely outside the realm of possibility), Mother 4 is not happening. So, if new Mother content is made, it’d be either a remake, or Mother 3 localization. We all know demand for this last one is overwhelming, Nintendo themselves have acknowledged it multiple times, but it still hasn’t happened, and it doesn’t seem things have changed. A remake is possible, but don’t hold your breath for it. Despite the series’ popularity, I think all we’ll see of it is the first two games in NSO. Chances: Bad Excitebike This is a hard one to pinpoint. Excitebike is one of those classic NES games that Nintendo likes to reference all the time, like Ice Climber, Balloon Fight, Wrecking Crew and Duck Hunt. Unlike those, Excitebike actually received sequels and established a franchised. There was a great entry on the N64 and three entries on the Wii, but nothing more since. I can’t imagine the Wii entries were super successful, and there really hasn’t been any word from Nintendo about any interest in reviving the series, either from developers, or the fans. The developer of the Wii games, Monster Games, is still active, and still makes racing games and extreme sports games, but hasn’t worked with Nintendo in 5 years. Now, one point I see often, and that I’d like to address, is the idea that Nintendo doesn’t want multiple games from the same genre on the same console. I can’t agree. With the exception of the WiiU, every Nintendo home console since the SNES has had multiple Nintendo-published racing games released for it. WiiU didn’t but that console is an exception to many norms. I don’t see why Mario Kart, behemoth that it is, would stop any other racing game from being made, especially when they are so very different (although the fact that MK8 has an Excitebike track doesn’t inspire confidence). No, I don’t think Mario Kart is the problem, I think is just lack of interest. And though Excitebike is not a franchise Nintendo will ever truly forget, it’s not really revving up for a comeback either. It could happen, it could not Chances: Medium Fatal Frame This horror franchise wasn’t originally a Nintendo product, being released on the PS2 by Tecmo. However, since the fourth game, each title in the series has been published and copyrighted by Nintendo, and this seemingly applies to all future entries, as the series producer said the series’ future is up to Nintendo. So, how does that future look like? Well, the last game in the series, Maiden of Black Water, was a WiiU game, which means it didn’t sell well, but not as badly as you might think. From all I could find, which is admittedly not much, sales for the game seemed to be only slightly less than previous entries, a gap more than explainable by its console. So, if the series was getting sequels before, the WiiU game’s sales wouldn’t be the reason why there wouldn’t be more. And though Nintendo of America has had to take baby steps into accepting the franchise overseas, Nintendo of Japan seemed satisfied with it, releasing four games between 2008 and 2014. So sales aren’t an evident problem, what about the developer? That developer is Tecmo Koei, who is not only active and buddies with Nintendo, their current project is none other than Nintendo’s big holiday title. There’s obvious trust there. As for interest, there is a lot. From Koei Tecmo calling it a valuable IP, to the series producer stating multiple times, including this year, that he’d like to bring it to the Switch Now, this comment pretty much confirms that a new Fatal Frame is not in development as of now, but it has a chance of happening. And remember, the last game is on WiiU, and if we know anything about those, is that they like to come to Switch. And though I don’t see Nintendo breaking their necks to make a new entry, I don’t think they’d oppose it if Tecmo pitches it to them, especially if it’s just a port. Chances: Good Fossil Fighters This game is not Pokémon, or so its fans tell me. Fossil Fighters is a DS game from 2008 where you collect various species of dinosaur and battle with other ~Dinosaur Trainers~ Fossil Fighters in RPG battles. It didn’t receive great reviews, but was successful enough to get a sequel two years later, and another one on the 3DS in 2014. Three games in six years is a pretty good release schedule, and things were looking alright, until that 3DS game came. It was primarily developed by a different studio, and it showed. The game received abysmal reviews, and fan reception was similar. Sales weren’t awful, but not great either. Since then, the series has been completely quiet. The developer, Red Entertainment, is still active, but hasn’t worked with Nintendo since the 3DS game. As for interest, there hasn’t been a peep from Nintendo about this series at all. No interviews describing vague interest in bringing it bad, no acknowledgment of fan demand, no cameos in other games (aside from Smash, which doesn’t count, Smash has everything). Even fan demand doesn’t seem too high, most of what I’ve seen is a Change.org petition which has been up for a year and has not reached its 2500 signatures goal. It looks like this series could become a fossil itself. Someday some might dig it up and revive it to use in battle, but I’m not feeling it. Still not as bad as Chibi-Robo Chances: Bad F-Zero This is the reason you’re reading this. Oh, F-Zero. If fan demand alone was the deciding factor, F-Zero would be top priority. People want F-Zero, people beg for F-zero, people who have never played, beg for F-Zero. And Nintendo knows this, they’ve acknowledged it. They themselves haven’t forgotten it. Even putting Smash aside, there was an F-Zero minigame in Nintendo Land. There are F-Zero tracks in Mario Kart. They’ve done everything but make a new F-Zero game, but why the hell not? Well, it’s important to understand that the F-Zero series declined in sales throughout its life. The best-selling game is still the first, and though the following games were fantastic, they sold less and less, and yet, strangely enough, between 2003-2004, Nintendo released THREE F-Zero games. Around the same time, they also released an anime. There are several great articles and videos about what happened to F-Zero, but the best point I’ve seen is that Nintendo tried, in 2003, to really push F-Zero, but it didn’t work. So, with their attempt failed, they let the series sleep, and just never woke it up, even as fan demand increased. In 2015, Miyamoto commented on the series, and said that, though he heard the demand, he was unsure on what to do with the series, on how to make a new game. Many fans scoffed and said he’d just need to make a modern F-Zero and that’d be great, but I think internal concern runs deeper. Just doing F-Zero failed in 2003, so why would it work now? That said, I think there is hope. Fan demand is powerful, and more and more we see a new generation of Nintendo developers pushing the company forward. These younger developers are the ones behind new IP like Splatoon and ARMS, and great reinventions of existing ones like Odyssey and BotW. It’s possible that these same younger developers could hear the fan demand, and want to take on the series without the hesitation of their older peers. It’s been 16 years, but Kid Icarus was gone for 19, wasn’t it? Stranger things have happened Chances: I want to believe Golden Sun And here’s the other one. Few Nintendo fans are as vocal and dedicated to their dormant franchise as Golden Sun games. For those who don’t know, Golden Sun was a couple of excellent GBA RPGs released in 2001 and 2002, with a DS sequel in 2010. Such erratic release schedule would make predicting the series’ future difficult at the best of times, but the DS game was seen as a disappointment by many fans and sales were unimpressive. With ten years having passed with no new game, is the series done for? Well, let’s look at it. In 2012, one of the developers gave an interview in which he straight up said that, if there was fan demand for it, there would “naturally” be a fourth game. We know that developer interview doesn’t immediately guarantee a sequel, but this is also a much more positive statement than Custom Robo and F-Zero’s “We know there’s demand, but we don’t know what to do with it”. This is “If there’s demand, it will happen.” So, is there demand? You bet your ass there is. And it feels like it is growing. There was a high-profile hoax about a fourth game in 2017 (a similar hoax happened some time before the third game, by the way). The series received notably more content in Smash Ultimate than series of similar standing (quite possibly an acknowledgment of its popularity). And last year, Cory Balrog, director of 2018’s GOTY God of War, tweeted about all the franchises he would trade for a new Golden Sun. Nintendo could hardly have asked for a higher profile endorsement within the industry. So if fan demand is there, why hasn’t it happened yet? Well, it helps to look at the development history of the series. The first game took eighteen months to develop, considered a long time for a handheld game at the time. And though the eight years between the GBA and DS games may have you believe it took a long time to greenlight a sequel, that’s not the case. Signs point to internal discussion about a sequel to the GBA games as early as 2002, with developers quoted as saying that Nintendo was asking them to make a new one. One of the series producers also said that the series takes a long time to make because of its complexity. After the DS game failed to meet expectations, its understandable that Nintendo may not have been as enthusiastic for a new game as it was before, but it seems like, even if the series is alive and well, the long hiatus would not be uncharacteristic. In that same interview quoted before, the developer even said that a new game would take a long time. In fact, if GS4 had started development shortly after that interview, if it took as long as Dark Dawn, the game would be wrapping up production around now. Then there’s the developer, Camelot. Aside from Golden Sun, they pretty much only make Mario Tennis and Mario Golf. They release schedule is also super consistent, with a new game every other year, sometimes every year. We already got a Mario Tennis on Switch two years ago so, if not for COVID, their new game would probably have released this year. All things point, then, for the next Camelot game to hit the Switch next year. Smart money would be in Mario Golf, but maybe it is finally Golden Sun. Finally, I don’t think, as others do, that Xenoblade is the reason GS is not happening. Again, I don’t see evidence to support the idea that Nintendo doesn’t want to publish more than one game in the same genre. Both the GBA and DS had more than a dozen Nintendo-published RPGs, and the Wii and 3DS got RPGs even after Xenoblade released for them. I don’t see why Xenoblade would stop a Switch Golden Sun, especially when they are very different kinds of RPGs. GS is actually closer to Octopath Traveler, whose success was enough to impress SE, why wouldn’t Nintendo want a piece? Really, I think the biggest obstacle is that Nintendo might want to prioritize the safe investment of Mario sports games over Golden Sun, but the more I research, the more I feel like GS’s chances are higher now than they were at any point in the last ten years. I feel there’s hope this sun will rise again Chances: Above average Kid Icarus Sorry to keep you waiting. Kid Icarus was an OK NES game that had a forgotten Game Boy sequel and then nobody cared about it for 19 years until it was unexpectedly revived for the 3DS in 2012. This story is a testament to the fact that, just because its been a long time, it doesn’t mean it will never happen. But in order to know if it will happen again, let’s understand how it happened in the first place. It’s important to mention that reviving Kid Icarus was not the intent behind KI: Uprising, it was the idea of its director, Masahiro Sakurai. Nintendo had given him a project and Sakurai decided to use an established franchise for it. He briefly considered Star Fox, but decided to use Kid Icarus, for which he probably had a soft spot, considering he had added Pit to Brawl some years earlier. So, there wasn’t an exec at Nintendo who woke up one day and decided to bring Kid Icarus back, they gave the director a project, and, after some deliberation, he decided to use Kid Icarus for it. That director is currently busy developing Smash Bros DLC, but even after that’s over, he probably won’t revisit Kid Icarus. He has shot down the idea of him working on a sequel or a port. His words were: "For now, my thought is that perhaps we'll see someone else besides me make another Kid Icarus in another 25 years." Yikes. That’s pretty damning. Sure, Nintendo could get someone else to make the game, but if it was only Sakurai that was interested in the series in the first place, what is the hope of that? Well, that statement is not super accurate. Before Uprising, there was actually a Kid Icarus reboot in development for the Wii. It was cancelled, and thank God for it, as it was an awfully stupid gritty reboot, but it showed that there was interest in the franchise even before Uprising. Naturally, you’d expect interest to be bigger now than before. The fact that Uprising not only grew the series’ fanbase, but the that there are Kid Icarus characters in Smash Bros, means that the franchise has a permanent place in the interest in Nintendo fans. Smash in particular means that there are 18 million people who know Pit and Palutena and would turn their heads if a new game was announced. Furthermore, Nintendo’s new CEO is interested in bringing 3DS franchises to the Switch after the success of the Switch Lite, especially now that the 3DS is officially dead, so the opening is there for it. There is definitely demand for a new Kid Icarus game, but it is too sporadic a franchise to be certain, and if it were to happen, Nintendo would have to find someone new to do it. But, in the end, the series is definitely in a better place now than it was 10 years ago. Chances: Medium Legendary Starfy Legendary Starfy was a 2D platformer for the GBA that was apparently really successful, as it received four sequels in the span of five years. Not only that but, like Barbara and Chibi-Robo, Starfy himself was quite popular. He had cameos in Mario & Luigi and Super Princess Peach, music of the series was in Donkey Konga, he is a regular Assist Trophy in Smash and was a costume in Mario Maker. Though the series took until the last game to come to the West, there were plans to bring the first four games too, as well as consideration for expanding the series to the Wii. The series was widely advertised, with animated commercials and tons of merchandise, including plush dolls, CDs, pencils, birthday balloons, casino cards and two manga series. When asked if there were plans for a sixth game, the developer answered “Yes!”, no ifs, not buts, straight-up Yes. And then… nothing. The series just stopped. And the reason why is: I have no idea. Maybe if the last game bombed spectacularly, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, Japanese sales declined with each entry, but not by that much. Maybe NA sales weren’t what Nintendo was hoping for, but surely not enough to kill such a steady franchise. The confusion only grows when we look at its developer, Tose. Now, this is interesting. You’ve probably played a Tose game without knowing. They have worked on over A THOUSAND GAMES, but they never receive credit. They merely assist with development in the shadows. As one exec puts it: "Our policy is not to have a vision. Instead, we follow our customers' visions. Most of the time we refuse to put our name on the games, not even staff names." They are a ghost developer. Even its Wikipedia page admits that the list of games on it is purely speculative. There are probably hundreds more, that we don’t know about. The only exception is the Starfy series. That series was their vision. So why did they stop? Could they have decided that it was against their vision to make a game of their vision? We can only speculate. The fact that the series’ end was so unexpected, and its developer so mysterious, means that any speculation about it is a shot in the dark. All I can say is that there’s no particular reason to expect it. Chances: Not Good Nintendogs Here’s a big one. Nintendogs was one of the biggest successes of the casual era, on par with Brain Age and Wii Fit, but unlike those, it remained a multi-million seller during the 3DS/WiiU generation. And though Nintendo may have tried, at first, to distance the Switch from that era, the return of Brain Age and Clubhouse Games indicates that other casual games would follow, and Nintendogs would be a no-brainer. There is, however, one big problem: the Switch does not have a microphone. While Brain Age on the DS also used the microphone a lot, it was not essential to it. You could easily make Brain Age without it. But not Nintendogs. Issuing voice commands to your virtual pup is integral to the experience. No microphone means no Nintendogs. But with that said, Nintendo did go to the trouble of making a Switch stylus, seemingly just for Brain Age, so maybe they could make a microphone peripheral. Sure, a microphone would be more complex to make than a stylus, but not inconceivable. They did something like that with the Wii Speak. I’m sure for that nintendogs money, Nintendo would do it. Worst case scenario, Nintendo releases Nintendogs and forces you to use the NSO app’s voice chat to talk with your dog. You know they’d do it. There’s also the fact that another developer released a nintendogs clone for the Switch last year, but I don’t think Nintendo gives a shit. Chances: Good Nintendo Wars You may know this series better as “Advance Wars” and you may also know that it is fantastic. In fact, it is one of the highest rated Nintendo franchises on Metacritic, and had a pretty consistent release schedule between 1988 and 2008. All was looking pretty god. But unfortunately the series has been dormant since the last entry on DS. Part of it may be because the series, though originally Japan-only, was never all that popular in Japan. In fact, that last game only saw a limited release as a My Nintendo reward in the region. There is, however, still demand for the series, both externally and internally. Producers from both Nintendo and developer Intelligent Systems have expressed enthusiastic support for a new entry, although they’ve also expressed some uncertainty on what they’d do with it, similar to the Custom Robo and F-Zero responses. The developer for the series is Intelligent Systems, who do a ton of stuff and will be discussed multiple times in this post. They used to release multiple games a year, but have slowed down this past game to just one or two games a year, another possible reason why Advance Wars has been deprioritized, especially in comparison with that boogeyman of Advance Wars and Smash Bros fans alike: Fire Emblem. There is real concern that Nintendo might not want to make a new Advance Wars when they could just make the similar but more popular Fire Emblem instead. That said, IS has already released a Fire Emblem and Paper Mario for Switch, and though we definitely will get at least one more FE during the Switch’s life cycle, there’s enough years left for IS to release some other games, whether they be AW or one of the three other franchises we’ll discuss in the future. Problem is, of those franchises, AW might be the most difficult to produce, and the most risky, so it could probably be lower priority. When asked about the series last year, one IS producer gave a pretty evasive answer, so things aren’t looking too good, but they aren’t hopeless either. Chances: Medium Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents This rhythm series for the DS is widely beloved by those who played it, but its life cycle was pretty limited. One game in 2005, and Americanized version in 2006, and one sequel in 2007. Nothing more since The games were critically acclaimed, but not blockbuster hits. The series creator said back in 2016 that he would love to create a new game, but nothing else has been said about it. The game’s developer iNis, doesn’t appear to be super active either. All in all, there is very little pointing to a return Chances: Bad Pilotwings The biggest obstacle to seeing this series of arcadey flight sims on the Switch is that the series has a very specific purpose: it’s a tech demo. All three games were launch titles for their systems and explicitly meant to show off each system’s new tech. The original game was made to show off the SNES’ Mode 7, the N64 game was meant to show off the console’s polygonal graphics, and Resort was meant to showcase the 3DS’ stereoscopic 3D. With the Switch’s release far behind us, and its graphics not really needing a showcase, Pilotwings chances seem low. Granted, Pilotwings doesn’t need to be a tech demo, but it could be how Nintendo views it as. There is some fan demand for it, but not as much as F-Zero or Golden Sun, and no developer has commented on the possibility of a return. Pilotwings has always been moderately successful, but not enough to justify constant releases. The only glimmer of hope is the comment from Nintendo’s CEO about wanting to bring more 3DS franchises for the Switch, but it’s quite possible that he didn’t have Pilotwings in mind when he said that Chances: Bad Punch-Out!! Another series popular enough to get a Smash character but not popular enough for consistent sequels, Punch-Out is a beloved classic with a consistent fanbase, but with a very erratic release schedule. After the SNES game in 1994, the series lay dormant for 15 years until it was revived for the Wii in 2009 and then laid to rest again. One explanation is that the series was never really popular in Japan. Neither the NES or SNES games were even available as full releases in the country, being instead, distributed as prizes or rewards. And though the Wii game got a full retail release, it sold very poorly. It’s always been a game more for Americans, so it is understandable that the Japanese developers at Nintendo aren’t super enthusiastic about it. That said, it was Nintendo who pitched the reboot in the first place, so they may want to do it again someday. The developer for the Wii game was Next Level Games, who release a game every three or two years, and they also develop Mario Strikers and Luigi’s Mansion. Having already released LM3, it’s likely they’ll release another game for the Switch some time soon. That could be Punch-Out, but it is just as likely that it could be Mario Strikers, or something else entirely. Some think that the series use of flagrant national stereotypes would impede it from coming back in today’s political climate, but frankly, I don’t think that’s as definitive a problem. Worst case scenario, they simply make a new cast, just like Super Punch Out, but less racially insensitive. Another interesting development is that Mike Tyson has been talking about wanting a new Punch-Out this year. I don’t think Nintendo cares what he says, and they definitely don’t want to associate with him again, but it is a pretty high-profile person talking about the series, which is bound to raise interest. Whether that’s enough for Nintendo to consider a new game? I don’t think so. But regardless, Punch-Out is popular enough that the door is never truly closed for it. Chances: Not Good Pushmo This acclaimed puzzle game was released for the 3DS eshop in 2012 and was successful enough to get three sequels. Although it hasn’t been seen since 2015, there doesn’t seem to be anything impeding its return. The developer is our good friend Intelligent Systems, and, of the aforementioned IS franchises still to launch on the Switch, Pushmo, being a simple, but beloved, puzzle game, seems like the safest investment. It likely could be developed alongside another major game. There is demand for it, and considering Nintendo’s eshop efforts, Pushmo would fit in perfectly alongside Snipperclips and fellow 3DS eshop puzzle star Boxboy. All in all, there’s no reason not to expect Pushmo to come back. Chances: Good continued in comments
Video games are great. They’re a ton of fun to play and can be a cheap way to occupy your free time. They help people stay in touch with friends or even make new friends. Games are a far more interactive form of entertainment than just watching TV or movies. They keep your brain engaged and usually do a great job of rewarding players for their success. With all these benefits, it’s no surprise then that some people might get addicted. You could probably even make a good argument that all well designed games should be addicting in some way. For this article I want to look at the different ways that games make themselves addicting, decide if this constitutes good or bad gameplay, and finally make a decision on whether companies should make games like this.
Two types of addicting games
From a design perspective, there are two different categories of addicting games. The first category is games that have addictive gameplay. What this means is different from person to person. Some people love the “one more turn” types of games like the Civilization series. Others enjoy the “one more match” multiplayer games that can range from shooters, to MOBAs, to sports games. There’s another group of people that fall in love with MMORPGs and what they have to offer. The second category of addicting games are the games which employ addicting behavior. In these games, it is not the gameplay itself which is addicting but the way you play the game. These games might include addicting gameplay, but more importantly, they encourage forming habits. For this article, I want to focus on this second category of games and the gacha genre specifically. To be clear, many different types of games use these strategies but the gacha genre seems to rely on these heavily. The recent release of Genshin Impact for PCs got me thinking more about this, and I would like to use it as sort of a case study. In the next sections I’m going to break down all the things that I’ve seen gacha games do to encourage player addiction. I have not played Genshin Impact and know almost nothing about it other than some gameplay videos I’ve seen. I am curious to know how many of these things the game does or will do.
Lowest possible barrier to entry
It’s very important if you want to get new players addicted to your game, you have to get them to try the game first. In the world of video games, the easiest way to accomplish this is to make your game free. What harm could there be in trying out a free game? You see equivalents like this in the real world too. Have you ever heard of a casino where you have to pay to park? What about a casino with a parking lot that is too small? Many casinos will even offer free shuttle services. The most important thing is to get them in and get them started. It doesn’t stop there, though. Most gacha games will also start you off with one of the strongest characters. This accomplishes three things. First, it helps ensure you will have success immediately when you start playing. Most of the starting content for gacha games is laughably easy. It would almost be impossible to fail. They want to get those success endorphins kicking in as soon as possible. The second reason is that it immediately shows the player the power difference between lower tier characters and higher tier characters. Think of it like a company giving out free samples. First one is on them, but you’re going to have to pay if you want more (either with money or your time). The final reason for doing this, is to help players get over a time gap. For gacha games that have been out for a while, you will often see them enticing new players or returning players with offers for a free highest tier character if you start playing now. People who play gacha games know these characters can be very time consuming to acquire so it helps them feel like they won’t be starting so far behind other players.
Speaking of other players, including interactions with other humans is a must for this genre. The most common form of this is PvP matches. The higher your rank, the better your reward. PvP matches allow players who have been playing for a long time or spent a lot of money to feel like they are stronger or better than other players. These types of PvP matches are not set on even ground like most multiplayer focused games. Players don’t start with equal stats and have to rely on their game knowledge or experience. Instead, players with stronger or higher-level characters can straight up beat lower level players every time. It’s their reward for being committed to the game. PvP matches are also a great way to endlessly extend game time. Multiplayer doesn’t have to mean PvP, however. This might be co-operative content where you join a guild to help chip away at strong bosses or maybe just visit other players’ bases to see what they have and compare. This results in content that you can’t access unless you join a guild or maybe currency that you can’t acquire if you don’t have in game friends. These games are essentially forcing players to join and stay with a community. You are far more likely to stick with a game when you feel like you’re part of the group. Gacha games make sure it is easy to join guilds or fill up your friends list for this reason.
Consistent and repetitive game time required
Here’s a great article about forming new habits. To sum it up, the article states new habits can be formed using a cycle of three things:
Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
Routine (the actual behavior you perform)
Reward (the benefit from doing the behavior)
Does this sound familiar? What if I list it like this:
Send phone notification that your energy is full or that special productive time is happening right now
Get players to log in at least once daily
Make sure daily quest rewards are the most productive way (if not the only way) to make progress
These games are trying everything in their power to get you to form a habit of playing. They don’t want you to play for 40 hours straight and be done with the game. They might start off with the ability to play a lot, but that doesn’t last. After a while, players end up logging in to do the same few things every day. Gacha games know this gets repetitive and maybe a little boring so they will usually include a way for the game to “auto-play” itself through these daily tasks. At this point, it’s the habit that is important. You’re actually playing the game a lot less now and just logging in to make sure you get your daily reward. It’s not uncommon for gacha games to even include a monthly reward for players who log in every day of the month. You should be skeptical of any game that gives you a reward for simply logging in daily. Chances are good they’re trying to form a habit. If you’ve been playing one of these games daily for over two months, it’s likely that you have already formed a habit. Does the thought of not playing for a single day make you uneasy? Try it yourself. An even bigger test is to turn off alerts and stop playing for a week. Do you still have a desire to play after one week of not logging in? I find that I usually don’t.
Time limited events
Next up on the checklist are the time limited events or sales. It’s very common in these games to have events that last for maybe two weeks every other month or so. During these events, it is especially important for players to log in daily and do the limited time event quests. These events are often how new characters are introduced and added to the game. Players know that if they want these characters, their best chance of getting them is during this event only. These types of events are the game design equivalent of the well established limited-time offer. Check out this article on ways to maximize your limited-time offer. How many of these have you seen in gacha games?
Promote Your Limited-Time Sale
Popups as soon as you log into the game informing about the current events
Convert Abandoning Shoppers with a Timely Popup
Popup before you exit the game stating how much energy you have left or unspent action points
Leverage the Holiday Season
Most gacha games include events that coincide with the major holidays
Offer Free Delivery for a Limited Time
This is the equivalent of giving bonus currency during a flash sale. You don’t want to make people regret their past currency purchases by putting it on discount, but you can reward them for buying more currency right now.
Create Urgency-Driven Popups
Sales that you get access to only once for a short time such as new player promotions available for the first 24 hours after starting a game and then gone forever.
Drive Urgency with an Email Countdown Timer
The games usually make sure to let you know there’s only “one week left” or “24 hours left” until the end of the event. Almost never do they just list dates and rely on you to be aware of when the event is ending.
Recommend Products in Your Emails
Make sure players know exactly what cool costumes or characters they can only unlock during this event
Tease Upcoming Limited-Time Sales
A calendar showing the schedule for upcoming events
Gacha games want you to think that these are just fun, limited time pieces of content to enjoy, but they are also thoroughly designed to persuade you to spend money. By having constant limited time events, players are encouraged to continue playing the game for fear of missing out on new characters. It’s also par for the course that newly released characters or gear are exceedingly strong. This is just one more way to incentivize players to always want the newest characters. They are pretty much guaranteed to be stronger than existing characters. They might eventually get tuned back down but they always start out overly strong especially in games that have PvP content.
Are these games actually fun
I am not ashamed to admit that I love gacha games. To me, it is really fun collecting new heroes and the risk/reward nature of rolling for new characters can be quite satisfying. These types of games often have gameplay that I personally find quite enjoyable too. They can range anywhere from turn based strategy, to tower defense, to action games. It’s almost unfair to call them a genre since it is more like a common mechanic included in a game of some other genre. “Almost unfair” is important wording here. Inevitably these games all seem to follow the same formula. The game will start on a very high note. There is almost no repetitive gameplay and players are constantly unlocking new features, characters, or areas to explore. Eventually though, you will hit a content gate. It’s impossible for any company to produce new content at a rate faster than players can consume it. Gacha games need you to keep playing forever, however, so they have devised a way to extend content almost indefinitely: the difficulty grind. Figured out how to beat a boss for the first time? Next up is beating it with 200% more health. The only way to do that is to make your characters stronger. The only way to do that is to log in every day and do your daily quests. Welcome to the end game gacha grind. The further in a gacha game you get, the longer and longer it takes to increase your characters’ power. Some people find this type of grinding to be right up their alley. As much as I enjoy playing these games, they all lead to this same destination and this is usually when I end up moving on to the next game. I’m still waiting for the gacha game which does not try to last forever. Dragging the game on indefinitely doesn’t have to be part of a gacha game, it just fits the business model that gacha games currently use.
Is it wrong to make addicting games
I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I generally tend towards the idea that people are responsible for their own actions. I want to say there is nothing wrong with making an addicting game where people can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a game. After all, who am I to decide what they should do with their time or how they should spend their money? How is it any different than letting someone spend thousands of dollars on shoes, or a purse, or cookie jars, or a car? Something about that, however, just doesn’t sit right with me. After thinking about it more, I realized it’s not an equivalent comparison. For all those other items, there is nothing inherently addictive about the product. Someone might be addicted to collecting shoes, but the shoe itself has no addictive properties. I’m willing to go one step further. It’s OK to design an addictive game if the results of that addiction are not an immediate and direct benefit to the company. For example, I have heard from many fans of the Civilization games (myself included) that they have on occasion played until the sun unexpectedly starts rising the next morning. To me, that definitely sounds like addictive gameplay and the impact to the player could be considered harmful. Firaxis, however, did not benefit in any direct way from me staying up all night playing the game. Maybe I’m more likely to buy an expansion or the next version of the game, but while in the middle of this activity, there were no direct or immediate steps I could take that would benefit the company. The gameplay being addictive wasn’t designed to lead to anything other than the person playing the game more. If you are a satisfied customer, the company doesn’t care if you played for 10 hours, 50 hours, or 200 hours. If there was a game out there which used every one of the addicting tactics I listed above, I would have no issue with that if there was no way to spend additional money on the game. I’ve not heard of a game like this, but it’s possible one exists. The gacha games I know of, however, most certainly do benefit directly and immediately from players being addicted. By allowing players to spend endless amounts of money, it is in their best interest for you the player to get addicted and play the game for as long as possible spending as much money as possible along the way. It’s hard to argue they think otherwise when these types of games include pricing models that are so far outside the previously established pricing norms for video games. A fully priced AAA game typically sells for $60. Maybe there is a collector’s edition which could sell for up to $150 dollars. In that case, you know exactly what extra you are buying with your money. It is guaranteed to arrive with the product. Gacha games, however, will let you spend hundreds of dollars every single day with no guarantee of acquiring what you hope to get. Again, in theory, there is nothing wrong with a game allowing players to spend as much money as they want on the game. But how can I interpret a game designed to be behaviorally addicting while also allowing unlimited spending as anything other than malicious? It is the combination of these two things which leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. In the end, I do think companies have a moral obligation to not take advantage of their customers. Making games like this does tell me what you think of me as a customer. You view me as a target to extract as much wealth from as possible. If the industry keeps going this direction, it will only be a matter of time before regulations are put in place to protect consumers, much like a legal drinking, smoking, or gambling age. Here’s one company that was willing to openly talk about the issue and I think they should be applauded for it. Companies don’t have to use this design and business model to make a profit, it just allows them to make a bigger profit. Ultimately, the choice is yours to play games of this nature. I know many people who’ve played games like this for years and never spent a dime. You should just know what you’re getting into. It’s the equivalent of putting health warnings on cigarette boxes. For anyone that’s played Genshin Impact, how did I do? Does the game break the mold, or does it follow the tried and proven path? https://hexanephgames.com/2020/10/23/designing-addicting-games/
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