I consider myself to be a pretty big board and card game fan. I will often find myself looking through various game sites to keep up with a new game or expansion to one already released. I have an extensive collection of board games as well as a great deal of card games. Many of these games range from complex games with intricate rules that may take an hour or two to get a play through in to games that take as short as 5 minutes to play.
So, I always find it interesting when a analog game gets ported over to a gaming console and become excited anticipating its release. It can sometimes be a touchy subject, especially with board game purists, as the digital recreation does not always live up to expectations. A virtual rendition of a favorite classic may have its game play or rules altered to make the experience better. This, of course, can change the fundamentals of the game and cause it to play differently then it would normally be.
One of the more recent examples came last year in the XBLA release of Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers. I was never big into Magic because it is a huge money sink in that you constantly need to spend money buying cards each time an expansion or new core set is released. When I heard that a XBLA game was coming, I looked forward to being able to play against friends and had set up a wish list of features, in my mind, that I had hoped would be implemented. Sadly, many of those features were not present. Sure, the game allowed me to duel against 1 to 3 friends, but it was sort of crippled by the fact that you really could not customize your deck much. Everyone had access to the same pool of decks and the only changes you could make would be to insert various cards that you unlock through game play. It would have been nice to have a bit more flexibility to be able to customize your cards more. With the announcement, recently, of a Yu-Gi-Oh game headed to XBLA, it appears, according to the press, that this game will have most of the features that I was hoping would be present in MtG. I’ll definitely be checking out the game as I know one other person who is also excited and we’ll be able to flex our virtual card supremacy to see who is the better duelist.
Card games are not the only analog games that are receiving a virtual treatment. Table top board games are also making their way to the digital realm. While this practice has been going on for a while, it has seemed that most renditions were safe, easily ported games, such as Monopoly, chess, Scrabble and other typical family night type board games. Recently, a few more complex games have made their way, mostly, to Xbox Live Arcade. Games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and the upcoming Dungeon Twister are more unusual games, often called Euro games, that many people in the United States might not be familiar with. The nice thing about these XBLA renditions is that the price to play is usually much, much cheaper then the table top version. For instance, Settlers of Catan averages around $40-$50 for the table top version while the XBLA version is 800 MS Points($10). Not only are the games cheaper, but you can concentrate more on the actual game play and not worrying about the rules as much.
Overall, I would say that I have been very happy with the offerings that Microsoft has given games thanks to its Live Arcade system. Not only can gamers play some new and unique games or classics such as Pac-Man, but they can be introduced to a fair number of unique table top games. I certainly hope that porting board games to platforms such as XBLA or PSN continues to satisfy the table top gamer in me.