Thursday, June 16, 2011

Movie Mash up - Princes of Arabia

Since I'm involved in a contest that doesn't end until June 1st, 2011, I figured that I would do what I did with Game Chef and do reviews for people who have put forth entries into the Movie Mashup 24 hour RPG competition. I put my game up already, but since I'm not really going to review my own stuff, I'd rather get feedback from other people, I turn my attention to those the other contestants.

I'm doing this because I know that feedback is important, and that it is rather notoriously hard to get. I offer free copies of a book to people who will do a review of the PDF and I still haven't gotten any reviews that fit the contest (though Ed at Robot Viking did one, which is always appreciated).

Anyway, I'll be doing this review using most of the criteria put out by the contest. Copying from the thread here are the criteria for judgement.

Poor you! Our panel of monkeys will be judging you on:
Must include an NPC called Keeton
Proximity: How close to the two films is it?
Complete: Is it complete? Could you run it?
Attractive: Is it attractive to look at?
Professional: How much effort went into layout and style?
Extras: Did they include actual cover, index, character sheet or any other cool things you get in a proper RPG?

Don't worry too much about the Keeton part. That's a running joke on the site.

Today's game is Princes of Arabia, a submission by Aldo "Maledictus" Ojeda

Whoops. Both Rob and I missed this one, so I'm going to make sure this gets a review ASAP. First off, I'm going to say right now that I'm not really going to look at the language of the game unless it's really problematic. The reason is that this is someone not writing in his first language, and as someone who struggles with his written French I can sympathize.

What Aldo did was take Aladdin and Raiders of the Lost Ark and combine them to create an rollicking adventures to find treasure and gold. It's the second Raiders of the Lost Ark game, and it'll be interesting to see what's done with that.

As an aside, I think that might have been a problem with the contest. There were too many options to choose from so that we didn't get to see what a lot of people would do with the same film. It's hard because the wide selections of films created some games, like Droog Family Songbook, that were just amazingly off the hook.

Proximity: How close to the two films is it?
The game has this one sided mash-up feel to it that a lot of the earlier games did. When you have Disney's Aladdin and you reference the fourty thieves you're mixing your source materials. It's got a very 1001 Arabian Nights and Raiders of the Lost Ark feel to the game since you play some of the fourty thieves who have been hired by the various, nefarious, groups in "Arabia" to get treasure that has been 'lost' and needs to be 're-acquired.'

Everything is in scare quotes because really the people who hire you are as crooked as they come and are just stealing from each other. I do think that the best part of the background write up is the section on the Crusaders:

Crusaders – Crusaders, I hate this guys. They come from far away and claim Arabia as theirs. The only thing they care is money, they pillage towns and attack innocent people.

Crusaders. I hate those guys too. It's a lovely little moment in the text that really works. However, it's just one of those elements that points towards 1001 Arabian Nights, or Lawrence of Arabia, rather than Aladdin. I mean, if he had the Genie doing it with his Robin Williams voice then that's comedy gold. As it stands, just points towards the fact that while the sentiment is right on the target, the target that got hit was in the other lane.

Complete: Is it complete? Could you run it?

Yes, it is a complete game. It's got a conflict resolution system, it's got the end of the scenario, everything you need is there to play it. Now, I feel that the conflicts might take too long because for every success you have, you only reduce the difficulty of the encounter by 1 and you only take damage when you roll a 1. I think there really isn't much tension if you fail a die roll, and there is little incentive to spend your Adventure Points to take damage for a friend.

The idea is that you roll a d6 and add your appropriate stat. If it's seven or greater then you reduce the encounter by 1. What I would like to see is that the higher rolls reduce the encounter strength even more. Say like a 10 reducing it by 4. Of course, to make the tension greater the flipside would be true as well. If you go lower than 7 then you would end up taking damage. A 6 would deal 1 damage, a 5 would deal 2 and so on and so forth on down.

I haven't played it, so this is just me speculating, but that's what came to my mind.

Attractive: Is it attractive to look at?
Professional: How much effort went into layout and style?

The PDF itself is easy to read, the the few sketches are a little on the cute and cartoony, which doesn't fit the theme too well but aren't distracting at all. The font is very readable, and it flows very well.

Extras: Did they include actual cover, index, character sheet or any other cool things you get in a proper RPG?

I think this has to have the nicest character sheets out of all the games. It's just a bunch of boxes, but it's an appropriate bunch of boxes. I like the fact that all of them can fit on a single sheet of paper too.

Would I play it?
Yes, I would. I'd like to play it as written, and then try it with the modification just to see if it speeds things up. It's a fun game, well executed as a game. It just didn't execute the rules of the contest.


maledictus said...

Thanks for your review! What I was most afraid of was to not being very close to the source materials. And yes, maybe it wasn't close enough to the Alladin movie in particular.

I pretended that the effect on rolling high would be noticed in the narration, describing more dramatic outcomes even if a single point was eliminated. The system only becomes slow with high challenges (hopefully you'll have a bunch of magic items to make this quicker).

I really want to test what you have suggested, maybe adding to the game a little chart for this (I still want to keep rules as light as possible).

As for the sketches, I wanted to keep them light hearted to be closer to an Alladin feeling.

Thanks again for your review, I'll take notes on everything you said!

Jonathan said...

Totally understandable with wanting to keep the rules light. It just wanted more risk when it came to rolling the dice.

Glad the review was helpful.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box