Games I Played In 2016

I kept a log of all the games I managed to play during the calendar year of 2016. I played some a little. I played others a lot. Here are some brief notes about each.

I played most of these games via Steam, often on Windows but sometimes on Linux. There are a few Android games in here; I’m not very fond of mobile gaming. Also, there are a few Xbox (original) games mixed in as well since I had a brief period of trying out a bunch of random Xbox games I have laying around using one of the old Xbox consoles I have accumulated.

  1. XCOM: I started off the year with something familiar. At the start of the year, this was the most-played game in my Steam library (at around 100 hours).
  2. Double Dragon Neon: I was an expert at Double Dragon 1, 2, and 3 on the original NES. I really enjoy this game since it’s a love letter not only to the original series but also to 1980s kitsch with the camp level turned up to 11. It’s especially a joy to listen to. Every power-up has an accompanying theme song which is a pastiche of some popular song from the 1980s. However, I’m not as good at action games as I used to be. So I can’t get very far in this game.
  3. Westerado: Double Barreled: Novel little pixel-art Western-themed adventure game from Adult Swim. I haven’t gotten too far on this, but I would like to get back to it sometime.
  4. Tembo The Badass Elephant: Crazy action game where you play a mean, rampaging elephant. Another game that highlights how poor I am at action games these days.
  5. WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos: I liked playing StarCraft II and so I wanted to try some earlier Blizzard RTS games. I had procured the WarCraft III Battle Chest bundle quite some time ago but I could never make it work right on Windows 7 installations (the FMV wouldn’t play which left me a bit confused). But since I built a proper Windows XP system this past year, I got to try this game after all. So far, it has left me a bit bored.
  6. Ultra Street Fighter IV: It seems that I often kick off a Steam gaming session by playing a few matches with the 50+ fighters in this game. As many times as I have played this, I haven’t racked up a lot of hours since I just can’t take too much of it in one sitting.
  7. GemCraft – Chasing Shadows: A tower defense game that apparently started life as a web browser game. Despite my love of TD games, I haven’t gotten too far into this. I remember that the most weirdly intimidating factor when I started this game was realizing that there were more than 400 achievements.
  8. Undertale: One of the biggest recent indie darlings. I did my duty and bought it but I just couldn’t get into it.
  9. Space Run: One of my most played tower defense-type games. I also classify this game as ‘completed’ since I have earned 100% of the associated Steam achievements, a personal first.
  10. SimCity 4: I wanted to try a proper city building game and dusted off this disk for my WinXP machine. I couldn’t get into it.
  11. Defense Grid: The Awakening: I played this tower defense game a lot prior to 2016. I thought I had mostly finished it but then I booted it up during 2016 and realized that there were still numerous missions I hadn’t finished (when you buy the full bundle, this game comes with a huge pile of DLC). This is now the most played game in my Steam library and I’ll likely keep revisiting this from time to time as I shoot for all the achievements.
  12. Defense Grid 2: I 100%’d this game, at least for all the single-player achievements. It’s a much shorter experience than the original game since there isn’t any additional DLC. This sequel provides a much more streamlined experience than the first game.
  13. Game of Thrones Telltale game: Being a fan of the HBO show, and after playing through Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us, this seemed like a good candidate to play. It’s mostly like watching a Game of Thrones spin-off TV series, and that’s okay.
  14. Cities: Skylines: I played this briefly during a free weekend on Steam early in the year. I bought the game much later in the year when it was on sale as I feel determined to try to enjoy this type of simulation game for some reason.
  15. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Android with Samsung Gear VR): Ah, 2016– the year of virtual reality! I got a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ phone early in the year and then learned about the Samsung Gear VR. So I took the $100 plunge for the headgear. I quickly realized that VR isn’t for me. However, this is one highlight of all the VR stuff I have tried.
  16. Shiftlings: Fun action-puzzler game that I played briefly and would like to get back to sometime.
  17. Dungelot (Android): I installed my favorite time-waster game on my new Android phone. I can’t let myself play it too much since a single session of this rogue-like can stretch over hours.
  18. Crystal Defenders (Android): This was my second tower defense game after Plants vs. Zombies and I still enjoy it.
  19. Transformers: Devastation: I was excited by the look of this game for the same reason I was enthused for Robotech: Battlecry back in 2002: the game’s art style looks exactly like the source cartoon I grew up with. Regrettably, the game play just didn’t grab me.
  20. Sky Force Anniversary: I really enjoy this modernized shmup and the soundtrack is especially exceptional. Like Ultra Street Fighter IV, I have played it many times, but never too long in one sitting.
  21. Hard Reset: This Steam code came with a new video card I bought this past year. This was a bit weird because, usually, such promo deals feature games that actually showcase the capability of the GPU. This FPS has bare minimum graphical requirements which basically amount to a card supporting the unified shading model. Anyway, the game itself is a cyberpunk-themed FPS. I tried really hard to get into it, but alas. It proved I’m no good at FPS games since I couldn’t even get past the 3rd or 4th “area” (depending on how areas are defined).
  22. Kingdom Rush: Another tower defense game I have sunk absurd hours into. I have yet to 100% it (one day!).
  23. Kingdom Rush Frontiers: I guess Steam assessed that I played the first game so much that I would appreciate a coupon for the sequel upon release. I didn’t even know the release was impending. But they calculated correctly because I exercised the coupon and went right to work on this game. I have 100%’d the game several times– because the creators keep releasing new updates. It’s all good.
  24. Castle of Illusion: I caught this upgraded Mickey Mouse game from the Genesis era on Steam sale and it’s a delightful little action game. It also vanished from Steam almost immediately after I bought it, but I still get to keep my copy.
  25. Star Wars: Republic Commando (Xbox): I was just testing that the Xbox still works. I’m no good at FPS games and this game only reinforced that fact.
  26. Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (Xbox): This accidentally came with my most recent Xbox console purchase. It’s a 1v1 fighting game that provided a lot of entertainment among my group. It has good old Marvel mainstays like Spider-Man and Daredevil, but it also has a series of “Imperfects”– superpowered beings for which EA apparently owns the exclusive IP rights. So don’t look for them anywhere else.
  27. Project Gotham Racing (Xbox): Racing game. Didn’t make an impact.
  28. Sega GT 2002 (Xbox): Another racing game. Again, no impact.
  29. Robotech Invasion (Xbox): I’ve been wanting to try this game for a long time thanks to being a fan of Robotech from back in the day. I was disappointed to find a rather unremarkable FPS.
  30. Street Fighter Anniversary (Xbox): We were having so much fun with the Rise of the Imperfects that I obtained this collection which includes SF2 and SF3.
  31. Hydro Thunder (Xbox/Midway Treasures 3): Fun arcade-emulated racing game on the Xbox.
  32. S.T.U.N. Runner (Xbox/Midway Treasures 3): I loved this game in the arcade. However, they completely messed up this release. The emulated version of this game runs entirely too quickly. I don’t know how they overlooked this.
  33. Girls Like Robots: Nice little puzzle game.
  34. Not The Robots: Very odd little game which feeds into a gamer’s obsession for collecting stuff.
  35. Rush 2049 (Xbox/Midway Treasures 3): Another game off this racing arcade game collection (there are 8 total on the disc).
  36. Stolen (Xbox): Stealth action game from 2005. I would like to get back to this game in the future.
  37. Test Drive (Xbox): Another racing game. No impact again.
  38. Revenge of the Titans: I love tower defense games and I saw this one come up on Steam sale. I found this TD game rather lacking and I see that many of the Steam reviews agree with this assessment and are able to elucidate on exactly why. However, it came in a bundle with 3 more games (called the Ultrabundle) from the same developer…
  39. Titan Attacks!: Bundled along with Revenge of the Titans, this is a fairly brazen Space Invaders clone… but darned if I didn’t play it nearly 10 hours while collecting most of the achievements. I’ve never enjoyed a Space Invaders variant so much and this made up for the Revenge of the Titans disappointment.
  40. Droid Assault: Part of the Ultrabundle, this is sort of an overhead adventure/exploration game. I didn’t get into it.
  41. Ultratron: Part of the Ultrabundle, it’s a Robotron 2084 clone.
  42. Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser: Action game with a charming aesthetic of pretending to be a 1970s Japanese Anime translated to English. Steam says I played in 8 minutes but it felt like longer. I guess I’m saying I didn’t get into it.
  43. Mortal Kombat Armageddon (Xbox): Fighting games were the order of the day at gatherings, so I procured this title that has 60+ fighters. It just doesn’t get boring.
  44. Zombo Buster Rising: An odd little tower defense. It’s not without its charm.
  45. McDroid: Another tower defense game. Nice cel-shaded art style but I couldn’t get past the first level.
  46. Dungeon Warfare: Here we go! This tower defense grabbed me in a major way and I have sunk nearly 60 hours into it, grabbing most of the achievements. Such a simple art style, but so much fun.
  47. Lara Croft GO: I always wanted to try this isometric puzzle game on mobile but now I can play it on Steam.
  48. Syder Arcade: This is another action standby that I like to play for a few minutes in a session. But I can’t sustain the shmup action for very long.
  49. Shovel Knight: Still trying to work through this beautiful retro-style darling.
  50. Ball of Wonder: A Breakout/Arkanoid clone and it’s hard to go wrong with that.
  51. Alien Robot Machines: Yet another tower defense game. I’m enjoying this quite a bit, but it has its flaws (namely, the upgrade tree is difficult to manage).
  52. Super Win The Game: This is amazing. The apes the style of classic NES games, drawing the most influence (in my perception) from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The CRT filter that the game uses is nothing short of remarkable.
  53. Creeper World III: Arc Eternal: My final tower defense game of the year. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but it seems like an interesting twist on the concept.

All right. So I guess a good gaming resolution for 2017 would be to branch out a bit from the tower defense genre (8 out of my top 10 most-played games on Steam fall under TD in some manner).

Acquisition Log: Counterfeit Xbox Gear

I already found an original Xbox cast off in a recycle pile about 4 years ago. However, that one sits in a state of disassembly for some optical drive hacking experiments I was conducting awhile back. So when I found another unit at my favorite thrift shop for only $6, I snatched it up immediately in case I feel inspired to actually play an Xbox disc.

When I got home and plugged it in to verify that the thing works, I received this surprise:

Xbox with Rise of the Imperfects
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A copy of Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.

Meanwhile, on a separate visit to the same thrift shop, I saw one of these:

High Quality Xbox 360 Controller
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Oops, did I say “one of these”? I meant I saw about 50 of them. They were scattered all around the store. I’d find 10 here, 5 there, 2 in another part of the store. Looks reputable, right? They couldn’t label it as “High Quality” if it weren’t true, right? I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this. The color scheme reminds me of the Xbox 360 brand. The price was right (i.e. low enough), so I picked one up. When I got it home, I realized that there were numerous stickers on the box and started peeling them back:

Counterfeit Xbox 360 controller -- peeling sticker
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Ah, so it is supposed to be an Xbox 360 controller. Here’s what the box looks like without the stickers:

Counterfeit Xbox 360
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What are the stickers for? It seems clear that this is some manner of counterfeit. Were the sellers legally required to cover up Xbox 360 markings? Perhaps they were barred from selling these and decided to just drop them off at this thrift shop.

So it’s a good bet that it’s a counterfeit controller. But what’s the difference between this and the real deal? I don’t have an Xbox 360 so I don’t have much experience with how this differs from an authentic controller. It looks legit to me and would have fooled me were it not for the weird box stickers. I recently procured a Steam Link device and this controller appears to work perfectly.

However, I dug up this Gaming.StackExchange thread in which someone procured the same counterfeit item. They determined that the analog controller actually acts as a digital gamepad. I.e, it only has 9 discrete positions rather than offering a continuous range of coordinates.

Other recent acquisitions that are not yet represented in the MobyGames database:

Elroy's Costume Closet; Pop Drop and Stack; Lost & Found; Harvest Mania
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  • Elroy’s Costume Contest, from Headbone Interactive (1996): This is interesting. I have previously acquired 2 other Elroy games and covered them in a previous entry. In checking to see if anyone else had heard of these games and if there were any other games in the series, I found that someone had cared enough about this series to set up a dedicated Wikia space for it which only mentioned the 2 games. I assumed that was the last word on the matter. Evidently not.
  • Pop! Drop! + Stack! XP Championship, from SelectSoft games (2006): What a curiously punctuated title. The box claims to have “Over 100 Games”. I have encountered this SelectSoft stuff before, in the form of dubious 100,000 Games and 333,000 Games packages.
  • Lost & Found Volume 1, from Interactive Toys (1994): An ambitious title promising future volumes that I will need to watch out for.
  • Harvest Mania To Go, from (2005): MobyGames has a record of this being a browser game from 2005. This copy also has a copyright date of 2005, so perhaps it was published concurrently. Seems to be a cross between color matching and Farmville.

NHRA Drag Racing 2; Fetch!; Go Fish!; Madagascar DVD Game
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  • Looney Tunes: Back In Action, from Warner Bros. (2003)
  • NHRA Drag Racing 2: Limited Edition (2000): The regular version is already in the database; the Limited Edition probably warrants a separate entry.
  • Fetch! from Gamebryo, Virtual Playground, and ValuSoft (2006): You can pretend to care for a dog.
  • Go Fish! from Knowledge Adventure (1998): probably not a card game
  • Madagascar Animal Trivia DVD Game (Demo Edition), from b Equal: Appropriate for “ages 6-106”

Kar Racing; Horse Lovers Ultimate Compendium
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  • KAR Racing, Twin Pak with Mini Golf, from Cosmi (2003): turns out I already acquired a copy of this but without the box or the Mini Golf game
  • The Horse Lovers Ultimate Compendium, a DVD-ROM collection from Viva Media (2012, 2014): The box copy claims “Over 50 complete games included”. However, it only seems to include 6 games according to the rest of the copy (front, back, and disc):
    • My Riding Stables
    • Championship Riding Star
    • Blue Ribbon Show Jumper
    • Horse Camp
    • Riding Academy 1
    • Riding Academy 2

Acquisition Log: Ohio Distinctive Software

Awhile ago, I covered 2 educational titles from an outfit called Ohio Distinctive Software (ODS): GeoRunner and Superheroes Math Challenge. I recently found an eBay lot consisting of more than a dozen ODS titles, including GeoRunner and a duplicate of one game; 14 discs in total. Most of them aren’t in the database yet.

Many of them appear to be bilingual (English/Spanish). Here is the first half dozen:

ODS Software Set 1
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The inventory:

  • ODS Amazing Art Corner– I’m guessing this is either art history or activities
  • Master Gecko’s Home Row– presumably a typing game
  • The Daily FUNdaMentals– perhaps a trivia game
  • Twins’ Challenge / El roto de los mellizos– no idea on this one
  • Mongro’s Monstrous Money Math / Las Monstruosas Matematicas– probably basic financial management
  • Robob’s Cubetronic Quizimajig

And the other half:

ODS Software Set 2
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  • Intergalactic Rocket Factory / Fabrica de cohetes intergalacticos– don’t know what this is, but it sounds like fun! Then again, it’s supposed to be educational, so maybe not
  • The Mammoth Food Dig / La Gran Aventura de los Alimentos– likely an exercise in proper nutrition
  • The Groovin’ Gourmet– cooking?
  • Edgar’s Language Exploration / Exploracion de Idiomas de Edgar
  • Quadrinarian Qword Find: The Search For Meaning– maybe this is a simple grid word search puzzle dressed up with a weird title
  • Painter Bear’s Language Bridge / Puente de Idiomas Del Oso Pintor

Some other recent pickups:

Africa Trail; Hot Shots: Tarzan; Dance With ABC
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  • Big box copy of The Africa Trail, cousin to the venerable Oregon Trial series; even comes with a copy of The Oregon Trail on CD-ROM, alleged to be a $50 value; humorously, when I got around to opening the box, the Africa Trail CD-ROM was missing, though the Oregon Trail CD-ROM was still present, as were several other Africa Trail artifacts
  • Really Wild Animals: Swinging Safari Explore and Print, by National Geographic Interactive– MindScape is also mentioned; copyright 1997; not sure if this is a game or not
  • Disney’s Hot Shots: Tarzan Jungle Tumble— I have a certain fondness for this series of late 1990’s Disney casual games
  • Dance With ABC– companies mentioned include Softworks and GT Interactive; it’s really hard to find information about this game since Googling for the name only returns results for Dancing With The Stars which happens to air on ABC

Care Bears; Gus Goes To Cyberopolis; I Spy Fantasy; Extreme Arcade Games
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  • Care Bears: Care-A-Lot Jamboree– MobyGames has a nice collection of Care Bears titles but this one has slipped through the cracks
  • Gus Goes To Cyberopolis– full name is “Modern Media Ventures Presents A Gus & The Cyberbuds Learning Adventure: Gus Goes To Cyberopolis”; MobyGames has a record of Gus Goes To Cybertown, which is apparently a separate title
  • I Spy Fantasy
  • Nickolodeon Rocket Power: Extreme Arcade Games

Acquisition Log: Centennial Edition

I’m not usually a big collector of the Limited Special Collector’s Ultimate Edition, but this item caught my eye: “Lionel Trains Presents: Trans-Con! Centennial Edition.” It helps that neither MobyGames nor much of the internet at large seem to know much about it (which always makes me want to snatch it up for preservation purposes).

Trans-Con Centennial Edition; Jets game; Tuneland; Qwirks
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Other items in this batch:

  • Jets, copyright 1994 by Medio Multimedia; impossibly generic in its naming (while the company name is construed by search engines as an obvious typo), so it’s hard to find any other data on the internet about the title. It features the MPC2 and “CD Laser Station” badges.
  • Tuneland starring Howie Mandel, by 7th Level, Inc., a company I have encountered a few times on this blog; this features the Packard Bell logo, so perhaps it was a pack-in.
  • Qwirks— this is already in the database, but my curiosity was piqued because it was designed by famed Tetris developer Alexey Pajitnov (plus, some cover scans are missing from the database).

So, about this Trans-Con special edition package– the game is apparently an educational title, probably primarily marketed towards classrooms. Here’s an old review from an educational software review site. Here are all of the items I procured in the used version of the limited edition package:

Lionel Trains Presents: Trans-Con! Centennial Edition
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The game, a handsome map, and an awkward tin. It’s entirely possible not all of the items included in the original package made it to the thrift shop where I procured this.

Some other recently procured items:

Rambler; Operation Krabby Patty; Casper; Type to Learn 3; Big Science Comics
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Acquisition Log: 2015-05-11

My Acquisition Log entries have slowed considerably. A lot of my usual acquisition sources seemed to dry up in the last year or so, including my favorite local thrift shop. However, I visited said thrift shop recently and found a treasure trove of games, a bounty the likes of which I had not encountered in quite some time.

In all my years of collecting games, this trip was unusual in that it was the first time I did so with an internet-connected mobile device by my side. It may surprise you to learn that I’m not much of a gadget freak and so I haven’t placed much value on smartphones yet. But I acquired a hand-me-down iPhone a few months ago. So this was the first time I was actually able to check potential purchases to see if they were already in the MobyGames database. This is a good thing or I might have walked about with 2-3 times as many games. The following games largely represent items which have little to no representation in the database as of yet.

Next TODO item is to make sure that my master games spreadsheet is easily accessible via my iPhone so that I don’t end up with any more copies of Barbie Sparkling Ice Show. Oops.

SeaWorld Tycoon; Wild Varmint Bounty Hunter; Cyberswine; Gravitar
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This lot includes:

  • SeaWorld Adventure Parks Tycoon, from Activition Value Publishing
  • Wild Varmint Bounty Hunter, published by ValueWorks; hunt for prairie dogs, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits (didn’t realize that a coyote is classified as a ‘varmint’)
  • Cyberswine by Brilliant Digital Entertainment– this is already in the database, but these Multipath Movies fascinate me on a technical level; one such title — Gravity Angels Part 1: Alien Discovery — was one of the first games I covered on this blog
  • Gravitar– companies mentioned on the jewel case include Topics Entertainment, Digital Eclipse, and none other than Atari; it seems that there is an old Atari game named Gravitar and I’m curious to see if this is a straight port or an upgraded remake of the original

Math Blaster; Mystery of the Tiki; Best Math Program Ever; Galactic Brain Benders
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Here’s a grouping of educational (possibly) titles:

  • Math Blaster: Cross Terrain Adventure
  • Hawaii High: The Mystery of the Tiki– the colon-ated title makes it sound as though this is one of many games; published by Sanctuary Woods (I still have a soft spot for their Radio Active title)
  • Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Best Math Program Ever, published by Simon and Schuster Interactive– a lofty title if I’ve ever read one
  • Thinkin’ Things: Galactic Brain Benders, by Edmark

Jungle Rangers; Drop! Deluxe Suite
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A few more, in bigger packaging:

  • Jungle Rangers: Into the Canopy, by iFocus
  • Drop! Deluxe Suite, from eGames; this boasts of coming as a 2-CD set, though it doesn’t look like it would be a very complex or graphically intensive game, requiring lots of assets. Then again, it’s eGames and you can usually count on them to package various bits of software that are, umm… at best, tangentially related to the game in question. Some games in the series are already on record, but not this collection or remix or whatever: Drop! and Drop! 2

Acquisition Log: 2014-04-02

MobyGames saw some rough times last year when, after years of stagnation, its new corporate master launched a much-maligned design overhaul. Then, at the very end of the year, a new benefactor swept in, took control, returned the design to its former glory, and has been carefully evolving the design and working to grow the community.

Through it all, I have continued to collect games, mostly due to force of habit, I suppose. But now I feel a bit more eager to get back to collecting and entering data (even if it’s just for cover art at this point).

Here are my latest acquisitions that are not yet represented in the database. Here’s a random grab bag:

Robot Club, Otter's Adventure, Galactic Bowling, Secrets of the Dark
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  • The Robot Club by Southpeak Interactive
  • The Otter’s Adventure (Softkey release), developed by Digital Impact in 1995
  • Galactic Bowling: The Ultimate Extreme Sport; PerpetualFX/Cosmi
  • Secrets of the Dark 2 Game Pack: Temple of Night & Eclipse Mountain, published by Big Fish

Here’s a smattering of educational games:

Pong Pong, Brain Quest, Word Krispies, Grammar Rock, Spell Adventure
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  • Pong Pong’s Learning Adventure: Animals, published by Hong Kong Datasun Group– this seems to be half in Chinese; I’m not looking forward to figuring out the original release region for this title
  • How Do You Spell Adventure? by Sanctuary Woods, whom I recognize thanks to their Radio Active title
  • Brain Quest: 2nd Grade, published by IBM in 1999; several entries in the Brain Quest series are already in the database, but not 2nd grade
  • Mighty Math 2-pack: Number Heroes and Calculating Crew, published by Edmark
  • Word Krispies (looks like this is already in the database), published by Liquid Dragon Studios and published by Encore
  • School House Rock: Grammar Rock (Smart Saver release)– “Kids email program included free!”

Here’s a stash of biblical-themed games, most of which were published by Left Behind Games:

Jesus Wants All Of Me, Charlie Church Mouse, King Solomon's Trivia Challenge, Left Behind 3
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  • Jesus Wants All of Me
  • Charlie Church Mouse: Preschool
  • King Solomon’s Trivia Challenge: Volume I: Quizmaster Edition
  • Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist

The next group is commercial licensees:

Apprentice, Scooby-Doo, Powerpuff Girls
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  • The Apprentice, based on the Donald Trump reality show; published by Legacy Interactive, whom I recognize thanks to their Law & Order adaptations, which makes me wonder if this is also Java-based
  • Scooby-Doo! Ancient Adventures– this is a VTech V.Flash console game. I have one of these V.Flash systems, still new in the box. One day, I’ll need to open it and play the 3 V.Flash games that I have acquired and perhaps lobby for the system’s inclusion into MobyGames, since they’re adding a lot more systems these days.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Learning Challenge #1: Mojo Jojo’s Clone Zone, from The Learning Company; I guess I should appreciate that some of these game titles are so ridiculously long as it makes it easier to determine that the game is not in the database.

Some software items that come in big, classic boxes:

Redshift 3, 20 Wargame Classics
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The first is Redshift 3. I’m not sure if this technically qualifies as a game. It might just be an educational space exploration software title. I wonder if it holds up to web-based space education tools.

The second box is Twenty Wargame Classics from Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI).