Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fireball Island > Skyrim

So there I was, ready to delve back into the world of Skyrim following a two-week hiatus on account of game-crushing bugginess, ready to download the latest patch and get back to crafting the finest set of dragon scale armor on Nirn. (By the way, update 1.4 is live, Skyrimmers.)

Game updates are nothing new. This generation has been absolutely plagued with patch releases, fixing errors that would have never made it past QA ten years ago. And before that, glitches like the Super Mario Brothers minus world were just plain awesome.

What's not awesome? Bi-weekly Playstation Network updates, that's what. Especially when I have to download one on top of a patch. Now I'm an easy two hours away from fulfilling my Skyrim destiny.

So where does a boy go when his video games have been taken away? He goes to FIREBALL ISLAND!

Please allow me to get you appropriately pumped up. I'm talking CAPS LOCK pumped up:

Fireball Island, the dimensional adventure game of pitfalls and perils, came bowling mercilessly into living rooms in 1986, leaving nothing but flaming wreckage and domestic violence in its wake. I'm not surprised if you haven't heard of it; Fireball Island leaves few survivors.
Vul-Kar guarding his cursed treasure.

This ain't no Chutes and Ladders, kiddies. In Fireball Island, you ascend a perilous mountain full of winding paths and hidden dangers in a quest for a priceless jewel. Meanwhile, the horrific idol Vul-Kar hurls deadly fireballs your way in an attempt to guard his treasure. Once the jewel is in your grasp, it's an all-out race back down the mountain, avoiding Vul-Kar's wrath while preventing your fellow adventurers from stealing it away. The first to the boat with the jewel wins! The rest are eaten by the savage island natives.

The pitfalls and perils unfold on a very impressive, very innovative three-dimensional game board complete with deep forests, creepy swamps, dark caves, rushing rivers and waterfalls, a giant snake that looks like a peanut, and the greatest topper in board game history: Vul-Kar. Go fuck yourself, pop-a-matic bubble.

The adventure begins at Dead Man's Plateau (an ominous start)--roll the die and head up Witchlord Trail, over Witchlord Step, down Thunder Alley and Skeleton Head Beach; then you climb Blister Run, grab the jewel, make your way over the treacherous rope bridges, through Viper Pass, down Dock Run, onto the boat to safety!
This way to unimaginable wealth, dog meat!

But if you roll a 1 or lay down a fireball card, kiss your ass goodbye, because it's time for Fireball Island to live up to its name. Push a fireball from any of four locations on the map or straight out of Vul-Kar's hideous, gaping maw. If you're awesome like me, you'll yell "FIREBALLLLLL!" as it barrels over your former friends. And if your piece is hit--even nudged--you'll spend your next turn face down in the nearest slag pit, picking tar and the bones innocent out of any number of orifices.

On top balls of liquid-hot magma rolling your way, every roll is followed by fast and furious card play. In fact, I think this is the only game I've ever seen where you can  play as many cards as you want, whenever you want. Move players forward and back, steal their cards, give them a fake jewel, roll and stop fireballs: it's all ridiculously confusing, infuriating, and hilariously fun if you're playing with friends you don't mind repeatedly calling "bitch," "asshole," "cock sucker," etc. Swearing and fisticuffs are actually highly encouraged. It's right here in the manual.

FIREBALL! The playing cards are decked with fantastic,
Choose Your Own Adventure-style artwork.

Being that the game is legally old enough to rent a car, it can be a bit hard to track down in the wild, especially with all of the the various pieces intact. I'd recommend keeping your eyes peeled at your local thrift stores and garage sales. And if all else fails, there's always ebay.

One way or another, I highly recommend tracking down a set and giving it a try. Or, if you'd rather, come on over to my place and we'll take a trip to FIREBALL ISLAND, asshole.

Slides from my last vacation on Fireball Island:

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