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Today in Retro Gaming: Axis & Allies

Porting most board games to the computer or console is a colossal waste of time. Scrabble always lacks the latest additions to the acceptable words list. Games like The Game of Life lose something if you can’t spin the spinner and jam new kids into your car. You can’t even do a digital version of Hungry Hungry Hippos, because what’s the point? But then you think about a game like Axis & Allies and realize it’s one big-ass exception to the rule.

Axis & Allies is like Monopoly or Risk: you go without playing it for years, then you have a few friends over, alcohol is consumed, and before long somebody opens a closet and says, “Hey, let’s play this!” which sounds so innocent at the time. Five hours later you’re plotting to cut off Steve’s eyelids for not helping you reinforce the Eastern Front, superglue Damon’s dick to the insides of his knees because of that laugh every time he bombed Ukraine, and fill Doug’s rectum with quick-dry cement for that stunt he pulled in Burma. Congratulations: you’ve just discovered the activator gene for sociopathy!

Which is where 1998’s Axis & Allies, programmed by Meyer/Glass Interactive and published by Hasbro for the PC comes in. See, unless you start taking a bulk magnet to its innards, your computer really couldn’t give less of a damn what sort of names you call it in the heat of the moment. It’s not going to unfriend you on Facebook if you bring its parentage into question. It’s not going to text its buddies in the morning wondering why you and it are no longer on speaking terms. It’s just a computer. It’s still going to play with the intention of ruining every plan you make, but it can also play every force you don’t want to command, which means every game of Axis & Allies gets the full, five-player treatment. Also, it won’t have any hard feelings if you betray it by blitzing your way through friendly territory to occupy South Africa. How nice of it!

This version of Axis & Allies plays point for point like Milton Bradley’s original board game, right down to the research trees, victory conditions, and optimal strategies. Even the game’s variant rules like beefing up the Axis technology at the start, preventing Russia from attacking on its first turn, and allowing bombers to carry paratroopers are coded in as options. Best of all, Axis & Allies lets you very quickly set up a new game, something which can take the better part of an hour when players have to physically count out money, distribute models, and lay out the starting board conditions. The in-game save option means you can leave a game in progress without your wife griping about the mess on your dining room table. So what are you waiting for, D-Day? Get out there and fight, you wuss! But before you charge off to the battlefield, enjoy the retro ad goodie:

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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