Daily Archives: 09/12/2004

More On Paris’ Underground Cinema

A group or underground explorers claimed responsibility for the subterranean cinema that Paris police discovered last week. La Mexicaine de la Perforation claimed that the discovery was not a major problem for them, as underground explorers they lay claim to many other disused places in the bowels of the city. Sealed catacombs, abandoned Metro tunnels, underground quarries, and utility conduits are all fair game for these intrepid explorers. They know their way through many different networks, and the junctions between the systems.

Sounds pretty cool to me. Back in college we used to go roaming through a vast abandoned Ingersoll-Rand factory in Beloit. It was exhilarating to sneak in and roam the empty buildings. I completely understand the allure of forgotten catacombs beneath a major city.

The Dark Tower Lives Again

Dark Tower band of WarriorsNow this is really cool: Dark Tower Flash Game – Version 2.1. I had the original Dark Tower board game 23 years ago, and I burnt through a lot of D batteries playing it. I don’t know whatever happened to that game, it probably got passed on to a nephew or something. Wish I still had since they seem to be going for ~ $200 on eBay for a mint condition game. And it turns out Milton Bradley stole the idea from a couple game inventors in 1981. They sued and were awarded over $700,000 in compensation for lost royalties.

Dark Tower CursedWhile I don’t have Dark Tower anymore, at least I can play the game in Flash again, and that’s cool. The whole game is emulated, from moving the pieces around the board to the tinny synthesized sounds the Dark Tower emitted during play. Nice job – and it doesn’t suck up D batteries like the original did.

The Well of Souls website on the Dark Tower game is particularly interesting and full of interesting facts. Not only does it describe the gameplay, the pieces used and the events that can happen, it includes a bit on the artist that did the illustrations for the game. His name is Bob Pepper, and he gave a little interview for the web site, talking about the artwork Dark Tower game, his career, who he created the luminous quality in his illustrations and the one other game that he worked on, Dragonmaster.

Dark Tower DragonNow, I had the Dragonmaster game as well. It was a card game, also from Milton Bradley, that I picked up in a bargain bin after the New Year at Famous & Barr in 1982. The game itself was not very interesting, sort of like Hearts, but with fewer cards and stupid plastic jewels to keep score with. The real gem is this game was the artwork on the cards. Four suits, four different royal families of eight ranks, each with a distinct portrait. I never knew who the illustrator was until today, but I could tell it was the same person who worked on Dark Tower. Dark Tower WarriorAnd the artwork was beautiful on those cards. Absolutely luminous. The backstory to the game and those cards inspired me. I wove intricate stories about the characters depicted on those cards; I drew up maps, chronologies and legends, and hashed out storylines for books. I filled notebooks with ideas and jottings. Imagine my surprise when I read the interview with Mr. Pepper and discovered he did the exact same thing when he was creating the artwork.

Dark Tower PlagueAnd yes, I was a fantasy geek around that time. I read Tolkien’s books like clockwork every year, and supplemented my fantasy diet with other works. Surprisingly I was never really in Dungeons & Dragons, even though that was the heyday of D&D. I tried it a couple times and thought it sucked. I had a D&D game for my Intellivision that was lots of fun though, and I did spend inordinate amounts of time collecting and painting these little lead figurines though. I wonder whatever became of those things?