A self contained game set in a world filled with beautiful cyborgs, cute robots, superfast cyberbikes, powered exoskeletons, giant mechanoids, speed lines, comical pets, strange aliens, maniacal villains and demons with amazing groinal powers. The perfect bound A5 book is introduced by a four page comic drawn by the artist is P.J.Holden, known for professional comics work (DNA Swamp, Caliber Comics, 200AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, Fearless).
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SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO – Review
Its not often that we do role-playing reviews in the SF&F newsletter but since this game was right up our street we thought what the hell!. SNCC XDO is the new game from Crucible Design, the same team that brought us The 23rd Letter last year (which, incidentally, has just gone into its 2nd edition and is well worth a look), and the standard of this game is at least as high. Like its predecessor, it is designed for the more mature gamer (although there is nothing preventing a beginner from enjoying the game at least as much) and is geared more towards storyline and character than rules. This is not to detract from the system in either game, since both work very smoothly. The point is that the game is left more in the hands of the GM to do with as he sees fit.
The background to SNCC XDO is one immediately familiar to fans of the anime/ manga genre. For the uninitiated, these are Japanese animations and comics dealing with frankly bizarre subjects (and Im a fan!). However, whilst it helps if one has seen at least one or two of the items on the recommended list at the back of the book, it is not necessary. The world is complete in itself and further reading/ viewing only adds flavour. Briefly, the game is set in the year 2019 after humanity has discovered MekaTek, advanced technology allowing mankind to do cool stuff like design whopping great suits of powered armour, space craft and so on. The setting concentrates on San Metro, immediately recognisable to fans of the genre. The citys main landmarks are described as well as a clever section about what Joe Average does in San Metro (a favourite of mine because it proves that they have football in the future). The different power groups in San Metro are described in some detail (handily giving plot hooks to the GM and showing how they fit into the scheme of things) and a brief history is also given. The background is very entertaining and there is plenty for characters to do. There are demons, aliens, cops, robbers, vigilantes, religious whackos, prophesies and too many other things to mention. Suffice it to say, you wont get bored.
Moving back to the system briefly, I have to say it is very, very quick indeed. Characters have ten traits which all start at 3 and are then added to with starting points. MekaTek is also a statistic which begins at 0 – players must spend points to increase it if they want to start out with mad techno gear. Some people might moan about the fact that they cant flesh out the charcter because of the limited skill list; I went through it as an experiment and I could not find anything theyd left out. If a character vitally needs to have a skill in Aardvark Tickling then he can bloody well talk to the GM about it. There is more than enough breadth and depth to allow such variation in the game. The point is that characters are about exactly that – character. Your history and personality should mean a lot more than numbers on a page. Besides which, the game has its tongue very much in its cheek. This is why I like the idea of the Life Notes. Apart from being very funny and setting the tone of the game nicely, they do give players a nice framework to build around. To add to the fun, there are both positive and negative notes which have to balance – for each roll on the positive table, you must also roll on ther negative table. The system itself is devastatingly simple. Roll 2d6 and try to get under your trait. I mean, the old Fighting Fantasy books were harder to suss than that! In short, the system is designed to be simple and quick, and it achieves this very well.
To finish up, you may have guessed that I am quite impressed with this game. Guilty as charged, Im afraid. What can I say? I mean, Im a fan of manga, I like the sense of humour that the game has (I challenge anyone to find a better tag line for a game than one that includes … demons with amazing groinal powers…), I was very impressed with the system and background detail… suffice it to say, you get the picture. As if all of this wasnt enough, the new Crucible Design format of perfect-binding their games is very nice, and theyve even thrown in some art work. This is of a very high standard (I dont know much about art, but I know what I like) and includes a 4-page comic at the start of the book. Were there any faults with the game? Not really. More extensive playing might reveal a few hiccups, but I would be very surprised if there are any. It is designed to be a very fun game so my advice would be that if you like manga or you want to get a game that you can enjoy rather than endure, you should seriously think about buying SNCC XDO.