Card Hunter

Largely because of Facebook I became a fan of browser based games. Something about there simplicity tapped into both my mildly obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and my love of the simple arcade games of my misspent youth. I try not to take on too many at once, however, because, well, obsessive-compulsive. If I have things to get done, too many browser games means that won’t happen.

But every once in a while I find a game like Card Hunter by Blue Manchu that’s just so much fun, I give in. In the world of Card Hunter you are back in junior high, hanging out in your buddy Gary’s basement. You and Gary are swilling sodas, scarfing junk food, and playing a cool D&D-esque boxed role-playing game, Card Hunter. You put together your party and Gary, like any good newbie GM, leads you through a series of adventures, equal parts thrilling and ridiculous.

Now this would fall firmly into the category of “generic fantasy browser game”, and I would have hit it and quit it a while ago. Except the game really embraces the feel of two young nerds (nerdlings? nerd cubs?) huddled in their parent’s basement playing RPGs. The graphics play into that feel, from the character sheets to the sometimes hand-drawn look to the maps. Play is turn based, and each character (and monster) has a deck of cards they use to resolve combats and move around the map. You gain more and different cards based on the treasure you equip, and you can equip more powerful treasure as you level up. Adding to the overall feel, is the interjection of Gary’s older brother Melvin (the actual owner of the game) who is a Card Hunter veteran. He is constantly bragging about his gaming exploits, and at one point you even play through a module Melvin wrote (Melvelous the Magnificent). Eventually Melvin’s bullying gets too much for Gary, and that leads to the adventure “Against the Cockroaches” fighting the Demon Lord Morvin the Malodorous. Then Melvin takes the game away and they aren’t going to be able to play, until Karen the Pizza Girl reveals that she is a GM and has here set in the car…

Yeah, there’s a bit more going on than just your usual fantasy click-and-crush play. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of click-and-crush. While there is definitely strategy to the game, don’t look for an immersive role-play experience in Card Hunter. This is old-school hack ‘n slash, baby, just like we used to play over a bottle of our finest Mountain Dew.

And that’s what grabbed me and kept me playing. For a little while it put me back in that long ago basement I miss so much. Not because I think the games were better back then. But because I was still discovering the hobby, and approached it with a sense of wonder I miss. That’s why Card Hunter grabbed me. For all that it may be just another browser game, it reminds me of good times spent messing around with the hobby I love. If you are an Old Gamer like me, I suspect it might grab you as well. But even if you aren’t an OG, Card Hunter is a heck of a lot of fun.

How about you, any browser games you get a kick out of? Drop your suggestions in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Card Hunter

  1. Fighunter’s MARDEK series has probably been one of the best browser games I’ve found in three years. Starts off as a bit of a JRPG parody, but then it does something amazing over the course of three chapters: it starts developing its own complex universe and manifests some pretty deep play and game mechanics.

    Frustratingly incomplete with only 3 chapters, and 4’s not going to be done in any hurry; Fighunter seems to be increasingly obsessed with blogging about Myers-Briggs tests (ugh) and things in general that aren’t “making MARDEK 4”. Still, for free and 80+ hours, you really can’t complain about what he’s put out there.

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