Game Review: Conflict (1990, Virgin Mastertronic International, Inc)

In 1997, after the Israeli Prime Minister is assassinated, you are appointed to take his place.  It is up to you to lead Israel and to keep it safe.  It won’t be easy because there are enemies all around.  Not only do you have to deal with America continually pressuring you to surrender the West Bank and not increase the size of your army but Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all border you and could be either strong allies or potential threats.  It all depends on the decision that you make.

Conflict is a political strategy simulator where the goal is to be the last country standing.  The only way to ensure that Israel is safe is to make sure that the governments around it either collapse or surrender.  That does not necessarily mean that you should go to war with these countries.  Though that is an option, it’s sometimes easier to covertly support an internal rebellion or to wait for those countries to go to war with each other.  Along with the countries bordering you, you also have to deal with Libya, Iran, and Iraq, three countries that can be manipulated to go to war with the rivals on your border.  If you do not want to go to war with bigger and more populated countries, it is sometimes best to just wait for those counties to collapse on their own.  Another solution is to develop a nuclear arsenal and use it on your enemies but that will not only earn you the enmity of the United States but there’s also a chance that it could cause the end of the world.

What makes Conflict so challenging is that each game is randomized.  Sometimes, you’ll start the game with none of your neighbors acting aggressively towards you.  Sometimes, Syria and Egypt will both be aggressively pursuing their own nuclear programs and sometimes, they won’t.  If you start the game with both Syria and Egypt threatening to invade you at the same time, you might as well give up and start over because there’s no way that you’re going to survive.  Just as in real life, so much of succeeding in Conflict depends on getting a few lucky breaks.

Along with the role of chance, another thing that stands out about Conflict is what a pain of the ass the United States can be.  If you do anything to defend your country, the U.S. will condemn you and possibly even declare an arms embargo on you.  (Again, a lot of it has to do with chance.)  If you call out an air strike on the nuclear installations in Egypt or Syria, the U.S. will get upset despite the fact that you really don’t really have any other option.  Losing the race to be the first to deploy nuclear weapons in Conflict usually means losing the game.  After I played the game a few times, I realized it was pointless to worry about how the U.S. felt about anything.  Instead, I had to do whatever I had to do in order to survive.

Conflict is a challenging game.  There is a way to win by declaring war on everyone but you can also win by being a peaceful neighbor and never attacking anyone.  Of course, both of those approaches can also lead to you being led away to be hanged by your enemies.  Conflict can be frustratingly difficult but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you do win.

Play Conflict at the Internet Archive.

Retro Television Review: One World 3.13 “Hitting On A Guy”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

On January 6th, 2001, One World aired not only the finale of their third season but also the final episode of the series.  All stories and shows must come to an end and we have reached the end of One World.  For one last time, here’s the One World theme song.

Does anyone else find it weird that the show never bothered to update their opening credits, despite the fact that Brandon Baker hit a major growth spurt and cut his hair after the first season?  Seriously, it just seems incredibly lazy.

Episode 3.13 “Hitting on a Guy”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on January 6th, 2001)

Dave and Karen have been named the Foster Parents of the Year!  Marci decides to throw a big party for them at …. can you guess where? …. Miami’s “hottest under 21 club,” The Warehouse!  Unfortunately, the kitchen crew refuses to work for the party because they haven’t been paid for the week.  (Why would Marci, who is just the assistant manager, have to deal with payroll?  Where’s The Warehouse’s owner?)  Fortunately, the entire family decides that they’ll do the cooking themselves.  But …. IT’S THEIR PARTY!?  Who cooks at their own party!?  What type of party is this?

Meanwhile, Jane is dating a nice guy named Ralph but he reminds her of her former foster brother, who was also named Ralph and who was abusive.  Because she’s thinking about the Bad Ralph, she beats up the Good Ralph.  Jane comes to terms with her anger and apologizes to the Good Ralph.  Good Ralph says thanks and then runs off.

Having lost Good Ralph, Jane still shows up at the Warehouse party and gives a speech about how thankful she is for the Blakes.  Dave rewards her by giving her a piece of Cake and that’s how the series ends.

And I have to admit that I was a little bit moved by all of the Blake kids giving their testimonials, though I honestly doubt I’ll remember anything about any of them a week from now.  I was also surprised that the show did not end with Karen giving birth.  I imagine that any other TNBC show would have.  In the end, One World ended with a lot of unanswered questions.  Will Ben ever find success as a musician?  Will St.  Neal ever get into college?  Will Sui ever make the Olympic team?  How long until Maci gets fired from her job at the Warehouse?  Will Cray ever come to terms with having a black grandfather?  (Seriously, that whole episode was weird.)  Will Jane ever find a stylist who understands how to make her hair look good?  Sadly, these questions will never be answered.

One World is a show that attempted to bring some edge to the TNBC brand.  Occasionally, it came close to succeeding.  Usually, it was a bit too much like California Dreams with juvenile delinquents instead of a rock band.  One of the huge problems with the show was that the Blakes themselves had very little chemistry.  Watching the actors perform opposite each other, it was hard to believe they even knew each other’s names, let alone lived together.  Alisa Reyes and Michelle Krusiec (who played Marci and Sui) were the strongest performers on the show but they were rarely given enough to do.

Staring next week, I’ll be reviewing something new in this time slot.  Until then, we’re all living in one world!

Music Video of the Day: Dirty Laundry by Lisa Marie Presley (2005, dir by Patrick Hoelk)

RIP, Lisa Marie Presley.  The daughter Elvis and the mother of Riley Keough passed away yesterday at the age of 54.

In this video, she sings about the vultures in the tabloid press that she had to deal with for most of her life.  Dirty Laundry was originally written by Don Henley.  Lisa Marie covered it on her album, Now What?


I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me somethin’, somethin’ I can use
People love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry

Well, I could’ve been an actor but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em all around

We got the bubble headed bleach blonde who comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet?
You know the boys in the newsroom got a running bet
Get the widow on the set! We need dirty laundry

You don’t really need to find out what’s goin’ on
You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone, eat your dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re stiff, kick ’em all around

Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re stiff, kick ’em all around

Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size, we love dirty laundry

We can do “The Innuendo,” we can dance and sing
When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
We all know that crap is king, give us dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down