Gaming & Culture

Watchmen, not Game of Thrones, proved to be HBO’s show of the decade

Do you recognize this mask?

Enlarge / Do you recognize this mask?
Warning: This story references events in the HBO series Watchmen and Game of Thrones, including their final episodes.

“Just do it. We don’t want to hear your little speech. Fucking do it. “

“Do what?” Lady Trieu asks her assembled audience of white supremacists.

“You’re gonna kill us, right?”

“Oh yeah, of course I am.”

And with that, the best show of 2019 went out with a literal atomic bang. Watchmen capped off its nine-episode run in striking fashion last night, simultaneously tying up several loose ends (How does Veidt fit in to all of this? What’s Lady Trieu’s plan? Can anyone stop the Kalvary?), delivering deep sentiment, and forcing a superhero/villain who killed millions to actually deal with an arrest. This show killed it.

Yet I watched the show alone from my couch, and only a few coworkers and a neighbor seemed ready and excited to chat about it today. There were no red-carpet screenings, impromptu community watch parties, or nearby bars advertising a highly anticipated viewing like some other HBO season finales this year.

That’s a shame, because one of these series is perhaps the network’s finest work of the decade—and the other is Game of Thrones.

Game of Shade

Both Thrones and Watchmen benefited from a new TV era. Execs were not just open to but thirsty for genre, and they sought the kind of material that may only attract a small niche of fans—but it’d be a rabid, passionate, subscribed-yesterday-and-forever type of fan. Both shows started out with a bit of a bang, a little high-profile misdirection casting, and unexpected character exits. And, perhaps most importantly and most obviously, both series were borne out of existing (and paper-based) IP.

The differences begin from there. Thrones by and large stuck to its source material until it literally couldn’t. And even the most supportive fans could agree that the show lost something when George RR Martin’s road map reached its (maybe-still-in-progress?) conclusion. Suddenly the riveting female characters the show had become known for were taking actions more stereotypical characters would, contemplating if love was the number one motivator above all (see Brienne and Jamie) or acting out of rage-filled hysteria even if it contradicted prior character traits (goodbye to the merciful and justice-championing Queen of Dragons, Freer of Slaves). The show still delivered spectacle like nothing else, but it seemed to lack storytelling. Its “anything can happen” feeling suddenly left, allowing for things like keeping Jamie alive despite coming under heavy enemy (dragon) fire or for the hugely successful conqueror Daenerys to suddenly make puzzling decision after puzzling decision with her scaly, strategic advantages.

But perhaps even more frustrating than its story line slip ups, Thrones also seemed to lose its ability to conjure up deeper questions and thought without Martin’s source material. This was a show that had interesting things to say about gender in society and politics, the weight of history and family, and the ability to make decisions in spite of destiny. Heck, even The Night King might have represented something much deeper (the inevitability of mortality?) than a zombie bogeyman. Did Thrones’ final two seasons complicate those questions or move the ideas forward in any significant way? In Ars’ eyes, at least, the show pivoted to more of a saccharine delivery system. Does the show Annalee Newitz wrote about in her review of Game of Thrones S7 feel like a monumental piece of art?

Watching Game of Thrones now feels like mainlining a bunch of CW shows like Arrow or Vampire Diaries—or even, sometimes, Jane the Virgin. The pacing is so fast that there are multiple reversals of fortune in one episode, and people go from “hey so we are kind of friends” to “we are totally boinking” in 40 minutes. I should say that I love a lot of CW shows, and I’m definitely not opposed to fast pacing. But part of Game of Thrones‘ appeal was a stately, complex layering of circumstances that gave us a sense of the tragic loss so many characters have suffered. So this season’s choices felt like stylistic whiplash.

Ridiculous in the right way: Unmatched: Battle of Legends

Ridiculous in the right way: Unmatched: Battle of Legends

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at

The full name of this game is Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One. That last bit is important because there is more Unmatched coming. This first set allows us to answer important questions like: who would win in a fight between King Arthur and Sinbad? What if Alice ventured out of Wonderland to carve up Medusa? The matchups in this absurdist fight club are bonkers, and we’re only getting started.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Restoration Games is the noteworthy publisher that has brought us new editions of classic games like Fireball Island and Stop Thief! Those designs were given a few nips and tucks, a couple of injections of Botox, and a new wardrobe. They’re fresh, but they’re also grounded in the past, and they know how to put nostalgia to good use.

Unmatched is something a little different. It’s a re-working of 2002’s Star Wars: Epic Duels, sans license. Without the power of such a massive intellectual property behind the game, Restoration had to be bold, and it partnered with Mondo Games to create a zany melting pot of fictional matchups. The result should put a smile on the faces of even the dourest of curmudgeons. Just try to frown while playing an epic battle between the first expansion characters of Robin Hood and Big Foot in Sherwood Forest. It’s too ridiculous and too enjoyable.

But Unmatched isn’t Epic Duels. It uses the same concept of a primary fighter accompanied by a sidekick (as we see with wonderful duos like Alice paired with the Jabberwock, or Arthur with Merlin), but Unmatched has a completely different feel with its own unique tempo and mechanisms. The asymmetric decks powering each hero are more tightly designed, creating a breakneck pace for each 20-minute showdown.

While the game supports three and four player bouts, it clearly is optimized as a two-player affair that’s lean and vibrant— in stark contrast to the six-player slug-fests that dominated my Epic Duel outings.

This streamlining editorial hand can be felt in all facets of play. The new battlefield, while small, feels dynamic due to a constant push for movement. The clever restriction of drawing cards only by performing a move action—as well as linking several character abilities to maneuvering—really pushes the design into creative places. For a two-player game where you throw down attack and defense cards against a single opponent, Unmatched never feels like a mere grind to whittle away at their health.

Finding your main

I had many concerns before playing Unmatched. I already love several strong entries in this genre, and I wondered if Unmatched could find a place alongside contemporary titles such as Warhammer Underworlds or Mythic Battles: Pantheon.

Answer: I think it can. Unmatched is a unique offering that manages to pair a straightforward ruleset with legitimate depth. It’s simple enough that you can play with your 10-year old but engrossing enough to capture your gaming group’s extended interest.

There’s no deck construction here, and since each character’s abilities and cards are preset, the typical card game path of creation to competition is short-circuited. For instance, much of Warhammer Underworlds’ play occurs before the match even begins. Experimenting with new cards and combos is at the heart of the design. But Unmatched allows you to explore your small deck in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Rick and Morty. By your second play with Sinbad, you should fully understand how to harness his unique Voyage mechanism and pull off electric combos.

The asymmetry here is also gripping. Each fighter has personality and some character-specific mechanisms. Alice changes size, Medusa can turn foes to stone, Sinbad grows in strength as more voyage cards hit the discard pile, and King Arthur utilizes the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur to great effect. Each character offers much to explore with an economical rules weight.

Unlike its peers, this feels more like a fighting game. While other designs try to create a stripped-down version of a larger miniatures battle, Unmatched wants to give you the feel of Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom. You pick a “main” and perfect your timing. All of those twists and tricks you hope to find in your deck actually materialize because you’re not tearing down your creation and rebuilding a new one after nearly every game.

This fighting-game format, however, is also  responsible for Unmatched’s weakest spots. There’s a strong focus on timing and counter-play here. Instead of deck creation, controlling the tempo and drawing out your opponent’s strongest moves at their least advantageous time is at the very heart of this design. This is captured succinctly with the “feint” card, which is quite the mixture of brilliant and awful. It works because it’s an elegant weapon to clash over tempo but it also stumbles because it can nullify some of the strongest moments in the game.

Imagine this: you just spent the past 10 minutes carefully nurturing your hand, building up a set of power moves that includes the shining Excalibur. You’ve baited your opponent into playing one of their own feints earlier; now is the time to strike. You place Excalibur face down on the table alongside a second card from your hand to boost the damage. Then you and your opponent both flip your cards—and the corners of your mouth drop.

The problem is that every deck has three feints. Their power to undo the most dramatic of plays is frustrating, and it feels like a net negative to the game’s momentum. It works, and the game still ultimately succeeds, but a more judicious use of feint cards might have injected more vigor into the experience.

The pre-constructed nature of the decks also provides an occasional feeling that the game is actually playing you. Card draw is incredibly important, and the lack of a proper mulligan rule is a bit shocking. The abbreviated play time obscures this weakness somewhat, though.

Some players will also take issue with the sidekicks, which are presented as round plastic discs instead of full-blown miniatures. I threw side-eye at this concept initially, but it didn’t take me long at all to embrace the idea. The hero is mechanically divided from the sidekick, and this difference in presentation focuses the spotlight appropriately.

Watch out, Medusa! King Arthur's right behind you...

Enlarge / Watch out, Medusa! King Arthur’s right behind you…

The entire package is visually stunning, with some of the most effective artwork ever placed on cardboard. Even the abstracted spaces that obscure most of the board fit the overall aesthetic. (Of course, they also perfectly convey line of sight, as they’re lifted straight from Fantasy Flight’s now defunct Tannhauser miniatures board game.)

Unmatched may not have the extended life of the malleable Warhammer Underworlds or the explosive drama of Mythic Battles, but it’s a smooth game that should have wide appeal. It’s not overly random yet it’s still dramatic. It’s simple yet it doesn’t sacrifice all personality.

If you give this game a shot, you may find yourself blinking at how quickly the first match is over. So you play again, and soon “just one more” becomes your maxim. Later you will blink once more as you look at your watch and wonder where the night went in such a hurry.

Ars Technica’s ultimate board game gift guide, 2019 edition

Ars Technica’s ultimate board game gift guide, 2019 edition

It’s that time of year again—time to buy more board games than you possibly have time to play.

To aid you in your quest, we’ve once again updated our massive board game buyer’s guide for the year by adding new entries, pruning some old ones, and bringing things in line with our current thoughts. This isn’t necessarily a list of our favorite games of all time; it’s just a big list of games we’re recommending in 2019. The list is divided into sections that cater to different audiences, and we think there’s something here for just about everyone.

Whether you’re looking to pick up your next cardboard obsession or need a gift idea for your weird cousin who’s always going on about “efficient resource trade routes,” you’re in the right place.

Table of Contents

For fun, here’s a giant gallery of the box art for every game in this guide:

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Jumanji: The Next Level is less fresh this time around but still lots of fun

Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan star in <em>Jumanji: The Next Level</em>.

Enlarge / Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan star in Jumanji: The Next Level.
Sony Pictures

The intrepid gang of teens who played their way out of a video game two years ago is back and facing a new in-game adventure in Jumanji: The Next Level, the latest installment in the popular franchise that originated with the 1995 film Jumanji. It’s a solid sequel, following the same winning formula that made its predecessor such a big success.

(Spoilers for 1995’s Jumanji and 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; mild spoilers for Jumanji: The Next Level.)

The franchise has its roots in a 1981 fantasy children’s book by Chris van Allsburg, about two children who discover a jungle adventure board game with the ominous warning, “Do not begin unless you intend to finish.” The original 1995 film adaption followed the basic premise pretty closely, although it added several characters, most notably Robin Williams as a grown Alan Parrish and his childhood friend Sarah Whittle (Bonnie Hunt). As a young boy in 1969, Alan finds a supernatural board game called Jumanji and begins to play with Sarah.

The game unleashes actual jungle hazards into the real world, and the only way to make it go away is to face down your fear and finish the game. Of course, this proves complicated: Alan gets sucked into the game and a panicked Sarah stops playing, leaving him stranded for the next 26 years. It falls to two young orphans in 1995 (another departure: in the book, their parents are still alive), Peter and Judy Shepherd (Bradley Pierce and a young Kirsten Dunst), to finish the game he and Sarah started.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) updated the concept for the 21st century, turning the board game into a video game. (It is sometimes cited as the third installment in the franchise, since 2005’s Zathura: A Space Adventure takes place in the same universe and is based on another of van Allsburg’s books.)

In 1996, a disaffected teen named Alex Vreeke (Mason Guccione) is given the board game by his father, who found it on a beach. He’s not into old school board games, so the game transforms into a video game cartridge. Alex, like Alan before him, also gets sucked into the game, until four high school students discover the game 20 years later while serving detention. It was a clever twist, with the teens taking on avatars—a source of much of the film’s humor—to tackle the various levels of the game, hoping to finish before losing all their allotted three lives.

Choose your avatar wisely

Uber-nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff) becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), an archaeologist/explorer with a “smoldering intensity” and no in-game weaknesses. The shy, brainy Martha (Morgan Turner) finds herself playing the babelicious Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), whose skills include “dance fighting.” Narcissistic popular girl Bethany (Madison Iseman) chooses Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), the team cartographer. Jock Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain) gets to play zoologist Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart). Eventually they run into Alex, whose avatar is pilot Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough (Nick Jonas). Their mission: return a magic jewel to a rock sculpture known as the Jaguar’s Eye, before evil archeologist Russell van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) can steal it back.

Spoiler alert: The teens succeed in mastering the game—learning some valuable lessons about identity and friendship in the process—and Fridge smashes it to make sure nobody ever gets trapped in Jumanji again. Welcome to the Jungle was a genuinely fun (and funny) film, with clever twists on the original film and plenty of sly nods to common tropes of video gameplay. The film opened with an initial weak showing at the box office; it was playing opposite an obscure art house film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But positive word of mouth soon boosted attendance, and the film went on to gross $962 million globally. When studios see those kinds of returns, they naturally start thinking about a sequel.

The trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level dropped this summer, promising another fun romp through the game world. A despondent Spencer, now a student at New York University, comes home for Christmas and digs out the pieces of the video game in the basement. He repairs it and once again gets sucked into the game. Seriously, did Spencer learn nothing from the prior film?

When Fridge, Martha, and Bethany come to the house to visit, they find the game running and quickly realize what happened. They resolve to go back into the game to rescue their friend—except this time they don’t have time to choose their avatars. Spencer’s crotchety grandfather, Eddie (Danny DeVito), and his elderly pal Milo (Danny Glover), get sucked into the game, too. Wacky hijinks ensue, starting with who gets what avatar.

Grandpa Eddie finds himself in Dr. Smolder Bravestone, while Milo ends up with the Finbar avatar. Martha is still Ruby Roundhouse, Fridge is now Sheldon, and when they find Spencer, he’s playing a new avatar: a master thief named Ming Fleetfoot (Awkwafina). Bethany inexplicably gets left behind, eventually enlisting the help of an adult Alex (Colin Hanks). They, too, end up in the game, Alex once again playing the pilot, and Bethany a beautiful black stallion named Cyclone. This time, the quest involves recovering another magic jewel (the Falcon’s Heart) from ruthless warlord Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann, aka the Hound from Game of Thrones), who killed Bravestone’s parents, per the in-game backstory.

Dwayne Johnson once again proves he has serious comedic chops.

The cast delivers strong performances, especially those playing the avatars, who must channel both their characters and the individual tics of whoever is playing those avatars. Dwayne Johnson once again proves he has serious comedic chops, deftly mimicking Danny DeVito’s vocal inflections, accent, facial expressions, and mannerisms. Sure, the life lessons each character learns are a bit too Movie of the Week—the same was true of Welcome to the Jungle—but it’s nice to see the rather bitter Eddie gradually come to terms with getting old. (“Aging is a gift. I forget that sometimes.”)

If anything, The Next Level is too similar to the 2017 film, despite bringing fresh faces and a few surprising twists into the mix. That’s partly due to the inherent predictability of video game design: there’s only so much you can do with the premise, and you know going in that the outcome will be much the same as the last time. What was an innovative reinvention in Welcome to the Jungle is now familiar, and hence less surprising. But it’s still a lot of fun, and it’s the kind of entertaining film that tends to do well in the holiday season. A post-credits scene hints at the possibility of yet another sequel. If so, let’s hope it finds a way to reinvent the basic formula one more time.

Jumanji: The Next Level opens this weekend in theaters.

The next Xbox has a name and a new design: Behold, 2020’s Xbox Series X

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Review: Castle Rock’s signature slow burn pays off in tight, twisty finale

[embedded content]
Lizzy Caplan portrays Annie Wilkes, one of Stephen King’s most memorable characters—from the novel Misery—in the second season of Hulu’s anthology series, Castle Rock.

A nurse on the run with her teenaged daughter ends up stranded in a small Maine town where something evil lurks in the second season of Castle Rock, Hulu’s psychological horror anthology series that draws inspiration from the works of Stephen King. The series was a surprising breakout hit last summer, and this new season doesn’t disappoint, bringing the same slow burn and unexpected twists leading to a riveting finale.

(Mild spoilers for season one and season two below.)

The fictional town of Castle Rock features in so many of King’s novels that co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason thought they could use it as an organizing principle for their storytelling. The series is less a direct adaptation of King’s works and more new stories set in the fictional town that occasionally bump up against various books. The biggest King influences for season one were The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile—in other words, a prison-centric setting with themes of crime and punishment. Shawshank tells the story of a prisoner’s disappearance, while Castle Rock‘s focus is the mysterious appearance of a prisoner nobody knew about.

Season one opened with the suicide of the local prison warden, Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) and the discovery that he secretly kept a mysterious young man—known only as the Kid (Bill Skarsgård)—captive for decades. Not only did the Kid not age, violent outbreaks seemed to follow in his wake. The show remained cagey about who the Kid was, whether he was a monster or a victim, even in the finale, with its distinctively King-like denouement.

The season highlight was the heartbreaking seventh episode, “The Queen,” told entirely from the point of view of Ruth (Sissy Spacek), whose age-related dementia is rapidly worsening and affecting her ability to distinguish between the present and the past. (At several points, she walks out of a conversation in the present and into a different conversation in 1991.)  The episode has deep personal resonance for Shaw, whose own mother suffered from dementia and died unexpectedly a few days after he started writing the series. I called it “the most beautifully constructed, superbly acted hour of television you’re likely to see this year.”

Castle Rock‘s second season doesn’t have a single standalone episode of quite the same caliber, but it still packs a punch. The source material this time around is King’s award-winning 1987 novel Misery, featuring one of his most memorable characters, Annie Wilkes, a psychotic (and murderous) former nurse.

In the novel, a middle-aged Annie rescues her favorite novelist, Paul Sheldon, after a car accident in which he breaks both legs. Paul’s last novel killed off the central heroine of his Victorian romance series, Misery Chastain, as he had grown tired of the character and wanted to write crime novels. But his “Number One fan,” as Annie calls herself, refuses to accept Misery’s demise and holds Paul captive, forcing him to resurrect Misery in a new novel—or else. The 1990 film starred Kathy Bates as Annie, who won an Oscar for her performance, which included an infamous scene in which Annie hobbles Paul’s feet with a sledgehammer to ensure he can’t escape.

In King’s novel, it’s clear that Annie suffers from schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. Paul Sheldon discovers a scrapbook of newspaper clippings hinting that Annie was accused and acquitted of killing infants at a hospital maternity ward in Colorado and may have murdered as many as 30 people. Castle Rock‘s storyline focuses on a youthful Annie (Lizzy Caplan) on the run from an unspecified past with her teenaged daughter Joy (Elsie Fisher). Annie takes stints as a nurse in various hospitals and stays just long enough to steal the medication she needs to keep her mental illness in check before hitting the road in search of a utopian vision she calls the “laughing place.”

Naturally, the pair ends up in Castle Rock, and Annie takes a job with the hospital in nearby Jerusalem’s Lot—the second of King’s trinity of fictional Maine towns, the third being Derry (the setting for IT). When Annie’s killer instincts get the better of her, she tries to dispose of a body at a local construction site and uncovers a hidden burial site linked via a tunnel to the abandoned Marsten House. (King fans may recall the Marsten House was home to the vampires in the 1975 novel ‘Salem’s Lot.) And she inadvertently awakens something evil that has been lying in wait for four centuries.

Caplan gives a fantastic performance as Annie, capturing the character’s trademark awkward earnestness, lack of direct eye contact, stiff gait, and odd speech patterns and phrasing (“dirty bird,” “cockadoodie,” and the like). It’s a very human (and humane) depiction of someone struggling to control her mental illness. Annie may be a little crazy, particularly when her meds run out, but she’s driven primarily by her love for Joy and proves to be a formidable opponent to anything that would threaten her daughter.

Season two also stars Tim Robbins as a veteran named Reginald “Pop” Merrill. Despite his late-stage cancer, he wields a tight hold on local commerce with the help of his two nephews, Ace (Paul Sparks) and Chris (Matthew Alan). Pop also adopted two Somali refugees as teenagers, now grown: Abdi (Barkhad Abdi), who is building a mall in Jerusalem’s Lot, and his sister, Nadia (Yusra Warsama), the medical director at the hospital where Annie works. The family gets sucked into the supernatural threat facing the town(s), too. Over the course of ten episodes, tensions flare, secrets are revealed, and we learn the true nature of what Annie awakened.

As always with a Shaw-created show, the writing is strong and emotionally evocative. It’s intricately plotted, with strong character development. Granted, for the first several episodes of the season, the two narrative threads—Annie and Joy’s relationship and Annie’s secret past, and whatever the hell is going on at the Marsten House—almost don’t feel like they are part of the same series. The Annie storyline feels far more compelling—especially the flashback episode, “The Laughing Place,” which acquaints us with Annie’s childhood.

But gradually the two threads converge as we learn more about the town’s history—including an unexpected twist that provides a link between season two with season one. Here’s hoping Castle Rock gets a third season so we can learn more about this common element loosely tying the anthology’s storylines together.

Listing image by Hulu

Why new consoles probably won’t be enough to save GameStop

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Win part of a $4,500 prize pool in the 2019 Ars Technica Charity Drive

Just some of the prizes you could win by entering our Charity Drive sweepstakes.

Enlarge / Just some of the prizes you could win by entering our Charity Drive sweepstakes.

It’s once again that special time of year when we give you a chance to do well by doing good. That’s right—it’s time for the 2019 edition of our annual Charity Drive.

Every year since 2007, we’ve been actively encouraging readers to give to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity, which provides toys and games to kids being treated in hospitals around the world. In recent years, we’ve added the Electronic Frontier Foundation to our annual charity push, aiding in their efforts to defend Internet freedom. This year, as always, we’re providing some extra incentive for those donations by offering donors a chance to win pieces of our big pile of vendor-provided swag. We can’t keep it (ethically), and we don’t want it clogging up our offices anyway. So, it’s now yours to win.

This year’s swag pile is full of high-value geek goodies. We have over 50 prizes amounting to over $4,500 in value, including game consoles, computer accessories, collectibles, smartwatches, and more. In 2018, Ars readers raised over $20,000 for charity, contributing to a total haul of more than $300,000 since 2007. We want to raise even more this year, and we can do it if readers really dig deep.

How it works

Donating is easy. Simply donate to Child’s Play using PayPal or donate to the EFF using PayPal, credit card, or Bitcoin. You can also support Child’s Play directly by picking an item from the Amazon wish list of a specific hospital on its donation page. Donate as much or as little as you feel comfortable with—every little bit helps.

Once that’s done, it’s time to register your entry in our sweepstakes. Just grab a digital copy of your receipt (a forwarded email, a screenshot, or simply a cut-and-paste of the text) and send it to [email protected] with your name, postal address, daytime telephone number, and email address by 11:59pm ET Monday, January 6, 2020. (One entry per person, and each person can only win up to one prize. US residents only. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. See official rules for more information, including how to enter without making a donation. Also refer to the Ars Technica privacy policy.)

We’ll then contact the winners and have them choose their prize by January 31 (choosing takes place in the order the winners are drawn).

The prizes

Here are quick descriptions of some of the biggest, most desirable prizes in this year’s contest. See page two for a complete list of available prizes.

Gears 5 Xbox One X bundle

Get in on 4K gaming with this console bundle. It includes a black 1TB Xbox One X, a downloadable copy of Gears 5, two controllers, a controller charging dock, an art book, Gears 5 novelization, a Marcus Fenix toy, a branded Rockstar energy drink can, and more.

GAEMS G170 Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment

Take your HD gaming on the go with this combination console carrying case and 17.3″ IPS FHD display. It features improved sound quality and viewing angles over previous GAEMS carrying cases, and it comes with a power supply, accessory bag, cables, and a remote control.

Logitech G Powerplay wireless charge gaming mouse set

Enjoy the freedom of a wireless gaming mouse without the hassle of having to stop the action to plug in or replace the batteries, thanks to the wireless induction charging in the G Powerplay charging mat. This includes the charging mat (with hard and soft surfaces), G703 and G903 series mice, accessories, and cables for wired gaming options.

Sega Genesis Mini and “Tower of Power” accessories

The Genesis Mini is one of the finest “plug and play” retro consoles out there. But it becomes even cooler with the cosmetic “Tower of Power” set, which adds a miniature replica Sega CD, 32X, and a Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge to the mix. While the “Tower of Power” bundle is on sale in Japan, this US edition was provided exclusively to press.

Nothing grabbing your eye yet? The next page has dozens more prizes you can win by entering. Have a look!