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Marrying Mr. Darcy – A Review

Marrying Mr. Darcy

7880813_origMarrying Mr. Darcy: Winning in Marriage is Entirely a Matter of Chance!

A review by Meredith Esparza from Austenesque Reviews

Awhile back I met Erika Svanoe on Twitter and I saw that she was running a Kickstarter campaign for her new game, Marrying Mr. Darcy. As a Janeite who loves to play games (especially Jane Austen related games) I knew I had to support her campaign and obtain a copy of this new game for myself!

Several months later (because the Kickstarter was super successful!) I became the happy owner of this new and unique card game. I decided to coerce my family to play it with me! I thought it would be fun to share our experience playing the game with you all, so I wrote up a review!

Game Overview:
Marrying Mr. Darcy is a card game with elegantly designed cards, full of heroines, suitors, events, and character cards. The object of the game is to accumulate the most points. There are two stages of the game in which to collect points – The Courtship Stage and The Proposal Stage.

cards

 

During The Courtship Stage points are earned by collecting Character cards – there are 4 types of Character cards highlighting various attributes – Wit, Beauty, Reputation, and Friendliness. Event cards determine when each player receives, steals, or loses Character cards.

The Proposal Stage is very brief, it is when all the players attempt to match their heroine with 1 of the 6 possible suitors. Each suitor has different requirements (i.e. you must have 5 Wit points to be eligible for Mr. Darcy). Rolling the dice determines if a suitor proposes or not, leaving the possibility of winning the suitor you want totally up to chance. If you are unlucky with the die, you may end up an Old Maid!

gameplay
Game play in action– sense of humor, a must.

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:
We played one game and it last a little over an hour.

The event cards were full of fun and entertaining tasks. As a Janeite I loved catching all the references and nods to scenes and gatherings that take place in Pride and Prejudice. All of us players, found the cards to be interesting, varied, and great inducements for laughter and merriment. (especially from the men!)

At the Proposal Stage, it was quite interesting to see who we each ended up with. I can’t believe that no one married Darcy!!!

There were one or two Event cards, that left us a little confused as to what we should do and the strategy of using Cunning Points and cards was a little overwhelming at first. In our game, it was perhaps unique that the Mr. Darcy proposal card came up in the first round. (Mr. Darcy becomes engaged in the first round…game over.) Since I wanted to experience real gameplay, I declined Mr. Darcy’s proposal (how shocking, I know!)

Additional game options can be had by ordering the expansion pack of cards.
Additional game options can be had by ordering the expansion pack of cards.

OUR VERDICTS:
The Hubby: 7/10 A fun game, but sometimes the amount of rules felt a little overwhelming. I really enjoyed the attractive graphics and overall card designs in Marrying Mr. Darcy.

The Gamer: 7/10 I like how each heroine had different strengths and how some of the event cards were specifically beneficial for them. That made the gameplay interesting.

The Mother: 7/10 It took awhile to understand, but once we got going it was easy to get the hang of it. I liked how there was more than one option of suitor for each heroine.

The Janeite: 9/10 I love how this game was still fun and playable even if you had no knowledge of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen! A perfect game for Janeites who want to share their love for Jane Austen with their significant others, family members, and friends (without them feeling tortured or bored!) The game is elegant and the artwork stunning. Literary-based games are the best!

 

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Meredith Esparza is music studio director and private piano instructor living off the coast of North Carolina with her very own Mr. Bingley.  She is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen and an avid reader.  For more than five years her blog, Austenesque Reviews has been devoted to the reading and reviewing of numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature.  She loves being able to connect with readers and authors online through a shared love and admiration for Jane Austen.  Visit Meredith at her blog Austenesque Reviews, follow her on Twitter as @austenesque and on Facebook as Austenesque Reviews.

 

 

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Hannah Glasse’s Jugged Hare

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The well appointed Georgian table relied heavily on a variety of meats served at each course of every meal. This included not only your run of the mill beef, mutton and poultry, but also game such as venison and hare.  In her letters, Jane Austen mentions receiving gifts of meat, such as the “a pheasant and hare the other day from the Mr. Grays of Alton” in 1809 and the “hare and four rabbits from G[odmersham] yesterday”, claiming that they are now “stocked for nearly a week.” (November 26, 1815). Perhaps the most famous recipe for Hare is, of course, Jugged Hare.

Jugging is the process of stewing whole animals, mainly game or fish, for an extended period in a tightly covered container such as a casserole or an earthenware jug. In French, such a stew of a game animal thickened with the animal’s blood is known as a civet.

One common traditional dish that involves jugging is Jugged Hare (known as civet de lièvre in France), which is a whole hare, cut into pieces, marinated and cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water. It is traditionally served with the hare’s blood (or the blood is added right at the very end of the cooking process) and port wine. Continue reading Hannah Glasse’s Jugged Hare

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Spillikins

Jane Austen's Spillikins can be seen in the upper right hand corner.

Jane Austen was a very hands-on aunt, with numerous games and activities in her repertoire. Her nieces and nephews recall with fondness the many games, from paper ships to Battledore and Shuttlecock, that she would play with them by the hour. One activity, Spillikins, was remembered with fondness, by Jane, herself:

“Our little visitor has just left us, & left us highly pleased with her;-she is a nice, natural, openhearted, affectionate girl, with all the ready civility which one sees in the best Children of the present day; -so unlike anything that I was myself at her age, that I am often all astonishment & shame.-Half her time here was spent at Spillikins; which I consider as a very valuable part of our Household furniture, & as not the least important Benefaction- from the family of Knight to that of Austen.”
Jane Austen to Cassandra
February 8, 1807

In her letter, Jane Austen refers to her personal set as “a very valuable part of our household furniture.” The “Austen Spillikins”, along with other artifacts of Jane’s daily life can be found on display at the museum in Lyme. Ivory fish, like those Lydia gambles with in Pride and Prejudice, and letter blocks, similar to those used in Emma can also be found in the display. It is clear the Austens were serious about their fun and games.

Jane Austen's Spillikins can be seen in the upper right hand corner.
Jane Austen’s Spillikins can be seen in the upper right hand corner. Photo by Jane Odiwe of the  Jane Austen Sequels Blog.

So just what was this engrossing game? Spillikins is played the same way that early versions of Jack Straw and the American “pick up sticks” are. The difference comes withe the playing pieces. Jack Straws were originally played with uniform pieces of straw (though now  wooden or plastic farming tools are generally used.) Pick up sticks are made of wood or plastic, of uniform length, sometimes with knobs on the ends. Spillikins, were crafted from wood or ivory and could be blunted or rounded depending on the set.

When playing with sticks of uniform size and shape, like those that belonged to Austen, the rules are, as follows: Continue reading Spillikins

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Lawn Bowls

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Bowls or lawn bowls is a sport in which the objective is to roll biased balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a “jack” or “kitty”.

The game has been traced certainly to the 13th century. A manuscript of that period in the royal library, Windsor (No. 20, E iv.), contains a drawing representing two players aiming at a small cone instead of an earthenware ball or jack. The world’s oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, which was first used in 1299

The game eventually came under the ban of king and parliament, both fearing it might jeopardize the practice of archery, then so important in battle. Statutes forbidding it and other sports were enacted in the reigns of Edward III, Richard II and other monarchs. Even when, on the invention of gunpowder and firearms, the bow had fallen into disuse as a weapon of war, the prohibition was continued. The discredit attaching to bowling alleys, first established in London in 1455, probably encouraged subsequent repressive legislation, for many of the alleys were connected with taverns frequented by the dissolute and gamesters. The word “bowls” occurs for the first time in the statute of 1511 in which Henry VIII confirmed previous enactments against unlawful games. By a further act of 1541—which was not repealed until 1845—artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like were forbidden to play bowls at any time except Christmas, and then only in their master’s house and presence. It was further enjoined that any one playing bowls outside his own garden or orchard was liable to a penalty of 6s. 8d., while those possessed of lands of the yearly value of £100 might obtain licences to play on their own private greens. Continue reading Lawn Bowls

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Battledore and Shuttlecock

Capture

Battledore and shuttlecock or jeu de volant is an early game similar to that of modern badminton.

This game is played by two people, with small rackets, called battledores, made of parchment or rows of gut stretched across wooden frames, and shuttlecocks, made of a base of some light material, like cork, with trimmed feathers fixed round the top.

Georgian girl with Battledore and Shuttlecock by  Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779)
Georgian girl with Battledore and Shuttlecock by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779)

The object of the players is to bat the shuttlecock from one to the other as many times as possible without allowing it to fall to the ground.

From Mrs. Hurst Dancing, by Diana Sperling
From Mrs. Hurst Dancing, by Diana Sperling

Jane Austen, herself, played the game with her nephews. In 1808, she wrote to Cassandra

Yesterday was a very quiet day with us; my noisiest efforts were writing to Frank, and playing at battledore and shuttlecock with William; he and I have practised together two mornings, and improve a little; we have frequently kept it up three times, and once or twice six.

Games with a shuttlecock are believed to have originated in ancient Greece about 2,000 years ago. From there they spread via the Indo-Greek kingdoms to India and then further east to China and Siam. Continue reading Battledore and Shuttlecock

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Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun

Bilbocatch, from "The Girl's Own Book" by Lydia Marie Child (1838)

We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa’s consideration, by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 29, 1809

This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.
This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen loved spending time with her many nieces and nephews. At the time this letter was written, two of Edward’s sons were staying with her in Southampton after the death of their mother. Riddles, paper ships and cards are easy enough to decipher, but what was the “Bilbocatch” game that Jane Austen referred to?

Bilbocatch, from "The Girl's Own Book" by Lydia Marie Child (1838)
Bilbocatch, from “The Girl’s Own Book” by Lydia Marie Child (1838)

Commonly known as Cup-And-Ball, Bilbocatch refers to “a traditional childs toy. It is a wooden cup with a handle, and a small ball attached to the cup by a string. It is popular in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is called “boliche”. The name varies across many countries — in El Salvador and Guatemala it is called “capirucho”; in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico it is called “balero”; in Spain it is “boliche”; in Brazil it is called “bilboquê”; in Chile it is “emboque”; in Colombia it is called “coca” or “ticayo”; and in Venezuela the game is called “perinola”.A variant game, Kendama, known in England as Ring and Pin, is very popular in Japan.
Continue reading Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun

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The Game of Graces

Graces

When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho’ my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.
Love and Freindship
Jane Austen

The Game of Graces was a popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s. The game was invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces. The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful. Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.

In 1838, Lydia Marie Child (American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author of such works as Hobomok and A Boy’s Thanksgiving, which begins, “Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”) published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.  In it, she describes the game of Graces, thus:

This is a new game, common in Germany, but introduced to this country from France. It derives its name from the graceful attitudes which it occasions. Two sticks are held in the hands, across each other, like open scissors: the object is to throw and catch a small hoop upon these sticks. The hoop to be bound with silk, or ribbon, according to fancy.

The game is played by two persons. The sticks are held straight, about four inches apart, when trying to catch the hoop; and when the hoop is thrown, they are crossed like a pair of scissors. In this country it is called The Graces or The Flying Circle.
Continue reading The Game of Graces

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the iPhone: Fun, but faulty…

Yes, Ninjas

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a franchise in possession of a large fanbase must be in want of a video game adaptation. However hasty or flawed the execution of said game may be, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of media conglomerates that a video game is considered the rightful final step in a multimedia enterprise.

“My dear gamers,” said Freeverse to us one day, “have you heard that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is available for the iPhone at last?” We replied that we had not heard so, but, being great admirers of the zombie-slaying genre in general and Seth Grahame-Smith’s ingenious adaptation of the Jane Austen classic in particular, we resolved to examine said game with alacrity.

With a heavy heart, dearest readers, I must tell you that although the wry concept of the game is beyond reproach, its execution is wanting in many respects. Most grievous of all, I have been unable to carry the game to its proper conclusion; not because I did not wish to do so, for the game is in most regards diverting and congenial, but rather owing to a game-halting fault for which I was unable to find resolution.

Read on to discover not only the merits of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the iPhone (US$2.99), but also the inauspicious traits it possesses which, to my sorrow, render it unworthy of either praise or recommendation unless resolved with haste.

(I’ll abandon my mimicry of Jane Austen’s voice for the rest of this review so those of you who aren’t English majors can follow along with greater ease.)If you haven’t heard already, in 2009 Seth Grahame-Smith wrote an adaptation of Jane Austen’s English Lit 101 mainstay, Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s 1813 novel has seen a surge of interest in recent decades, with a celebrated TV adaptation on the BBC in the mid-90s and a 2005 film version… and those are just the most well-known recent adaptations. Mark Twain did not share the respect modern scholars have for Austen’s novel; in 1898 he wrote of Austen, “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Perhaps in the spirit of that quote, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does very nearly that. It takes Austen’s classic, using about 85% of the original text, and inserts all the conventions of a zombie apocalypse. Early 19th century England has been overrun with “dreadfuls” or “stricken” (polite society’s terms for the teeming undead), with fascinating consequences. Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, “proper” girls useful only for their marriage prospects in Austen’s original, are now all deadly martial artists trained to dispatch the zombie hordes with kung fu moves and katana strikes straight out of a pulp martial arts classic. It’s like mixing Night of the Living Dead with Kill Bill, only set in early 19th century England. The results are hilarious, particularly because the original spirit of Austen’s novel remains almost entirely intact even in a world full of zombies and ninjas.


Yes, Ninjas

 

All of that may sound like an unlikely premise for a video game, but the iPhone version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies manages to capture the novel’s atmosphere quite well. Cut scenes introduce each “chapter” (level) of the game with well-done graphics and dialog drawn directly from the novel. Fortunately, if you want to skip straight to the action, you can do so by hitting a “fast-forward” icon in the upper left of the screen. I thank Freeverse for this merciful feature, because some stages in the game, particularly the introductory chapter, can be quite difficult and may require multiple playthroughs before you can move on.


Cutscene artwork, while not animated is very well done.

 

The gameplay itself is highly reminiscent of classic beat ’em up side scrollers like Final Fight or Double Dragon. Depending on your personal tastes, that’s either the game’s greatest strength or its biggest weakness. Although the combat is entertaining at first, it can get very repetitive; you’re essentially doing the same thing every level, moving from left to right as you slice and dice your way through hundreds of zombies, ninjas, and zombie ninjas. It’s fun in small doses, but it can get a bit brain numbing (braaaainnnsss) after twenty minutes or so.

The animation is 2-D, well-executed, and runs with almost no slowdown on an iPhone 3G. As you might guess from the premise, the level of gore is almost silly in its excess. As you wade through the hordes with your katana, blood will gush and body parts will fly across the screen like confetti. This probably isn’t a game you want your seven-year-old to play.


This is one of the milder examples of gor in this game.


The game’s controls had a lot of thought put into them, but the execution is a bit lackluster. I found the directional control stick on the bottom left of the screen very finicky; it often steered me right into the middle of a crowd of zombies when I was trying to flank them instead. As for the “special moves” the game encourages you to execute, they’re often difficult to pull off on the iPhone’s small screen. You’re supposed to be able to swipe in eight directions to execute Elizabeth Bennet’s repertoire of kung fu techniques, but the game (or the iPhone’s touchscreen) often has a hard time distinguishing between different moves. As you play, you may find the most powerful enemy in Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesis the control scheme itself.Some of the game’s smaller touches do show Freeverse put a lot of attention into the game, however. The zombie that greets you at the game’s title page fades to black when you tap “Begin,” with its glowing red eyes briefly visible in the ensuing darkness. Your health meter is a major artery stemming from the top of a beating heart, and that heart beats ever more frantically as your life depletes. Once you defeat a wave of zombies, a disembodied hand with bones protruding from its wrists will point you in the right direction. The game’s harpsichord-heavy soundtrack is both pleasant and appropriate to the period of the game’s setting. Small details like this go a long way toward enhancing the humorous/horrific atmosphere of the game.


cutscene models have many different poses and expressions.

During chapters you collect money from both your enemies and demolished bits of scenery, and in between chapters you’re able to use that money to upgrade your life, technique meter, and the power of your special moves. The game is very generous in the amount of money it gives out, so you’ll likely find that you can max out all of your stats in only a single playthrough. The game’s replay value comes primarily from the post-level ratings you can get (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) and from Plus+ gaming network integration, complete with achievements and leaderboards.


Teatime at the dojo


Playing all the way through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should theoretically take about three or four hours for the first playthrough. I say “theoretically” because I wasn’t able to progress beyond Chapter 10 (out of 12). Trying to launch the chapter immediately causes the game to crash on my iPhone 3G, and as of this writing I haven’t found an acceptable resolution to the issue. I sent the following to Freeverse support (with some points bolded for emphasis):

“I’m currently testing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a weekend review on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW.com). I’ve reached Chapter 10 (Pemberley), but I’m unable to progress beyond that; the game immediately crashes upon tapping the chapter’s “page” to start it. I’ve tried restarting my iPhone to see if that helps, but it didn’t resolve the issue. I’d rather not have to delete and reinstall the game, thus having to start it over from the beginning, so I hope you have another solution.

“I’m running the game on a 16 GB iPhone 3G with the latest firmware. Thanks for any feedback you may have.”

The response I got back from Freeverse was discouraging. It reads as though they didn’t even read the content of my message:

“Please try rebooting your iPhone by holding the Hold button on the top of the iPhone. This should fix your issue as it appears to come from memory being taken by other applications. If this doesn’t help, please try removing the application and resyncing through iTunes. It is also recommended that you restore if your continue to experience difficulties.”

If Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ only flaws were somewhat repetitive gameplay and mildly frustrating controls, I’d still be able to recommend the game because of its amusing premise and surprisingly lush graphics. However, having encountered both a game-halting bug and a form-letter response from Freeverse tech support, I’m unable to give this game my full endorsement for now. I’d be happy to pay more than the $2.99 they’re asking for if I could play all the way through the game, but until or unless the bugs are ironed out, I’d recommend holding off on buying Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the iPhone and reading the book instead.

Buy the monster mash up books at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk

 


Chris is a part-time writer and a full-time student enrolled in the Master’s programme at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

This review was written for Tuaw.com: The Unofficial Apple Website and is used with permission.