Psi Patrol

There’s no way I can remember all the titles of all the books I dragged out of the dusty stacks of the Southwest Public Library that was just a block from my home. There’s no way I can even remember all the books I dragged out of there period. There have certainly been many that I read and forgot.

One I still remember, though, is a short series about three kids with super powers. I’ve always remembered this one, but my memories were really stirred up by the similar scenario of the recent film Chronicle. I couldn’t remember the title of the series, though. Even after Googling for hours, I just couldn’t track these books down. Fortunately, our venerable VicSage knew that they were called Psi Patrol. And as soon as I had that critical bit of information, I was able to track them all down.

The Psi Patrol story is very simple. A satellite (which I erroneously remembered as a meteor; no wonder I couldn’t find them!) crashed into a mall, and three kids, Sal, Hendra, and Max, all touch it simultaneously. Once they do, they are gifted with psionic powers and able to do all sorts of things such as lift heavy objects, communicate telepathically, and fly.

Sounds like it has a lot of promise, doesn’t it? And it did, enough promise to make a young me search out the rest of the series after I read the first book. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really live up to that promise, as I discovered while rereading it over the past two weeks. The characters are incredibly unlikable. Sal is a teenage sex fiend, Hendra is obnoxious to an unbelievable degree, and Max is as snooty as can be. Their powers are never fully explained or defined. Subplots are set up and then dropped. They use their powers in public and yet don’t get caught. And worst of all, they never get in any major super battles.

But the series does have two saving graces. The first is the one that I remembered all these years. These kids got their powers just from touching a satellite. This was something I could do, something that could happen to me! I obviously didn’t come from the planet Krypton and I wasn’t a millionaire playboy/engineering genius, so I knew I couldn’t be Superman or Iron Man. But it was absolutely possible that a satellite could fall on my mall and give me super powers. Possible? Heck, it was nearly inevitable!

The second is the one I re-discovered upon my recent rereading of the series. As the series ends, Max finds out that everyone born after 1967 has psionic powers. That’s all of us, my retro friends! We don’t need a satellite to fall on us! We’re already psionic! That in turn leads Max to suggest that he, Max, and Hendra record their story in a book form to get the word out to all the other kids of the 80s. The books they write? Why, they’re the very books we’re reading! The book ends on this ruse, which I found delightful even as a jaded 37-year-old and must have found earth-shaking at a fresh-faced 11. This ruse is carried over to the books as each presents the perspective of a different main character (one is Sal’s, one is Hendra’s, one is Max’s). It is even carried over onto the front covers, as each of the books claims to be written by the main characters.

Is Psi Patrol great? I don’t think so. As I said, there are a lot of problems with it. But I thought it was great once, and I still think it’s pretty good.

Super Powers Skyscraper Caper Board Game

I love the Super Friends and the super powers merchandise line. I had the lunchbox The Hall of Justice. Ah, Kenner, did you make a toy line I did not love as a kid.

Fast forward to grown up me browsing the Goodwill auctions. When I saw the Super Powers board game and in 3D no less! Of course I had to buy it. I even over paid for it but I did not care. This was something Super Powers that I did not know about- I had to have it.  If you also have fond memories of the Super Friends you better stop reading now because the rest of the review is a bit of a let down.

The box arrived and I set the play area up and convinced my fiancé to play with me because she is cool like that. At first look, the game looked epic. Small figures of the heroes and villains placed along the roofs of the 3D buildings.

Here is how game plays- you play as one of the heroes and move around the roof top arresting the villains pushing them off the roofs to their deaths. I know Batman is hard on the bad guys but I don’t remember an issue where he just chucks the Penguin off a 40-story building watching him splat all over the pavement.

My fiancé and I rolled to see who went first. I should point out you get to roll 2 dice to determine how many spaces you can move. She won the roll and began her turn. You are never more than 6 spaces away from knocking off a villain so she rolled high enough to knock off the Joker. You then get to roll again as well as collect 2 hero points because what says hero like committing homicide in the name of justice. She rolled again and got to knock off the last remaining bad guy on the roof. Her next roll will determine what roof she will go to next. They have corresponding numbers but only up to 4, 5 and 6 are considered wild. She gets to the next building and continues her murderous rampage cleaning that roof and all the other roofs. We had to look and see if you reset the board if you do this and it did not say. Finally she rolled a pair of 2s and it was my turn. I cleared 2 roofs before rolling snake eyes. All she needs to do is bump off 2 more villains and she has enough hero points to win the game. This was easily done and the game was over. It took longer to put the buildings together than it was to play the game. I wondered if this was an anomaly and we played again. This time I won by clearing all but one roof on my first turn and getting the rest of the points my next turn. I really don’t think you need 2 dice to play this game. The roofs are just too small for this. Also, the free turns just means you get to play until your rolls go bad.

The game was a let down but the box looks cool and the mini figures it comes with are fun to look at. If I had to rate this game I would give it a 2 out of 5.