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Kickstarter or Nonstarter? Leisure Suit Larry Takes His Turn on the Catwalk

UPDATE: After a full day, the project has hit $100k in commitments, including 9 $1,000 backers. The odds of me taking some egg in the face over this post just went up, but honestly, my gut instinct is still that it’s going to sputter out short of the mark. 

Verdict: Nonstarter!

I’ve been wondering at what point I would see a game-related Kickstarter go one bridge too far to grab my interest. It took a bit longer than I thought, but I think the reveal that Replay Games has teamed up with series creator Al Lowe to remake the Leisure Suit Larry series may just fit the bill. First, the obligatory details:

The team that created Leisure Suit Larry 1 has been reassembled to create a 2012 “Reloaded” version.  Al Lowe, Josh Mandel, Sabine Duvall, and Leslie Balfour have teamed up with Replay Games to form what we call “The Dream Team” of adventure games.  We’ll be making Leisure Suit Larry 1-7 and keeping you guys informed every step of the way.  If this game is successful then we can bring you guys the rest of the Leisure Suit Larry games (and maybe even Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Case Of The Missing Floppies)!

The remake aims to bring the game to mobile devices, add in full voice acting (while still going mobile?), update the graphics, and add more of the “humor that’s made Al Lowe a household name.” The bottom end donation is $15 and will get you a digital copy of the game. The progressive “rewards” from there include a PDF art book, soundtrack, playing cards, and Larry-themed condom. I assume that’s one of those trademark bits of humor that made Al Lowe a household name?

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #117

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week on Jumping the Shark it’s all Mass Effect 3. Just kidding. No, this week, we talk about some of the rumors surrounding the possible announcement of the Playstation 4. In particular, the prospect of Sony clamping down on players’ ability to play used games on their console. Is it starting to get out of hand? Then, Bill reveals the shame of having sustained a Kinect injury while playing Tiger Woods. It was only a matter of time.

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Imperium Galactica II Released to App Store

Well, how about that. Here I was expecting the usual cavalcade of fake retro 8-Bit bullshit, cutesy-poo single-mechanic physics games, and freemium scams to turn up on the App Store this week and out pops Imperium Galactica II. This is a real-time 4x space game that was released on PC in 1999 by Digital Reality, the Hungarian geniuses behind Sine Mora. I was too busy being in a terrible relationship to check it out when it was new and $50. Now I’m happily married and I can pick it up for the budget price of $3.99. I just downloaded it and took a look around, I have no idea what’s going on but the interface is bad ass and the graphics look pretty good if a little muddy. There is no retina support, and it’s iPad only.

You know, I despise many of the current trends in the video games business. But putting the great PC games of the 1990s onto the iPad is something I can definitely get behind. Now let’s see Age of Wonders, Imperialism II, Star Control 2, Planescape: Torment, Total Annihilation, Dungeon Keeper 2…

Nightfall Trailers

Playdek sent over a fresh batch of Nightfall trailers this afternoon, leading me to believe that the release of this one is tantalizingly close. Man, I hope it doesn’t come out when I’m at Disney. That would be…awkward.

The first trailer is a gameplay trailer, and while I’m sure that those familiar with the game know what’s going on, I sure as heck don’t. That’s to be expected, though. When my wife watches me play Ascension, she doesn’t believe me when I say how easy it is to pick up.

The second trailer shows some of the options available for the game, including the ability to view cards outside of the game and the ability to change the music and the game speed. Nothing too out of the ordinary if you’ve spent any time poking around the options in Ascension.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #116

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Featured in Jumping the Shark #116 Brandon sends Angry Birds into deep space, while Bill takes a swing at the new Kinect-enabled Tiger Woods game and continues his throw-back adventure into Resident Evil 4. Oh, and it’s possible that we might talk just a little bit about a Mass Effect 3 ending that fails to satisfy and why it’s really not that honking big of a deal.

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Mechanical Reaction: Let’s Talk About Sex Ba-by!

Sex. It is the reason our species still exists, and it holds the power to sway emotions and alter relationships with dynamic consequences. Not surprisingly, it often holds a pivotal role in books, movies, music, and even comics. And yet, mention “sex” and “video games” in the same sentence and you might think the apocalypse has arrived.

As gamers, we are often seen as horny outcasts who can only get aroused by pixelated nipples, and I can’t blame anyone for the misconception. Have you seen the glut of tutorials on YouTube for triggering sex scenes in the Mass Effect series? Have you seen the sex scenes? *full body cringe* Sex needs to rise above its current role as a hollow, Jason Statham-level exhibition if it is to be used effectively in video games.

But first, a personal story about a wasteland, a dog, and my ex-wife:
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Biiiirds Innnnn Spaaaaaaaace

I don’t talk very much about my love of the Angry Birds around here, but hey, it’s Friday. Let’s do some confessing.

When I bought my HTC EVO last year, the thing I was most excited to do with it was play Angry Birds. By that time, everyone and their mother seemed to be playing the game and I wanted in on the action. Most of the time, I ignore mobile phone games due to the fact that they’re too simple, too interested in getting me to buy gems or stars or star-gems, or they involve spamming my friends with requests to by garbage cans or Werewolf spray or whatever. Note that I said “mobile phone” and not “mobile” as I don’t want to disparage my beloved iPad.

Angry Birds was different, though. It was simple yet it ramped up to fiendish levels of difficulty very quickly. It had a great sense of humor and an increasing stable of birds that allowed them to tweak the levels to increase the challenge without seeming cheap. Many the stages did I clear with three stars, often times repeating the same efforts on my wife’s phone.

So I played a ton of Angry Birds. When Angry Birds Seasons came out, I played a ton of it, going so far as to spend every working moment of the time between Christmas of 2010 and New Year’s of 2011 three starring all of the Halloween levels. I’m not going to say I was unproductive those days, but well, let’s just say it was good that nothing was expected of me. When Rio came out, I played it for like, one level, but I hear my daughter liked it more because it was easier. I wouldn’t know as I rarely let my kids touch my stuff on account of me being a horrible, selfish father.

Eventually though, flinging pigs lost it’s allure. It’s not that the game got bad, it just got vast and I was ready to move on to something else. Thankfully, Rovio was too and their move from the surly bonds of Earth to the glorious vastness of space was just enough to get me back into the pork destroying business.

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Board Game Overload

Agricola board game on iPad tablet and iPhone mobile

The effect that the iPad has had on the board gaming community is amazing.  The potential of the device as a board game platform was immediately apparent and since release designers and developers have been choosing a wide variety of titles to port across based on various criteria such ease of conversion, suitability for AI play and popularity. Some, such as Ascension have been spectacular successes, others like Bohnanza have been very questionable choices but the stream has been constant and steady and most of the products well worth checking for their extremely reasonable app store prices.

But it seems to me that suddenly, we’ve reached a tipping point. That stream has very suddenly become a veritable flood, at least if you include all the titles for which conversions are promised as being in the pipeline. Amongst the excellent games that I’ve read will be sent to the iPad in the near future are Commands & Colors: Ancients, Survive: Escape from Atlantis, Nightfall, Summoner Wars, Eclipse and Twilight Struggle. Others, such as Imperial and Cyclades are poised to receive important updates. There are more I can’t mention because I’ve forgotten them, or because the bases games aren’t interesting enough to be on my radar.

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This is a Warning

Congressmen Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) have introduced a bill that would require video games to carry a warning label similar to cigarettes, only in this case the warnings would inform consumers that video games have been linked to aggressive behavior.

Finally! It’s high time the government steps in and lets consumers know that every game ever made, including those violence mongering Dora cooking games, can cause little Timmy to explode in a fit of rage at the slightest provocation. Also, it’s about time that Congress take time away from such trivial matters as unemployment, staggering wealth disparity, the growing surveillance state and dependence on foreign energy sources to tackle something that really matters, informing consumers of nebulous ties between games and aggression.

Unfortunately though, for all that the warning does, I don’t feel that it does enough. I think that games need specific warnings so that consumers can be shielded from unpleasant experiences as much as humanly possible. What kind of warnings you say? Well, I’m glad you asked.

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Dead Space Mobile: A Tale of no Tale

Dead Space Mobile Screenshot - Vandal faces down a Necromorph Reaper

My current poison of choice is Dead Space Mobile. There’s a lot to like about it as a game: it’s by far and away the best “complex” shooter I’ve played on iOS. It has bags of atmosphere and excellent sound, ably support by gory graphics that push to the limit of the capabilities of my iPad 1. It requires skill and patience to play properly and has some interesting mini-games that are well worth playing to earn yourself a few extra credits to upgrade your stuff in the full game. On the other hand it’s largely derivative, has an occasional frustrating camera and underlines how difficult it is to leverage touch-screen controls to games of this style: it sometimes seems to have difficulty telling whether I want to raise my gun, reload it, fire or open a door. But basically it’s pretty good.

You could learn all that on any game review site though. What’s more interesting about it to me is that I’ve not played either of the main Dead Space games and so the back story, which I’ve now learned involves some creepy religion and a strange obelisk, is completely unknown to me. And yet Dead Space Mobile offers me precisely zero of it to set the scene. There’s nothing in the story to explain it, no cut-scene at the beginning, no in-game encyclopaedia to reference. It just casts you, the player, as a recent convert to the creepy religion (about which it explains nothing) and sends you off into the unknown.

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