Calendar Man – Week of 8/19

saints row iv shot 1

Lots of games come out this week, but only one of them is Saints Row IV (360, PS3, PC), so I only care about one of them.

That’s not entirely true as I also care about Splinter Cell: Blacklist (360, PS3, Wii U, PC). Todd thinks it’s torture porn but Todd has never waited in the shadows for 15 minutes, patiently learning guard patterns so that you can make it through the next area without leaving a trace. I have done that. I have also spent not nearly enough time learning patterns and instead shot up the place. I have not forgotten the airfield. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (360, PS3, PC) also comes out this week but honestly, I don’t know enough about this game to know if I’ll play it. Does anyone?

One game I know I won’t be picking up is Disney Infinity (360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS). There’s only room for one game/toy franchise in this house and Skylanders safely occupies that spot. Plus, I just don’t care about Disney that much. In other release news, Sir, You Are Being Hunted brings robotic hunters and bleak countrysides to your PC. Dive Kick brings both Dive and Kick to your PC, PS3 and Vita and Telltale brings their excellent take on The Walking Dead to the Vita.

Continue Reading…

Augustus Review

augustus-1

You might pick up a game clearly emblazoned with the legend “Rise of Augustus” expecting a wargame about the final wars of the Roman Republic. But you’ll have been cruelly fooled: the game is actually just called Augustus and is a light family Eurogame that casts you as assistants to the first emperor, controlling provinces and senators through the distribution of resources. Quite how the “Rise of” got tacked on to the English edition is beyond me.

You might also expect a game that comes in a box the size of the original Arkham Horror to be packed with a similar amount of heady cardboard goodness. And in a sense, there is, in the form of a truly colossal box insert to stop the few components rattling around. That’s a little unfair since the game is hardly expensive, but it’s annoying to have something taking up so much shelf space unnecessarily, just to store two sheets of tokens, a deck of cards, a few wooden meeples and a score pad. And it has to be said that the stylised art is wonderful.

Continue Reading…

Cracked LCD- Titanium Wars/Mythic Battles in Review

iello

French publisher Iello (say “yellow) stomped into the hobby game world a couple of years ago with King of Tokyo, one of the best light games ever published. Although that game was a Richard Garfield design, many of Iello’s titles are coming from new or unheard of designers and I find that very exciting. I picked out a couple of their most recent titles to review that looked the most interesting to me- a sci-fi card game and a light skirmish wargame. Both games are from French designers and both have what Bruno Faidutti would call a sense of the “baroque”- there’s definitely big theme and big action as well as some cool mechanics. Let’s have a look at Titanium Wars and Mythic Battles. Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #185

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The gang’s all here for Jumping the Shark’s 185th episode. Fifteen more and maybe, just maybe, we can all retire from this life of verbal debauchery. In the meantime, Bill is back and he’s taken his dear sweet daughter Walking with the Dead. The words you’re looking for here are Innocence Lost. Brandon presses on with Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and feels nothing but love for the wee lass. And I, after getting lost in the world of the Marvel Unlimited comic subscription app, get back into Civilization 5: Brave New World. I’ve concluded that these newfangled cultural victories are harder to pull of then I first realized. That or I’m getting dumber… which I’m not entirely sure is possible.

Enjoy!

Direct Download
iTunes Link
RSS Feed
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype

Calendar Man – Week of 8/12

planet hulk

There is an unnaturally high number of releases this week for the middle of August. Granted, it’s not like next week when Saints Row IV and Games I Don’t Care About Because They Aren’t Saints Row IV come out, but still. Mario and Luigi team up yet again to do whatever it is they do in Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. I played Superstar Saga and liked it well enough but not enough to play another one unless it was amazing, something this game isn’t if reviews are to be believed.  In other sequel news, Payday 2 (360, PC, PS3) releases this week. I’d love to play this, but matching up my schedule and the schedule of three other people I can trust to not go crazy and kill all the hostages would be difficult to say the least.

Continue Reading…

Puzzle Games Saved my Basement

2013-07-17 14.18.49

That right there is a riser, a riser I built as part of finishing my basement. It is in my movie room so that those banished to the back row of seats can see over the heads of their betters, namely those important enough to be allowed to sit in the front row. It is roughly eight feet by eleven feet, a super fortified combination of plywood, two-by-sixes, two-by-fours, sweat, blood and gumption. It is very big. It is very heavy. It is not fun to move, something I can now attest to personally.

Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #184

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First, apologies for the delay in posting. It’s been a full week. I blame Windows 8.1.

Right, anyway. Episode #184 brings us back-to-back weeks of the patented and trademarked Cackowski-Schnell and Brakke Hour of Power. This week Brandon discovers why he’s been playing Just Cause 2 all wrong and begins what will surely be a torrid love affair with Ni No Kuni who, herself, evidently has much wrath for a white witch of some kind. I dunno. Sounds kinda racist to me. (Was that too much? It felt like too much.) Meanwhile, I’m still ball’n in the land of NBA 2k13, but I do take a time out to ruin the lives of some incredibly brave, and not very bright, Kerbals as they try to get their fledgling space program off the ground. In the words of the all-powerful know-it-all, Yogurt, the kids’ll love this one.

Enjoy!

Direct Download
iTunes Link
RSS Feed
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype

Calendar Man – Week of 8/5

Dragon's Crown shot 1

Unlike the movie industry, which is ramping down their releases and dumping cast-off products into the month of August, Elysium being a notable exception, gaming is taking the opposite route as we march steadily towards the bountiful harvest of late-August/fall games. This week gives hack and slashers something to do in Dragon’s Crown (PS3 / Vita), provided you can get past character designs that make Rob Liefeld look like Leonardo Da Vinci. Pikmin 3 drops this week, an oasis of gaming in a desert of non-releases for the Wii U while the JRPG train continues on the PS3 with Tales of Xillia.

On the PC side, Divinity: Dragon Commander has dragons and jetpacks, a combination which should be airbrushed on vans the world over. Speaking of dragons, The Sims gets the Dragon Valley expansion, allowing you to release your inner Khaleesi. Guacamelee! also hits the PC if you’re into that sort of thing. Finally, Starbreeze, they of Payday, Escape from Butcher Bay and the original Darkness game release their new game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. You may remember this game from Microsoft’s E3 presentation in which they said they still totally care about the 360. Like, totally.

Continue Reading…

Fable 2 and Gender Empathy – Part 2

fable 2 shot 2

Editor’s Note: This is the follow-up to this piece regarding my time in Albion as a woman. This one gets more into the possibilities of video games as tools to give folks an idea of what it’s like to live as another gender. Unfortunately, it’s pretty blatantly cisgendered so I apologize for appearing ignorant or dismissive of  those whose gender identification doesn’t break down into ‘male’ or ‘female’. Had I to do it again I’d  be more inclusive. Alas, I’m not a big fan of rewriting history, so here it is. 

Right, so Tim the sex crazed husband is no more, sacrificed at the Shadow Temple in a quest for an achievement.  Shortly after dropping Timothy off in the underworld I met Jennifer the traveler.  Jennifer the lesbian traveler to be more specific.  I liked her, she liked me and despite her being from the upper class, which means she requires a nicer house, she conceded to marry me.

Continue Reading…

Fable 2 and Gender Empathy – Part 1

fable 2 shot 1

Editor’s note: This content originally appeared on a site I used to write for but that site is no longer around. I was recently asked by a grad school student if she could use this post and the follow up post for a talk she’s presenting on virtual worlds and different perspectives. I’m reprinting the piece here so that she can use it. There’s some salty language here, so be warned. 

For some reason I usually play as women when playing RPGs.  Maybe it’s because I’m a man in real life, so playing as a woman represents a new experience.  Maybe it’s because if I’m going to be staring at someone’s ass for 40 hours, I’d prefer it to be a female one.  I truly have no idea.  I don’t always play as a woman.  In Fallout 3 I was a man.  In Knights of the Old Republic I was a man.  In Fable 2, I decided to be a woman, and it has been an eye opening experience.

Continue Reading…