Calendar Man – Week of 10/14

skylanders swap force shot 1

This week marks the next salvo in the ongoing war between Activision’s toys and portal series Skylanders and Disney’s toys and portal series Disney Infinity. Skylanders SWAP Force features all new “normal” (non swappable) characters as well as a number of characters that let children dismember robots and squid pirates and then mash them back together in some sort of grotesque Frankenstinian parable of man’s audacity at playing God. It also features jumping. Disney’s response to this bold move is to sit back and wait, knowing full well that the day the release the first set of Star Wars toys, retail outlets the world over will be rent asunder. I do not have Skylanders SWAP Force, nor am I feeling the urge to fill my house with more figures, but once the PS4 drops, I’m pretty sure I”ll heed the call of plastic. When it comes to toys I have long since learned not to make predictions about me not buying things.

Valhalla Knights 3 drops for the Vita this week if you want a “gritty” RPG that lets you befriend female shopkeepers. I know that when I think gritty, I think of friendly shopkeepers. In the “games I never see anyone buy yet they keep making them” file we have a new Wipeout game as well as a new Cabela’s game.

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Circus Train Review


Roll up! Roll up for the greatest show on earth! Who doesn’t love a circus? Well, now you get the chance to run your own in Circus Train. Not in the modern day, of course, with its annoying animal welfare laws and societal distaste for freak-show exhibits, but in depression-era America.

This is the second edition of this game. Both it and the original were published by the delightfully cheapskate yet innovative Victory Point Games. Except you wouldn’t know it if this was your first VPG title. In place of the flimsy counters and paper map of the original you’ve now got a mounted jigsaw board and chunky counters. They’re laser cut, so be prepared to wipe a lot of soot off your fingers for the first few games, but they’re worth it for the bargain basement price.

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Cracked LCD- There will be Games HD part 3- I Built My Dreams Around You

 death star

Here it is- the long-delayed third part of the There Will Be Games HD remaster project. Yes, it is in fact an indicator that I was lazy this week and didn’t feel like writing anything. But there have been a couple of requests to continue on with this rerun series, so somebody out there will be happy to see it.

Close up on a drawing of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The camera pulls back slowly, revealing it to be an illustration on a dusty, shrink-wrapped copy of Steve Jackson Games’ DINO HUNT. Zoom out to show the game lying in a pile of rubble—broken pieces of wooden slat wall and the detritus swept from under shelving units now long sold away. The zoom continues back to reveal the heap of debris against a field of blue-gray industrial carpet lining the floor of an interior space. Slow dolly as we back through an empty room, out a floor-to-ceiling glass windows and into the parking lot of a small strip shopping center. Slight tilt up to a back-lit blue sign, giant letters that spell out “Games” with a hex and gear motif. It’s a cold day in Atlanta as we stand at 551 10th Street, sometime in February 2008.

It’s now 2004. The storefront, which will be empty once again four years later, is then an abandoned Laundromat and three people in front of it are talking to a realtor about leasing the space that would become Atlanta Game Factory. The rent is maybe a little too high and the entire place will have to be gutted, but it seems like the perfect location- it is on the Georgia Tech campus and has easy access from the northern suburbs and I-75, the major highway running straight through Atlanta. A three year lease is signed and construction begins.

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Brakketology Plays Catch Up


Brakketology is back this week. After a full week spent moving to a new home I only got my PC hooked up for the first time last night. Consequently, I’m way, way out of the loop, so I’m just throwing out there a few things that have caught me eye the last coulpe days. Before that, though, some things I’ve learned from the move: Moving with two kids is, to use Brandon’s words, exponentially more difficult that moving just an adult or two. Cleaning up after the prior residents left the place a federal disaster zone is a wee bit frustrating. Having Comcast television service is way worse than having just their Internet. The bill is cheaper, but holy cats is the UI bad on their boxes. We’re talking levels of design awfulness. Do these people not have anyone working on this stuff? Also, when loading and unloading a Uhaul, do not, do not, do not, walking into the trailer hitch. Ow.

In items that may or may not be more relevant to you, Soren Johnson penned a cool retrospective on Spore, there’s some new Kickstarter projects worth checking out, and you Sony controller fans (both of you) will be able to use your maddening little gamepads on the PC. It’s all after the break. Woo!

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Jumping the Shark Episode #192

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

This week’s JtS brings a rare Cackowski-Schnell/Abner Hour of 50% Power. I still haven’t caught up from the big move so here’s the word from Brandon on what you’ll find herein:

Todd’s off moving into his palatial estate so it’s up to Bill and Brandon to talk about the finale of Breaking Bad and settle once and for all if it was the Best Show Ever.


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Calendar Man – Week of 10/7

Beyond Two Souls mocap

This week brings a big, heaping pile of EMOTIONS to your local game emporium with the release of David Cage’s new game, BEYOND: Two Souls.  I have no idea if it’s going to be any good, but I have it heading to me as we speak. I enjoyed Heavy Rain quite a bit even if it was a game that didn’t hold up when you peeked behind the curtain. The bigger release though comes on Saturday when Pokémon X and Pokémon Y come out. I didn’t play much of Pokemon Black 2 but I’m hella excited for X and Y. Experience share, y’all. Experience share.

In other JRPG news, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness releases for the PS3. Disgaea is yet another game franchise that I just can’t get a handle on. It’s a wee bit too complicated for me. If dancing is more your thing, Just Dance 2014 releases this week for current gen platforms with a release for next gen systems coming later. I’ve always found that the Just Dance games were great for having fun but not so great for learning how to dance or having the game recognize what you were doing as dancing in any way, shape or form. If you haven’t played Super Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 6, Devil May Cry 4, Dead Rising 2 or Megaman 10, the Capcom Essentials (PS3, 360) release has got you covered. Not a bad deal for all of those games.

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Cracked LCD- Duel of Ages II in Review


When Brett Murrell’s Duel of Ages appeared back in 2003, it was sort of a strange entity. Its marketing materials and website conveyed an ambitious- and seemingly venture capital backed- line of products that were very much not in step with the current design trends at the time. Puerto Rico was still considered one of the top games in the hobby and the first “hybrid” American games with Eurogame influences such as Christian Petersen’s A Game of Thrones and Glenn Drover’s Age of Mythology were starting to appear. Heroscape and War of the Ring were right around the corner.

With this context in mind, I have to admit that when I first played Duel of Ages ten years ago I didn’t like it very much. It felt old fashioned and not in a good way. I wasn’t really sold on the concept of bringing together characters from four different eras and kitting them out with mismatched gear. It was a highly idiosyncratic game, with unusual sawblade-shaped modular map tiles (“platters”) that were notorious for warping. I felt like the game was clunky, clumsy, and retrogressive. Yet it persevered, becoming something of a cult classic among its fans that just couldn’t get enough of putting William Wallace on a bicycle, armed with a plasma rifle and with a grenade-hurling wizard and an angry bear in hot pursuit. Continue Reading…

Calendar Man – Week of 9/30

rain ps3 shot 1

As summer tunes into fall, one’s thoughts turn to…basketball? Is that true? I have no idea when basketball season starts so I don’t know if NBA 2K14′s (360, PC, PS3) release this week coincides with anything. I also don’t care enough to look it up so there’s that. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is a remake of the first Etrian Odyssey only this time with an easier mode, which will certainly help those lulled into a false sense of security by Etrian Odyssey IV. It remains to be scene if the changes made to the series along the way will be missed by those jumping from IV to Millennium Girl. I’d pick it up but with Pokemon X/Y right around the corner, it seems like a silly financial decision. Also new for the 3DS this week is Rune Factory 4 which combines farming and monster taming because who doesn’t equate taming monsters with farming?

In other release news, rain hits the PS3 while Agarest: Generations of War and Haunted Memories hits the PC and the physical version of the Wii U Wind Waker is released.

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JtS/Brakketology Taking the Week Off


Sad Kitten

Unfortunately, no new JtS this week, as we all had commitments that kept us from getting together to do the show. Brandon and Bill will be back with a show next week. My status will depend on the how the rest of the big move goes. Since those acursed boxes won’t pack themselves, Brakketology is also taking the week off… pray for me.

Android: Netrunner – Creation and Control Review


Android: Netrunner is a Living Card Game and that means lots of little expansion packs. Quite an alarming number of little expansion packs if you’re a relatively casual player of the game like I am. But this latest pack isn’t little: it’s big. It comes in a proper box and contains 165 cards: 3 copies each of 55 different ones. As a casual player I approve mightily.

Like all the expansion before it, the focus is squarely on one faction each for the corporation and runner players, in this case Haas-Bioroid and the Shapers respectively. That’s a bit more odd considering you get a lot more cards in this deck but there you go. The Shapers probably needed it as, despite their name, they’re probably the most shapeless, ill-defined faction so far. And I like Haas because I’m a former genetic engineer myself. So, again, I approve mightily.

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