Jumping the Shark Podcast #215

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On JtS #15, Holly Green is back and she’s here to spin yarns of all things PAX. It’s a smorgasbord of quick hits on the latest iterations of Saints Row, Magicka, Costume Quest, and Dance Central. Find out what she thinks of the new Wander MMO and Not a Hero and why she owns so many versions of Deadly Premonition. And if that’s not enough, listen just to hear me brag about how awesome Venice is as a money-making enterprise in Civilization 5 only to find out I was wildly overestimating my success. Good times. To wrap up, Brandon has Shadowrun: Dragonfall DLC and Star Realms truth bombs to drop.

Enjoy!

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I Wrote the Wrong Post (on Misogyny and Gaming)

Civility

A few months ago I wrote a piece that was ostensibly about maturity in the game industry, but that was really about trying to define what is and isn’t sexism and misogyny in games. Yes, I uncategorically condemned online harassment. Yes, I absolutely supported the idea that the gaming industry desperately needs to grow up and become more inclusive. But I also wrote that the mere appearance of sexism doesn’t make something inherently sexist. I wrote that it’s impossible to avoid stereotypical pitfalls 100% of the time and that its surface appearance, which absolutely should be open to analysis and criticism, also shouldn’t come to define the entirety of the work. I wrote that we can better see the real problems the industry has with inclusion by looking more at the aggregate than the specific.

I was making the wrong arguments…

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Cracked LCD- Spurs: A Tale in the Old West in Review

spurs

Spurs: A Tale in the Old West, new from Mr. B Games, is a fairly light adventure game with an all-too-rare American West setting and a structure that is pulled straight from Red Dead Redemption and other open-world video games. Each player takes on the role of a western archetype (Lawman, Gunslinger, Bandit and so forth) and travels around a small map to reach quest markers. You might find yourself hunting animals to sell their pelts back in town, tracking down gangs of desperadoes or bringing fellow players to justice that have done bad things like robbing the bank or victimizing local ranchers. Mine for gold, and you’ll be drawing plastic nuggets out of a bag. Try to corral cattle or break a horse and you’ll do so in a die-rolling minigame. You might get bit by a rattlesnake, involved in a brawl with a drunk down at the saloon or get hired to escort a stagecoach from one town to another.

All of the above has likely set many gamers’ mouths to “salivate” because there simply aren’t enough games with this kind of setting, and it’s quite fitting that the game is designed by Ole Steinness (with Mr. B. Games’ Sean Brown). Mr. Steinness was responsible for one of last year’s big surprises, the modern cop co-op Police Precinct. The two designs don’t really have much in common except in one key aspect. They are both fun, unique games with under-represented settings that unfortunately fall short of pushing into “must-play” territory due to some bland design choices and a lack of polish. Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #214

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And another one that actually went up last week that I”m posting late. Blame my day job. Also, that’s why you should subscribe to the show and not wait for me, right? Right. Anyway. For our 214th episode, Gameranx.com’s Managing Editor, Holly Green, makes a welcome return to the show to talk all about Civ V, her upcoming digital cookbook and why it’s always better to sleep in one’s own bed when attending conventions. From there, Brandon and I dig into Rogue Legacy and discover why it’s the perfect game to sit down with when you have 30 minutes to kill and then marvel as two hours pass by and you’ve left your kids waiting for you at the bus stop. (Disclaimer: This did not actually happen.) Also Brandon falls in love with Diablo III all over again because… well, I haven’t the foggiest really. But he did.

Enjoy!

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Hold Fast: Russia 1941-1942 Review

holdfast-01

I’d wager that the Eastern Front of World War 2 is the most common setting for board games, ever. More so than the far future, or a Tolkienesque fantasy or even satisfying the whims of Renaissance nobles. So why do Worthington Games think we need another?

The answer is that there isn’t another Eastern Front game quite like this, at least not in the modern canon. It’s a block game, like Eastfront, but that’s a far less approachable title. It’s low unit density like No Retreat, but that’s a far more complex title. It’s easy for any gamer to pick up like Conflict of Heroes, but that’s a far less realistic title.

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Cracked LCD- Eurogames Reclamation Project #3: Bohnanza

bohnanza

It’s 1997, I’m at Dragon Con in the gaming area at a random table I sat down at, and I’m dealt a hand of cards with German words on them and cartoon pictures of these bean characters. Beans. I start rifling through the cards and the guy teaching the game stops me. “No no no! You have to keep the cards in the order you get them, don’t change the order of them in your hand!” Right off the bat, this game is making a bad impression with the silly bean-people and this bizarre rule that defies the natural instincts of anyone who has ever played a card game of any type. My shirtless, leather bracers-wearing friend that fancies himself a modern barbarian leans over and says “Mike, I don’t know about this one.” I promise him that we’ll play Dungeonquest afterwards. I don’t want him to leave me alone at a table of strangers playing a game about bean farming. An hour or so later, we’re in the dealer’s room forking over the bucks for a copy of the game from a vendor that had some import copies. Continue Reading…

Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game Review

pathfinder-01

There have been many, many attempts at blending role-playing games and strategy games. Until recently, almost all fell foul of the fundamental mismatch between playing co-operatively in the imagination and competing on a board.

The latest iteration is Pathfinder: the Adventure Card Game. Based on the famous role-playing game of the same name it may be the purest distillation of the adventure game concept yet. It’s smart, simple and packed with potential variety. But for all the benefits it boasts it trips on perhaps the most basic hurdle in game design: it just isn’t terribly interesting to play.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #213

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week on Jumping the Shark, Brandon and I are joined by my good friend and fellow geek culture savant, Jay Payne, as we take a deep, spoilery dive into Telltale and Marvel land. First up I dish some quick Out of the Park Baseball 15 impressions and Brandon and I do a quick hit on the miss-step that is The Walking Dead’s 4th episode, then it’s on to The Wolf Among Us for a considered look at the its first full season and how well it matches up with the spirit of the comics (about which Jay drops the knowledge bombs). We wrap up with a long, drooly praise fest for everything that makes Guardians such an amazing, joy filled triumph of superhero movies.

Enjoy! (And sorry I got this posted so late!)

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Cracked LCD- Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem in Review

sons of anarchy

Gale Force Nine’s crack in-house team of Dill, Kovaleski and Sweigart turned out Spartacus in 2012, Firefly in 2013 and now in 2014 they’ve hit paydirt again with yet another TV show-based title. Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem is going to cement this publisher and these designers among the absolute best working in the business today. The GF9 gang has turned in what is quite likely the best crime-themed board game published to date. It doesn’t matter if your experience with Sons of Anarchy is that you’ve followed it since its debut in 2008, if you binge-watched the entire series on Netflix last week, or if you have no idea what SAMCRO stands for. The universal themes of intimidation, exploitation, gang rivalry, illegal enterprise and explosive violence should appeal to anyone interested in the entertainment value of bad people doing bad things.

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Cracked LCD- Korean Dexterity Games (Click Clack Lumberjack, Coconuts) in Review

dex games

One of the things that having small children makes you realize is that simple games where the fun is easy to get to without a bunch of hobby-work. You start to value games that don’t require a significant investment of time or effort beyond the reach of your young ones. My children are four and a half and two weeks shy of three so they are not exactly anywhere in age range of playing Robinson Crusoe or Mage Knight with dad. I try to find them games that I think will immediately grab them, entertain them for 15 to 20 minutes, and leave us all smiling. But I also want games that I can appreciate as an adult game player. Dexterity games- at least some of the simpler, action-oriented ones are often a good common ground. Recently I picked up a couple of Korean action titles published in the US by Mayday Games, best known for producing card sleeves in non-standard sizes, questionable Kickstarters and Crokinole boards of reportedly table-damaging low quality. Continue Reading…

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