Cracked LCD- Gunship: First Strike in Review


What I like best about Gunship: First Strike, a new crowdfunded spaceship combat title from Escape Pod Games, is how defiantly old school it is. I don’t mean “modern hybrid design with some old school trappings”. I mean that this is a game that you could send back in time and publish in a late era Avalon Hill game box circa 1990 or so and nobody would notice anything amiss. Back then , Gunship would have fit right in with games like  Gammarauders, Attack Sub, Naval Battles, or Road Kill. In 2013, it’s anomaly in a sea of circuitous, repetitive, cannibalistic, or syncretic design. That means it’s really not quite like anything else on the market today, for better or worse.  It is a singular game designed with a great deal of passion and commitment on the part of designer Steve Wood, and its homespun charm and out-of-time idiosyncracy count for a lot- if you’re receptive to those qualities. Continue Reading…

Gimme Danger

tomb raider combat

The recent Tomb Raider reboot, mistakenly cited by Tom Chick as one of the best games of this generation, is bullshit AAA games-making at its worst for a number of reasons. But the moment where I decided to check out  of it was when I was tasked with guiding Lara Croft across a girder spanning a chasm. The camera tilted forward to show me the danger of the fall. Lara’s arms went out to balance, and I assumed that I would need to carefully nudge the stick, moving her slowly so as to maintain footing and overcome the perilous obstacle. I stopped halfway and I watched her, fidgeting and nervous, feeling that strange fear of ersatz death that video games can sometimes create for us. And then I just started jamming on the stick to see what would happen. Continue Reading…

Tuesday Meditation – We Had Subs Edition

We Had Subs It Was Crazy

So, yeah, there’s no JTS post this week because there’s no JTS this week. We’re sorry about that. But you tell Brandon he shouldn’t be exhausted from his move or Bill that he shouldn’t watch OSU’s elite eight game live or me that I shouldn’t enjoy a pre-spring break evening with my kids since they were about to spend the week out of state. The stars aligned against us this week, but we’ll be back and all will be well.  In the meantime, it’s Tuesday and things happened. Richard Garriott was kind of a dick. Bioshock Infinite was awesome, but not as awesome as everyone says. Also, Michigan did something even more awesomer… and there were subs… it was crazy. (God, but I love MGoBlog’s style.)

Richard Garriott and the Art of Winning Friends. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t all aflutter about Garriott’s Ultima-rebooty thingy, Shroud of the Avatar. The game’s presentation itself wasn’t really enough to grab me, though I’ll always follow anything the guy does. Maybe it’ll work. But regardless of that, I have to say that Garriott going around acting like a dick isn’t helping matters when he says things like this:

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Cracked LCD- Batman: The Gotham City Strategy Game in Review


Regardless of the quality of the gameplay and design, Wizkids’ new Batman: The Gotham City Strategy game fails to meet expectations on a fundamental level. As the first-ever serious attempt at a Batman-themed hobby title and as an example of the typically problematic superhero theme, expectations were high- especially from this lifelong Batman fanatic. When I opened the box and saw that the illustrations were the exact same ones that you see on coloring books, party favors, or lunchboxes at the dollar store and not anything based on the actual comics, my heart sank. Looking past the high quality Heroclix figures of Batman, Joker, Penguin, Killer Croc and Two Face, I was profoundly disappointed to see a card titled “Harley Quinn” that had…a picture of Joker on it- the same picture that is on all of his upgrade cards.  I mean, seriously. Couldn’t they get somebody to draw a picture of a laughing gas canister? Continue Reading…

Pondering Tuesdays – Reality Check Edition

Tomb Raider - Lara on Radio

I’m just going to keep putting random “thinking about stuff” synonyms in the title field until I run out. Let’s get started…

Wanted: Strong Female Role Model. Ashelia (no full name given) played Tomb Raider and had a powerful reaction. Go read it and then come back.

I wish I could have my daughter read this. You hear about the need for female empowerment and role models all the time. It’s almost always well-intentioned, but there’s a point at which those become buzz words and not something genuinely meaningful. As a father, it makes it hard to know exactly where to steer her because you want so badly for your little princess, as she becomes a person who’s not so little anymore, to choose role models that represent the best in human nature and not Twilight’s pitiable Bella or some camera-starved reality TV whorelet.

Also, Justin Bieber. Le sigh.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #167

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

The Brakke and Cackowski-Schnell Hour of Pour returns this week with Bill playing the role of dutiful husband. It’s a shame that The Abner misses our special Abnercon re-cap episode, but if you want to hear all about World Cup, Spartacus, Mare Nostrum, and Tomorrow, I’m here for you. If you don’t, well I don’t even care. Nyah!

Filling up our video game quota, Brandon speaks ill of God of War: Ascension, casting it aside to play more Fire Emblem and do some more fishing of the ridiculous kind. We also marvel for awhile at the reported $200M budget billed to the production and marketing of Bioshock: Infinite. I mean, seriously? That’s Avengers money there. And I don’t see Infinite, however good it may be, pulling it a billion dollars worldwide. Just say’n.

All this and more coming your way in episode #167!

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Calendar Man – Week of 3/25

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite comes out this week, as does a bunch of other things including my new house. I’m swamped and stressed and have too much other stuff on my mind, so this is all you get this week. Next week you’re also on your own for new releases and the finding of deals as I will be waist deep in unpacking. Enjoy your time in Columbia.

Mage Knight: The Lost Legion Review

Mage Knight Lost Legion figures and box

Mage Knight Goldyx felt old and tired. He’d been to Atlantea several times, with comrades and without, but the effort of preparation, the length of the journey and the interminable waiting around for other Mage Knights once there had dulled his taste for adventure. Now he preferred to spend his days playing his magical game-tablet while toasting his feet before a fire.

One day, there was a knock on the door. Unused to company, and with legs stiff from long hours of inactivity, Goldyx irritably called for the visitor to enter. He was unsurprised to see Wolfhawk, newest of his order and about to set forth on her first Atlantean expedition.

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Cracked LCD- GOTY 2012 Expansions in Review


 3-21-2013 9-52-59 AM 

Among last year’s best games were Arcane Wonder’s first release Mage Wars, a complex CCG-on-a-board dueling game and Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing, the best miniatures game I’ve ever played. Naturally, great games that sell well (and some terrible games that sell well) tend to be the start of product lines, particularly when the titles in question have modular or customizable elements and “open” architecture. And so it has come to pass that both of these outstanding titles have received their first expansions, effectively giving us a first taste of how these games might open up and create new play spaces and options for those willing and able to stick beyond the core set. Continue Reading…

Chrom Blocked

chrom blocked fire emblem awakening 3

One of the best parts of Fire Emblem: Awakening is the support system. Many tactical RPGs have a system in which various team members can team up to either do more damage or take less damage or somehow help each other out in battle. It’s a pretty simple system here: when attacking, or performing any other battlefield action like healing or dancing (yes, there’s dancing), you place the active unit directly next to another unit. That’s it! Pretty simple, right? Then, based on the depth of the relationship between the two units, or however many units the active unit is adjacent to, bonuses are conferred. Maybe you get a bonus to hit, maybe to dodge, maybe to damage. The same bonuses can be conferred when on the defensive too, with the occasional instance of your battlefield partner pushing the attacked unit out of the way of the enemy’s attack. Thanks Frederick!

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