The Holiday Plans

Today is my last day of “work” (put in quotes due to the fact that I’m getting absolutely nothing done today), before taking almost two weeks off to spend with my family over the holidays. I’d like to say that I’m going to spend that time doing nothing but lounging around and playing games, but alas, my time will instead be spent following the steps below:

Step 1: Pick up Transformer.
Step 2: Wrap Transformer carefully in newsprint.
Step 3: Place wrapped Transformer in moving box.
Step 4: Repeat for the next several hundred Transformers.

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Rayman Legends Demo Impressions

Last night, I had my first “wow” experience with Nintendo’s new Wii U console. It wasn’t with any of the late-to-the-party ports or even a first-party offering. It was with the demo for Ubisoft’s upcoming Rayman Legends, now available for download. It’s just three levels, but it’s one of the most exciting, refreshing, and innovative gaming experiences I’ve had all year. It’s heartfelt, beautiful, and genuinely whimsical in a way that no cheapjack indie clone coasting along on fake 8-bit chic or even Nintendo’s own nostalgic Super Mario Bros. Wii U is. It’s joyful, full of love for video gaming and without a trace of the kinds of commercial cynicism or insulting lowest-common-denominator condescension that have become endemic in the industry. Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #155

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Jumping the Shark #155 brings back the Brakke and Cackowski-Schnell Hour of Power, while Bill coughs and wheezes his way back to health from whatever demon germ took hold of him. This week we devote ourselves to discussing some early impressions of the iOS implementation of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (hint: largely positive). Brandon takes a nap with some Sleeping Dogs and also transfers his Skylanders addiction to still another platform (iOS). And I offer some insights from my first Pathfinder play-session in over a year and why I very much dig the Monk character class, even if I ended up knocked unconscious in one of the first battles out of the gate.

All this and more in this week’s Jumping the Shark!

Direct Download
iTunes Link
RSS Feed
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype
(The embedded feed is after the break.)
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Calendar Man – Week of 12/17

This is it folks, the last Calendar Man post of the year. Sure, there will be deals and such from now until the end of the year, but as of Wednesday of this week, I am officially off of the clock for the rest of the year. This week has nothing of note coming out, a pattern I see repeating until I’m back on the shift and I’m fairly certain you can navigate the retail landscape on your own until the New Year.

So yeah, I’ll post something on Wednesday, Bill, Todd and I will do a show on Thursday and then it’s nothing but holiday eating and packing my many, many Transformers to fill my free time. Whee!

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City of Horror Review

City of Horror art

Zombie board games tend to focus, like the films they emulate, on the players surviving by putting up barricades and beating the undead to death with whatever they can find. But if you’ve seen enough horror movies you’ll know there’s a second string, a darker theme where cooperative groups mercilessly pick the weakest member to sacrifice to the shambling hordes so that the others might survive. That’s the grim base on which City of Horror rests.

And grim is the word. There are few games more callous than this. It’s not a game to play with relative strangers. It’s not even a game to play with friends that you can’t rely on not to hold grudges. Players control a variety of characters, spread around a zombie-infested city. Each turn there is a vote in each board area that’s accumulated sufficient zombies. Each character in that area gets to vote for who dies, and the character with the most gets eaten. Gone. No second chances, no dice, nothing. Eliminated.

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Cracked LCD- Hooyah: The Navy SEALS Card Game in Review

A couple of years ago, I played a prototype of an as-yet unpublished game that was essentially a scenario-based dudes-in-a-hall game with a modern, Special Forces theme. The game needed lots of work, but it really made me aware of how underused modern military conflict is as subject matter- at least on the tabletop. You’d think that with the popularity of such themes in video games that there’d be more crossover, but with a few rare exceptions there isn’t anything resembling a tabletop Modern Warfare. When I saw that US Games Systems was releasing a title called Hooyah: The Navy SEALS Card Game, I thought there might be a breakthrough. Unfortunately, the gameplay is closer to Ticket to Ride than Zero Dark Thirty. Continue Reading…

Fluxx Out for iOS

Fluxx, the latest iOS game board joint from Looney Labs and Playdek is currently available in the App Store for the low, low price of $2.99. I haven’t paid much attention to this game while in the toy section at Target, my eye unerringly drawn to Transformers and Skylanders but the mix of weird cards and shifting rules sounds interesting. Offline and online modes support between two and four players with a single player mode against AI opponents, pass and play local multiplayer and asynchronous online play. No idea if all of the expansion decks will be coming to iOS but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Christmas time is soon upon us. Plenty of time to spend at home ignoring one’s family to play iOS card games. Hmm…

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Mini Review

I had planned on doing my usual long form review of Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracles, but alas, I just don’t have it in me. I apologize to my fellow Laytonites out there who feel I’m giving them, and the game, a short shrift.

I know this guy who once said that he’d love Halo if Bungie would only change everything about Halo that makes Halo Halo. That’s kind of where I am with the Professor Layton games right now. The Layton games follow a pretty strict formula of whacky characters, a semi-mystical story that ends up being explained away through non-mystical but no less fantastical means, great puzzles, interesting mini-games and beautiful, hand drawn animation. The puzzles change, the mini games change, the story changes, but everything else remains the same, which is great if you really like the established formula.

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Space Hulk!

Seeing that I am out of the videogaming news loop these days, I have no idea how much play this is getting elsewhere but for me — and Barnes and Matt — this is a big deal. Space Hulk is coming to PC and iOS. I know nothing of the developer , Full Control, but Space Hulk is coming to PC and iOS!

Feature set:

Based on the best-selling board game and set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Space Hulk is a 3D digital turn based strategy game that recreates the classic claustrophobic board game experience for single player and multiplayer cross-platform play between PC, Mac and on iOS.

Space Hulk is set in the isolated corridors and tomb-like chambers of an ancient vessel lost in the graveyard of space. Players lead a small army of fearless Space Marine Terminators to battle in a ferocious fight for survival against hordes of predatory alien Genestealers.

The main features are:

Blood Angel terminator squad
Fearsome Genestealers with challenging AI (sorry, still no free rides)
Thematic 3d environment
Single player campaign based on the “Sin of Damnation” hulk
New coop multiplayer levels against the Genestealer AI
Multiplayer head-to-head recreating the board game experience against a friend
Cross platform multiplayer between PC, Mac and iOS
Level editor with ability to share creations
Game expansions in the future as DLC

In. Oh, so in.

Guardians of Middle-Earth in Review

Being a relative newbie to the world of MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), one of the most interesting thing about this kind of grassroots genre is that it really is an evolution of the hero-based real-time strategy game that Warcraft III represented. But the surprising thing is that these games- at least as evidenced by the two I’ve played- more or less do away with all of the boring, tedious, and repetitive clutter of the RTS, automatically cranking out cannon fodder along just a couple of set paths while you and a couple of teammates do the heavy lifting. Awesomenauts was the first game of this type I’ve played but Guardians of Middle Earth is the best that I’ve played. And from what I’ve gathered from other players and writers is that it’s a more accessible, more streamlined, and more refined, version of games like Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends. Oh, and it’s on consoles instead of PCs.

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