Skylanders Giants in Review

Given my penchant for toys, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I wanted to take Skylanders Giants for a spin. I successfully ignored the game/toy combination the first time around, knowing full well that heading down that path would lead to a Trigger Happy sized hole in my wallet. Alas, the pull of plastic figures that were now giant sized and also lit up was too much to resist and the game was mine.

Amazingly enough, not only is this a well done action game, but it’s also surprisingly easy to ignore the fundamental purpose of the game, namely to fill your home with oodles and oodles of toys.

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Android: Netrunner review

Once upon a time, I played inordinate amounts of Magic: the Gathering. I played it so much that information about anything other than Magic: the Gathering could do little more than skitter across the surface of my overheated, addicted brain. Nevertheless I was dimly aware that there were other collectible card games available for those poor, benighted souls who couldn’t cope with the munificence of Magic: the Gathering. It was all very sad, but they had to have something to play, I supposed.

This is why, when Fantasy Flight Games released Android: Netrunner, I had absolutely no idea that it was in fact a Living Card Game version of one of those limp, feeble Magic: the Gathering wannabees. But now I have purged all traces of that overwhelming monstrosity from my mind, body and game collection, and am shriven and ready to look again at the Collectible Card Game format with fresh eyes. And good job too. Because it turns out Andriod: Netrunner is neither limp, nor feeble, but really rather good.

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Cracked LCD- Mage Wars in Review

When I first opened the Mage Wars box, I thought I was in for it. The signs were bad. It’s a game from a first time publisher and a first time designer.  Worrisomely generic, Magic card-style artwork and terrible fonts didn’t endear me to the product at all. The rulebook was filled to bursting with esoteric keywords, extensive descriptions of multiple turn phases, complicated examples of play, and callout boxes galore explaining exceptions, situations, and subsystem mechanics. It looked like a hot mess, a kitchen sink kind of game. It felt like the kind of game that in the past I’ve found myself regretting that I requested a review copy.

The first session- well, at least the first half- was a slow motion disaster of hesitant cardplay and shot-in-the-dark tactical board play. But before all of that, I had to sort out the 322 spell cards and make two decks for two of the game’s dueling mages, putting all of the cards into these adorable binders that represent the players’ spellbooks. With the prep work done- and a head full of rules and a quarter-remembered glossary of status effects and special abilities- we stumbled. Lots of “can I do this?” and “I don’t think that’s right”. Rulebook consultations precluded by “hang on, let me check”. All of those speedbumps weren’t nearly the chokepoint that flipping through the spellbooks during play was. This is a card game where you get to look at your entire deck- no hoping for a topdeck draw. Hope you remembered what every card does!

But when it all starts to come together and the opacity of words like quickcasting and magebinding fades away, Mage Wars eventually reveals itself as one of the top games of 2012. Continue Reading…

Chaos on Deponia in Review

Chaos on Deponia is Daedelic’s second entry in their Deponia series, a series of point and click adventure games set on the titular trash planet of Deponia. Coming in cold to a sequel, like I did with this one, is never an easy thing to do, and there certainly were a few things I had to research so as to not be completely in the dark, but eventually the game’s sense of humor and hate-him-but-love-him main character Rufus won me over. If you’ve never played a Deponia game, but enjoy humor and strong puzzles, take the plunge and give Chaos of Deponia a try. A delightful world of trash awaits.

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Jumping the Shark #151

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Image: Filomena Scalise /

So, it’s like Wednesday and stuff, eh? Not sure when that happened, but despite the lack of a timely post here, Jumping the Shark #151 did, in fact, post on schedule. This week’s show features talk of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress, thought on the Wii U and its rather interesting press embargo restrictions, and a whole lot of dish on Skylanders Giants. We also get a long overdue update on Commissioner Bill’s youth basketball foibles. You flat out could not pay me enough to do that job.

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GTA V Will Definitely Be GTA

There’s a line in the above GTA V trailer where a woman says something like, “You may have more cars, but you ain’t changed” which is as apt a description of GTA as I can think of.

That being said, I’m all over this game like white on rice. I just hope that with three characters it doesn’t triple the amount of bowling. Stupid bowling.

Calendar Man – Week of 11/12

Welcome to the beginning of the end of Holiday Gaming Season 2012. This week Black Ops 2 comes out, followed by the Wii U on Sunday and then, well, nothing but a long winter’s nap until January when Ni No Kuni comes out and children of the world raise their voices in glee.

This week we also have LEGO: Lord of the Rings, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Sony’s latest attempt to get people to buy Move, the first expansion to Rift and some other games that will no doubt get drowned out by the COD juggernaut.

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Dishonored Disowned

This morning I traded my copy of Dishonored in for credit toward a couple of Wii U games. The GameStop clerk asked me what I thought about it and I told him bluntly “It’s awesome for about the first third, and then it just runs out of whale oil.” That opinion might surprise NHS readers who recall my first impressions article that I wrote a month ago, in which I was really impressed by the first couple of hours. I stand by what I wrote then, and Dishonored does pass my one hour test. It is a good game, definitely not crap. However, I came to realize seven missions in that it wasn’t a good game worth playing. Continue Reading…

Dungeon! Review

I can vividly remember the first time I saw a copy of Dungeon! Visiting some of my Dad’s friends who had a son a year or two older than me, he pulled a copy out from under his bed and suggested we play. I was gobsmacked, not only because I’d unwittingly stumbled into the company of a fellow geek in the making, but because up until that point I’d only ever considered Dungeons & Dragons as a role-playing franchise. The idea that it could extend to a board game seemed stunningly innovative to my young self.

But it seemed to cover the bases well, with a recognisable premise of heroes venturing into a multi-level dungeon to kill monsters and collect treasure, with danger and reward increasing the deeper you went. And the monsters and magic and treasure that I encountered that afternoon were all bona fide dungeons and dragons exports. So we played, and played, and played again. I was amazed that the considerable complexities of the role-playing game could be boiled down so simply and effectively.

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Cracked LCD- Crude in Review

Stronghold Games’ new issue of Crude: the Oil Game is a significant reprint- not only because it is the only official reprint of the original 1974 design, but also because it’s an outstanding game that in some ways represents the missing link between early Sid Sackson-style abstract strategy games and more thematic European family games. And it’s also a really fun, compelling business game to boot with big, chunky plastic oil refineries and volatile economic conditions that precipitate the rise and fall of fortunes. Continue Reading…