Jumping the Shark Podcast #157

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The gang is all-in for Jumping the Shark #157 and our official JtS ringing in of the new year. This week I don the Mark of the Ninja and talk about how great I think the game is, but also why it’s not as innovative as a lot of folks seem to think. Bill reveals the complicated and technical process of shipping a Kickstarted boardgame. I’ll tease you in on this one by noting it involves trucks and postage. And Brandon? Brandon puts on the old robes for Assassin’s Creed 3 and wonders why he spends more time fulfilling menial tasks around the homestead than he does identifying perpetrators of evil and then jabbing them with poky things.

Start your 2013 off in style… and then, when you’ve finished with that, download the show and enjoy that too!

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Calendar Man – Week of 1/7

Welcome to 2013′s first Calendar Man! Woo! I wish I had better games to offer in this first column but all years can’t start with Darksiders. Oh sure, Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360) comes out this week, but I played this game at E3 like nine years ago and it was not to my liking. Perhaps you’ll find it enjoyable. Who knows. In other news, Earth Defense Force gets a Vita release, which makes me regret my recent decision to sell my Vita just a teensy bit. Then again, if I really want to kill bugs, I can just stomp around in the back yard. Finally, Dance Magic drops on PSN this week, no doubt justifying your decision to buy a Move like no other game before it.

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NFS:MW, You Are No Burnout and That’s OK (I Guess)

Need for Speed: Most Wanted, A Criterion Game, a game which has the dubious honor of owning the longest, non-American McGee involved title, is no Burnout. Granted, it’s not supposed to be, despite having been made by Burnout’s creators, but that didn’t stop me from being disappointed upon firing it up.

I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be Burnout. Criterion themselves said that they want to make another Burnout, an unnecessary endeavor if the game they had just made was Burnout, but I really, really wanted it to be Burnout. Some people play racing games. I play Burnout. I’ve tried Forza and Gran Turismo and I suck at both of them. Even Split/Second was too much for me, but Burnout has always given me enough to do before the inevitable wall of difficulty made further progress impossible.

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Barnes’ Best 2012, Console Edition

Reflecting back on the year in video games is pretty grim. There was plenty of mediocre junk and really just a couple of really significant titles. The industry kept truckin’ on toward its self-circumscribed oblivion, writ in DLC, preorder bonuses, shoehorned multiplayer, sixty dollar price points, and endless iteration. Vaporware was popularized by Kickstarter, and indie games apparently brought innovation to the medium by whimsically mimicking twenty and thirty year old design concepts and game styles. Then there was that long, dreary summer where almost nothing of note was released. And then there was Lollipop Chainsaw. Come, Armageddon, come. Continue Reading…

Cracked LCD- Barnes’ Best 2012, Analog Edition

Quite frankly, I thought 2012 was a pretty shitty year for board games. Not just because I didn’t play them nearly as much as I have in recent years due to being in double baby jail with a one year old and a two year old, but also because the really outstanding games were few and far between. There was a whole lot of mediocrity, and then the Kickstarter thing made it possible for any yahoo to sell underdeveloped, unfinished beta prototypes to suckers. There weren’t really even all that many games in 2012 that I felt were compelling enough to try outside of the reprint cavalcade, which caught up this year with Crude, Wiz-War, Merchant of Venus, and Netrunner. I didn’t play Risk: Legacy, the new Descent, Mice & Mystics, or tons of expansions for pretty good games that came out this year. I couldn’t possibly care less about Zombicide, Seasons, or most of the new deckbuilders. Regardless, here are your Barnes’ Best board game picks for 2012. Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #156

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been negligent in posting this as I’ve been out of town more often than not since it went live back on December 24th, but if you missed it, Jumping the Shark #156 brings you a technology-repressed cameo from Bill, who promptly lost his Internet service 20 minutes in, followed by a special Brakke/Cackowski-Schnell half-hour of power. Our topic for this one was a look back at 2012, our most notable moments, favorite games, trends, etc. There’s no new show this week as we all took the time to be with family and whatnot, but we’ll be back on the podcasting wagon in time to post our next episode next Sunday night.

We hope you all had a great holiday season and here’s to 2013 hopefully not sucking!

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Thrower’s Tally: Board & iOS Games of 2012

It’s the time of year for lists. Lists of things from the year that’s about to end. Most especially of things that you’ve found to be of surpassing excellence. I am no dissenter, no maverick, not strong enough to resist the pull of seasonal traditions. So here is mine.

Thanks to my slot at Gamezebo I feel, for the first time ever, qualified to make not one list but two. Both in the same article, o lucky reader! First there will be my favourite iOS games of the year, and then my favoured board games. With so much to write there is no longer time for seasonal waffle and chit-chat. On with the picks.

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Cracked LCD- Battle of the Bulge (IOS) in Review

I’ve only had the game for a couple of days, but after playing it almost constantly through the week I’m already prepared to tell you that Shenandoah Studio’s Battle of the Bulge is the new standard as far as IOS boardgaming goes. Unlike the many ports we’ve seen of popular tabletop games or downscaled PC-style wargames like Battle Academy, Battle of the Bulge is a ground-up tabletop design by veteran designer John Butterfield that just happens to be on your iPad instead of rendered in cardboard chits. It’s a digital-only, low complexity area impulse wargame in the classical sense, and it is just about the most accessible and immediately appealing one in any format I’ve played in many years. This is it folks, this is the flashpoint game that makes wargaming a very modern, very real proposition for the tablet generation. Continue Reading…

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…