Jumping the Shark Podcast #143

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping the Shark 143 can be safely thought of as the show before Borderlands 2. Consequently, Brandon and Bill wax poetic about playing the game and Brandon scolds Bill about not having a build already planned ahead. Binky is such a boy scout. Sort of. Then they bicker for awhile over who’s fault it is that we don’t play more together online, with the consensus being the blame probably lies with me. Funny how that seems to happen. We also set aside some time to talk about the Wii U release strategy, which includes charging extra for a game, and a steeper than expected price point ($300). Sorry, Nintendo, but I don’t think you made a sale to the JTS gang. Hang your collective heads in shame. Finally, we talk some more FTL, Inquisitor, and Dark Souls. As I wrote last week, FTL is really frigg’n good. And it’s $290 cheaper than a Wii U. You know what to do.

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Calendar Man – Week of 9/17

Borderlands 2 comes out this week, which, by my calendar, means that the 2012 Holiday Gaming Season has officially begun. Nothing against Darksiders II and Sleeping Dogs, but from here on out, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be at least one high profile release a week. Hell, this week you have Torchlight II and Realms of Ancient War along with Borderlands 2. Plenty of loot for everyone!

On a side note, Borderlands 2 uses Arabic numerals while Torchlight and Darksiders use Roman numerals. There’s a correlation in there somewhere, but I’m too busy mapping out my Siren build to find it.

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Introducing The New Science

As I continue to make my way through my second Dark Souls playthrough (review coming this week but if you don’t already have this game then there’s just no hope for you) I have a special announcement today as Conquistador Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for The New Science (TNS).

Before I get into what TNS is all about, I promise that we are not just making boardgames set in the 17th century.

Anyway this is a worker placement/area control game set during the Scientific Revolution.Whereas Road to Enlightenment is this big, somewhat sprawling combination of deck building and Diplomacy, The New Science is a quicker play designed to take about 60-90 minutes for 2-5 players. Well, technically, 2 to 5. Ideally this is a game that is best played with 3 to 5 players.

I had more of a hand in developing this one, and had a much larger role in the rulebook editing so if this rulebook is an issue…you can yell at me. I may yell BACK but you are free to yell.

Speaking of which if you’d like to read the rulebook in PDF form you can do so here at BGG.

OK, here’s what the game is about:

You control one of five famous scientists from the era (Newton, Galileo, etc.), each of which has slightly different “stats” in researching, experimenting, and publishing. The game is played on what is essentially a large tech tree full of important discoveries from the era. Each player attempts to earn prestige (victory points) by first researching, then successfully experimenting on, and finally publishing their works on a specific discovery. The trick here is that when you do decide to publish, every other player can take your findings and build on them, racing up that part of the tech tree (in this case they literally read your book) so deciding when to publish is a key part of the game.

There’s more going on as well with “happening” cards that throw a monkey in the wrench and other areas in which you can spend your limited energy each turn. You are only allowed three actions per turn so deciding where to use them is a big part of the game.

So take a look, see what you think, ask me any questions either here or at my CQ email address billATcqgames.com

Back the project so my family doesn’t starve. Think of the children.

Legend of Grimrock Review

Grimrock. A word I keep rolling around my tongue like an abjuration. Grimrock. Grim-rock. Rocks, of grimness. Say it enough and the solution of a puzzle may fall out of the repetition, might give me a few hours respite from agonising over the intricacies of the game.

I’m not normally one for puzzle games. They seem drab, lifeless things, a poor use of all the mighty power of modern microprocessors. But the puzzles in Grimrock are different. Some are logical, some time-based, some situational, others are riddles but all of them encourage experimentation and exploration as part of the solution, rewarding creative thinking as much if not more than logic. Built in an astonishing variety from a limited palette of switches, pressure plates and teleports, they’ll frustrate and delight in equal measure.

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Wish Fulfilled: A Week with FTL

Saavik: So you’ve never faced that situation? Faced death?
Kirk: I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.
—Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Is there any sci-fi geek of my generation (anyone born in the 70s) who hasn’t wanted a video game to bring the infamous Kobayahsi Maru scenario to video games? Various games have tried. There have been actual Star Trek games that have tried. None that I’ve played have ever quite captured that spirit of crewing and powering and surviving aboard a starship like FTL: Faster Than Light. This rogue-like in space that stumbled into $200,543 in Kickstarter funding, while petitioning for a mere $10,000, is the game I’ve been looking for ever since I first heard Kirk tell Sulu to lock phasers on Reliant and “await my command.”

It’s been a long wait…

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Ten Things About the Wii U We Didn’t Know This Morning

Nintendo released a metric ton of Wii U details this morning, across every territory on the globe capable of receiving electronic transmissions, so we now have a whole bunch of Wii U information to digest. Some of these things genuinely surprised me, some not so much. What is not at all surprising to me is that I have no idea if I’d get  Wii U at launch. I have long since learned that there are two things that I don’t rule out buying: Transformer alt figures and Nintendo consoles at launch. Too many times I have gone on at length about my unwillingness to buy either, only to be proven wrong by my craven need for material goods.

I’m feeling list-y today, so here, in no certain order, are ten things we know about the Wii U, and by extension, Nintendo, that we didn’t know this morning:

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Cracked LCD- Dragon Con 2012 Post-Mortem

Dragon Con 2012 was my 20th year attending the Southeast’s largest fan convention, and if you’ve followed my coverage of it over the past couple of years you probably know most of what I’m going to say about it. Yes, the kinds of things that got me more or less excommunicated from their press list. Hey, I didn’t realize they’d actually go and read my articles. I’m not sorry for pointing out the rudeness and lack of hygiene of the geeks in attendance, nor am I sorry for jabbing at the has-been and never-was celebrities that make up the guest list. The toilets in the gaming area really are the most unsanitary place on Earth, I’m not making it up. Continue Reading…

The Walking Dead Episode 3 in Review

If the first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was about the dangers of zombies and the second was about the the dangers of humans, the third is about the dangers of choices. Granted, the spectre of the wrong decision has loomed over the game ever since Lee Everett first crashed outside of Macon, but this episode brings with it the hardest set of choices yet. Compounding the severity of your decisions is the vague, unsettling feeling that the impact of these choices are not only unpredictable, but far reaching.

A proper discussion of this episode can not take place using the vague, shadowy language of a spoiler-free review, so I’m not going to try. If you haven’t played this episode yet, I would strongly suggest, beg even, that you stop reading this until you play it. The spoilers herein would rob the game of some very important moments, moments that are very much the point of this episode.

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Super Hexagon (IOS) in Review

Terry Cavanagh’s latest, Super Hexagon for IOS, is a throbbing, pulsing, electro-psychedelic experiment in video game minimalism that calls to mind classic games like Tempest and Reactor. But it’s more elemental, evidencing a purity of design that isn’t common even among simplistic, retro indie games. Super Hexagon is not retro. You don’t get to this level of reductive, razor-thin design without having decades of antecedents to harrow away to get to the core of what video games are. Or what they should be. Continue Reading…

NHL 13 Review

You have heard this all before.

“We rebuilt everything from the ground up!”

It’s the most common mantra when it comes to yearly sports games. Well, that and “we have added thousands of new animations!” which very well might be true but when in fact you may end up actually noticing maybe a dozen or so.

It’s the nature of the 12 month release cycle beast. You need a new hook to get both old and new players interested in what is essentially the same game you played or are still playing from last year.

NHL 13 is no different, really. In this case, however, the hook works.

If you’re a casual player of this franchise, many of the gameplay changes won’t smack you across the chops. However, more ardent fans of NHL will most certainly not only see but perhaps even struggle to get accustomed to the new skating model, which EA is dubbing as “True Performance Skating”. In this case, the “new from the ground up” thing may actually be true.

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