Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime

I won’t be at PAX Prime in Seattle this year, but if I were, I could tell you exactly where most of my time would be spent. 10 games will still be showcased in the PAX 10, but no longer will other indie video game developers be confined to the peripheral tables wedged between vendors selling trinkets of dubious quality.

The Indie Megabooth will host 30 developers displaying 32 games, including Super Time Force, Mark of the Ninja, Snapshot, Yata, Chasing Aurora, Guacamelee!, Monaco, and Antichamber. If you’re heading to PAX and you get the chance to try out some games at the Indie Megabooth, let us know what you think. You can find a full list of games and developers at the Indie Megabooth website.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron in Review

If I were having a conversation with my 10 year old self over why I feel somewhat let down by Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, I imagine it would be a somewhat awkward conversation.

“Do you get to be Optimus Prime?”

“Yeah, you get to be Optimus Prime.”

“THAT’S SO COOL. Do you get to be Megatron?”

“Yeah, you get to be Megatron. Bruticus, too.”

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #140

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The first cracks in the dam that will soon flood a barren gaming landscape have made their way into Jumping the Shark #140. (Don’t think too hard about this metaphor. Even I know it’s awful.) Bill has his annual Madden on and confirms what we suspected from E3: There’s more to this edition than some shiny new chrome on the surface. Brandon continues his effort to save the world through Death, in Darksiders II. He’s also gone Colour Blind, playing a new physics puzzler. Finally, Bill and I wax GenCon 2012 and an evening of boardgaming that includes the longest Innovation game we’ve ever played and my revelation that all boardgames should be played with someone at the table who actually had a hand in its design.

On a sidenote, if you’ve succumbed to the call of Guild Wars 2, good friend of the show, @rhamorim has generously set up a No High Scores guild (of the same name, tag: NHS). Comment here or send him a tweet if you’d like a guild invite. You can also find me in the game under the username ubrakto.3067. I hope to have some impressions of the game posted sometime tomorrow. EDIT: Oh yeah, the server at least some of us are on is Sanctum of Rall.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/27

It’s the last week of August, which means preseason football is wrapping up here in the States and Madden is on the horizon. I remember a time when the release of Madden was a big deal. At one point, EA made these sick day scripts you could use when calling in sick on Madden’s release day. Nowadays, the release of Madden doesn’t seem all that important. Granted, it was never important, just hyped more. The times, they are a changin’.

In other news, Guild Wars 2 comes out, Sony  releases collections of a bunch of their first party titles and Mass Effect 3 has some underwater DLC tomfoolery.

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Madden 13 Early Hours Impressions

I have had a retail copy of Madden 13 for about a week now and while my time has been limited of late I have managed to play about 10-12 games and fiddle a little with the Connected Career mode.

So, below are some rapid fire style impressions, certainly not a “review” as I’m not ready to write that yet.

My impressions thus far are based solely on All-Pro level, no slider adjustments.

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Don’t Shoot the Food – Death and Dying Edition

Man, there has been lots and lots of talk about death around these parts lately. I’ve been getting my fill of Darksiders II, featuring everyone’s favorite horseman, Death. So there’s that. Also, today marks the PC release of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. One game features Death as the main character, the other, features, uh, Death as the main character. No matter how you cut it, that’s a whole lot of dying.

So, when the time came to dust off ye olde Don’t Shoot the Food, I thought about death and dying and one thing and one thing only popped into my head: morbid obesity. Whoa! That’s not right. Let me try that again…ok, here we go: chocolate! Yes, that’s right, death by chocolate, to be specific.

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Empty Dungeons

Legend of Grimrock - a brilliant game in an empty setting

My current gaming time is being spent entirely on indie dungeon-crawler Legend of Grimrock. It’s a sadly neglected genre which done right (as Grimrock is) is capable of delivering a sublime mixture of puzzle solving, twitch combat and the addictiveness of RPG item and level collecting. Almost all games in the category belong to utterly generic fantasy worlds which they spend little or no time elucidating. So far, five levels down, Grimrock seems no different.

Indeed the wider world of fantasy computer and board games boasts relatively few examples of any settings other than boilerplate ones. Given that perhaps the most wondrous thing about fantasy is its potential for open-ended, imaginative worlds, this seems a sad and unfortunate state of affairs.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown “Casualties of War” Trailer

More footage from XCOM…and this is still firmly in the “gotta play” category.

Oh, yes, I do have Dark Souls…which I am about to play right now. I’ve also had a retail version of Madden 13 for a few days and will offer up some thoughts later as today is embargo lifting day.

Cracked LCD- Starship Merchants in Review

The biggest surprise of 2012 so far is Toy Vault’s Starship Merchants. It’s an ultra-streamlined business game with a science fiction setting with more than a little 18xx flavor. For the uninitiated this means that there are elements of that particular genre of railroad game, particularly certain notions of making capital investments to increase your firm’s ability to deliver goods and increase profit turn-after-turn. It’s an incredibly slick, smartly abstracted moneymaking game rife with competition (if not conflict) and an almost shockingly breakneck pace. The rules are simple, the game is carefully structured to provide lots of compelling long and short term goals, and the result is one of my favorite games of the year.

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The Case for Guild Wars 2

On Jumping the Shark #139, while talking about upcoming releases, we rather clumsily stumbled around next week’s release of Guild Wars 2. I say “clumsily” only because none of us have really paid enough attention to the mechanics of the game to really know what it’s supposed to be all about. We know it’s an MMO, and in a time when most of the big MMO’s are barely modest derivations of every other MMO/WoW, what else is there to know? The game not having a monthly subscription model isn’t remotely reason enough to buy it. So, Garion333 helpfully posted this link in the podcast’s comments section. It leads to a page loaded with Guild Wars 2 info written for people who aren’t familiar with Guild Wars. This one might really be different, folks. Watch the video above and check the site if you want details that are actually detailed.

For me, here’s the thing – I’m not sure it’ll matter…

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