Dream.Build.Play 2012 Finalists Announced

40 finalists have been chosen in Microsoft’s yearly Dream.Build.Play challenge. You can view the full list of games and developers at the official website, which includes games from around the globe created for both Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.

Contestants in the Dream.Build.Play challenge are vying for cash prizes up to $40,000 (USD) and possible publishing contracts. Last year’s grand prize went to Blocks That Matter, from developer Swing Swing Submarine.

For what it’s worth, my vote goes to qrth-phyl (pictured above). Is there a game that you played that you think deserves a winning spot?

Darksiders II Boss Videos Aplenty


Darksiders II is out in all regions, starting today. No longer must non-NA regions live under the oppression of a Darksiders II existence!

To celebrate, here are a bunch of videos that give sneak peeks to some of the bosses you’ll face as Death. I have defeated all but one of these, a healthy 75%, so not only will you have the wisdom of combat designer Jeff Fitzloff, but you get my thoughts as well. Lucky you!

First up is Achidna. This boss battle is one of the toughest I’ve come across. Not only is the death lord dude very fast, sporting a high reach, teleport attack thingy, but he also rides a giant spider. Hear that, Todd? A GIANT SPIDER! The boss fight goes between the death lord, the big spider and then, in a surprising twist, the death lord riding the spider. Plan on dodging, a lot, and hold on to your Reaper form until you get double teamed by them as then your wild, crazy attacks can do damage to both of the dynamic duo. There are two nice things about this battle, first is that killing Achidna is a side-quest, so you get that knocked off without any extra work and second, the arm blades you get for killing Achidna are super-mega boss. Like, duper, duper boss.

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Warhammer Quest coming to iOS

Classic games workshop dungeon crawl Warhammer Quest coming to iOS in 2013

There are relatively few classic board games of the 80′s and 90′s that haven’t seen a modern reprint in some form or other. High amongst the list of those that remain is Warhammer Quest, the culmination of  a series of dungeon crawl games from UK publisher Games Workshop. But it’s not going to be on the list for much longer.

Mobile developer Rodeo Games, responsible for the acclaimed Hunter series of games, has announced it’ll be releasing an iOS version of the game some time in mid 2013. Given that it has a famously high random factor and is well suited to solo play, this looks like a shrewd move.

Games Workshop have been characteristically tight-lipped about the possibility of a physical Warhammer Quest re-release following widespread speculation in the wake of its surprise re-issue of acclaimed classic Space Hulk a few years ago. Still no news on that, but it seems possible that hot iOS sales may tempt them into considering a re-working of the tabletop version.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #139

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week the gag is finally off Brandon and he’s free to regale us with stories from Darksiders II. He might just like it. It’s hard to tell. The gang also talks the Summer of Slow Gaming and how much the status quo will change as a spate of late summer/early fall releases finally make their way to the gaming public. Not to get all spoilery, but there’s a distinct possibility Dark Souls makes a return appearance to the show when it comes out for the PC. Finally, Bill and Brandon have a rap about Breaking Bad during which I entertained myself by slowly banging my head against the desk until it suddenly got dark.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/20

Transformers, more than meets the eye! Transformers, robots in disguise! That’s my subtle way of telling you that Transformers: Fall of Cybertron comes out this week, a good thing, as my roster of games featuring sentient, transforming robots is woefully empty. In other news, the 3DS gets an upgrade and a new Super Mario Bros. game and Dark Souls makes its way to the PC.

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Persona 4 Arena in Review

If you’re one of these oh-so-with-it 8-bit indie hipsters that think that the Japanese game industry is over, odds are that the notion of fine purveyors of “soulless” Japanese fare such as Atlus and Arc System Works teaming up to produce a fighting game based on a venerated JRPG series will make you turn up your nose. But if you like colorful, stylish, exciting, and purely fun to play video games then I’m happy to report that Persona 4 Arena is those things and it’s imminently accessible to dabblers in either genre as well as those who don’t know a Zio from a Bufu. It’s as hardcore a fighting game as any out there, but it’s as pick-up-and-play as they come. The depth is there, the range of playstyles is there, and the balance is there. This is a top shelf fighter, and it’s one that I think will have a following for years to come in both casual and competitive circles. Continue Reading…

Tales from Darksiders: The Power of Three

A foe vanquished, a debt paid, the rider was finally granted an audience with the Dead King.  Would the Lord of Bones grant Death passage to the Well of Souls, or were there more tasks to complete, more debts to pay? Death tired of these games but new that the dead gave up help like they gave up secrets: infrequently and unwillingly.

Death: I have done as you asked, great King, now grant me passage to the Well of Souls.
Dead King: Hold your tongue, rider. You dare make demands of me in my court? You may have done as I asked, but there is still more to do. I would require of you one more task. Bring me—
Death:  Let me guess, you want three of something.
Dead King:  What?
Death: Three things, you’re all big on three things. Bring three magic rocks to call forth this champion. Kill three lords to summon that monster. Three coins, three loaves of bread, three pigeons, what is it with you and this blasted number?

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Cracked LCD- Dungeon Command in Review

The recent Dungeons & Dragons board games have succeeded because they’ve managed  to leverage elements like brand identity, nostalgia, and hobby market sensibilities into imminently accessible, appealing products that  anyone from the hardcore RPG enthusiast to the casual comic & games shop browser can enjoy. The latest is a pair of sold-separately “Faction Packs” for a new product line dubbed Dungeon Command. And like many D&D games in the past- Spellfire and the collectible D&D Miniatures game come to mind- they are a sort of multi-purpose product designed to appeal to different consumer wants. A DM running an Underdark or Cormyr campaign gets a set of 12 painted miniatures. Fans of the Adventure System games get new figures, new allies, and new cards for use in those three sets. But most importantly, board gamers get a good- if somewhat limited- dungeon brawl board game.

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Assassins Creed Liberation Gamescom Trailer

I can no longer link to my GameShark review of Assassins Creed: Bloodlines for the PSP, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that it was one of the worst games I have ever played, on any platform. In fact, it was a big part of why I was not at all excited for AC2. Silly, I know, but there it is. Several good AC games later, I’m actually looking forward to Assassins Creed: Liberation on the Vita. Part of that is a desire to have something to play on the Vita, some of that is because taking a female, mixed race assassin through late 1700′s New Orleans is something I have never done before.

The above trailer shows some of the things you’ll be doing in the game, including, but not limited to: jumping, running, slashing, blow-darting, gator wrassling, canoe paddling and killing. Sprinkled throughout all of the killing is the game’s tap to kill system by which you can spend energy or mana or Killotrons or whatever to slow down time, tap a bunch of enemy heads and then have Aveline quickly dispatch them all. Yay for touchscreens! The trailer also shows Ubisoft doing Sony a solid by incorporating the back touch screen for canoe paddling. Boo for touchscreens!

I enjoyed Uncharted on the Vita, despite its flaws, so if this game ends up with the same level of quality, I’ll be happy. I just hope they limit the gator wrasslin’ and other interactions with the Louisiana wildlife. I’d prefer it not turn into an episode of Hillbilly Handfishing.

Damn Reviewers!

I like my new job. I get to dabble in boardgames all day — either our own designs or mucking around with other games just to stay current. It’s not unlike a videogame writer; you need to be able to TALK about games when you talk to people at shows or on forums. A big part of my job, at least at conventions, is being able to communicate to people.

I cannot tell you how many people asked me at WBC “So what would you compare Road to Enlightenment to?”

Gamers are savvy enough to spot bullshit. “Why this game is totally unlike anything you have ever played!”

That won’t work. So you have to be able to compare/contrast and generally sound like you know what you are talking about. Then you have to be able, when demoing a game, to see what people react to and what causes them to shrug. Some of you will not believe me when I say this but I love interacting with people — specifically on topics where we share a common interest.

There are also things about the job that are a tad annoying. The shipping nightmare story…that wasn’t fun. Printing off and packing and shipping every Kickstarter order…I could do without that.

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