Jumping the Shark Podcast #138

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping the Shark #138 makes itself the unofficial sequel to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles this week as Bill recounts his epic journey from New Hampshire to Lancaster for the World Board Gaming championships and the largely successful launch of Road to Enlightenment. I don’t want to spoil anything, but his life was in mortal danger more than once. We also hear more about on the other side of the booth. Brandon picks it up with everything he’s able to talk about in Darksiders 2. (Hint: Not a lot. Stupid embargo.) And Todd is dismayed by yet another unexpected software install, courtesy of Wings of Prey.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/13

It’s Darksiders II week! Woohoo! Finally, the dog days of summer are behind us and a spate of new releases lay before us, glittering like jewels. Let us rejoice in their bounty!

Alongside the aforementioned Darksiders II, Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs wakes up and smells the Hong Kong, The Last Story gets a North American release, Xbox Live Arcade gets Dust and PSN gets Papa & Yo.

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A Growing Apathy

I started writing about games in 1997, half way through my final year at university. The video games portal of the, then fledgling, Microsoft Network (may it stay dead) was looking for some writers they didn’t have to pay. I wrote a review for Front Page Sports: Baseball (my first such effort), submitted it, and the rest is history; albeit history only of interest to me. In one capacity or another I’ve been writing about games ever since. To some extent that’s because I have an internal compulsion to write and this is what I know, but also because I enjoy sharing with people what I love about games. It’s why I wrote the Mordin piece a few weeks back and the piece about my son and his DS last year. I’m proud of those articles and the handful I’ve written like them the last couple years. I wish I could post pieces like those every week. You may have noticed that hasn’t so much been happening…

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Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106 Review

New Judge Dredd iOS game book from Tin Man Games

I have never been a particular fan of the famous 2000ad comic, in spite of it being a central fixture in the life of most British boys and indeed nerds. But I can’t say the same for its central character, Judge Dredd. I’ve devoured the stand-alone trade paperbacks of his exploits many times over, and played the related board games many more. So you can imagine my delight when I heard Tin Man Games were bringing a Dredd gamebook to iOS, and the further delight when they offered me a copy to review.

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Dishonored’s Myriad Deaths

Boy howdy, there are a lot of ways to kill dudes in Dishonored. Bethesda wanted to show you some of them, hence this video. I will play Pearl Jam’s “Rats” in my head every time I call forth a swarm. Ben, the two of us need look no more.

Cracked LCD- Rules Writing Matters



I’ve finally had to a chance to play Dirk Knemeyer’s Road to Enlightenment, and the good news is that all told it’s a pretty darn good game. It wouldn’t be proper for me to formally review it since Conquistador Games’ Director of Operations is none other than Bill Abner. You might could say that I’m in cahoots with him. He used to technically be my boss. There are all kinds of impropriety that would be bound up in my reviewing the game, which just shipped to Kickstarter bankrollers or whatever they’re called. I thought this game looked good enough to support, and the good news is that it’s not a disappointment.

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The Other Side of the Table: Welcome to Lancaster

A lack of new releases that I care about combined with the recent insanity of my new job has caused me to slack off a tad (ok more than a tad) in my NHS contributions over the past two weeks. I’m not entirely sure when this will change as I sent our review copy of Darksiders 2 to Brandon so he should have some thoughts on the game posted on Tuesday. Truth is I haven’t turned on my 360 in a month.

But last week I experienced something for the first time: I was on the other side of the table at a game convention. I was at WBC in Amish Country in Lancaster, PA on Friday, Saturday and a few hours on Sunday running the Conquistador Games booth–wearing a shirt with a company logo on it and giving lengthy demo after lengthy demo to whomever strolled by and stared at the Road to Enlightenment board for more than a few seconds.

To say that it was a surreal experience would be underselling it. Thing is, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t playing the role of PR guy, trying to get the media (there is no media at these shows for the most part) or a Best Buy schlub to pay attention to a game I didn’t know or didn’t like. I’ve been involved in RtE’s development for a while now, even before I joined CQ Games.

This was my first boardgame convention since the days of OSU’s CapCon in the early ’90s when we went to the OSU Student Union to play RPGs and to buy new games. So this was somewhat of a culture shock for me.

And this was nothing like any videogame convention I have attended.

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The Walking Dead: Shackled by Adventure

I’ve always been surprised by people who, when consuming a translation of a favorite media property into another medium, are upset that the translation is not  100%. I’ll admit that AMC’s take on The Walking Dead has problems. The first half of the second season was way too slow. Rick’s dogged search for Sophia lasted too long, especially once the payoff in the second half of the season was realized. Lori continues to be annoying, Dale was too much of a one note character and why these adults can’t get through their thick skulls that they can’t let Carl roam around is beyond me.

That being said, there’s a lot that I do like about the show, and one of the main things I like is the fact that it isn’t a 100% mirror of the comics. I’ve always been of the mind that translations from one medium to another don’t have to be 100% accurate. If I want to experience a 100% accurate representation of The Walking Dead, I’ll read The Walking Dead. Those comics aren’t going anywhere.

So, when I read in multiple places that Telltale’s adventure game treatment of The Walking Dead was a better representation of the comics than the show, I was intrigued. With the current pre-Darksiders II lull, I decided to take the plunge and get all caught up on the adventures of Lee, Kenny, Lilly and little Clementine. What I found was that while The Walking Dead game hews closer to the comics in the “we have seen the enemy and they are us” portrayal of post-apolyptic humanity, this representation of The Walking Dead universe has it’s fair share of stumbles as well.

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Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time in Review

The main issue with Atlus’ new PSP/PS VITA reissue of Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is the same as with many Japanese role-playing and strategy role-playing games. It takes longer to hit its stride than most Western AAA games last in their entirety. Ten hours, fifteen hours into the game and it’s still introducing party relationship mechanics,  processes and materials for developing your Familiar, and key story elements that weren’t in sight at the outset. I’m torn on this aspect of the game, because I like the slower pace and longer form but between the deet-deet-deet dialogue boxes and the long intervals between gameplay, this port of a PS2 game can really try your patience.

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Oh Look, Another Darksiders II Trailer

Yeah, I post a lot of Darksiders II trailers. What can I say, I’m excited for this game. Soon I’ll move on to something else and post a ton of trailers for it. This latest, the last “pre-release” trailer, no doubt to be followed by a launch day trailer, has Death explaining why he does what he does. Seems unnecessary, if you ask me. He’s Death. He kills things.

What isn’t mentioned in the trailer, but did get announced recently, is the fact that Darksiders II will have a New Game + mode as well as a wave based, kill ‘em all mode called The Crucible. New Game + was hinted at by the devs when I spoke to them at E3 but Vigil was still undecided. I’m glad to see they went with it as multiple runs through this game will be necessary, not only to get good gear but also to get Death powered up to his fullest.

The Crucible mode features 100 waves of enemies, broken up in five wave chunks. If you finish the next five waves and want to claim your reward, do so and go about your merry, demon slaying ways. If you want to press your luck, you can give up your new toy and keep on playing but if you die, you lose everything. No whammies, indeed.