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.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #137

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Bill was born a traveling man and so he’s MIA just one more time this week, as Brandon and I pick up the reigns for Jumping the Shark 137. This week we get back to focusing on games as I prove that even a generally sober guy can drive like a maniac when behind the wheel of Driver: San Francisco. Brandon, meanwhile, has grievances to share with Risen 2. And we continue our addiction in Summoner Wars. Finally, we talk about the uPlay hacking fiasco and why Ubisoft’s insistence on having it install alongside their PC titles is emblematic of a self-defeating industry that’s utter determination to control how we play threatens to instead drive gamers out of the hobby.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/6

Can you hear that? That ticking sound? That’s the sound of the clock moving ever forward until next week and Darksiders 2. Then, a week after that, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Then, after that, uh…I don’t know. Who cares though? I’ll have Darksiders 2 and Transformers!

This week, Persona fans get the opportunity to beat the crap out of each other with characters from Persona games, PC players get to rescue their music in Symphony and Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade continues with Hybrid.

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Mars Needs Xboxes

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

As you read this, the capsule carrying the Curiosity rover is rocketing towards Mars at 47,500 miles per hour. On Sunday, August 5th, fueled by a combination of engineering prowess, computer know-how and copious amounts of luck, this capsule will sync up with Mars’ orbit and deliver the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars.

If you have an Xbox 360, you’ll be able to watch the landing from your dashboard, same as on your computer, same as on your television. I say they’re the same because watching the landing from a computer or your television or your Xbox is functionally similar, what I hope, though, is that the difference in the medium helps expand the audience of the message.

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Famous People Will Be in Dishonored

Following in the footsteps of dozens of triple-A games that cast famous people as voice actors simply because they think it will make the game somehow better, Bethesda announced today that a lot of famous people will be doing voice work in Dishonored.

Hey, I like Susan Sarandon and Brad Dourif and Carrie Fisher and Chloë Grace Moretz and Lena Headey just as much as the next guy, but when I see these announcements, I can’t but think that this is just a giant waste of money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that John Slattery and Michael Madsen will do a wonderful job with whatever they’re given, but are they going to do a better job than the hundreds of extremely talented voice actors and actresses currently working in games, television and movies today? Probably not, but I imagine they’ll cost a whole hell of a lot more.

Has anyone ever bought a game, or had their purchasing decision swayed because a Hollywood actor took on a voice role? Anyone?

Dishonored drops on October 9th, famous people in tow.

Getting Steamy – Part 1

Steam Games library for PC

So I’ve now entered the hot and moist world of Steam and caught a lucky break: just before I upgraded my hardware (with the help of NHS user Hobbes), the Steam sale was on and I got to grab myself some bargains. I then went on holiday and had to wait another week to play them. Now I’ve managed some screen time with some of my new purchases, so here’s the lowdown on what I’ve played so far.

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Console Certification, Capitalism, and You

We frequently discuss topics such as DRM, connectivity requirements, and PR/marketing stunts; topics that don’t necessarily impact our gameplay directly, but ones that most certainly affect our experiences as consumers. Last month, an update (and subsequently retracted update) for FEZ on XBLA brought the issue of certification to the forefront. The gist of the story is that Polytron Corporation had to decide between leaving a bug in the game, or paying tens of thousands of dollars to (hopefully) patch the bug and get re-certified.

Until last month, I have to admit that I had never considered the role of certification in game development and how the results of that process trickle down to us as consumers. Certification on consoles was the topic of recent editorial by Kyle Orland at Ars Technica, but I found the full-length opinions and examples offered by Jonathan Blow especially illuminating.

While certification is meant to provide standards, FEZ shows how the process can be equally counter-productive. In the end, neither the consumer nor the developer come out on top. This is opposed to a PC release that can be patched for free. But, as Blow points out, a major problem concerning certification is the time spent coding and tweaking required features that have little to no impact on the final product.

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Assassins Creed III AnvilNext Trailer

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a conundrum on my hands. On October 30th, Assassins Creed III comes out. I very much want to play this game. Unfortunately, Need for Speed: Most Wanted comes out on the same day. Now, I usually don’t care about the Need for Speed series, but NFS:MW is a Criterion game, as in Criterion from the Burnout series, as in Burnout: Paradise being the greatest racing games ever created.

Yes, ever created. I will gladly plant that flag in the ground and salute it daily.

I usually ask for AC games for Christmas, wait until the new year to play and, as a result, lag behind the Pope punching conversation. After seeing this new trailer though, I’m not sure what to do. This trailer looks sick and aside from some wildly hyperbolic statements, I am nine different ways of excited about this game. I did think it was odd that they mentioned Connor’s Native American background influencing his combat style right when Connor uses a redcoat as a human shield. What’s up with that Ubisoft? What are you trying to say about Native Americans. Also, what about how they mention the Un-United States of America and then mention exploring a continent. What’s up with that Ubisoft? What, do you think the US is an entire continent? Check a map sometime, wait, what? A Mayan Ruins single player level? Uh…well…carry on, then.

Cracked LCD- Hell is Other Gamers


As we speak, the World Boardgaming Championships are going on in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This nine-day event, attended by some 1,500 gamers including our very own Bill Abner, features organized competitions, retailer and publisher exhibits, and of course tons of open gaming.  I was asked by no less than eight people if I was going to put in an appearance, and I’ve also been asked from many different quarters if I would be at Origins or Gen Con. I’m on a large mailing list featuring pretty much every game player in the metro Atlanta area and I get invited to get-togethers, meet-ups, conventions, and other gaming event all the time. The answer to all of the above is always “no, Barnes will not be there”. Usually I cite my “won’t drive more than 15 miles to play games” policy, a parameter that has decreased over the years. But ultimately it’s because I’m done with playing games with strangers- particularly gamer strangers.

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