Skip to main content

Jumping the Shark Podcast: 2015 Collection (#223-#246)

Herein you will find links to every Jumping the Shark video gaming podcast posted in 2015. I’ve been terrible about posting them the past few months, but then, if you’re listening you’re probably subscribed already, right? RIGHT?!?!

This year, JtS featured the vocal stylings of Todd Brakke (ToddsFoolery.com.

Subscribe at iTunes

Episode 223
Released: 1/11/2015
Synopsis: The first JTS of 2015 features a lot of looking back at 2014. Find out how Brandon, Todd, and Holly marked the passage of time with their most memorable gaming experiences of the year. Plus, much ballyhoo about Fry Scores, Holly’s much-awaited cookbook, which is a real live product now. The phrase “food porn” was invented for association with this stunning piece of work!

Episode 224
Released: 1/25/2015
Synopsis: This week Holly brings us through her 100+ hour Far Cry 4 journey, Todd and Brandon continue to dissect Dragon Age: Inquisition, including why Todd thinks it ultimately failed. Brandon talks cheating in Gems of War of all places. Plus, football, football, football! And somebody, we don’t want to say who, has a girl scout cookie mishap.

Episode 225
Released: 2/8/2015
Synopsis: The gang isn’t messing around this week. We’ve got Holly’s delightful adventures in The Room and her distaste for Betrayer. Bradon’s straight up Gat Out of Hell, the latest entry in Saints Row. Todd’s hiding in a ball in a dimly lit corner of the Darkest Dungeon. Plus, the glorious return of Birthday Uke and a big-time spoiler section at the very end for Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Episode 226
Released: 2/22/2015
Synopsis: This week Todd takes on the economic realities of managing a Martian colony in Offworld Trading Company, Brandon relives the same three days over and over to glorious effect in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Holly jumps on zombie faces in Dying Light.

Episode 227
Released: 3/8/2015
Synopsis: While Holly recuperates from moving, Brandon and Todd keep the torch alive with much discussion of GDC happenings – new Valve hardware, VR headsets, Rock Band 4, and Tim Schafer’s sock. Brandon goes pup-hunting in The Order: 1886 and Todd breaks out his best end zone dances for Frozen Cortex.

Episode 228
Released: 2/22/2015
Synopsis: This week Todd gallivants across the galaxy in a Mass Effect 1 replay. That is, when he’s not unclogging his city’s streets in Cities: Skylines. Holly and Brandon discuss the unrelenting violence of Hotline Miami 2.

Episode 229
Released: 4/5/2015
Synopsis: This week brings a big, deep, crunchy look at the results of Obsidian Entertainment’s highly successful Kickstarter project, Pillars of Eternity. Does this kind of Infinity Engine-inspired RPG work in 2015? (Yeah, you already know the answer to that.) We also kick off with a look back at Wrath of Khan and a wrap-up that features Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, kicking zombies for levels in Dying Light, and much marveling at AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Episode 230
Released: 4/19/2015
Synopsis: For episode #230 it’s the Todd and Brandon show one more time as Todd continues to gush over Pillars of Eternity, Brandon explains why he stopped playing it to start playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and then they take a little detour into the town of Salem for Murdered: Soul Suspect. Wrapping up there’s a bit of an argument over going home with Chewie in the the new Star Wars trailer. Good times.

Episode 231
Released: 5/3/2015
Synopsis: This week Holly is back and the gang is all geared up to talk about Steam’s abbreviated attempt to implement a compensation system for mod creators. Also, Holly’s E3 prep, Brandon goes for a jaunt down Sunset Overdrive, and Todd’s sitting around waiting for The Witcher 3.

Episode 232
Released: 5/18/2015
Synopsis: This week Todd, Holly and Brandon talk about the Witcher 3 pre-release coverage, how useful (or not) preview coverage is, and how it tends to be an indicator of the review for the final product. Sadness. Then Brandon gets into Wolfenstein: The Old Blood a bit before Holly departs and the menfolk talk Avengers: Age of Ultron in full spoilery detail.

Episode 233
Released: 5/31/2015
Synopsis: This week the gang gets obsessive as Holly, Brandon, and Todd talk about addiction in game design and how vulnerable sufferers of OCD are to their compulsions. We’ve also got a wagon load of Witcher 3 impressions and you won’t want to miss Todd’s top 3 Napa Valley wineries. (You know, because visiting roughly a dozen wineries out of several hundred absolutely makes you an expert.) Also, also — Todd has fun with outtakes.

Episode 234
Released: 6/14/2015
Synopsis: It’s the week before E3 so Brandon, Holly and Todd are talking about what they want to see from the big show as well as their reaction to Oculus Rift and Fallout 4. Plus, more Witcher 3 lovin’!

Episode 235
Released: 6/28/2015
Synopsis: This week on Jumping the Shark it’s all E3 2015 all the time as the gang chews over a bunch of new Fallout 4 morsels, Brandon laments that backwards compatibility on the One will in no way improve his life, Holly finds great stories on the show floor, and Todd finds himself feeling joyful about games again (PC Gaming Show excluded).

Episode 236
Released: 7/12/2015
Synopsis: Holly couldn’t make it this week but Brandon and Todd are here to talk about SDCC, Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight and the joy of Apple’s new music streaming serrvice. Come for the game talk, stay for Sad Batman.

Episode 237
Released: 8/9/2015
Synopsis: After a brief summertime respit, the crafty trio are back at this week as we talk about the TIME magazine VR cover and what it says about the future for VR tech. Also Fallout 4 Gamescom developments and how games tackle leveling. Finally, Brandon and Todd light the spoiler bonfire to talk in-depth about Witcher 3, complete with clips from the game. It’s a double-length episode to prove our love to you!

Episode 238
Released: 8/23/2015
Synopsis: This week Holly, Todd and Brandon all take the Gamer Motivation Profile Test at https://apps.quanticfoundry.com/lab/10 to get a sense of what drives them:

Holly’s Gamer Profile
Brandon’s Gamer Profile
Todd’s Gamer Profile

Surprises abound!

Wrapping up, Brandon is excited for The Taken King as well as Mike Bithell’s new game Volume, Holly is not impressed with Sunless Sea and Todd takes Invisible, Inc out for another spin.

Episode 239
Released: 9/7/2015
Synopsis: For this week’s Jumping the Shark, we’re coming at you with Holly’s on the ground reports from this year’s PAX Prime. There was drama. There were new announcements! Except, no. No, there was none of that. But she was there and she’s here to rap with us about it. Also, chicken pot pie! Later in the episode Todd ducks for cover under heavy threat of Satellite Reign and Brandon gets his horror show on with the PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn.

Episode 240
Released: 9/20/2015
Synopsis: This week it’s just Todd and Brandon but they have much to talk about. Brandon gets down and dirty with Destiny 2.0 and the Taken King before describing the joy and pain of the apocalyptic wasteland in Mad Max. Then Todd talks about getting in the right head space for MGSV and AC 4: Black Flag. It’s an open world extravaganza!

Episode 241
Released: 10/4/2015
Synopsis: The gang is all in for episode 241 as Holly delights with talk of her terrifying and emotional journey in the underwater vastness of SOMA. Brandon has his Destiny taken by a King and furthers his love of Nolan North in the process. And Todd says angry things –many, many angry things– about Spike Lee’s influence in NBA 2k16, not to mention the continued insult that is the game’s Virtual Currency system.

Episode 242
Released: 10/25/2015
Synopsis: This week Todd and Brandon return to the world of the Witcher with the Hearts of Stone expansion, Todd heads back to Ferelden with the Trespasser DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition and finally gets around to finishing Pillars of Eternity. There’s also some Destiny talk because when isn’t there?

Episode 243
Released: 11/8/2015
Synopsis: It’s another Todd and Brandon hour of power. This week’s topics include prep for Fallout 4, Brandon’s foray into Halo 5, Todd’s Jedi vision quest in the all-new, all-different Star Wars: The Old Republic v4.0, and a very touching story of Destiny players coming together in peace and harmony.

Episode 244
Released: 11/22/2015
Synopsis: War, war never changes. Apparently neither does Fallout. HEYO! This week Holly, Todd and Brandon share their experiences exploring an irradiated Boston, killing ghouls and synths and scavenging for screws and other exciting pieces of garbage. It’s Fallout 4 week on Jumping the Shark and you’re invited!

Episode 245
Released: 12/6/2015
Synopsis: This week’s episode brings you –gasp– more Fallout 4! Holly drops cooking knowledge bombs gleaned from the wasteland, Todd dons a Silver Shroud (and buys a PS4), and Brandon gives it all up and instead goes raiding tombs in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Episode 246
Released: 12/20/2015
Synopsis: This week Brandon, Holly and Todd get down with the residents of Arcadia Bay and talk about Dontnod’s excellent five part adventure game, Life is Strange. Laughter! Tears! Hella wowzers! Also, Todd has his final thoughts on Fallout 4 and Brandon has more tales from raiding in Destiny. Happy Holidays everyone!

Jumping the Shark Podcast #239

No High Scores Podcast Logo

For this week’s Jumping the Shark, we’re coming at you with Holly’s on the ground reports from this year’s PAX Prime. There was drama. There were new announcements! Except, no. No, there was none of that. But she was there and she’s here to rap with us about it, also chicken pot pie! Later in the episode Todd ducks for cover under heavy threat of Satellite Reign and Brandon gets his horror show on with the PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn.

Thanks for listening! (You can contact Brandon at [email protected]/@misterbinky, Todd at [email protected]/@toddsfoolery and Holly at @winnersusedrugs.)

—-
iTunes Link
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype

Jumping the Shark Podcast #238

No High Scores Podcast Logo

This week Holly, Todd and Brandon all take the Gamer Motivation Profile Test at https://apps.quanticfoundry.com/lab/10 to get a sense of what drives them:

Holly’s Gamer Profile
Brandon’s Gamer Profile
Todd’s Gamer Profile

Surprises all around and we welcome you to post yours!

Wrapping up, Brandon is excited for The Taken King as well as Mike Bithell’s new game Volume, Holly is not impressed with Sunless Sea and Todd takes Invisible, Inc out for another spin.

Thanks for listening! (You can contact Brandon at Brandon at NoHighScores.com/@misterbinky, Todd at Todd at NoHighScores.com/@ubrakto and Holly at @winnersusedrugs.)

—-
iTunes Link
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype

Jumping the Shark Podcast Roundup #236-237

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Our latest and greatest (#237) is up today, posted along with a makeup for not having posted #236 here:

Episode #237:
After a brief summertime respit, the crafty trio are back at this week as we talk about the TIME magazine VR cover and what it says about the future for VR tech. Also Fallout 4 Gamescom developments and how games tackle leveling. Finally, Brandon and Todd light the spoiler bonfire to talk in-depth about Witcher 3, complete with clips from the game. It’s a double-length episode to prove our love to you!

Direct Download

Episode #236:
Holly couldn’t make it this week but Brandon and Todd are here to talk about SDCC, Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight and the joy of Apple’s new music streaming serrvice. Come for the game talk, stay for Sad Batman.

Direct Download

Thanks for listening! (You can contact Brandon at Brandon at NoHighScores.com/@misterbinky, Todd at Todd at NoHighScores.com/@ubrakto and Holly at @winnersusedrugs.)

—-
iTunes Link
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype

Why Dragon Age: Inquisition Fails

Dragon Age: Inquisition is not a game that feels like a failure. It’s got a world’s worth of stunning environments to explore. Its characters are universally layered with compelling and cliché-defying personal story arcs. The combat can get tedious, sure, but it’s a soundly designed system with some bonkers dragon fights. And certainly it has sold. Yet the game still fails and it does so for the very same reason Mass Effect 3 failed — it doesn’t stick the landing.

Lest I give the impression that I’m picking nits over nonsensical cut scenes and weird star children, my problem with Mass 3’s ending was largely quite different from everybody else’s. I’m not talking about denouement. I’m talking about climax and how it relates to the rest of the game. Star child was incomprehensible, sure, but he’s not what made Mass 3’s climax bad. Likewise, the lackluster final confrontation with Corypheus isn’t what tanks Inquisition either.

The key to a memorable and satisfying ending isn’t the implication of what happens after the camera fades to black or even whatever tedious boss battle kicks it into gear. It’s the question of whether or not it fulfills the promise set up by the rest of the game. Like Mass Effect 3, Inquisition is a game that beats you over the head, telling you over and over that it’s about team and coalition building. You face a threat that requires uniting disparate factions and disparate people to face a common foe. You dare not face it alone or you’ll be too weak. So you spend a good 100+ hours working your way through the world and sending lackeys on assignments in the name of building a better, stronger Inquisition.

Cool. Cool cool. Shouldn’t it follow, however, that when you reach the final stage of events that the strength of your Inquisition should, oh I don’t know, matter? At least a little?

Let’s dive deeper (minor spoilers ahead)…

Dragon Age Inquisition Grammy

With the possible exception of Baldur’s Gate 2, a game so far removed from modern Bioware as to not be particularly relevant, I’ve long thought Mass Effect 2 is the best game Bioware has ever produced. (KOTOR also rattles around in there somewhere.) Yes, it’s slick in the way that all Bioware games are, but it also sets you up with a promise — this is a game in which you must build a team and the better, more united your team, the more likely you are to survive. And then, upon passing through the Omega 4 Relay, it does exactly that.

There is plasticity to Mass 2, make no mistake, and it’s not particularly difficult to solidify your team and ship merely by doing everything and gaming the dialog system. That’s not what really matters, though. What matters is that if you don’t do those things, your ability to succeed is diminished and you put your crew members at very real risk. Not so with Inquisition.

Emprise Du Lion. The Hissing Wastes. The Western Approach. The Forbidden Oasis. The Emerald Graves. You can devote a hundred hours to exploring every nook and cranny, resolving every little quest. Is there one thing that happens in any of these areas that is of consequence to your confrontation with Corypheus?

Not really, no. And that might be okay if the game didn’t explicitly tell you that there is. If it did’t tell you, “Hey, you’re out there making your Inquisition better.” But it does tell you those things. Repeatedly. So, what the hell am I doing out there beyond spinning my wheels and admiring the visuals? I’m like Charlie Brown with the football over here.

Ditto, the War Table. If I complete the Hard in High Town War Table questline in Inquisition, I get a nifty, if rambling bit of story, Varric’s approval, and maybe a bit of useless swag. Inquisition quests are full of useless swag, not to mention excess Power points that you’ll never need. And it’s not that none of these missions are compelling. I mean I like me some Varric, particularly in this iteration. But when you’re told, “Hey, if we find out Corphyeus’s real name, it might weaken him,” I expect a successful conclusion to that quest to result in me having some kind of advantage over Corypheus; at least at some point and in some way, even if it’s only barely consequential. What I get instead is a Master Spirit Rune. It doesn’t even have his name engraved on the back or anything!

Gee. Thanks?

Dragon Age Inquisition Stern Inquisitor

Looking through wikis of every War Table quest in the game, it’s not clear that a single one of them, beyond the mere act of completing a handful that are directly tied to plot progression, affects your ability to win the game.

Just as bad is the lack of practical impact the state of your companions has on the game. Again, through the use of approval ratings (which are reflected, sort of, in each character’s Tarot card), your companions evolve over the course of the game. The implication is that if you can keep them happy, they’ll be more stalwart and trustworthy to your cause. You’re meant to ask yourself, “If I do something that wildly upsets Vivienne, will I be able to trust her if I have her with me when it all goes down? What might she do to further her own ends at my expense?”

You needn’t bother worrying. Sure, you could piss someone off so much so that they’ll just leave the Inquisition, but as long as they’re still in the Inquisition, you can call on them whenever, for whatever, and they’ll perform exactly the same.

Again, compare this to Mass 2, where if you don’t upgrade the Normandy’s shields, weapons, or armor, people in your crew will die. During the sequence following entry into the Omega 4 relay, who you assign to do different jobs also matters. Assigning Miranda to use her biotic powers to protect the group while you fight your way deeper into the base produces less desirable results than having Jack do it. Why? Because the game has made clear that she’s the more powerful biotic. And Jack, herself, will do the job more capably if you’ve earned her loyalty. If you have Grunt protect Normandy crew members you send back to the ship, he perishes where a better leader would survive. The amazing consequence of all this being that I’m forced to think like a leader trying to survive when I’m choosing who to bring with me. Who I like personally, or am snogging, is irrelevant.

It’s a shame that, after so many games, not only is Bioware not making forward progress in the realm of choice and consequence, they’re actively taking steps back. It doesn’t erase the fact that Dragon Age: Inquisition has a lot of wonderful pieces, some of the best work Bioware has ever done, but when you create a game about coalition building, about leading, and the choices you make as a leader simply don’t matter, then you have failed. For Bioware, it’s the continuation of an unfortunate trend.