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Jumping the Shark Episode #132

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The gang’s all back together for episode 132 of Jumping the Shark, though I’m a bit poorer than I was two weeks ago. This week we talk a bit more about my trip to the Pinball Museum and my dicey encounters with the revised AI in the Civilization 5 expansion Gods and Kings, while Bill tries out a little Trine 2-themed occupational therapy, and Brandon cleans up the streets of Gotham in Lego Batman 2 before taking a trip down the third part of Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness.

It’s like 1,000 degrees outside and storms ravage half the continent. Do yourself a favor – stay inside and listen to podcasts. It’s the right thing to do!

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Calendar Man – Week of 7/2

I was hoping that a new release would drop in time for me to bring it with me on my upcoming vacation but alas, it was not to be. Threatrhythm could have been a contender but I usually play handheld games with the volume down and I don’t know jack squat about Final Fantasy so most of the game’s charm would be lost on me. Oh well. Hopefully Summoner Wars will get approved between now and Friday.

The Secret World is an MMO that combines ancient myths and modern urban legends in the epic struggle between good and evil. I for one can’t wait to ride a griffin to go fight Bloody Mary or that dude who leaves his hook hand on the car doors of necking teenagers.

Me not knowing anything about Final Fantasy isn’t enough of a bar to keep me from playing Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that I usually play handheld games while watching TV with my wife, thereby requiring a lowered volume level, is. It’s kind of hard to play a rhythm game when you can’t hear the music.

We’ve talked about Endless Space here before and this week you can finally get your hands on the indie space strategy game. If you’re in the States, you can celebrate your day off on the 4th by ignoring your family and conquering the galaxy. If you don’t get the day off, you can celebrate your newly acquired illness in the same way.

We never got a Dino toy from the Dark of the Moon Transformers line, as Mattel owns an exclusive Ferrari toy license. I still blame Ferrari and will punish them by not playing Test Drive: Ferrari Legends (360, PS3). Tremble at my amazing consumer powers!

Dungeon Twister is a PSN version of the of the same name. I believe Barnes and Bill are playing it. I’m sure that you’ll read their sage opinions on it any day now.

On the XBLA front, Bellator: MMA Onslaught and Spelunky are both released this week, giving you a dose of face punching and spelunking, although probably not at once. That would be weird.


Toys R Us – Get a $20 gift card when purchasing The Amazing Spider-Man.

Target – Get a free screen protector and copy of Uncharted: Golden Abyss with the purchase of a PS Vita. Get Assassins Creed: Revelations for $19.99. Get LEGO Batman 2 (Wii), Brave, or CoD: Black Ops for $29.99.

Best Buy – Get a free Kinect Starter kit with purchase of $399.99 250 GB + Kinect 360 bundle.

The High Cost of Evil

Look, I’m not one to tell Traveller’s Tales how to do their business, but after spending some time playing LEGO Batman 2, I have a bone to pick with them.

So, I’m flying around as Superman, doing my thing and I come across The Penguin. A few well placed Kryptonian punches later, he surrenders and for the low, low price of 125,000 studs, he was part of my stable. Later on, I’m flying around, I come across Sinestro, bust his big, purple jaw and BAM, 125,000 studs later and he’s mine.

Now hold on a minute. Sinestro costs as much as Penguin? Sinestro has a yellow power ring, arguably one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. Penguin has trick umbrellas and flightless waterfowl. Now, I know that not everyone knows who Sinestro is, and I know that Superman is more popular than Green Lantern, but come on! One dude can create anything he can think of, limited only by how much fear he instills in others. The other guy can fly, occasionally, but only with an umbrella.

That ain’t right.

So I did some digging, all in the name of research and here are the stud costs for the named (not henchmen) villains in LEGO Batman 2:

Bane – 125,000
Brainiac – 500,000
Captain Boomerang – 100,000
Catwoman – 125,000
Clayface – 100,000
General Zod – 500,000
Harley Quinn – 125,000
Hush – 100,000
Joker – 250,000
Killer Croc – 125,000
Killer Moth – 100,000
Lex Luthor – 250,000
Mad Hatter – 100,00
Man-Bat – 500,000
Mr. Freeze – 500,000
Penguin – 125,000
Poison Ivy – 125,000
Ra’s Al Ghul – 100,000
Riddler – 125,000
Scarecrow – 125,000
Sinestro – 125,000
Two-Face – 125,000

Now, look, I’m fine with Captain Boomerang being on the low side, I mean, it’s Captain Boomerang. But, Ra’s Al Ghul costing the same as Killer Moth? Who does that? One guy is an international eco-terrorist, one of the few people smart enough to figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman, the other guy wears purple and green spandex and flies around with a flame gun. You can take him out with a buttefly net. And no, I’m not talking about Charaxes, so don’t get all moth demon-y on me. This is clearly the pre-Neron Killer Moth.

Looking further into the list, and there’s nothing but economical injustice. I know that, as villains go, Hush is probably on the lesser known side, but I think he deserves to cost as much as the other Bat-villains. If not him, then certainly Clayface. Similarly, I think Two-Face should bring in Joker and Lex Luthor type money. I mean, as Batman villains go, he’s pretty damn important.

All of this aside, the one thing I simply do not get is Man-Bat costing as much as General Zod and Brainiac. Let’s run this down. Brainiac: hyper-intelligent, living computer capable of mimicking the powers of Superman. General Zod: former head of the Kryptonian military and the exact equal of Superman in terms of powers and abilities. Man-Bat: giant bat.

I mean, it’s not like Man-Bat has an awesome set of powers in the game. He can fly and he doesn’t need a sonic gun to shatter glass. Oooooh! He can break windows without a rock! Zod can make glass from sand using nothing but his heat vision, build a house containing said glass using nothing but his super speed and strength and then pick up said house and bust it over your head.

Yeah, that’s comparable.

Even with this grave, economic injustice, I’m still loving the game. I wish things were different on the hero side, but Black Canary costs 500,000 studs while Martian Manhunter is a bargain at 125,000. Traveller’s Tales must really have a thing for sonic powers. I look forward to LEGO: X-Men where Banshee costs 1,000,000 studs and Professor X is free when you purchase Wolverine.

Jumping the Shark Episode 131

My apologies for not posting this earlier, but there’s a new episode of Jumping the Shark kicking around, episode 131 to be specific.

Todd was in Vegas, so he didn’t join us, but Tom Chick did. Having missed Tom at E3, it was nice to get him on the show. Tom always brings a lot of upbeat energy to the show and it’s hard to not get pumped up when talking to him about games. Plus, Tom plays a lot of things, so whatever we’re playing, chances are he’s played it too and the discussion rarely lags.

This week was no exception as we covered Lollipop Chainsaw, LEGO Batman 2, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, Gravity Rush, the Tom and Bruce Kickstarter and various board games about French cities and space battles. We also get to the bottom of how in the world Tom knew about Red Hulk.

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Pinball FX2 Assembles the Avengers- also, Thanos!

HOT DAMN! Here I was thinking I was tired of ZEN Studios cranking out licensed Marvel pinball tables for the Pinball FX2 platform and then they go and put out a new four table suite that includes a freaking Infinity Gauntlet table. Hear that nerds? AN INFINITY GAUNTLET TABLE. Complete with a boasting Thanos, an Adam Warlock figure, and a gigantic rendition of the titular handwear right there on the table. Of course you have to light up the Infinity Gems!

It’s a bright, colorful table that really captures the gaudy, early 1990s style of one of Marvel’s best crossover stories as well as the colorfulness of the company’s “cosmic” storylines and characters. It’s also a really fun table with lots of cool surprises that I don’t dare spoil. Apart from the one where the table is literally flipped upside down, and the one where you go to a sub-table to prove Adam Warlock’s innocence in Soulworld with magnetic flippers. If you don’t know the story, essentially it’s a sweet love story about a mad titan that is trying to impress his mistress, Death, by wiping out most of the life in the universe. And only Marvel’s heroes can stop him.

It’s a playful table definitely not bound to the limits of physical possibility. It’s the kind of playfulness which ZEN has always trucked in, and it is particularly on display in the centerpiece Avengers table. The package is, after all, called “Avengers Chronicles” in a tie-in with the bazillion dollar smash hit motion picture. The Avengers table, which is set inside a miniature version of the SHIELD Helicarrier, is a ramp-heavy affair with a central target array that reminds me somewhat of the old Doctor Who table. But this table’s secret weapon is that you get to choose an Avenger every ball. Not only does this mean that your ball will be decked out in the colors and costuming of your favorite character, it also imparts special scoring for certain targets and even modes exclusive to that ball. This is an awesome, well-implemented idea that actually adds a layer of strategy. If you want the ball save, you pick Cap. If you want to boost the multiplier, go with Iron Man.

One thing I love about the Avengers table- and this is likely totally a Michael Barnes thing- is that even though it’s based on the film they apparently didn’t have the license to use the actors’ likenesses or voices. So there’s some dude trying to sound like Sam Jackson and illustrations that look “kind of” like ScarJo. It gives the table a sense of authenticity, like when you’d play a pin back in the 1980s with artists’ approximation of subject matter rather than actual images.

The other two tables, unfortunately, aren’t as remarkable. One is World War Hulk, which tells the story of Hulk returning to Earth for revenge after being exiled to a gladiator planet by Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and a conclave of concerned heroes. I haven’t read the books. But apparently, one of the things the Hulk does is build an arena. I know this because the table tells you so over and over again in what I assume is supposed to be Ben Grimm’s voice. It’s a shockingly yellow table for being about the Hulk. For those that have read the books, this one may have some good fan service.

Rounding it out is Fear Itself, based on the Matt Fraction crossover from last year that I also haven’t read. There’s a really awesome, dramatic circular loop that crosses behind the flippers and over the dropout hole, but other than the table is strangely boring. The storyline has something to do with an Asgardian serpent showing up and menacing Midgard, and apparently Cap’s shield gets broken at some point. I get a sense that the table may be hiding some sterner challenges than the other three, which all skew to the easy side as has been common with all of the Marvel tables. I just haven’t really cared enough about it to dig deeper.

What I like about all of these tables is that they’re very storyline-driven rather than character driven. I’d like to see more like this. Who wouldn’t want to see a Secret Wars, Mutant Massacre, or Civil War table? Hell, I’m surprised there’s not already a Marvel Zombies one. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.