Friday Linkaround–Items of Interest

Go. Now. Watch.: The most amazing ten minutes of game video you will see this year. Period. Subject closed. (M-rated content.)

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?: Well, a brand new game from Reiner Knizia, that’s what. The designer of the co-op Lord of the Rings game is tackling The Hobbit in a new title from Fantasy Flight. A more complete description of the game is found here.

This is Why You Don’t Play High-Maintenance Games: I remember thinking what an awful idea Tamagotchi was: when gaming becomes work it ceases to be gaming. Will Farmville gamers learn the same thing from the Great Crop Failure of 2010? Probably not.

This Day in History: Hardcore Nintendo fans probably already know that the company began as a playing card manufacturer in the 19th century, but for those who don’t, Wired has a good summary of its origins. This week marks their 121st year in business.

Man, That Guy Must Have Had a Lot of Resource Cards: Catan champs rolled the bones in style at the Worldwide Catan Championship Tournament, which was held this year in Burg Wildenstein Castle, Leibertingen, Germany.

Chess: The week in Chess.

App O’ The Mornin’: Aftermath Review

As I’m writing this, Aftermath is still in the app store for free. I’m not sure how long it will stay that way, so scoop it up while you can.

I’ve been done with zombies for a long time now, but they’re in vogue again and just won’t seem to go away. Well, I guess that’s zombies for you: always just outside the door, scratching to get in while you pretend not to be home. They’re so popular someone even removed George A. Romero from deep freeze and gave him actual money to make some truly horrible new zombie movies, thus reminding us all that Dawn of the Dead was a really long time ago.

Zombies crowd the App Store like it’s the Monroeville Mall and there’s a sale on ironic post-modern commentary about American consumerism. They’ve already gotten the kiss of death for any movie monster: they’ve become overly familiar. Yet they can still rise to the occasion and deliver a few shocks given the right trappings.

Aftermath gets zombies right by doing a few simple things. The developers made the zombies fast, dumb, and plentiful; they keep the lights down low, the music moody, and the gore copious; and they ditch any pretense of narrative fuss and get right down to the shoot-’em-in-the-brain part.

This is a spin-shooter with a bit more finesse than most. In fact, it’s not so much a spin-shooter as a running game. You actually don’t fire your weapons at all: you just point your light in the direction of the shambling dead and back away while Mr. Automatic Weapon does all the heavy lifting. The twin stick control works just fine, and the entire game boils down to keeping your distance from the zombies while controlling the direction of the fire.

The game is full of weapons, but you really only wind up using a few of your favorites. It also looks quite good, making the most of its simple 3D structures through moody lighting. The only problem is its brevity. It can be knocked out in no time at all.

I’m guessing that a sequel is in the offing, so TwoHeads Games is making the original free in order to drive up the brand recognition. It’s a smart move for them, and it gives you a chance to play a bloody good spin shooter.