Friday Linkaround

Plants vs. Zynga: The CEO of PopCap, Dave Roberts, recently took some time to smack around Zynga. Activity for the afternoon: compare/contrast the comments of Roberts (a man whose company makes actual games) with those of noted Force For Evil Mark Pincus. Remember to show your work.

It’s the Catan App … But Bigger: Catan HD is in the app store. This version for iPad appears to to spread out the screen a bit and allow users to move information boxes around. I say “appears” because I don’t have an iPad, although I am willing to accept donations.

Incoming!: Be not afraid of the catapult in your mailbox. Due to a production error, the coveted catapult token for the Be Not Afraid expansion for Small World was left out of the package. Days of Wonder is fixing the error and adding 5 leader tokens in the leftover space on the punchboards. I’m already playing with this expansion, and I like it a lot.

SimTV?: IGN is reporting on a proposal for a TV show from Will Wright. The working title is The Creation Project, and the documents describe the creation of a TV showed derived from audience suggestions via online and mobile phone messages. Not only does that sound like a spectacularly bad idea for a show, but the participation of Will Wright raises the horrible prospect that Simlish might be involved at some point. Wright is one of the true geniuses of game design, but the entire The Sims line just a canker.

Taliban Removed From Medal of Honor, Military Ban Holds: EA announced that the opposing force in Medal of Honor will be called “Opposing Force,” not the Taliban. This is a classy move on their part, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game takes place in an current theater of war, which remains a sticking point for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s commander. For this reason, the ban on on-base sales will remain in place. In any case, the game will probably be very popular among servicemen, many of whom are huge fans of military shooters.

Life Imitates Fallout: Kotaku has discovered that, mere miles from my home in South Jersey, the Army is testing wrist-mounted┬ádisplays. As they note, these are essentially PIPBoys: “The organic light emitting diode display is mounted on thin, flexible metal foil, which in turn is mounted on a wrist-wrapping housing to create a fully functional display and communication device.”

Enough With the Damn Zombies Already!: Now Red Dead Redemption, a truly excellent game, is adding a zombie mode. Look, folks: it’s done already. The zombie thing is over. Let them die peacefully, and if they won’t, then shoot ’em in the head. That’s a sure way to kill ’em. If you don’t, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat ’em or burn ’em, they go up pretty easy.

Twitterstream Digest: Board game news, courtesy of Seize Your Turn.

Chess: News from around the world.

App O’ The Mornin’: Axe in The Face Review

If you want to get me to buy your game, just go ahead and name it Axe in the Face. Works every time.

If you want to be doubly sure I’ll buy it, make sure your main character looks like a tiny Viking Yosemite Sam, and have him in a perpetual state of axe-slinging rage as he tries to protect his well-tended bed of flowers.

Yes, that’s what Axe in the Face is all about: a red-bearded, highly irritated little cartoon Viking determined to kill as many marauders as it takes to protect his daffodils. All he has is his axe, some fire, a couple of powers bestowed by the gods, and a heart filled with rage as he faces wave upon wave of foes. If any enemy gets past him and begins to trample the flower bed, the level is lost.

The control is based upon an effective line-drawing system to determine the throwing path of the axe. Just trace a line (however convoluted) and then remove your finger to unleash the axe. It follows its path and then returns. The blade cuts through enemies like butter, hewing head from torso. If the path passes through a fire, then you have a flaming axe, which is just the ticket for taking out enemies hiding behind trees.

Enemies move at different speeds, and some have different defenses, which makes timing each strike a tricky business. It also makes setting up and executing elaborate strikes quite satisfying when they mow down multiple enemies at once. The two god powers are lightning, which fries 3 foes at once, and ice, which slows the enemies.

Blue Carrot games has put out a first rate little app, with a good sense of humor and colorful art. There are 32 levels total, and they get challenging rather quickly. This is a fun game, but it’s also a hard one.