Out This Week

Scribblenauts Unmasked

Venice Envy

In this week’s releases, Venice rises and the Scribblenauts get a superhero makeover.

By Drew Toal • September 24, 2013

Out This Week is a look at a few new games that are out this week.

PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Vita, Wii, Xbox 360—September 24

I don’t know all that much about professional soccer beyond the fact that Messi is the best player, and the Egyptian national team is the scrappy underdog that will one day make for a wonderful Disney movie starring Hugh Jackman as Bob Bradley, the no-nonsense New Jersey native and team coach. Let me ask you this: Does the sport have a PED problem? How about concussions and severe long-term health issues? Players colluding to form super teams and destroying the league’s parity? No? Well, no wonder soccer hasn’t really caught on over here! (Cool it, Major League Soccer nerds. When your stadium uses three times more electricity in one game than an entire country, come talk to me.) I did hear that there’s a lot of match-fixing going on, though. That’s a good start. Like massive, pointless energy waste, cheating at gambling is something we Americans can understand.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure
PC, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U—September 24

Do you prefer traditional, square Aquaman or alterna-Aquaman with a gnarly beard and a hook hand? If you picked the right answer, perhaps you begin to see the amazing possibilities for a game where you can mix and match superhero parts to make your very own customized, DC Comics-themed unforgivable crime against nature.

Rise Of Venice
PC—September 27

I was going to quote something here out of British historian John Julius Norwich’s excellent 2006 book, The Middle Sea: A History Of The Mediterranean, but then I got sidetracked this past weekend watching football and eating pierogis and forgot to dig up my copy. Now it’s too late, but I think the gist of it was that Venice wasn’t always a tourist trap whose navy consisted solely of salty gondola drivers. It was once a global power. (If I remember my Norwich correctly, it had something to do with bearded Aquaman becoming Emperor Of Venice and challenging the Ottoman President to an arm wrestling match for control of Europe. Which is obviously how he lost his arm.) Speaking of traditional watercraft and foods, when I was typing out “pierogis,” Word autocorrected it to “pirogues,” a small, flat-bottomed boat popular in the marshlands of Louisiana. But pirogues can be dated back well over a millennium, probably to around the same time that Venice was founded. “In 626, when the Avars were besieging Constantinople,” the internet tells us, “the Slavonians crossed the Golden Horn in their pirogues and landed on the shore of the Lower Blachernae, and in spite of all defensive measures that were taken, looted churches.” Man alive, all this talk of history and church looting is making me hungry.

Deadfall Adventures
PC, Xbox 360—September 27

This week brings us Deadfall Adventures, followed next week by Marlow Briggs And The Mask of Death. Both sound utterly rollicking, but which is the better two-fisted adventurer? The hero of Deadfall Adventures is the great grandson of British folk hero Allan Quatermain. That’s a pretty good pedigree. I don’t feel like looking it up, so let’s just say his name is Mark Quatermain. Or maybe Jimbo Quatermain. Jeff Quatermain? Anyway, he comes from a long line of extraordinary gentlemen, but don’t count out Briggs, the brash newcomer looking to make a name for himself in the world of high-end adventure consulting.

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69 Responses to “Venice Envy”

  1. The_Helmaroc_King says:


  2. Electric Dragon says:

    “Players colluding to form super teams” Can someone explain what this means to a non-American? I’m not versed in American sports beyond having watched a couple of baseball matches on TV and a brief phase of being mildly interested in gridiron in my early teens.

    • Enkidum says:

      Look up something about Lebron James and the Miami Heat.

    • miltthefish says:

      Baseball “matches”? Haha, now I’ve heard everything. 

      • Electric Dragon says:

         I’m sorry, I meant to say “contest”. Or is it “chukka”?

        • miltthefish says:

          Brit: “What do you say we venture outward and take ourselves in a baseball contest?”

          American: “You mean a ball game??

          Brit: “Jolly good. Perhaps during the contest we shall bear witness to a grand hit that empties the field stations?”

          American: ?

          Brit: “You know…when a batsman swats the ball over the field enclosure with his baton when the stations each have  a runner?”

          American: “you mean a grand slam?”

          Brit: “Jolly good.”

          American: (begins craving Grand Slam)

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      While some sports achieve something akin to parity through a variety of means, baseball, which has no salary cap, is just coming off a 20 year period where PEDs seemed to allow players to hit free agency with a good 6-10 years of peak performance left, so rich times like the Yankees bought them all and won a championship that way.

      The others actually had some home-growners. Except for the pitchers.

      It’s even more common in professional basketball, where all you really need is a top-heavy team to succeed. Right now it’s the Miami Heat, but prestige squads like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have pulled the same scheme.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        As a Lakers fan, I must object!  Throwing money away to assemble a superstar team does not ALWAYS work.  In fact, given Laker history, one might say that it only SOMETIMES works.

        The reverse proposition seems entirely true, though – successful teams have usually thrown a mountain of money away to assemble a superstar team.

    • SamPlays says:

      It mirrors the same basic concepts of America’s approach to government vis-a-vis collusion.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Don’t ask me.  All I say is “Go sports teams!  Win the game with your points!”

    • Roswulf says:

      It’s an odd consequence of the salary cap rules in American Basketball.

      In american basketball, there is a hard ceiling on how much you can pay any individual player. This means that the best players in the league are VASTLY underpayed for the amount of value they add to a team. And since this is basketball, a sport with only five players on the court having at least one of these players is necessary to be a contender.

      Now here’s the interesting part. For the best players in the league at the moment they receive free agency (when they are not under contract to any team), any team would be willing to pay them the same max salary (admittedly most teams can’t-it’s actually ludicrously complicated because of other salary cap rules). So the players are not choosing where they go on the basis of money. In at least one very high profile occasion, a number of structurally underpayed players got together and decided to go play for the same team in order to build a championship contender. This was the creation of the reigning champion Miami Heat, led by Lebron James and complemented by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Although at this point they really only get max salary surplus value from James, who is ludicrously good at basketball.

      The end result is that you get a European-football style superteam, but through player choice rather than owner wealth. For some reason this drives a lot of people CRAZY.

      • NakedSnake says:

        Yea, James was a dick about how he did it, but thr concept is awesome. Fuck the owners.

        • Roswulf says:

          Amen. Part of what made the Decision (the pageantry surrounding Lebron’s movement to Miami) so aggravating is that, by being such a spectacular act of jackassery, it reinforced the kneejerk pro-owner bias among fans .

          But isn’t that always the way? Without question Barry Bonds was illegally blackballed from his occupation, but noone cares since he is, was, and ever shall be a tremendous tool.

        • TreeRol says:

          @Roswulf:disqus, you got it all wrong. It’s just that no team in the American League could use a DH who hit .276/.480/.565 the year before.

        • Roswulf says:

          @TreeRol:disqus Just seeing that line makes me violently angry. I’m in my 20s, but there’s a reasonable chance I will never again see anyone as good at hitting a baseball as Barry Bonds (come on typical aging curve for Mike Trout!). Those cowards deprived us of the privilege of watching him hit.

          BTW, here is a list of the players since WWII who have ever had a full-season OBP as high as Bonds’s final, washed-up season.

          Mickey Mantle (once)
          Ted Williams (lots)
          Barry Bonds (lots)

          END OF LIST

      • mizerock says:

        Great analysis there, and not just for the non-Americans, I feel certain that most NBA fans don’t fully understand all the implications of the salary rules.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      It’s not much different than what happens in European Football. LeBron James joining Chris Bosh in Miami is similar to Gareth Bale joining Christiano Ronaldo in Madrid.

      Three key differences: 1) Bale and Ronaldo didn’t both sign with Madrid in the same week. 

      2) Individual players have a greater impact in American sports than in European football. Not even Messi can singlehandedly salvage a team whose defence is letting in three goals per match.

      3) The Champions League format naturally creates super-clubs. In the NBA, all teams start the season on equal footing (in theory.) In England, the top four teams start off with a huge advantage in the transfer market: instant European football.

  3. It’s probably something trendy like Sojourn Quatermain.

  4. Raging Bear says:

    I’m still thoroughly confused by the idea of licensed Scribblenauts. I’ll probably buy it anyway.

    Also, the text in the still of the Rise of Venice reads a bit differently with the knife-clutching hand perfectly blocking the “V”. I would totally play “Rise of Enice,” especially if she really was full of intrigue and treason.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I was hoping it was Rise of Anise, a new Cooking Mama game where she finally experiments with South American and Middle Eastern cuisines.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        Imagine the mini-games!  Grinding spices to JUST the right consistency!  Slapping your roti and naan perfectly even with bare hands!  Proportionally balancing the spices in a mole as they cook!

    •  Well… “licensed” is a strong word in this case. The series has always been published by WB Games and lends itself well to anything with an insane catalog of summonable things. The fact that someone at WB actually made that connection and did something intelligent with it is something of a rarity, however.

    • Chum Joely says:

      You remember Elvis the Pelvis? Well, you should hear what they called his cousin Enice!

  5. SamPlays says:

    I’ve always preferred Aquaman ceviche-style.

  6. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    We already know that FIFA 14 for 3DS and Vita will be the exact same game as last year, just with updated with rosters. As in the exact same the game, not as in “Teehee, sports games are always the same, right?”. Last year’s Wii version was apparently pretty much the same as the year before as well.

    So what I wanna know is.. how’s that PS2 version?

  7. His_Space_Holiness says:

    Gross, they kept Harley Quinn’s New 52 Suicide Squad/Suicide Girls look. At least the Riddler’s back in his usual natty garb.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I think they have multiple versions of each character, so I think the original look is in the game.

  8. Boonehams says:

    This is all well and good, but no one has answered my question: The creators claim that Scribblenauts Unmasked has EVERY character from DC comics in it, but is Danny the Street in it?  I want to be able to mix and match Detective Chimp with sexually-ambiguous sentient pavement.

  9. boardgameguy says:

    This is unrelated to Out This Week, but Grantland had an interesting article about Myst’s 20 year anniversary. In it, the author wonders why games that focus on exploration became unpopular in the wake of Myst’s huge success. The end suggests that the time might be ripe to retry it.

    I feel like the last few years, indie developers have been. In fact, playing through Fez brought me back to that feeling of Myst. Let alone Dear Esther, Proteus, and (I hear) Gone Home.

    Would people have played Grant Theft Auto V if all it did was provide an opportunity to explore the city and play mini games found therein?

    • duwease says:

      The answer to your last question in my case is.. absolutely! The rest of the world may differ, however.. Bully still had violence, although toned down.. and it didn’t do so hot.

    • Fluka says:

      Thank you for the most excellent link!

      As an interesting companion piece, Robert Yang wrote a series for RPS called A People’s History Of The FPS, the first entry of which talks a lot about the supposed move away from Myst-style games to the modern Doom-descended genre of first person shooters.  Rather than focus on an industry/indie split, he talks a lot about the culture of modding and experimentation that seems to run through First Person games.  One of the big reasons that Doom-style games became so culturally important is that, unlike Myst, they allowed extensive modding.  Dear Esther, it’s worth noting, originally started out as a Half Life 2 mod.  It’s sort of a weird roundabout evolution.  Commerical FPS games helped destroy the popularity of nonviolent puzzle games like Myst, but the culture that grew out of them has helped fuel a whole new wave of avant-garde (and often nonviolent) first person games.

      • boardgameguy says:

        Thanks for sharing those as well. I had never heard of the Aliens mod of Doom. I am unaware of pretty much every game that occurred in the interim that tried to use similar techniques and am curious as to find out what did.

      • NakedSnake says:

        WOAH THE ALIENS DOOM MOD. I remember that being the coolest thing that had ever happened when I first got it. Absolutely mindblowing. Of course, the actual Aliens V Predator game came out a few years later and blew my mind once again.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      I think that article underestimates the number of games that cropped up in the wake of Myst’s success. Starship Titanic and The Neverhood spring to mind. I think it just took too long for them to be made. By the time that “Myst Clones” started coming out, the game had dropped out of popular consciousness. (That’s just how video games work. The development cycles for “hardcore” games is too long to truly capitalize on fads. It took 3 years before Doom had any competition, for example.)

      • boardgameguy says:

        I haven’t heard about either of the two you mentioned. Are there others in that vein that haven’t been mentioned?

      • Roswulf says:

         Starship Titanic was an interesting one- a hybrid of Myst and the older tradition of text adventures.

        And it was genuinely funny, because Douglas Adams does that.

      • Cliffy73 says:

        I don’t know — Myst was super popular for a very long time.

        Maybe I’m a dinosaur (and I certainly loved Myst when I finally played it about two years ago), but I just don’t have enough of a sense of direction to play games with an open world. Put me on rails so I don’t end up spending 20 minutes trying to find my way back to where the game is happening.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      I’d love it if exploration was not tied to puzzles.  I HATE HATE HATE puzzle games, with a burning passion.  But I love exploration, even pseudo-exploration.

      So, Myst was totally not my game.  I wanted to like it . . . but it was clear that I’d never be able to make any progress because of STUPID PUZZLES THAT I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.

  10. Jackbert says:

    Super psyched for Super Scribblenauts with superheroes.

    • Hey @Jackbert:disqus , how’s the market for root vegetables in your neck of the woods?  @SonjaMinotaur are in up to our ears and gotta unload!

      • PaganPoet says:

        I think @Jackbert:disqus should make a big jar of kimchi with that daikon. Extra fish sauce, just to spite all of his dorm mates.

      • Jackbert says:

        No idea, I’ve been too busy to buy any for a few weeks. Sorry.

        @PaganPoet:disqus : There’s a Korean in my dorm who spends every meal complaining about how he misses Korean food, so I don’t think all of them will be annoyed.

        • PaganPoet says:

          I actually love the smell of kimchi, but pure fish sauce is the smell of evil. Delicious, delicious, evil.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus  I have yet to meet a gay man (have we met?) that enjoys the smell of fih sauce. @Jackbert:disqus  How’s school?

        • Jackbert says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus : Never smelled it, but I like kimchi.

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus : It’s going well. I’m feeling academically and socially stimulated. I can go into more detail via Steam chat, if you’d like.

      • I’m on a random pattern this week so don’t expect another crazy week from Glosta.