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Editors’ Picks 8/24: Strategy Sentinels of Destruction

This week in Editors’ Picks: James feels like it is a good idea to fight mobile wars, Rollin feels like it is a good idea to fight cooperative tabletop wars, and Ian feels like it is a good idea to read about wars. It’s an upbeat, lighthearted Editors’ Picks this week.

James’ pick: A mobile SRPG

As someone who can’t stand waiting around and doing nothing, activities like commuting or waiting in line are pretty much the worst. Fortunately, we have smartphones. Unfortunately for some of us, most smartphone games aren’t deep, interesting, or entertaining enough to keep us occupied while we stare at the tile wall in the subway or wait for our number to be called. You won’t be waiting in that line or sitting on that train or bus forever, so you can’t really warrant an extremely deep game that can’t be played in small bursts. This is where the mobile strategy RPG is a boon.

Whether it’s a Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance or Nintendo DS, a Shining Force on iOS, or a Disgaea on the PSP, a strategy RPG is usually the answer for providing a deep, complex game that allows players to peruse through it in short, casual bursts if necessary. I’m currently playing the Shining Force iOS port, and even though it’s not as deep, well-written, or as fun as, say, any Fire Emblem or the iOS or PSP Final Fantasy Tactics, it’s still keeping me fully occupied and engaged while I sit in waiting rooms and stand around waiting for the train. In those relatively short (compared to lying in a bed and playing hours upon hours of some RPG) bursts, I can still fulfill all those deep RPG desires, from leveling up, to crafting equipment, to experiencing a story.

If you don’t want to carry around your smartphone and a Nintendo or Sony portable, you can snatch up Shining Force on iOS for only 99 cents, or the Final Fantasy Tactics update, War of the Lions, on iOS for $15.99, which is how much I bought it for on the PSP. If you’ve never played an SRPG before, try out Shining Force, as it’s one of the less complex ones, and will only set you back 99 cents.

Rollin’s pick: Sentinels of the Muliverse

Sentinels of the Multiverse is billed as “the cooperative comic book card game,” and the game actually fits the bill. Ever wanted to play as The Flash, Iron Man, Hulk, or Superman in a card game? Well, Sentinels doesn’t allow that, but you can play as Tachyon, Bunker, Haka, or Legacy.

Each hero has their own set of cards, full of powers and equipment, that they use to try and bring down a villain all while avoiding minions and environmental problems. Complexity ranges, but the turn order is simple enough to learn in a single sitting. Plus, you can play with up to five folks, so five different heroes can try and conquer the villain’s heinous plot. Greater Than Games still has a few things to fix, but they’re releasing their Enhanced Edition of the main game and are hard at work on a third expansion. If you haven’t already, Sentinels of the Multiverse is totally worth playing.

Ian’s pick: Journalism and Days of Destruction

This week, I’m indulging my terrible reading habit of reading more than one book at once. At the moment, I’m reading an even half-dozen, which makes me seem like an even slower reader than I really am. There are just so many books to read, you guys, I can’t be expected to choose. I love all my kids!

You might think the pair of graphic novels I’m leafing through would be the most escapist volumes in a nigh-insurmountable stack of bedside literature, but you would be wrong. Joe Sacco’s two most recent volumes of comic-reportage are, like the rest of Sacco’s body of work, timely, beautifully illustrated, and thoroughly reported pieces of non-fiction. They are also just-throw-yourself-off-a-bridge depressing portraits of the world we live in that I can’t get through more than a few pages of at a time without retreating to the familiar embrace of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

The succintly titled Journalism is an omnibus treatment of Sacco’s short works for magazines like Harper’s and Time, collecting the artists briefest international dispatches from the past decade, some available for the first time in the States. It’s a great read, and a must for Sacco completists, but it’s no Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Sacco’s other recent work, co-authored with Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Chris Hedges. As someone who’s long been a fan of Sacco’s international reporting, there’s something truly jarring about seeing him turn his eye to the many Americans who are suffering and barely getting by. Both books are tough reads that will reward your time, and are highly recommended for anyone who wants to see the comics medium at its strongest and most human.

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