Barnestorming- Super Motherload in Review, Super Fantasy, Shadows of Malice, More Japanimation

Barnestorming- Super Motherload in Review, Super Fantasy, Shadows of Malice, More Japanimation Hot

Michael Barnes     
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super motherload

"Load"?

On the Table

Super Motherload is almost there. It’s a simple, fun and appealing family game that just needs to get rowdy to put it in line with titles like Survive and Downfall of Pompeii. It has that unique concept, direct gameplay and a big fun factor. The deckbuilding is simple- it’s really more of a set collection thing- and plowing up the Martian turf to pick up rocks to buy new pilots is rewarding. But it has that passive-aggressive “I got it first” sense of competition that causes it to pull up short. All it would need were some kind of sabotage, random events or surprises of some kind and it could be on par. Nothing too fancy- wouldn’t want to muck it up with a bunch of stupid rules, 50 more tokens, three card decks and so forth. But it’s a good one as it stands- maybe for kids 8 and up on it, mine are a little too small for it.

Reviewed, here.

I _finally_ have my hands on Super Fantasy.  Played a solo game last night and it ROCKS. It’s easily the best dungeon crawl since Drizzt but man, is it 1995 in the production department. As in really crappy. That said, I flipped the box and saw “Made in Italy” instead of “Made in China” and suddenly I was OK with the not-FFG-quality.  Really looking forward to digging into this one more both solo and with some friends…the AI rules are no-nonsense, the levelling mechanic is simple and the way it handles power recharges is genius. AND it has an amazing dice pool based system where you choose how many dice you want to roll out of six to do something with target numbers being either a defense rating or a six to complete a task like busting a barrel. And you might want to bank dice to roll for defense on the monster turn.

I’ve been playing Shadows of Malice, which is NOT a Kickstarter game- the guy that designed it did it the old fashioned way. It’s reeeeeeeally interesting. I don’t know for sure, but I kind of think this guy has very little experience in hobby games. Like, maybe he’s played Magic, D&D and Arkham Horror. There’s a naiveté to the game that I am in love with. It’s almost like playing some lost game from 1978…it’s clumsy and there are some almost baffling design choices like this bizarre “XD*” mechanic that is somehow really complicated to explain…but it’s really just a coin flip. And there are actual tokens for flipping in the game if you don’t want to do the die roll. But there’s something here, definitely…and there are at least two GENIUS ideas in it- a random monster generator and a banding mechanic that actually works and fosters genuine cooperation and collusion in the battles. More on this one later.

Still playing Rune Age, both solo and with a friend…gosh, I really like this game now. Maybe enough to keep it, even. Had an incredible Runewars scenario the other day with my pal, he was the ersatz Chaos faction and I was the humans. He just completely hammered me for the first 3/4ths of the game, using those abilities to wound units for bonuses. But he sort of lost the rhythm and wound up over-exhausting himself. So in the space of like three turns, I came back from a 12 point deficit and he paid the ultimate price for his foolishness.

 

On the Consoles

Codename Steam will be added to the pile tomorrow. I don’t like the steampunk business, but I do like Intelligent Systems, Nintendo, turn-based strategy, and the notion that the Cowardly Lion and Randolph Carter team up with Abe Lincoln and Tom Sawyer. Reviews are mixed, but it looks like one of those marginal cases that might turn out to be a favorite.

If you are a Kecha Wacha (kind of a giant baboon/elephant thing), beware. I will murder you and make pants from your ears. Seriously, I have mastered hunting those things in MH4U to a startling degree. The game is just incredible, but man, it really is work sometimes. Figure out what you need to do or what you need to make/upgrade something. Go to the storage chest and do some item combining to make traps, potions and so forth. Go eat something. Then get the quest. Go on the quest, stopping to fish or harvest some honey. Oh, there’s the monster- fight it for 15 minutes. Then you go back, sort through your findings, then to the smith to make some stuff, repeat. It is SUPER GRINDY but that’s part of what makes it so addicting.

And god damn it, when a THIRD monster shows up…

 

On IOS

Haven’t even touched it. I’ve actually been pocketing the 3DSXL around lately.

 

On the Screen

Alright, so I am in a full-blown Japanimation rediscovery binge. I’ll call it “anime” if I must, only because it’s shorter. But it’s still Japanimation to me.

Fun story. Back when it was called Japanimation by everyone and there was almost nothing available here, a friend of mine at the time found this Kroger grocery store that had a video rental (remember those). For reasons unknown, they had like, all 20 VHS Japanimation titles that were available at the time (this was like 1990/1991). Old Streamline Pictures stuff, some of the really cruddy American dubs that were edited to pieces, all of those old Bubblegum Crisis VHS tapes that were like $90 to buy. Not only that, they also had these on a big display with a bunch of posters and photocopied pictures from Japanese fan magazines. So I guess somebody there was a fan. Anyway, that’s where I cut my Japanimation teeth beyond the stuff I watched when I was a kid (Gatchaman, Star Blazers, Robotech, Tranzor-Z/Mazinger, Speed Racer, etc.).

One of those early titles was Fist of the North Star…I’ve been watching the TV series and enjoying it, but I had not seen the film in literally 20 years. Good god, what a ridiculous piece of cinema. It is EXACTLY how I remember it, I was just busting out laughing remembering seeing this INSANE movie when I was 15, friends all gasping when the dude’s arms get ripped off and so forth.  It actually holds up pretty well as a piece of gonzo filmmaking, and at the time I didn’t really catch how it had a lot of influence of Leone, if only by way of Mad Max. It’s actually pretty bad, overall- lots of dudes standing around talking about how they’re going to beat each other up, then a fight, and more standing around talking about who beat up who. It’s actually very much like Dragonball Z.

I also watched a more recent film, Redline…sort of a futuristic racing thing done by Madhouse. The first 15 minutes were awesome, very clearly Metal Hurlant influenced and with a really cool, heavy line style. But after that quarter of an hour, I started losing interest. I also watched Satoishi Kon’s Paprika, which was alright but not as good as some of his other stuff. Both films had that YOU ARE WATCHING ANIMATION sense of showboating that I find incredibly annoying. That works, like in Redline, for 15 minutes. But it doesn’t support a feature. The really great animation films do not go over the top to remind the viewer that WHAT YOU ARE SEEING IS ANIMATION.

I’m actually really liking Death Note, it’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. It sort of crosses between “wah, I’m an angry kid that hates everything” and a more focused (and dangerous) Travis Bickle sense of Machiavellian righteousness. But then there’s this whole investigation/police procedural angle happening. And a supernatural thing going on too.  I thought this show was going to be dumb, but now I’m like 10 episodes in and will watch it again tonight.

Parasyte is pretty interesting too. It’s definitely body horror and it totally trucks in some Cronenbergian material. But it also goes haywire into some extreme, Resident Evil-style body dysmorphism (with a touch of The Thing) when these weird organisms eat their hosts’ brains and turn them into blobby monsters with split-apart faces. But then the main character is host to a parasite that screwed up and just made it into his arm, which leads to some Evil Dead-inspired hand angst. But with a hand that has eyes and teeth and talks.

 

On Spotify

All I want to listen to is Sparks. It has begun.

Barnestorming- Super Motherload in Review, Super Fantasy, Shadows of Malice, More Japanimation There Will Be Games
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Posted: 12 Mar 2015 13:48 by magicbus1966 #199372
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Long time reader, first time commenter!

Currently loving Super Motherload. It kind of fits into my "pleasant activities" game category. That is, its really fun to play without the sense of direct competition. Kingdom Builder is another I enjoy for the same reason.

Long Term - Perhaps Shadows of Malice will take the Arhkham Horror path: Published -> Picked up and revised by a major publisher -> Rebuilt into a masterpiece (Eldritch Horror). Can't wait to try as is.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 14:39 by charlest #199379
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Paul (Frohike) and I both gave Shadows of Malice a very positive review.

Beyond the monster generator and banding, I really love the artwork and aesthetic. I also completely dig the way the Shadow board works. Very refreshing hitting something that doesn't just regurgitate Orcs/Goblins/Elves/Dwarves.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 14:39 by hotseatgames #199380
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Season 2 of Death Note really drops off. Season 1 is great though.

I'm enjoying MH4U, although I still am plagued by accidentally putting the 3ds into sleep mode. I really wish they had moved the power button to the middle of the bottom edge. I keep bumping it when I am busy circle strafing to avoid being chomped by jaggia.

I originally wanted to figure out all the systems by myself. I've since realized the pure folly of that and have been looking online for info. For example, I only just today learned how to tell my palicoe to come along with me.

Barnes- why on earth did you not mention Hotline Miami 2? Surely it's got you in its grip by now.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 16:56 by Michael Barnes #199391
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Welcome, Magicbus! Yeah, "pleasant activity" is a good way to describe it...but it COULD be a nasty one with just a couple of additions. Kingdom Builder is a couple of classes above it in weight though, IMO.

The rough edges of Shadows of Malice are part of what make it so exciting. It's when you've got that loose, sloppy 10% that you also find innovation and experimentation.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 17:05 by Michael Barnes #199392
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I'll get Hotline Miami 2 when it goes on PS Plus, which it will. It looks great, can't wait to see where they go with it. I heard the soundtrack is actually BETTER, which I find hard to believe.

There is no way to sort out MH on your own. It requires going to Gamefaqs, and even then you usually walk out of there more confused. You really do have to use this combination of experimenting, community knowledge and observation to figure stuff out. Back when I was playing 3, I remember having this revelation about setting up traps and using the knowledge I had gained before about where monsters will likely go. There's a lot you do have to just piece together yourself, and some of it is actually more rewarding if you do it yourself. When you can.

I still don't really understand Wycoon and trading to multiply goods. I don't really understand the Insect Glaive's upgrading, even though that's become my favorite weapon. Being able to vault up on to the monsters is an awesome ability. It's become my main, along with the Charge Blade, which I pretty much have down pat.

Wait...you can make your Palicoe follow?

There's a lot in the game that is just by chance, which is sort of annoying. I'm almost 20 hours deep and still haven't gotten a King's Frill from a Great Jaggi, despite hacking at their heads and riding those bastards into the ground, chopping away at them.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 17:23 by magicbus1966 #199397
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"The rough edges of Shadows of Malice are part of what make it so exciting. It's when you've got that loose, sloppy 10% that you also find innovation and experimentation."

No doubt - that's why the stuff Nate Hayden is doing is so exciting.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 21:57 by hotseatgames #199402
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Michael Barnes wrote:
I'll get Hotline Miami 2 when it goes on PS Plus, which it will. It looks great, can't wait to see where they go with it. I heard the soundtrack is actually BETTER, which I find hard to believe.

I still don't really understand Wycoon and trading to multiply goods. I don't really understand the Insect Glaive's upgrading, even though that's become my favorite weapon. Being able to vault up on to the monsters is an awesome ability. It's become my main, along with the Charge Blade, which I pretty much have down pat.

Wait...you can make your Palicoe follow?

There's a lot in the game that is just by chance, which is sort of annoying. I'm almost 20 hours deep and still haven't gotten a King's Frill from a Great Jaggi, despite hacking at their heads and riding those bastards into the ground, chopping away at them.

I can't say at this point if the soundtrack is better, which does seem crazy. But it definitely rocks, and often has a really creepy vibe since the game is just so weird.

I did the tutorial for the insect glaive but really didn't get it; so far all I've really used is what I believe is called a charge axe? Changes from axe to sword and boy did I feel dumb that it took me a really long time to discover that it did that.

Go to the bulletin board in the back of your house. There you can set your palicoe to "deploy."

I had been wondering how I was going to get a king's frill. Jeez. How do friend codes work? My id is Veinman.
Posted: 12 Mar 2015 22:26 by Frohike #199404
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I tend to fall for aspects of games that betray a sort of "outsider art" in the design, where it feels like the creator has missed a segment of contemporary game design history or simply ignored it and constructed something that they just needed to see realized. I know that the design that Jim Felli initially presented was more complex and a bit slower and that he took all of the feedback he got at conventions and honed the game down to its current form, but I'm glad that the off-kilter aspects of the game weren't entirely lost in this process. What we're left with is something a bit alien, and very interesting. It's not perfect. The randomness can be crushing. But it seems to short-circuit so many of the common representational tendencies in contemporary fantasy board games toward more van art, more giant PVC miniatures, more amateur narrative text, all of which alternatively feels like a masking of over-simplified games (Cthulhu Wars), or thematic dressing to maintain the player's engagement in an infinite recess of rules (Mage Knight). Shadows of Malice sort of cuts right to a core fantasy conceit and just smugly stays there, with some minimal art and a wonky true-false coin flip system of dice mods, and the responsibility of building interesting actors, world, monsters is laid right at the feet of the player. It's really nice to see for a change.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 09:23 by charlest #199431
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Is it just me or is this review not available from the front page or the reviews section of the site?

I noticed his earlier but didn't say anything thinking it would sort itself out.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 09:34 by Columbob #199435
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I can't see it either except in the Forums.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 09:47 by Space Ghost #199438
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Well, the positive comments for Shadows of Malice from Michael, Charlie, and Frohike have moved it to the top of my interest pile and kicked Myth to the curb. I love the notion that it feels like a game from "ages past". Sounds like I would love it, actually. I might order from the designer just to support him.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 12:21 by Michael Barnes #199459
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Doug, you are one of the people I would say would likely appreciate Shadows of Malice. There are WAY TOO MANY games today that just regurgitate the things FFG has been doing for the past five years, recycling plug-and-play Euro mechanics, or straining to try to simulate what it was like to play Warhammer Quest in 1995. This is a game that feels like all of that stuff never happened. I've exchanged email with the designer, he is definitely coming at this from a new angle.

>>>No doubt - that's why the stuff Nate Hayden is doing is so exciting. etty brilliant. There's a vagary about the game that is almost enigmatic. It can be frustrating but mostly because this game is working at a different level than most these days are. It really does feel like something from an alternate reality.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 14:46 by veemonroe #199492
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.ll"charlest wrote:
Paul (Frohike) and I both gave Shadows of Malice a very positive review.

Beyond the monster generator and banding, I really love the artwork and aesthetic. I also completely dig the way the Shadow board works. Very refreshing hitting something that doesn't just regurgitate Orcs/Goblins/Elves/Dwarves.

We tried Shadows of Malice (twice) and, genuinely, it isn't retro. Or cool. Or innovative. It's simply a very sluggish game where not much happens. You wander about (slowly), there isn't really many things you can do each turn. It's all a bit dull. I wasn't impressed. I traded it for Chicago Express, which I didn't even want, to get it out the house before everyone else realised it was c**p and it became unsaleable.

Bear in mind, I have thrown fantasy novels into the dustbin - without reading - because they feature elves. I'm the founding member of the generic fantasy hate club and the 'please do not give me excessive art because I can't use my imagination on your game' society. I spit in the face of zombies and I think superheroes are an insecure male power fantasy. I should be the audience for this game, but - actually - it was just bad.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 15:53 by Frohike #199495
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I've heard this from a couple of people and I've gotta say, I don't get it.

I'm on my 8th play, usually with two avatars, and it always feels like there's not quite enough time for us to find the wells between getting to the Cities or lairs for treasure, battling any shadows that are too healthy for comfort and rushing the strongholds (leaving the small ones to smash themselves to death), or getting a Mystic for potions etc, let alone prepping for the nasty Guardian battles. If I don't have enough movement as I'd like on a turn, I just burn some shards and/or split up our band. If I'm not going to make it to a lair, I try to provoke and hope for something that's not too nasty but healthy enough to drop more shards. And yeah, some turns, I have to just stay put, rest, and watch yet another shadow do something I don't want.

I don't think I've ever looked at the board and said to myself "meh, there's nothing to do and this is taking too long." Maybe I will at some point, but I just have not hit that wall yet.

I think part of it requires not looking to the rules and mechanics to evoke and motivate. I know that sounds like a huge WTF and a weird expectation but that's exactly why I'm enjoying it. I'm getting the impression, though, that this can cause the game to just step beyond people's patience or investment. By the way, there's an expansion on the way that will include some questing, if that floats your boat.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 16:03 by Space Ghost #199496
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Consider my boat floated
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 16:58 by Michael Barnes #199497
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It is definitely not a game for general audiences, that's for sure. I can see where a lot of folks will absolutely HATE certain aspects of it. He does state in the rulebook what you "should" be doing, and if you don't do those things (go to cities, get potions, fight monsters, gain soulshards, go beat up the well guardians) then yeah, it can kind of feel aimless. There is not direction from event cards, scenarios or character agendas, nothing like that.

Frohike is exactly right, if you don't buy into this game kind of stepping aside so that you can find the motivation, you're going to bail on it. It's very, very different.

Gosh, I can't wait to solo it tonight.
Posted: 13 Mar 2015 20:05 by charlest #199503
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Frohike wrote:
I've heard this from a couple of people and I've gotta say, I don't get it.

I'm on my 8th play, usually with two avatars, and it always feels like there's not quite enough time for us to find the wells between getting to the Cities or lairs for treasure, battling any shadows that are too healthy for comfort and rushing the strongholds (leaving the small ones to smash themselves to death), or getting a Mystic for potions etc, let alone prepping for the nasty Guardian battles. If I don't have enough movement as I'd like on a turn, I just burn some shards and/or split up our band. If I'm not going to make it to a lair, I try to provoke and hope for something that's not too nasty but healthy enough to drop more shards. And yeah, some turns, I have to just stay put, rest, and watch yet another shadow do something I don't want.

I don't think I've ever looked at the board and said to myself "meh, there's nothing to do and this is taking too long." Maybe I will at some point, but I just have not hit that wall yet.

I think part of it requires not looking to the rules and mechanics to evoke and motivate. I know that sounds like a huge WTF and a weird expectation but that's exactly why I'm enjoying it. I'm getting the impression, though, that this can cause the game to just step beyond people's patience or investment. By the way, there's an expansion on the way that will include some questing, if that floats your boat.

Completely agree. Some games you have to keep the hell up and always be pushing forward at high speed clearing lairs and building treasure as the Shadows can high tail it to a Stronghold very quickly. I also tend to flee if the Monster/Guardian is too tough which can cause more wasted turns and the clock to run down even further. Every play of mine (6 or 7) has been extremely tense.
Posted: 14 Mar 2015 06:20 by Wetworks #199511
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Shadows of Malice looks interesting but it seems to cover the same ground as Mage Knight, an overland adventure game where you level up a hero and defeat a big bad guy/city.
Posted: 14 Mar 2015 15:45 by Frohike #199518
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Charlie and I both bring up Mage Knight in our write ups for this reason. It covers similar ground, but approaches it from a very different angle, one that I feel is more effective and closer to the fantasy that I enjoy reading (or experiencing in the occasional RPG).
Posted: 14 Mar 2015 19:21 by Wetworks #199524
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Frohike wrote:
Charlie and I both bring up Mage Knight in our write ups for this reason. It covers similar ground, but approaches it from a very different angle, one that I feel is more effective and closer to the fantasy that I enjoy reading (or experiencing in the occasional RPG).

How does Shadows of Malice play as a solo game? One of the best things about Mage Knight is that you can have a deep, balanced experience controlling only one character. Most co-op games require you to control 2-4 characters and can get fiddly with upkeep, Mage Knight has practically no upkeep.
Posted: 14 Mar 2015 20:57 by Frohike #199526
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I've had fun playing it as a solo game, though I've always played two or three avatars since the game wasn't designed with solo play in mind and revolves around coordinating the abilities and shard pools of at least two players. The scaling of upkeep to number of players is minimal. You're still running the same action sequence for the Shadows at the end of every turn. The only additional upkeep would be the health regen (1 wound per turn), and obviously playing as each avatar. With two avatars in a band (party), it often feels like you're playing one avatar anyway, with a larger inventory and shard pool and the ability to temporarily share abilities or bonuses using colored shards.

In terms of rules noise and fiddliness, it is much less complicated and busy than Mage Knight, but you will be rolling and modifying dice... a lot.