Barnestorming #3: Barnes' Best III, Sardo Numspa, and a friend called "Five"

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Barnestorming #3.

On the Table

This week it’s time for Barnes’ Best III: The 1980s. This was a tough list to put together, because there’s way more great games in the decade than in the 1970s and before. What I arrived at though was pretty much a “no shit, Sherlock” list of obvious choices. Which I realized I was OK with, because these are some of the best games of all time. There were tons of games on my shortlist that could have made the cut, but I went with my favorites since that’s what Barnes’ Best is all about anyway. I’m sure you’ll all be surprised that Fortress: America, Heroquest, Full Metal Planete, Kremlin, and Gangsters/Supergang didn’t make the cut. Anyway, it’s in its usual slot over at

I finally played Brass this week. I don’t recommend it for AT diehards at all. I thought it was pretty great though, kind of an ultra high-level rail game with a pretty neat economic system. It does have an ample dose of that Martin Wallace gamey-ness that threatens to undo his best work. It’s not a great looking game, that’s for sure, but I think it’s a darn good design.

Zev was kind enough to send over a copy of Yggdrasil so I’ve been playing that regularly, including several solo games. Advance word- it’s a great solo game. One of the reviewers at BGG compared it to a VPG States of Siege game, and I think that’s a pretty smart comparison at least at a base level. Multiplayer, I have some issues with it. But hey, who doesn’t like battling frost giants and sending Valkyries out to collect Viking souls? It’s a good looking game, too.

Sounds like either Fief 2 or Rio de la Plata are going to be on the table at Swamp Castle tonight.

Has anyone actually seen a copy of the new Awful Green Things? I think the reports of it being released are exaggerated or something.

Finally, a shill- I just posted a sale list in the forums. Some good stuff, we’re trying to clear out some junk around the house in preparation for Young Mistress Barnes. My game space is shrinking, which is cool because it encourages me to monetize games that are literally collecting dust.

On the Consoles


I’m playing the hell out of Brink. Unfortunately, reviewers were mostly playing an early, unpatched release of the 360 code and it had some issues. Also, it seems like there’s some grave misunderstanding about the game’s focus. The fact that kills and K/D ratios are not tracked ought to tell folks something, but some are still convinced that this game is a traditional FPS. It’s more of a FPM, as in first person mover. It says right there in the tutorial- you should be moving more than shooting. Highly recommended- once it’s patched up, it could be my favorite game of 2011. Don’t worry about the bots, they’re fine. Some critics would have you believe that bots should play an absolutely perfect game- which never happens in games with human players anyway. I didn’t get the review at Gameshark, but I will be posting a full take on it over at NoHS next week.

Bill Abner passed me a review code for Moon Diver, a game promised to be a modern implementation of Strider with four player co-op. I was interested, but it sucks. So many great side-scrollers on XBLA lately, and this is the bottom of the barrel. Review on the way. My review of the way, way better Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury should be up any day now, along with Motorstorm: Suckpocalypse.

Just tried the Star Raiders demo- it might actually be pretty good, it’s an old fashioned Wing Commander-style light sim/shooter. Doesn’t really have anything to do with the Atari original. This is a genre in dire need of a refresh. Not sure why it more or less died out in this console generation.

On the Screen

the-golden-childI came across The Golden Child, the 1986 Eddie Murphy comedy-adventure on Netflix last week. I had not seen the move since I saw it with my parents in the theater, but I had this weird sense that I remembered almost everything about it so I watched it. Come to find out, I did remember almost everything about it from the goofy talk show appearance where Eddie cusses at a turtle to the weird bit where they’re trying to get the kid to eat blood to the crazy puppet devil-thing that Sardo Numspa turns into at the end.

It’s such an awkward movie, you can really tell that at one point it wasn’t supposed to be a comedy. Also, you can tell that it was at one point slated to be a John Carpenter film because it feels an awful lot like one- having Victor Wong play his crazy old Chinese guy role certainly aids and abets that sensation.

I kind of like it, although I realize it’s a terrible film. It’s watchable, goofy, and has some pretty funny bits in it because it was made when Eddie Murphy was still hilarious. I don’t laugh at much comedy, but Delirious is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Quite an interesting time capsule too, what with the completely ignorant AIDS jokes and all in it.

I thought I’d continue my “Weird Mainstream Films of 1986” film festival with Howard the Duck, produced by George Lucas. I lasted about ten minutes, and I’m shocked that I made it past the topless lady duck in the bathtub. I saw this in the theater too. My parents were going to see Dirty Dancing, I opted for Howard. I remember thinking it was sort of creepy as a kid. As an adult, it turns out I was right on the money.

I finally got a copy of Sukiyaki Western Django, the Takashi Miike western. I’m going to watch this week.

On the Phone

Bohnanza released on the App Store last night, I’m not sure it’s worth playing against AI players. It’s one of those that I don’t think will translate well when it’s not face-to-face.


There’s a neat little 4x game that turned up for two bucks called Vincere Totum Astra (To Conquer All Stars). The developer is calling it a “casual 4x” and I think that’s about right. It kind of has a board gamey feel- each planet you control has one action from a variety of them covering ship-building, deployment, economy and so on as well as an adventure-like explore action which is pretty much a card draw. It’s dead simple, has a full tech tree, and is more suitable to the mobile platform than many other games of its type. It’s a little buggy and the combat system is ridiculous, but for two bucks I’ve had a good time with it.

I dug a little more into Order and Chaos, Gameloft’s “WoW on IOS” game. It really is more or less WoW. And all that entails. I really just don’t like this kind of game at all, I think the quest structure is terrible and I’d much rather play Dungeon Hunter for an on-the-go action RPG. I just don’t get the social element of it at all I guess.

Alien Menace, the IOS card game done by Pascal Bernard with a print version on the way, is definitely worth taking a look at. It’s fun, simple, and it has a cool Aliens/Space Hulk flavor.

On the Jukebox

Most folks mistakenly think that Gary Numan was a one-hit wonder and that “Cars” was the only thing worthwhile he ever did. Wrong. The record that single came from “The Pleasure Principle” was pretty great but by far my favorite Numan material is the two records he did as part of the band Tubeway Army. These 1978/1979 albums are phenomenal pieces of sci-fi synth-rock stuffed with Philip Dick references and Numan’s own paranoid fantasy.

replicasThe first eponymous record is great and all, but the record I’ve been listening to this week is “Replicas”, and I think if I made a list of the ten best records of all time it’d be on there for sure. From the stately, glacial movement of “Down in the Park” to the full-on robot rock of “Me? I Disconnect from You”, every track is a prize. This is also an album in the old time sense, in that everything about it from the artwork to the repeated themes to the sequencing of the songs make for a total package that can’t be separated. That being said, “Are Friends Electric?” is an amazing single from the record that was a pretty big hit in the UK and elsewhere. Can you really go wrong with a record that has a cut called “When the Machines Rock” on it? Daft Punk, eat your robot hearts out.

But in the US- it’s “Cars”, and that’s about it and he's regarded on an even keel with schlockmesiters like A Flock of Seagulls. I love the ‘80s!

I saw Numan in 1994 when he was touring behind one of those ghastly industrial rock records he did with Cleopatra. I expected no one to be there. It was a sold-out show, and he played a blistering set- on guitar the whole time- of almost all of “Replicas” and choice cuts from “The Pleasure Principle” and “Telekon”. I think he did two or three songs from the current record at the time. In his biography, “Praying to the Aliens”, he claims that the show I was at was the best show he had ever performed. And it was, in fact, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

Next week- Yggdrasil in Review, and I'm mean to that guy in Marwencol.

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes



Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

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