What's your life's ambition? Barnestorming #12.
On the Table
This week I’m reviewing a game about real life. As in, getting insurance, paying taxes, and trying to hold down a job. It’s Opportunity Games’ Karnaxis, and for you knuckle-dragging AT dogmatists that think a game can’t be good unless it has machine guns, robots, elves, or a combination thereof, walk on by. It’s too bad for you, because this is very well-considered business game that’s fun to play with lots to consider while also imparting a lot of theme and narrative. I hate to break it to you, but fantasy and sci-fi doesn’t make a game good, and at this point those genres are just about as played out as the usual Eurogame themes. Plus, this game actually has something to say about self-realization and ambition that I really appreciate. It’s at Gameshark. Duh.
I’ve played Battleship: Galaxies several times at this point. There’s no doubt it’s a really cool, fun-to-play game…but there’s definitely an “is that all there is?” feeling to it. It isn’t very satisfying, although there’s a chassis here that is a kind of game I’ve wanted for years. It’s almost like I’m wanting to look in the rulebook to play with the advanced rules and they’re not there. Without facing, shield quadrants, or anything like that maneuver becomes oddly unimportant, and it seems like most battles wind up with ships clumping up and just blasting the shit out of each other while stationary. I’m also sort of nonplussed by the cardplay, it seems that there’s so many superfluous cards. It’s cool that there’s all these weapons, but most effects aren’t really all that varied. It’s really a shame that there aren’t more vulnerable points on the ships so that you can hits navigation and reduce movement, knock out weapons, and so on. I dunno, I like it, but I don’t think I love it.
Sure, it’s very homebrew friendly. But I don’t buy a $70 game to make up my own rules to play with what’s in the box. I’ve still got a week to make up my mind on it, but I do feel somewhat disappointed by it at this point. It doesn’t feel as “wow” as Heroscape did when it came out, that’s for sure.
I just got in a review copy of Fireside Games’ new one, Bloodsuckers. It’s a vampire hunting game, so it’s in my wheelhouse. These are the folks that did Castle Panic, but this time it’s a contested location card game. It looks simple and pretty fun, with a cool stand-up easel to track the status of locations and day/night cycles.
On the Consoles
I just played through Warhammer 40k: Kill Team for a Gameshark review. It’s a $10 download on XBLA/PSN that’s really a marketing tool for theupcoming Space Marine. But it’s really fun, sort of a hack n’ slash dungeon crawl crossed with a twin-stick shooter. If you like 40k, it’s a no-brainer. You (and a couchmate if you want) board an Ork Kroozer and shoot the place up…but the Warboss opens a gate and Tyranids make a guest appearance. Tons and tons of shooting. Four classes of marines including a Techmarine and a Librarian. Lots of Space Marine weapons. I liked it a lot, but it’s over pretty quick.
Meanwhile, over at Gameshark…we just posted our best games of the first half of 2011 article. Mortal Kombat topped my picks. That game just keeps on giving.
I think Catherine might turn out to be really good.
On the Phone
I just downloaded the horribly, horribly named Kard Combat. It’s a new, well, card combat game that apparently Richard Garfield spent twenty minutes or so looking at so that the developers could so that he contributed to the design. It seems pretty good, sort of a cleaner, more focused take on the Orions formula. There appears to be a good amount of content if you buy the $3 IAP, but the free version offers plenty to look at too.
I tried Tiny Tower since there’s all this buzz over it. I can’t fucking stand it. Don’t tell me I have to come back in an hour to check in and see if I have enough money to buy a new floor OR pay real money to complete it quicker.
On the Screen
I caught a screening of Jurassic Park on one of the cable channels the other day and I was really, really surprised at how much I _loved_ seeing it again. I liked it when I saw it in theaters back in 1993 (and I saw it twice, at that), but I never watched it since then for whatever reason. It’s a damn good example of a big, blockbuster movie with heart and virtually no cynicism. Sure, it’s almost 20 years old, but its old fashioned-ness is appealing- character work, dramatic build up to reveals, dialogue, and a classic mad scientist morality tale backing it all up.
The dinosaurs still look fucking amazing, I actually got chills when they walk out and see the Brontosaurs. How the hell did CGI look this good TWO DECADES AGO but the stuff today looks like total garbage? Because somebody actually gave a shit about how this stuff looked and creating a timeless feeling of awe and wonder instead of just constantly bombarding the screen with excessive clutter, I guess.
I also watched a really shitty documentary on pinball called Special When Lit. If you ever want to dissuade anyone from getting interested in pinball, show them this. The pinball-obsessed subjects are the most dumpy, ill-groomed, freakish slobs this side of a board gaming event. One guy decided to wear a worn-out t-shirt, gym shorts, and no shoes for when the camera crew came to his house. Another talks all this soft-headed nonsense about the higher experience of playing pinball, “feeling” the machine and all that…while sitting there with his fucking fat gut hanging out from underneath his shirt. Gangly man-children are show doing these bizarre dances while playing, and the homes of these people look pretty much like the dump-ass white trash hovels like what see on an episode of Hoarders but there’s somehow enough room for rows of pinball machines lined up against wood paneled walls.
Then there’s the so-far-out-of-touch-it’s-not-funny guys talking about the kids, what with their Nintendo and Sega machines…how they won’t play pinball anymore. And I’m watching this frumpy, deadbeat loser with a greasy mullet and child molester glasses saying this. No fucking wonder, boss.
On the Turntable
Thanks to the suggestion made by our very own MuMu, I listed to some of Jarvis Cocker’s last solo record, “Further Complications”…it’s produced by Steve Albini and it’s freaking great. It’s tense, skittery garagey post-punk that’s strangely sexless for Jarvis but no less desperate.
And speaking of desperate (but not serious), I’ve been on an Antmusic kick all week, listening to the Adam and The Ants records. What an odd mix of sounds- spaghetti western guitars, Gary Glitter-ish glam, swing, Pistolian punk, goth, new romantic…and that charging, Burundi drumming that Malcolm McLaren stole away along with the original Ants to make Bow Wow Wow. “Kings of the Wild Frontier” is clearly the place to go for the best of Adam Ant, such a great- and fun- record. Marco Perroni more than made up for the loss of the first band, but “Dirk Wears White Sox” is definitely worth a listen for a more challenging, angular Adam Ant sound.
Adam Ant was actually one of the first figures in music I really got into. I didn’t have MTV when I was a kid, but the neighbors did. So we’d sit there and watch videos all day, and I LOVED Adam Ant’s videos. The pirate/highwayman costumes mixed with Napoleonic dress and Native American accoutrements, the seedy shot-on-video look… I thought he was awesome. I remember singing “Stand and Deliver” when I was like six or seven.
But then he released all those terrible records, became kind of an adult alternative singer, and went crazy in Tennessee.