Barnestorming #32- Chibi Edition
On the Table
Super Dungeon Explore is a supremely fun, easy to play dungeoncrawler with a video game concept and a stupendous set of miniatures that require assembly and painting. Oh? You don’t do miniatures? Well, unfortunately you’re S.O.L. with this game unless you do what I did and proxy miniatures from the D&D Adventure System games or hire somebody like Frank Branham to do the hard work. I saw his figures in all of their Apple Barrel Color glory, and they look awesome.
There’s also the issue that this is first and foremost a miniatures product, which means this is as much as a starter set as one of those GW Orcs vs. Space Marines sets they do every couple of years. I don’t know how Soda Pop intends to expand the line- whether it’s with boxed expansions or just single figures- but rest assured you’ll want more. Because it’s a very good game, and although there’s enough to keep you satisfied for a couple of months you’ll soon start wondering what other bosses there are to choose from per the rules since only one is included.
It’s a neat game. I wish it had come out when I was at Atlanta Game Factory, I would have had every figure and painted them all. I don’t have the time, money, or inclination these days. But if you do, then this is one I’d definitely recommend. Review at Gameshark.
Playing a lot of Claustrophobia- I’m going to redo the review on that one, it deserves it. I think that game came out two years too early in some ways. The De Profundis expansion is great, the Scicaria and the Hellhounds rock.
Got in a couple of games of Panic Station…I’ll save most of my thoughts for the review, but what a hot mess that game is. It’ll be like you’re in a John Carpenter movie one minute, and then in the middle of the most gamey game ever gamed the next. The weird thing is that it seems that everyone who plays it can come up with at least five ways to make it even better. I’m not sure what that means for the design. I don’t think it’s bad in any way, and in some ways it’s borderline incredible in the way it manages interactions and promotes paranoia. But there are so many points of breakage and disconnect.
Also got in game of Shark this week, in which I did probably the worst I’ve ever done in a business game. Bad investment after bad investment. I was some 280,000 behind the winner. SAD!
Mage Knight, blah blah blah. An amazing, intricate, and singular design. More later. But it’s a definite “yes” to that one.
On the Consoles
Dark Souls remains a game that I can only play sporadically, despite my best efforts. It gets to the point where the stress and ritualistic gameplay wears me out and I’ve got to take a break after getting slaughtered by a giant moon butterfly or whatever for the tenth time. So I’ve been playing a lot of Modern Warfare 3, actually. I’m still hooked on Kill Confirmed. I really thought that Battlefield 3 would keep me locked down in terms of military shooters, but MW3 is the one I keep going back to. I think because it’s so immediate and the incentive feedback you get is so much more frequent. I have yet to encounter Black Barney on the killing grounds. I keep looking for a dude with a big white people’s afro and a fey demeanor.
I’m previewing the beta for Gotham City Imposters. I didn’t know it was a Monolith game, which explains why it’s a weirdo shooter. And why I like it. They did Shogo and No One Lives Forever among other oddball PC shooters that I loved. This one is sort of a cross between Modern Warfare, Team Fortress 2, and that guy wearing hockey pads and pretending to be Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. Basically, all of these goofballs dress up like Batman and Joker and shoot the shit out of each other with improvised, silly weapons like a hand-cranked grapple gun and a bazooka that shoots explosive pop bottles. It’s obviously silly and lighthearted, which is nice in a genre where grim and scowly are too common. The maps are super small, so there’s constant fighting. Lots of unlockable crap, including different body types. I’m playing the really small one- fast, and harder to hit.
I just got the code for the four new Marvel tables for Pinball FX2. I’m actually getting kind of worn out of Marvel pinball tables. Pinball FX2 now has 26 tables, for the record.
On the Phone
I’ve been playing Loot & Scoot, but it’s terribly crude. Hats off to VPG for the effort, but the quality level just isn’t there and the programming is poor. The interface is clunky, and I’m not really sure it was the best game for them to bring to IOS- one of the States of Siege titles or Astra Titanicus would have been a better choice.
Spell Tower is really good if you like word games. I completely dominate them, so I enjoy a good one. This is a good one.
On the Screen
I haven’t really watched much important this week apart from Goldfinger which remains the best Bond film and The Abyss, which isn’t nearly as good as I remember it. I also watched Enemy Mine for the first time in years and couldn’t believe how corny it was. It’s like an afterschool special with spaceships. “Oh wait…this movie is actually about RASCISM!”
Werner Herzog to the rescue again. This time, I watched his latest documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about a group of cave paintings recently discovered in France and believed to be the oldest yet found. The film crew only had like an hour to film in the caves because they’re very closely protected and there were parts that they weren’t allowed to see, but what they do get to see is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s a beautiful, moving documentary that wields the powers of science, archaeology, anthropology, and art to stir up some very profound emotions about the nature of time, the human impulse to observe, and the need to create and recreate.
The picture was shot with 3D cameras and it was in 3D when it was shown in theaters and I really wish I had seen in that way- there’s a lot of shots where the depth created by variances in the surface of the cave walls changes the impact of certain images.
It’s the best documentary I’ve seen in a while…the caves are just a wonder to behold, and Herzog is at his artsy-fartsy best in the show, asking these crazily intellectual and high-reaching questions to his subjects. Good, good stuff. On Netflix streaming, of course.
It’s been Bauhaus week. They’re one of my top bands of all time up there with The Fall, Joy Division, Bowie, Prince, etc. I was listening to all of the albums (even the not at all embarrassing reunion album from a few years ago) all week and it hit me that I don’t think I’ve ever in my life said that another band sounds like Bauhaus. They have one of the most unique, easily identifiable sounds of any band I’ve ever heard. Even if they’re doing reggae, funk, or glam rock.
It’s really interesting that they’re billed as the “Godfathers of Goth” or whatever. Sure, “In the Flat Field” is probably the best “gothic rock” album ever recorded, but they were doing so much more than that. They weren’t even really all that dark or spooky. They played around a lot, goofed off, wrote songs like “Antonin Artaud” and covered T. Rex as well as Norman Greenbaum. But they were always brilliant. Some of their songs are literally ingrained into my genetic memory I’ve heard them so much. I’m surprised River wasn’t born already knowing the guitar riff to “Dark Entries” or able to sing along to “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight”.
Listening to Bauhaus again in depth just reinforced my position that Daniel Ash is my favorite guitarist of all time, Wolverine haircut and all. When I was in a high school band, I tried so hard to sound like Daniel Ash but I could never figure out what he was doing. I love his style, it’s muscular but brittle and it can cut you like a rusty knife if you’re not careful.
But I’m almost as much a fan of David J too- there’s so much Bauhaus music that rides on his songwriting and subterranean funk instincts. I think for all the “goth” appellations, it’s easy to forget how Bauhaus of all bands were turning in some credible white people funk- listen to “Kick in the Eye” (my #1), “Fear of Fear”, or “Dancing”. That is some mean ass funk. The goths didn’t know what him ‘em.
I got to see Bauhaus when they did their reunion tour in 1998. I was in a foul mood the day of the show and I was convinced that we were going to another disappointing concert by a favorite band that was going to go up there and go through the motions. I dreaded the aquanet and black eyeliner-dripping middle-aged goths with their badly dyed red hair and clove cigarettes. But I have to say that when the stage was revealed and it was this German Expressionist/cubist thing all in black and they started playing "Double Dare" off stage but with a TV with Peter Murphy's white-out face singing, I was completely convinced. They were fucking amazing, and it remains one of the greatest shows I've ever seen. All four of them were totally giving it 110%, they sounded incredible, and Daniel Ash's hair never budged. One of my great regrets in life is not going to that show a few years ago where they played with TV on the Radio and Nine Inch Nails. So stupid!
Anyway, Tones on Tail is next.