Barnestorming #324- World Conquerors in Review, Cracked LCD moving, Green Lantern, Japan

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world-conq Cracked LCD is MOVING?!

On the Table

This week I’ve reviewed Jeff Siadek’s World Conquerors, a surprisingly good- but fairly abstract- dudes on a map game that kind of distills the idea of History of the World down to a streamlined minimum but with historical leaders instead of civilizations driving the ebb and flow of territorial empires. I actually didn’t ask for the review copy, they sent it to me along with Banditos. I have to say that it’s one of the best unsolicited review games I’ve ever received.

The review is in its usual…oh shit. Wait. It’s not. Cracked LCD is permanently moving to My reviews, editorials, the next Barnes’ Best, all of it will be there from now on, with Barnestorming continuing here. The schedule may be a little more fluid without deadlines, but I am going to try to keep it to an every Thursday concern, as I have since 2007 without missing a single deadline. No further information available at this time, watch the skies. If someone is able and willing, I need to get the word out at BGG that my column is moving there…we have a pretty big readership that comes from BGG, I’d like to maintain that.

Review copies are inbound of Empires of the Void and hopefully Abbadon. Next week I’ll take a look at Banditos. But I’ll be thinking about Mice & Mystics.

I have a little column up at WorthPoint about Dark Shadows board games…they like topical stuff, and what with that Burton/Depp flop in theaters…

On the Consoles

Played a bit of my dollar copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. It’s pretty good, it’s really a dungeoncrawl. Pretty mindless, but for some reason it really registered with me for a couple of days.

I’ve also gotten into Awesomenauts, a MOBA-style platformer on XBLA. I didn’t like it at first, but I found myself drawn back into it and paid the $10 for the full game. It’s pretty neat. Three on three base raids with drones, skill trees, Super Smash Bros.-style mayhem, and an terrific Saturday morning cartoon-style intro and theme song.

And I’ve started playthrough 2 of the Witcher 2, after finally finishing it. The entire second act is different if you make a particular choice at one point in the game. I can’t miss it.

Should have a review copy of Dragon’s Dogma on its way, we’ll see how that goes. It could be “horribly”, but I liked the demo a lot. Visually, it had an almost Hildebrandt like look to it that I thought was pretty neat.


So I got Storm of Souls, and it’s great. It’s drawn me back into Ascension, but I’m only playing a maximum of one screen full  of games at at a time (six). One of the best features they’ve added is that “next game” button, what a tremendous help that is.

Mostly using iPad time for comics…god, I love Comixology. But I’m realizing that I’m woefully out of touch with current comics. Any suggestions? I do like supers, I’m not one of these “no capes” people. Thinking about checking out The Runaways, We3, the new Detective Comics…otherwise, I’m plowing through Infinity Gauntlet and the Brubaker Cap books. I wish the collections weren’t just a damn dollar off from buying the individual issues.

On the Screen

In my quest to catch up on all of the superhero movies I snubbed on release, I caught up with Green Lantern. Holy. Shit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more vapid, soulless movie in my life. It literally feels like no one involved in the production gives a royal fuck about anything that’s going on anywhere in front of the camera or behind it. The screenwriters obviously tried really, really hard to make a serious Green Lantern picture and did their homework, pulling in all of the Green Lantern Corps stuff and going for more of a sci-fi thing. At least they had Sinestro, Kilowog, and the gang in there…but so what, the movie completely blows.

It just doesn’t work at all. The Oa scenes are horrendously overproduced, overprocessed, and overblown. The earth scenes feel plastic and likewise overproduced. It’s like Cheese Whiz.

But the entire time I was thinking how it COULD have been good if it had been an all CGI film, totally animated. And not a TV cartoon CGI film, a big Pixar/Dreamworks class production. I had read that they really wanted it to be a Star Wars-class franchise, but you can’t do that when your character is crap, the action is laughable, and the story is directionless and meandering.

It occurred to me too that the idea of Green Lantern just does not work in a real world context- at least not without some kind of humor or levity. I remember years ago hearing that the Green Lantern film was going to be a comedy, and I think at one point Jack Black was going to play Hal Jordan or something like that. It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but I think that actually would have been much more palatable than this dreck.

On the upswing, River has gotten REALLY into watching the Batman Animated Series, which is still wonderful even though the animation now looks creaky and it is in dire need of some kind of remastering or restoration. He can’t really say “Batman” yet, so he calls it “Betmeh”. We watch an episiode every night before bed, and he apparently thinks that all sportscars are “Betmeh cars”.

I got him a DVD of therecent Brave & the Bold series, it’s really pretty good. It’s more of a lighter, Super Friends-style Batman with tons of obscure DC characters popping up. Gentleman Ghost, what!?

On Spotify

We were in this noodle joint the other day called Tin Drum and they have this gigantic wall mural of the cover of Japan’s 1982 record “Tin Drum”. It occurred to me that I have never really listened to Japan outside of a perfunctory scan of a fifty cent cassette of “Oil on Canvas” I bought some years ago at a Camelot Records going-out-of-business sale.

Once again, bless you Spotify. I’ve been listening to their pre-“Gentlemen Take Polaroids” stuff, the records that are often kind of dismissed by the critics. I think “Adolescent Sex” is great. It’s definitely a record that every member of Duran Duran must have been listening to, if only to copy hairstyles and fashions. But it’s properly sexed up glam rock with a punkish sneer and Mick Karn (RIP) unloading some pretty dazzling funk and R&B basslines. David Sylvain hadn’t gotten into that more cosmopolitan, Bryan Ferry-esque croon yet, sounding sort of like a cross between early Robert Smith and Paul Westerberg. And that tradmark fretless bass burble hadn’t been introduced yet, either.

I’ve got “Obscure Alternatives” queued up next, but Spotify oddly doesn’t have the third record, which has “Quiet Life” on it- a song you may have heard in GTA IV on the new wave station. Then I’ll move on to the more respectful, sophisticated albums including “Tin Drum”.

If I show up at Avery’s thing with a giant, blown out bleach-blond pompadour, Elizabeth Taylor make up, and a white evening blazer you’ll know what happened.

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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