It has arrived.
On the Table
I had another piece I was working on yesterday, but then boom! Summoner Wars IOS. So I played it all night and into the wee hours and then all this morning. I didn’t finish my other article, so I just reviewed this masterpiece instead over at Cracked LCD’s NEW home, No High Scores.
Short and sweet. This is the best IOS board game to date. Unless you just hate Summoner Wars, don’t have an IOS device or are one of those old fogeys that has to be able to feel cards and dice, there is no legitimate reason or excuse to not have this game on and poppin’ right now. It’s _free_ to try. $7.99 buys you the whole shebang, including a couple of the expansion decks and mercenaries. The potential for this game is TREMENDOUS with async multiplayer and widespread availability.
So let’s hear it for Colby Dauch and co., he’s been a F:ATtie for a long time and it’s great to see one of our own movin’ on up. Here’s wishing that Summoner Wars IOS is a great success for Plaid Hat and also for Playdek, who are setting the standard by which all other IOS board games should be judged.
On the Consoles
I’m kind of in a weird place with console games right now. There really hasn’t been much interesting out since Dragon’s Dogma, and most of the games in the near future aren’t looking that great either. All that’s holding my interest for more than 15 minutes is that damn Lego Batman 2. I don’t know what it is about the game, but it’s just totally satisfying me right now. It’s so simple and laughably easy- particularly once you get Superman- and there’s tons of really, really crap design choices like a ridiculously awful save system.
What I really like about it is that it captures a kind of subtle sense of how kids play. If you’ve got a Lego Ice Cream Truck and a Lego Superman, Lego Superman is going to drive the Ice Cream Truck. And he’s going to crash into everything, running over Lego people until he smashes it into a Lego boat.
The game is almost passive. It’s like “here’s some stuff you can do, whatever”. You get in a boat and there’s a checkpoint race you can do. Or not, whatever. There’s the story missions out there if you want, but whatever. Right now, I’m most interested in farming studs to get some of the expensive characters. It’s grindy, but it hits the right pleasure centers. Somehow.
I downloaded Spelunky…I can’t see paying $15 for it. It’s a good game, I love the concept, but I’m not feeling like it’s worth the money. $10, maybe. But I think I played it enough back when it was free.
Somebody please help me. So, so much money. Poof.
Anyway, what a great week of reading. I did get that American Flagg omnibus, and HOLY SHIT is it great. It’s SO 1980s Sci-Fi satire, which I love. You can really see where this book influenced everything from Frank Miller to Max Headroom. Chaykin’s work is incredible in it- the layering of images and panels is astonishingly good. I can clearly see how he was aiming for a style that was a mix of Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Steranko and the result is something very sophisticated, pop art, and modern. Flagg is a hilarious character, if I did the costume thing I’d totally do a Reuben Flagg outfit. I love some of the weirdo SF concepts in it to, like the “blackout” shells that create darkness. I’ve only read about half of it, I’m savoring this one.
I also went forward with Grimjack, I decided on Killer Instinct since it was written to be new reader friendly. I like it a lot because it reminds of how fantasy was in the 1980s- a little seedy and grim. John Gaunt is a cool ass character, he reminds me somewhat of Jonah Hex. The art is great, the action is great, and it’s a fun setting. I miss this kind of book.
I also read a bunch of DC’s New 52 books, because I think I’m realizing that I like DC’s more current stuff over Marvel’s latest. I tried to read Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man “Big Time” story, but I absolutely fucking hated every single thing about it. The pencils barely look professional, the dialogue was irritating, and it just rambles on and on and on. I didn’t even finish it. So I fled to the Distinguished Competition.
Most of them were OK, but all the #1s felt really short and weirdly lacked momentum. Blue Beetle, JLA, and Justice League Dark looked decent, but at the end of the first issue I didn’t feel compelled to read more. Oddly, one of the big winners was the Azzarello Wonder Woman book. I’ve never read a Wonder Woman book in my life, but I really dug the three issues I read. It feels much more like a 1990s Vertigo book with weird mythology stuff and some spooky gruesomeness.
The BIG winner was Demon Knights. This book is GREAT. It’s more or less a cross between a superhero team book, Seven Samurai, Arthurian legend, and classic D&D style fantasy. Etrigan/Jason Blood is the lead, and he’s teamed up with Vandal Savage (!), Madame Xanadu, and some other folks I’m not as familiar with against Mordru and the Enchantress. It’s written by a Doctor Who writer, and it shows- it reads more like Joe Abercrombie than Tolkien, modern and quick-witted. Pencils are fantastic, and it’s a unique book. Which means that it’s probably not going to survive a round of cancellations.
What else…reading The Return of Barry Allen right now, which I was ho-hum on until it got dark and weird. Also Tower of Babel, which I never read but always heard about- “Batman has all these secret plans to take out the JLA!”. It’s great, classic cape drama. And it’s got me thinking that Ra’s Al Ghul is a better Batman villain than Joker. It’s funny reading that after reading Irredeemable…you can almost imagine Batman showing that series to Superman and saying “See? This is why.” I like Mark Waid’s stuff, he’s good at the big drama, shocking reveal thing.
There’s more, but I’ll stop before this turns into a comics column.
On the Screen
We finally got to go to the movies again, the last thing we saw in the theater was Inception. We figured that River would be cool with it, and he was. Scarlett was too, actually. We saw Brave.
I liked it a lot, but it’s definitely 2nd tier Pixar (below Incredibles/Monsters Inc. but above Cars, Nemo, and Up). I think the film has taken a lot of flack from folks who sort of resent that it’s a princess movie, but they’re missing how terrifically subversive it is. The main villain isn’t a wicked stepmother- it’s MOM, or at least her old fashioned values and domineering nature. There is no Prince Charming. The princess shows greater leadership than any other character in the film, including her dad. Also, archery.
I liked the relationship between Merida and her mother, I thought it felt authentic and heartfelt and mom’s change was extreme but seemed right. The comedy was a little broad, but Pixar manages to make even a butt joke seem classier and more dignified than any of the embarrassing lowest common denominator crap in a Dreamworks animated film.
As for Batman: The Brave and the Bold…if you’re not convinced, try this one on for size. In the episode “Death Race to Oblivion”, Mongul forces a bunch of good guys (including Plastic Man and Woozy Winks) to race a bunch of bad guys (including Joker and Gentleman Ghost) all in their ridiculous special vehicles…against Steppenwolf, who’s in a giant Road Warrior semi. What follows is an extended tribute to Death Race 2000, Road Warrior, and Wacky Races…but with DC characters. The crowning moment- indeed of the entire series- is Green Arrow using Plastic Man as a bow to shoot Guy Gardner like an arrow. My wife asked what was so funny about it, and I really couldn’t explain it to her.
Still on Depeche Mode…