Barnestorming- Another AEG Review Rodeo, Outlast, Flappy Bird, Clone Wars, The Cure

Barnestorming- Another AEG Review Rodeo, Outlast, Flappy Bird, Clone Wars, The Cure Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Rodeo time. 

On the Table

Finally catching up to the box that AEG sent way back before the holidays- Canalis, the latest Nightfall expansion, and Thunderstone: Numenera.  The Thunderstone title is the one to get out of those, I think it’s the best release in that line to date and it’s the one Thunderstone game that I’d choose to own out of all of them. Nightfall: Eastern Skies is cool, but my interest in continuing to play Nightfall has dropped off. Canalis is about as boring as the name suggests. Capsule reviews here.

Not really playing much lately…really wanting to get back to Mage Knight sometime soon. I’m about to do a  big catch-up on expansions- looking at Krang, Wiz-War, the Firefly thing, the last Star Wars LCG big one…

As you may or may not be aware, I'm still writing for Worthpoint.com as well. I'm doing two board game articles a month along with two articles about Awesome Toys of the 80s. I'm really proud of this article about Curling board games.

On the Consoles

Played an hour so of Outlast, the new horror title that you can get for free on PS4 thanks to the magic of PS+. It does a couple of things really, really well. The sense of atmosphere and dread is absolutely suffocating. The suspense is deadly. There are some genuinely scary moments- walking up to an abandoned asylum and seeing somebody walk by a window, very nice. The sound design is great. It looks really good- but still not quite “next gen”.

But then it blows it. The creep-out tone and spookiness is replaced by juvenile gore and some kind of mutant zombies running amuck. The scares turn into silly Halloween spookhouse fare- headless body drops from the ceiling, mutant zombies shows up, hollers something cryptic and weird, and you run away. It’s also an idiot game. Guy walks into a room where there’s a vent busted out and blood pouring  out of it. Hey, I think I should climb into that! Not like you have a choice, because the other door you can get to is locked and there’s furniture inexplicably piled in the hallway.

I like that you don’t have weapons and can’t fight, but it also means that your actual interaction with the game is extremely limited. Which would be fine, but the exploratory elements aren’t particularly interesting after a while. And it gets into goofy crap like “find the two gas pumps in order to start the generator”.

I dunno, I’ll probably play through it since it seems like it’s going to be short. It’s definitely worth “free”.

Finally finished A Link Between Worlds. Such a great, great game. Usual Japanese endgame shenanigans though, which was sort of annoying.

I love Zelda boss battles. I think they are the most perfectly balanced out there. I love that they put up a fight, but you can USUALLY beat them the first time you see them even if it’s close. The second time you almost always win because you’ve sorted out what to do. But you don’t spend an hour trying to beat one, or getting stuck because you can’t work out how to win.

I’ll probably start on Bravely Default Friday, the demo was pretty good.

If I’m not playing Hearthstone.

On IOS

So my son gets my phone every morning and then hides under his covers playing mostly Lego Star Wars. But the other day, I woke up hearing both River and Scarlett in his room laughing. I went to go see what they were doing. They were playing god damned Flappy Bird. I downloaded it to see what the fuss was about, laughed at it, and then intended to delete it.  But they were having a ball with it. “Dad, that Flappy Bird is really hard!” So now it’s a thing…he’ll get the phone and be all like “I’m going to do it this time” and then he hits the first pipe. Laughs hysterically. Then I’ll get it and go through five or six and die. Laughs hysterically.

On the Gamebook front…Finished Slaves of Rema, it was .99. Worth about .99. Way easy and not very well written. Forest of Doom keeps beating me. Got to the end of Deathtrap Dungeon twice and didn’t have all the gems. Missed something in Blood of the Zombies so I can’t win it, I think it’s a pulley or something.

On the Comics Rack

I hit Judge Dredd pretty hard this week, reading most of Complete Case Files #5. Block Mania is so good, I love it when Dredd gets it- “I fight for Rowdy Yates block, who you with?” Just starting into the Apocalypse War, which is of course great.

Tried to read John Ostrander’s Star Wars Legacy book again, got further than the first ten pages this time. It’s OK I guess, I think I’d like it better if it weren’t Star Wars. It’s a decent, gritty bounty hunter kind of space opera story. Not really into the whole tattoo/aggro Sith thing so much. It’s OK, I guess.

 

On the Screen

Showed River Episode I. 20 minutes in- “can we watch the one with the brown monster again”? Good kid.

I’ve watched most of the first season of Clone Wars, I’m genuinely surprised at how good it is. I really think that just going all-in on the cartoonishness salvages some of the shittier po-faced prequel stuff. Like the battle droids. In the context of a “canonical” Star Wars film, they’re fucking stupid. But in a full-on cartoon- they kind of work. It’s good for kids too, it gives the Jedi something to carve up with the lightsabers without showing them killing or hurting anybody.

General Grievous is great in it. I liked him OK in the movie- in fact, I think he’s the best thing about Revenge of the Sith- but I really like him in the cartoon as a main antagonist. Episode 10, “Lair of Grievous” has been one of the best shows so far. Some wicked lightsaber duels with that guy. And then, of course, he dies stupidly in the movie. Typical Lucas.

Like I said before, it also really helps that all of the shitty acting and George Lucas writing is gone. And that there’s not live actors standing in the middle of a completely CGI scene, wondering if their careers are over.

The space battles are cool (there’s one big one in a planet’s atmosphere that is really freaking great), the clones are actually handled really well (they’re all the same but have unique haircuts, personalities and names), Anakin is a million times better than he is in the movies…it almost seems like he’s not the guy that will go on to become Darth Vader, which is…kind of OK, actually.

My god, even the episodes with Jar Jar aren’t horrendous.

I actually kind of regret not watching the show before, especially in that vast gulf back in the late 2000s when Star Wars seemed pretty much dead.

 

On Spotify

I’m doing a full catalog review of The Cure, so I’m on the first three records right now.

Years ago, I thought “hey, I never want to hear The Cure again”. I was so sick of anything to do with them. So that embargo is lifting and I’m listening to records I haven’t heard since…I dunno…the mid-1990s? I actually haven’t heard anything after “Wild Mood Swings”, so eventually I’ll get to hear “Bloodflowers” and all that. Stuff from the “late Elizabeth Taylor” stage.

The first record is so great- I remember hearing it for the first time AFTER hearing all of the records after. And it was like “hang on…this is scratchy guitar pop”. And really good scratchy guitar pop at that. I love that bunch of early songs- “Accuracy”, “Grinding Halt”, “10:15 Saturday Night”.

But then you get to Seventeen Seconds, and it’s a total change. I still hold that Seventeen Seconds is their best record and it would be even if “A Forest” was the only track on there. Lots of great dirgey/gauzey goth tracks. Probably my favorite album all around from them.

“Faith” is really good too…but there again, it has The One Song on it that is so clearly the best track on it that everything else feels diminished. “Primary”, of course. Which oddly hearkens back to their earlier sound rather than the gauzy/blurry psychedelia they were heading toward.

So “Pornography” is next, then “The Top” and “The Head on the Door”.

Barnestorming- Another AEG Review Rodeo, Outlast, Flappy Bird, Clone Wars, The Cure There Will Be Games
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