Barnestorming- Hyperborea in Review, Kemble's Cascade, Hyrule Warriors, Godzilla

Barnestorming- Hyperborea in Review, Kemble's Cascade, Hyrule Warriors, Godzilla Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Hyperbolea.

 

On the Table

 

I’ve gone from thinking that Hyperborea is really good to thinking that it’s great. Here's the review. It’s a really smart design with some unique, fun mechanics. I also think it’s quite unique in a lot of ways because it is a DoaM/4x game, but its built on what is actually a deckbuilding chassis...yet without the actual deckbuilding or cardplay elements.  Then it has this cool resource management thing where you spend cubes to activate powers…open-ended turns where you can do as much as you want or reserve actions to do before the reshuffle.

 

It’s just a lot of fun, the mechanics are really enjoyable. It hit me while I was playing a little three player game last night with some pals that filling up the “meters” to get additional resource cubes is kind of like filling up an XP bar in a game like Diablo III- it pushes that same Pavlovian button for some reason.

 

So it’s a definite yes to Hyperborea, especially if you like games like Cyclades, Kemet, Eclipse and…Nexus Ops. There’s a little bit of that in it too. Be warned that there is no dice-based combat. It’s actually more “thematic”, dudebros…you at least generate a little sword icon. There is also almost no fluff and each race only has one power per game. Don’t worry about it. It works.

 

I’ve filed a couple of statements about Battle at Kemble’s Cascade in our forums here, but Legomancer kind of summed it up- The Ramones slowed down to a waltz. It’s a good game, but is there just too much of it? It feels like the designers didn’t trust their own concept and tried to add all of these really kind of silly things to it, like “achievements” for really gamey, anti-thematic things like crashing or getting scroll pushed. Review in two weeks.

 

Ares sent me a copy of Galaxy Defenders, which I actually asked for in April. Quite a surprise. I’m playing it solo and so far I love it. The AI is good, and it plays sort of like a slightly more advanced D&DAS. The setting is pretty generic, but the action is good and the gameplay is fun. It’s a pretty generous package too, lots of good figures with a great campaign system and twelve scenarios in the box.

 

The ERP brought in Kreta, a 2005 Stefan Dorra design. I like Dorra quite a lot, I’ve decided. I’ve never played Kreta, but I once turned down a seat at Atlanta gaming maven Ward Batty’s table to play it. I think I probably played some crap like Dungeoneer or something instead.

 

Next week, Lords of Xidit. Another good one from Asmodee. They’re on a roll.

 

On the Consoles

 

It is Bayonetta 2 eve. THE SHADOW HAS BEEN CAST. It’s not too late to rush out and buy a Wii U.

 

Man, I’ve really dug into Hyrule Warriors. The game is just plain fun. It’s the simplest of hack and slash action when you’re in the thick of mowing down hordes (literally thousands) of pretty much endless/mindless minions and the occasional miniboss or captain that actually does try to kill you. Simple, rewarding combos and special attacks with lots of cool characters to play. And everybody levels up, gets new gear, crafts new badges and so forth. So there’s more to it than you think.

 

But the neat thing- and this is common for all the Musou games- is that each level is a big area divided up into sections. Over the course of the level, you might get a call for help from Impa or Zelda to go to a different area that’s under siege. You have to go in and beat a bunch of baddies and the captain to claim the territory and stop it from spitting out more bad guys. Of course, you might have two different alerts going on so you’re always running around from battlefield to battlefield, trying to turn the tide.

 

Tons of content, including a big “master quest” mode that takes place on the original LOZ map. Really glad I bought it, I may even buy some of the DLC since it adds good stuff like Epona and material from Majora’s Mask.

 

Shadow of Mordor, I have like three story quests left to finish it but I’m kind of tired of playing it. I have to say that the pervasive over-the-top violence has become completely numbing. After you see the 5000th decapitation or sword through the face, it just gets old and lame.

 

I do, however, like how much of a badass the characters has become. I just kind of stroll out where a couple of chiefs are bickering or whatever and just lay the fuck into them. After I’ve gone around and used the magic elf powers to mind control all the guards around the fort.

 

Probably won’t try to 100% it, it’s been 20 or so hours of good stuff, I’m satisfied with it and ready to move on.

 

Diablo III, still not into the endgame. My crusader is just SICK at this point, but I have started hitting monsters that can actually kill me. Anything that reflects damage, because I do so much. And I do, I realized, have a weakness to fire so things that roll out the lava carpet can put me down. Everything else may as well be made out of butter.

 

On IOS

 

Sometimes, you come back to a game with fresh eyes after being away from it for a while and you find that you like it better than you remember, or maybe you see something new in it.  This is not the case with Sentinels of the Multiverse. I reviewed it twice, effectively- the first edition and then the second with all of the expansions that were available at the time. I thought it was OK, but had some issues. Mainly that it was really tedious.

 

So, I paid $10 and got the IOS game only to realize that I absolutely do not like this game at all. Somehow, it’s even MORE tedious, boring and uninteresting on the iPad. The randomness means that when the game is just destroying you, it’s because of badly timed card draws and sequences of events- not because you played bad, not even because you didn’t have the right cards. You might literally have no chance in hell of winning from turn one.

 

All the different damage types, immunities, lingering status, fussing around with +1/-1 effects…it’s sloppy and a total drag. The IOS app just makes it even more apparent how pointless the game is.

 

So that was a waste of $10.

 

Kemble’s Cascade put me in a shooter mood, but at first I wasn’t really wanting to do the Cave thing- Cave shooters are really kind of different than some of the more traditional, non-manic titles. I really wanted to play something like Super Star Soldier or Gate of Thunder. Neither are on IOS, but I did get this bundle that has four Raiden titles and both R-Types.

 

The Raiden games are just classic. It has the original, which is still hard as balls. It’s very odd coming back to it after playing the Cave stuff and other danmaku where enemy fire is in specific patterns and the game is really as much about navigating these sort of mazes with tiny control movements, essentially trying to squeeze a pixel-sized hitbox through hundreds of on-screen bullets. Nope, in Raiden, you get shot at almost at random, so there’s really more “twitch” to it. Cave shooters, when you develop the skills they require, are almost methodical.

 

The later Raiden games are really good too, I especially like Raiden Fighters Jet. Mainly because you get a ton of cool ships to choose from.

 

R-Type…I remember thinking back when I had it on TurboGrafx that it was the hardest game I had ever played. Weirdly, it only took me like five tries to get past the first level and I beat the second in one go. The third is that crazy ship level, which took me about ten to pass. Then it starts to get kind of hard. But man, what a great shooter- definitely one of the best side-scrollers. I haven’t played the second yet.

 

Needless to say, all of the above wore me down and I wound up back on the Cave games so I’ve been playing Dodonpachi (Resurrection and Blissful Death), Espgaluda II (one of their more complex games) and Deathsmiles (perfect for Halloween, shame about the awful “gothic Lolita” crap). All are awesome.

 

One thing about playing shooters on IOS…the controls are actually pretty awesome for all of these. The touchscreen works perfectly for it, and actually _improves_ on joystick control. You have absolute control over velocity, direction and braking. Which you don’t with a digital joystick. It could be argued that this makes the games easier or that it somehow reduces the “true” arcade experience, but I’ve found that it makes these games more enjoyable and approachable but they’re still ruthlessly difficult on higher levels.

 

Wish they had some of the Treasure titles on there…Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, naturally.

 

On the Screen

 

Godzilla 2014 is utter trash, I can’t believe anyone has been fooled into thinking that this sluggish, boring and completely soulless movie is any better than the 1998 US Godzilla. Just because they tried (and failed) to capture the slow-burn tension and anticipation of the ’54 film doesn’t mean that it works.

 

Within 30 minutes of the opening credits, I was completely uninterested. I felt like I was watching a garbage TV show like The Strain, padding out the story with eye-rolling family scenes intended to trick the viewer into thinking that cardboard cutouts are actual characters. Bryan Cranston tries really hard to impart some kind of credibility to the turgid writing, but like everyone else in the film he spends the entire time with a crinkled brow, looking constipated.

 

Because the whole film is constipated, it wastes so much screen time on this nonsense “adult”
drama junk that some people think is a slower, deliberate pace but it is actually just filler material with zero actual substance. By the time we get to monsters it just feels like you’ve waited in line for a rollercoaster for three hours…and it lasts 30 seconds. I absolutely could not believe that one of the first big clashes between a MUTO and Godzilla is literally cut away from by doors closing. What a fucking waste. It’s not a “tease”, it doesn’t leave it to your imagination…it’s lazy and misguided, demonstrating a complete misunderstanding about what makes Godzilla work.

 

Credibility is zero, which is ironic since this film breaks its own back trying to show adults that a character usually considered to be a kid’s movie figure (apart from the original film) can be in a dark and gritty, serious movie with lots of ersatz CNN footage to make it look oh so real. Somehow, MUTO shows up in Las Vegas and tears the roof off a casino, where people are gambling and the news is showing the attack. Um…why the FUCK didn’t these people get out of there? IT’S ON THE NEWS. IN THE CASINO. There’s ANOTHER scene like that where some dudes in an office building are all like “I’m at work, la la, OH NO, MONSTERS!” Did they not have any PTO or something?  Did they not see the news reports and think “hey, maybe not go to work today.” Did no one pick up that these things were on the way to their city on radar, satellite, social media or whatever? Jesus effin’…

 

I’m probably in the minority, but I didn’t like the way Godzilla looked. They really went for the “gorilla whale” look, which didn’t work for me. I don’t want Godzilla to look “real”. Or like a character designer looked at a bunch of animal pictures to create the look.

 

God damn it, I want it to look like a man in a suit.

 

The thing is, there is NOTHING that people love about Godzilla in this film. Because even as bad and as boring as some of the old movies are, there’s still a sense of FUN and of CRAFT in them. Watching those little model cities, those stupid anti-Godzilla tanks with the radar dishes that shoot lightning bolts rolling out…those wonderful costumes and the slow-cranked camera…all of that is so TRADITIONAL to the Kaiju film that it really just doesn’t work when it’s all ‘roided up and all of the handmade qualities are taken out.

 

The whole time I was thinking “I really wish Joss Whedon had directed this”. I have never in my life thought that about anything. Nor have I ever uttered the phrase “Cloverfield was better than this” until I watched this movie.

 

Nothing about the film was memorable, interesting or awe-inspiring. The monsters looked great in action, but so what. A bunch of effects that reside on a hard drive somewhere.

 

Don’t waste your time on this garbage. Watch the original film, which is still awesome, or something like Godzilla: Final Wars. Something that has some heart and embraces the absurdity of Godzilla instead of running and hiding from it in 100 minutes of dour-ass bleakness and “adult” family drama, leaving 10 minutes for actual science fiction and kaiju action.

 

I hate this movie. I can’t believe I watched the whole thing, which puts it one over Man of Steel. Worst movie I’ve seen all year. Don’t try to justify it or explain to me why it was actually really good, because it fundamentally WASN’T at a very basic level. Don’t kid yourself.

 

On Spotify

 

One of those weeks where I randomly thought of a song out of nowhere and went through a catalog review. For reasons unknown, I started singing the Sisters of Mercy’s “Nine While Nine”. So it's been all bombastic not-goth rock all week.

 

 

Barnestorming- Hyperborea in Review, Kemble's Cascade, Hyrule Warriors, Godzilla There Will Be Games
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