Barnestorming- Mythotopia in Review, New 3DSXL, Narnia, Visage

Barnestorming- Mythotopia in Review, New 3DSXL, Narnia, Visage Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Mythotopia

Can you find Fadge on this map?

On the Table

You know it’s a Martin Wallace game when some aspect of the design almost makes you hate it. Mythotopia is no exception- it’s a really good game overall (yes, multiplayer For a Few Acres of Snow) but it has a horrible last act that just about kills all the good stuff. It moves at a strange meter too, with a long setup, a short midgame and then this endgame where you’ve got everybody playing more to stop someone from winning than to actually win the game. It’s like those Chess games where you just keep reacting to Checkmate. But with three other players and at least 30 minutes of game time.

So it’s a mixed review, overall. There are variants out there, I haven’t tried any. Here’s the review.

A couple of items on the review bench other than Homeland- XCOM and Aquasphere. I will be reviewing XCOM in an all-new way, more details forthcoming. Stay tuned. My short take on it is that it is a really fancy way to play a simple press-your-luck dice game. The real time part is building up to mitigate tasks where you have to commit resources AND sort of race against an increasing threat track that goes up each roll. The app is interesting and I actually like that it handles a lot of randomly generated information rather than with cards, chits, trackers, dials and so forth. But I’m not sure that “time pressure”  as a game mechanic is best applied when the task you are racing the clock against is counting money tokens or putting UFOs on the board. There are some neat aspects to it, I like the overall experimental feel of it, but I’m not sure if it’s forward thinking or just dumb. I will say this- it is much more compelling than I expected it to be.

 Aquasphere is not dumb at all. It is a MENSA member compared to XCOM. The design is so intricate and layered. It’s like listening to a Joe Satriani record or something.  That said, it also seems to have absolutely zero heart.

Homeland is excellent, excellent, excellent. I hate Family Guy, but by jingo I want to see what GF9 does with it.

On the Consoles

New 3DSXL completely rules. The improvements are mostly subtle, but impactful. The new C stick should have been there from day one. Hinges are way better. Faster processor. But the big one is the “Super Stable” 3D which moves the 3D feature to “pretty cool but kind of janky” to “pretty cool and a lot less janky but still with a little jank here and there”. It tracks your head placement and calibrates based on that. USUALLY it’s actually REALLY solid, but every now and then it will flip out and you’ll get a double image for a few seconds. Not a big deal. The depth of field is also greater than it was on past models, so there is more of an effect.

Majora’s Mask is amazing, I haven’t played it before. What a crazy detour for that series- weird, dark, surreal and kind of scary. That moon, what an amazing visual that is. Funny that the whole time-looping thing is here as in Edge of Tomorrow, which I’ve been watching. I didn’t really get the scheduling thing and using the ocarina to mess with time at first, but once I did it was like “OH…so this is one of the things that makes this game so great…”

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is…a bottomless pit of depth. My god. I’m taking it slow and really kind of expecting to be playing this game off and on for a long time to come. Love the new weapons- right now I’m riding out with a Gunlance, which is basically a cross between a revolver, a shotgun and a giant poking tool. Great stuff. I’m still just doing the 1 star quests, who knows how long I’ve got to go to start crafting gear in earnest and taking down the really big monsters.

On top of those, I’m still playing Metroid Fusion and a couple of other Gameboy Advance games on and off. Full dance card, to be sure.

On IOS

Still playing FFVI, still enjoying it, but taking it much slower than DQV. The auto battle mode makes the grinding and random encounters very nearly unnoticeable.

I got Auro, but I don’t get it. 31 tutorial levels.

On the Screen

You know what I like about Knights of Sedonia? It’s serious. It’s not some goofy-ass mix of science fiction and teenage sex comedy where some character’s face gets all deformed and they start jibber-jabbering while a funny cat-like creature looks on and blushes, holding up a sign in Kanji. It doesn’t truck in all of these cutesy “cultural” things that probably are more appealing to Westerners than to Japanese. It feels much closer to the old Gundam series, more adult but yet still with plenty of the distinct flavors of Japanese SF.

I guess that’s really why I like Attack on Titan too…it’s all grim all the time. No time for images of a child's heaving cleavage with a ‘boing” sound while some dude gets a nosebleed. None of that disgusting pedo shit.

I watched all three Chronicles of Narnia films. I had only seen The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and that was ten years ago. I didn’t like it at the time (largely because I am not a very big fan of CS Lewis’ whole “Jesus lion” schtick) but I actually enjoyed them this time out as lighter, family-oriented fantasy fare.

The first one is far and away the best because it hits all the highpoints- those scenes that seem like half-remembered childhood memories, probably from watching that cool TV cartoon from the late 70s. The faun at the lamppost, the witch in her sled, Turkish Delight (which I also thought was some kind of turkey with stuffing when I was little), and the stone table. Tilda Swinton is great. The battles are really cool, with minotaurs and cheetahs all over the place. Overall, quite decent and sort of underrated what with it being in the shadow of the just-ended LOTR films at the time it was released and the whole Harry Potter thing in high gear.

The second one was so different. Prince Caspian is much darker, grimmer, and violent. Also much less kid-appealing. River and Scarlett liked the first one, they lost interest in the second. Lots of battling, kind of spooky stuff going, animals with swords, Peter Dinklage as- get this- a grumpy dwarf. Good.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader was kind of weird. The director’s chair switched to Michael Apted (!?) and the result is a looser picture that obviously shows the signs of reduced budgets and lowered expectations. I freaking loved Eustace though- total English upper class twit outraged at everything becomes a hero. I can see where that character/actor may have annoyed some, but I have a soft spot for Englishmen that get riled up in the face of the supernatural, assuming that the laws of God and Country still apply.

On Spotify

Our very own Thirsty Man shared the news recently that Stephen Strange, Blitz Club proprietor and Visage frontman, had passed away. There aren’t a lot of iconic acts In the whole New Romantic scene, but he was definitely one of them. So that meant that a few listens of Visage singles were in order. “Fade to Grey” is the one you most likely have heard before, a stunning piece of early synthpop that still sounds like a remote broadcast from the future.

But I didn’t know they had a record out just last year- “Hearts and Knives”. And its good! I swear, it’s like they somehow forgot that they had not recorded a song in over thirty years. The first track “Never Enough” is the hit single of a 1984 that never happened.

Barnestorming- Mythotopia in Review, New 3DSXL, Narnia, Visage There Will Be Games
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Posted: 19 Feb 2015 15:54 by Colorcrayons #197998
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So what you're saying is that Aquasphere is a GIF of Feld's face barfing colored cubes while a MIDI file of Satriani's Surfing with the Alien plays in the background then?

Edit: if I was near photoshop suite at the moment, I would totally make that happen.

Posted: 20 Feb 2015 01:27 by SaMoKo #198008
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Bottomless depth doesn't begin to describe Monster Hunter. There's stuff in the game I'm still learning, and I'm well over 500 hours in the series. Which makes me a novice lol. 4U is the best I've seen the series, though I kinda miss the water fights I used to hate.

Gunlance is one of those weapons I haven't used much, like the Hunting Horn and Bow. I'm a Hammer, Greatsword, Bowgun guy, mostly Bowgun. Rolling with Charge Blade, Switch Axe and Lance this time.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 06:58 by Columbob #198013
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I hate Family Guy, but by jingo I want to see what GF9 does with it.

Is this really what they're supposed to be doing next?
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 08:14 by charlest #198016
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Black Sails is next then Family Guy.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 08:25 by SuperflyTNT #198017
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Great review.

One thing I want to say, that is completely irrelevant but bugs the shit out of me: "The Witch and the Wardrobe and that was ten years ago. I didn’t like it at the time (largely because I am not a very big fan of CS Lewis’ whole “Jesus lion” schtick) but I actually enjoyed them this time out as lighter, family-oriented fantasy fare."

I hate it when you use parentheses instead of commas. HATE.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 08:37 by stormseeker75 #198019
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I don't think it's awful. I do, however, appreciate proper grammar. Not that I'm perfect.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 09:28 by Michael Barnes #198022
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Yeah, I try to avoid parentheses as much as possible in my reviews/articles but in these Barnestorming things, I knock them out in like 15 minutes. Don't really go back over them or anything. Working without an editor and all that.

I'm only about 100 hours all told into the MH world, almost all on MH3 for Wii. I love that sense that there is always something to discover...it makes things like fighting a Great Jaggi 20 times- but in 20 different ways- so rewarding. I think the reason that the series has never taken off in the west is because it has such a looooooong reward curve...most of the game is not fighting those big monsters, it's getting ready to do it. The preparation- training, crafting, observation, experimentation- is what really matters. Back when I reviewed MH3 at Gameshark, I compared it to the movie Dragonslayer...he prepares to fight the dragon by making weapons amd armor out of dragon parts, and the real quest is getting ready to fight rather than the fight itself.

The underwater stuff, I can definitely say goodbye to that with no regrets. It was really cool, fighting a big ass monster underwater, but the controls on the Wii at least were just not really up to it.

I don't get the hunting horn...I think that's definitely a weapon for folks that want something a little quirkier and complex. I love that each weapon set is TOTALLY different with completely unique parameters, combos and tactics.

Love that charge blade...I spent most of MH3 with the switch axe and the great sword, trying to switch it up a bit. I never really got into the gunner weapons- they just don't pack enough punch for my tastes. I like to get up close and wrassle 'em.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 10:00 by Michael Barnes #198024
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Yeah, I try to avoid parentheses as much as possible in my reviews/articles but in these Barnestorming things, I knock them out in like 15 minutes. Don't really go back over them or anything. Working without an editor and all that.

I'm only about 100 hours all told into the MH world, almost all on MH3 for Wii. I love that sense that there is always something to discover...it makes things like fighting a Great Jaggi 20 times- but in 20 different ways- so rewarding. I think the reason that the series has never taken off in the west is because it has such a looooooong reward curve...most of the game is not fighting those big monsters, it's getting ready to do it. The preparation- training, crafting, observation, experimentation- is what really matters. Back when I reviewed MH3 at Gameshark, I compared it to the movie Dragonslayer...he prepares to fight the dragon by making weapons amd armor out of dragon parts, and the real quest is getting ready to fight rather than the fight itself.

The underwater stuff, I can definitely say goodbye to that with no regrets. It was really cool, fighting a big ass monster underwater, but the controls on the Wii at least were just not really up to it.

I don't get the hunting horn...I think that's definitely a weapon for folks that want something a little quirkier and complex. I love that each weapon set is TOTALLY different with completely unique parameters, combos and tactics.

Love that charge blade...I spent most of MH3 with the switch axe and the great sword, trying to switch it up a bit. I never really got into the gunner weapons- they just don't pack enough punch for my tastes. I like to get up close and wrassle 'em.
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 15:33 by phandec #198048
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Oh, the charge blade is freaking amazing. After watching gaijinhunter's tutorial video it was all I could do to make myself play a different weapon. Though I've been experimenting with the gunlance and have been really liking that. Oh, and I'd like to try out the hunting horn. And the insect glaive seems crazy!

Ugh. I can't even say that I've even scratched the surface here. I've barely even *looked* at the surface, let alone scratched it. And this is after having 300 hours into 3U. I may never get to play Majora's Mask...
Posted: 20 Feb 2015 22:50 by ThirstyMan #198061
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So, just to be clear, the new 3DSXL has exactly the same part number (3DSXL) as the old one.

So super easy to get ripped off then?
Posted: 21 Feb 2015 07:13 by DukeofChutney #198066
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I read the first issue of Knights of Sedonia and have read a lot of Nihei's older work, Blame and Biomega. Not seen any of the tv show. If its like any of his other work expect things to get a bit weird. He tends towards huge horrific monsters eating everything. Likes character death quite a bit too. Blame and Biomega both stall out on their plots about 5 issues before they end though.
Posted: 21 Feb 2015 21:25 by SaMoKo #198083
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Bowgun doesn't pack a punch and isn't all up in the monster's grill? You ain't playing it right man lol. Some ballsy gunning can drop many monsters faster than anything, but the double damage in G-Rank is a helluva risk. Hunting horn is useful as hell with those buffs, but it takes a while to learn and demands a ton of awareness and adaptability.
Posted: 23 Feb 2015 11:09 by wkover #198170
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Mythotopia has the most embarrassing province/area names of all time. I think they're all from fantasy books? Maybe?

(which I would enjoy, no doubt, but doesn't make the names any better)
Posted: 23 Feb 2015 11:17 by JEM #198171
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They're from an Englishman's sense of humour. The game is apparently a less obtuse version of A Study in Emerald, mechanically.
Posted: 23 Feb 2015 11:18 by charlest #198172
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Here's the deal with the location names, straight from Wallace himself:
Location names - I've seen a few comments complaining about the 'made-up' names on the map. This is an interesting case of where you can be criticised for something you are not actually guilty of. I did not want to make up random 'fantasy' names, as they can all sound so similar. All of the names on the board are real words, taken from the Penguin dictionary of Curious and Interesting Words. 'Fadge' means a bundle of leather. I took great care to make sure no word used meant 'penis', of which there were many in the book.
Posted: 23 Feb 2015 11:25 by JEM #198174
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Fadge is northern English slang for vagina, so I think he's having some plausibly-deniable fun all the same.