Barnestorming- Aquasphere in Review, Nintendomania, Old Japanimation, Sparks

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Barnestorming- Aquasphere in Review, Nintendomania, Old Japanimation, Sparks
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 It's a Feld Fling!

On the Table

Here’s one most of you people are going to skip- a review of Stefan Feld’s Aquasphere!

I wanted to check out a Feld design because Roma was the only one of his games I had previously played. I liked Roma (and so did Richard Launius- his voice booming “I’ll tell ya, that Roma is a good game” used to echo throughout my store on occasion), but was well aware that he wasn’t doing that kind of game anymore. Instead, he’s been trucking in those overly complicated Eurogames that make BGG get all doe-eyed. But I wanted to see what a Stefan Feld game was like, and this one looked more interesting to me than his other work.

So I got a review copy and had that “oh shit, I shouldn’t have asked for this” moment. But after playing it for a while, I found that I really appreciated the design work and could definitely get to the “fun” in the design even though it is teutonically robotic and the story is “player earned points” rather than any kind of actual narrative about deep sea exploration. It’s a really interesting and smart design, even if it’s not the kind of thing I typically like to play. I find that I admire it more than I enjoy it.

Still enjoying the heck out of Flash Point. Some expansions on the way. I love the directness of that design. For some reason we are having the building fall on us an awful lot. Last game was one explosion after another. Played with the second story solo last night and won pretty easily. Really liked how it increased the detail without adding much in the way of rules.

Rune Age…I’m glad I revisited this one. When I reviewed it originally, I thought it was ok but it felt limited and confused. Some years on- with an entirely different context- I can see where there are some really smart things going on with this game. It really was (and is) quite different than the usual deckbuilding fare, and in some ways I think it was really ahead of the curve on expanding on the Dominion model. Most deckbuilders tend to follow that model or the Ascension one, but Rune Age feels like it’s doing its own thing.  I’ve been digging into it with a friend, playing some head to head games, and enjoying it quite a bit- especially the Quest for Power scenario with the power-generating locations. The expansion makes a big difference, adding some dimension to it.

I’m also finding that I really like how tight the card assortment is. There’s not a sense that there are 1000 other cards and you need a certain expansion or whatever to make it “good”. There’s one expansion, and it’s an impactful one. It’ll probably get a retro-view at some point.

Super Motherload (don’t know why they missed that it should be “motherlode”) is a cute one. Very easy to play family game with a neat drilling concept. Fans of Dig Dug, Mr. Do, Mr. Driller or I Dig It should take note of this one. I like games about digging for some reason.

FINALLY got a hold of Super Fantasy via this mysterious project Charlie and I are doing. Oh, and none other than F:AT’s own dirty uncle Pete Ruth is in on it too.


On the Consoles

My descent into Nintendo-fueled mania continues unabated. Right now, I have save games in progress for Majora’s Mask, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Metriod, Metroid Fusion, Wario Land 4, Yoshi’s Island, F-Zero, Kirby’s Adventure 3D, Punch-Out!!, Super Punch-Out!!, Link’s Awakening and I just started playing Star Fox 64 3D regularly (again) on top of all that, when I’m not playing Smash, Mario Kart or Super Mario 3D World with the kids. When they aren’t playing Captain Toad.

AND I started up Shovel Knight again to boot, and realizing that is much more of a masterpiece than I originally thought when I played it last year. Oh, and Afterburner II 3D, which is stupendously cool. There’s a setting to simulate the way the cabinet would tilt in the arcade. It’s stupid, but irresistible.

Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3 and Mega Man X…left those out. Various stages of completion on those. Spending a lot of time with X, really love that one.

But that bill of fare also does not include MH4, which I’m picking up steam in after 15 hours of questing.

Finally, I just started on Ni No Kuni as well. Two hours in and utterly charmed.



All of the above have had a negative effect on my IOS playtime. You just can’t do it all.


On the Screen

I got a Crunchyroll subscription hoping that it would have more old, 1980s anime Japanimation on it instead of all of this silly ass otaku shit. Very disappointed overall since it is mostly silly ass otaku shit, but I’m loving the old Fist of the North Star series. It’s ridiculous, has a great theme song, and is something like a bizarre version of Mad Max with lots of punching. I liked the movie back in the day, but I never saw beyond it. I’ve been watching Captain Harlock on there as well, which is still one of my all-time favorites. Love Matsumoto's designs so much. Will probably watch Galaxy Express 999 on there too at some point. The first episode of it is one of my favorite Japanimation things of all time...there's this AMAZING sequence where Toshiro, the main character, and his mom are out in the woods in the snow, at night. They get hunted like animals by these cyborg hunters on horseback led by the descriptively named Count Mecha. He uses a hunting rifle to kill Toshiro's mom. Later, Toshiro gets a hold of a gun and goes to Count Mecha's hunting lodge where he's kicking back with his mates around the fire. He kills all of them, and Count Mecha begs him not to destroy his brain...he doesn't care about the rest of his body, just his brain. So Toshiro slams the rifle butt through his face.

But come on, what do you have to do to watch Evangelion, Patlabor, Wings of Honneamise, Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms and that kind of stuff? Is there just not a market for classic Japanimation anymore? I want the serious mecha stuff, not the magical kitty cat school girl garbage. I swear every description on there “High school student (or students)….blah  blah blah blah”  I want to watch Gatchaman, Mazinger, all that kind of stuff.

I did watch one called Aldnoah.0 or whatever that seemed like it might be good, except that it has cutey—poo character designs. But the mecha looks great and there’s a decent storyline. Terraformars looks pretty interesting too, more horror-sci fi oriented, and it looks like it's mostly about adults.

Gosh, you know, thinking back to watching Japanimation in the late 80s and early 90s…it was so different. The tastes that were catered to were entirely apart from this silly/sexy comedy crap. It’s easy to forget that Japanese cartoons used to be pretty cool and even quite cutting edge…before American pre-teens (and pedophiles) discovered it.


On Spotify

I’ve never really listened to Sparks beyond “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”, so I’m rectifying that right now with a catalog listen. So far, so good. The early records are definitely formative, the glam rock and the synthpop/disco stuff are both totally top notch and totally off kilter. It’s hard to avoid gravitating toward “Kimono My House” and “Number One in Heaven” because those seem to be clearly the best records…but “Angst in My Pants” might be their best track. Or “Amateur Hour”. But that totally metal part in “This Town…” is pretty freaking amazing too.

Such an odd act…where in the hell do slate those guys in the history of rock music? Yet they are are undoubtedly influential and plenty of important folks would tell you that they are big Sparks fans/were influenced by Sparks. But they were also one of those bands that was NEVER going to be a mainstream concern in the long run. Way too theatrical, way too quirky before quirky was a word used to describe any kind of music.

I can’t believe those guys are American. Everything about them seems English. I’m kind of getting obsessed with them.

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.

Articles by Michael

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Wheelockian's Avatar
Wheelockian replied the topic: #198870 05 Mar 2015 15:07
Hey, Barnes

I know you didn't mention this in your post, and I don't want to side-track too much, but I've been curious to know if you've stuck with Star Wars Rebels, and the season-ending three-episode arc, in particular.

I have to admit, the last ten minutes of the finale was pretty awesome. Made me feel like I was eight years old again, back in the theater watching Episode 4 for the first time...
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #198872 05 Mar 2015 15:12
I'm up to that three parter, I haven't watched it yet's on the DVR. I understand that there's a Big Deal about it, but I've remained unspoiled. Pretty sure, just from guessing, that a Clone Wars character might turn up.

The show is just outstanding, it's every bit as good as the best of Clone Wars but with a lighter, definitely more OT tone. Buying the Blu-Ray day one.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #198873 05 Mar 2015 15:15
Where did you get your copy of Super Fantasy from?
Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #198876 05 Mar 2015 15:43
Ugh Christ, just reading the explanation of mechanics and turns in Aqua Sphere caused me to fucking fall asleep. I'm sure as a bunch of mechanics that works together in a puzzle it's sorta interesting. For me, these themeless, boring, heavy, Euro games are my least favorite type of games. I'm no Feld hater. I don't love him, but I don't hate him either. For me, he is a much better designer when he uses his talents to make something more approachable. Roma and it's sequel Arena Roma II are both excellent 2 player games. His recent card game, Bruges, is another game that I really dig. Then you have his forgotten Euro games like Nortre Dame and In the Year of the Dragon. All of those are worthwhile. Even La Isla, his recent Alea title,looks semi interesting. Your comparison to the guitar virtuoso is spot on and exactly puts into words how I feel about most of his heavier designs. I recognize the man has talent, but yeah no soul at all in most of his designs.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #198879 05 Mar 2015 15:57
Super Motherload has been a hit with the local meetup group, haven't gotten a chance to play it yet but I know several people who have played it over and over again.

Super Fantasy should be somewhat available now with the new 2nd edition coming out.
DukeofChutney's Avatar
DukeofChutney replied the topic: #198883 05 Mar 2015 16:12
I sort of came around of Feld playing Castles of Burgundy. I wrote a rather critical piece on it, that apparently went down like little boy over hiroshima with feld fans over on R-boardgames but there is something i find attractive about his designs. I think it is in part his commitment to his artistic vision. Its obvious what he is shooting for and he really goes for it, minimal compromise. I might check Aquasphere out, if i can do so without laying down serious cash for it.
Stonecutter's Avatar
Stonecutter replied the topic: #198885 05 Mar 2015 17:26
Does Super Motherload do anything particularly better than Undermining? Undermining is fun and from the few reviews I've seen of SML it looks almost exactly like like Undermining.
Sevej's Avatar
Sevej replied the topic: #198907 05 Mar 2015 21:02
I watched Sidonia on your recommendation. Great anime, a little bit too fast (and excruciatingly slow at times). I'll check Aldnoah.
Applejack's Avatar
Applejack replied the topic: #198911 05 Mar 2015 22:19
I love me some Leiji Matsumoto. A superb storyteller. "Galaxy Express 999" is one of my favorite anime shows of all time. I love the super robot stuff of the '70s and '80s too. Anything by Go Nagai, Yoshiyuki Tomino, or Ryosuke Takahashi. And of course GAINAX and Studio Ghibli.

It's sad so many fans only know anime from whatever 300 episode shonen-shit Toonami is airing.
scrumpyjack's Avatar
scrumpyjack replied the topic: #198915 05 Mar 2015 22:53
This discussion reminds me that I watched the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 remake based on your recommendation. And fucking loved it. That show had some standout moments, and the opening song is one of the most rousing themes I've ever heard.
Columbob's Avatar
Columbob replied the topic: #198936 06 Mar 2015 08:53
Not mecha anime, but my friend recommended this crime series where this kid finds a book that kills someone if you write their name in it. He goes on to use it for "good" and criminals start dying in their cells...
scrumpyjack's Avatar
scrumpyjack replied the topic: #198939 06 Mar 2015 09:16

Columbob wrote: Not mecha anime, but my friend recommended this crime series where this kid finds a book that kills someone if you write their name in it. He goes on to use it for "good" and criminals start dying in their cells...

Death Note is a recent classic for sure. I've only read the manga, but quite a few of my friends have recommended the anime to me.
Gregarius's Avatar
Gregarius replied the topic: #198947 06 Mar 2015 10:06

scrumpyjack wrote: This discussion reminds me that I watched the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 remake based on your recommendation. And fucking loved it. That show had some standout moments, and the opening song is one of the most rousing themes I've ever heard.

I did exactly the same thing, and felt exactly the same way.
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #198948 06 Mar 2015 10:22
Star Blazers for the win.
lfisher's Avatar
lfisher replied the topic: #198991 06 Mar 2015 15:20
Super Fantasy and the second one are at my FLGS and should be at most places now.
I think that Japanime was always there, we just only had the "nerdy" stuff imported in the beginning.
I suspect there IS a market for the "good" stuff which is why it isn't just dumped on crunchyroll?

Super Motherload was based on the video game Super Motherload which is based on the 2004 game Motherload. I would have liked to see your perspective if you played those.
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #199003 06 Mar 2015 20:31
Flash Point is awesome. The only thing that makes it more awesome is printing graphics onto stickers and putting them on the "civilian" discs. I still have a laugh thinking about my David Koresh disc.
wkover's Avatar
wkover replied the topic: #199200 10 Mar 2015 12:55
I try to be a respectful and responsible adult, but Aquasphere is horrible and Feld is the Antichrist.

I'm also pretty sure that my dad can beat up your dad and my mom can outhug your mom. I'm just sayin'.
KingPut's Avatar
KingPut replied the topic: #200848 16 Apr 2015 07:45

wkover wrote: I try to be a respectful and responsible adult, but Aquasphere is horrible and Feld is the Antichrist.

I'm also pretty sure that my dad can beat up your dad and my mom can outhug your mom. I'm just sayin'.

Man, I wish I had read wkovers mini review of Aquasphere before I had spent 3 hours last night in hell forced to admirer the Antichrists Feld's new work of art. I can imagin a new level of hell where people are force to play Aquasphere.
wkover's Avatar
wkover replied the topic: #200908 16 Apr 2015 15:40
Put, I am truly sorry for your loss.

Also, I will keep repeating myself until it is no longer true: If making me bored and irritated were an occupation, Stefan Feld would have my highest recommendation.