Barnestorming #874- The Bad News Bears of Gaming, Batman,

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Barnestorming #874- The Bad News Bears of Gaming, Batman,
There Will Be Games

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 I suck at Summoner Wars. And all other games.

On the Table

I didn’t feel like writing some heavy crap this week nor did I feel like finally writing up Infiltration, the Levee en Masse app, or Dungeon Command. So I just wrote a little fluff piece about what a loser am I at board games. If you’re playing me in Summoner Wars, you may have already surmised that I’m just really bad at games.

I like Dungeon Command though, it’s really simple but the cardplay system is pretty cool and it’s a pretty decent skirmish game overall. It sort of feels like a way-streamlined DDM, which is fine by me. I don’t really like that it’s a piecemeal product and that you’ve got to buy sets, but so far I think it’s fun and it’s definitely in tune with WotC’s other recent D&D board game releases. Fast, accessible, fun to play.

I decided against reviewing Descent 2nd edition. I’m not willing to buy it for one thing, but for another I’m just not that interested in it. Hopefully one of the others here will pick up my slack. More interested in looking at Mage Wars, which is on the way.


On the Consoles

JRPG rampage 2012 continues.  I’ve got literally eight of them started and in various stages of completion. The latest I started was Resonance of Fate, which I think I may actually love despite all of the negative reviews. It’s unlike any other game I’ve ever played. It’s obnoxiously complicated and esoteric. It’s totally OCD- you level up in using certain guns, then you can mod those guns with all kinds of parts with all kinds of stats. Then you can use those guns to shoot wild dogs that wear vests and ties. The world map is this crazy hex puzzle thing you have to complete by finding pieces. It makes no sense whatsoever. But god damn it, is it refreshing to play something so squirrely after years of Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, et. Al.

Xenogears is moving on slowly but surely, it’s really great but it is very old fashioned. It must have blown minds in the 1990s to see video game characters talking about killing god. Final Fantasy XIII has turned out to be surprisingly good, I love the combat system. I’m now about 30 hours into Persona 3 and it seems like the game will never end. One cool thing about it is that you’re in school, so when the midterms are coming you really feel like you’ve got to cram, spending your time studying rather than making time with the ladies or going on the dungeon crawl.

And Valkyria Chronicles…man, what a game. The only thing is that it takes a long time to play at this point. A mission might be an hour to an hour and a half long with no save. And I’ve failed a couple 45-60 minutes into them…which is cool, because stakes are really high and there’s lots of nail-biting tension. But it sucks when you’ve got to start over.



Tempted by Great Big War Game…but no, Summoner Wars. I don’t forsee playing any other IOS game but it for a while.

Unless I break down and get FFIII and Chrono Trigger.


On Comixology

Where do I even start with this column anymore…so many books.

House…House of M…what? Sucks. I…duh..yeah…no…whuh…I mean…but who? Bendis can be a really, really crappy…I mean…a really crappy…writer. I…don’t…know whuh…what I was thinking.

Seriously, what a stupid book. The logic of what happens makes no sense, and the Big Bad is Scarlet Witch but she’s not even in the book for a full page. There was virtually nothing I liked about it whatsoever. I liked Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man fine and Powers, but everything else he’s done I’ve hated.

I read deeper into Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, and I’m prepared to say that I think it’s the best X-Men run since Claremont/Byrne.  The genius of it is that Morrison has introduced these very Cronenbergian subtexts of body modification, illness, contamination, injury, and evolution into the mix. The result is a book that’s really kind of biologically grotesque. Quitely’s ugly face art is great for that, but Van Sciver’s is even better. At first I was like “OMG, these are the ugliest pencils I’ve ever seen”…but it was _perfect_ for the book.  I love the storylines too- Cassandra Nova is an awesome villain. Nanosentinels, that was fucking crazy. Great, great book. I can’t see not reading the entire run.

It’s kind of made me reassess Morrison’s recent Batman work, which I pretty much dismissed after Batman Incorporated. But I went back and read the start of his run, where Damian Wayne is introduced, and I loved it. The second book in particular is just fucking amazing. Talia Al Ghul injects some of the League of Assassins with Man-Bat serum. So yeah, Man-Bat assassins. They attack Bruce Wayne at a charity event in a pop art museum filled with some very Lichtensteinian (and Hurstian, and Koonsian) art pieces. So there’s Man-Bats all over the place with swords fighting Batman in this art gallery. The really brilliant thing is that it’s totally Bill Finger, it’s totally Silver Age, and it’s totally postmodern. So I’m going to start from scratch and see if Batman Incorporated is better in the context of a six-year story.

Damian Wayne is an ASS. Seriously, it’s like Morrison said “you thought Jason Todd was a dick?”

I also read all of Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run and it was amazing. Some of the best Batman writing out there, and it’s with the Dick Grayson Batman at that. Some great, chilling stuff with Jim Gordon’s son, an awesome turn from Tiger Shark, and a freaky culmination of the events in the “Black Mirror” arc. Highest recommendation.

Into book 3, “Dream Country” on my Sandman tour. I definitely liked the first two books better, the further it stays away from high school drama student Shakespeare and cat fancy stuff the better. I love Shakespeare, I love cats, but it comes across as a little silly. Loved “A Doll’s House” though, no doubt. The first book is actually still probably my favorite of what I’ve read…even the awkward moments of trying to make it fit into the DC Universe. WTF is Green Lantern doing there?

I’m definitely interested in the new Sandman book he’s doing with JH Williams III. That should be interesting. Or it could be another Dark Knight Strikes Again.

On the Screen

More Batman since I can’t see The Dark Knight Rises yet. Under the Red Hood is surprisingly good, even by the usually high DC animated universe standards. It’s a dark, serious story that definitely isn’t just following on in the BTAS mold. The weird thing is that I’ve never read the Winick book it’s based on, but I knew everything about it for some reason. The Red Hood’s identity was never a mystery, but maybe that’s just because of the intro which more or less spoils it.

Also Apocalypse Now, of course. I don’t hate the Redux version at all. The extra scenes do muddle the pacing, but I like the scene with the playmates in the helicopter a lot- it’s so surreal, but in a realistic and totally stoned way. The plantation scene is interesting to me, this sort of empire-in-decline tone in the middle of the film works for me.

Such a great film. No piece of media has ever captured the madness of war better. Nor has any film ever captured that really distinct feeling of being in a situation where things suddenly get hyper-realistic but a little crazy and you start to notice the weirdness of what you’re experiencing.

I love this Italian poster for it. They made it look like some kind of Italian exploitation film. There's another one that I couldn't find online that makes it look like a freaking cannibal movie, to cash in on Cannibal Holocaust and that whole genre. Those classy Italians. 


On Spotify

Believe it or not, no Swedish pop or esoteric music nerds-only stuff this week. I’ve been listening to one of the only bands that I’d call a “guilty pleasure” since I pretty much like any good music. It’s The Killers, whom I actually like quite a lot, particularly since they’ve sort of eased off the Duran Duran thing and headed more toward this Springsteen/Las Vegas/arena rock thing they’re doing now, or at least mixing with the Duran Duran thing.  It’s totally mainstream, totally commercial, but they write great songs in that vein and I love that they’ve got a sense of old fashioned rockstar-ism and glitter rock swagger...and it’s more authentic than anything Scott Weiland’s ever been involved in.

But they are a singles band, some of the album cuts lose me. Good thing Spotify lets me pick and choose. Their new single, Runaways, is totally a long-lost 1987 hard rock anthem.

I don’t know of any other band earnestly doing this kind of big, epic stadium rock music like they do right now. Aside from maybe Muse, but I don’t get Muse.

There Will Be Games

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.

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