On the Table
It’s a holiday here in the US. I’m off work and I don’t feel like doing a big, hard-hitting “gourmet” review of anything so I thought instead that I’d cross off four IOS tabletop port reviews with a big ol’ United States 4th of July Review Rodeo. This four-fer features Agricola, Ascension’s Immortal Heroes expansion, Magic 2014, and Rivals for Catan. All are pretty good. Well, Agricola and Magic are freakin’ awesome.
Haven’t done much tabletoppin’ the past week, not very motivated. My ebay copy of Legends of Andor got routed to an old address so I’m still waiting on that. I’m really wanting to break out Claustrophobia yet again with all the talk surrounding it recently.
I think I do like Kings of Air and Steam…it’s a little wonky and I still can’t get over that theme thing I told y’all about, but I like how it plays. And it has paper money, which automatically makes me rate a game slightly higher. I’m not joking. I love paper money. Screw plastic coins or cardboard chits. And the paper money in this game is REALLY nice.
On the Consoles
Joining PS+ has already turned out to be an awesome deal. I’ve got a PILE of new games for free, and decent stuff at that. But the membership also gets you access to lower sale prices, so I bought the Ratchet and Clank collection for $7. I’m really digging it, I never played those games back in the day. Good old fashioned silly video game fun.
State of Decay is still riding high on my GOTY tracker. I actually didn’t realize that the game actually simulates what goes on IN REAL TIME when you’re not playing it…I wasn’t sure what these messages I would get when I’d get back on it were. But the game actually looks at how long it’s been since you played last and runs a simulation, sending your people out on scavenging missions and so forth. So you might come back and somebody’s used up all the bullets for your gun. Or somebody could be _missing_. This just makes the game even awesomer, what a cool fucking idea…borrowed from games like Animal Crossing that have those kinds of real time events.
The game is just stupidly stressful sometimes…it’s strange how it actually creates these narratives without intending it…like I took this one guy out loaded with a grenade launcher and some explosives because I had it in my mind that this guy was fed up and was lone wolfing it, ready to set out and wipe out some infestations. He cleaned up one, called in an artillery strike on another, but on the third he was so tired and exhausted that I BARELY made it to a car and drove off before he died. This game really knows how to put the screws in you when the chips are down, the guns are dry, and your golf club broke. Great stuff.
I wrote a Hotline Miami review. F:AT’s own Matt Thrower called it the best thing I’ve ever written. And he has creddamability.
Couldn’t pass up a trade deal for a Vita, so I’m back in with that again…thanks to PS+, I’ve got like 10 games for free ready to roll.
See above. Mostly Magic, though. Sealed play is just bangin’.
On the Comics Rack
The big winner this week is Batman ’66, a digital only thing available on Comixology and the DC comics app. I don’t usually care much for the digital exclusive comics, but this one looked promising. It’s just what it says on the tin. A comic book based on the Adam West Batman. I thought it might go either way, but it definitely goes the right way, reclaiming the TV series’ campy fun and absurdity with affection and authenticity and not a trace of irony or condescension. The art is awesome- pop art/modern yet definitely mid-sixties influenced, and the storyline and dialogue are right out of the show. It totally works, and the digital format is fun for it. It’s a weekly, looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Batman Incorporated’s penultimate issue hit this week as well, meaning that there’s just one more to go to wrap up Grant Morrison’s epic Batman run. Most of it is Batman hopped up on Man Bat serum and just going fucking ballistic in a Batman Incorporated exosuit. Insane. As usual, however, he introduces a HUGE plot point RIGHT AT THE FREAKING END OF THE BOOK. There’s some really great stuff in it, one line that almost brought a tear to my eye when Dick Grayson yells “this is for my friend!” when he and Squire bludgeon the character that…oh, spoilers. Not like it’s not been spoiled a million times already.
Started reading Days of Future Past again, for the heck of it. My god, Claremont loved to have his characters ramble on in internal monologues…the first issue of the trade is that thing with Cyclops at Jean Grey’s funeral, basically recounting the X-Men’s complete history in his mind. It’s oddly helpful…but damn, it’s didactic.
On the Screen
So we did get out to see Monsters University, and it was a lot of fun- definitely Pixar’s best since Toy Story 3 (which they will never top). It’s great to see the characters again, and the kids just loved it so it was $50 (!!!!!) well spent, I guess. My main issue with it is that one of the things I loved about the first film was that it had a very pointed pro-alternative energy message. MU was more or less a kid-friendly version of Revenge of the Nerds. Which is fine, because that turns out to be actually a pretty good idea, but I thought the messaging in the first film gave it a little more weight and sophistication. It’s also lacking a character like Boo to ground the emotions and motivate the plot. But hell, it was colorful, funny, and not vulgar or low in any way which I really appreciate given that I had just seen a “Fart Blaster” from Despicable Me 2 in the toy aisle at Target.
I got the full series of Dungeons and Dragons cartoons for like $3 on Half.com so I’ve been watching those. God, I love that stupid show. It’s funny how much of an impression that episode “The Dragon’s Graveyard” must have made on everyone, because pretty much any discussion of the show goes back to that moment when they have a chance to kill (as in, actually KILL) Venger and go home but Hank gives his “no, we’ll be just as bad as him” speech. That’s such a cool episode because it’s almost like the writers said “let’s get real about this, the kids are fed the hell up and they’re pushed too far by doing this shit every Saturday morning.”
The most upsetting thing about the show to me though is that Venger’s voice is Peter Cullen, the otherwise noble and heroic voice of Optimus Prime.
There’s a rock n’ roll documentary making the rounds right now called A Band Called Death. It’s about exactly what the title says, and there’s much hullabaloo about how this Detroit band from the early 1970s was “punk rock before the Ramones” and all of this. I listened to their one album from 1974, and there are a couple of absolutely scorching Motor City rock n’ roll numbers on there that sound like a cross between the MC5, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Stooges, and early Alice Cooper but played with the velocity of “Stone Cold Crazy”. But this whole marketing thing about them being the first punk band or whatever is a load of crap- it’s definitely proto-punk, absolutely. And really damn good proto-punk that should never have been shuffled away and forgotten for 30+ years because no record label at the time would sign a band called Death, and they refused to change their name.
Oh, and there’s one other thing. Death was a black rock band at a time when black music was expected to be Earth, Wind, and Fire or Motown R&B.
On the really interesting cuts- “I Hear You Knocking”, “Rock n’ Roll Victim”, and “Freakin’ Out”, it’s almost eerie how much this band captures the sound of punk AFTER the Ramones/Pistols/Damned/Clash happened. You could play “Freakin’ Out” and tell me that it was an early Bad Brains demo and I would totally believe it. It’s not proto-punk, it’s proto-_hardcore_. The singer even sounds a lot like HR. Some of the guitar riffs and melodies sound literally five or six years into the future. They touch on politics, if in a juvenile way. They actually do some “crew” shouting. Everything is played with an infectious, youthful exuberance and raw passion that is disarming.
You can hear the whole record on Youtube, it’s called “For All the World To See”. A highly recommended use of 25 minutes of your time. I really want to see the movie now.