I got Iello fever!
On the Table
Since I was out of town taking the family to Disney World last week, I owe you guys. So you get two for the price of one this week, a double feature of recent Iello titles- Mythic Battles and Titanium Wars. Both are pretty good, inexpensive, and may have trouble making a case for themselves versus other games in their respective classes. It seems like it’s getting more and more frequent that I’m feeling like games are redundant. I do think both of these have some unique features, but if you’re already set with similar titles they could be a hard sale. Reviews are at No High Scores, chowderhead.
Playing through a big package of stuff that AEG kindly sent for my appraisal...
Maximum Throwdown...I thought "god, this looks terrible". Kind of Super Smash Bros. with AEG characters and art. Holy crap it is STUPID fun. Kind of like Flowerfall in that you're throwing cards at the table, but there's a lot more going on and some take-that effects. Tons of trash talk, potty language, cheers/jeers. I think you guys that like obnoxious, ridiculous fun will dig this. Very few rules (more or less toss, try to touch or cover up other cards, activate all of your visible effects, score for every six pips), plays GREAT while drinking/drunk. Could be the sleeper of the year. I actually have a pile of AEG card games to write up at this point, I’ll have more to say later.
Love Letter- I didn't know they were doing a limited English edition of the original Kanai Factory version with the Japanese art. Very lovely, happy to have it...and glad that I sold the Tempest version at a premium when it was in short supply.
Trains- Not sure what to make of it yet. It is effectively Dominion with a much stronger context and a board to track connections. I really, really like the idea of it but as a deckbuilder it feels kind of last generation- likely because it’s been out for a while and is only just now in English. It doesn’t really feel much like a rails game, but building tracks and setting up stations with cardplay works pretty well. It seems like it could have supported more complexity (deliveries, maybe?). Perhaps the inevitable expansions will take it where I think it needs to go. I do like it, and will play more for sure. Full review coming.
Pathfinder is coming soon, as is Bioshock Infinite. And one day I will review Tamanny Hall and Five Points in a special Jeff White edition of Cracked LCD.
On the Consoles
Mostly playing catchup with 3DS stuff. Fire Emblem is pretty great, but GOD DAMN IT, chapter five on hard/classic. I actually restarted on normal/classic after getting stomped over and over again. It was just punishing.
I got SMTIV to get the $30 credit, but I’ve barely played it. Looks good. I bought Animal Crossing with the credit. I’ve not really ever played an AC game and thought it was silly that people got hooked on catching bugs and stuff. I did that for about an hour and a half this morning.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is so freaking good. It’s like a Treasure shooter with weapon crafting and Nintendo polish. The writing is actually really funny.
Pushmo is pretty brilliant, but I’m waiting for it to get hard.
Somehow I managed to go all week without touching an IOS game, even while on vacation. Strange.
On the Comics Rack
Took all of my Simonson Thor books to try to read through the rest of the run while on vacation, didn’t touch them a single time.
I did read the final issue of Morrison’s Batman run. It was pretty great all told, but it’s also one of those “that’s it?” kind of things. It didn’t end with a big bang or some kind of crazy continuity-blasting madness. There is a bit of a cliffhanger (that is also another call-out to something in the larger Batman mythology) and a surprising finale. I’d hate to be the writer tasked with following up on it. I’ll miss reading this, I hate that I got in on it just in its final year but it was consistently the #1 book I looked forward to every month, the final Batman Incorporated series. Looking back on it yet again (I do this almost every day), it is the definitive Batman saga. Its genius is that it assumes that ALL interpretations and iterations of Batman are real and part of the continuity. ’66 Adam West, Frank Miller, animated series, movies…it’s all in there somewhere because it is the ur-Batman story.
On the Screen
One thing’s for sure about Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg’s debut feature. The body horror apple don’t fall far from the tree. It plays very much like something his pop would have made in the early 1980s, complete with new flesh-like superscience, shady businesses involved in said superscience, obsessions over contamination and consumption, and an overarching sense of Canadianness aided by filming in real-world locations.
The concept is that celebrity viruses are sold, copy protected (!), and then injected into paying customers that want to feel like the stars do. The picture takes the tabloid obsession with the celebrity body to an incredible extreme, including a butcher shop that cultivates cell tissue to make edible steaks from the ersatz meat of the rich and famous. It’s gross.
I liked it quite a lot, but mainly because it’s a) the kind of film daddy Cronenberg doesn’t make anymore and b) the kind of film that I wanted to make when I was in film school. I think Cronenberg Jr.’s visual style is a little ostentatious and overdone (stark whites contrasted with blacks) and I don’t think he quite approaches the greatness of dad’s best work but I think he’s carrying the torch quite nicely. Definitely a sick picture, but sick without a bunch of gore or violence.
Everything. We were in the car for over 20 hours during the past eight days.
At Disney World
So yeah, we went to Disney World. I hadn’t been in ten years, and with a two year old and a three year old I thought it would be fun. I didn’t realize it would be punitive and exhausting. But we had a great time. We stayed at a Disney resort, so the net effect was something like living in North Korea sans labor camps, famine, and oppressive government. Everything is always on time, everything is SPOTLESS clean all the time, and you have no option but to pay the Mouse for food and drink.
Magic Kingdom- It’s funny because I used to think this was the least good park. But it’s the best by far with kids. Plus, it’s the park that has that old timey Disney feel. I love that they still have some of the original 1971 rides, even though they took out Snow White’s Scary Adventure. It’s a tragedy, but the new Seven Dwarves mine train they’re building looks awesome. The kids loved everything except Haunted Mansion, which is still the best ride/experience at any Disney park. The effects are still really great. I didn’t get to ride Space Mountain, which I also adore with all of its 1970s sci-fi charm, but we rode/saw almost everything there. Scarlett completely flipped out when she saw Mickey Mouse. In the bad way. But Peter Pan’s Flight is still wonderful, as is Pirates and the new-ish Buzz Lightyear ride rules. River loved the Goofy rollercoaster, which was his first. GOD DAMN, the fireworks. Really amazing.
Epcot Center- Was probably really awesome and futuristic…in 1982. Now it just feels like dated edutainment. It sucks that they took out all of the cool 20,000 Leagues stuff in the Living Seas and turned it into a Finding Nemo ride. I forgot you could buy a $10 margarita as well as various half-assed import beers here, or we would have stopped there daily throughout the trip first thing in the morning. I think I spent $100 between Mexico and Canada on booze. We didn’t do much this day because it was brutally hot, and Test Track is not worth a 2.5 hour wait.
Animal Kingdom- Last time, back in 2004, we thought this was the best park. What were we thinking. The animal exhibits are really neat (the bat house RULES) and the safari truck ride is wonderful, but everything else was kind of dull. The dinosaur carnival is cute, but the rides weren’t very good. The Dinosaur ride is a cool setup, but DAMN, it’s time to retire it. Jerky and dated. Couldn’t ride the new Himalaya ride, which looks awesome, but River was 4” too short. At least the food here was slightly better. Got a falafel, which beats the hell out of terrible “vegetable burgers” from some of the other stands.
Hollywood Studios- By far the worst park in general. It feels desolate and geared toward old people. That said, the Star Wars ride is great, if old fashioned. I love that it’s different every time, I hate that we got the damned Gungan city on both rides. The Toy Story ride there was disappointing, but River flipped out meeting Buzz and Woody (in the good way). We also did the live action Little Mermaid puppet show, which was excellent, and the Disney Junior live show since River and Scarlett both love all those shows. It was adorable, and the puppets were awesome.
We also stopped at St. Augustine on the way back up to Atlanta, and it was great. I despise the beach, but we stayed for three days because the town was really neat. If you’re ever there, go to the Floridian for dinner. They do an awesome cornbread panzanella with heirlooms, local cheeses, arugula, and house-pickled vegetables. It was _divine_ after eating so much junk food all week.