"The horra...the horra"
****Sorry for the formatting- upgrading in progress- don't have our formatting tools back yet!" On the Table I don’t usually review older games that have sort of gone past their “launch window”, so to speak, but since all I’ve been playing lately is Eldritch Horror I figured I’d make it official here - Eldritch Horror in Review
TL;DR- this is the best non-reprint board game FFG has done in years. It’s a tremendous adventure game with some really outstanding narrative concepts that follow on from some germinal ideas in Arkham Horror, but that game was too busy fussing around with sliders and adventures where you make a dollar to get down to business. The larger scope and greater degree of abstraction are offset by more specificity and less ad-hoc “story jumble” created by hanging a bunch of random cards around a general setting. No, I do not care if the “shotgun nun” thing doesn’t happen here. What happens in this game is much more detailed. But more importantly, the design itself is so much more refined. Arkham Horror was great in 2005, but in 2015 it’s been made obsolete not only by other adventure games but also by this direct ancestor. Not much shaking on the table lately- there are very few new releases worth talking about, but I do have some feelers out for review copies. Should be getting Assault on Doomrock from Poland at some point. I’ve also got that pair of new Martin Wallace titles inbound courtesy the fine folks at Asmodee. But in the meantime, it looks like the ERP will be making a comeback- there’s still lots to cover there from last year’s time-travel expedition. On the Consoles I realized this week that I have been playing Skylanders for a month. I did take a break to play some Tropical Freeze and Smash this week, which was nice. I love going back to Nintendo titles after a hiatus…it’s always stunning to see- again- how artful and immaculate they are. Tropical Freeze was just blowing me away the other day with how amazing the art style and level design are. Got back into Hyrule Warriors in a big way. Man, I love that game. I think I'm about through with the "Legends" story mode but it seems like there is still TONS of content to go through. On IOS After stumbling around looking for something to play that was kind of RPG-y , going through a couple of roguelikes and whatnot, I realized that what I really wanted to play was a JRPG. Lo and behold, Dragon Quest V released last week and after scoffing at the $15 price, I bit the bullet. Within an hour, I realized that it was $15 well spent because the difference between a game of this caliber and a 99 cent app store throwaway are bleedingly obvious when you see the sprite work, hear the music, and feel the charm of something like this. I’ve never played a full Dragon Quest game other than the first one (Dragon Warrior) and IV some years ago on the DS. This is a port of the DS version of V, and I can see what all the fuss is about- it’s a great JRPG, and let me tell you- playing it on a phone makes a WORLD of difference. All those random encounters are basically a dealbreaker if I’m playing this on the couch. Ain’t got time for that nonsense. But mobile, sure- I can grind a little waiting in line at the store. It’s designed for one-hand play, I was actually making dinner last night while playing it. I noted this with JRPGs on the DS and Vita before, but on the phone that barrier to entry is even LESS significant because you can literally pop it out and play for 10 minutes at a time…without having to zone out in front of the TV for 40+ hours to get through the game. And it doesn’t even really require your full attention in this format. As for the game itself…well, this is where they got the idea for Pokemon. And, by extension, Skylanders. It all comes around full circle. You can recruit monsters to be party members in this one, and you sort of collect them, logging them into a book. I’ve got a slime (of course) called Gootrude that’s been with me for almost the whole game. There’s a lot of little elements that are easy to take for granted now, but were probably mindblowing in 1992. Looking at the save game clock, I’ve already logged 20 freaking hours on it- which probably makes it my most played IOS game ever in terms of time spent. Love it. Will probably try more IOS JRPGs. On the Screen I felt like I should watch The Interview because of the big cultural hoo-ha about it. I thought the concept actually sounded like a good opportunity for satire. But what I did not expect was a raunchy comedy that had more in common with Porky’s than The Little Dictator. Seriously, if I took out the direct sex (and drug) references and nudity, you could show this film to toddlers and they would think it was hilarious. Man said pee pee. Poo poo. Butt. Har har. If this is the mentality of the American comedy-watching audience, then thank fucking god I almost never watch comedies. This shit was so terminally childish and unfunny that I sat there the whole time and didn’t even smile once. Nor did I think “well, that’s kind of clever”. I just kept thinking about Porky’s and how I felt kind of embarrassed by it when I was a kid seeing it on HBO. And also thinking about embarrassed I was to see paid, name actors in a film with a big budget lowering themselves to this kind of toilet-level dreck. Completely execrable on every level. I didn’t even laugh at the multiple Lord of the Rings jokes. I can’t help but wonder if the whole hacking thing was someone involved with making this film’s desperate attempt to block its release. It’s ridiculous to think that people were crying “free speech” about this film that has absolutely nothing to say other than “pee pee, poo poo, butt”. On Spotify Napalm Death’s new one “Apex Predator- Easy Meat” is out and it’s supposed to be good, but I wound up listening to Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration on the way to it on Spotify. It’s been some years since I’ve been out that way…but wow, is it interesting to go back to something like Napalm Death that was considered VERY extreme, VERY fringe back in the late 1980s/early 1990s…and compare it to things afterwards. Even Scum doesn’t really sound all THAT extreme anymore, which is kind of disappointing in an odd way. I remember listening to that record, coming into it from bullet belt thrash metal and punk in the early 1990s and thinking it was just WAY more extreme than anything else. But over the decades a lot has changed…power violence, black metal, the whole Japanese noise thing, ultra-technical extreme metal, countless other grindcore bands inspired by ND…and now Scum just sounds almost quaint, in a way. With that said, even though Scum has one of my all-time favorite record covers, From Enslavement to Obliteration is STILL a freaking amazing record. You can hear a touch more influence from things like early Swans in there on top of the D-beat crust and all the nascent death metal riffing. Totally pulverizing. I think that was the record that really kind of set them apart from Extreme Noise Terror, Electro Hippies, Sore Threat, Heresy, et. al. and pushed them into a more significant, influential position. I’ve always loved Napalm Death, but oddly I’ve not really kept up with their output after about 1995. I’m actually thinking about trying to go see them here in Atlanta in a couple of weeks, they’re playing with whatever is left of Voivod.