Too much Brass!
On the Table
Martin Wallace was designing Kickstarter games before there was Kickstarter. And by that I mean he was designing slightly underdeveloped titles that needed a little more time under the broiler to reach that golden brown sense of doneness, I’ve still felt that “almost there” feeling. But I still, for the most part, like his games barring Age of Steam and Runebound. So he’s got two new ones via Treefrog/Asmodee and I’ve got ‘em both. And by gum, they still feel “almost”. But I still like them.
Onward to Venus is first up, and it’s a neat one despite the embarrassing steampunk visuals. It’s based on some graphic novel I’ve never heard of more or less about 19th century colonial powers extending their holdings to the solar system. Sure, whatever. But it’s a very fun to play, cool design that is quite unique in a couple of regards. It feels a little low key overall, but for a 75-90 minute build-and-bash it works for me. It’s simple, direct and fun. I can overlook all of the brass fittings, I guess.
Mythotopia I need some more time with. I like it, but it feels oddly shaky in parts.
Homeland went over well with five Sunday night…everyone really enjoyed it, even though none of us had ever seen the show. It kind of doesn’t matter, maybe even less so than the other GF9 titles. I think it really succeeds as an espionage game, even though it really is a very highly refined take on some concepts that were in BSG. There’s also this lingering suspicion that I have that the GF9 boys have played some Guerilla, that old AH chestnut…it has a very similar concept where there are two opposing factions and an intermediary one that can win only if one of the other sides doesn’t…and their actions kind of help both. It isn’t as stripped down as something like Coup or Revolution, but it’s also not as superfluous as BSG is with threat dials, space battles, room abilities and so forth. What I keep coming back to is that the game is very much about information- getting it, sharing it, hiding it an exploiting it- and that makes it highly thematic and in today’s day and age- topical.
On the Consoles
I’m really digging all of these freebie games I got from the Club Nintendo close-out. But over the past week I was really getting into Yoshi’s Island. What a great platformer- fun mechanics, charming setting, comfortable challenge level…all the things that make a great Nintendo title. I never had a Gameboy Advance so I’m just discovering that, hey, there were some really cool games for that thing. I keep holding back from just binging on the GBA Castlevania titles on GBA.
But I did grab Metroid Fusion- damn, how did I never play this game. It’s definitely a successor/sequel to Super Metroid. I also got the first Fire Emblem (well, actually the SEVENTH in Japan).
Blew a layer of dust off the PS4 to download the PS+ games this month. Apotheon is way better than it ought to be. It’s a Metroidvania game, and a good one, but the value-add is that the whole thing is styled to look like Grecian black figure art. So it looks like an urn come to life. Fun combat, lots of items, crafting…really digging it for the price of zero dollars. I also got Transistor, from the folks that made Bastion. It looks interesting, but it didn’t hook me right in. Rainy day title.
Majora’s Mask and Monster Hunter 4 tomorrow. Goodbye world.
40 hours deep, Dragon Quest V over. Damn. There were a couple of really tough, very trying points where I almost put it down in the horserace to the end but I stuck to it and beat it. Loved it. I’d say it’s just under Chrono Trigger for the best JRPG of that era. Best line- you get married in it, and the vows read “until you both die and are resurrected in the church”.
So next up, Final Fantasy VI. Yep, the one before VII. So far it’s good, but DQV spoiled me- the interface was SO good, and so perfect for mobile. Like how it was PORTRAIT so you could play with one hand. FFVI isn’t nearly as user-friendly, it’s clearly an older port of older software whereas DQV was a port of the DS version.
But yeah, tiny Amano portraits, the FF victory music and phoenix downs everywhere. Five hours in and I’m enjoying it. I forget that I actually do like FF, despite the seventh one.
On the Screen
Damn, Edge of Tomorrow was great. Totally loved it. What an unexpected picture.
I actually really liked how it brought together a couple of different influences that haven’t been explored well in cinema- video games and the whole anime thing. The whole concept of a guy starting out a scrub and dying over and over again- but getting better every time- is the very epitome of the video game concept of life and death. Seriously, I was watching that thinking “if this were fantasy, it’d be a Dark Souls film”. I mean, it’s practically like watching a Roguelike. Every time he anticipates more, gets better. I actually didn’t know it was based on a Japanese source, but watching it I appreciated how it had some very Japanese-y kinds of things going on- power armor lady with a helicopter blade sword, for example.
I liked the mimics, but tying the time-reset thing to blood was REALLY contrived in a midchlorian kind of way. But whatever, if you can buy a time loop you can buy that alien blood can make you replay the same day over and over again. If you think about any of it too hard, it suddenly seems like utter horseshit. So I’ll stop thinking about it.
Oh, and Bill Paxton.
Still on the John Carpenter record…I’ve also been going back and listening to some of the older soundtrack work (“Biiiiiiiiiig Trouble…”) and there is a marked difference between that stuff and this new record. The old stuff is more spare. There’s more space. The new one is busier and more dense. I don’t think that’s a quality judgment, but that really lean and direct sense of melody and punctuation is somewhat obscured on Lost Themes. What I’m trying to say is that it’s great, but it’s not Escape from New York or Assault on Precinct 13.