It's a Feld Fling!
On the Table
Here’s one most of you people are going to skip- a review of Stefan Feld’s Aquasphere!
I wanted to check out a Feld design because Roma was the only one of his games I had previously played. I liked Roma (and so did Richard Launius- his voice booming “I’ll tell ya, that Roma is a good game” used to echo throughout my store on occasion), but was well aware that he wasn’t doing that kind of game anymore. Instead, he’s been trucking in those overly complicated Eurogames that make BGG get all doe-eyed. But I wanted to see what a Stefan Feld game was like, and this one looked more interesting to me than his other work.
So I got a review copy and had that “oh shit, I shouldn’t have asked for this” moment. But after playing it for a while, I found that I really appreciated the design work and could definitely get to the “fun” in the design even though it is teutonically robotic and the story is “player earned points” rather than any kind of actual narrative about deep sea exploration. It’s a really interesting and smart design, even if it’s not the kind of thing I typically like to play. I find that I admire it more than I enjoy it.
Still enjoying the heck out of Flash Point. Some expansions on the way. I love the directness of that design. For some reason we are having the building fall on us an awful lot. Last game was one explosion after another. Played with the second story solo last night and won pretty easily. Really liked how it increased the detail without adding much in the way of rules.
Rune Age…I’m glad I revisited this one. When I reviewed it originally, I thought it was ok but it felt limited and confused. Some years on- with an entirely different context- I can see where there are some really smart things going on with this game. It really was (and is) quite different than the usual deckbuilding fare, and in some ways I think it was really ahead of the curve on expanding on the Dominion model. Most deckbuilders tend to follow that model or the Ascension one, but Rune Age feels like it’s doing its own thing. I’ve been digging into it with a friend, playing some head to head games, and enjoying it quite a bit- especially the Quest for Power scenario with the power-generating locations. The expansion makes a big difference, adding some dimension to it.
I’m also finding that I really like how tight the card assortment is. There’s not a sense that there are 1000 other cards and you need a certain expansion or whatever to make it “good”. There’s one expansion, and it’s an impactful one. It’ll probably get a retro-view at some point.
Super Motherload (don’t know why they missed that it should be “motherlode”) is a cute one. Very easy to play family game with a neat drilling concept. Fans of Dig Dug, Mr. Do, Mr. Driller or I Dig It should take note of this one. I like games about digging for some reason.
FINALLY got a hold of Super Fantasy via this mysterious project Charlie and I are doing. Oh, and none other than F:AT’s own dirty uncle Pete Ruth is in on it too.
On the Consoles
My descent into Nintendo-fueled mania continues unabated. Right now, I have save games in progress for Majora’s Mask, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Metriod, Metroid Fusion, Wario Land 4, Yoshi’s Island, F-Zero, Kirby’s Adventure 3D, Punch-Out!!, Super Punch-Out!!, Link’s Awakening and I just started playing Star Fox 64 3D regularly (again) on top of all that, when I’m not playing Smash, Mario Kart or Super Mario 3D World with the kids. When they aren’t playing Captain Toad.
AND I started up Shovel Knight again to boot, and realizing that is much more of a masterpiece than I originally thought when I played it last year. Oh, and Afterburner II 3D, which is stupendously cool. There’s a setting to simulate the way the cabinet would tilt in the arcade. It’s stupid, but irresistible.
Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3 and Mega Man X…left those out. Various stages of completion on those. Spending a lot of time with X, really love that one.
But that bill of fare also does not include MH4, which I’m picking up steam in after 15 hours of questing.
Finally, I just started on Ni No Kuni as well. Two hours in and utterly charmed.
All of the above have had a negative effect on my IOS playtime. You just can’t do it all.
On the Screen
I got a Crunchyroll subscription hoping that it would have more old, 1980s anime Japanimation on it instead of all of this silly ass otaku shit. Very disappointed overall since it is mostly silly ass otaku shit, but I’m loving the old Fist of the North Star series. It’s ridiculous, has a great theme song, and is something like a bizarre version of Mad Max with lots of punching. I liked the movie back in the day, but I never saw beyond it. I’ve been watching Captain Harlock on there as well, which is still one of my all-time favorites. Love Matsumoto's designs so much. Will probably watch Galaxy Express 999 on there too at some point. The first episode of it is one of my favorite Japanimation things of all time...there's this AMAZING sequence where Toshiro, the main character, and his mom are out in the woods in the snow, at night. They get hunted like animals by these cyborg hunters on horseback led by the descriptively named Count Mecha. He uses a hunting rifle to kill Toshiro's mom. Later, Toshiro gets a hold of a gun and goes to Count Mecha's hunting lodge where he's kicking back with his mates around the fire. He kills all of them, and Count Mecha begs him not to destroy his brain...he doesn't care about the rest of his body, just his brain. So Toshiro slams the rifle butt through his face.
But come on, what do you have to do to watch Evangelion, Patlabor, Wings of Honneamise, Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms and that kind of stuff? Is there just not a market for classic Japanimation anymore? I want the serious mecha stuff, not the magical kitty cat school girl garbage. I swear every description on there “High school student (or students)….blah blah blah blah” I want to watch Gatchaman, Mazinger, all that kind of stuff.
I did watch one called Aldnoah.0 or whatever that seemed like it might be good, except that it has cutey—poo character designs. But the mecha looks great and there’s a decent storyline. Terraformars looks pretty interesting too, more horror-sci fi oriented, and it looks like it's mostly about adults.
Gosh, you know, thinking back to watching Japanimation in the late 80s and early 90s…it was so different. The tastes that were catered to were entirely apart from this silly/sexy comedy crap. It’s easy to forget that Japanese cartoons used to be pretty cool and even quite cutting edge…before American pre-teens (and pedophiles) discovered it.
I’ve never really listened to Sparks beyond “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”, so I’m rectifying that right now with a catalog listen. So far, so good. The early records are definitely formative, the glam rock and the synthpop/disco stuff are both totally top notch and totally off kilter. It’s hard to avoid gravitating toward “Kimono My House” and “Number One in Heaven” because those seem to be clearly the best records…but “Angst in My Pants” might be their best track. Or “Amateur Hour”. But that totally metal part in “This Town…” is pretty freaking amazing too.
Such an odd act…where in the hell do slate those guys in the history of rock music? Yet they are are undoubtedly influential and plenty of important folks would tell you that they are big Sparks fans/were influenced by Sparks. But they were also one of those bands that was NEVER going to be a mainstream concern in the long run. Way too theatrical, way too quirky before quirky was a word used to describe any kind of music.
I can’t believe those guys are American. Everything about them seems English. I’m kind of getting obsessed with them.