Game comes with a hammer.
On the Table
Kind of in a gaming drought lately- but I have played Dan Baden’s Article 27 a couple of times, and I love it. It’s a great negotiation game that feels inspired by classic proto-hobby games, and it really feels quite different than other games in the genre out there. We played it a couple of weeks ago after playing the absolutely worthless City of Horror- another negotiation game- and it felt so refreshing to play such a focused game with just a couple of smartly used mechanics instead of a bunch of bullshit, phony theme elements. Exploding water tower…heh, I think that was my most hated game of the year. Anyway, Article 27 is great and I reviewed it. I don't really like to review friends' games due to obvious reasons- particularly if I've played prototypes or may have influenced design decisions- but I haven’t seen Dan in some time, and I didn’t even know he was working on this. I thought he was still trying to find a publisher for Firehouse Flop
Tried to get a review copy of Legendary, was told they gave out of review copies. Won’t buy another deckbuilder, but I sure would like to play it. Anyone try it yet?
On the Consoles
I have a Wii U, it’s OK. I’ve only played NSMBWU or whatever and Darksiders II. NSMBWU a new Mario game alright, and it’s a good one at least. Darksiders II is…odd. It seems strangely unfocused and clunky, but there’s a lot I like about it.
As for the Wii U itself, it’s a strange mix of incredible potential and frustrating oversight. Some really, really stupid things abound. Like, why do I have to have a Wiimote and nunchuk (not included) to control games in Wii emulation that can use classic controller? Why does the Gamepad have to charge on a plug rather than USB? Why doesn’t the Gamepad power down to conserve battery when you’re watching a Netflix movie?
But there are some cool things…the MiiVerse thing is surprisingly cool- folks can draw pictures and messages that show up in your MiiVerse view. The gamepad is really, really great for menus, maps, and so forth. And it is pretty darn cool that you can play NSMBWU solely on the pad with the TV off.
So an incomplete for right now. Want to see more games.
Also playing lots of Black Ops II. I’m really liking this one. Apart from the solo campaign, which is the worst COD campaign to date.
I’d get Balder’s Gate for IOS if I weren’t already swimming in entertainment options elsewhere. Other than that…still on hiatus.
On the Comics Shelf
The main thing I’ve read since the break was Brubaker’s Captain America run. I started reading it back when Comicpocalypse 2012 first started a few months ago, but dropped off to read something like 500 other books. Shouldn’t have, because it’s one of the best superhero runs I’ve ever read. Not quite Simonson Thor level or Morrison Batman level (yet), but it’s really damn good.
The genius of it is how it handles Cap as a character, and how his weakness really is his heart. The way he still believes he can get through to Bucky despite everything that happens is genuinely optimistic, and it really shows why Cap is a good man- and a hero. I love how Cap is presented as on edge, somewhat fragile, uncertain, but struggling to do what’s right. He’s not a dark, grim figure in the book at all. He’s a man doing what he does best.
I also love how the more SF/comic book elements are managed. It’s a pretty realistic book overall, but the Cosmic Cube, Bucky riding an AIM robot spider, Red Skull possessing a guy…it’s all there, but it’s just not really a big deal.
Just started on Brubaker’s Fatale, which is described as a noir book with a touch of Lovecraft. That could be terrible. Pretty sick of Lovecraft anything right now, but I’ll give it a shot.
Other stuff…the new Thor book, God of Thunder by Jason Aaron (Scalped) is only two issues in but it’s a must-read at this point. Great stuff. Also read some of his Incredible Hulk run, which was silly but fun. Hulk versus hulked-up sharks. Why not. Bendis’ All-New X-Men may be really good- another one just two issues in, hope his crappiness doesn’t ruin it. Allred/Fraction’s FF, not really interesting. New Deadwardians, a Dan Abnett thing, starts out kind of dull but it’s actually pretty compelling. Even though it’s about zombies.
Started reading Astonishing X-Men again to give it another shot…man, it just sucks. I feel so empty and meaningless reading it. It’s so facile and shallow. Half of the first arc is the X-Men bickering and acting snarky. The villain is stupid and says made-for-the-movies one-liners, which I hate. I was looking through the letters columns in one of the issues and someone really kind of hit it on the head, although they meant this as a positive. They said it was like reading the X-Men as an Archies comic. That’s exactly what it feels like. I honestly don’t think I can carry on with this book, even for just trash reading. I have no clue why it’s held in such high esteem, unless it’s simply because there are so many BAD X-men books out there.
On the Screen
The Christmas specials are starting to make their rounds…River is all up in to the Rankin Bass stuff, which is exactly what I want to happen. Rudolph is playing heavily right now, which is fine by me since it’s awesome. I freaking love that the one reindeer’s name is Fireball.
I finally found a legitimate DVD copy of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, which is their last- and weirdest- special. It’s sort of a pagan take on Santa Claus, written to appeal to kids raised on He-Man and Thundercats. Haven’t watched it yet, but very excited to see it again for the first time in decades.
We’ve also been watching Paranorman, made by the folks that did Coraline. It’s pretty cool, sort of a kid’s zombie film. Some of the stop motion is just insanely great. Starts off with a homage to Italian zombie films, complete with Argento-esque lighting and throbbing 80s synth. Can’t beat that. Now River is going around saying “I’m a zombie!” and moaning.
Tape adapter status- working.
River is really into Kraftwerk now. I told him I was going to play him a robot song, and of course played “The Robots” for him. I have to say, having a two year old singing “We are the robots” is one of the great things in life.
But he’s also into the Christmas songs now, the ones from the shows…he’s been singing “Frosty the Snowman” as Jimmy Durante, which is sort of unsettling. I got him to listen to the Ronettes’ version, and now I think he likes that one better.
That came off a Phil Spector Christmas record, which lead me into listening to a couple of Phil Spector compilations that are Sn potify. That stuff- Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, Bob B. Sox, etc.- is just incredible. The concept of creating these sort of mini “symphonies” that could be reproduced on AM radio or a jukebox thanks to the whole “wall of sound” technique was pretty brilliant. Definitely a key step toward making rock n’ roll smart and more sophisticated, not just teenage fodder. And the records sound like nothing else. I mean, seriously…is there a better pop record than “Be My Baby”?