On the Table
Cave Evil reviewed. I love it, it’s one of my favorite games of the year. But I’m well aware that it’s like telling folks that Ulver’s black metal album “Nattens Madrigals” is a masterpiece while knowing full well that most people will think it’s just a bunch of ill-produced, amateurish noise. It isn’t going to be for everybody, and there are things about it that are willfully obscure or esoteric. Cave Evil is definitely not mainstream- it’s pretty old fashioned in an Avalon Hill/SPI kind of way, the artwork would be regarded as crude by many (when in fact it’s awesome and appropriate to the subject matter), and it’s a fairly ruthless elimination game like Titan or Wiz-War.
Putting the black metal stuff aside, I still think it’s a great game. It’s like some long lost fantasy game from 1982, and I think that was exactly the design goal. There’s more Gary Gygax in its creatures and concepts than Tolkien, and I really appreciate that.
Yeah, it’s expensive. It’s tough when you can get something like Drizzt or Gears of War for the same price and get tons of plastic toys. But for as much as I like both of those games, neither has the heart or the genuine “indie” spirit that Cave Evil shows. This is totally what I mean when I talk about bringing in new themes, new settings, and new influences. It's also a self-published, made-in-the-USA game with a very limited print run made by people who are totally passionate about both games and obscure music. Your $70 is buying something more precious than bubble gum machine figures.
F:ATtie member in good standing Geoff Englestein sent me a review copy of his new Z-Man title The Ares Project, I’m really looking forward to digging into it. Four sides that play very differently. It looks like a great concept
Why wasn’t I paying attention to Eclipse before? That looks awesome.
On the Consoles
I’m on two Gameshark reviews this week, the console edition of Battlefield 3 and Cave Story 3D on the 3DS. I’ve already ranted about how fucking awful the single player game is in BF3, I’m playing multiplayer now. You can really feel the size of the maps with only 24 players in a game, as compared to the 64 the PC version allows. Cave Story is awesome, it’s the same great freeware game that’s been around since 2004 but the new artwork and graphics are great. The 3D is really well done. I still think this is one of the best of the retro platformers. It completely captures the tone of NES games like Goonies II or Blaster Master.
Arkham City is the best game of 2011. No need to prattle, just buy the god damned thing. A masterpiece.
On the Phone
Dang, Mage Gauntlet gets pretty hard. I’ve actually put it off and have been playing Rocket Cat’s hook games instead lately, particularly Hook Worlds. It’s the endless runner one, with four very different worlds to swing (and shoot) your way through. The gravity dwarf one is freaking hard.
Somehow I missed that Gunstar Heroes is on IOS. Sega had a sale this week and it was a buck, I couldn’t resist. Of course the controls are horrible.
On the Screen
Wow, The Keep sure is a screwed up movie. I had not seen it since the late 1980s, mostly due to the fact that it’s never been released on DVD. It does not, in any way, hold up. It is delirously 1980s, half of it looks like a freaking Ultravox video. MASSIVE lens flares, slow motion, “arty” angles, a Tangerine Dream score…it’s supposed to be set in WWII, but it’s pretty squarely occurring in 1983.
I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but it’s about Nazis running afoul of something hidden in…The Keep. In some ways, it’s kind of another take on the Golem story and it draws in a sort of Jewish revenge fantasy. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but neither does a young Ian McKellan made up to look like an old man. I think it was actually his first feature role. The weird ass cast also includes Scott Glen (sans his fishnet shirt and snake tattoo from Urban Cowboy), Gabriel Byrne, and Jurgen Prochnow.
But the real W.T.F. is that it’s directed by Michael Mann, just a couple of years before he put Crockett and Tubbs on the beat and long before Heat and his other stylish dramas. You can totally tell, too. You can also totally tell that he should never, ever go anywhere near the director’s chair of a horror film.
I like it, enough to have watched it twice in the past week…but it is really pretty terrible. Mayfair Games did a board game based on it, strangely enough, that Robert Martin (RIP) always talked about owning but we never played it. No, I never read the F. Paul Wilson novel.
Taking a break from the TV stuff to watch some good Halloweeny movies. Night of the Demon in particular. It’s an _amazing_ horror picture directed by the great Jacques Tourneur. The Aleister Crowley-like cult leader in it is one of my favorite characters in the horror cinema. He’s so subtly diabolical, yet he’s very much a slave to the dark forces he deals with.
I figured that since this is the Cave Evil review and that some of you might wander into the game without having any idea how to distinguish Burzum from Mayhem, I put together a little primer playlist. There’s some old stuff and some new stuff on there. I just heard the last track, off the new Wolves in the Throne Room record, last night. Awesome album, one of the better BM releases I’ve heard in a while.
Emperor- I am the Black Wizards
Celtic Frost- Return to the Eve
Darkthrone- Transilvanian Hunger
Satyricon- Dark Medieval Times
Ulver- I Troldskog Faren Vild
Bathory- Call from the Grave
Burzum- Lost Wisdom
Furze- Zaredoo Knives Endow thy Sight
Watain- Black Salvation
Deathspell Omega- Drink the Devil’s Blood
Mortifera- Le Revenant
Leviathan- A Bouquet of Blood for Skull
…And Oceans- Aquarium of Children
Krohm- I Suffer the Astral Woe
Drudkh- Furrows of Gods
Negura Bunget- I
Wolves in the Throne Room- Subterranean Initiation