Cyclades can go to hell!
On the Table
Finally got around to checking out the Hades expansion to Cyclades, and the sum of my review is that it’s too expensive and not really all that essential. It’s good, and if you play the game a lot it may be worthwhile. But I wouldn’t rush out to get it.
The best thing about it, really, is that it got Cyclades back to the table. That’s one of those games like Claustrophobia that I actually have grown to like more now than when it was new. Not that I gave Cyclades a bad review in any way, but in retrospect it probably should have made the GotY shortlist.
Still working on Destined Hero and now I’ve got Stronghold’s new ones heading inbound. Seems like we’re in a bit of a drought right now, not much exciting coming out. Kind of a relief after nearly a year of there always being something new and interesting coming out.
On the Consoles
Patiently waiting for The Witcher 2 to hit the 360 next week- very excited. I’ve been biding my time mostly by playing the Devil May Cry HD collection. I missed them back in the day (the first one is from 2001!) and I was kind of worried they’d be terribly dated…but the interesting thing is that instead of feeling dated they feel _refreshing_. No DLC, no preorder bonuses, no marketing stunts, no online passes…nothing but pure gameplay, surprisingly good graphics for the time (updated to 1080p), and just plain video game goodness without any mod cons, for what those are worth.
The first one holds up extremely well, even though it’s fairly limited. You can really tell that it was built from the bones of a scrapped alpha of an abandoned version of Resident Evil 4. Like the first RE games, it has that whole thing where the setting and environment are the main character. It also has the fixed camera angles. Even some of the same sound effects. But instead of tank-like Jill and Chris, you’ve got Dante flipping and stabbing everywhere.
I’m really, really enjoying it. I miss games like this- just solid video games where the story told is what you do, not what’s shown to you. It’s tough too, with unforgiving save points, expendable items, and absolutely no hand-holding. Bayonetta is obviously the evolution of these kinds of games (and it’s directed by series creator Kamiya), but the old games are still good.
I hear the second one stinks, but I’m going to play it anyway. The third too. And then I’ll finally beat the fourth. The new trailer for the reboot, DMC looks awesome. Hey, I guess I’m now a Devil May Cry fan.
Played the Skullgirls demo. Went through one match and deleted it immediately. Absolute trash. Not Fight for Life on the Atari Jaguar bad…but pretty bad.
Nightfall, duh. I am absofuckinglutely terrible at it. If you want to beat the shit out of someone, send me an invite. I don’t know what it is, I can’t win a game to save my life. I can beat the AI, but in the wild…I’m done. Great, great app. Playdek really outdid themselves with the implementation, but the supplemental material could be better. Having played the physical game, I didn’t have trouble with it like some others have had. I’m just not any good at it.
It really breaks the spirit to see eight wounds go into your deck in one turn, I tell ya.
On the Screen
Nightbreed is one of those movies that is so “almost” but not quite. Great ideas abound. Modern-day monsters living under a cemetery? I am on board. David Cronenberg playing a serial-killing psychiatrist? In my wheelhouse. Clive Barker? Yep.
But it just doesn’t come together, it has that cheap-and-dated 1990 feel throughout. I’ve heard that there was studio tinkering involved, and some conflicting expectations. Apparently there’s a 145 minute cut out there somewhere.
I do like it- it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind film and there’s some really cool bits- and I actually like how it combines traditional, folklore-like monsters with more modern slasher horror even though that was apparently against Barker’s vision for the film. There’s smart stuff under the surface, but it feels like it was made at the wrong time by the wrong people with not enough money. Fun fact- Ralph McQuarrie did some of the production design.
Back when I worked at the CDC, I’d always see this broke down Saab with these giant, homemade Radio Birdman logo stickers on them. I thought “that’s pretty crazy”. Then one day, I saw my boss get into that car. I was blown away, because he DID NOT look like the kind of person that would have any clue who Radio Birdman was. Come to find out, he was really into proto-punk and garage rock. Huge Stooges/MC5/Dolls fan and so forth. Anyway, he gave me a couple of records and I gave him some too (he had never heard The Fall, somehow). One of the ones he gave me was The Dirtbombs’ “Ultraglide in Black”. I forgot I really liked this record, and hearing “Chains of Love” on the Driver: San Francisco soundtrack got me to listen to it again.
Now, I usually don’t care for cover records. But when your cover record is an absolutely scorching set of classic R&B tracks turned into rocking, fuzzed-out rave-ups played with go-for-broke enthusiasm…I can get behind that. “Chains of Love” is an amazing cut, it’s a cover of an obscure Detroit soul track by J.J. Barnes, not the Erasure song. Their take on Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For the City” is great, as is their “Got to Give it Up”. A fun, scorching record…I actually missed seeing the Dirtbombs opening the last time I saw TV on the Radio, and I kind of regret it. I also kind of regret not buying their t-shirt that was a spoof of Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead cover.