A better Borg.
On the Table
It’s kind of weird that Abaddon, the new Richard Borg game that isn’t a Commands and Colors game, isn’t getting more attention. I think it may be because he’s really kind of gone back to the well on this one and turned out something that feels very close in spirit to the games he did in the 1990s. I can totally see picking this game up at a Kaybee toy store circa 1992 . The thing is, there’s nothing “clever” or “sophisticated” about it so the BGG cognoscenti aren’t going to like it. But if you’ve got kids…man, this is a game you gotta get. You’ll want to check it out too if you’re a right-thinking person that plays games to be happy and have a good time, because Abaddon is a supremely fun-first design that doesn’t bother with fancy mechanics and “clever” systems. It’s about rolling dice at robots and playing a Doomsday Bolt card and wiping an opponent’s last-hope unit off the map. If he bitches about “the luck element”, you’re playing games with the wrong person.
This kind of back-to-basics, fun-first game is too rare these days. The review is over at the NEW home of Cracked LCD, No High Scores.
Infiltration is really good, at least after a game. Playing it more in the next couple of weeks to see if it holds up. I’ve also got a copy of Bandai’s Uncharted board game inbound.
I’ve got a new Worthpoint article up too about a couple of D-Day games, what with the anniversary last week and all.
On the Consoles
Since so many of you guys (well, just Jon Jacob) have a Vita…Gravity Rush is really awesome.
I’ve been playing Nier, that weirdo Square action-RPG from a couple of years ago. It’s such an awkward, strangely designed game. The title screen opens with a voiceover of one of the characters just going off on Weiss, the talking Grimoire that’s a major character (and weapon) in the game. Like, just completely snapcasing on him. It’s such a jarring and strange way to “meet” the game. The main character is weird, old, and ugly. The Grimoire actually makes thinly veiled sarcastic comments _about the design of the game_ throughout. It starts out with this weird “The Road”-like post-apocalyptic scene but then turns into this strange Zelda-like game. Sidequests are awful, and there’s a fishing minigame that’s almost impossible. I haven’t messed with the farming yet.
But I _like_ this game. I like how odd it is, how it’s totally aware of itself ripping on Zelda and other Japanese video game conventions. I totally see why it got mostly bad reviews…it’s definitely not a game for everyone and it requires some patience…but there are surprises and flashes of brilliance that are worth sticking around for.
I don’t even really play IOS games anymore what with Comixology on there…check back when Summoner Wars hits.
So yeah, DC: The New Frontier. FUCKING AWESOME. I absolutely loved it. I loved how understated the superhero material was for most of it, and about how it was as much about the transition from the Golden Age to Silver Age as it was about America’s social, cultural, and moral transition from the 1950s to the 1960s. Darwyn Cooke’s midcentury modern/Madison Avenue aesthetic works marvelously throughout the book, and I loved how he incorporated not just DC’s supers but also the action/war/science heroes like the Suicide Squad, Blackhawks, and Challengers of the Unknown. It was one of the best Martian Manhunter stories I’ve ever read. And the last book actually had me welling up- very moving, powerful, and resonant all the way through to the only postscript dedication that would have been appropriate.
It also had the single most disturbing comics panel I’ve seen in a while. Wonder Woman bleeding out in the invisible jet. Think about how that would look.
If I were in charge of DC’s film production and licensing, I would totally pursue doing a 2.5-3 hour New Frontier feature to go head-to-head with Avengers. Some of the more obscure characters would need to be cut (but you couldn’t lose King Faraday!), but the story is such that it could be an AMAZING, sophisticated, and very real-world superhero story. I’d hire the production designer and costume person from Mad Men and probably half the cast. Hell, John Hamm would work as a 1950s Batman or Superman. And I’d beg Chris Nolan to direct.
Read a little more Doom Patrol, the story with Redjack/Jack the Ripper/God. Wow. It definitely made up for reading the first five issues of Batman Incorporated, which completely sucks. The idea is cool, but it’s one of those books were Morrison veers off into incomprehensibility. There’s some cool stuff, I love the idea of Wayne funding international Batmen, but the story is nonsensical and judders between pulpy camp and seriousness.
It struck me this week how utterly terrifying Irredeemable is. It’s really freaking scary. I realized that it’s actually a horror story. Wish it would hit the .99 weekly sale, I’d buy the whole run.
On the Screen
I started watching John Carter last night, I can totally see why it flopped. More on it later. But seriously, why the hell wasn’t it called John Carter of Mars, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, or John Carter: A Science Fiction Movie about Mars? Were they thinking they’d rope in people who would see the title and not get that it’s a movie about bug people and airships? Next week.
I watched Super Fly for the first time in ages, and I was really surprised at how effective some of it is- the more documentarian, street-level photography is really well done, it just falls apart due to some crap actors. It’s funny, because when I saw it in the early 1990s for the first time I was thinking it was going to be this cartoonish 1970s “wakkachooga” pimp fest, but it’s not. The fact is, like Shaft, Super Fly isn’t really the same kind of film as the Rudy Ray Moore movies, Blacula, Black Belt Jones, Foxy Brown, or the ridiculous Blaxploitation films. It’s a serious attempt at a gritty, urban crime film with an alluringly muddled, mixed message about both Black empowerment and the scourge of drug peddling.
Dang, poor Freddie.
Of course, watching Super Fly means you’re also listening to Curtis Mayfield’s absolutely electrifying soundtrack. It’s one of the most thrilling and timeless examples of 1970s R&B and funk. Every track burns with regret, sadness, and honesty. It’s a socially conscious record, but it doesn’t shy away from the realities of urban life and crime. That man’s voice has never sounded better than on this record. “Freddie’s Dead”, “Pusherman”, “Eddie, You Should Have Known Better”, “Little Child Runnin’ Wild”. This is one of the best albums of its decade, hands down. Stylish, stylized, insightful, and intelligent…but it totally hits you at a gut level.