Tom Chick

Ten most disappointing games of 2018. Okay, twelve.

, | Features

This is never a fun list to make, because these are all games I wanted to like.  Without exception, they are games I was looking forward to playing. What went wrong?  My expectations, the games themselves, or — most likely — some combination of the two?  This year’s list actually goes up to twelve because it includes two games I never even played.

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Top ten games of 2018 that are, uh, possibly good!

, | Features

These are games that I briefly tried, often during a livestream, and then made a mental note that, hey, that might be worth spending more time with!  At which point, they tumbled into the backlog never to be seen again. Until today. I have unearthed them for this list, which is, uh, games that are…uh, the ten games of 2018 that, well, uh…

Okay, I’m going to be completely honest with you.  I’m making this list in the hopes that you guys will check out these games and let me know if I was right.  Are they worth spending more time with? Based on my limited time, the answer could be yes. But it could also be no because I’ve only spent limited time with them. Look, I’ve done the work for the other three lists this year, so this one is on you.

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Cowboy Bebop: sophomore effort

, | TV reviews

The “bebop” in the title isn’t random.  In addition to the jazzy opening — after two episodes I can tell the opening theme is going to be running roughshod through my head for years to come — the ship is named the Bebop.  It’s a pretty nifty ship. It’s like a speedboat with twin shark-like tail fins. It seems to have a conning tower overlooking a deck equally suited for launching small craft or throwing yacht parties.  I think there are air scoops or something on the sides? I presume I’ll be seeing more of it, since it’s in the name of the actual series. In this second episode, we find out it can land in water and float like an actual ship.  But then we just watch a bunch of running around.

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Misunderstanding Terraforming Mars

, | Game reviews

Terraforming Mars is a great boardgame about an economic engine that traffics in money, metals, and energy, which are then funneled into projects to gradually turn Mars from a barren red board into a host for scientific marvels, lush forests, teeming cities, and sparkling oceans. It’s one of those lovely marriages of theme and mechanics that most boardgames aspire to.

Sadly, it’s a terrible videogame. Continue reading →

When videogames turn annoying

, | Features

Why is it doing this? It’s not stopping. Sure, a couple clacks would make sense because something mechanical has happened and that’s a sound mechanical happenings make. Clack. But why is it continuing to happen? Why is it an ongoing thing?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack

This is utterly insufferable. It’s drowning out everything else. Why won’t it shut up?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack Continue reading →

Best Judy Greer movie you’ll see all year: Adventures in Public School

, | Movie reviews

Judy Greer’s initial appeal was her girl-next-door beauty, straight out of Central Casting into the fantasy waitress role in Adaptation. But as she’s segued from girl-next-door to soccer-mom-next-door, her real appeal has emerged as something else. A quirky but earnest zeal. Sweetness and light, offset by just the right amount of crazy behind the eyes. When she smiles, it’s equal parts maternally beatific and ex-girlfriend lunatic. “You’ll never see these again!” she screeches as she rips open her blouse on Arrested Development.

So far, 2018 has dropped her into a handful of thankless roles. The mom in 12:17 to Paris, the mom in Ant Man and the Wasp, the mom in Halloween. I’m sensing a pattern here, along with a waste of her unique appeal. Fortunately, there is also this year’s Adventures in Public School, a lightly profane but affably Canadian coming of age comedy that gets Greer better than any of the expensive Hollywood nonsense that cast her just because she’s pretty.

The movie opens with a voiceover about the cosmos. Ugh. It seems our protagonist will be a gratingly self-aware precocious teenager written by a gratingly self-aware screenplay writer. Fortunately, our protagonist is played by the immensely likable Daniel Doheny who scrubs any grating self-awareness from the script and replaces it with sincerity. He plays a homeschooled teenager who longs to experience public education, much to the chagrin of Greer as his fiercely helicopter mother. The two of them are wrapped in a mother/son bubble of socially awkward obliviousness. They would be creepy if they weren’t so cute. When she realizes he’s on the verge of a sexual awakening, and probably about to lose his virginity, she steals into his room one night. “Let’s do it now, together, and get it out of your system in a safe and responsible way,” she tells him while they lie in bed, face to face.

“Do what together?” he asks. It doesn’t occur to him what occurs to us because their world revolves around their bond, where nothing is inappropriate because everything is well-intentioned.

“Rebel,” she says. For the next day’s homeschooling lesson, they will practice swearing. Greer will later produce a joint for the two of them to smoke together. “A supervised first try,” she calls it, taking the first hit. “Ooh, it’s burny,” she says. Then, giggling, “It’s Bernie Sanders.” It fits her so well that I can’t tell if it’s improvised. Director Kyle Rideout and his script are in love with Greer’s zeal. His movie is built around it. It thrives on it. It is fueled by it. Although it fancies itself a denizen of Napoleon Dynamite territory, Wes Anderson adjacent, Greer gives it something more. And because Doheny adroitly matches her quirky zeal, their relationship relocates it into the same territory as Eighth Grade. Adventures in Public School doesn’t have the heart, insight, or celebratory joy of Eighth Grade — what movie does? — but they’re still of a piece, exploring the interaction between a child finding his way and a parent trying her best to find the impossible sweet spot between helping and letting go. This is where Judy Greer belongs. Take note, Hollywood. Moms can be more than pretty actresses delivering their lines.

Cowboy Bebop: you don’t even have my curiosity

, | TV reviews

I don’t know much about anime, but I think Cowboy Bebop is one of the fundamentals. The only animes I can name are this, Sailor Moon, and Hello Kitty, so I figure they’re all equally famous. A friend of mine who’s not even into anime is unashamed to wear a Cowboy Bebop T-shirt. He told me it’s good. I believe that he believes that, but I don’t have much interest in finding out for myself. Like sports, James Joyce, and reality TV, it’s a gap in my cultural literacy I can live with.

But I’m about to change that. Continue reading →

Over Diablo III? Now that it’s on the Switch, I don’t think I’ll ever get over Diablo III.

, | Game reviews

Here I am playing pretty much the exact same game a fifth time over. I first played Diablo III when it came out for the PC. Again when the Necromancer was added. Again for the Xbox 360. Again for the Playstation 4. And now for the Switch. Nothing has changed since the last time. And of course, none of my progress has been carried over because battle.net, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are like divorced parents who refuse to talk to each other, much less come together to support a single game. Everyone’s gotta be his own gatekeeper these days.

So, naturally, the ennui sets in quickly and I commence the dull slog through content I’ve already seen a hundred times, right?

As if. Continue reading →