Go Ask Alice… Then Turn to Page 38

I’ve gotten a few more paperbacks since last we spoke, all fantasy themed, as usual. Most have been fun to dip into for a spell, but I’ve had the most fun with Johnathan Green‘s Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland, published by Winged Hussar and Ace Gamebooks. I had to go buy a deck of playing cards at Dollar Tree, but if you have those, or a pair of dice handy, plus a pencil with a good eraser (plus a notepad so you don’t have to deface the book). you’re good to go.

Yes, this is a fine choose your own adventure novel clocking in at 328 pages, and there are plenty of lovely illustrations by Kev Crossley that look like vintage art from the early 1900’s. In fact, the art charmed me so much. I’m sorely tempted to get back to drawing myself, and soon. Fortunately, the plot is pretty good and indeed, this is quite the page turner, with multiple scenarios for everything from deadly combat encounters to fancy tea parties, Mad Hatter included. There’s a bit of hiariously gory content when things go wrong, but if you got a chuckle out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’re pretty much all set here.

The only drawback to this book is it really, really wants you to write in it, making loaning it out a bit tricky, Now, you can do what I did and transcribe certain stat charts to that notepad and pass the book for a friend to play, but that’s up to you, of course. Looking at Ace’s selection of other Gamebooks, I’m tempted to pick another one up to play one of these days, well. once I whittle down the pile of work I’m slowly getting to. Uh, anyone want to borrow a book?

-GW

Book-ish

Minus four or five books not shown, I was a bit busy reading to keep sane in 2020.

So, a few days late and no dollars short, here are most of the books that have shown up from a few small to large publishers last year when I was holed up and locked down. There are a few missing from this photo, as a friend needed some emergency reads and I was more than happy to oblige. I don’t think I’ve read this much fantasy and sci-fi in a row since high school, so it was a pretty interesting few months.

Then again, when you have two strokes, survive and need to teach yourself to read and write again, it’s definitely a good thing I was able to enjoy this lot of novels, albeit a bit slower than I used to. I was a bit of a speedy reader back in the day and when these books started showing up last year, it was a bit daunting at first. But the as the amount increased, I became quite determined to get through them all. So, yes – it helped with all these books showing up. Hooray for mailing lists, and sure, I may write a few short reviews on some of these down the road a piece.

-GW

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Hands-On: You’ll Come Back, But Be Gone For A While

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Prediction: It’s going to make its target and likely much more.

A little Kickstarter action, anyone?

Developer Owlcat Games is hard at work on a follow up to the incredibly deep Pathfinder: Kingmaker, which combined gameplay inspired by classic PC role-playing games such as the Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Fallout 2 and Arcanum with a huge kingdom building system in a massive game with a pretty loyal following worldwide. It’s not at all a simple game as it sticks closely to the tabletop experience down to complex rules that need to be learned and implemented lest failure be your primary option.

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a more an even more ambitious follow up, but tailored a lot better and not a direct “sequel”, adding in a wealth of changes to the game engine, a load of new classes to play as and packing in a ton of content. Owlcat is clearly in it for the long haul. This is good, however, as the hands-on demo’s Siege at Drezen sequence was pretty thrilling and left me wanting more. Before the demo, game Director Alexander Mishulin spoke and I got a wealth of lore on new classes, Mythic Path characters such as Angel, Lich, Aeon, and Trickster, some of the overall goals in the story line and more brain-filling content. There’s a lot going on here and Mishulin noted the final version will allow for many options and choices for new as well as returning players (which means a ton of replay value, naturally).

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This is going to be as deep as it gets and then some, but it was also noted that the dev team has been listening to feedback from the first game and is tailoring this new experience to be a bit more flexible for new players as a option. that certainly doesn’t mean the game will be easy or “casual”, mind you. The depth outside of the combat will include a number of “pay attention” elements that will have players glued to their PC’s as they dive into what’s looking like an extremely comprehensive solo campaign.

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Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Coming to Kickstarter in Feburary

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Something’s cooking over at Owlcat…

If you’re fan of old-school PC classics like the Baldur’s Gate series and other Infinity Engine games, Keep an eye of this, please. Developer Owlcat Games will be launching a crowdfunding drive via Kickstarter for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, the followup to Pathfinder: Kingmaker, which by the way is on sale for about 20 hours more at Fanatical (go get it!). There’s a lot of changes on the way, but I’ll reveal a few when the Kickstarter goes live on February 4, 2020 and I can report on some hands-on time spent with a build.

You’ll also want to go sign up for info on the game on Owlcat’s website, as this will get you a stunning free 178 page artbook PDF from the first game that actually surprised me at how much it contained. A bit of info about the new title and some nice screen and art is below the jump.

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Review: The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M)

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Get it from Amazon, or get it from the author himself with a some cool freebies (US buyers only on those), but just get it period if you’re an SNES fan.

Once again, I have the pleasure to plunge into another hefty, well-written tome by Brett Weiss and once again, it’s a must buy. Published by Schiffer Books, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)  is a solid 416 pages packed with Weiss’ personable personal reminiscences, recollections and remembrances (okay, they’re kind of the same thing, but I’m feeling a bit florid in my hyperbole today) on over 350 games for Nintendo’s stellar 16-bit console that, along with the Sega Genesis and other competitors, battled back and forth during the 1990’s for those hard-earned gamer dollars. Despite strong competition, until the Sony PlayStation’s dominance of the console space starting in 1994-95, the SNES ended up with a seven-year lifespan (the last officially licensed game was Frogger in 1998) and more than enough stellar titles to write a book about. Well, Weiss has written two SNES books (the second volume will be out at some point and I can’t wait to pore through that).

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There are also brief reviews from Weiss on the games he’s played along with other reviews and impressions ranging from short to lengthy and comedic to tragic from dozens of contributors that add interesting and sometimes multiple takes on certain key to not-so-key titles in the library.  I did a very short gargle-blab on one of my favorite games on the console, ALIEN³ that should have been longer in retrospect, but I think I wrote that close to the time (unbeknownst to me, surprise!)  I was about to be hospitalized for about a month, so I was a bit off my game.

A fine foreword by Bill Loguidice kicks off the book and there’s a nice page on the “console wars” that’s a miniature crash course in some of the frenzy of the era with game companies going all out to try and outdo each other with varying results. An interesting piece on emulation closes the volume with writer Alex McCumbers making the case for it in a clear and concise manner. But you’re buying this because you want to check out some titles you never knew existed, knew about but never saw (Hagane WAS available at retail – I got my copy at an Electronics Boutique thanks to the kid holding onto it putting it back and getting a cheaper used game instead) or just want to check out the assorted impressions Weiss rolls out in his amiable style. Recommended.

 

-GW

READS: Surf NYC – Into the Deep End With The Urban Wave Jockeys

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Photo: Andreea Waters

 

I guess you can call photographer/author Andreea Waters‘ new book Surf NYC ($34.99, Schiffer Publishing) a perfect summer beach read of sorts. Granted, if you’re strolling around certain wet and sandy spots with a copy in hand and your phone’s GPS chatting away looking for where some of the photos in the book were shot, you may luck out and get an autograph from one of the more outgoing daredevils committed to riding the weird, wild waves in and around the NY area.

On the other hand, you’ll probably want to respect both the privacy and utter daring of these urban daredevils out to conquer with their own respect the very waters doing what comes naturally and often under unnatural circumstances. The book is a 136-page hardcover with 64 outstanding images of the guys and gals who dare along with the places they do that daring in. You’ll come for the images, but stay for the stories told in quick bits by the surfers interviewed.

Photo: Andreea Waters

Photo: Andreea Waters

 

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READS: Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion

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Yeah, you know you want it NOW. But you’ll need to wait until February 24 to get your sweaty little palms on it. Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (MSRP $69.99) is a gorgeous limited edition hardcover tome that’s 246 pages thick and chock full of big and little words about cult film, its history, stars, and why the sub-genre is so beloved and necessary. You could probably beat someone who disagrees with your entertainment choices quite senseless with this book (which measures about 8.5 x 11 inches). But that’s really not a good idea as you probably also can’t take it to jail with you to catch up on your required reading. That and if you watch enough cult films you KNOW the warden’s going to be a real jerk and a half (plus tax).

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Featuring the writing of: Robin Bougie, Michael Brooke, Paul Corupe, David Del Valle, David Flint, Cullen Gallagher, Kevin Gilvear, Joel Harley, David Hayles, Pasquale Iannone, Alan Jones, Tim Lucas, Michael Mackenzie, Maitland McDonagh, Tom Mes, John Kenneth Muir, Kim Newman, James Oliver, Vic Pratt, Jasper Sharp, Kenneth J. Souza, Mike Sutton, Stephen Thrower, Caelum Vatnsdal, and Doug Weir, there’s enough here to start (or close) several cinematic conversations. I’m still poring through a PDF review copy, but so far I’m significantly entertained enough to say it’s a must-buy, especially if you’ve been building up your collection of Arrow Video Blu-Ray/DVD sets since the North American kickoff through MVD Entertainment Group.

READS: Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman

Bombshell_coverThank goodness the art of the glamour pin-up book isn’t lost forever, particularly given today’s endless supply of overly raunchy and more easily accessible content the internet has to offer. The fine folks over at Schiffer Books have been putting out a nice selection of pin-up titles for some time, but this is one of the best they’ve published to date.

Award-winning photographer/artist John Gladman is one of those thankfully still carrying the artfully positioned cutie torch and in Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman (Schiffer Books, $34.99 – BUY IT!), there’s a whole lot to appreciate. Continue reading

READS: Alternative Movie Posters II Is a Must for Film (and Art) Fanatics

Hey. I have an important question to ask you all:

(Thanks, modelcitizen72 and MOVIECLIPS!)

Alt Mov Posters II coverIf you do (and even if your name isn’t Joey), Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground ($34.99) is going to make you smile until our face cracks. Well, okay – there’s only one actual gladiator movie in the book (which just so happens to be a poster variant from Ridley Scott’s 2000 film), but that quote jumped out and bit me as soon as I saw the poster and I had to use it as an opener. Anyway, author Matthew Chojnacki has put together a fantastic collection of 200 more film poster variants done by a wide assortment of artists in many different styles that will make any film fan want this on their gift list. Continue reading

READS: Cooking for Geeks Will Make You Hungry For Science

Cooking For Geeks 2nd Edition

Yeah, I cook and you should as well. No matter haw daunted you are by the prospect of entering the kitchen to whip up something as simple as a boiled egg, the ability to prepare a meal is not only a necessary survival skill, it’s a series of victories as one overcomes fears and produces some very tasty results. Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks ($24.99) is not only a fantastic read, it’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read. A cornucopia of recipes, food and other science lessons, excellent interviews with far too many chefs and other food experts to list, the book is both a page-turning revelation and a go-to master class in all sorts of kitchen knowledge. Continue reading