So it appears I last wrote about three weeks ago. Awesome. Yeah, yeah, I know the rules. “You want to keep readers,” they say, “Update frequently! Daily if possible!”
Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to update daily, I find that playing through an entire Fantasy RPG and writing about it in a 24-hour period doesn’t tend to leave me with enough time to go to work, eat, sleep, use the bathroom, write about the game or finish a full Fantasy RPG. Furthermore, the fact that I’ve still spent a good number of evenings the last three weeks addicted to the random reorganization of pixilated blocks into ultimately meaningless re-creations of buildings I used to think were “neat.”
Ah, Minecraft. the heroine to Fallout’s morphine, you have no point, no direction, other than to keep me at your side.
Not to mention, the excessively long Dragon Quest IV has only exacerbated my problem of not finishing games in a timely manner. Also, soon I’ll write about the multiplayer mode in Secret of Mana, but Anne tends to get slightly narcoleptic after 8:00 at night, so progression there has slowed down from “Playing through a fun game” levels to “waiting until work lets out,” then down to “DMV Bureaucracy.” Thankfully, we haven’t yet hit “Congress,” so you can count on something productive sooner or later.
Anyway, to give you something to feed on for the interim, check out “Boss Monster.” Anne and I found it over the weekend, luring us closer with its NES-Box style art and seducing us further with subtle nods to classic 8-bit monsters, such as “Cerebellus: Father Brain” and artwork on “Brainsucker Hive” that hearkens back to Metroid. Each card offers an 8-bit style pixilated image, and many of them derive their theme from some pop-culture reference. Not limited to video games, you may also run into Futurama, Harry Potter jokes or others.
The players begin to create the most challenging dungeons for their heroes filled with the most expensive treasures—which will lure them to their untimely deaths. See, you play, as the title suggests, as the Boss Monster, vile, odious, and ever powerfully awesome. Let’s face it: no one has wanted to play the knight in shining armor since grade school. Why do you think they love Tyrion Lannister so much?
Games play quickly–usually less than fifteen minutes–and challenge each player to strategically build dungeon rooms to offer the best treasure (a.k.a. Hero Bait) while also dealing the most damage to the poor saps who wander in, fresh out of the archetype factory. Early in the game, however, heroes may overpower your dungeon, leading to the possibility that you’ll end up like most villains–just another hackneyed monster meant to indoctrinate young children into believing that if they misbehave, they’ll suffer through life until someone kills them. Sorry, but I defer to Johnny Dangerously here…at the end of the film, the ex-gangster finishes his moral proselytizing by declaring to the young shoplifter that, “Crime doesn’t pay!” Then he changes into a tuxedo and gets into a luxury car, declaring to the camera, “Well, it paid a little.” It just so happens that in “Boss Monster,” it pays you in souls of those you destroy in your dungeon.
“Boss Monster” apparently owes its origins to Kickstarter, which means it owes its existence to a partly democratic process of determining whether or not it looked “cool.” It does; I won’t argue that. However, once you strip away the aesthetics, you find a simplistic wiring system that might get the job done, but may also short itself out in the process. The game plays through three de facto phases: “heroes can get through your dungeons,” “heroes can’t get through your dungeons,” and “epic heroes may or may not get through, but probably won’t get through your dungeons.” This places much of the strategy simply on luring heroes to your dungeons at the right time. They have absolutely no interaction with the rooms you build other than to progress through them and kindly take a beating as though they had a fetish for undead S&M. The game might have played better if heroes put up some sort of fight, or had personalized abilities that affected the game in a way other than deciding which pile to drop their corpse into. Magic spells allow players to manipulate certain things, but once cast, you won’t come by new spells very easily.
Furthermore, while most of the cards seem to hint at some sci-fi, fantasy, or video game reference, many of them either don’t, or are obscure enough to make it difficult to understand, and others I suspect don’t make much of a connection other than “Well, I guess I can kinda see that in a video game.”
Still, I enjoyed the game. I hear that expansion packs might hit stores someday, but possibly only if the game sells well. I’ll leave you the link here and let you decide, while I have laundry to do and schoolwork to stop neglecting.
“Boss Monster,” Brotherwise games: