Monday, August 22, 2016
Alpha Blue Review
Outside of forming a personal opinion about a game or game-related product, I've never written a formal review. Seems like alot of work, to be totally honest. Still, when the opportunity arose to review the work of controversial rpg figure/publisher Venger Satanis, I decided to take the plunge. He offered up three products for me to read through and comment on so there will be just as many reviews. Let's start with Alpha Blue, his new game offering that focuses on the wacky goings-on of an orbital space whorehouse mashed up with Mos Eisley meets Ice Pirates.
My copy of the game is in PDF format provided by V.S., and on a standard iPad Air it looks great. The cover art should indicate to the buyer the potential adult nature of the game inside. I enjoy tentacle porn as much as the next guy, so without hesitation I plunged right in. It took me about 2 hours to read cover-to-cover and I'm going to try and keep this review short and tight. By now, there are plenty of long-winded reviews floating around. I'm gonna break this down 3 ways (like I like my chili!). It's gonna play out like this...First the Art, then the Layout, and then the Content.
So, the art is really great. If you dig suggestive space-operaesque art, the illustrations scattered throughout this book will be right up your alley. Several pieces are clearly spoofs of popular figures from the TV and Movies that the game draws inspiration from. Tom Baker as Doctor Who seems close to striking a deal with a space hooker is one of my personal favorites. Another one with a character who looks alot like Ming the Merciless is great, as he stokes his wispy beard and inspects his latest purchase...yup, you guessed it...naked chick. This book is rife with boobies, both exposed or almost exposed. If you don't like boobies then don't buy this book. You gotta like boobies to even just peruse this one. OK...I've typed boobies enough. Moving on.
The layout is nice. Nothing fancy here. The pages all follow a simple 2-column format that many OSR gamers feel most comfortable with. Each page has some simple background art that sets off the content nicely. Art seems slotted in a well-thought out manner and with good frequency, making the read-though smooth, interesting and entertaining.
Content time. Alpha Blue is both a game system and a source-book for the station and its inhabitants. The game system feels like a bit of an afterthought, and the mechanics, while simple and easily adopted, seem to lack the depth that I enjoy in some other games. I certainly understand what he was shooting for here, a neat, fun, wacky one-off style that would enable a group to decide to romper-room it up once in a while in between more serious sessions of a long-term campaign, or as a game to play when maybe everyone couldn't make it to the regular show. I guess that on that level, it works. For me, he could have left the system home and just given me a 100% source-book chock full of tables and tall tales of big-boobed hookers, orgasm-inducing machinery (hello Sleeper!) and space jockeys who don't give AF about the rules of polite society. Alpha Blue is the Tijuana of Space Stations, and it doesn't need a game system bogging it down. It was polite to include it, but you can use this book without it and just integrate it into whatever space-game you happen to be enjoying. I personally would like to play some TMNT where this place was orbiting earth...yeah, my Gator-Thug likes him some cyber and bio-enhanced vijayjay.
You can't write a review of this book without talking about tables. Some guys love tables and if you are that guy, stop reading and go pick this book up now. There are so many tables in this book that it'll spin your head around like Linda Blair on Demon Crack! Sometimes it's a bit disorienting, honestly. Tables are sometimes in 2-column format, and other times full page. You can't flip more than a page or two before encountering the next one. Tables are like Tribbles in this book, and by the end you're looking for Harry Mudd to get them gone. It was more table than I ever need or want in a game or source-book, but I know that there are table devotees. For the rest of us, maybe one or two will come in handy. They make for interesting reading, but I don't see myself rolling on them all that frequently. I'm just not that random a dude.
In conclusion, I think Alpha Blue is a safe BUY for the over-18 crowd looking for some once-in-a-while fun. You certainly need to have a sense of humor to play through, or use in part, Alpha Blue. If you were a kid in the 70's and 80's, there are gonna be some solid nostalgia punches to the plexus (yup...Zulecks. That Stern is a no good, double dealing, back-stabbing...well..you get the idea). There is no lack of callbacks to those halcyon days of TV and Movies. It hit me right in the feels.