Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary Stuff

The five scariest things, other than the election coverage, from this Halloween season.

1. Courtesy of Progressive Ruin: German Druggie Cyclops Bert and Ernie.

2. Courtesy of The ISB: Vampire fetus.

3. Courtesy of Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!: Al Roker.

4. Courtesy of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Sarah Jo Paden. (I couldn't find anything about this. BE THANKFUL. And if you've already seen it, I feel your pain.)

5. Courtesy of YouTube, some guy on YouTube, "Lord Doomer," the Spring Project, and Cavedog Studios: Pitiful units.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brave Robots: Mic Sounders Gets His Due

So I was sorting through my old posts, and I noticed I had done a grave injustice: I posted a series of clips that showed the most inept and low moments of the Brave Robot Mic Sounders the 13th, and then remarked that I would soon chronicle how he made up for looking pathetic later on. I said this in July. Oops. (You ought to at least glance at that bit before you look at this, unless you're familiar with the series, which you probably aren't. And there's not much point at looking at this if you are familiar with the series.)

So, under certain circumstances, Mic Sounders the 13th (yes, he actually is the thirteenth of something, but that's mostly irrelevant) can transform from a Black Hole robot to a rock star robot on a flying stage. (Oh, Japan!) He can use his keytar and the CD player in his chest, as well as the extra pair of arms on his back that hold his microphones, to play what basically amount to magical songs that do all kinds of crazy stuff. For instance...

...+5 health! That's right, he's basically some kind of role-playing game bard.


...he can summon an image of GaoGaiGar to smash things with the Goldion Hammer.


...selectively disintegrate any kind of matter.

Basically, he's a walking, rocking Deus Ex Machina waiting to happen. But there's one other thing he did which, unlike his rocking powers' story-warping abilities tendency to annoy viewers (a lot of "serious" fans didn't like him much), was totally freaking awesome.


When his keytar and microphones were destroyed, he played a suspension bridge like a freaking harp.

-Signing off. Tomorrow, assuming I get the time and find some references, I'll relate the scariest things I saw this Halloween season.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Super Robot Size Estimate Revision

A few months ago, I made a remark about the largest mecha known to have been created in anime and the like. Originally from this post, I'll quote it here for simplicity.

...Well, first off, [Daitarn III] was just shy of four hundred feet tall, making him one of the largest super robots of the era and still one of the largest of all time. Granted, the [Daitarn III series enemies] were exactly the same size most of the time, but still-Daitarn is significantly bigger than the king of the monsters Godzilla, the universe-slayer Ideon, and nearly every other kaiju and super robot you can think of-the only exceptions to this I can think of are Danguard Ace (650 feet tall), Gunbuster (~812 feet tall), the titanic SDF-1 Macross (I'm unclear on its actual height, but in battleship mode it's about 3/4 of a mile), and the really ridiculously large things like Dark Nova/Star Giant, Primus, and Unicron (all the size of small planets)...

I should have known better than to overlook Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Why? Because the series pretty much happily defied physics and logic with more ease and willfulness than Western comic books or even most of the crazier anime, and they eventually took the progressively increasing size of their mecha to the point of having one the size of a planet... and then took it one more step, to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which was a combination of all previous mecha used by the protagonists. Yes, a mecha with the same name as the series. How big was it?

Behold. (WARNING: Lots of scantily clad females. This is part and parcel of any Gurren Lagann sequence. Further, sorry for the slightly hentai-esque bit with the creepy negative-space guy.)

Not symbolic. Not an exaggeration. (I feel like a Silver Age comic book cover.) According to Wikipedia, the official sourcebooks explicitly state that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is 10 million lightyears tall. That is approximately 100 times the diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy, and 10,000 times its thickness. Imagine the collateral damage. (The battle was supposed to take place in some kind of alternate universe, by the way, which is why civilization and life in the universe didn't instantaneously end as a result of the mecha's combination sequence. And why there was a ground.) The little things that the big shadowy enemy are chucking at it are entire galaxies. The enemy was attacking because they were worried that the fictional energy that powered the series mecha, which explicitly defied the laws of physics (particularly conservation of mass and energy), might destroy the universe. Gee, what are the chances?

Ironically, the Ideon (previously mentioned) could still destroy Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Only Time...

...I'll stoop to talk about politics this election season.

1. I am sick of politics. SICK, do you hear me? The only remaining election coverage I want is who wins, and I'm questioning the wisdom of listening to that. During the last of the presidential debates, I literally wore earplugs, since I couldn't avoid being in the same room as the active television that night.

2. I don't much like either candidate, and for that matter, I'm not terribly fond of either party. I'd rather that the government keep its end of the bargain up while staying the heck out of our business. (It is a bargain, you know. That's what the freaking Constitution of the United States is for. They call it a constitution, but it's really a covenant.)

3. Loudly declaring who you'll vote for is annoying as heck. (Ask who I'll vote for, and all you'll get is stony silence.) Your vote is your own vote, your own opinion, and your own business. My vote is my own vote, my own opinion, and my own business.

4. Loudly declaring that the other guy is constantly attacking you and you're running a clean campaign is, simply put, bull poop. Both parties are naturally vicious and aggressive, and you can't convince me otherwise.

5. Loudly declaring anything is bad. Maybe it'll get people's attention, but if you want a vote, maybe you should stop pestering them. The more I've heard out of both candidates, the less I really want to vote for either.

6. A thought-provoking thing that was related to me by a friend: A psychic apparently declared that her prediction concerning the election was that "the winner is going to be dead within eighteen months." Gee, who the running mate is sounds important in that context, doesn't it? It doesn't much help that both candidates have greater health risks than the typical presidential candidate. (McCain, while hardly ancient, has the look of a man in poor health, and Obama has already had death threats promised against him [if you haven't heard, an "assassination attempt" was foiled in the planning stages; it didn't sound like the group was much of a threat, but the fact remains that they won't be the only ones].)

7. Why do people think Obama is a great speaker? I can't stand listening to him. (My reasons are not entirely dissimilar from these.) Further, why do people put up with the softballs? At one point during an interview, Obama was talking about his "Muslim faith." I kid you not. And the reporter "corrected him" by saying "you mean Christian faith." And practically nobody reacted. This bothers me. People say "oh, it was just a slip of the tongue." If his faith was really so important to him, why would he say something completely wrong? The words don't even sound the same. (For the record, I'm not saying that Obama is a Muslim. I'm just saying that, at one point, he accidentally called himself one, and nobody said anything. [This is only a concern if he's a Muslim claiming to be a Christian-why the deception if you have good intentions? I might-no, I would-vote for a Muslim as president if it seemed like he would be good for the country.] Yet you must endlessly drag through the dirt all the times Bush has said "nukular" or something else irrelevantly inane?)

8. People who talk about "sacrifice" need to look at John McCain's arms. Have you ever noticed the way he holds them? They both were broken multiple times by men determined to break him. That is sacrifice. (The act of taking a job that put him in that situation, that is.)

9. Stop talking about change. The way people talk about change is ridiculous-as if things will suddenly miraculously get better when the candidate they're talking about is elected. Nothing could be more naive.

10. Early voting is stupid too. I've successfully voted every year that I've been old enough. Big whoop; I'm young yet. My father is old enough that he missed the elections between his eighteenth birthday and his twenty-first because they changed the voting age after he turned twenty-one. He hasn't missed one. And that includes every year, not just presidential years. This is a man who at one point in his life worked six days a week every week with minimal vacation days, working from before 7 AM to often well after 4:30 PM and on call at all times, who only took sick days when genuinely sick (for instance, stuck in bed and throwing up sick), who only missed a day once in forty years, and that was because there was a blizzard so severe that the road to work was blocked by snowdrifts that I have always been under the distinct impression were taller than his truck. (Lest you think him overzealous, the day he skipped work for the blizzard, there were workers climbing over the snowdrifts to get there anyway. That is work ethic, you bums.)

11. My sister is probably going to rant again about politics very soon; when she does, I'll link the post in this bullet. LINK ARRIVES. (Note: Don't listen to the crazy person who responds to her-the "Modern Whig Party" looks like crazy states-rights guys to me, and one of the newspapers who talks about them in their reference page was a super-tabloidy tabloid.)

12. If there's something you disagree with written here:
  • Get your own blog.
  • Check your facts.
  • Don't whine if you're wrong; that's just annoying.
  • Tell me if you have checked your facts, turned out to be right, and have something pertinent to say.
  • Otherwise, shut up. (See bullet #3.)

13. If there's something that I didn't mention in this list, I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. (See point #1.)

This year has made it clearer than ever why Halloween is celebrated during the home stretch of the election season.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Super Robot Profiles: Tekkaman

(In the unlikely event you might be curious about my earlier mention of a speech in the area by Scott McCloud, no, I didn't go. Ah, well. Considering I didn't know about it 'til the day before, it isn't surprising.)

Tekkaman is kind of an odd duck to be included in "Super Robot Profiles," as the series fails to meet one very significant aspect of my super robot definition: Size. Tekkaman (also known as Teknoman, and I may slip and call him that by accident for reasons I'll explain) is only marginally bigger than a human being. Primarily, this is because Tekkaman actually is a human being.

See, it's all through the powers of magic anime physics that he actually mass-shifts and transmutes himself into a towering, red and white metallic pseudosamurai. (Well, I don't really know about the original Tekkaman, although it sounds like it must have been reasonably similar to the one I'm familiar with.) If you're a fan of Western media, particularly comics, you may snort, but don't bother telling me it's goofy-it's hardly any goofier than a guy suddenly turning into a giant green invulnerable bodybuilder. And a big mecha samurai man certainly seems like it'd be more dangerous than some dumb lug. (Please disregard the inherent goofiness of the preceding sentence.)

I suppose that the series makes up to a small extent for Tekkaman's small size by including an actual giant robot, although not a "true" giant:

Of course, in the first Tekkaman, this is counteracted by the robot's sheer ugliness. It might not be such a bad idea to have Tekkaman riding around on a spaceship/robot (named Pegas or Pegasus, depending on whom you're asking) if he weren't so darned ugly.

A decade or so after Tekkaman came Tekkaman Blade. No, I don't know why there was such a long gap.

Tekkaman Blade, unlike its predecessor, looks FREAKING AWESOME. (cough) Even Pegasus looks like total awesomesauce, if a bit too Gundamy for my tastes. And it was a pretty good series, too.

See, unlike a lot of these series that I profile, I actually saw a good-sized chunk of Tekkaman Blade. To hear anime purists talk about it, it was horribly butchered... but it was still something incredible to my much-younger self. (And let's not even talk about what kind of effect it had on the psyche of someone I know...)

Looking back at this all these years later, this was a really retro dub for the time period (early-to-mid '90s). Also, calling Teknoman a "superhero" strikes me as somehow incredibly incongruous.

Teknoman (er, Tekkaman Blade) also made it into the Super Robot Wars games, which gives him extra super robot street cred. I mean, not that he needed very much, as he passes the requirements other than size with flying colors (he slaughtered stuff ten times his own size with less effort than swatting a fly, if nothing else, and if that's not super robot street cred, I don't know what is-in one episode, he shoots down a "nuclear missile" [not really a nuclear missile per se-it was something more exotic] that was as big around as a football field).

One more note: The original Tekkaman's full title was Tekkaman: The Space Knight. Why does that sound familiar?

-Planning on looking for Tekkaman Blade/Teknoman footage on YouTube in the near future, and signing off.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Transformers: Operation Combination

I have periodically had philosophical rambles on Transformers as a franchise. One facet I haven't mentioned directly is the line's tendency to absorb things. (I have mentioned that the original toyline was started as a combination of a line called Diaclone with some additions from another called Microman.)

Recently, a Transformers news site or two mentioned some information on this toy, an item related to an obscure Japanese franchise from the '80s called Dolbuk (also spelled Dorvack-I wonder if there are door-to-door Dorvack salesmen?), riding the current robo-nostalgia wave in Japan in order to get people to buy high-end collectibles. Why would they mention it? Because this robot sort of kind of used to be a Transformer.

See, when Hasbro's third or fourth or fifth Diaclone repack turned out to be a smashing success, they had a desperate desire for more toys. Hasbro has traditionally turned over its entire product line in the span of two years; each year saw the release of something like forty toys in a single line, which would only (according to Hasbro's business model) sell well for perhaps two years before it became unpopular. So they started outsourcing. They got some quite bizarre items this way that just happened to more or less fit the paradigm of Transformers.

Some of these included Sky Lynx, Omega Supreme, the copyright-oddity plagued Jetfire, the so-called "Deluxe Insecticons," and the aforementioned Roadbuster and his buddy Whirl. (Many of these have become well-loved icons of the franchise. Omega Supreme and Jetfire in particular seem to be "regular" recurring characters; the others... not so much.)

The franchise has been mostly less aggressive in recent years. Still, that hasn't kept it from devouring Gobots whole, mutating the unsuccessful Animorphs line into itself, and even extending its clutches into other regions of the fictional omniverse. (Not that these attempts have always been well-executed, but that's not generally the fault of the Transformers franchise. And not that it hasn't coexisted with some of these things before.)

And if you're wondering how these tactics are working for sales, Hasbro outperforms its analysts' predictions during nearly every financial quarter. Yes, that includes right now, with the craziness of the stock market.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Distracting Image Day

(Image created using Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions.)

Just feeling a bit... "meh," as they say.

On a side note, for anyone living in Northwest Ohio, Bowling Green State University is having a "comics and pop culture" sort of thing, and Scott McCloud will be speaking there at 6:30 tomorrow night. I don't know if I'll be able to be there, but I'm interested. (Ironically, even though I attend a branch of BGSU, I heard about this from the Toledo Blade, just this morning.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cheap Tactics

In any game, you'll find that there's some particular strategy which is highly effective, highly annoying, and super-cheap.

In Total Annihilation, this tactic is the Flash rush.

Some, if not all, OTA (Original Total Annihilation) online gaming societies ban people for Flash rushing. (Not being an online gameplayer, I only know this by reputation.)

Note: The Flash is a unit in TA which is widely considered "overpowered" because of its strong combination of speed, game-slowing firepower (some people disable the Flash [and its robotic counterpart, the Peewee, which is only a little bit less bad] not because of its use in Flash rushing, but because its gun slows the game down so much when fired en masse), and sheer incredibly low cost. What makes things even worse is that the Flash's counterpart in the game's second faction is pathetically weak, especially by comparison, meaning that only master players intimately familiar with the game and with truly insane micromanagement skills can defeat even a typical Flash rush spam attack if playing that side-and even those won't always save someone on a map as small as the one shown above. (The game shown above is actually a game by an experienced TA player against the game's nearly helpless and comically inept AI.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Little Kiwi That Could

I saw this video today, and simultaneously found it moving, sad, funny, disturbing, and even kinda inspiring.

Dude, it's apparently popular. (It seems kinda familiar-I feel like I may have seen it before.)

What I like about it is that it's incredibly simple, incredibly elegant, and still manages to say what it wants to say with perfect clarity. (Not everyone will get its message as clearly, perhaps, but that's a problem in any media.)

-Signing off.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Writing Techniques: Small Talk

(Now edited to add actual content.)

The basic gist of how to write small talk is pretty simple: Don't.

Why? Because it's really hard to write good "small talk."

To make it clear, "small talk" is dialogue with no particular purpose. When a character is speaking, it takes up time and energy. If s/he is "making small talk," s/he's wasting your time and energy. (I recall that I once dropped a webcomic because there was some small talk that was so painfully bad that the comic had essentially jumped the shark for me after I read it.)

A few people can make good use of small talk. One of the few effective ways to use it is to use it to entertain the reader while setting up for something else; this is most effective in a comic format in my experience (although Douglas Adams mimicked small talk to some degree in the narration of his books while giving exposition).

It should also be noted that, while talk between characters can be "small talk" for them, if it is either entertaining or naturally flowing exposition, it is not functionally small talk for the reader.

Another feature of small talk used in this fashion, incidentally, is that it is usually funny and often intensely ironic. I recollect an episode of the '90s era X-Men cartoon that featured a pair of security guards arguing over whether their current discomfort was the result of heat or humidity; shortly thereafter, Iceman broke into the facility, and it was quite promptly cold that was responsible for their discomfort.

Here is an example of the elusive creature that is "effective small talk," as little as I want to use the phrase.

Dude: Dude, I think women are hot.
Guy: I must heartily concur.
(A shadow comes up behind them.)

Dude: Aren't they totally hot?
Guy: Did I not just agree with you?
(The shadow is towering over them.)

Dude: I like-*ghrk*
(The shadow thing eats them or something.)

Erm, yeah.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just a Few Quick Remarks...

I've been a bit behind on my regular internets trawls lately, and today was pretty much catchup day.

So I read this post from Sunday just a few minutes ago.

I must agree.

It has been said by many that kids just don't read today. This is obviously patently untrue, even ignoring Harry Potter. Quite a few kids read manga.

Myself among them. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that I'm 25 and have read through Lord of the Rings [multiple times], the entire monolithic and painful New Jedi Order Expanded Universe series [why'd you kill Chewbacca?!], Star Trek novels [I'm not even a fan of Star Trek!], most of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, etc.)

Manga, at present, are much more popular than western comics among youth. Why?

Some say it's the art.

It certainly can't be because it's less plot-intensive and less backstory-heavy than western comics. While few manga have shared universes and backstory elements by comparison to the massive shared universes of western comics, they still frequently contain complicated backstories.

I mean, my main source of manga is Shonen Jump (as has been indicated previously on this blog). One of the problems with this format is, while it's an economical package of seven or so titles (I'm probably way off), they change the lineup every six months or so, dropping titles you might have liked and adding ones you don't give a care about in their place. (They also frequently throw in single-chapter previews for stuff that will never be serialized within the magazine itself.) Occasionally too, they'll skip over massive amounts of storyline, especially if the series is a highly commercial one (okay, most of SJ's titles are highly commercial) that has an anime out that's been dubbed earlier than the manga was released.

And manga is heavily continuity driven. If you haven't read a chapter preceding the current one, you'll probably be at least a little bit lost, because they did a bunch of stuff during that chapter. (Unlike western comics. Rimshot.)

I mean, in a recent chapter of YuYu Hakusho, the main character had been killed in the previous chapter (for the second time-he first died in the first chapter of the series), and suddenly semi-inexplicably revived. (It's sorta complicated and nonsensical, but it was played better than any other inexplicable revival I've ever seen.) If you missed the previous bit, you might be wondering how he died (although he'd been fighting some powerful guy before then, so perhaps not).

Or, just generally, recent chapters of Bleach have been kind of obtuse reading for me. Mainly because, out of probably fifty chapters or more, I saw only two of them because that's how many were in Shonen Jump (and those two chapters were particularly uninformative ones). It's been a few chapters, but I'm able to follow perhaps 70% of the current stuff. It's not my favorite manga or anything, but I'm following it despite being dropped into it suddenly.

I had somewhere more specific that I was going with this, but I got kicked off for forty five minutes.

The point is, yeah, it's not the continuity alone that makes it newbie-unfriendly. Look at the writing first when sales have problems, then at the art, then at trappings of the universe.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick Note

I was busy clearing out an e-mail inbox last night. So busy I forgot to blog. (My e-mail at the college I go to changed formats a while ago, and I couldn't figure out how to mass delete. That account gets boatloads of junk mail.)

No time for anything serious tonight, and tomorrow's not looking good either.

-Signing off, hoping for something good on Friday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TA: Pitiful

Just a quick little bit of spammy humor, courtesy of the Spring Project and Cavedog Studios (and some dude on YouTube).

This is really kind of a Total Annihilation injoke, but it should make most people at least smirk.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Super Robot Profiles: Getter Robo

Today's entry is Getter Robo.

Getter Robo is one of the most successful super robots, having appeared in more series than I'm even going to bother mentioning. The etymology of its name is pretty obscure; my best guess is that "get" is a corruption of "gate" (i.e. Gater Robo), as the formation of the robots sort of involves the "opening" and "closing" of "gates" (or at least, that's what the guys shout when the robots separate). Like its predecessor, Mazinger Z, Getter Robo was created by Go Nagai, although unlike most of Go Nagai's series, a co-author is credited as well.

What sets Getter Robo apart from its contemporaries is immediately obvious.

Getter Robo was the first "team" super robot. It had three pilots, and each of those pilots had their own version of the robot that they controlled, and each had their own specialties and strengths (as well as weaknesses) that made the combining mechanic important, indeed, central, to the series.

Another thing that set Getter Robo apart is that one of the robot pilots died at the end of the series. This is notable for two reasons: first, he's still dead. Second, his death has been depicted so inconsistently that it's sometimes seen as a running gag, although it's nearly always a very heroic sort of thing.

In subsequent series, he was replaced by a taller, less fat guy. (No, I can't bring myself to care much about their names at the moment.) Generally, they seem to be almost the same character except for the (relatively minor) differences in appearance-that is, the fat comic relief.

Getter robot G (intro above) was the last Getter Robo for a long time, with the exception of a rather poorly received sorta-not-quite-a-sequel in the early '90s.

However, during the relatively recent revival of popularity of the super robot series as a genre, Getter Robo led the charge of returning older series with Change/Shin Getter Robo-The Last Day/Armageddon.

In the current anime climate in Japan, super robots are as hot as they've been since the late eighties, and Getter Robo's continuing popularity even today reflects that. Like Mazinger Z before it, Getter Robo was a trendsetter.

On a side note, I've frequently seen mention of the dub of Getter Robo, Starvengers. When I was first investigating super robots on the internets some years ago, I recognized Getter Robo as being excessively similar to a set of videos I had watched as a kid called Starformers. (Later research made it clear that these videos had been a dub of Getter Robo G.) The peculiar thing is that I've never found any information on this version. Anywhere. I have no way of knowing if it was related to the Starvengers dub, if perhaps it was dubbed for another country, or what. It's almost as if they never existed.

-Signing off in mild confusion.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've always wanted...

...a program that could do 3d modelling. Enter Wings 3d.

It took a few minutes to figure out, but I only heard of the program about three hours ago, and I'm already doing this:

Not that impressive, although I'd never before heard of this shape (here heavily warped from its original form):

Color me amused.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Moomee MOO-er, only you-can prevent forest fires.

Thank you, Core Commander!

Leave it up to a purely mechanical being who inhabits a world made entirely of metal and machinery to know about fragile ecosystems and other features of living on a "natural" planet.

(EDIT: The original video was removed from YouTube. The one I was using runs from 1:36 to 2:09 on this video.)

Er, nevermind...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


(So I had just finished getting ready for bed, and laid down to go to sleep last night... and very suddenly remembered that I hadn't blogged. Oops.)

The game Total Annihilation turned 11 last month. Considering how much time I've wasted playing this game, I figured I ought to say something.

TA isn't a game one generally hears that much about. You're much more likely to have heard of something like Warcraft or Starcraft. But, despite the game's vast age (11 years?!-how many of today's computers could run something that old?-I've never checked myself), lots of people still play it. (Yours truly included, although I only play it in small spurts over a couple of days lately, with months in between. It's just too time-intensive.)

Why do people still play it? Well, the sense of power that one gets playing any RTS (real time strategy game) is quite a draw, and I have to admit that it's the main reason I play it. (Incidentally, I really stink at the game, and have never played it against another human being. I have to cheat a lot of the time when playing against the AI, and the AI is notoriously retarded.) But the game's other appeal gave it a huge edge over its competition from the same time period-it feels kind of real.

This is because TA was one of the first games ever to incorporate anything resembling physics into itself. Different worlds have different amounts of gravity, which does affect gameplay; units in the air move in ways truly distinct from those on the ground; a unit on a hill has an advantage over a unit at the bottom of the hill; hills and other terrain have an enormous effect on gameplay; there are trees and rocks and wreckage from battles and the like which occur all over the battlefield, and all of them can affect gameplay in several ways, both as resources and as obstacles; and there are numerous other features of the game that made it truly revolutionary. (It edged out Starcraft for number one RTS in a recent ranking of the ten best RTS games, and is generally considered to still be one of the most important games in the genre.)

But what is truly staggering is that the game encouraged creativity among those who play it. According to Wikipedia, there are some 6000 third-party (independently) created downloadable units which could be added to the game, and that doesn't really include the various modified variants (mods) of the game that have been created, or the numerous maps, or... you get the picture. What is more, this creativity caused numerous people to want to spruce the game up to match the newer, more graphically impressive games... and so somebody did. What's really shocking about this is that Spring is completely reverse-compatible with anything made for the original.

Every time I think about that, I shudder. The idea of having a nuclear missile launcher in a game where there's deformable terrain is, well, a thought that fills me with a certain amount of glee, to be frank.

The game changes from something like this, by the way... this.

I'm still considering Spring, which is free, by the way, which I haven't downloaded because 1) it'd be something I'd have to run on a newer computer, where I wouldn't be able to concentrate as well (my TA computer is in my bedroom), and 2) I waste way too much time playing games as it is.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ultraman Speaks Scat

So I was looking at my regular rounds on the ol' internets, when I stopped by a blog and saw this video...

(That little tiny hat he has perched on his head just cracks me up.)

Isn't it polite of Japan('s production companies) to do this kind of bizarre stuff with their characters, so that we don't have to work to laugh at them?

It's funny to think that Ultraman here is part of the second-oldest long running science fiction television franchise (that I can think of) ever. (The oldest is Doctor Who. The series Ultra Q, which kicked off Japan's Ultra series, ended its run on the air two full months before Star Trek started, although it was more than a year later before the series finale finally aired.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Super Robot History: Where East Meets West

Something I've rarely mentioned when discussing this subject is the relationship of Japan's fictional robots and their history to that of America's fictional robots and their history. (This post is a significant exception.) After all, there have been many popular/good series, such as Heavy Gear, Exosquad, and BattleTech which were created in the USA which, if they show a strong anime/manga influence, still are distinctly "American," arbitrary as that term is.

The single most obvious link between those series and their Japanese counterparts can ultimately be summed up in a single word: Battletech.

Battletech was originally an American board game that rather blatantly drew from anime... to the point of directly ripping off images from Robotech and other series. Oops. Ultimately, those designs were dropped in favor of original ones to avoid the lawsuits that began piling up, and the game took on a life of its own. And it created a cross-influence between Japan and America, as the game was released in Japan.

Other than Transformers, I'd say that BattleTech is the single most important franchise connection between America and Japan in terms of that ephemeral subject called "mecha."

(A short post, I suppose, but it was coherent, wasn't it?)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some Random Stuff While I Have A Minute

First things first: Thanks for the chuckle, snell. (I figure you deserve a thankyou if you had to post it twice.)

If I were the kind of person who spent too much money on Japanese toys (as opposed to too much money on toys based on Japanese toys), I'd buy this. (Maybe not. There's tons of other stuff I'd get, I guess.)


And as a totally random comment, the Mongolian Death Worm I mentioned yesterday really deserves to be in a video game or comic book or something. Come on, people, a worm that spews sulfuric acid and shoots bolts of electricity? That is cracky video game/comic book/whatever the heck you want gold.

Signing off, because I'm out of time. I promise something more sensical will be posted on this blog by the end of the week.