Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday: Video and a Link

Here's the link. Today, I repeat myself again, but I'll be getting out new content sooner or later, I swear.

In the meantime, check out this video of a rocket destroying a sun dog.

Don't worry, no animals were harmed.

-Signing off.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Game Review: Bubble Tanks Tower Defense

One of my favorite game genres is tower defense. Why? This is why.

So it comes naturally that I'd like Bubble Tanks Tower Defense, even though it doesn't involve actual tanks and the graphics are all just bubbles.

My biggest complaint about the game, in fact, is the mere fact that the graphics and sound effects never go beyond what you would expect from a game full of bubbles. A stupid complaint for a game called "Bubble Tanks Tower Defense," but a complaint nonetheless-because the gameplay is really fun (if you like tower defense games).

It's a lot like most tower defense games, really-it's just that everything involves bubbles.

Everything, that is, but the shadowy and mysteriously abstract walls.

What gets me about the walls is that the game's equivalent to air units, ghosts, go right over them just like they go right over the turrets. Yet they still need to go around the border walls.

Whatever. That's not important.

Interesting gameplay aspect number one-the upgrade tree.

Most such games have lots of upgrade tree stuff. However, I've never seen a game with quite so elaborate an upgrade tree. It probably helps that the most basic tower is the only one you can use without the upgrade tree, of course. That single humble tower must evolve into everything you use in the game.

Including the "mega" towers.

Once you have four towers clustered together in a square that have reached the tops of their respective upgrade trees, you can buy an upgrade to combine them into a single, massive tower. And unless I'm misremembering, it's even possible to merge four big towers into an absurdly huge one. Of course, the big towers aren't especially practical because of their cost, and I've never even built one of the gargantuan ones outside of this massively cheaty thing here.

(The telltale that indicates I'm cheating, by the way, is the little smiley. See it?)

The other interesting gameplay aspects are the enemies. Most tower defense games have pretty generic enemies-just average guys, fast guys, slow and tough guys, and flying enemies. (I hate flying enemies with a passion. I hates them!) But this game also has "splitters" (they become hordes of little guys when hit-I don't like them much, but they're variety and that's good) and "spawners" (who create bubbles that turn into replicas of themselves, though the replicas don't create bubbles themselves-I like these because they're fairly easy targets, though they'd be a pain if the spawn spawned more spawn).

The main thing missing from gameplay are blocks, that is to say, little structures to fill in gaps between the unwieldily large towers, but I can't complain too much.

Like any tower game, enemies come in waves, and you can get more points by getting the computer to speed the waves up. In order to maximize your defenses, you need to arrange them in a certain way to increase the area the "ground" units must travel over.

This is a good start, and is fairly typical of what you can do at the beginning. However, in order to maximize the effectiveness of this particular setup, I had to sell a few towers and rearrange them a bit.

If there are enough waves and you're getting enough bubbles, you'll be able to upgrade the quality of your defenses considerably, which in this game means huge towers like this one.

I often get impatient with this particular game and have the computer flood me with waves in an effort to get done sooner. This is often a bad idea...

But I'm not too worried. I managed not only to set up a winding path for the normal enemies to follow, but those green turrets at the center of the screen are anti-air... er, ghost... towers, and their central placement means the ghosts, beelining for the gate I'm defending, will go right over them. Ghosts are liable, by the way, to end most of your games, as air units are liable to end most tower defense games that feature them.

See? Won that one.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

For Your Consideration...

Sergeant Slaughter.

Axe Cop.

Distant relatives? Cousins? Separated at birth? Bar buddies? Or uncanny cosmic coincidence?

-Signing off.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just Plain Crazy Comics: The Giant Bubble Threat

Sometimes, these old stories are so nuts you just have to shake your head.

Case in point: The Giant Bubble Threat, the first story from Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds #16.

They're going to send a big, big drill down to the center of the Earth, partly hoping to find oil and partly hoping to learn about the Earth's interior. You would not be well-advised to think they're going to find out things about boring geology.

All things considered, that's a pretty sparse drilling station.

Some question the drill's quality; Baylor tells them it can take anything he knows of that Earth can dish out, but that it's still a loss.

Important as the event of drilling one hundred miles down is, it isn't enough to garner international attention, though I suppose it is supposed to be the '60s...

Cue alarming event:

Uh-oh, looks like somebody's got gas.

No, seriously, there's a problem.

See, something is erupting from the-okay, I'm not going there.


Lava isn't blue and bubbly, dude. Guess again.


Well, I should have expected that.

And somehow, the bubbles are engulfing things and floating away with them.

Call in the army!

Well, shoot.

What can they do now?

Well, they can dynamite the hole shut. And for no apparent reason...

...the bubbles just kinda vanish.

And so do the things they engulfed. Holy cheese.

And after this and for all time, humanity lives in terror of digging up scary bubbles. No, really.

Having read a lot of these stories, this one is still one of the weirder ones...

-Signing off.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (21)

A lot of Golden Age superheroes had pretty lousy names (*cough* Whizzer *hack*). But few had it as bad as this guy:


Not only did Zippo have a singularly dorky name (the only cool thing that was ever called "Zippo" was a tank), he also probably had issues with a certain more famous product.

You can't see it here, but the wheels on his feet actually look suspiciously like a Zippo thumbwheel, too.

You just can't make this stuff up.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Post

Here's my other blog post.

And here's a video of a lot of people in a mall with lightsabers.

-Signing off.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Curse You, Guys Named Greg!

You know who drive me nuts?

Guys named Greg.

It's nothing personal; it's just that I'm hideously jealous of some particular guys named Greg, Greg Weisman and Greg Farshtey.

Why? Because for some reason, their names are now inextricably tied with two great franchises, Gargoyles and Bionicle. (Wikis for each can be found at those links by clicking through to their main pages.)

Lucky ducks.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cartoon Profiles: Roswell Conspiracies

Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths, and Legends was a very good series that blended numerous disparate elements smoothly and fluidly into a beautiful whole.

Just about everything in the show reeks of quality and/or fun. (My sister complains that the main character's employer carried a villain ball of epic proportions, but what ya gonna do?)

Some things about this series that are good:

They manage to attain a rather adult vibe despite censorship.

They create a synthesis of legends and modify them into interesting alien species. (Sure, it tended to be cartoony, but hey, it's a cartoon.)

They had all kinds of cool transforming vehicles that could hide in plain sight, including a battlemech that could be disguised as a VW Beetle-like car. (Hm...)

And last but not least, the production crew included Bob Forward (who cut his teeth on the classic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, producing several of the best episodes, and went on to Beast Wars Transformers, another good series-and now has his own low-budget film company), Tom Tataranowicz (worked on the same episodes of He-Man that Bob Forward did as director, and is generally agreed to be the best director that Filmation had), and Susan Blu (who did voice work for G1 Transformers, but probably is more notable as a voice director for a number of series, including every post-G1 Transformers series produced in the US). (There's also Scott McNeil, but I can't figure out what voices he did. Not that anybody ever can.)

It's an interesting series to watch if only because it does many things rather differently than would be expected. As one example, the aforementioned transforming vehicles are treated as being much more advanced and sophisticated than normal vehicles, but this doesn't mean they're more durable. In fact, the number of random high-tech vehicles that get blown to itty-bitty action movie fodder bits by ordinary weapons or less than super-powerful ones is far greater than the number that get obliterated by big, heavy weapons. Even the huge headquarters used by the MIB-style organization is no tougher than a relatively ordinary building.

Then there's the real charm of the series, "Detail." Detail is the department in the Alliance (the MIB) that helps keep things on the down-low. Rather than using the cheap mindwipe tech found in the Men In Black movies/cartoons/comics, Detail comes up with absurd conspiracy theories and misleading stories and evidence to throw truth-hunters off the trail.

The series is a lot of fun, one of the best nearly forgotten series of Western animation. You can probably find parts of it on Digiview DVD. On the one hand, this is nice, as Digiview is essentially the bargain bin company for DVD releases, selling almost everything for a dollar; on the other hand, it's pretty unlikely that the entire series will be released this way.

Which is a darned shame.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

(Golden Age) Daredevil Vs. Cry for Justice

Somewhat recently, there's been a bit of a brouhaha over a DC comic called "Cry for Justice," in which various DC heroes beat up and torture some villains in response to the killings/disappearances/whatever of some superheroes.

It makes me wonder, because one of the more popular, if not the most popular, of those Golden Age heroes who have fallen into the public domain is Daredevil, and he wrung out people for information like there was no tomorrow.


Here, of course, any non-vigilante would have stopped. Dude's subdued. But what's up with the water?

He's not waterboarding, he's splashing him awake after beating him unconscious.

And he beats him unconscious at least six times.

No wonder the guy talked.

If you're feeling sorry for the guy and wondering what he did, he killed a man and tried to kill another, and then stole a manuscript in order to blackmail a guy who was in league with Nazi Germany. (The guys he whacked/tried to whack were going to publish the manuscript that revealed the truth.) This is after the blackmailee committed suicide by lethal injection.

Then, when the crook reaches into his pocket to eat an apple, a startled cop shoots him.

Y'know, I know that Golden Age comics are from a different era, but that's a really rather twisted sense of justice.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (20)

You know, it's kinda funny.

I'm sure that there are all kinds of funny things I could say about this panel (from Airboy #5, Vol. 8) to compare the giant plane in it to the Titanic, or to joke about its miraculous ability to fly in space with its propellers, but for some reason...

...all that's coming to me are oblique references to Birdie's orientation.

And the fact that I totally should have put up last week's Golden Age Moment today instead.

Ah, well.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just A Link

Had an issue or two with things here at home, so I haven't found a video to embed this week.

There is still my other blog, though it's recycled content. Sigh.

-Signing off.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

News Flash: Stan Lee Working on Comics!

In a surprise announcement, it turns out that Stan Lee is working on a new comic book series. Most shockingly, it turns out that he'll appear as a regular character in it-wait. Wait a minute.

This sounds very, very familiar.

Oh, yeah. There was that Ultimo thing.

Not that Ultimo thing, the other Ultimo thing.

Still reading this in Shonen Jump, not because it's great but because it's there. (And I have to admit, it's trippily amusing.) If you for some reason like psychotic five year old girls, excessively girly robot "boys," and frighteningly sexualized, erm, encounters between robots and their human masters... Well, I suppose that it might be something you'd enjoy on an honest level instead of the mocking-oriented way I read it. And if you enjoy making fun of things you read, then you probably wouldn't mind it either. Unless it creeps you the heck out.

Which it does to me now and then.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friendly Reminder...

Feeling out of sorts-'fraid there'll be no proper blog today. Sorry.

But I will remind you that my sister has two webcomics.

Now, I know I've mentioned this several times in the past. (In fact, for a little while I was trying to regularly mention the fact; sadly, I tend to get distracted from that kind of thing.) But I thought it bore mentioning again, because not only has Alien Revenant passed its one year anniversary, but The Law of Purple is approaching its thousandth page.

I'll point out, very few webcomics ever hit one thousand pages. And she fully intends to just keep going when she gets there.

If you read her comics and don't comment, by the way: She likes encouragement, even if it's only sporadic.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Game Review: Ultimate Crab Battle

There's not very much to say about Ultimate Crab Battle, beyond the fact that it's a parody of long, flashy boss battles in video games that's reasonably fun as an actual game.

Well, unless you count that "picture=1000 words" thing, because in that case, this says loads.

If that image doesn't make you want to play the game, it's unlikely anything will.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (19)

In case you were curious as to how Kid Eternity resolves the conflict between two warring brothers aided by Civil War generals...

...I should think the solution is obvious.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Friday... here's a link and some videos.

This first video is from a game where you play the Hulk. The final boss is the Leader, a guy who has a large head. Spoiler: The Hulk kills him with one punch.

The second is a boss fight from a Spider-Man game against Mysterio. Keeping in mind that Mysterio is master of illusions and deception, it's interesting to note...

...his deception, the huge lifebar, is aimed at the player, not the player character.

See you next week.

-Signing off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: The Man From Outer Space

Today's entry is from Outer Space #17 (available at Golden Age Comic Downloads, assuming the site is up).

It should be noted that Outer Space was a rather odd comic. Unlike many space/sci-fi oriented comics, it focused most of the time on exploration stories with little action or violence. In fact, the first issue was actually primarily composed of a continuous story about space exploration from an R&D standpoint-no joke. This is the one section that is not part of that story.

(Also note that, as far as I know, this is not a Ditko story, unlike many from Outer Space [though the art isn't bad; it could be Ditko, though I can't seem to find information on it]. Booooo.)

It opens on some guys getting ready to launch a rocket.

The one thing they can't account for scientifically, according to this Dr. Mangan, is the "human equation." (Actually, for a more correct metaphor, that ought to be the "human factor" in your "rocket equation." Just sayin'.)

In a fairly long, boring sequence, we are shown all the training and testing they've put their astronaut through. Eventually, they tell him to give it a rest, because he's headin' out soon.

Dourly, Dr. Mangan wonders if there will be anything left to test when he gets back.

As a "geneticist," Dr. Mangan actually understands evolution to some degree, surprising for a comic book.

Unfortunately for him, he lives in a comic book, so his understanding doesn't matter. Sorry, Dr. Mangan:

The astronaut magically evolved into a higher being while he was in space. Daaaang.

Of course, this is all well and good... but it creeps me out like nothing else.

"He's different now! He's smarter and better! Aw yeah!"

Claiming incredible mental superiority in fiction always drives me nuts, especially if the author doesn't back it up well. Here, we don't even get any indications beyond the transhuman's claims of "seeing clearly."

Even if that wasn't the case, I know I'd be jittery at the idea of space making people into supermen magically. You know, Transhuman Treachery and all that.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Greatly Belated Book Review: Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

My family and I have been longtime fans of James Gurney's Dinotopia books; when my mother saw Journey to Chandara, the latest book, on sale at a bookstore, she bought it automatically.

The reasons to like the Dinotopia books are simple:
1. I like dinosaurs.
2. James Gurney makes beautiful, detailed, realistic illustrations of dinosaurs doing things dinosaurs didn't really do.

That's all there really is to it. And if you like these things, you'll like this and any other Dinotopia book (that has illustrations by Gurney inside).

I'll be frank, though-the three books aren't internally consistent, and this bugs the heck out of me.

A few examples-in the first book, Dinotopians don't even really know what money is. By the second, it's clear that at least some individuals use something like a form of currency, though they may be on the outskirts of normal society. By the third, money is all but assumed.

In the first book, the appearance of Arthur Denison's submersible was seen as remarkable; in the second, such submersibles were common and had been, possibly for centuries.

In the second book, it was discovered that an earlier Dinotopian civilization used machines called "strutters." However, this was an almost unknown part of history. In the second, it was casually mentioned that there was a war in recorded history that involved strutters.

In the first book, carnosaurs are treated like misanthropes or hermits. In the third, it is suggested they live everywhere.

There's more, but I don't want the review to turn into a lengthy list.

I really shouldn't let this bug me; like I say, this stuff isn't the point. Unfortunately, I seem to be hardwired to flip out over details like that.

Also, the quality of the storytelling has dropped some. In the first book, Lee Crabb was an interesting minor character who represented a dissenting viewpoint to the idea that life on the island was perfect. In the second, he was a melodramatic, crafty, power-hungry villain (though it is possible that he was partly under the influence of a magical rock). In the third, he was a cartoonish pest barely worthy of being a villain in a show aimed at toddlers. When I read the parts of the book involving Crabb, I practically heard a condescending narrator intone "Oh, that silly Crabb!"

Come for the dinosaurs; stay for the beautiful illustrations of things like brachiosaur firefighters. (No joke-there are several pages of this.)

That's all you can really expect of it.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (18)

When Ulysses S. Grant sides with one brother in a feud and organizes his forces against the other, what does Kid Eternity do?

He recruits Robert E. Lee.

Kid, you've got it backwards. Lee drives the war, Grant ends it!

Random stupid humor of the day: February second really ought to be National Ballet Appreciation Day. Why? It comes with its own 2/2.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Game Review: Cartoon Hero

Today's game that I'll be raking over hot coals-er, reviewing-is called Cartoon Hero.

First, though, I want to note something about the site I played it on.

Games like these are often distributed on literally hundreds of sites. If one isn't working, just go to some other site and there it'll be. (I would have used Free Online for this, as it's the first place I found the game, but it's been working pretty spottily for the past half a year.) Today, for this review, I used a site called Flashrolls, which nicely lacks advertisements in one's face. However, there was this rather odd disclaimer...

"Tortious?" I don't think that's a word. Also, what in the world do they mean by that?

They might be referring to legal action, in which case this game might be in trouble, because it's got a rather questionably familiar image on its menu screen.

Of course, the game itself looks nothing, and I do mean nothing, like this, so if they just hired an artist to do a quick bit of art they'd be fine.

If they were trying to say torturous, on the other hand, then they're in trouble. Because this game is really, really annoying.

Granted, it's a fighting game, which is neither my cup of tea nor my bag of chips, but things already look ominous in the explanatory screen at the beginning: One of the "combo" maneuvers appears to be pushing the same button simultaneously.

Of course, that's not how it works, and the game explains how it works if you play it, but it's still confusing.

The game gives you a choice of playing either a team of three colorful losers or one gray-wearing cool dude. You should go with the cool dude, because he's much better in every possible way. No, really, he is.

If you're insane enough to start with the colorful guys, you'll probably notice that you only actually seem to have access to one of them. If you want access to one of the others, it's quite simple to swap them out: The C key changes your "weapon," i.e. tags your current guy out. The first time I played the team, I had a lot of trouble because I kept hitting C accidentally, my dude ran away and another one jumped in, and it just happened over and over and over again.

But as I've already stated, they're lame. (For instance, the yellow guy is so slow you can barely use him.) I'd rather go with "solo infiltration," whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. Apparently being solo involves having drills for hands, but whatever. (And in case you're curious, in this case the C key involves the hero swapping out his drills for... more differenter drills. Which aren't that different at all.)

Anyway, like most fighting games, the levels are populated by suicidally stupid mooks. These guys have itty-bitty drills for hands; since the first boss also has drills for hands, it gets kinda repetitive. They've got three strategies: Run suicidally right into your attacks and die; try to jump over your head and/or kick you inna face; and stand behind you while poking you with their little drills.

Considering how pathetically weak they are, they're horribly irritating. They probably wouldn't be, except that the controls are clunky. While they're well-arranged on the keyboard, your character has all the reflexes of a drunken cactus, and so your guy will sit there swinging for a full second or so while you're trying to turn around, or he'll take a second to start a leap which you needed that second in order to leap over an attack. In the second level, there's a mook with a ranged attack who's even more irritating. (Also, it's a bloody hard game to review, because there's no pause button. I could generally only take one screenshot per playthrough.)

(I'll take a moment to mention the graphics: They're very boring, but they're also very functional. Sure, it doesn't look particularly cool or anything, certainly not compared to plenty of other free games out there, but it never glitches and it never bugs.)

Later, you fight the boss, which is a turtle with, you guessed it, missile drills for hands. (This is hardly a spoiler; he shows up in a cutscene at the beginning.) Like a lot of fighting game bosses, unlike you and the mooks, he can continue attacking even when being pounded. Which is annoying. (I really don't know why anybody likes that kind of fighting game, which you might be able to tell. Even without that being the second time I've announced the fact.)

Eventually, you'll reduce his life bar to nothing, and the game will tell you to press C twice. When you do, it'll be the only time in the game that the team guys shine: They all show up and shoot him.

The other dude just shoots his drills at the boss. I guess when all you have is a drill...

Then, surprise surprise, the boss grows into a giant even though you just vaporized him. Neat trick if you can pull it off, I suppose.

When you play as the team, you get this colorful robot. It is actually the main reason why I label the team useless, sadly: It is also a lame robot.

His only basic attack (which, since this is a fighting game, you need to use frequently in order to build up his "combo meter") is a slow, rather weak punch with a very short reach, and he's so darned SLOW in every possible way. So is the boss most of the time, but he can also move very quickly when he's using his boss moves, so if you take this route, you're pretty much dead. (Unless, perhaps, you're a much better gamer than I am.)

No, leave the colorful guys alone. If this game teaches you anything, it's that it's better to be a dark loner with drills for hands than part of a team.

Anyway, here's the other guy's robot.

While he's slow and awkward like the other one, he's not quite as slow and awkward, his special attacks don't completely stink, and his punch is stronger, faster, and has great range, since he actually launches his drills a short distance when you swing.

Needless to say, this is the only way I've ever made it past the first boss. If you get this far, he demonstrates that drills are awesome by turning his drill into a mile-long lightsaber.

Sadly, that's probably the only cool part of this game, and it takes a lot of work to get there.

Even worse, the second boss is nearly invincible.

If you think my performance there was bad (look at their health bars), I hate to admit it but that was by far the best I ever did against that boss. Sometimes, I didn't even manage to land one hit.

It wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for this Bokosuka Wars style game over screen...

I beg to differ, Cartoon Hero game over screen. I beg to differ.

-Signing off.