Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Don't Wanna Be the Guy

A game that has achieved a lot of notoriety on the internet but which I will never, ever touch with a ten foot pole is I Wanna Be the Guy.

Why don't I wanna be The Guy? Because in order to become The Guy, you have to put up with insane cheap shots like this every few seconds.

Everything kills you in this game. (Well, not things that turn you to stone for a few seconds, but if you get turned to stone, you fall like, well... a rock, and the area where this happens has lots of places you'll die if you fall.) Those apples? Any one of them is instant death. So are spikes. So is the moon. Yes, the moon.

And so is this cutscene if you aren't forewarned.

That's right: Dracula's wine glass is instant death, during a cutscene.

And possibly the single most infamous and mind-boggling lethal trap in the game:

Yes, you can be killed by this (fake) error dialog, which I've read closes the game if you click on it (making it a more insidious trap than usual).

The game is practically designed to screw with your instincts, and even if you're really good (much better than I am), you'll die almost constantly. There are a few people who have completed the game on Impossible, which has no save points and thus forces people to replay the whole game upon a single death, but the primary person I've heard of who did this is Japanese, and in Japan they practically start playing video games in the womb. (At any rate, playing through the game on Impossible requires not only insane reflexes and control but perfect memory, because the slightest misstep will result in instant death.)

Oh, yeah, and there are spikes or other instant death zones smeared across the ground of every single room in the game, sans one which has no real part in gameplay except as a red herring.

(If you're curious, but like me uninterested in playing, YouTube has thousands of playthrough type videos, and TVTropes has a page. With regards to the videos, it's like watching a Looney Tunes cartoon, only more violent and sadistic. And Looney Tunes is already pretty darned violent and sadistic. I watched one YouTube user struggle through sixty-some videos. He never did get to be The Guy.)

If you have to cheat to get through Eversion (like I did), this game isn't for you. If you don't mind dying a lot in frustrating ways, well, maybe it is.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Game Reviews: QuaRkZ

QuaRkZ (the last time I'll ever spell it that way) is a game where you and your opponent are putting particles onto a board, I guess.

Each square will change to the color of the player who last added a particle to it.

When a square has enough particles in it to put one in each surrounding square, it's "critical" and will "explode" into the surrounding squares. In and of itself, this is predictable. The unpredictable element comes from the fact that, when two or more critical squares are next to each other and one of them goes off, they all go off, and while I'm sure, given time, that you could analyze and figure out the logic, it's mostly pretty chaotic.

I remember playing this game ages ago and having no luck with it; when I found it again more recently, I realized that I knew how to play it more effectively because I'd watched an episode of Cyberchase, a PBSKids cartoon, that had a somewhat similar game principle. Don't tell me you can't learn stuff watching cartoons.

(The episode is season one's "Problem Solving at Shangri-La." The principle is one of "lethal numbers," in effect, numbers you don't want to be caught with. How does it apply here? Well, against a computer opponent, the computer seems to have a better awareness of chain reactions, so you use the principle of lethal numbers to avoid letting the computer trick you into filling a square to critical, because if you follow the correct principle, you'll always win by attrition.)

All in all, it's a bit of a boring game if you actually know how to play it, and an annoying one if you don't. However, you can probably still have fun with it in the process of learning how every single game goes.

-Signing off.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I'd never heard of Sinistar before, but this is hilarious.

You're playing this relatively normal-looking game with a little Asteroids-style ship and all of a sudden, a giant frikkin' head-thing shouts "I LIVE" and starts chasing you while shouting creepy phrases and roaring? Hilarious, and actually a bit scary.

I think my favorite part of the design is the eyebrows. Somebody posted a video with silly audio overlays, and I kept cracking up when Sinistar waggled his eyebrows in time with some of the music.

Also, I am oddly reminded of Tornedron from Transformers.

-Signing off.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Great Moments in DVD Cases (#3)

(Hey, I think this is technically my 800th post. ...Whatever.)

This is a little different than what I usually go for with these.

Today's entry is the little doohickey (what is that thing that holds in the CD/DVD? I've never figured that out) from the excellent Escaflowne anime's English release box set.

When I first saw it, it was a confusing, nasty design, and it gave me a hard time. Then I figured out that all you had to do was push firmly in the center, and it was suddenly easier than the more common DVD... thing.

And you know what? It's much harder to accidentally remove the DVD, and it's also more secure than nearly any other DVD holding... thing that I've ever seen. Any you could actually get the DVD out of without bending it, anyway.

(Seriously, what are those things called?)

So why is this a "Great Moment in DVD Cases?" Because it stinks that it never caught on. This DVD case is something like ten years old, and it's better than any I've seen in my life.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obligatory Horrific Nature Video

Because I'm in a hurry.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Greatly Belated Book Review: The Eye of the Beholder

The Eye of the Beholder is a novel "adapted from" an episode of the Star Trek cartoon by Alan Dean Foster from back in the day.

Why the quotes?

Well, the first half of the novel or so follows the episode rather closely. It alters some details-the Lactrans, enormous elephant-slugs, are made more inscrutable in appearance (the originals had eyes, while Foster's version not only lacked eyes but could not easily be identified as having a front or back end) and the dialogue is more sophisticated and occasionally explains things more thoroughly and better-but all in all, it isn't altered too extensively.

The first clue things are about to go far afield comes when the resolution of the episode should be arriving, and instead things take a widely deviant turn. (Spoilers ahoy, in case you couldn't guess.) The plot of the original episode is that the Lactrans, elephantine sluglike creatures with powerful telepathy and incredibly fast minds, mistake members of the Enterprise crew (and some other humans) for animals, and stick them in a zoo exhibit. In the episode, the revelation that humanity has starships is enough to cause the Lactrans to let them go free, but this isn't quite the case in the book.

You see, in the book, they regret their error, but they also want to acquire an extremely elusive animal from somewhere else for their zoo, and so they've requested assistance from the Enterprise to do so. (The Lactrans claim they no longer have starships; the Enterprise crew finds this dubious, but the Lactrans are highly resistant to phasers, immensely strong, and could fry their brains with telepathy, and also have advanced devices that they could use to battle the Enterprise, so they don't belabor the point.) The animal is called a jawanda, and the Lactrans admit that even they don't know how to catch the creature, which they fail to describe.

This leads them to set out for a world called Boqu, a world that the Lactrans, who abandoned space travel ages ago, admit they do not know for a fact still exists. It confuses them, because there's no star on their charts in the direction they're sent-not in the bounds of the galaxy, anyway. They eventually find a tiny, dim star along their path that wasn't on the charts, and here's where things really get interesting.

See, the Boqus of Boqu would be happy to help catch a jawanda (although they are shocked by the mere idea of it), but they're all really sick. So sick that they're going to die out if someone doesn't find a cure for their mysterious ailment fast. Unfortunately, they're silicon-based lifeforms, and the Enterprise doesn't have a doctor of that sort. (Spoiler: It gets resolved fairly quickly.)

Then, the Boqus reveal why they were shocked: The reason the Boqus could trap a jawanda is because they had to invent a means of keeping the jawandas away... from their star. Because jawandas are enormous creatures from the intergalactic void that feed on radiation, and Boqu's sun is one of the only active stars small enough that it wouldn't trap a jawanda in its gravitational pull. (Jawandas were a cause of frequent extremely violent climate change on Boqu, until the Boqus drove them away.)

And how could such creatures be driven away or caught? By using a gravity manipulating device made up of six of Boqu's moons.

They find a jawanda the size of North America. Note that this refers to surface area. The jawanda is extremely flat in order to maximize its surface area to absorb radiation with; the creature they meet up close was too vast to see at that distance, but also no more than a millimeter thick, and could be torn by the force of human muscle, although it healed from such injuries with great rapidity.

They successfully catch said jawanda, and begin to take it back towards the galaxy and Lactra, when suddenly they realize that more jawandas are chasing them because of the jawanda's distress calls. The Boqus scientist with them nervously notes that "their" jawanda is probably a juvenile; Boqus records indicate that there were jawandas that were "five times the size of Earth."

Things get kind of urgent after that, especially when they spot a jawanda whose size is estimated to be capable of engulfing the Sun.

This is a fun and inventive story, although it's not flawless.

First, it doesn't mesh perfectly with pre-existing (even by that point) Star Trek continuity. It's impossible to travel outside of the galaxy thanks to the Galactic Barrier; while it wouldn't have helped with their medicine, they had in fact met silicon-based life forms previously despite their exclamations that they hadn't; and the characters' goggling at the first jawanda's size seemed quite silly considering some other creatures that the very same crew had met on occasions that were intended to be previous. These are things I can pull off the top of my head, and I'm not even a big Star Trek fan. Foster can be forgiven these, as there's no guarantee that he had seen all of those episodes, and besides, it would ruin his situations that he plotted. (It helps that Foster is one of my favorite authors, having ghost-written, written, and adapted hundreds of books for dozens of franchises and series, including the original Star Wars novelization, The Black Hole [the Disney one, not the one I reviewed], The Last Starfighter, the live-action Transformers, and several Dinotopia novels. That's not even getting into his original works, of which I have read a few.) Personally, I think his version of the story would have worked quite well adapted into an original, non-Star Trek version.

The second major problem comes from the behavior of the jawandas. We know that the Lactrans didn't like the idea of keeping sapient beings for their zoo, but there were repeated objections to the idea that the admittedly incredibly simple yet vast jawandas could be anything more than fairly mindless animals. They probably reproduced via fission, and they had no discernible equivalent to a central nervous system. But one called for help, and others responded. Creatures so large that also lived in an area so vast that they could only be tracked and pursued at warp speeds had a behavior equivalent to a rescue behavior.

What could prey on a jawanda? Not much, aside from those critters I linked the articles of, but it doesn't seem like jawandas would have the capacity to combat such things. Why would they need to be social anyway? There were presumably millions of the things, and one's survival couldn't have been that important. I'm more inclined to think that the jawandas were reacting so because they were fairly intelligent, and weren't afraid of anything but large gravity wells. Intelligent enough to try to help a "child," and to care even though it didn't affect them directly.

Folks, that's altruism. The jawandas struck me as being simple but sapient, perhaps on the level of a whale or an elephant instead of a human, but still quite smart. The juvenile jawanda eventually gave up when it realized that the other jawandas weren't going to save it. The Lactrans probably wouldn't want a jawanda "in" their zoo if they knew it was that intelligent.

And so there you go. I want to see a sequel where someone frees the jawanda. (I don't really believe in freeing whales and such from their captivity; humans can protect and aid them, and ultimately help preserve their species. There's nothing that the Lactrans could do for the jawandas as a species.)

Of course, that's not going to happen...

I did enjoy the book, though. It's fun, and makes up for a rather condescending episode of the cartoon.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Game Reviews: Anti-TD

Anti-TD is short for anti-tower defense. Tower defense is one of my favorite game types-all the fun of looking down on a base you're building, but generally without the pain of having to manage resources or even usually bother much with maintenance. Gunning down hordes of guys who can't shoot back seems mean, but not when they're endless waves headed relentlessly for your base or equivalent. So what would the opposite of tower defense consist of?

Why, sending out those endless hordes, of course.

It's a non-mazing type tower defense, which is for the better as a simple computer program would be abysmal at trying that.

But how do you balance the endless hordes for gameplay?

Well, essentially you need to pick and choose carefully what kinds of "creeps" you send out. You have limited funds, and if you don't have enough money to send out creeps, you lose. Also, you can't just sit and wait, because the enemy drops towers for free periodically, making the path progressively harder.

So how do you win? By spamming, albeit carefully and correctly rather than mindlessly.

Through some mechanism or calculation that I don't perfectly follow, as long as you have creeps on the path, you make money, meaning that if you've chosen the right type, they'll be self-replacing and probably net you more money than you spent. There are around a dozen distinct creep types which each have five versions (and you don't need to unlock them, they're all available at the start). You'll generally want fast, tough creeps, which stand a much better chance of surviving for long enough for you to make a game-ending swarm such as the ones above from their revenue. The most expensive creep, the Schnell 5.0 (schnell being German for "quick" or "quickly"), costs $3000 in the game's money, and moves at mind-boggling speed; it's possible, if you play your creeps right, to make a swarm of lesser, cheap creeps that, while it isn't able to help you win directly, can give you in excess of $400,000 (enough for over a hundred blindingly fast Schnell 5.0s-and yes, I've done this).

So, not a perfectly balanced game, perhaps-even the toughest level can't stop an utterly endless swarm of super-Schnells-but one that is fun for a while.

-Signing off.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Look! Puppets! (Well, a spaceship from a puppet show... Same difference.)

(In all honesty, this hasn't been much of a week for me.)

-Signing off.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

(Brief) Game Reviews: Continuity

Continuity is another of those odd little experimental platformers. This one is a bit more like Hello Worlds!, in that it's generally less fiendishly hard and more experimental.

In order to get the keys and then to the door, you must shuffle around these sections. In order to move between these sections, they have to match their neighbors perfectly.

It's a little hard to describe-you really kind of have to play a bit before it makes sense (speaking as someone who had no idea what the game's description was trying to tell me before I started playing).

But it's interesting, rather fun, not too frustrating until the last five levels, and it'll make you look at things differently than most games will. I can recommend it.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Non-Scary Nature Videos

(What the heck?! I thought I repaired this post already!)

I got to thinking that I sure like posting rather creepy nature videos. (The top three entries after this video for the tag nature, for example.)

So here are some videos that I, at least, found cute. (Brief comments on each after the embeds.

Protip to you jerks who feed all the little animals you can find to your pet tarantulas: Scorpions are scary little beasts.

Death from above! (Admittedly, if you like mantids like I do, this one is a smidgen sad, although obviously she's mostly fine.)

I think that qualifies as a pratfall.

Praying mantids don't like having their personal space invaded.

It doesn't matter how big you are, a mantis won't take any guff.

Seriously, no matter how big.

-Signing off.

As Inorexably As The Future Itself

I dunno, I just like that phrase.

Cheesy robots FTW.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (74)

From Outer Space #21...

...aliens with bubble pipes.

You're welcome.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Game Reviews: Wizard Hult

Wizard Hult is a quirky little platformer game where you play as a wizard named Hult (duh).

The main feature worth mentioning is Hult's magic.

Here, we see Hult faced with either jumping over some skeletons or using his magic to eliminate them.

Avoiding them would be boring and tricky, so let's go with some magic.

Hult's magic is stone magic. What does this mean? It means you can draw rectangles with the mouse, and it will create rectangular "stones."

Which you can use to crush your hapless foes.

If this game was just dropping rocks on skeletons, it'd probably be pretty fun. Unfortunately, platform designers always have to make things hard, and so this is a very difficult platformer indeed. Why?

Because unlike most platformer games, you can make platforms to order nearly at will. (This is their primary purpose in the game, of course.) You can also attack enemies from any angle and distance. So there are only two killable classes of enemy, and anything else that can hurt you can't be killed, and in the case of ghosts, there aren't even any ways to stop them. (Fortunately, their behavior is erratic rather than aggressive, but unfortunately, they're still huge pains.)

Thus far, I've gotten a good chunk of the way through, but new levels are often torturous, as has been the case with Eversion, Shift, Enough Plumbers, Hello Worlds!, and That Gravity Game, it's a game I'm reasonably determined to finish, but don't particularly enjoy the prospect of grinding through. If you like hard platformers with a twist, though, this is a game for you (and so are those other ones).

-Signing off.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gold Lightan Hands

(What the FLIP was that, Blogger? Yeah, yeah, maintenance, I know, but you [temporarily] nuked a bunch of posts [and I still had to partly fix mine, at least-did anyone else get those weird number boxes in their tags?] and made it inaccessible for long enough for me to miss a post? Worst maintenance cycle ever.)

I've talked about Gord Raitan Gold Lightan here before. For reference's sake, here's the intro of the series.

Finding toy commercials always seems to add new context about robots like this.

GIANT CREEPY SPECTRAL HAND ATTACK. (Actually, I suppose GIANT CREEPY SPECTRAL HAND-POWERED TRANSFORMATION would be a lot more accurate, but I'll go with that.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Non-Scary Nature Videos

I got to thinking that I sure like posting rather creepy nature videos. (The top three entries after this video for the tag nature, for example.)

So here are some videos that I, at least, found cute. (Brief comments on each after the embeds.

Protip to you jerks who feed all the little animals you can find to your pet tarantulas: Scorpions are scary little beasts.

Death from above! (Admittedly, if you like mantids like I do, this one is a smidgen sad, although obviously she's mostly fine. Also, I didn't realize that this was originally so wide.)

I think that qualifies as a pratfall.

Praying mantids don't like having their personal space invaded.

It doesn't matter how big you are, a mantis won't take any guff.

Seriously, no matter how big.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011



Mocking aside, it's kind of funny that Galactron here (who "battles" an even sillier "robot" named Reptar) can apparently get away with calling himself a "transformer." Even if he is from the Freedom Federation and has the POWER OF FIRE.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (73)

From Military Comics #4 (find it at Golden Age Comics yadda yadda) in the Blue Tracer feature...

...apparently, our hero isn't too worried about wanton slaughter of helpless prisoners..

(Spoiler: That's not actually what happens.)

-Signing off.

Friday, May 6, 2011


...Century's access to the universal infinity matrix grants him numerous powers applicable to every situation.

Every* situation, including getting your boss kidnapped without any clues (here he's finding Iron Man's soul so that he can find his physical location by extension).

-Signing off.

*Except for fighting giant robots (he has to just throw his axe instead), finding Iron Man when there's a robotic duplicate running around (wait, what?), or basically anything that would ruin the plot, such as curing the radioactive zombies of their... being radioactive zombies before the big fight instead of afterward. Yes, this actually happened in this cartoon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Balgus (From Escaflowne) Is Awesome

I mentioned in my recent sorta-review of Escaflowne that there was an awesome mostly-minor character who died in an early episode.

That dude is Balgus.

(See all those scars? You notice he's sparring with a real sword while not wearing a shirt, right?) Balgus is essentially the main male character's mentor figure, so telling you he dies in the second episode isn't really a spoiler.

Balgus (his name is also rendered "Vargas" sometimes, though only by unofficial translations) is probably the toughest guy in the series, and he's probably way past his prime.

When an unknown, invisible enemy (invisible GIANT ROBOTS WITH METAL TENTACLES) attacks his home country, he tells the main male character to run while he holds them off.

And then he pulls out and unfurls his sword.

Yes, he seems to intend to lead giant robots into a battle against giant robots while on foot.

And you know what? Thanks to an utter disregard for physics...

...he does, and it's actually pretty impressive.

Of course, then he got killed, but nobody's perfect.

I would totally watch a series about this guy in his youth, by the way.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Game Reviews: Megaman X RPG

As I've stated in the past, I'm not a huge Megaman fan. But this game's pretty fun.

Admittedly, an Internet fan game that stole sprites from a major company doesn't inspire confidence, but this game is a fast-paced blast.

It's a pretty simple clock/turn-based RPG, but what makes it fun is that you can just fly through the turns. You need to exercise a little restraint and strategic thinking against bosses, but against normal enemies, all you need to do is hit the space bar or "A" repeatedly, until such time as the battle is over-which should be mere seconds.

The real virtue of the game, though, is that it has a beautiful and original interface/menu design. It's seriously one of the prettiest computer games I've ever seen, and that includes professional games. (Too bad about all the stupid typos, though. "Poisen," for instance.)

It's quite brief, but it's still worth a look and a few hours of level grinding just for the chance to beat the bonus boss. (I haven't yet. Gark.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Indestructible Puppet

Hey, look, a video about Captain Scarlet, a character from a puppet TV show who is indestructible!

...I just kinda like it because I recognize the character from a storybook my mom picked up for my kid brother.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fun With Mad Science/Magic

I recently did a very brief review of the Mardek games.

Beyond the sense of humor...

...there's the fact that the gameplay is genuinely interesting and clever.

Thus far, my favorite character(s) is/are the above, Legion, a robot that ended up with four souls living in it. (Baron von Doomkill is only one of them.) Legion is similar to Final Fantasy's blue mages, who learn magic used by enemies; the way (t)he(y) learns it is by being hit by it. Legion learns attacks instantly upon being hit, although (t)he(y) can't learn every attack, and there's no way of predicting which will or won't be learned. This means that Legion can learn a completely new ability in the middle of a battle, and this has potential for crazy situations. Legion is also the only character who can be targeted by the skill Repair, which not only heals him for a large amount, but boosts his stats for the duration of the battle.

In fact, I already have a completely nutty story about using Legion in battle, despite having played with him/them for, oh, all of half an hour.

In one of the game's regions, the Dream World, there's an enemy called a Pixie. Don't think it's a harmless little creature, it's actually among the nastiest enemies you can encounter randomly. It's immune to most of the elements your characters can use, is guaranteed to dodge physical attacks an average of 60% of the time regardless of how fast your characters are (its stats that determine how often it should dodge otherwise are also quite high, meaning that your chances of hitting it are really low), and it has a huge variety of devastating status effect-inflicting attacks. Only one of your characters has a magic attack that can work on it consistently, and that character is also the easiest one to knock out. Ironically, Pixies have fewer than 250 hitpoints, which makes it all the more frustrating.

And, oh yeah, it also gains every positive status effect in the game at the start of a battle. That's Barrier (halves all physical damage), Magic Barrier (halves all magic damage), Haste (gets two turns per round), and Regeneration (heals a small fraction of its health every turn).

Anyway, I decided I wanted to try to get Legion to learn some attacks from Dream World monsters, as they tend to have elements that other enemies don't have much in the way of resistance to. However, I forgot to take my party member who can cast Light element attack spells, and naturally randomly encountered a Pixie right out of the gate.

And as Pixies are wont to do, the little devil cast Addle Gas on my whole party right at the start of the battle, which Confused everybody... except Legion, who isn't immune, but was apparently lucky. (Confusion is the game's "make the victim attack completely at random" status effect-which isn't as bad as it is in some games I've played, as being hit by a physical attack snaps them out of it. Hilariously, Confused characters and enemies may attack themselves.) Legion's turn came up... and I had Legion cast Addle Gas, which (t)he(y) had just learned.

Pixies aren't immune to Confusion.

The Pixie's confuzzlement gave me a breather, and my party recovered. However, I had no way to damage the Pixie reliably (my party really wasn't optimized to fight it, although in my defense, it's really hard to optimize for the Dream World), except for giving it Poison... which was canceled out by the Regeneration it had. And it was still attacking my party periodically.

Then it hit itself with an attack that Silenced it, meaning it couldn't use magic anymore. Cue the Pixie attacking repeatedly with its only physical attack, Poison Sting, which dealt only five to fifteen damage and sometimes inflicts poison. I had two party members who could remove Poison, so this wasn't a problem. (Hitpoints were in the high triple-digits for the entire party at this point.)

That still left the problem of who could deal damage. Mardek was equipped with a water-element sword, which was useless because the Pixie was immune, and also had an air attack (the Pixie was immune to that too). My other characters could deal a variety of elemental damage, but all of it was in the four "classical" elements, which as noted the Pixie is still immune to. The only damage type that I had access to which would damage the Pixie was "physical" damage, a non-elemental damage type... and the only character which could deal it was Legion, my lowest-level and slowest character.

(I suppose I might possibly have run away, but where's the fun in that? I also forget about escape options all the time, and in fact I think I've only ever run away by accident.)

Then I remembered that Legion had also learned a form of dark elemental damage, and tried that, hoping it would get past the evasion ability. I got a few hits in with it, but it ultimately didn't work well enough.

And then I remembered the aforementioned Repair ability. I had the character who uses it spam it like crazy while having Legion take swings at the Pixie in hopes of making a blind hit.

Eventually, Legion managed to get in two blows this way, bringing the Pixie down to just ten hitpoints. So close... And then Poison kicked in before the Regeneration, taking those last ten hitpoints.

That was possibly the most fun I've ever had in a computer/video game RPG.