Monday, October 31, 2011

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species #18

Every now and again, there's a whole bunch of guys with too little information to go on in a row. This post may hold the record for that.

171. Clawdites. The Clawdites are shapeshifters. This is why a hot chick in Episode II turned into a nasty thing when she died-she was a Clawdite.

Most Clawdites, from what I've read, can't change their forms as extensively as a lot of shapeshifters; they essentially can only use it as disguise powers. And that rather makes me wonder what the point to Zam Wesell (the aforementioned Clawdite) shapeshifting really was-she went around "disguised" as the same hot actress all the time.

Rating: 3/5. As shapeshifters go, the Clawdites are fairly boring and mildly plausible. They have kind of a fun name, though. Clawdite Clawdite Clawdite.

172. Codru-Ji. Codru-Ji are four-armed people. Their most amusing feature is that they go through a form of metamorphosis-they start as shaggy six-legged doglike creatures, and then form cocoons and emerge as extremely humanoid (and fairly attractive) beings.

Needless to say, visitors on their homeworld often are embarrassed by social missteps. (And outsiders are rarely aware of the Codru-Ji life cycle because not many of them travel abroad.)

Rating: 4/5. I love the idea of completely vertebrate creatures going through insect metamorphosis.

173. Colicoid. These guys designed the droideka, i.e. the "destroyer droids" that mostly showed up in Episode I. And they modeled them after themselves.

That means that they're big vaguely buglike creatures that can roll up into balls.

They also are cannibalistic (by the science fiction/fantasy definition of "cannibalism," which is "eats things that can talk") and will capture passers-by in and near their solar system and kill and eat them.

Rating: 4/5. I like the Colicoids a fair bit. While I don't care for insectoid/reptilian creatures being typecast as ravening beasts who will kill you and eat your flesh for jollies, the fact that they are murderous creatures who also are smart enough to design and build effective weapons systems gives them a good boost.

174. Columi. Columi are tiny-bodied, huge-headed people who ride around in hoverchairs. In effect, a race of MODOKs.

They also are described as being a "very old" species, which is kind of meaningless as a phrase, but intended to indicate that they are highly advanced.

Rating: 4/5. Only because they're basically MODOKs.

175. Conjeni. [EDIT: Whoops, for a while there the link was to the wrong article.] Conjeni resemble red-furred cartoon starfish.

And that's it.

Rating: 2/5. I'm amused by the description, anyway.

176. Constancians. Short, telepathic, mammalian humanoids.

Four out of five of whom are disturbing as heck. (Look at that picture.)

Rating: 1/5. Aaargh no.

177. Cor. Cor are described as "feline" but look suspiciously like rats (a bit like this guy does). They apparently had some kind of mystic powers that let them contain some sort of giant monster. A big space corporation wanted to utilize the land some of them lived on, and forcibly relocated them, causing the huge, invincible monster to wreck everything they tried to do there. And so the Cor were allowed to move back, yay the end.

Rating: 2/5. All that kind of annoys me. At least they got better information than most of this batch...

178. Corasgh. The Corasgh had a terrible name. I say "had" instead of "have" because the Yevethans, another alien species who, like the later Yuuzhan Vong, slaughtered a bunch of people and caused general havoc and annoyance, and who were almost certainly another of the Yuuzhan Vong's inspirations (alongside the Charon).

Rating: 1/5. I must thank the Yevethans for ensuring that I'll never need to type "Corasgh" ever again.

179. Corragut. The Corragut live in the Corellian Sector and are "treated as a client species" by the Corellians, whatever the heck that means in this context.

Rating: 1/5. Don't be holding out for something better, because...

180. Corthenians. They're from the Corthenia system. That's it. As if we couldn't have guessed that without being told.

Rating: 1/5. ...

Half of these guys had practically no information in their articles. That's astonishing in one respect, and predictable in another.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What Do Slugs Do, Then?

That's the question I found myself asking when this video stated that snails rely on their shells to retain moisture.

I mean, I'm sure they've got something. Maybe they do that mucus cocoon thing lungfish do in Africa.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hey, Look, Grimlock!

Recently, a Transformer was introduced into the Transformers mythos and received a lot of negative backlash. Why? Because he was overhyped as something new to Transformers but was not. (I'm not naming names, but here's his article on the TFWiki.)

The basic gist of the hype was pretty much "Hey, he's the Transformers version of Wolverine!"

Sorry, guys, we don't need a counterpart to Wolverine: We've got one.

Seriously, Grimlock is what Wolverine would be if he were a giant robot dinosaur guy with a sword longer than a Cadillac instead of a mutant with pointy claws.

(I think my favorite Grimlock quote actually comes from a photo fancomic [much better than it sounds] where a cannibalistic Transformer version of Venom asked him what he tasted like. His single-word response, accompanied by extreme violence, was "Pain."

Grimlock tastes like pain, all right.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greatest Terrible Movie Ever?

I think I embedded a trailer for this once, but I can't be sure.

This looks like it must be the best ridiculous action movie (as well as the just plain most ridiculous action movie) ever made.

(FYI, as near as I can tell, there's Russian translations loudly trying to talk over the dialogue. Not that I can understand either of the languages it's in.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (76)

From some roughly Golden Age Sherlock Holmes comic book (which you can find a bit back here, but which I didn't bother reading any of until today)...

...You guys? You moved Sherlock Holmes to America? And in the 1950s? (The characters are driving around in '50s era cars all the time.)

Eh, whatever, it's probably still better than the old black and white movie/episode/whatever the heck that had a cowgirl in it. (No, seriously. That happened.)

-Signing off.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not To Argue With Batman Or Anything, But... doesn't matter how well-endowed she is, she's still got a lower center of gravity.

Yes, I am a huge nerd, why do you ask?

-Signing off.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Distraction Kitties GO

Wasn't much in the mood to blog, and eventually it got late...

So have a picture of an old cranky cat and a kitten.

FYI, the gray one's a cat who's about fifteen years old and hates most other cats, especially if she's awake. The other is my kid brother's kitten (who has gotten a clean bill of health from the vet, if you remember the unpleasant story about what happened to the last kitten), whom said older cat currently hates maybe half the time, and seems to not mind as a nap buddy.

Although at some point, he was sitting there chewing on her for some reason.

Oh, and yeah, he sleeps like that naturally if someone holds him.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Now That's Talent

I recently was looking at videos on YouTube, and came across this clip of Krang talking.

It credited Pat Fraley as Krang's voice actor.

I thought "that doesn't sound right, he did Bravestarr from, well, Bravestarr, didn't he?"

Well, I checked Wikipedia, and he did do both voices. (I do recall that in the special features from the Best of Bravestarr disk that Fraley remarked he usually did villains.)

So yeah, that's pretty amusing.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Game Review: Armed With Wings 3

Armed With Wings 3 is the final game in the Armed With Wings set of games (Armed With Wings, Red Moon, and Armed With Wings 2 are the others).

This game has a few advantages over the previous titles in the series: Its gameplay is a bit more nuanced and has taken on an upgradeable RPG aspect; the art style has had an upgrade; and the protagonist is capable of most feats that the previous ones were with the right ability sets. (The exceptions are the useless distraction ability from Armed With Wings [no loss at all], Vandheer Lorde's throw attack and super jump from AWW2, and the Red Moon protagonist's double jumping.) But I'll get to the gameplay in a minute.

The first thing to note is that you briefly play as the first Armed With Wings (SPOILERS-Also known as "Blackmist," the creator god of the setting), and even though he is now glowing white instead of a shadow like everyone else and has sprouted enormous wings from his back, he still can't jump. This is hilarious: A physical god, and a frikkin' foot-wide spike pit would be a completely impassable obstacle.

This doesn't actually let you do anything, it just goes straight into a cutscene once you walk far enough in one direction. I'm not sure what's up with that. In said cutscene, a monster/villain named Network shows up, the two have a big fight, and both of them seem to be destroyed (sadly, I can't cheer here as much as I'd like to because I actually kind of hate Network, too); then, we see Eivana, the protagonist of Red Moon, lying mortally wounded where Vandheer Lorde and Hawken left her during Armed With Wings 2, apparently being healed by magic energy.

Some years later, we learn she has a son who has a suspicious resemblance to Armed With Wings. Kinda creepy, guys...

Gameplay is basically a "fixed" version of Armed With Wings at first-you control a protagonist who can actually jump this time around, and you can use a magic, remote-controllable bird to scout and solve annoying puzzles, although fewer of them are quite as annoying this time around.

The enemies have been improved graphically, and the only regular foe who is unambiguously repeated from a previous game is this zombieish thing, which I suppose must be related to Network somehow, as they have similar shadow tendril things on them.

They aren't even remotely threatening; the only way they can kill you even at the start of the game is if you stand still against a wall for at least thirty seconds or they knock you into a spike pit, and even the latter is extremely rare.

As noted, the bird puzzles are usually a bit less annoying; the worst are a complicated level that seems to have been designed just to annoy the heck out of me personally, and this one, where the spikes will force you to start over, though thankfully they don't take away any health like the buzzsaws from the first game.

Every now and again, there are typos, which are more noticeable in this game than in the others for some reason (other than this title card, I think my favorite is Eivana calling the protagonist's conception and birth a "miracale").

Most enemies have at least one feature that makes them annoying-better reach than you, an attack pattern that's quick and difficult to respond to, etc.-but there's also a first for the Armed With Wings games, a ranged non-boss enemy.

They wouldn't be so annoying if the level design didn't always have them places where they'll get a good shot at you and you can't attack them.

The jumping puzzles are, of course, back in this game; while none of them are as horrific as in the other games, a few of them are subtly insidious, such as this jump, which should be super-easy but killed me quite a few times.

You're supposed to just wall-jump up onto that platform over there, but once you've upgraded your speed and jumping a few times, your default jump will overshoot it by a wide margin.

Actually, the hardest jumping puzzles involve a trick with placing the bird correctly and then using it for a boost. All the jumping puzzles benefit from the protagonist being able to grab ledges and climb up automatically; they also all suffer from a slight misfire causing a wall jump in the opposite direction.

The final part of regular gameplay are the bosses. Here, I'm actually using screenshots obtained in Survival Mode, which I'll talk more about in a second, because it's much easier than playing through the whole game to reach them.

There are basically two kinds of bosses in these games: "Slow-walkers" and "dual-phase" bosses. (There are a couple of bosses that don't quite fit either description in Armed With Wings 2, but only because they run instead of slow-walk.)

"Dual-phase" bosses are most common in AWW2, but they pop up here, as the simple but dangerous... flaming skull thing.

It has a sort of "meteor" bombardment attack that keeps you from holding still for too long, and then caps its attack phase with a shadow ball attack, which gets more deadly if it's lost a lot of health; then, it passes out and you can beat on it. Obviously, if you're reasonably good at evasion, this is pretty simple.

Most of the bosses are "slow-walkers," though. By this, I mean that they simply slowly walk towards you, occasionally firing off special attacks and trying to maul you if you get close. They are generally considerably more dangerous, merely because some of them have really strong attacks that can potentially reach you no matter where you are, and most of them also have the ability to move faster under some circumstances. Also, you fight nearly all of them in arenas with edges that have lethal drops, and if you manage to knock them off, they auto-teleport back to safety.

The main villain of AWW3 himself, Network, is this type of boss; his "speed move" is teleporting, and he has a number of special attacks that can hit from a distance. By the time you face him, though, you'll be powerful enough that he probably doesn't pose much of a threat; he really doesn't have anything that can strike over a great distance or take you by surprise. I've only ever lost to him by falling over the edge, in fact. (A few of those instances involve the fact that his arena initially only has one deadly edge, and if you're too close to the other one when you knock his health to the halfway point, you'll go down as the floor sinks away and be unable to save yourself.)

The main attraction as bosses go, though, is the final boss, Vandheer Lorde.

This boss fight is genuinely hard, but it rarely to never feels cheap; you'll get thrown off the edges from time to time, but it feels fairer here, and he doesn't have any completely sickening attacks like in Red Moon or Armed With Wings.

All of the regular gameplay pales, however, in comparison to Survival Mode.

In Survival Mode, there's none of that darned puzzle stuff; you just have to fight to defeat as many enemies as possible. Large numbers of regular enemies will show up in waves punctuated by rotating versions of the game's boss fights in original gameplay order. (My current personal best is 355; Vandheer Lorde has been responsible for most of my defeats.) And that means that this kind of stuff is going to happen a lot.

The best part about Survival Mode other than the completely crazy awesome hectic combat is that you get to ditch the bird for a second special power. After playing AWW2 and having access to Vandheer Lorde's six different abilities (punching, kicking, sword strike, "grab," ranged attack, and an ability determined by your weapon), the four in this game (punch, sword strike, bird, and one of seven special abilities, most of which you must unlock) feel a bit meager by comparison; replacing the non-combat ability with another ability adds a lot. (It should be noted that Armed With Wings and Armed With Wings 2 both have Survival Modes, but that they aren't even fractionally as fun because of a lack of huge, splashy combat abilities that can blow away small armies.)

An additional note is that the game has "new game plus" capabilities, meaning you can cruise through the game with all possible upgrades and slaughter the early-game enemies rapidly. There is also unlockable content that you can acquire, most of which allows you to play music on a music player on the game site. (The best songs are "The Final Fight" and "Enter, Vandheer." I can't tell you which environments have the unlock items for them, but I can tell you that I unlocked both of them on my first playthrough without any difficulty.)

All in all, while I think that this game has a silly story, it's well-worth playing as long as you like or can at least endure annoying jumping puzzles, and if you like sidescrolling game combat, Survival Mode is a blast and a half.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species #17

161. Chiss. The first Chiss to appear in Star Wars fiction was Grand Admiral Thrawn, also known as Mitth'raw'nuruodo, and was and is basically the best Star Wars villain not to appear in the movies, and is serious competition for the ones that have appeared in the movies. Thrawn was an exile from his people because of politics, and was the highest-ranked non-human in the Empire's military.

The Chiss Ascendancy is the Star Wars galaxy's greatest power that has never been part of the Old Republic, the Empire, or the New Republic, and played interesting roles in many stories, as it is from an isolated and poorly explored area that is comparatively difficult to travel to and from-they have information on many things that the mainstream part of the galaxy has never heard of.

What I'm more or less saying is that the Chiss fill a very important role, and are pretty great besides.

Rating: 5/5. Did I mention that Thrawn and the Chiss were created by Timothy Zahn? Because they were.

162. Chistori. The Chistori are reptilian people who are "impatient and quick to anger" and "often resorted to violence, and had little use for discipline and order." Cut that out, writers, the only thing more cliched than stupid, violent reptiles is cold-blooded reptiles.

They do have a somewhat interesting cultural trait implied, in that they don't know much about the Force for whatever reason and are superstitious about it, although how members of a galactic society wouldn't know about something like that least a little bit is a bit questionable.

They also look pretty cool.

Rating: 3/5. I'm being a bit generous, mainly because they look cool but also because they at least made an attempt at an interesting bit of cultural background. But doggone do I ever hate reptile stereotyping.

163. Choi. The Choi are from Choi. One got eaten by the Sarlacc on Tatooine. This is known, by the way, because that Choi had become part of the Sarlacc's consciousness and talked to Boba Fett while he was in there.

(And yes, in case you didn't know, Boba Fett was indigestible.)

Rating: 1/5. It's just a name. There's no actual species attached to it.

164. Chortose. The only known Chortose seems to have been from an RPG sourcebook. He was a short, chubby, furry hick with strong mechanical aptitudes.

Rating: 1/5, possibly up to 3/5 if more individuals show up and they aren't just clones of that first guy. Not much to go on.

165. Chroman. Chromans are earthworm people. Not nearly as nifty as a sapient planarian (see #29), but it'll do.

Rating: 3/5. They actually look a little too human for my tastes.

166. Chubbit. Chubbits are short reptilian aliens who look a smidgen like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are apparently vulnerable to some kind of high-frequency emissions, and the planet's atmosphere had some kind of effect on industrial machinery that caused the Empire to decide to build a massive high-frequency emitter on their planet that would bathe the entire place in such waves.


Things got better when an Imperial plot gone wrong destroyed the transmitter while they were attempting to capture Luke Skywalker. Then, some while later, the Yuuzhan Vong showed up.

Again, ouch.

Also, some of them had black spots; if you're familiar with many older illustrations of dinosaurs, said spots are essentially the same kind of spots that are used to show "dinosaur skin" in some older children's books and cartoons.

Rating: 4/5. I think I may have given them an extra point out of pity.

167. Chuhkyvi. While they look like orange-skinned humans (or maybe Nebulon), they're water-breathers who need to wear fishbowls on their heads out of water.

Which is pretty funny.

They're also a member species of the Iskalonians, an entire batch of different aquatic sapients who were evacuated to the planet Iskalon, where they all lived as a group.

Rating: 3/5. The idea of a collective bunch of species living together in harmony who happen to all live underwater amuses me for whatever reason.

168. Cilare. The Cilare were a primitive warrior species, at least by the standards of the galaxy at large. They didn't develop much medical technology because they thought it was lame-survival of the fittest and all that. In other words, they were written as stupid people.

And then the Yuuzhan Vong killed pretty much all of them.

Rating: 1/5. For once, I'm actually a bit thankful that the Yuuzhan Vong showed up. (Except that these guys were created for a Yuuzhan Vong story... Argh.)

169. Clantaani. All known Clantaani were villainous outlaws in a video game, where they made up a gang that seems to have been styled after Old West desperadoes.

Rating: 3/5. While I prefer diverse species, every once in a while you need to give in to the hilarious things you'll see. Also, they are very distinctive in appearance, and that's usually a plus.

170. Clatear. The Clatear are humanoids who are "recognizable by their horned heads." I can think of at least four humanoid species who appeared just in the movies without even trying hard that all have horned heads, so that's not very helpful in distinguishing them.

Anyway, they and another species who lived in the same general area used to fight with each other all the time, but were stopped by the Empire (after the Jedi had tried for generations to bring peace but failed); when the New Republic was distracted by the diplomatic firestorm of the Caamas Document (which caused a bunch of planets to send ships to blockade the Bothan homeworld because the Document implicated Bothan saboteurs in the destruction of Caamas, the Caamasi homeworld-see #129), they resumed it. [EDIT: Whoops, I left that an incomplete sentence.]

Rating: 3/5. Their purpose is to show exploding tensions in the galaxy during a crisis, and they do that well.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Well, That Was Easy.

I remember playing this game with my younger cousin once on his SNES.

I don't remember it being that easy.

The guy who posted it said that he'd left out one of the game's boss fights because it "took too long."

How long was too long?

Apparently, it could have been less than a minute.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Appropriate as the title may be, sadly this post isn't about Doctor Doom.

I was recently reading comments on a recent Shortpacked! strip (a habit I try to avoid getting into) and noticed a number of people mentioned someone called "Excalibur" in reference to Galasso shouting "FOOLS!" This struck me as incongruous, for what ought to be reasonably obvious reasons. Thankfully, somebody was kind enough to link a YouTube video. (Note that the following clip is flipped for some strange reason-note that the word "Excalibur" is mirrored towards the end.)

This guy is hilarious. I could listen to him nattering on like that (with the soft bagpipes underlaid) all day. (Naturally, I looked up the episodes of the series which feature him on YouTube, which have been officially posted there.)

I think my favorite part of this particular clip is how he says "What's your favorite number from one to twelve? ... FOOLS! What right do you have to pick a number? My legend dates all the way back to the twelfth century, you know!" as if the sum total of those sentences make more sense than they do separately.

And perhaps the "No autographs" at the end without missing a beat.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Game Review: Armed With Wings 2

Armed With Wings 2 is (duh) the sequel to Armed With Wings, which I recently reviewed. In it, there's an interesting and entertaining twist: You play as Vandheer Lorde, the final boss of Armed With Wings.

Also, the final boss of Red Moon and (SPOILERS!!) Armed With Wings 3. It's a little inexplicable how he got here, because I'm not sure that Armed With Wings Vandheer Lorde is actually a beatable boss by anyone without absurd gaming skills, but whatever.

Vandheer Lorde used to be emperor, but Armed With Wings apparently beat him up and took the throne. What really annoys me about this story-wise is that Armed With Wings is instantly accepted by just about everyone as somehow better as emperor than Vandheer Lorde, despite coming across in most cutscenes in this and Armed With Wings as a whiny little [expletive deleted].

I'm not going to make a secret of the fact that Vandheer Lorde is pretty much my favorite character from these games, partly because his dialogue is hilariously over the top, partly because he looks interesting and rather evil, and also because he's the most fun character to play, notwithstanding the fact that this game is, like most of them, crammed with super-annoying jumping puzzles (and Vandheer Lorde isn't very good at jumping compared to the Red Moon or Armed With Wings 3 protagonists).

(On a technical level, even Armed With Wings had at least one jumping puzzle, and you couldn't actually jump in that game.) I died a few hundred times here (that is, that single last jump there alone), only getting past by luck, before I remembered that you can "get more air" by attacking in mid-air, and started getting across consistently.

Part of the fun in controlling Vandheer Lorde is that he's got a lot of fun and useful abilities, which are fueled by a rapidly refilling "special" bar. He's got an "ice blast" for long-ranged attacks, which aside from being very useful against most enemies and for puzzles is great for whittling down bosses from a distance.

It's interesting to note that this attack is used by Vandheer Lorde in all of his boss fights.

He also has this great kicking animation.

There are a variety of weapons that you can use in the game, and all of them grant you a special ability. Other than one that requires you to finish the game and then start over, only your starting sword is actually useful, because it lets you heal-the others have ridiculously expensive and narrow magic attacks.

Perhaps a little disappointingly, the default sword is a little boring-looking; on the other hand, it's one of the more realistic video game swords you'll ever see.

I mentioned that Vandheer Lorde (you must ALWAYS type out his full name!!1!) isn't very good at jumping generally; his one saving grace in this department is his "super jump," which I nearly always use over his regular jump: You just hold down the jump button (the "up" arrow key) for a few seconds, and he jumps much higher.

With the additional boost from "attacking to get more air," he actually can get pretty high.

Perhaps his single most fun ability, an equivalent to which is not available to the protagonist of any of the other games, is his "grab" attack, which involves him seizing somebody and tossing them, possibly across the equivalent of three or more screens.

It was one of boss Vandheer Lorde's attacks in the first Armed With Wings, although it was only used in the "kills you every time mega attack" sequence as the opening part. While it doesn't work on bosses and on a few other odd enemies, it instantly kills the basic enemy and if used correctly can instantly kill even the elite guards from Armed With Wings, who here are merely a mild nuisance instead of worse than the game's midboss.

(Momentary aside: In Red Moon, which I reviewed previously without finishing because of difficult annoying jumping puzzle junk, Vandheer Lorde as the final boss has a powerful attack which is more super-annoying than it really should be. Why is it super-annoying?

Because, while it can't knock you off the platform [in fact, Red Moon is the only Armed With Wings-related game with a final boss fight where you don't fight on a platform where you can be knocked off by a cheap shot], whenever Vandheer Lorde uses it, he teleports to the right left [EDIT: Whoops, misremembered while I was typing this what he did!] end of the arena, and you're teleported to the middle.

I cannot even express how much it cheesed me off every time he used that frikkin' attack, although I suppose it's better than getting blasted off the screen anytime you're a little too eager to beat up the boss.)

The bosses in this game are probably the easiest out of any of the Armed With Wings series games, partly because nearly all of them have stages where they just sit there so you can beat the tar out of them. The exceptions are Armed With Wings, who is the final boss-he's effectively immune to all your special attacks, fast, and can easily knock you off the platform the fight is on, which makes nearly all of your losses feel like cheap shots-a dude named Hawken who is like a weaker, quicker Armed With Wings who can't block your ranged attack, and the hilarious Smoking Martillo.

I say that Smoking Martillo is an exception to the attack phase/vulnerable phase boss rule, but that isn't actually to Smoking Martillo's benefit: He actually is too lame to have an attack phase. Pretty much all you have to do to beat him is stay back and lob ranged attacks at him, and he'll just sit there and take it. He'll periodically launch an attack where he turns into a projectile and flies towards you, but if you shoot the projectile, he'll just change back and stand still again.

My point is, most of the bosses? You don't have to work very hard.

Once you've completed the game and sat through the ultra-annoying final cutscene, which shows that all your hard work was meaningless and tells you that you stink, you get to use the incredibly awesome Lightning Blade, which can cut the time it takes to finish the game in half or better, because it lets you spam an attack that KOs bosses in one hit. Yes, even that cheap Armed With Wings. I recommend trying a second playthrough just to have the satisfaction of doing that.

A few peripheral gameplay notes, which I'll mention because I know I'll forget if I don't talk about it now: Some of these games have very good music (at least a little bit of the music is apparently nabbed from somewhere, but I don't mind too much) and there's some very interesting camera actions going on relative to most side-scrolling games in all of the titles. If you're close to a boss, the camera zooms in; if you're far from the boss, it zooms out; if there's treacherous jumping stuff going on, it zooms out; and there's a default distance that works for most other things. It actually works to make the cutscenes a bit less jarring.

This at least borders on my favorite of this series of games, and I can recommend it. (The only reason I say "borders" instead of saying it's my favorite is because Armed With Wings 3 has an incredibly fun gameplay mode that, if you've finished the game at least once, makes the playthrough worth it in spades, even though that playthrough will probably be less fun than playing through this one.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Really Kind of Hated That Stinking Game

This reminds me, for obvious reasons, of the Super Mario Brothers movie.

Of course, I played the original Donkey Kong a fair bit, seeing as how there was an Atari 2600 version of it (as I've mentioned quite a few times, I played Atari games more than just about any other kind as a kid-other than a year or so when I had access to my older brother's NES [with only two cartridges] and my cousin's SNES a few times, I basically didn't have any other video/computer games until we got our first computer, which was rather late in the '90s). And it was one of my least favorite games, because I always made it up to the last level of the tower, grabbed the stupid hammer... and couldn't climb the ladder until the hammer was gone.

And then, if you get up to the top, you have to play through the second tower.

And then the third tower, which is really just the first one repeated. And then the fourth, which is the second one repeated. (Not that I ever got that far; even if I had been better at it, I wouldn't have kept playing through the endless repetition. There was a game called Vanguard that gave you indefinite continues through the first segment and then no more through consecutive segments; I'd always play through the first segment, which ended with one of the easiest "boss fights" ever, and then quit because it felt like a proper ending to the game. There was another game, Phoenix, where I did the same thing. In fact, I think most of the Atari games I played a lot could be played that way.) And so on.

What's sad is that, while I think I'm a strategically stronger player of games now than I was, my hand-eye coordination is probably actually a lot worse now than it was, so I probably wouldn't get anywhere.

If they really wanted the movie to accurately reflect the game, it would probably be ten hours long and would involve "Mr. Jumpman" falling back down to the bottom of the stairwell every five minutes. That would evoke the gameplay pretty well, I think.

My, that was a bit of a diatribe, wasn't it?

(Protip: Don't blog about something you thought was funny if you've just been looking at something that you found much funnier. It takes a little of the funny away.

And if you're wondering, I'll probably mention the funnier item tomorrow or Friday.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species #16

151. Charon. Oh, boy, the Charon!

...Um, this is a bit of a complex deal. Let's see how quickly I can explain it.

The Charon are a race of spider-inspired sort-of humanoid beings. (If you recall me noting how I hate the vagueness of the term "humanoid," critters like the Charon are why. They have eight limbs and an abdominal segment, but are still shaped enough like human beings that you could almost call them humanoid. Even a frikkin' velociraptor is "humanoid" by many measures, and SF author Stanley Schmidt [if I recall correctly] once described them as humanoid in a book about creating aliens. End ranty aside.) They exist primarily in otherspace, some kind of weird dimension that is most often accessed due to hyperdrive accidents.

Now here's the doozy: They have a death-obsessed religion and use organically derived technology, just like the Yuuzhan Vong, those overblown long-term event villains, who also come from outside the Star Wars galaxy. There's a key difference in that the Yuuzhan Vong worship death as a part of life, while the Charon worship death as the absence of life, but it's pretty obvious that whoever invented the Yuuzhan Vong was pretty much just cribbing notes from the Otherspace sourcebooks.

Wow, that didn't take that long at all.

They're better than the Yuuzhan Vong for a completely unrelated reason: They apparently use their natural webbing to entrap enemies. This will never fail to be hilarious.

Rating: 4/5. I don't like the Yuuzhan Vong, but for additional reasons I'll explain momentarily, I like the Charon. They may have lost a point by association, though.

152. Charr Ontee. Charr Ontee? Charrontee? Charron... Charon?

Yes, actually. The Charr Ontee are a genetically engineered species created as farmers by a group called the Kathol, after which the Kathol Rift, the center of the Star Wars galaxy's most blatant Lovecraft references, is named. The Kathol Rift was apparently created in a travel accident (maybe-it might also have been created by the Celestials, #142 in this list) and the accident propelled a population of Charr Ontee into otherspace, where they became the Charon. (Which is why I call the Charon a "race": As the event that propelled them into otherspace was merely thousands of years ago, it's likely they're still technically the same species.)

The Charr Ontee of recent times were survivors of the Rift Disaster that created the Rift, and were in place to protect and serve the DarkStryder, an entity created by the Kathol to preserve them for resurrection at some point. However, the DarkStryder and the Charr Ontee stopped getting along, and they essentially broke into a war with each other. The Charr Ontee are also noted as among the most adept users of a type of Force power that could apparently only work within the confines of the Kathol Rift.

Rating: 5/5. The Charr Ontee are pretty awesome. Spider farmers who went to war with a Lovecraftian computer thing that was guarding the essences of their creator race? Yeah, sure, I'll take two.

153. Chazrach. The Chazrach were a slave race used as mind-controlled expendable footsoldiers by the Yuuzhan Vong. Hey, I thought those guys had some kind of honor thing going on, didn't they...?

Rating: 3/5. Purely because they're really cool-looking reptile dudes.

154. Chestrashi. It took me a moment to parse that name, and then I realized you could interpret it as "chest-rash-i." That's hilarious.

The Chestrashi were only mentioned in a role-playing sourcebook that was about technology and weapons, which noted that they had an interest in biological warfare even though the piece of technology associated with them in the book was called a "void spear," which does not sound like biological warfare equipment at all.

Rating: 1/5. Blah.

155. Chev. The Chev are nearly indistinguishable from humans, and there is debate as to whether or not they are "near-humans" or descended from native primate life. They spent most of recorded history as the slaves of the Chevin, who are next on the list. They apparently had two hearts, and sources disagree as to whether they could live for three hundred years or a mere seventy-some.

Rating: 1/5. They're not really even aliens except for the two-hearts thing, which I'm not sure makes any difference.

156. Chevin. Holy cheese, what's up with all the closely linked ones today?

The Chevin are "pachydermoid" beings, that is to say, they're claimed to be elephant-like. They're actually huge faces with arms and legs, though. Their strength and durability (able to kill humans with their foreheads), surprising speed (supposedly they're only a bit slower than longer-legged forms like humans), and the fact that their mouths are low enough that they can eat things on the ground while watching the horizon (seriously, you need to look at the pictures to understand what a Chevin looks like) let them conquer the Chev and keep them as slaves. Even in the modern era (that is, the era of the films) they commonly keep Chev as slaves. Because of this, a lot of Chevin are on the shady side of the law.

And one of them was possibly Jabba the Hutt's only real friend. Seriously.

(A bit of backstory: Ephant Mon, the Chevin in question, was once Jabba the Hutt's partner when the Hutt was still building his power base. The two were betrayed by others and abandoned on a cold world, Ephant Mon badly injured. Jabba wrapped his huge, fatty body around Ephant Mon, which kept him warm enough that he lived through the night. Ephant Mon didn't entirely believe that Jabba was still his friend during the Return of the Jedi time period, which actually upset Jabba a little.)

Rating: 5/5. The Chevin are kind of awesome, too.

157. Chiggnash. Usually, I hate ultra-short entries. This entry is ultra-short, but it's got enough details that I can proclaim I love the Chiggnash. Why? They are described as "scorpion-like" beings who "could use the control mind Force power" to "breed a large number of warrior drones" and also may form extortion rings.

Rating: 4/5. I laughed so hard. They sound like fun. The article also has a "behind the scenes" note that says they aren't explicitly sapient, "but the fact that they could form an extortion ring heavily implies that they were." NORLY?

158. Chikarri. The Chikarri are "sapient rodents," which means that they're short. Their world is described as having many lakes and plateaus. Does it have any other geographical features?

They are also described as being technology fiends who like to take things apart to understand how they work and possibly improve upon them.

Rating: 3/5. Eh, nothing notable, nothing awful. Move along.

159. Children of the Green Planet. George Lucas once promised Stephen Spielberg, after the latter put Star Wars merchandise in E.T. the Extraterrestrial, that he would put E.T.-based aliens in the next Star Wars movie (which turned out to be The Phantom Menace). And so here they are.

Rating: 3/5. The article hilariously speculates (with plenty of reasonably well-founded evidence) that even in E.T.'s own movie, his species was from the Star Wars galaxy. That earns it a few points for making me chuckle.

160. Chironian. Chironians are "centauriforms," i.e. they're shaped like centaurs, who also have antler-like horns. The only Chironian to appear in a story is Lusa, one of Luke Skywalkers Jedi trainees, who was more pacifistic than many of Luke's Jedi and was killed by a Yuuzhan Vong creature called a voxyn (which was specifically bred to hunt down Jedi and help kill them).

Rating: 3/5, because I like the character but we know nothing about the species at large. Alas, poor Lusa, we barely knew thee. Her death made me kind of sad by virtue of her being involved in one of the interspecies romances that more people would have found kind of weird; the other party, the human Raynar Thul, honestly had a fate that made hers look pretty tame by comparison. (And no, the relationship wasn't a sexual thing, Raynar was just incredibly smitten with Lusa. There was nothing creepy about it; in fact, Lusa was possibly not even entirely aware of it.)

-Signing off.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some Star Wars Humor Thing Again

Okay, usually I think these "How It Should Have Ended" things are pretty stupid (I've watched a fair few, but was disappointed by the majority), but this one was pretty funny.

That would have been totally awesome.

And almost as perfect as this.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Be Thankful He Hasn't Memetically Acquired Jedi Powers

Y'know, I know how popular the Heath Ledger Joker from The Dark Knight was/is, but I can't even imagine the Joker not sounding like Mark Hamill's version. Dude has the best crazy laugh(s). And on those occasions I read Joker dialogue in the comics, it still sounds like him in my head regardless.

Just in case you're wondering like I did when he tossed the sign out of the "Jokermobile," it said "WAN THE CIRIN GNAL JOKERNOCILE." No seriously.

(I kinda wanted to type "osmemetically" [i.e. "osmotic" plus "memetic" gets "osmemetic"] in the title, but decided against it. Even though I think it's a great word. At least I can claim I coined the word.

It still counts as coining a word if you discover later someone else did first, right?)

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Megaman Thing Where Met(taur [the little helmet guy]) Shows Off

You may have seen this video.

Well, the little helmet dude can take punishment from more than just Megaman. (Note that these videos are based on a totally different series of Megaman games than the other video.)

That boss, Falzar, is considered somewhat weaker-in fact, there are videos of it getting thrashed by another boss. Which boss? Gregar, which the little helmet dude takes on in this video.

And now you know... that little helmet guys can apparently kick most guys around pretty badly.

(And yes, obviously I know they're not called "little helmet guys." Frankly, I don't give a care.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Stuff of Nightmares

Specifically, my sister's nightmares-she remarked after seeing this video that if this were the size of a train, she'd find it mind-bendingly horrifying.

Something about multiple legs freaks her out, and apparently velvet worms are the worst. Don't know why...

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Game Review: Armed With Wings

Armed With Wings is a game created by the same guy who made Red Moon, a game that I recommended with reservations. (The positive aspects were artistic style and the combat system; the reservations involved the "jumping puzzle" aspect of the later levels and the fact that there's a dumb justification used for the artistic style [my position is that no justification was necessary whatsoever]. Having since made it to the end of the game, albeit only with extreme suffering, I can also add "has a dumb story" to my reservations.)

Armed With Wings is an older game in the same art style, and it shows: It's still pretty, but the gameplay is rougher. For instance, your guy (who is actually named Armed With Wings, a name that even my kid brother thinks is stupid) can't jump at all.

His default speed is "flat-out run," which sounds like there's nothing wrong with it until you remember that if he goes off a ledge, he'll always go down... and of course every other ledge in the game has a bunch of instant death spikes beneath it.

These weaknesses are mildly mitigated by a few... er, make that one nice ability, the ability to somehow generate a little bird thing and send it out to scout and solve annoying puzzles.

You can also distract some (by which I mean "exactly one type who is mostly harmless, so what the heck is the point?!") enemies with the bird, but it's rarely really relevant.

As the bird is generally invulnerable, albeit with a short "lifespan" that limits how far from you it can travel unless you pick up a certain powerup with it, it's pretty good at the scouting job.

Of course, scouting is useless when you might get randomly dropped through the floor for a boss fight.

It took me thirty-plus tries to beat this silly looking boss (the victory was followed up with a seizure-inducing cinematic, by the way). Why? Because he spends up to two-thirds of his time spinning his sword like that, which makes him completely invulnerable, while also pushing you back towards a wall of spikes that he can knock you into.

As the game goes on, a tougher enemy type, the elite guard, shows up, and boy do I hate them. I think they're slightly nastier than that boss.

Why? They attack really fast, meaning you may not be able to retaliate, can take all of your health in about ten seconds unless you get in hits first, often respond to power attacks with their own power attacks (power attacks are only really relevant for a few minor purposes anyway), and can dodge like the dickens. Their only positive feature is that, since the only way they can dodge is by withdrawing, they're easy to drive into spike pits. That that's their one saving grace says a lot, doesn't it?

I mentioned solving puzzles with the bird, right? For some reason, the bird can pick stuff up, including stuff that even your larger character shouldn't be able to (though you need the infinite flight powerup in order to actually make use of it).

At least once, the puzzle is a huge pain, moreso than some of those enemies: A flying maze, where the limited flight duration acts as a strict time limit.

Oh, yeah, and you know what happens in the second-to-last level unexpectedly? Suddenly, things can hurt the bird, and this drains your life whenever it happens.

So what's the final battle in this game like?

Well, if you pound too much on the boss, he does this to you, and you always lose instantly when he does.

Because you get knocked into the spikes. Or occasionally inside the ceiling, which isn't any better even though you don't die.

So why am I playing this game at all? Well, obviously I like parts of it. It has potential. But this is definitely the weakest of the games this guy has set in his silhouette world. (I think he might be aware of the weaknesses of this game, because the third "Armed With Wings" game [Red Moon is also part of the series, more or less kind of] has the central mechanic of a summonable, controllable bird without any of that other stupid stuff.)

I don't really recommend it. (I kinda wanted to take a screenshot or two of the main villain's speech to the hero, because it was frikkin' hilarious, but unlike every other cutscene in his games, it's completely uncontrollable.) But I'll be talking about the other two games soon enough.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Best Transformers Song Ever

Move aside, Lion's rendition of the Transformers theme song. Praise Be to Decepticon may be the best Transformers song ever created.

That's even considering the way that the Japanese parse "Decepticon" ("Desuputicon"-yes, there's a "pooty" in there).

-Signing off.