Monday, September 29, 2014

The Video Is What It Says But Not What You Expect

I don't even know.

Well yes, as is often the case when I say that, I do know. Somebody took a lot of pre-1980 Godzilla footage and spliced it together with the '90s-era footage of Space Godzilla for some unfathomable reason. (Unfathomable because the poster doesn't seem to have left any comments explaining the reason for the video's existence. It's just there.)

-Signing off.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#135)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped Prod's species despite an evocative page picture, because I've been skipping basically all the Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas "species" because they don't generally feel like they "fit" Star Wars, even if Star Wars was is a pretty broad franchise with a lot of wiggle room.

And if this article seems... tired, it's just been a while since I've had an entry that really fired me up; these "unidentified species" entries are really dragging me down. Hopefully Yoda's species will make the effort sorta worth it, because it's the second-to-last entry.

Won't be in the last article, though, because then I'll have to go back and find the ones I missed, which is sounding less appealing than it was eighty articles ago. And I'll probably work in a few special things in the final article, which I am looking forward to [the special things, not the last article, though after these last few weeks I'm looking forward to that too] despite the drag right now.)

1341. Plattahr's species. Um, they look... interesting...

Okay look their heads look like a certain male body part and there's no getting around it, alright?

They don't even have any eyes or anything. Just a mouth that thankfully isn't placed anywhere that makes it even worse.

Rating: 2/5. Uh, there's not really any reason an alien couldn't look like that, see...

1342. Punn Rimbaud's species. Punn Rimbaud and other members of her species served in the Separatist parliament.

The species' design hovers right between "kinda cute" and "deranged hellspawn" (at least, based on the still image, which is reminding me of the above species more than it should), which is never really a bad thing.

Rating: 2/5.

1343. Ran Deezy's species. Ran Deezy is seriously creeping me out right now. I think it's that fisheyed stare on what is ostensibly supposed to be a childlike, cute young face. If the eyes weren't so ridiculous, I think I'd like it.

Rating: 2/5, for forehead nostrils, which are also never really a bad thing.

1344. Rang Thang's species. Okay, Rang Thang (I don't see mention of it, but clearly the only correct way to say that is with an awful fake Southern accent) is a DJ who appears to be more or less an octopus-man.

An incredibly rad octopus-man.

Rating: 4/5. I'll note that I really didn't say "rad" very often if at all before I started this article series. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME

1345. Raze's species. At first glance, Raze appears to be a seriously crazy villain. He's got an evil name, is large (not quite "immense" as the article claims), has tusks, wears a braincase plate to show off his grey matter, and has a massive, centipedish cyborg body that seems to take up half of every room he's currently occupying; he's also noted as being a smarter than average member of a smart species.

Then you read that he was good friends with a King Arthuro, a powerful ally of the Rebel Alliance, and dang he's kind of awesome, actually.

He's also clearly enjoying a large cup of coffee in the page picture.

Rating: 3/5. I can't give the species full credit for his awesomeness, but there probably was some score bleed there.

1346. Red Nebula species. The "Red Nebula species" would have been exterminated by the nebula for which they were named, but a pair of magic crystals showed up and preserved their planet from destruction.

...Suddenly I'm reminded of a thing from the Ewoks cartoon.

Anyway, the main thing to like about this bunch is that they actually had an angry schism over the nature of the crystals; while there was the expected worship-the-MacGuffin group, there was also a nihilist group who was resentful of being saved, and who separated the crystals, causing a plague with the amazing name of Crimson Forever.

Otherwise they're kind of generic pointy-eared bright pink guys.

Rating: 3/5 for their general hilarity.

1347. Red Nebula temple guardian's species. The Red Nebula magic crystals were kept in a temple that was guarded by a creature that was the last of her kind.

She looked a fair bit like a giant Wookiee, and inevitably this led to hilarity when she met Chewbacca and concluded he was a baby of her own species, of which she was the very last member.

Wait, did I say "hilarity?" I meant "soul-rending tragedy." Seriously, that's not funny, guys.

Rating: 2/5.

1348. Red pachydermoid species. Again with the elephants?

These guys actually remind me of nothing so much as some kind of true Sith/elephant hybrids.

Rating: 4/5. Because that is fun, and they look neat.

1349. Rur's species. Okay, this species' sole known individual preserved his mind in a computer to gain revenge on the Jedi, who had wiped his species out in some form of war.

He did this an unknown but very long time ago, and when he found out that the Jedi had been purged and that it had been thousands of years since, he committed suicide.

Incidentally, this is from one of the few Star Wars works written by Alan "Looks Like Charles Manson" Moore, who's written a lot of things in comics that a lot of people say things about. (I've only really read Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? myself, which was good if a bit derpy.)

Rating: 3/5. Rur's body looked kinda funky, but I do have to appreciate this, especially as it'll probably be among the last of the daft Marvel Star Wars created-a-singular-entity-which-is-all-we-have-to-know-them-by species; they're always good for a chuckle. Also, it was retconned to have to do with those wacky Pius Dea Crusades.

1350. Sho'ban Do's species. ...Dark Sun dwarves, is that you?

So let me get this straight: These "near-humans" live in the Kathol Outback, and they basically look like Dark Sun dwarves?

Yeah, sure. That's fun.

Rating: 3/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


And the winner of the monster brawl on my blog: In an amazing come-from behind victory, classic horror movies!*

At least, if we're going by the strength of the releases; today I found that the same company (the fantastic Mill Creek Entertainment) that did the Gamera eleven-movie release and the Godzilla: The Series release also released fifty old movies in a collection with a lower price tag as that Gamera release. (And bought that instantly, even if many of the releases are clearly available basically everywhere on the Internet, because sometimes putting a DVD in is part of the experience and seriously that's like five and a half movies per dollar and I don't have to hunt them down and put them in my already bloated favorites.)

Now, lots of it's probably forgotten old schlock, of course. (The most disappointing of them has to be Black Dragons, which summons a mental image involving a lot of flying, firebreathing things, but is actually a fantastical WWII-era spy thriller where the titular "dragons" are Japanese spies. What.)

But it's also the 1920s-era Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Metropolis, Nosferatu (which my sister watched in German once and adores), The Phantom of the Opera, Night of the Living Dead, the 1960 Little Shop of Horrors, and a frickton of late-'50s-early-'60s era stuff with evocative titles like The Giant Gila Monster, The Killer Shrews, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Atom Age Vampire. (All of those seem to be about more or less exactly what one would think from the titles, although one can't help but be disappointed by the fact that Atom Age Vampire seems to be about someone being turned into a vampire by atomic medicine rather than a Dracula-inspired vampire in a Buck Rogers-esque rocketpunk setting.)

Ironically considering the context, the collection also includes the kaiju movie Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, which has an incredibly misleading title. (It just means the monster came from prehistoric Earth, not from some other planet. I get it, but I think it's silly.) This is actually the only one of these films I've managed to see before (I've had a couple of old VHS tapes with The Giant Gila Monster and Metropolis before, but was scared to try to use them with the succession of carnivorous VCRs I'd had access to for the same time period), on some late-night low-rent Mystery Science Theater 3000-style production, and I have to say it appeared to have about the same budget as an equivalent length of average Ultraman episodes (the original series, that is). Frankly, the monsters (yes, plural) were hilarious, being giant flying horned men in rubber suits dino-dragons that fired laser beams from their mouths, if I recall correctly.

*Apropos of nothing or everything, depending on one's opinion, the crowd-designed game series Colossal Kaiju Combat! actually has a daikaiju in it called Nightstone Manor that is loosely inspired by the underrated (by which I mean "I know it's pretty good even though I've only seen a bit of it") animated movie Monster House, and which is a magical creation of the CKC! world's non-giant monsters intended to beat the crap out of all the giant monsters who are distracting humanity from being afraid of non-giant monsters.

That is fantastic.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Go! Fake Ultraman (TIMES THREE!)

Even when you've learned a lot about a subject, there's always something new to find out, especially with something as marginal in one's own country as tokusatsu is in the US. (There was an American quasi-tokusatsu show called Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills? And it's had a DVD release? ...There's a thing I kind of need now.)

Like, I already knew that Toho had taken a shot at making a character in imitation of Ultraman, Zone Fighter, who is notable for 1) being much more brutal than most of the Ultras (I have an old blog post where I comment on this, but the embedded video is long gone and a bit critical to my commentary-but most of it had to do with decapitations, dismemberment, and/or extended application of rapid-fire projectile weaponry, so you can sort of guess at it), and 2) having Godzilla and King Ghidorah guest star here and there.

But I'd never heard of Assault! Hyuman*, Go! Godman, or Go! Greenman.

These shows are even more obscure than Zone Fighter, and, for that matter, much more obscure than Zone Fighter, because while I've known at least a little about Zone Fighter for a decade or so, I first heard of these three while wikiwalking last week, and I'd rather thought I'd heard of most of the "kyodai (giant) heroes."

There's not much to be found on YouTube for the obligatory embed; two of the series have exactly nothing. Go! Greenman does have an intro sequence available, at least, so there's that.

And while I can sort of see why the Godzilla wiki presented the statement that Godman resembles Ultraman more (presumably because of his color scheme), I look at Greenman and see Ultraman wearing a costume to avoid a lawsuit.

From what I've read, it's also amusing to note that Go! Greenman was a show featuring an Ultra-like warrior fighting super sentai/Power Rangers-style villains, with mooks and growing monsters of the week. Japan doesn't mix and match its different henshin hero subgenres enough.

*Assault! Human had the interesting quirk of its Ultra-like protagonists being called "humans" in English. Who knows what's up with that.

-Signing off.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#134)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped some podracer's species.)

1331. Mos Espa scavengers' species. This species has an interesting real-world origin story: They were created to replace Gamorrean guards that were removed from a game by order from Skywalker Ranch.

For something created for so trivial a reason, and for something as low-poly as they are, they look pretty neat; some kind of vaguely demonic things with kinda weird mouths.

They seem to be simpleminded thugs for hire by nature, which is too common but at least slightly forgivable. (They at least don't seem to be depicted as universally irrational or anything, not that they really exist very much.)

Rating: 3/5 on the weight of the design.

1332. Mice. ...

This is just an entry to explain what Mickey Mouse is doing in Star Wars.

Write your fanfic on your own time, Disney-wait.

Rating: 1/5. Nothing against the Mouse, but he's such a Mary Sue character here, surviving the Jedi Purge and all that.

1333. Mzerc's species. A guy named Mzerc (and his wife) were members of this species.

They basically look like bipedal fuzzy-antennaed beetles, which is nice.

Now here's something screwy: The sole named member of the species is the husband of the species' known senator. We don't know his wife's name.

Rating: 3/5.

1334. Nampi's guards(' species). Some cheerful-looking purple guys with eyes on top of their heads served Princess Nampi (whose species can be found below) as guards. (Jabba the Hutt killed all of them.)

Rating: 3/5. They're just so cheery I can't help but like them.

1335. Nilash natives. They apparently live in trees and can form group minds.

Now, this is another case of a screwy article: There are three pictures on the page.

All these pictures are of characters.

None of these pictures are of Nilash natives.

What the heck, guys? If there's no pictures in an article, don't cram it with pictures of something only tangentially related and confuse people who skim the article.

Anyway, some Sith lord guy enslaved them because their group minds made them useful, yadda yadda yadda.

Rating: 2/5.

1336. Norky's species. All I know about Norky's species is that its named member, Norky, was a sort of kangaroo-rat-thing that lived on Endor with his parents, and his species is good at jumping (which is what one would expect).

No information on his parents. No information to speak of on Norky beyond the fact that he was an overly mischievous child.

I mention it because usually the Ewok cartoon gives me something to go on, even if I pick it apart mercilessly or flip out because it's actually awesome.

Rating: 1/5.

1337. Nuso Esva's species. I mentioned Nuso Esva as being the Moriarty to Grand Admiral Thrawn's Sherlock Holmes some while back (look at the Stromma section).

Anyway, Nuso Esva apparently mostly looked human, but had multicolored, shimmery skin, at least somewhat insect-like eyes, and black hair. Sounds interesting enough.

Rating: 3/5. I kind of like the efforts Timothy Zahn made to try to drive home the point that the Star Wars galaxy is frikkin' huge and that the same species, people, and planets shouldn't be recycled so often. Too bad his efforts were too subtle for almost everybody ever and even more too bad that his work isn't in canon anymore.

1338. Unidentified Orooturoo species. This species' sole known member was Princess Nampi, an enormous purple creature with a notable but mostly superficial resemblance to a Hutt. It's hard to gauge exactly how big she was, but she ate one of Jabba's human-sized minions in maybe two bites, so I'd have to say she's pretty darned huge.

The same author, incidentally, wrote the comic in which Jabba ate a member of Cabrool Nuum's species; while I wouldn't put sophontophagy (eating sapient beings) past Jabba, the author's/artist's use of it feels pretty weird, especially because it comes across as just a teense (and by "a teense" I mean very) sexual-Jabba ate a woman and Nampi ate men, and in Nampi's case it was explicitly tied to her mating ritual; she married the guy before she ate him... and kinda didn't mention that she intended to, which amuses me probably more than it should. I've always been under the impression, for that matter, that she was "interested" in Jabba himself.

Anyway, Nampi was a crime lord or something and wanted to steal Jabba's loot and probably marry/eat him, but that dude she ate? Jabba put a vial of super-mega-destructo magic acid in that guy as a failsafe to prevent his treachery, and set it off after Nampi had eaten him to kill her. Which was itself depicted in a way that was exploitatively gross, since we're on that subject.

Anyway, long story short, the story with Nampi in it was super-gross but I like her design quite a lot-it's kind of a marginally more alien version of the Hutt design.

Rating: 4/5.

1339. Orphne's species. Orphne was some kind of strange magic/Force user that lived in the same Underworld inhabited by the Kindalo. Other than her general faerie strangeness existing in the middle of Star Wars, she's not very interesting, and she could have been basically any vaguely-not-exactly-human species.

Rating: 1/5. I can't regret an instance of being reminded of the Kindalo, though. They're still pretty darned amazing.

1340. Pink pachydermoid species. Okay, seriously? Pink elephants in the same article as Mickey Mouse? It's like somebody planned this!

Anyway, regardless of their presence alongside the Mouse, these pink elephant guys are pretty neat-looking and kind of adorably tiny. I'm totally cool with them.

Rating: 3/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Ten Best Kaiju From Godzilla: The Series

In honor of the great cartoon tie-in to that Godzilla movie that everybody hates finally having a good DVD release (which I found well after it was originally released, because the local Wal-Mart is awful), here's a list talking about some personal favorite monsters.

(Honestly, it's not really a list of the very best or even my very favorite, but a list of ones I consider more notable and worth paying attention to. I left out a few I really like, honestly, like the so-called Thorny Devil, Norzzug the living statue, the Fire Monster, the giant frog/plant hybrid thing that thought it was Swamp Thing, and the giant scorpions.)

Each is listed with its debut episode's title here for your convenience. (Unfortunately, the Godzilla wiki isn't very good about this series, and all the episodes are currently redlinks there.)

10. The Crackler, What Dreams May Come. Okay, honestly this is a little bit of a concession to personal taste.

See, the Crackler barely qualifies as an actual monster, because it's actually a manifestation of the amplified brain waves of an insomnia patient. Calling this thing a monster is like calling a bolt of lightning an animal. And it's made of electricity, somehow, so it's a surprisingly apt comparison. And even by the admittedly often tenuous science of the series, this doesn't really make any sense.

But it has a wonderfully alien design, and I adore it.

9. Crustaceous Rex, New Family: Part 2. Crustaceous Rex kind of had to make this list, being the first proper enemy kaiju to be introduced in the series, and a bit of an icon for it as well, appearing in a number of episodes other than his debut (despite being fairly unambiguously killed by Godzilla).

Unlike a lot of the monsters from the series, there was no real explanation of just what the flip it's supposed to be, because it's definitely in no way a crustacean or anything like one. Instead, it's some vaguely unidentifiable Barlownian beasty that pretty much is entirely alien (a lot like the Crackler, really).

It also eats tar that somehow magically parasitizes other animals and at one point pukes some in Godzilla's face.

C-Rex isn't a particularly formidable monster, honestly, but it's a charming one.

8. Ice borers, Freeze. Okay, these guys weren't originally going to be anywhere near this list, because they're honestly kind of silly little things and not that impressive design-wise. But then I read that they're probably based on an April Fool's gag about naked mole rats burrowing through ice with their super-hot foreheads, and I figured they deserve a spot for that.

Otherwise, they're just big moles living in the Arctic.

7. Sub-Zero Manta, Wedding Bells Blew. Something that's actually a teense lacking in Godzilla: The Series is kaiju with iconic profiles. A lot of them are just huge animals or incredibly weird things, and don't quite have the same punch.

And then there's this thing, a completely inexplicable thing that resembles a giant manta ray that flies, only breathes air, has an icy breath weapon, and repeatedly attacks buildings with good air conditioning because it's trying to find a place to hibernate.

Easily my favorite part of this particular monster was that when it got into an inevitable breath weapon war with Godzilla, it was as if the two monsters were clashing weather fronts and started causing severe storm weather to manifest.

6. The Shrewster, The Twister. And then there's the gigantic rodent created by nuclear power/wind power experiments (seriously) that merged with and controlled a tornado.

I love the Shrewster for no reason beyond the fact that it's a giant animal that's merged with a weather pattern. That is golden.

(There's also the fact that its incredibly high metabolism is a loosely implied explanation for how a tornado can be sustained for weeks, which actually makes a minute amount of sense.)

5. Bacillus, What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been. It's kind of funny that there's a monster that's supposed to be just a big old bacterium.

It doesn't make any sense, and it's honestly part of one of the sillier episodes (one of those "journey through a living body" plots that honestly aren't very good), but I really like its design.

4. Quetzalcoatl, Bird of Paradise. Sometimes your giant monster cartoon just needs a giant ugly firebreathing birdosaur.

While it looks surprisingly like a hoatzin, which is a neat bit of trivia (hoatzins are South American birds and the only living member of a big family of birds, and the only birds alive today which at any point in their life cycles have true claws on their wings), it's vaguely implied that "Q" may simply be a big, weird holdover from prehistoric times rather than a mutant like most of the other monsters of the series.

3. El Gusano Gigante ("the giant worm"), D.O.A.. El Gusano, as he's often known for short, is one of the more massive monsters from Godzilla: The Series, at least by bulk, and that gives him a lot of presence; he's one of the more iconic monsters from the series, and like C-Rex appears in several episodes.

While he has some superficial resemblance to both whales and armored dinosaurs, looking at his anatomy he's almost certainly some kind of weird Onychophoran, that is, an offshoot of velvet worm.

Also like C-Rex, his primary role in the series is getting stomped on by other kaiju, because despite his size he's a pushover, though he definitely lived through his run-in with Godzilla. (The only reason he was a serious threat to Godzilla is because he was immune to the toxin that the local government tried to kill both monsters with, and even got a little more impressive because it was a concentrated form of stuff he ate.)

2. The Techno-Sentient, Juggernaut. The Techno-Sentient is both one of the most inexplicable* and one of the most terrifying monsters to appear in the series.

First off, it was able to absorb technology into its body almost completely at will, to the point where missiles that hit it didn't detonate because it had already subverted them; this made it only a little shy of indestructible.

Second, while it was pretty alien, it was very intelligent, and figured out from data it had downloaded from the internet how to start a nuclear war, and promptly tried to do so by invading a missile base and launching a missile at Baghdad. (Fortunately, its own plot was its undoing, because it got stuck to the missile and the missile detonated in orbit instead of when it hit its target; that was probably the only way to stop the darned thing.)

It was easily the most threatening and dangerous monster to appear in the series, and there was no explanation of its origins beyond "it fell from space" and no explanation of its motivations beyond "it wants to kill all organic life on Earth."

*Someone on the wiki suggested, and not without reason, that the Techno-Sentient was a creation of the series' aliens, the Tachyons**. While it makes some sense, I have to admit I don't really like the idea, because the Techno-Sentient was much more effective story-wise as something thoroughly inexplicable.

Also, 1) I think they'd have noticed similarities between it and the technology they'd already observed and worked with if it was made by the Tachyons, and 2) it would have spent less time screwing around than it did if it was on a mission it had been sent on; it would have had better intelligence if it had been sent by somebody who'd been to Earth before it.

**I don't really like that name as the name of an alien race, but ah well.

1. Skeetera, S.C.A.L.E.. Skeetera is the sort-of star kaiju of what is easily the best episode of the series. S.C.A.L.E. used an experimental storytelling style by framing the episode as a documentary composed from camera footage, something like what Cloverfield was trying to do but more successful (well, I suppose not that much like Cloverfield, but the point stands), and was a much more interesting narrative to boot. In fact, I'd say it was better than just about every "artsy" movie I've ever seen.

But enough about that; Skeetera is the hands-down best kaiju from Godzilla: The Series because she's perfect.

First, she's the only monster whose name would fit in in the wider Toho canon, even if it's a name that Toho probably would never quite have generated themselves. Compare it to "Mothra," for instance.

Second, she's probably the most iconic monster in the series (GIANT KILLER MOSQUITO), and iconic in a way more akin to the recurring Toho monsters. (I hate to harp on comparing her to Mothra, but she's really got a lot in common with the other female insect kaiju, except she's rather more evil, or at least amoral.) But she still fits in with the series' own feel.

Third, she has a neat power that's derived from her animal inspiration (sucks blood of other kaiju -> gets bigger and gains new powers derived from victims) in an intuitive/magical thinking sort of way. (Which, with Mothra's "poison dust" attacks being derived from the same sort of thinking, is yet another thing she has in common with her.)

Skeetera only showed up in this one episode, but she's so iconic that I was a bit mystified when Matt Frank left her out of his excellent art-based fan series, Godzilla Neo. Out of the things in this series that need more love, Skeetera is definitely the most deserving.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 15, 2014

That Theme That Goes With Everything

Got a leeeetle bit distracted, so here's a brass version of that one song. You know the one.

The one that goes with the thing. That thing you're doing right now.

You, specifically. (Also that other person, but still, you specifically.)

-Signing off.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#133)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped five species, those including Helix IX natives, Kaat Thrick-Thrick's species, Manac-Nebut's species, and mOKDAR 15's species. I say I skipped five, but the fifth [fifth if we're going alphabetically] doesn't really count-I already covered Grebleips' species when their article was named "Children of the Green Planet." They're E.T.'s species, by the way, and their home planet is apparently known as "Brodo Asogi," which I believe is a detail that wasn't in the article previously. "Grebleips" is "Spielberg" spelled backwards, in case you missed that particular groaner.)

1321. Fin-headed species. The fin-headed species is a generic species that made a few appearances here and there.

I mention them because they're modestly neat-looking, though again generic.

Rating: 2/5.

1322. Flying flowers. Okay, get ready. These entities from the Ewoks cartoon (and thus Endorian natives) look like flowers, and can even pretend to be immobile such, but are actually fully mobile beings who can use their petals as helicopter rotors.

Rating: 4/5.

1323. Four-eyed species. Despite the description, at first glance I thought these guys were six-eyed, but upon examining a second picture, apparently the markings that appear to be a third pair of eyes are... not a third pair of eyes.

They look modestly interesting regardless of that.

Rating: 2/5.

1324. Unidentified Gibbela species. Okay, these guys come from a story entitled "The Value of Proper Intelligence to Any Successful Military Campaign is Not to Be Underestimated." You might suppose, from a title like that, that there must be something befuddling about the natives of Gibbela.

You'd be right: Whilst normally tiny purple people, these guys can also turn into some kind of giant murder bears. (Or so I glean from the scan of the comic page; all we can really see is a big ol' paw of doom, and the fella's hat as it drifts away from his presumably now-too-large head.)

This was apparently sufficient to encourage the Empire never to return to the planet.

Rating: 4/5. Playing something like this seriously can be a bit dull, but using it entirely for laughs is great.

1325. Green reptiloids. Yet another reptilian species that only exists as window dressing, but which I kind of like because they look neat.

Rating: 2/5.

1326. Hepmaga MiOrd's species. A design-an-alien entry, this was one of the honorable mentions.

I can't really tell what I'm looking at, beyond it probably being a bounty hunter of some sort. Also, Hepmaga MiOrd was a member of a clan called the Remplish, and it's apparently ambiguous as to what form of social unit this really was.

Rating: 2/5. There's actually some vaguely intriguing details in there, but... eh.

1327. Jastus Farr's species. There are a lot of features attributed to being typical of this race even though there's only ever been one known individual of it, the Jedi Jastus Farr. Things like "they tend to be light blue" and "they have sideburns." Guys, that might just be Jastus Farr.

Anyway, Jastus Farr gets an awesome point for being one of the few Jedi to actually injure Darth Vader's person at close range, having managed to lightsaber him in the back at one point (which, were it not for Vader's plot armor being thicker than Death Star plating, rightfully should have killed him). He went down like a punk to some stormtroopers a few moments later, though, so I think I have to take that point back. (It's interesting to note that the group involved in that attack was really heavily human in composition-out of eight, only Jastus and two others were nonhuman. It's also interesting to note that Jastus is one of the few Jedi, as opposed to Dark Jedi/Sith, to carry a double-bladed lightsaber.)

Rating: 3/5. The look is kind of interesting.

1328. Judd's species. Yet another blue-skinned Old Republic Jedi? Weird.

Anyway, this guy is some kind of reptilian, and fairly interesting in appearance as a result.

And he's yet another Jedi to be a rare wielder of a nonstandard lightsaber, in this case the "lightstaff" (which is, disappointingly, just a lightsaber with a really long handle-although honestly one with the standard-sized handle doesn't really seem like a great idea if you think about it). He's also unusually vicious and abrasive for an Old Republic Jedi-he apparently called Darth Maul names because Darth Maul's legs had been cut off and grinned at the prospect of a worthy adversary after being bashed in the face. Despite what would generally be considered ominous behavior in a Jedi, he sacrificed himself to save some people from some stuff.

Rating: 3/5.

1329. Keeper's makers. The Keepers created the Keeper, one of those big mysterious entities that popped up in Marvel's old Star Wars comics from time to time. In fact, the Keeper may have been the first such, coming from a story that first started publication in October 1977, which is pretty early in the history of the franchise.

Anyway, all we know about the Keepers is that they were really peaceful and ditched their planet to avoid a war; they created the Keeper to protect their homeworld while they were away.

The Keeper made some android children with elemental powers (!), and they made some giant monsters. So I guess the Keeper's makers must have been/must be pretty rad.

Rating: 3/5.

1330. Lupine species. They're described as "lupine," but the pictured individual, while s/he has legs that I might be willing to agree are at least slightly wolflike, has a head that doesn't look remotely so, including bearing horns.

I mean, does this look like a wolf, or a thing intended to evoke one, to you?

Didn't think so.

Rating: 2/5. It looks entertaining regardless.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Godzilla Makes A Comeback

I'd almost given up on the Godzilla vs. Gamera running tally I've been talking about for a while.

Then, without warning:

I finally found Godzilla: The Series. (Actually, my sister spotted it first, if I'm remembering.)

It was the only one on its rack, which begs some questions, but regardless, I'm pretty sure that's an even score on the ol' scoreboard.

This DVD release is wonderful to have, because besides being one of the best pieces of kaiju fiction ever made (it really is), this DVD release includes two episodes that didn't air on television.*

I'm a happy daikaiju fan.

*Network wars of the late '90s/early '00s, you have much to answer for.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Game (Micro) Reviews: Symphonic Tower Defense

Symphonic Tower Defense is a rather quirky and interesting tower defense game.

Specifically, it's a heavily music-themed game wherein the enemy waves' composition and aspects of your towers are based on the music that's playing on a stage.

This is a really interesting concept, and I enjoy playing it, although the game as it exists is perhaps too easy up until the last two or three levels, where there's something of a difficulty spike. (If you invest in the right stuff, there's more or less no way you can lose. If you use "Decrescendo" and "Repeat," which are essentially traps on the paths, it radically slows down your enemies; cluster some good towers around those parts of the paths and it'll be pretty rare for anything to get past.)

In fact, while there are plenty of other tower defense games I like better, I have to say that probably the only flaw with it as presented is that you can't plug songs other than the provided ones into it. If somebody got on that, we'd have a game that would have more playable "stages" than one would ever need.

Anyway, interesting concept, fun to play a few times, and it might introduce you to some neat songs (the game links to artists' pages for download and junk). What's not to like?

-Signing off.

Friday, September 5, 2014

I'm Sorry (Not Really)

I'd do one of my Star Wars posts tonight, but circumstances (weather and schedule) are in the way.

So this is something of a desperation substitute.

To say that I have no interest in Angry Birds is giving Angry Birds too much credit,

But the retro nature of this video (and the fake VHS squibbles) are rather amusing.


This is admittedly amusing.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

But Then, Lovecraft Wasn't A Very Nice Person

Somebody on TVTropes' Villain Whitewashing* page ("other to B") wins an internet. (You'll have to click to enlarge it to read it. Sorry.)

I've actually thought about this aspect of Cthulhu (SURPRISE!) before. People always depict Cthulhu as just eating everything, but that's not really right; he wants to recruit humanity (regardless of whether humanity wants to be recruited or not-and if he succeeds, humanity will change to his way of thinking). If it weren't for the fact that the World Under Cthulhu is fairly explicitly a sort of orgiastic murder-revel, it wouldn't necessarily be actually bad at all.

*Making someone bad look good, not the other kind of whitewashing. ...It bore saying.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Game Reviews: Villainous

Villainous is a rare beast: The reverse tower defense game. I've only ever seen two other games in the genre; I've reviewed one of them (prosaically named "Anti-TD") here. (It's not impossible that I'll review the other at some point, especially since aspects of its "story" are very whimsical and appealing, but no guarantees.)

As the name suggests, Villainous involves playing as, well, a villain. As such, one sends out raiders to attack a succession of towns, and these raiders must work their way past the defensive towers surrounding said towns.

In the process, one collects "infamy" (money), both from the deaths of one's own monsters and from successful raiding, to improve one's castle, which is actually not so much a castle as a rather pretty visual indicator of your technology tree that you've purchased with your infamy thus far.

And therein is perhaps the best part of this game: It's got a lot of very neat little flavorful bits in terms of how it's structured and visualized. While the actual gameplay feels a bit unfinished and the graphics are relatively crude, the game is full of nice touches and things that make you feel kind of evil. It reminds me rather strongly of Tower of Doom, funnily enough. (Funny because there are essentially no structural similarities between the two games, just some minor flavor similarities.)

As with tower defense games, the raiders have a certain amount of variety; the basic "goblin" raiders are actually the only ones that count towards "raiding" in this game. The others are all intended to be meatshields for the goblin (such as the giant turtle seen here) or to provide defenses for the pack or enhancements to one's spellcasting abilities.

You can also cast instant spells to protect your minions; there are two that disable towers and one that heals minions. (The game's a little low on actual variety, which is one of its few real faults.) The disabling spells are rather crucial. The game has a rather interesting balance, in that you can purchase upgrades even when a raid is entirely unsuccessful, and losing a minion gives you the mana you need to cast spells as well, giving your other minions a better chance to survive. The spells have an increasing cost system, but it actually doesn't bother me as much here, because they start with such low costs you'd be able to spam them forever if they didn't increase; if they cost more at the start you'd never be able to start using them until it was too late.

Tower damage increases over time rather than the number of towers increasing (which is how it's done in Anti-TD), so eventually the towers will deal double or better damage, guaranteeing that eventually the raid will end no matter how strong the force you assembled is.

To return to the subject of the "castle," here's a look at the completed version.

Rather fun; I quite like the detail of the rainbow, which seems a bit incongruous considering this is an evil overlord's castle (but that only makes it better).

And with the full upgrade tree, one can manage some rather extreme overkill on the various early towns with even the most basic strategies, such as this 73-raids-over-the-gold-medal siege I did on a whim for the review.

The problem with the game, actually, is that once you've purchased everything, there's never anything new again (actually, there's nothing new for a while before that because many of your purchases will be upgrades to existing ones, and a lot of them are boring utility things like bonus hitpoints), and there's really not that much variety in the first place. There's only six kinds of raider and three kinds of spell, and it generally feels less like you're fielding a raiding party and more like you're building a raid-train. Which sounds terribly amusing, admittedly, but is rather boring in practice. I don't really mind the fact that only the goblin raiders actually raid in principle, but each type of raider is so specialized that it also feels limiting. I'd rather they all be able to raid, and then there's a specialized raider who gets double the money for a successful raid.

On the plus side, there's some decent variety in enemy towers, and said variety is such that it's basically always clear which enemy towers are the most dangerous and thus most in need of a good stunning.

Regardless, while this game's not perfect, it's a great concept (and honestly much better than Anti-TD), and deserves some playing. It really feels kind of like the prototype to a better game, though.

-Signing off.