Friday, October 31, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#137)

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)

(If I don't bite the bullet and just do this, it'll never happen.

Also, oh joy today we go deep into the "U" section of unidentified species. This wouldn't be a problem in and of itself, but...

...this is what my tab bar looks like right now. I can't tell what I'm looking at. It gets microscopically better when the tab bar is less full, but only by enough for me to see one letter of the next word.

Skipped "unidentified Asmeru species" and technically "Unidentified Alzar species," which I actually covered under "Alzarian" years ago. New tidbit on the Alzarians: Apparently the Stenax killed a bunch of them, which feels like an active effort to pick on a hapless species from a silly story.)

1361. Unidentified alien species (pyramidal starship). These guys use pyramidal starships that more or less did Force-based teleportation. One could take this to mean that there's some kind of link between them and the Aing-Tii, who likewise bopped around the galaxy in Force-teleported starships. However, their sole identified action sounds like a piratical activity, and so I must be inclined to say that they and the Aing-Tii would not get along, seeing as how the Aing-Tii are badass tentacle-worm monk guys who mercilessly slaughter bands of slavers without permission from anyone.

Rating: 2/5, because their existence raises interesting questions.

1362. Unidentified alien woodsmen. Hilariously, the entry makes it sound like this entire species descended on Endor in a swarm to cut down the local trees; near as I can tell, there were only two of them.

They tried to enslave local elephant/dinosaur things to help them.

...So you went to the planet of Ewoks and ticked off a bunch of elephant-things with big heavy tails in addition to their trunks?

If that hadn't been in a kids' comic, nobody would ever have found those guys' bodies.

Anyway, they're just generic green aliens of the sort that are a dime a dozen in science fiction.

Rating: 1/5.

1363. Unidentified alien's species (desert cave). This species might have appeared in A New Hope, but didn't; it did, however, appear in a commercial for the surely delicious and not at all a ripoff of any other cereal Kellogg's C-3PO's cereal!

Inspired by and modeled after the less popular major droid character (because seriously, R2-D2 has no competition)! Get yours three and a half decades ago!

Rating: 1/5.

1364. Unidentified arachnoid species. They apparently are big hairy spider people who have human faces, even human teeth, and creeped the heck out of Han Solo.

Hahahahaha that's awesome.

Rating: 3/5.

1365. Unidentified assassin's associate's species. Well that placeholder name is a mouthful.

Anyway, all we really know about the species is that they're red-skinned and somewhere between draconic and demonic.

Rating: 2/5, because they look kinda neat.

1366. Unidentified Betshish species. There was going to be a colony built on Betshish, but when the colonists arrived, they discovered the survey had missed these guys and that they had to find a new location by some law or another.

Betshish apparently is very swampy, so at least one dude associated with the event was glad to be away from it.

Rating: 1/5.

1367. Unidentified Black Fly species. No idea what's up with that capitalization, I just left it in because I'm not bothering to correct it after the copy/paste operation.

Anyway, a pair of members of this species were students of Luke Skywalker's at his Jedi academy. For one scene of one book, and nothing more.

Rating: 2/5. It actually was fairly common for there to be one-shot mentions of stranger alien Jedi students in the novels, often in small groups of the same species, but we invariably never see more of them later. This is disappointing and probably why they didn't get a slightly higher score.

1368. Unidentified blue-skinned short-legged species. Oh, for-"blue-skinned short-legged?"

Some podracer was a member of this species, which was sometimes red-skinned in concept art.

The only reason it's really worth bringing up, though, is that its page is an awful mess.

I mean, I guess the actual alien design isn't so bad when it's not a crummy low-poly model, but... Ick that page.

Rating: 2/5.

1369. Unidentified blue-skinned species. This species is made up of rather attractive blue-skinned people with what are either tattoos or unusual natural markings on their foreheads.

Their planet was apparently the site of a spaceship crash at some point, and the ship's crew became angry ghosts who eventually were released from their torment by Han Solo and Chewbacca of all people.

Rating: 2/5. I've mentioned before I'm kind of a sucker for attractive blue people.

1370. Unidentified Buoyant species. Resist obvious joke.

Resist obvious joke.

Resist... obvious... joke...

So they're good at floating? HA HA H-Ow.

No, Buoyant is the name of a planet (...huh?), to which this species was native. They apparently did a lot of experimenting and importing machinery and foreign animals to their world, which together with the changes to their planet's rotation that they enacted couldn't have been good for the ecosystem in the slightest.

The planet being a bit dodgy due to their influence is presumably why Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious used the place as a Sith training ground.

Rating: 2/5. Incidentally, they're implicitly extinct. Apparently they weren't good at floating.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Read This Comic I Talk About

(I don't talk about the webcomics I read that often, but I couldn't tell you why.)

I was skimming back into the Bad Machinery/Scary Go Round archives to point out a thing about the character Mr. Knott (who has been an interesting background character for a while now) to my sister, who introduced me to Scary Go Round but then dropped it at some point because of having trouble keeping up with it (irony!), since he's featuring rather prominently in the current Scary Go Round flashbacky story thing, Expecting to Fly. (If you used to read Scary Go Round and for some reason dropped it when/before Bad Machinery came along, you might want to read this story. I loved Scary Go Round, but I don't remember having feelings about the characters; I was reading it because I liked a weird story. And then I read this ARGH THE EMOTIONAL SENSATIONS IN A REALISTIC SETTING WHAT RELATION DOES THIS EVEN HAVE TO SGR. And that's not a bad thing at all.)

Anyway, I saw a name dropped, and thought "Should I know that name?"

So I wiki up the name Bukowski, and-

"Dirty realism? Transgressive fiction?"

Okay, I know that these aren't necessarily as bad they sound (but transgressive fiction? Really? Look at the actual definition that Wikiped chose to represent the genre and tell me that's remotely in the territory you'd recommend to, well, anyone that you 1) didn't know incredibly well, and 2) wasn't between eighteen and thirty years old and very open-minded) and not necessarily representative of his entire body of work, but wow. It's little wonder I never heard of the guy in my fairly lengthy college career.

Mr. Knott is not as staid and crusty as everyone seems to think he is.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This Show Exists (And It's Kinda Awesome)

Reminder if you knew it already, informational if you didn't: There was a show in the mid-'90s or so about a kid who was a reincarnated pharaoh and his four mummy bodyguards who were basically a team of Power Rangers.

It's kind of funny that the only previous time I brought up mummies (other than a linkback and one time I mentioned a mummy offhandedly in a Nagraj-related article) was in Spider Plus Mummy, which is on a technical level about the relatively short-lived The Mummy tie-in cartoon but is really more about a silly (and awesome) commercial for a single episode of said cartoon.

It's funny because it's another cartoon about Ancient Egyptian-related things that my sister and I used to joke about writing crossover fanfic with Yu-Gi-Oh! for. (Actually, I seem to recall it would have been crossover fanfic for all three series, because they all have varying degrees of themeparkified Egyptian mythology and that's enough for a high concept fanfic if you think about it. Mummies Alive! definitely took this themeparkification process the furthest, as it not only had henshin hero-style transforming warriors, but a magical "horseless chariot" that was actually a laser-shooting hot rod done up like an Egyptian sarcophagus and ostensibly an actual Ancient Egyptian vehicle, although probably not really. ...Yes, the show really was that awesome, why do you ask?)

-Signing off.

Friday, October 24, 2014

If Asura Can Do One Thing Well It's Definitely Punching

There are a lot of games I've never played but like their stories/artwork/other aspects, and Asura's Wrath is a big one in that department.

Mostly, it's because it's more or less the same tone-wise as Gurren Lagann's more serious moments (and I'm pretty sure I'm on the record as a big fan of Gurren Lagann in spite of its over-the-top fanservice) and like Gurren Lagann is a very loose adaptation of the angry, awesome prologue chapters of Journey to the West with a rather different ending. (I'm not going to go on a rant, because I'm well aware I've got... let's call them "loud opinions that nobody needs to hear," but some important precepts of Buddhist philosophy make me angry, angry the way that lapsed Catholics and hard-edged atheists get about Christianity.)

That "basically serious Gurren Lagann" tone just keeps me coming back to watching playthrough videos, over and over, even if I can't understand the dialogue.

Case in point: The below video, which gets simply amazing around 6:21. (I'm sorry I've never figured out YouTube's embed code trick for queuing up a specific part of a video, but honestly I'm not sure the modern embed code even has that option and figuring out the old code is probably kinda hopeless at this point.)

Who really needs to know what they're saying after that?

Also: Is it strange that I find it completely adorable that Asura's basic motivation for going on his epic pantheon-breaking rampage is to punch the guys who made his daughter cry? He makes that guy from that other pantheon-busting game look like a jerk and a pansy.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Count Talks About Skeletons

This is unusually seasonal for me, really.

But then, the Count is one of my favorite Sesame Street characters, so... Eh.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Somebody Needed To Shut That Guy Up!"

I'll get back to my big Star Wars posts eventually, my schedule just had some hiccups (and is likely to have a few more in the next couple of weeks because of reasons).

In the meantime: A poorly audio-synced YouTube video featuring everyone's oldest least favorite X-Men villain, Apocalypse!

Most people really just kind of hate Apocalypse. I, for one, don't really hate him... because I find him an extremely stupid kind of funny.

Q: What is the ultimate ancient evil in X-Men stories?
A: Some big doofus with blue clown makeup.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Game Reviews: Creeper World 3: Abraxis

Creeper World 3: This Subtitle is Irrelevant Unless You're Interested in the Story is yet another of the Creeper World games, and with mild misgivings I think I'm going to pronounce it the best such. (If you haven't read the original reviews or haven't recently, you'll want to; I'm kind of assuming you'll have context, and reading those reviews is probably the quickest way to get it.)

The best part of it is definitely that it takes the most interesting new elements of the second game, anti-Creeper and destroying Creeper emitters, and integrates it into gameplay more similar to the first game (which I concluded after some time clearly had the superior gameplay experience, because I kept going back to it and yet never played the second after my review of it).

It even expands on this theme with "turnable" emitters, which are Creeper emitters that, if you cover them in anti-Creeper, will flip into friendly anti-Creeper emitters. Who knows why.

Early on, I was a bit concerned it would be too easy; as noted in my review of the original game, I often pushed the Creeper back methodically and "capped" emitters by placing cannons next to them. But I've always been more interested in "fun" than "difficulty" in games, so it wasn't really a problem, even if it initially seemed kinda true (behold the following post-battle screenshot as evidence).

They even made an element I'd always found questionable a bit better-balanced (but still usually easy) by making the anti-spore towers a bit less powerful but having the spores fire from clear locations instead of from off the map.

You might notice that in a couple of screenshots, there are glowing circles around some of my structures. This is because, in this game, when you destroy an emitter, it leaves behind a magic building-enhancing spot that augments the building's abilities. Ironically, I'm probably not showing their best use, because it took me a while to realize that other structures have much more impressive bonuses than the collectors do (or indeed, that they got bonuses at all). My favorite bonus is the one for the mortar, which makes it into a rapid-firing artillery cannon on steroids (though it's of questionable usefulness-the reactor's huge energy production bonus is much better in the long run). These bonuses arguably make things even easier; with the further addition of a "shield" building that repulses the Creeper, which feels a bit redundant with the anti-Creeper but is arguably more useful in some scenarios, there's a lot of missions I've played so far that felt like cake, even with the loss of the speed and storage structures (which are eventually replaced with research bonuses, which are usually superior anyway).

The designers have answers to the low difficulty; for instance, there's this sort of weird weedy stuff called Digitalis which functions as a sort of Creeper transmitter. The new tactics one has against the Creeper are basically all useless against the Digitalis; Creeper travels through it like guerrilla warfare tunnels, and it seems that things like the updated drone strikes are pretty useless, plus even one's new tricks aren't that useful; basically you can only shoot the Digitalis with Creeper in it, and that only empties the Creeper out of it rather than damaging the Digitalis itself. And like the Creeper itself, the Digitalis grows if it's connected to appropriate doohickeys (though I'm not clear on what they're called), meaning it can slip uphill and into your base faster than Creeper can.

It turns hunting the Digitalis centers, which can only be destroyed by the same short-ranged means as the emitters, into a slow grind, which is actually just the way I like it-I'd actually contemplated what I might add to the game to make it more interesting, and Digitalis is much like one of the things I'd contemplated.

Further slowing one down is that some maps are divided such that you can't stretch a base across them, and the only ways to overcome this are to have two bases (you can have up to three, but whether you have them depends on the mission) or with "Guppy" transports, which transport the resources of the game to remote locations.

Also resembling one of the things I'd contemplated as possible additions to the game are Runners; they're independent Creeper units that are supposed to do stuff to your buildings. Sadly, they're introduced in a mission where they're trapped on a distant area and pose exactly zero threat.

You might notice that these screenshots have pretty variable appearances; that'd be because the new engine supports zooming, which is good for focusing one's attention. It's also got notably better graphics, which isn't that important but still nice. And the music is great; it reminds me of the classic Total Annihilation soundtrack, still one of the all-time greats.

Then I hit the eighth mission, Experiment.

You have to rescue life pods-



Who likes escort missions? I don't get it.

Anyway, except for that one thing, this is a pretty great game.

Frikkin' escort missions.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This Post Is Short But I Like It

So earlier I had a little thought that amused me, and I figured it would probably amuse other people as well, so I'm going to give it a chance to.

This is a suggestion on a novel way to make a film.

Hire a visual effects director. I'm thinking of Michael Bay, because he's probably the most famous and lucrative visual effects-oriented director out there right now, and with one of the biggest reputations among critics for awful movies. (Guillermo del Toro doesn't count for various reasons, because he makes good movies, and what I'm about to describe is a little bit of a jerk move.)

Just straight up have him make a movie. Full budget and everything, right?

Then, arrange a "b-crew." Give the "b-crew" a smaller budget and limited time. Encourage hiring no-name actors with decent talent.

And give them the movie that the VE director made for use as stock footage, using their own actors to dub over the scenes.

That is how I would make a Power Rangers movie.

You can have this one for free, guys. I just want to see it happen at this point.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Some Video About A Thing I Don't Play

I've posted this before, but that doesn't make it any less interesting and insightful. (Or any less full of swears.)

And it's been two and a half years since I last posted it, so...

(Pretty sure my sister didn't read it when I posted it last time even though 90% of the reason I posted it is because I thought she'd find it interesting. Hint, hint.)

-Signing off.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Other The Star Wars

(Regular Star Wars post put off until a later date because of various reasons conspiring against it, including screwy sleep patterns, an ongoing weird Internet situation, and a trip to visit family for somebody's birthday.

And acquiring RPG Maker. That isn't a help either.)

So this last week, courtesy of my sister's nerdy and genuinely insidious (if unintentionally so, perhaps) ex-boyfriend, I read The Star Wars, a comic based on a rough draft used to pitch the Star Wars films.

It was a bit of a nostalgic experience, to be frank, because in my early days of having an Internet connection I collected a bunch of the early drafts of the first film and read them. (I also read a fanfic that was based on the idea of being a sequel to one of them. ...It was pretty awful. Everyone died.) I also thought that the art direction was pretty great; I loved the alternate stormtrooper armor and the fighter version of the Star Destroyers. Said art direction was also interesting because it was a fusion of concept art from the original ANH production and prequel-era concept design.

On the other hand... well, it had kind of a weird, meandering story that integrated basically everything from the original trilogy in a kind of nonsensical backwards way.

I liked the Obi-Wan Kenobi/Luke Skywalker hybrid character and Annikin Skywalker's dad, though. (Even if the latter was a little too obsessed over the idea that he was more machine, now, than man and died because he gave his life support battery to someone else because they "needed" to keep a kid in suspended animation for the kid's own safety. George Lucas sure loved that one scene, it was in every draft that led to ANH even though it didn't make it into the final films except as that one line from a character who wasn't even the cyborg in question. Even more amazing is that it hopped from character to character as the drafts went on-it went from the Jedi mentor to a mentor that Han Solo had in one draft, because George just wanted it so bad.)

Anyway, decent little thing, even though it has some problems, and the hardcover version's a pretty, well-made book. Wish I could keep the concept art in back.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oddly Specific Title Salad

The title of this post comes from the song title "In Darkness Where Elves Burn," part of an album being sold on (which features over thirty admittedly pretty short songs for less than eight dollars, which is a great deal even if you aren't interested in the songs for their intended use, which is as video game music).

It's a pretty awesome song, as you can tell if you listen to the above YouTube video or follow either of the above links. Also awesome is another song from the same album with the equally oddly specific title "Wars Between Pirates and Dwarves."

Seriously, those titles are pretty weird.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Actually, No, They're Not Monsters*

In the spirit of share and share alike, I'm embedding a couple of the old Terminix commercials depicting pest insects who aren't generally that nasty as equivalent to enormous CGI monsters. (You should seriously read that article. It's great.)

This one is probably my single favorite, just because an octopus with slug faces on the ends of its tentacles and moving like a beach octopus (so that said slug faces actually still move like slug faces) is truly beautiful and amazing.

Wearing a cookie jar as a shell is just gravy. Or something.

And then there's this guy, who is just hilarious because he's basically an organic buzzsaw robot.

What was in the water when they decided to do these commercials, exactly? Bring it back.

*For that matter, I imagine that the imagery actually caused a lot of people to feel relief. "Oh, they're only talking about ordinary bugs. WHEW."

Maybe the director was actually trying to be subversive?

-Signing off.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#136)

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 Skreen's species, and I already covered Theoretical Serias species.)

1351. Silentium's creators. All we know about these guys are that they looked like starfish, created (technically the predecessors of) the Silentium (who are awesome), and then were wiped out by a radiation storm from a supernova. ...Which is an anticlimactic death when one is such a potentially powerful civilization. They are believed to have been from a different galaxy.

They were slightly implied to have also created the Sharu, who are also awesome. (The same implication could actually have been implying it was the Silentium instead, all things considered, but whatever, it's not like it's that important. Plus how would a civilization so powerful that it went around creating other species possibly in different galaxies from their homeworld be wiped out by a simple supernova?)

Rating: 3/5 by association with the Sharu and Silentium, both of whom scored solid 5s.

1352. Skärtis species. Near as I can tell, the main thing that identifies this (fairly generic) species as being of Skärtis was an oath used by the one individual known to be of the species: "By the seven moons of Skärtis!"

...That's kind of an oddball swear, when you think about it; while I could totally see "by the seven moons!" as a swear, adding "of my homeworld!" seems a bit silly.

"By the Moon of Earth!" Can you imagine someone from our world saying that, even if the Moon was a big deal to them? I can't. "By the sixty-seven moons of Jupiter!" sounds reasonable by comparison.

Rating: 1/5 despite the amusement value.

1353. Spacefaring benefactors. These beings were the mysterious entities that rounded up the seventeen species who would eventually become the Iskalonian School to save them from extinction. Their identity is unknown, though the Shi'ido anthropologist Mammon Hoole (see the earlier link to the Sharu article) was researching the subject on the dead homeworlds of the Iskalonians.

Rating: 2/5 for enabling the Iskalonian School, a general concept I happen to like.

1354. Stalk-eyed species. This species appears to primarily be made up of background characters.

They are tiny and rather adorable and oozing with personality, so I like them.

Rating: 4/5.

1355. Stauz Czycz's species. ...That's a hard name to type.

The majority of this species, as far as is known all but one lonely individual, were wiped out by the Empire, specifically by a force led by Darth Vader under orders from the Emperor. This survivor would go on to be heavily modified into a human-looking cyborg and have a bounty hunter career, in hopes of being hired by Darth Vader and invited into his presence. He actually apparently showed up late to the meeting we see in Empire Strikes Back, using the opportunity to try to murder Darth Vader in revenge. Considering that Darth Vader had to show up later in the movie, obviously it couldn't work, and he got decapitated.

Anyway, they look pretty cool; they have some kind of alien dreadlock things which invariably make me think of the Predators when I see them, but that's the only real resemblance.

Rating: 3/5.

1356. Tarron Neb's species. A species nearly wiped out by the Empire whose sole surviving member was a warrior guy (...again?!), this Design an Alien species was native to Yavin 8, also home to the reverse-amphibian Melodies, mermaids who sometimes get eaten by spiders. That's the most interesting thing about them, because that seems to be all there is about them.

Rating: 1/5.

1357. Those who came before. "Those who came before" is the name used by the Sebiri to describe the mysterious beings who had built a stone temple of some sort "without the use of tools," "performed miracles with glowing charms," and were believed by the Sebiri to have created the jungle they lived in.

Considering that the planet Sebiris, to which the Sebiri are native, is in the Kathol sector, they probably know what they're talking about.

Rating: 2/5.

1358. Tiggs Leo's species. At first glance, this species is a slightly generic tiger-striped four-armed species.

At closer examination, they have an extra pair of eyes on the sides of their heads which are disproportionately huge, and thus are slightly less generic.

Rating: 3/5. They're sorta likeable.

1359. Tobar's species. I wasn't sure exactly what I'd say about these guys, but then my sister reminded me of what the design was reminiscent of:

The "Flatulan" species from Treasure Planet. That dude's even wearing practically the same vest.

Rating: 2/5 for reminding me of that movie, which deserved better than it got.

1360. Unidentified Adin species. They apparently are "thin," have red skin with white facial stripes, two-fingered hands, and pale pink teeth.

Strange but oddly intriguing. I wish they had a picture.

Rating: 3/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

'80s Krang and Shredder: Basically an Old Married Couple

Got distracted by way too many things (rereading Adventurers! again, for instance, plus an awkward weird situation with my internet connection), so here's a random YouTube video.

I did say random.

-Signing off.