Friday, February 27, 2015

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#145)

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)

(Excluded "water creature" because of reasons.

Obviously, it's been a bit since I last did one of these, but I have a good reason: Finding pages is going to be harder, since I now need to sift through list pages and figure out if there are entries I haven't done before. ...I have no idea how long this is going to take.)

1441. Vengnar Heiff's species. Described as reptiloid and apparently being from an icy planet (interesting), Vengnar Heiff rather typically had green skin and large claws, and was a nasty torturer.

Rating: 2/5 for being a reptile-like species from a cold world.

1442. Verhandle's species. They're pretty typical stone-faced aliens (from which I get the impression of being big and tall). But not in a bad way.

Verhandle himself is some kind of crime lord.

Rating: 2/5. Just some neat-looking aliens with no other particular characteristics of note.

1443. Verig natives. Verig natives apparently use bolas to hunt elephant-like animals, which inspired some Rebel to come up with the harpooning tactic used to trip up the AT-AT walkers during the Battle of Hoth.

...I don't know whether that's sad, awesome, hilarious, or all three.

Rating: 1/5. Eh.

1444. Voe Atell's species. The species superficially resembles the Zabraks, being near-humans without hair and with horns and different skin tones.

The known member of the species, Voe Atell, was a member of the Confederacy of Independent Systems' Parliament.

Rating: 2/5. I like the look, but it's just kind of a placeholder. I considered knocking it back down to 1/5 because that basic design concept feels like it's shown up more than once, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

1445. Voegliss's species. Voegliss's species is apparently predatory, with appropriate adaptations to some degree, and with a red carapace of some sort.

Very little is known of this species not only in the context of real-world knowledge of this fictional species, but in-universe knowledge of them is scarce as well-apparently they aren't known to the wider galaxy. There are only three known individuals, Voegliss and two others who presumably were his parents; some group on an expedition to some unnamed world encountered this pair of hostile unknown aliens, and ended up killing them; they found Voegliss as a baby nearby. The expedition's leader adopted Voegliss as his son (...I hope baby Voegliss wasn't being misgendered, or it's possible he's in for a rude shock if he ever reunites with his own kind...) until he was fifteen, at which point he was forcibly recruited by the Imperial army into some form of commando unit or assassin corps. When I say "forcibly recruited," he apparently killed fourteen men before they subdued him.

He eventually became a willing member of whatever it was he was doing, though he wanted to be reunited with his father and regain some degree of independence.

Incidentally, this character is from an RPG supplement. Kudos to whoever wrote it, because that's a fascinating character sketch.

Too bad there's no confirmed picture, though there's a picture that might depict the individual; unfortunately, it's not to be found on Wookieepedia that I can tell.

Rating: 3/5 on the strength of the character sketch.

1446. Vojak's species. This species' known member is a big purple essentially human being. He wanted revenge on the bounty hunter droid C-3PX for killing his brother.

C-3PX killed him.

The story sounded familiar to me, and so I doublechecked to make sure I wasn't repeating anything, and then I discovered that Feleen Bantillian's species was what I was thinking of-except that it was Boba Fett that they were trying and failing for revenge on. Except that the other story was much more off-the-wall (one of the individuals seeking revenge was a brain in a jar), so... eh.

Rating: 1/5.

1447. Yoda's species. Yoda's species is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in an editorial policy from George Lucas's fiat that declares that there should never be information on what the species is named, where they come from, or any of their history. In fact, there was a point where Lucasfilm discouraged even the implication that Yoda was a proper member of a species, though as there are now at least five named members (one of whom was originally intended to be Yoda but was retconned into not being Yoda), all of whom were Jedi (only one of which was not specifically a Jedi Master-Minch, AKA not-Yoda, was intended to be Yoda as an apprentice, and thus he may still could have become a Master at some point in the future).

People want to believe that Yoda's species is the same as the Whills, but there's no evidence that the Whills are actually a species, despite their categorization on Wookieepedia.

The only thing George Lucas has ever said about Yoda's heritage is that he's "a frog" and that he's Kermit the Frog's and Miss Piggy's illegitimate child.

I don't think that should be taken especially seriously.

Rating: 4/5, because Yoda is an essentially perfect execution of a great concept, the tiny, quirky-to-the-edge-of-incomprehensible master of something or other. (The only member of the archetype that even compares to Yoda is probably Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda.) The only reason I took a point off is because there really isn't enough information to judge the species itself, since all five known individuals are indisputably Jedi and four of these characters are heavily based directly on Yoda (and two of them would be virtually indistinguishable from him in a crowd).

1448. Yorgraxx species. A Sith Lord enslaved them and made them build him a fortress, which led to their extinction.

Incidentally, said Sith Lord used Sith alchemy to create a flying winged rancor subspecies/species called coloi. That's amazing.

Rating: 1/5. Boy, there were a lot of guys enslaved to build things who then went extinct in the Star Wars galaxy's history, weren't there?

1449. Aeropteryx. Poor Aeropteryx. They have wings but can't fly, and apparently all have bad vision so they all need glasses (!). I find the latter a bit dubious, but whatever.

Rating: 2/5, if only because of the amusing mental image of some bird wearing glasses.

1450. Anacondans. I could have sworn I covered these guys once already, but apparently I was imagining it?

Anyway, they're pleasantly ugly snake guys. One of the known individuals had no problems with eating the corpse of some dude he betrayed, but said dude turned out to still be alive, and killed him for being a jerk.

The other known individual was a bartender.

Rating: 3/5. I like how they look, simple as that.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bland Title Is Bland

(Sorry things have been a little bit inconsistent here lately; I've had a lot of occasions where I didn't feel much like blogging or certain internet-related issues have made things difficult. On with the post.)

So what's scarier? A tarantula or a wasp?

If you said "tarantula," well, that's silly.

(The video describe the animal as a "giant barbarian spider," but a Google search indicates to me that somebody was just wordsalading a title for the video; the highest results that weren't a form of the video were various fantasy story-related hits; I'm reasonably certain that's a tarantula-family spider because I know my large spiders pretty well. ...Also, I have no idea what the video sounds like, so I apologize if it's something annoying or loud.)

Tarantulas, aside from being easy victims for wasps because of being large, slow, and having crummy eyesight, are also vulnerable to ants, since they're adapted to prey comparable in size to themselves (there's at least one species that's imperiled by invasive ants, and at least one other that's formed a friendly relationship with a food-sized frog because that frog eats ants; the two species live in mutual burrows, the frog keeping ants out while the tarantula protects the frog from comparably sized predators and even guards the frog's offspring), and have the further misfortune of being very slow breeders-a tarantula doesn't actually hit sexual maturity until it's about five*, which is an incredibly long time when you're a tiny animal that's preyed upon by so many other animals, the majority of which have better eyesight than you.

Actually, tarantulas are pretty harmless from the human perspective, other than the personal defense some species have that's built around expelling hairs that have little barbs on them; these hairs embed in people's skin and (if they're unfortunate) in their eyes, causing pain and irritation (I'm led to believe it's like a very painful itch). But they don't even do this unless they feel threatened, which shouldn't happen if they're being handled carefully, which is why they make nice pets (they also live as long or longer than many cats*, which is also nice for a pet owner).

*Tarantulas can get to reach their mid-twenties if they escape predation, making them easily the longest-lived spiders and among the longest-lived arthropods; scorpions also have fairly long lifespans. And then there's lobsters; science has not yet determined if lobsters actually have a limit to their lifespan not imposed by predation, i.e. they may actually be functionally immortal (in the sense of a "merely ageless" form of immortality).


Monday, February 23, 2015

All the Setting's Names Are Generic

One of the strangest Dungeons and Dragons settings, and also among the more obscure, is the Known World/Mystara/Hollow World setting.

(If you're curious and don't mind reading a rather lengthy primer, this thread at covers the setting with a focus on worldbuilding and identifying both the original starting point and the numerous, numerous retcons. Of interest to me is that the original basis for the setting, before it officially became part of D&D, was the homebrew pre-D&D campaign created by a couple of gamers in Ohio which previously included Kzinti and Tharks among the more standard fantasy races. Bit neutral on the Kzinti because they've become the model for basically every cat alien and fantasy race since, but an RPG where you get to play as a green Barsoomian? Yes please. ...Although they intended the Tharks as NPCs. Work in the Kaldanes, preferably also playable, and we've got something here.)

Part of the reason it's so strange is because it had a lot of continuity creep and was never the most popular setting, and it also got some very context-light video and computer games set in it.

Case in point: The following sequence actually makes a pretty fair amount of sense in the context of the setting. In a random game that doesn't include more than minimal worldbuilding, though...?

It results in the wonderful YouTube user comment "I love the fact that the ultimate objective is to summon Godzilla to come kick the [ahem] out of an eldritch abomination that would be right at home in a Godzilla movie." Somebody in the thread linked above commented that a non-D&D friend had been under the impression that the game had taken place inside a giant alien spaceship.

If you're wondering why a dinosaur showed up to beat up a tentacled thing, long story short is that a dinosaur named Ka became a godlike being called an Immortal a really long time ago. Being a pop-culture dinosaur, he was saddened by his kin's extinction or something, I guess, so he used the hollow interior of a planet to preserve societies and species that would otherwise have been wiped out using an elaborate system of magic and an artificial sun.

But there were eldritch abomination things called Burrowers that occasionally popped up and caused problems, if I recall correctly because they'd originally been used to dig and seal the holes that were used to access the interior at first.

So telling Ka about it prompts him to come and help, because he's the one who started the whole thing and it's kind of his project.

Yes, a dinosaur is responsible for creating what amounts to a planetary ark. It's kinda awesome.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 20, 2015

That More Recent War of the Worlds

Yes, that wild, inaccurate update to the original, from the halcyon year of 1953!

When I first became aware of this movie years ago, I was disappointed at the lack of tripods. The tripods are, after all, the iconic machines of the original novels; you can't just leave that out!

Watching it for the first time recently (thanks, Kroger's, for your weird and eclectic selection of not-very-current DVDs), I discovered something that delighted me:

These "flying machines" are actually nothing of the gosh-darned sort-they're actually tripods on invisible legs of electromagnetic force!

That is fantastic.

(My sister was really weirded out by the religious presentation of the ending, but after having watched the film adaptation of The Ox-Bow Incident and that awful sci-fi movie from the same general era that a bunch of people like, I wasn't surprised. Now, I was a bit bothered by just how darned invincible they were, since the original story involved multiple Martian war machines being destroyed... Even if the early shield flicker was sort of neat.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shame About the Title, Though

This game is another one of those "hard to the point of tears" games* with very nice graphics and an... interesting story.

It's also got some really interesting (in the non-sarcastic way) gameplay aspects, such as the use of panel borders as scene/environment dividers (which, if you can't have a near-continuous world like Metroid games do, is a decent alternative) and the fact that certain enemies are shapeshifters (you can't see this in the above video, so I've added the below video, which doesn't show it well-being a rather hilarious tool-assisted speedrun, possibly with a little extra cheating-but does at least give one the idea).

It's honestly pretty fun if you're watching instead of playing (and I'm sure it's fun enough if you're quite good), although the fact that the female enemy type is scared of the rat is at least a teense offensive.

*Chakan** is hard as heck because, while you have "infinite lives," i.e. dying has no long-term penalty, you've got strict time limits in each set of stages, which come in three sections and reset your progress whenever the timer runs out, plus the protagonist is fragile, not great at jumping, and has rather poor reach.

This game is hard as heck because you have even less reach, no extra lives, and there's not nearly enough health pickups for a player of less than spectacular skill.

**After some thought, I realized how to describe this to a gamer who hasn't played it and get across the point that it's probably on the hard side: It's basically a cross between a Megaman game and the second Legend of Zelda game, which I'm always seeing people whine about its difficulty.***

***...Y'know, I dunno why people talk about that game being so hard. I had an easier time finishing it than I had getting through the average Super Mario Brothers stage.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Honestly speaking, I've never been great at video games; I realized a long time ago that "shooter" games especially were kind of beyond me, by virtue of, well, having the hand-eye coordination of a wet fish.

For instance, the old Atari game Vanguard, which was in my childhood the closest thing to the popular shooter Gradius I'd been at all familiar with.

Judging oneself by Atari games probably isn't fair, because they're hard as hell, but I'm pretty sure I'd never have made it out of the first stage if it weren't for the fact that the first playthrough gives you infinite continues. I persistently played the game anyway, because for whatever reason I liked the colorful graphics and the game's booklet painted a vivid picture that suggested a rich, bizarre world.

Imagine my reaction years later seeing a shooter game with half-decent graphics that actually had the things one had to imagine for Vanguard, such as the Gradius games, of which Life Force is a member.

So why am I bringing up Life Force? Because I was skimming the Gradius wiki and discovered that it was an altered version of a game with a different theme*, and one of its characteristics was that it replaced many technological enemies with organic ones.

This led to me finding the following sentence, which is on the Gradius wiki's Life Force page (the emphasis is added).

Konami later released an enhanced version of Salamander in Japan bearing the American title of Life Force, which further fleshes out the organic motif.

Sorry for the pun.

To make up for it, here's another playthrough video, this one of Abadox, which really "fleshes out" organic themes.

And surprisingly gross things for an 8-bit game.

*I'm trying to figure out how the heck I missed that this was written "them" instead of "theme" for so long.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Anachronism Attack

So you'd think that eventually people who assigned future dates to their fictional things would eventually learn not to assign dates within their or their audiences' lifetimes. Like, twenty years from the present is right out, huh?


The game in question features mutant birdmen and much weirder things. It's definitely not our 2015.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Microwave Love: Reheating Guide

And now we come to the most important use of microwaves from the modern perspective-the magical, mystical power of reheating!

I have no idea what's up with the poorly drawn stars there. (I cut off a note that says "PLACE ALL BREADS ON A PAPER TO AVOID MOISTURE," which, while useful advice, was connected to a glaring yellow bar.)

The following chart, as often is the case, has had its times cut off; I'd have cut off those glaring yellow bars, too, because they're seriously burning my eyes, but that was a bit impractical for various reasons.

1. So, apparently the sweetness of the sweet roll is represented by it making a kind of creepy face and emitting hearts. Righteo then.

2. Bread slices and waffles both are apparently attempting to get a tan. Pretty sure I told you guys to stop that.

3. Where's that dinner roll (dinner roll? Looks more like a butter-flavored cupcake) going in such a hurry? He's not trying to escape, otherwise he'd look more upset.

4. For unclear reasons, both the donut and the French toast are dancing.

5. Don't have much to say about the pancakes, except that he sure is crowded there. Lucky for him he's flat as pancakes, right?

Then there's this stick of butter on a serving dish.

Now, look at that butter/dish closely. The eyes are on the butter. The mouth and feet are on the dish.

What kind of Frankensteinian abomination is it?

The melted butter and its dish appear to be unrelated entities despite their superficially similar appearances.

"Did you forget to take the roast out of the... freezer this morning?"

...What else were you thinking about saying, creepy lightning bolt? Or were you just being distracted because you were staring at that woman?

Just checked the angle of his eye, he's definitely checking her out. Pervo.

This next bit, I feel like I'm missing something:

So, is that an already-cooked hamburger? I really hope it is. Because otherwise that's probably not actually ready to eat ten minutes later.

Also, the plate carrying the roast has disproportionately tiny legs even by the standards of anthropomorphic dishware.

Most importantly, though: "Meal planing is simple now." Flattening meals? Sending them by aircraft? Or something more esoteric?

And the most important microwaving subject of all: "Left-overs."

So here's a pretty textbook case of fat-shaming:

Look at that poor guy. Yeah, he's pretty huge, especially compared to the ridiculously stickish guy from Breakfast, but he's also desperate.

Seriously, he looks like he's just watched somebody kick all the puppies. "I can't even eat what's already on my fork? It's on my fork, man!"

Also, that "free meal for me" doesn't look very substantial.

And finally:

Okay, no. Much as I love the usefulness of microwaving, generally microwaved leftovers do not in fact taste fresh-cooked. Perhaps to the less discerning palates of those who are trying it for the first time, but once you've had a soggy microwaved blob of sandwich, you'll never say it's like a fresh-cooked meal again.

That last one's on the nose, though... wait, what's up with the chandelier?

Next time, we'll start with hamburgers and see where things go from there.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Revenge of Copyright Ninjas

NOTE: The following video has a brief bit of rather stupid sexist humor, which I don't condone.

But more importantly, it has a lot of (rather comical) copyright infringement.

To wit, a version of the Terminator, a Spider-Man-based boss who randomly turns into Batman (?!), and also a rather tiny Godzilla (minus the back ridges).

So... how did this game get away with that, exactly?

-Signing off.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Game Reviews: Keeper of the Grove 2

Since I've talked about the other five games created by the same studio, I might as well talk about Keeper of the Grove 2... right?

Read the Keeper of the Grove review for a primer if you don't recollect it; if you want the compact version, my assessment is simple: Disturbingly cutesy, slow-paced, and hard.

As near as I can tell, the gameplay of the "sequel" is mostly the same (perhaps a little faster) with Incursion-like twists of special features on many maps (...I don't care enough to figure it out, to be frank, and have currently primarily played the game through this cheat page because of how little I care), but that's not the most notable thing.

The most notable thing is that the graphics have had a transformative overhaul.

My only conclusion is that there must have been complaints about the graphics, and so we arrive at this (almost) grimdark alternative/replacement.

I can't help but laugh. (I find it very unlikely my opinion was an influence; the game probably has thousands of comments on its page.)

Anyway, the new designs are fairly pleasant and engaging even though they present such a contrast-heck, especially because they present the contrast. The fact that there's such a hilarious disconnect is, well, the only reason I had any interest.

I don't know if I can particularly recommend it, because there's not much to set it apart other than the graphics, but it might be good for some laughs.

(EDIT: Whoops, forgot to add one remark on gameplay!

There's actually a nice touch in this game in that it actually rectifies a thing that could be a problem especially in Monsters TD and a bit less prominently in the first Keeper of the Grove: When mousing over the wave notification icon, it tells you the path that the wave will be walking along. This would be handy for those other games, and I hope that the feature continues in future titles [let's see it in an Incursion 3 especially].)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Microwave Love: Vegetables

Today we're going to take a look at vegetables of all sorts. Riveting, right?

First up: Fresh vegetables.

Our first vegetable is corn, which is just kind of funny because I don't really mentally categorize corn with vegetables. (It's a type of grain, of course, despite the surface similarities with vegetables.)

And quite a fresh cob of corn he is, too.

A similar cob of corn is also pretty fresh, to the point where he actually seems to be bothering the lightning bolt carrying his serving tray:

This next bit is one of the cooking instruction boxes (which one will do well to remember were made for the microwaves of yesteryear, and thus Not Recommended for home use), and it has a mess of text in the middle that's strange to look at:


What? Huh? It sorta makes sense, but it looks darned strange where it's placed.

Because this page and the next two are all kind of dull, we're plunging right into frozen vegetables.

I don't have much to say about the following section except to remark that the lightning bolt's head looks more like finished art than perhaps any other single drawing from the entire booklet.

Well, perhaps I might comment on the fact that steaming sounds ideal if it actually does in fact remove vegetable flavor, but that would be the remark of a facetious child.

...which I sorta am even though I was born more than three decades ago (see my remark in this post on winning at adulthood), so I guess I should have gone ahead and done it.

And then we have another instance of violence against foodstuffs, and much as in the eggs section it's one of the rare cases of a foodling objecting to being stabbed-although I suppose in this case it might be the bag itself objecting to having a hole punched in it.

Hate to tell you this, bag, but after your stint in the microwave apparently enjoying yourself, somebody is going to tear a great big hole in you.

Also, that's the first time in a while that a lightning bolt's had feet (the last time was somewhere around the Popped Corn section).

And finally, vegetables without adjectives:

This is the most boring page in the booklet so far; the entirety of it is a time table with vague drawings of anthropomorphic foodstuffs accompanying it. The most notable aspect of it... that they all seem to be in a (pleased) hurry to get somewhere.

Well, okay, there's also the fact that "brussel" sprouts apparently can be purchased "frosen," but yeah, there's not much to say on this page.

Join me next time when we get into the true magic of the microwave, starting with the Reheating Guide!

-Signing off.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Of all the differences between the arcade version and the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Altered Beast that put the console version to shame, perhaps the most notable is the general awfulness of the console version's translation team's voice clips.

Surely "WISE FWUM YOUW GWAVE" will stick in my mind forever. (The high-pitched "WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM" is pretty up there too, of course.)

-Signing off.