Monday, November 30, 2015

Sometimes You Just Have The Sudden Urge To Post Game Music

That's been pretty frequent for me lately.

Funny thing about the game this music is from: My mother loved it.

She's never really been big on computer/video games apart from solitaire and other simulations of real-world games (to the point of occasionally being something of an anti-game person), but she started playing Cosmo Bots/Cosmic Bugs at some point.

She like the demo, bought the full game, and played every level. (The game had a hundred levels, too, so that's not like it's a small time investment.)

It makes me feel kinda bad that my kid brother and I unintentionally deprived her of her primary chance to play the "sequel," Water Bugs, on the weird "arcade machine" service that was on one of our later computers. (There was a time/coin limit thing, and she didn't want to drop more money on it than she had already.)

-Signing off.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Lite Indeed

So I've been working on and off on RPGMaker XP projects for a while now, and I've mostly been having fun. Out of curiosity, though, I decided to download the "demo" version of its successor, VX Ace Lite, which is, instead of a limited time demo such as some demos are, a demo that only lets you work with a limited number of materials (the package of graphics is smaller, and there's some parts that keep you from having more than a very limited selection of characters, classes, items, etc.) but lets you otherwise do anything the full version would.

I decided to play with it for a change of pace (I've been a little bogged down on the XP projects), and have decided that, in many respects, I greatly prefer XP because it's actually graphically superior. (Part of it comes from larger, more flexible sprites, but all the artwork is generally nicer, with the exception of the enormous iconset and the battle animations; also, I like the way the battlers are set up in XP better-having the actual option to display your characters is nice, Dragon Quest homaging be damned. Also, while both have mediocre English translations, VX Ace's is worse.) Much as I like JRPGs, I've never really been a fan of tiny square-shaped people.

There's also a few things that I have to chuckle at, such as the fact that you can give a character a nickname and a description.

Sorta handy, true, especially since you need annoyingly fancy junk to get anywhere with something similar in XP, but the silly bios that come in the default game ruin the effect a bit. Admittedly, VX Ace also has multiple things built in that one has to wonder why they were left out of older versions, like a built-in vehicle system and a reflection characteristic, but if you're desperate for that there are (admittedly difficult) ways to do that in XP.

There is one thing that makes me consider whether I'd want to get the full version of VX Ace, though: The Features system in its database makes configuring battle stuff actually fun.*

Why? It's because this is a system that allows you to assign Features to things in a powerfully modular way. If you want a character to, say, have the ability to equip a sword, you can go to the Actors tab where the player characters are and assign the "Equip Weapon [Sword]" Feature to that character. Or you could give it to the character's Class instead, and it would work mostly the same way. Or you could have a different piece of equipment that assigned the "Equip Weapon [Sword]" feature. Weird (and probably pointless), yes, but you could do it. But there's a total of six different things you can assign Features to, including status effects. Yes, hypothetically you could make the ability to use a sword a status effect.

And while it's not quite the same as the Features system, the way that skills and useable items work is close to identical and similarly flexible, which is a thing I really would have appreciated in XP. (It also leads to the rather funny possibility, since they anticipated the idea of a "use item to teach skill" feature, of using a skill to teach itself; there's a rather funny scenario I came up with years ago as a thought experiment that I find myself thinking of which this might actually allow to a degree. Here's a hint to what it might entail, although I admit that might be a bit cryptic for a non-M:TG fan.)

And then there's the little Note section, which was actually the first thing that got me stirred up about the differences. There are way too many things in XP that don't have a good place to make notes to oneself, and I'd really have appreciated that.

What I really want now, though, is a magic lamp so that I can make a wish to take the parts I like from each of the two systems and fuse them together into the ultimate RPGMaker. In fact, that would be something superior to the latest, most expensive RPGMaker product, because it fixes some relatively minor graphical issues VX Ace has, keeps others, and switches the programming language to Javascript, which I've always found to be actively repulsive because of its tendency to screw up webpages.

So there you have it: My nattering about a free product that's got a better not-free version.

*I had fun with XP's for a while, but honestly it's a bit of a hassle, especially with the errors that somebody made along the line that make it hard to, for instance, give an enemy the maximum hitpoints, experience, and gold that the default engine allows. You can enter any six-digit number for those things (actually, experience and gold can both go higher)... except that you can only directly enter five digit numbers into the boxes in question, and then use the arrow buttons/keys to raise it.

I sat down and took something like an hour one day just scrolling the hitpoints up to use as a template for high-level enemies.

And oh yeah, the way one determines who can equip what is a friggin' checklist.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why You'd Name A Fighter Plane "Platypus" Is Beyond Me

Eventually, you decide questioning video game logic isn't quite worth it.

...There's even a point where you start thinking that things like the giant fruit the enemy ships drop makes sense.


-Signing off.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not Just Another Old Tank Game

So I was recently reminded of a game I'd played the demo for back in the day, Battlezone 2 (I was reminded because I was browsing, though the site doesn't have the game-I was reminded because more games from the same ancient demo disk had shown up on the site than previously), and decided to look it up.

After a bit of hunting around (and confusion relating to the fact that the game it was a sequel to gave it some backstory that didn't match well with the impressions the demo gave me), I discovered something: For a game of its simplistic sort, it had a pretty amazing story.

Which is to say that the generic faceless aliens you find yourself fighting aren't bugs or drones the way you might expect, but [SPOILERS for a game that's old enough that there are kids in high school who weren't born when it was released] some manner of mutated humans who just want to be left alone, and your evil boss created them and wants to recapture some.

Which, I have to say, is a pretty amazing deconstruction of the "faceless horde of enemies" tropes.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 20, 2015


There's two aspects to today's post; both of them have to do with the game Undertale, a game I've mentioned finding very interesting despite not having played it and not being enormously interested in actually playing it (as I've noted on many occasions, I don't really have the reflexes or hand/eye coordination).

The first is a mashup/mix/whatever of the game's No Mercy route* final boss theme, Megalovania, and a song I've never heard otherwise by the group Justice (who does pounding, intense sorts of music).

Needless to say, it's pretty neat.

The second is a stupid little anecdote from my life.

My sister and I were recently rewatching an anime (specifically Gun X Sword) and hit possibly the best episode of the series, the third to last (I'm not up for explaining why it's so good because if you ever want to watch the series, any explanation of more than the very barest details would be huge, huge, huge spoilers-note that it's something of an "emotionally painful good" sort of good, a thing I've had an appreciation for since reading the Wraith Squadron books back in the day, and my sister cries every time she watches it). Long story short, Character A, in what's stated to be one of the strongest giant robots in the series, attacks Character B while he's at his very weakest... and Character B owns the hell out of Character A.

In a way that had my sister briefly convinced that I'd been waiting for the opportunity, I promptly bellowed "GEEEETTT DUNKED ON!**" in one of my better deep, imposing voices. (I don't mean to brag, but I can go from falsetto to Darth Vader pretty easily... though I can only do Darth Vader quotes in the proper Vader voice.)

I swear it was completely spontaneous.

*PSA: The game's creator has requested that the term "genocide route" not be used (a fact I was not aware of when I first posted about Undertale) because of people making jokes about the Holocaust. ...Making jokes about the Holocaust isn't really a thing people should need to be told not to do, guys.

Besides, "No Mercy" has an interesting double meaning in the Undertale context: Not only must you actually kill every monster you fight in order to reach the route (and hunt down every possible random encounter in every area-the random encounters will eventually run out, and that's when you know you've killed enough of them), but when you fight Sans, the route's final boss, he'll kill you if you try to use the "Spare" command and his attacks don't give you the traditional few moments of invulnerability... i.e. what is commonly known as mercy invincibility.

**When trying to make peace with "No Mercy Sans" (see above for the end result of that action), the game over screen rather hilariously displays the phrase "get dunked on" (you can see a reference to this in the above video). Who knows why, other than the fact that Sans has a sense of humor.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I mentioned the idea that giant robot fighting games were the only kind that mattered (which is something my sister originally said) here.

Why do I bring it up again?

Because the same game's multiplayer gives the opportunity to unleash combiners during boss fights (you can see one example at around two minutes in, and there's several other fights as well):

This is made even better by the fact that the combiners actually seem to be pretty effective, being twenty seconds of invulnerability and massive damage before decombining.

(Find more information on the game's various combiners here, if you're curious. Only really pictures, but they show the combined forms of all four player characters, which actual gameplay doesn't allow.

...Seeing them all in the same place, incidentally, really emphasizes the "unpossible" nature of their rather Getter Robo-esque transformations.)

-Signing off.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Excuse Me While I Natter: Septerra Core Again

Septerra Core was a pretty formative experience from my late teenage years. (Even though it was older, I got into Total Annihilation when I was in college. Idiosyncratic purchase order for the win.)

And while I loved the gameplay and learned it inside and out*, it was the story, characters, and especially the world that had my attention.

Take the country of Jinam, for instance.

We never see the place in its glory, because it gets Doomsday Device'd before we have an opportunity to visit it. But we learn some fascinating (and horrifying) details about it from local Best Character Ever Lobo (you may want to enlarge the image, and I'll also provide a transcription because this is a fuzzy screenshot-also here's a link to the YouTube video I took the screenshot from if you want the voice acting; Lobo shows up a little after the fifteen minute mark):

(Lobo [responding to a piece of dialogue describing him as a Jinam Combat Cyborg]: "Once. I've heard that the combat cyborgs like me were made up of volunteers. But our memories were wiped clean and I don't remember. Some people have said that the Cyborg brains came from criminals, but I hope not.)

This one tidbit of information makes the nation of Jinam comparably horrifying to the main villain (who brings the world to the brink of destruction for the sake of his ego) and the undead plague that the otherwise idyllic Shell Three is suffering from. Yet other than the fact that Jinam actually is the place of origin of two party members, Lobo and that redheaded guy in the party in the screenshot, it's the most obscure location in the game, only visited once after it's been destroyed. (...And it's been wedged against Shell Three, so now it's full of zombies as well as rampaging malfunctioning robots and combat cyborgs. I don't remember the combat cyborgs there being treated as undead, but it wouldn't have shocked me.)

It's actually kind of interesting because the design of the Jinam cyborgs seems to be inspired a little by the battle droids from Star Wars (as a very slender "mook" robot), but they're basically an army of Robocops. (Despite their appearance, they're tough as nails, especially the high-level ones that pop up late in the game; Lobo is also in the running for strongest member of the party. I once saw Lobo shrug off a monster called the Hell God basically puking lava on him; he took less than twenty damage, while the guy next to him with a barrier [reduce damage by 50%, unless it was a fire barrier, which means reduce damage by 75%-I don't honestly remember anymore which it was] took nearly fifty. Granted, machine-type characters have really good fire resistance already, plus better equipment, but except for healing items being less effective for mechanical characters and the fact that he was awful at spellcasting, Lobo had no particular drawbacks [both of which can be negated by proper party composition-just stick Grubb or Led in there, and both problems are counteracted thanks to their good spellcasting abilities and Repair skills], could tank like a boss, was faster than the party average, and had high damage output and the best attack-oriented skillset in the game. The only characters who were tougher and could hit harder physically were also so slow and even worse at spellcasting.) There's apparently very little material left from the original person-the brain at most, probably not even the whole brain.

And the end result is considerably tougher than the basic footsoldiers of the Chosen, who are one of the three or four identifiably oldest cultures in the setting and usually identified as the most advanced nation (the arguable example of most advanced nation is a secret branch of the Chosen who also aren't such tremendous jerks and have turned themselves into living airships, which is awesome for reasons I don't feel the need to elaborate on). Those combat cyborgs seem to put the lie to their claims of absolute technological superiority, at the very least. (And they actually stole the strongest weapon they use, the Doomsday Device, from the Ankarans, Jinam's traditional enemy.)

If the plot of the game hadn't gone the particular way it had, there was a good chance that Jinam, not the Chosen, would have been the biggest threat to the well-being of the world. Instead, they got wiped out thanks to the main villain's machinations less than halfway through the game.

*Not saying I know everything about its battle system, but watching videos of other people playing it, well... I don't want to brag but I got pretty darned good at Septerra, to the point where watching other people play it makes me cringe**. Probably comes from playing the living hell out of the demo while waiting for it to arrive; at one point I had the party leveled up so that the toughest regular enemies in terms of the damage they could take, the Armored Crabs, were being one-shot-overkilled-for-more-than-twice-their-hitpoints by the weakest attacker in the party (albeit with his strongest basic attack). Then I got stuck on stupid puzzle junk twice in rapid succession ("rapid succession" being a period of a couple months overall) and spent that whole time randomly playing and thus grinding.

...That party was so overleveled. And yet there was a random boss you could run into that still took a tremendous effort to kill without the "cheating" method*** that kept one-shotting the party for most of the game, until I finally figured out what I needed to do ages later and came back... and took him out with a set of basic attacks. Yes, I killed the guardian of the Armstrong seal shrine once without cheating or strategy. My party was that overleveled. ...To be fair, he didn't actually have a lot of hitpoints, just more armor than a pair of battleships sandwiched together, and weapon scaling and level grinding eventually negate armor strength.

**This isn't intended as an attack on people; not everybody can spend over a year immersing themselves in every game, and Septerra was just one I spent at least a year on. ...I think I've also mentioned I'm an unrepentant level grinder; Septerra's where I picked up the habit. Also, I've seen at least one person pull a neat trick that I'd not been aware of in a video, so I won't claim I know everything. (Using Cloak to dodge the final boss's counterattack? Neat. I mean, I... kinda didn't play the final boss battle, because my sister had pushed through more of the story at some point and once she'd beaten the final boss, I didn't feel the need to-but she and I co-developed our playstyle, and she was just about as good at it as I was when we were at our best.) Actually, years later I found Chrono Trigger to be a blast because it was a quicker, less buggy version of the same gameplay, and my old Septerra habits served me well even though Chrono Trigger is a somewhat harder game; other than Lavos, hopeless fights, that room with six Nus, and a few cases where I ended up fighting high-level encounters by accident, I don't remember anything from that game as being a serious challenge.

***I mention that the boss in question, the Rot Beast, has few hitpoints but a lot of armor (pretty sure he had a lot more armor than the final boss, or basically anything but a couple of the Magi encounters), right? He's undead, so spamming the healing summon on him dealt him decent damage, but staying alive long enough to use it the five-plus necessary times was hard even though he tended to waste time reviving his zombie buddies when that killed them.

(This was a challenge because he dealt stupid amounts of damage, and had a hit-all attack that could, under normal conditions, one-shot the party. The only way to reasonably survive this attack was with the counter-undead barrier, which would reduce all damage from undead by a whopping 75%. That changed things from an impossible fight to a very hard one. He could still nearly one-shot most party members at will, though, because he had the spell Poison, which inflicted the Poison status. Doesn't sound so bad, and in a lot of games it wouldn't be. But Poison in Septerra scales in strength with the level of the caster versus the level of the victim, so instead of the percentage-based damage one might expect, or something piddling and annoying, as soon as the poison kicked in your character was dead even through a barrier, because poison damage and barriers don't interact and that Rot Beast had a ridiculously high level. That bastard was scarier than Draxx, the godlike necromancer who presumably created him and all other Beast enemies [and also happened to be the first Beast you encounter], who were generally a sort of miniboss archetype who were also occasionally storyline bosses. Compared to Draxx and the Rot Beast, the other story boss Beast, the Curse, was kind of a joke, though, because even though he was statistically stronger than Draxx, he had an AI bug that would make him spam the Curse spell if you set up a Ward barrier and made sure the party was cured of Curse. Free tip if the guy ever gives you trouble.)

Giving him a healing item, though, did fixed damage to him equal to the healing value of the item, and I'm pretty sure that the Root, which would long since have become one's standard healing item, does more damage to him than his total health (or close to it, failing that), and I know that the next item up on the scale would do him in. The game designers clearly didn't see this as "beating" him, though, because if you use healing items on undead, you don't get any experience.

By the way, I did kill the Rot Beast the hard way more than once. After all the grief he gave me, I felt the need to.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gotta Feel Sorry For Those Three*

I mentioned relatively recently that a lot of my love of JRPGs comes from a game that, strictly speaking, is not a JRPG at all, Septerra Core.

Septerra is a game that's a huge homage to games of the sort, however, and TVTropes actually categorizes it as one despite its Western origins because it's such a close match in terms of gameplay, storyline, and aesthetic. (That, and a certain amount of Japanese media in general; before I was aware of the Toxic Jungle/Sea of Decay from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, I was exploring Septerra's Shell Seven Mold Forest, which was a huge homage to Nausicaa and similar things that it inspired.)

So it's really nice to see that the game has gone from severe obscurity to comparatively well-known thanks to digital re-releases through things like Steam and It used to be that if you wanted to look at something from the game, you had to hunt through the game for it. Earlier, I decided to search to see if one could find the game's summon animations online, and was rewarded with a video with every player-castable spell animation in the game.

The game was... honestly a bit of a pain to play back in the day, because it didn't run well on even pretty new systems, but if you have a Windows 7-ish computer (not Windows 8**) it actually runs better than it ever did.

*Those three enemies. They got a lot of attack magic demonstrated on them.

**My sister's rather puny and aging laptop runs it like a dream. This big fancy superpowered desktop I'm blogging from? It's honestly a bit choppy. You stink, Windows 8. (And that's why I don't want Windows 10, by the way-it's supposed to be some kind of magical cross between 7 and 8, but there's literally not a single feature from 8 that's worth jack [and plenty that I'd really, really like to get rid of, like the "app" crap-the way that works really remind me of the MSDOS era, which I thought you guys were trying to move away from?], and every ad I've seen for 10 emphasizes its 8-like interface. No, guys, no.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Oh, Thanks Buddy"

I was randomly watching a longplay of an arcade beat-'em-up game called King of Dragons. (Spoiler: There's a big dragon at the end.)

Now, I've watched quite a few videos of the sort, and a lot of them were much more visually interesting than this one (see Armored Warriors) and had gameplay that looked more fun. (I should note I've played very few games of the sort; the only such games I own are a few Sega Genesis titles, on a tiny little micro game package that my sister and I bought relatively recently.) There were a couple of things in it that got my attention, such as this whimsical tree.

What really gets me about the tree is that he's essentially thanking you for getting the spiders out of his hair.

Then there's the game's wizard.

Dude does not look like he's a 5'6", 123-pound twenty-eight-year-old.

The thing really worth remembering about the game, though, is that it has a pretty great soundtrack.

That is a fine final boss theme.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Toy Story Moment

Actually a few hundred Toy Story moments all at once.

Poor Optimuses.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Unfortunate Typo Time

So I watched this playthrough of an old* arcade game recently, because I like pixel art a lot.

As was not uncommon with games of its era, it had a translation issue here and there, in this case mostly in the form of comparably minor typos.

Yeah, pretty sure that was supposed to have been "bribed," not "brided." That means something a little different.

*Mid-late nineties. Ugh that was about half my life ago now I feel old.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

That Dude's Pretty Chill

My sister recently found a complete DVD collection of Getter Robo Armageddon, which I'd watched most of on YouTube once (all but the first episode and possibly part of the second-I thought I'd seen all of the second, but watching it last night, the first chunk of the second seemed oddly unfamiliar), which we'd been hunting for a long time, so in celebration, here's some screenshots of an amazing scene from the much goofier original Getter Robo anime.

So Musashi, the comic relief character (who tends to be depicted as kind of hopeless)*, is actually so strong he appears to have thrown a full-grown man at least fifty feet upwards (based on the fact that he landed on a rather tall diving board; it surely isn't fifty feet tall, but it looks like twenty to thirty feet, and he would have been falling at a normal rate once he wasn't going upwards anymore, so, yeah) and over a hundred feet horizontally (which is probably a conservative estimate).

And Hayato was pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and didn't even seem to be putting much effort into landing properly. (Considering how violent his manga counterpart and most other incarnations of him are, his amazing chill is really even more remarkable.)

...I love almost every version of Getter Robo unironically.

*Musashi is arguably one of the most influential anime characters in the entire super robot genre, mainly because he was a goofy character who suddenly dove straight into drama and sacrificed himself to kill the dinosaurs** and save the world. I'm pretty sure that Musashi was a major influence specifically on Kamina from Gurren Lagann, which is funny/a bit weird for several reasons.

**Because dinosaurs were still around and also at least a little evil in Getter Robo. And Musashi killed them.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 2, 2015


The title of this post was what my sister said when I told her that this video was a longplay of a giant robot beat 'em up/fighting game.

I... kind of agree?

-Signing off.