Monday, March 30, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#147)

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)

1461. Ciasi. The Ciasi have a vaguely tusked shrewish look to them, although they're rather slimmer than most shrews.

The most interesting thing about them is that their representative member apparently came from Tund, homeworld of the Sorcerers of Tund (a distinct offshoot of the Sith order who also happened to be among the last pureblooded Sith) and adopted home of the Toongs. Seeing as how Tund was rendered into an eternally dead wasteland by Rokur Gepta (probably, anyway-there's like, a single sentence in the relevant story that hints that Rokur Gepta might have been a little too confident in his own abilities and that at least some of the other Sorcerers of Tund may have survived), one hopes that it wasn't the species' homeworld, or that'll be a third possibly dead people associated with Tund's depopulation.

Perhaps the most interesting sentence of the article:

Ciasi could be found with gray-colored skin and could grow prominent tusks.

If only because it acknowledges that these things might not be universal features and that a species can have significant variation. I must approve of that, anyway.

Rating: 3/5. Eh, not especially interesting all in all, but the minor connections to other things elevates it a bit.

1462. Colony creature(s). The colony creature(s) is/are yet another sapient inhabitant(s) of Dac, the Mon Calamari homeworld, which has more indigenous sapient species than perhaps any world but Endor (which is saying something).

The colony creature(s) may be a sort of bacterial quorum, as it's described as the collective of many billions of individual cells, or perhaps is analogous to a slime mold. It/they was/were able to telepathically influence several groups of dianogas (?!) to attack some people that disturbed it during the Clone Wars, but then-Captain Gial "It's a trap!" Ackbar negotiated a deal with it that protected it in exchange for it using its telepathy to track Separatist intruders on Dac.

In ways, the colony creature(s) is almost too similar to the Knowledge Bank. This usually wouldn't bother me, but the Knowledge Bank is also native to Dac! (Told you that place had a lot of native species; eight all told, unless Wookieepedia missed some.) But I think I can forgive it, because the Knowledge Bank is awesome and so is this.

Rating: 4/5.

1463. Coral-monks. Despite an intriguing name, we know basically nothing of the coral-monks.

Rating: 2/5 for the name, even if it doesn't sound like a species name to me.

1464. Crast. The Crast are also known as food-kin. They exist in a symbiotic relationship with the Priapulins, wherein they must be eaten by Priapulins to complete their reproductive cycles (if I recall the original context correctly-Wookieepedia drops the ball a bit and merely states that their eggs must incubate in the Priapulin digestive tract, but it's very strongly implied that the food-kin can't actually lay their eggs).

Thus, Priapulins raise and nurture Crast, who likely see the much larger and longer-lived creatures as somewhere between parents and deities. That's a complicated symbiosis right there, made a touch more unsettling by the fact that the Crast are capable of communication and reasoning but don't seem nearly as bright as the unambiguously human-equivalent-intelligence Priapulin.

Rating: 3/5. I like the Priapulins and rated them well; these guys would probably have pushed them up a notch through their complicating the Priapulins (which would have made them a 5/5, natch) if I'd remembered to talk about them before. (Glad this article exists; otherwise I'd have forgotten them entirely!)

1465. Culroon. These guys exist entirely for the sake of the backstory of some Imperial officer I don't care about. All we know of them is that they 1) have a long history of violence (big surprise, that) and also 2) don't have a traditional ceremony wherein their leader symbolically turns over a weapon in a big ol' ceremony to show that he's surrendering.

Rating: 1/5. Meh.

1466. Dactrurians. A well-known actor was a Dactrurian.

Rating: 1/5. Double meh.

1467. Dargas. The Dargas were blue-skinned and red-eyed descendants of humans mutated by a local radioactive material.

Wait, blue-skinned and red-eyed? Do we have another Chiss-alike here?

It's hard to tell if this was purposeful or not, because the Dargas were created for a(n ambiguously canonical) French roleplaying magazine, and were published in 1994, three years after the original publication of Heir to the Empire, Thrawn's first appearance. I don't know if the novel would have been published in French yet, or how much precisely that matters.

Interestingly, their homeworld has banthas which they domesticated; that makes their heavily desertified homeworld Zender basically a red version of Tatooine.

Rating: 2/5, because the apparent urge to have a red Tatooine is funny.

1468. Del Andue. Supposedly "strange-looking," but we'll never know because they were written out of the early drafts of Return of the Jedi before it was filmed.

Rating: 1/5. Eh.

1469. Deltrons. Deltrons have a long list of features-"a torso, lungs, a heart, a lipped mouth, and iron-based blood"-which initially sound interesting until you realize these are things they have precisely in common with humans.

"At least one individual" (thank you, less obnoxious wording!), Brisha Shard (which is a great name) had golden skin and "bronzium-colored" eyes (just say bronze, guys, bronze is a color too), which sounds like a potentially interesting color scheme.

Most interesting, however, is that they were apparently created for a prequel to a 1979 Marvel comics story written by Chris Claremont (of "first guy to write decent X-Men stories" fame)!

That is bizarrely specific.

Rating: 2/5 for the interesting color scheme.

1470. Dirconites. ...That guy, huh? That guy. You had to make that guy an alien, as opposed to an ugly, fat human?

Sorry, got away from myself for a moment there.

There was this ugly fat guy in the Droids cartoon, and somebody decided, because he was ugly and fat and had what some people interpreted as yellowish skin, that he was an alien.

STOP THAT, YOU GUYS.

This is not the first time or even the second time this nonsense (that is, real-world racism) has intruded on things; heck, it's not even the first time it's intruded on the Droids cartoon specifically.

Rating: 0/5. Frickin' racism.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Admittedly I'm Overfond of Cheating and Game Bugs

"Too many dragons" will crash the game.



"Too many dragons" would probably be defined in most contexts as "one" dragon, though, at least if we're talking the hostile kind.

(In all seriousness, any given Earthlike planet's ecosystem probably wouldn't be able to handle more than, oh, a dozen or so Smaugs [for example] living on it for any length of time. Big flying critters gotta eat.)

-Signing off.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Can't Say No To Giant Robots

I have a real soft spot for mecha, super robots, and all other forms of humongous limb-equipped battle machine. (You may have noticed if you've been reading this blog for any serious length of time.)

So it stands to reason that I'd generally like games where you pilot robots, and this is in fact true, even when I stink at them. I have fond memories of getting killed and dissected by Cybrids on nearly every Earthsiege mission I attempted to play.*

So looking at this video of the Metal Warriors game is pretty neat, because not only do you pilot robots, you can hijack them.



Frankly, it looks like a lot more fun than Earthsiege**.

*Earthsiege was the first computer game purchased independently of a computer that I ever owned. The first computer game I ever owned (and thought of as "mine") was Star Crusader, which was one of a ton of things that came with that first computer. The next computer game was Dark Forces. I should note that I finished Star Crusader without help-I was a pretty decent space jockey***-and needed little help finishing Dark Forces thanks to its "super-shield" cheat setting; I never got past the third mission, if that, of the Earthsiege campaign. (If I played Earthsiege, it was usually a single mission with the invulnerability and unlimited ammunition cheat settings on; the campaign mode didn't allow those settings. Meh.)

Apparently space fighters are my thing, but clunky tankbots? Nope.

**The major thing I did like in Earthsiege was customizing mecha and coming up with absurd, unbalanced weapon combinations-if I'd not been using the unlimited ammunition feature, I'm pretty sure every Colossus I ever configured would have stalled out from overtaxing the reactor. That, with invulnerability, made crashing into the heavy enemy mecha and unleashing every weapon tons of fun.

***On the other hand, I inevitably quickly crash any aircraft in anything resembling a realistic flight simulator, and in Microsoft Flight Simulator I never really managed either an actual takeoff or landing. Gravity is my enemy.


-Signing off.

Friday, March 20, 2015

And Then He Turned Into A Flippin' Shark

(Unfortunately, I just didn't have the energy for a proper Guide post tonight, so here we are, something totally (and bizarrely) different, but sorta related.)

Why were the old Star Wars sidescrolling games so darned weird?

Maybe that's a bit unfair. Surely this is a faithful adaptation of that time that Luke Skywalker fought the Lava Beast Jawenko in the belly of the Jawa sandcrawler?


Wait, you're telling me that didn't happen in the movies? Surely you jest!

No, of course that didn't happen. And don't get me started on the paradropping stormtroopers that this game had swarming in Mos Eisley. (Odder still for me is that in every one of these games that corresponds to ANH, Luke actually steals R2-D2 from the Jawas! And when I say "steals," I'm talking armed robbery with an often double-digit body count.)

What about the time the wampa turned into a disembodied iceblast-spewing demon?


No, that doesn't seem right either.

The time Jabba the Hutt's torture droid attacked an Ewok tree village?


I'm beginning to get the idea that the game programmers only had the vaguest notion of what the movies were like.

Then there was that time that Darth Vader turned into a shark.


Officially, that's not what happened, but the official explanation-that this creature and his other "fake Vader" compatriots were manifestations of Luke Skywalker's fears-actually makes a lot less sense.

(Though I do really appreciate that the shark Vader battle took place on Iskalon, homeworld of the oft-mentioned Iskalonian school. That's a bit of cross-continuity between an obscure Japanese game and an obscure American comic book I'd not have expected.)

One last one: Apparently Obi-Wan Kenobi lives in a cave patrolled by giant flies and this rather demonic robot (who attacks by exploding his chest to fire projectiles) who guards the exit.


Considering the competition, it's impressive that this game almost manages to be the weirdest one. (The shark thing just edges it out.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DEADLY GLOWY GOOP ATTACK

I've mentioned the anime Betterman a couple of times (check the tag for a couple other posts with rather ludicrous use of capitalization in their titles).

The thing about Betterman is that it's trying to be an action series and a horror series at the same time. So the heavily armed protagonists (who either have modest-sized giant robots or can turn into hulking superpowered monsters) have some capability to fight back against the horror-themed enemies, quite a bit more than in most guns-blazing action/horror hybrid series (see zombie movies, most of the Aliens franchise, etc. etc. etc.). But the enemies they fight are stronger than those in such media, being larger, faster, stronger, and tougher, such that we are led to infer that normal means of assault-guns, bombs, etc.-aren't very effective. The solutions they use are quirky single-target things that only work against one specific target after analyzing said target.

Such as an engineered toxin tailored specifically against one single creature, such as this echinoderm-inspired giant monster that lives on the sea bed (Betterman kills the whole thing, which is at least a couple of acres across, and it for some reason then floats to the surface).



The only effective attacks any of the protagonists have work like this, including the titular Betterman; only minor enemies can be defeated any other way.

Sometimes it gets pretty ridiculous; it's one of the series' more curious traits that occasionally veers towards being a flaw.

I do tend to forgive it, though, since while it's far from the best execution of it, it's definitely a variation of the basic formula pioneered by Ultraman back in the day, and the original Ultraman is in actual fact one of my favorite pseudo-scifi series of all time, regardless of all its goofy antiquated flaws.

Heck, it's basically exactly Ultraman if one takes the fact that Betterman's a mysterious, fairly inhuman protector with tremendous powers into account.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 16, 2015

His Name Having The Word "Crass" In It Is Apparently Coincidental

One of my new favorite historical facts, snipped from the Wikipedia page on the richest man in ancient Rome*, Marcus Licinius Crassus:

Some of Crassus' wealth was acquired conventionally, through traffic in slaves, production from silver mines, and speculative real estate purchases. Crassus tended to specialize in deals involving proscribed citizens and especially and notoriously purchasing during fires or structural collapse of buildings. When buildings were burning, Crassus and his purposely-trained crew would show up, and Crassus would offer to purchase the presumably doomed property and perhaps neighboring endangered properties from their owners for speculatively low sums; if the purchase offer was accepted, Crassus would then use his army of some 500 slaves which he purchased due to their knowledge of architecture and building to put the fire out, sometimes before too much damage had been done: otherwise Crassus would use his crews to rebuild. If his purchase offers were not accepted, then Crassus would not engage in firefighting. Crassus's slaves employed the Roman method of firefighting—destroying the burning building to curtail the spread of the flames.[7] Similar methods were used by Crassus in the common event of the collapse of the large Roman buildings known as insulae, which were notorious for their poor construction and unsafe conditions. Crassus was happy to cheaply construct new insulae using his slave labour force, in place of the old insulae which had collapsed and/or burned; however, he was known for his raising of rents rather than for his erection of improved residential structures.

The bolded bits are the relevant part, the bit that blew my mind when I heard about it. (I mean, seriously, what a jerk.)

*Apparently at the time of his death, he was worth 7100 talents; a talent was a fortune, and that total is apparently roughly equivalent to nearly eight and a half billion dollars.

It's also interesting to note that Crassus was a major backer of Julius Caesar, and was also one of the three men (along with Caesar) to become the first triumvirate.


-Signing off.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#146)

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)

(A good long while back I did "Balmasian" but turns out it was "Bamasian." But the link is correct. Huh.)

1451. Arakhyn. The Arakhyn are pretty big fellas, standing taller than most tall humans, and the art of them is a bit sketchy but kind of interesting, if also sorta generic. (Amazing how that can happen.)

Most of the information on them surrounds their behavior and culture-they are "instinctive and relentless" hunters, their male youths are abandoned on hostile planets as a sort of coming of age ceremony-if they successfully survive, kill hostile entities, and then escape, they can be adults.

...This is actually kind of odd to think about, because when I read "hostile planet" I kind of assume some kind of wild jungle or desert business empty of civilization, but them escaping would seem to imply that these planets would have to be inhabited so that they could steal local spacecraft. Which is kind of a hilarious (and disturbing) thought-they dump their kids on some planet with only one or two little spaceports, and expect them to trek across a continent to the spaceport or something. (I think I've read that novel series.)

Anyway, they apparently speak in growls and implicitly need translators to speak English/Basic.

They supposedly seek the "biggest prey" in the galaxy to hunt; their entry also notes that they don't always "measure the danger they face" and attack the biggest threat without heed; I kind of think that they must be measuring it pretty well if they're after the "biggest prey" and always attacking the most serious threats.

They are described as "mythical lone hunters" who may tolerate valorous humanoids as allies for the sake of greater exploits.

Rating: 3/5. Considering the general sketchiness, I really like these guys.

1452. Assorhians. The Assorhians are natives of Assorhan (...) and rule the Assorhian Kingdom (...), and are divided into two races, the black-skinned Osoppohans (rulers) and the white-skinned Asoppohans (slaves).

Subtle.

Rating: 1/5.

1453. Atoan. Okay, this is kind of a weird one.

Atoan look like humans, but have a language other than English/Basic that they speak (an Atoan character claimed she'd learned Basic by cutting out and eating the tongue of a stormtrooper [!!!] in some kind of ritual) and a significant anatomical difference in that, instead of one central heart, they have many tiny blood-pumps throughout their bodies.

They're also cross-fertile with humans. ...What.

Rating: 2/5. Actually, this is because of the bizarreness of the tongue-eating. Disturbing as it is, the concept appeals to me in a fictional context, and it actually matches up more with how human cannibalism usually occurs in traditional cultures-it's thought of as a way to steal the skills, strength, and knowledge of one's enemies.

1454. B'nishi. Native to B'nish.

Rating: 1/5.

1455. Bah'r Kilido. They have pink skin and grow horns from their noses (like, where their nostrils should be) and chins.

"Where their nostrils should be" is precisely how the matter is described, by the way.


The one known individual, Suppoon, was a crime boss who committed numerous atrocities in his previous job as a planetary governor under an assumed name; unfortunately for him, his past caught up with him when Jabba revealed his other identity to a guy who was working as muscle for Suppoon, who had grown up on that planet and had watched his parents die in a riot that Suppoon had caused.

Suppoon turned a gun on the guy, but it turns out that shooting a dude whose armor is heavy enough to smother a grenade by hugging it isn't especially effective, and apparently the guy's armor was also reflective, so this had rather predictable results, that being decapitation by his own weapons fire.

Rating: 1/5. While that's an amusing story, he has horns where nostrils should be the actual species isn't that interesting.

1456. Bedlam spirits. The Bedlam spirits (native to a planet named Bedlam-a bit on the nose there) are one of the most bizarre and whimsical things in Star Wars, being nigh-omnipotent entities from an early Alan Moore story (that's always the way with the very oddest things in early Star Wars) that had power over time, space, energy, matter, and life and death. One of them "playfully" killed a number of characters (this is slightly excused by her believing she'd created them by accident, being a bit dim), including Princess Leia (!), whilst warping reality, and then tasked one of their members, Splendid Ap, with cleaning up the mess, restoring the victims to life. He did, but because he didn't properly understand linear time, the poor bunch of Imperial soldiers he brought back to life ended up sometime in the distant past, leading to Leia discovering their skeletal remains nearby when she regained consciousness.

Other than the awe-inspiring Splendid Ap, other Bedlam spirits go by the names Tilotny, Horliss-Horliss, and Cold Danda Sine.

Rating: 4/5. It's mostly Spendid Ap, but these are almost definitely my favorite Alan Moore creations in all of Star Wars.

1457. Bivall. The Bivall are clam-headed aliens (oy) native to the planet Protobranch (which is a great name for a planet).

I'm a little torn. On the one hand, I like the idea of clam-headed aliens. On the other hand, these guys are a bit too derpy.

Then again, one of them was a research scientist who was involved with the Zillo Beast plotline, which was basically "Godzilla on Coruscant." ...Eh.

Rating: 2/5. The Zillo Beast association won't save you from a low score, you disappointing clam-heads.

1458. Botori. Bears from Botor.

Rating: 1/5. Sounds like a rock band.

1459. Chalactans. The Chalactans are near-humans who look somewhat like and have vague cultural associations with Asian Indians. That's a bit tasteless (calling them an alien species, that is).

Anyway, they contributed a lot of Jedi Masters to a certain era (at least four), and while most of them have oddball pseudo-foreign/slightly alien names, one of them is known only by the name Simms.

Simms.

I don't know, that amuses me.

Rating: 1/5.

1460. Chekut. They opportunistically invaded somebody else's planet at some point.

Rating: 1/5. And I don't care.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BLAH ONCE MORE

...I really need to work a little better at actually working on my article series.

In the meantime, here's one of those acapella covers that one guy does.



Not nearly as amazing as his One-Winged Angel cover, but still pretty good.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 9, 2015

I Don't Even Know

Amazing excerpt from this page about The World of Synnibarr, one of the more bizarre tabletop RPGs ever published:

My physical appearance is “Average”; the table ranges from “Extra Good Looking” to “Give It Up And Wear A Mask”. I am not making this up.

From what I've seen elsewhere, the game has the best/worst randomized character creation tables ever compiled. (Yes, of course it's both of those things at once.)

Another comment I've seen about Synnibarr is that an entry describing a shark-based monster starts with "Like all sharks, [this monster] is a shapeshifter..." (Emphasis mine.)

...Apparently this is getting a third edition, like, any minute now, which is notable because the previous edition came out over twenty years ago.

From what I can tell, the game is so complex it's hard to play, but people keep the book around because it's entertaining to flip through.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Death From Above a Tidal Pool!

I'd intended to do a proper post tonight, but a combination of distraction, exhaustion, and car trouble ganged up to make me scatterbrained and tired. (I have no idea how my dad tolerates his truck shaking as much as it does-I was numb for about half an hour after driving it for a fairly short trip.)

Anyway, here's a video of an octopus popping out of the water and grabbing a crab, because that's something octopodes do.



Sometimes I make a mental tally of all the scary things octopodes can do to other sea life, being smart, flexible, and cunning* compared to everything else in the water, and wonder how everything else is still there.

Then I remember that they're usually small and that there are lots of things that are rather faster than they are.

*Y'know how the blue-ringed octopus is poisonous** enough to threaten humans (actually, it's one of those rare venomous animals that we've never developed a proper antivenom for, apparently)? Apparently, not only do they deliver their venom through bites (or so I must presume from the fact that they can use it on humans), they can also use it from a distance by pumping it with their siphons. I've seen video***. It's disturbing.

**Yes, a "poisonous" animal is one that inflicts a toxin on you through contact or ingestion while a "venomous" animal uses a bite or sting to deliver poison. "Poisonous" is also a generic term for toxicity in general, you don't need to be pedantic.

***Years ago in a classroom, not on the internet, unfortunately.


-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

That's A Lot of Turtle-Themed Wrestlers

So apparently there are three different four-member teams of Ninja Turtle-inspired lucha libre wrestlers?



All righty then.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 2, 2015

That Guy's Advice Seems Solid

From this longplay, presented with minimal commentary:


Might've been a good idea to listen to the NPC there, perhaps?

It's especially funny because this dragon utterly dwarfs the other dragon in the game (as well as every other enemy), and from what I hear is basically the hardest anything to fight in the entire game, to the point where if you defeat it, it puts a dragon image on your point counter to indicate hey, you did the hardest part of the game.

-Signing off.