Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Boy It's Quiet Over Here

...Sorry for not posting more often over here, but I really do seem to have "moved in" over at my new blog.

Here's the masterpost for my current largest post series I've done over there, recently completed (probably). ...Boy, it's been a while since I looked over here, my previous post is about me starting that post series.

-Signing off.

Monday, August 29, 2016

They're Pretty Fun Monsters*

Well, I really haven't been on here as often as I'd intended to be since moving to Tumblr.

On the other hand, I started a post series that I've been enjoying (about the monsters of the week in the anime Brave Exkaiser, which you can find the masterpost of here), so I feel like my blogging groove is finally opening up again.

And that was what I was hoping for by switching platforms, so mission accomplished.

*Although dialogue in the show calls them robots, and they're definitely strictly mechanical, I call them monsters because calling something as weird and zany as these things "robots" feels off to me.

-Signing off.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Getting Things Done Somewhere Else

Well, that was a bit longer between posts here than I intended.

On the other hand, I had a more productive week or so on my new blog, including a post on mecha and super robot series references in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's that has had several addendums and a post I just finished on the villains of the Brave Robots series Goldran.


Spoiler for that second post: The Walzack Republic Empire (really) is basically the poster child of the phrase "well, that escalated quickly."

-Signing off.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Lost Godzilla/GIJoe Crossover (Sorta)

Then there was the time that the old Godzilla Power Hour cartoon featured a cameo from the G.I. Joe villain organization Cobra before Cobra existed.


I'd call time travel shenanigans, but it's probably a coincidence, even with the fact that there's some surprising costume design similarities going on here.

-Signing off.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Getter Rays Killed the Dinosaur Stars

Okay, I'd somewhat meant to post on here earlier this week, but it's probably just as well; I've been distracted enough by various factors that it's been kinda quiet over at the new blog.

Except I just did a pretty solid post over there, talking about the Dinosaurs of Getter Robo in a fashion that's not entirely dissimilar from my old Star Wars posts.

(Warning: I swear significantly more on my Tumblr than I ever have here. That one post has more vehement swears than I think this entire blog does.)

-Signing off.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Stop Setting Off Explosives You Pesky Neighbors Day*

Reminder you don't need because the link's been sitting there for a week: I now have a Tumblr.

(Sorry this is another non-post but frankly the Fourth is a bit stressful when you suspect that your neighbors' kids have it in for you and that somebody on your block also bought explosives.)

*You're making my cat angry.

-Signing off.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Someone Is Blogging Somewhere Else

I mentioned recently that I'd gotten a Tumblr, and that I'd link it in the future. The future is nowHere's the link.

I'm going to take at least a week off from this blog and concentrate on figuring out my Tumblr blogging rhythm. I do intend to blog here at least once a week for a while, at least, but I've formed too many habits that are detrimental to "serious" blogging here, so I'm going to see if I can loosen up a bit.

(I apologize if you're one of the people who's started following me in the last half-year, but hey, I'll probably be reblogging other people's content of the "random music" variety more efficiently this way, and that's kind of the thing I've been doing most often lately, so...)

-Signing off.

Friday, June 24, 2016

There's A Jigsaw Puzzle Game (or so) That Has A Plot*

And it's got a pretty decent soundtrack overall. (You can read about the game itself here and here.)



In unrelated news, it might be kind of obvious that my energy level on this blog has been pretty low lately, so I'm in the process of getting myself a Tumblr, which I'm hoping will turn out a lot better than my late, lamented Wordpress blog. (I'll probably link it Monday.)

*And it's actually a pretty good plot.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blah Blah Blah Have Some Music

I've posted so many Megalovania covers at this point one might think seeing the real word "Megalomania" as the title of a song was a spelling error when it's posted here.

It isn't, though.



This song's title probably inspired Megalovania's title (and at one time was apparently intended to be used where Megalovania was first used, in an old game hack).

It's funny because I actually stumbled on it completely independently of the Undertale fandom. (The video linked here introduced me to it slightly indirectly.)

-Signing off.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Game Reviews: Sticky Blobs

(Warning: I get a little angry towards the bottom and say some potentially upsetting things. I actually toned it down when I realized how awful it sounded in light of recent events.)

Sticky [grawlix] Blobs is a game that starts out all right, but by the end of it I kind of wanted to KILL IT WITH FIRE.

And by the end I mean "upon ragequitting," not "upon finishing."

But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.


Sticky Blobs has some inane excuse plot that's about collecting berries to power some kind of reactor. You have to extend your blob chains and pare them away in order to get a blob into position to touch the berry. Complicating this is that your blobs stick to everything, they're squishy and wiggly, you can only make so many, and some things burst your blobs.

This is fine at first, but the further the game goes on, the more of a dealbreaker the "squishy and wiggly" part turns out to be.

When I first started playing this a while back, I thought perhaps it was just Chrome being terrible (Sticky Blobs is a high-processing power game and grinds Chrome to a halt). Upon trying again, I discovered that while switching to Firefox helped, some of the problems I'd been experiencing were just Sticky Blobs being terrible. Mainly, the number of times trying to click on a blob makes the blob tell you you're doing it wrong or causes the screen to jerk around because you missed the darned thing shifts the game from "mildly fun" to "completely exasperating."

I can't really demonstrate, but watch this video where someone-who is definitely a much better gamer than I am, or they wouldn't be doing walkthroughs-gets repeatedly stymied by the frickafrackerating crappy controls. There are places where you can just about hear the screaming.



Gah, at the precise moment I'm typing this I'm not anywhere near watching the video and it's still making me quiver with anger. I wasn't even playing these levels and I'm angry about them!

*deep breath*

Okay, better now.

It gets worse: In an effort to bring "personality" to the game, the programmer(s) added expressions and reactions and "helpful tips" to the blobs.

Sometimes this can make a game more charming; an unstated reason for my affection for StickyLinky is that the weird twitchy "creatures" from the game often weirded me out, made me feel sorry for them, or in a few cases were genuinely really cute. It really did add quite a bit of charm.

The blobs in this game, though... They're creepy (check out their leering at that berry). They have an obnoxious celebratory dance they do when they get the berry. They make a face that says "what a dumbass" when you click and the game decides that it doesn't like your click (see above about that happening a lot) and if you don't get the message, they'll give you more thorough reminders like they're explaining it to a baby. Eventually, even their general expression that's apparently vague curiosity towards the player starts coming across as "WTF are you doing, stupid?" while their friendly expression directed at the player makes me feel like I'm aiding the enemy.

It reached the point where the main satisfaction I was getting was killing the blobs wholesale.

And I'll tell you what, when what amounts to digital mass murder is the most enjoyable part of a puzzle game, there's something frigging wrong.

-Signing off.

Friday, June 17, 2016

This Would Have Been Longer But For Reasons It Is Not*

Once before I posted a segment from an old Disney cartoon involving some rather wild speculation on what life on Mars might be like.

This is a piece from the same old cartoon. WARNING: Extremely silly. (It's really quite the waggish parody.)



Of course, I saw it because I was looking at a new posting of the other one, which is one of my favorite pieces of animation of all time, because said new posting was at much higher quality than the one I'd seen before.



That is seriously friggin' beautiful.

*In all seriousness I could probably babble for fifteen paragraphs about how much I love the fantastical speculative "biology" of the "scary version" of Life on Mars. But I don't have the time at the moment.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Vaguely Predictable Post Is Vaguely Predictable*

Finally got back to using Firefox again (probably could have before this, but I was being that kind of lazy that causes more work) and thus my list of things to potentially blog about is now the stuff I was looking at over a month ago, which is kind of disorienting.

...So have an Undertale music cover!



*If you're familiar with me, anyway.

-Signing off.

Monday, June 13, 2016

YOU CANNOT FIGHT THE MACHINE

Randomly saw this commercial on YouTube, and...



Holy hell, but why is this Mr. Machine ad some kind of fascist propaganda poster?


Mr. Machine why you so creepy.

-Signing off.

Friday, June 10, 2016

BY GLOBOTRON'S GHOST YOU WILL BE REMEMBERED*

Was looking around and saw an ad for a weird Toy Story tie-in, and then followed a chain of links until-



-wait you mean this was on that random DVD that I'm not sure where it came from and never got around to opening? Really?

That makes me sad.

Wait, there's a cornball fake commercial for this toy?



Okay now I'm happy again.

*Just guessing on the spelling, of course.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

No Other Comments

Had one of those days where I just didn't have anything to say, so here's a Disturbed music embed.



...This may have ended up being the theme of a character I was writing a while back.

-Signing off.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Quite A Weird Turtle

...I don't tend to tell a lot of personal stories on here because my life is either boring, needs more context, or is private, but I might as well tell this one.

So last Saturday I was driving to visit my parents' house (a regular weekly thing) and was on a particular road that I've driven on several hundred times.

Said stretch of road is elevated because the surrounding area is a bit marshy here and there, including at least one rather nasty trench that's almost always filled with water. It was around such a trench that I spotted an animal crossing the road.

Now, I've hit a few little animals over the years, and pretty gently bumped a deer once, but other than that nudge with the deer I've never hit anything bigger than a squirrel with a car. I did run over a turtle and a couple of rabbits on a mowing tractor back when I worked at a local factory, but generally that happened in low-visibility conditions and couldn't really be helped.

So I wasn't planning on hitting whatever this big weird lump that was ambling across the road was, and slowed down a fair bit to let it pass.

And I realized two important things all at once: 1) it was the biggest turtle I'd ever seen in the wild, probably a snapping turtle, and 2) it had just stopped right in my path.

Turtles are some of my favorite animals, and I've no interest in hurting them even when they're being annoying, so I hit the brakes. Fortunately I'd already slowed down enough that this wasn't a problem for either me or the three or four cars immediately behind me (which is a lot for the area in question, believe me).

Now, this road is kind of annoying to drive on, because it's a long straightaway with a lowish speed limit and no passing zone for a couple of miles.

So in general, I'd have been a bit stuck even if there hadn't been traffic on the other side of the road, and there was quite a bit of traffic on the other side of the road.

I'm sitting there trying to figure out how to get this enormous bastard snapping turtle to get out of the way without causing even more problems when this guy comes across the road and just starts trying to encourage the turtle to move by poking it from behind and such. (Thank you, sir, I truly appreciate it.)

Its response was to start hopping in place*.

At that point I'll admit I was thinking, "Okay, you big effing turtle, are you just trying to ruin my evening?"

...Fortunately traffic had thinned out (except behind me, where there were probably even more cars than when I started), and I had the opportunity to weave around the turtle and the guy at this point, and did.

I don't know what happened to the turtle, but I presume he got off the road safely from the fact that there weren't any enormous blood smears on the road when I went the opposite way a few hours later.

*Turtles are associated with slowness, of course, but this is less accurate than a lot of anecdotes would have you believe. I've seen turtles sprint at a pretty goodly pace when they felt motivated. (Tortoises, on the other hand, are slow as hell.) I will admit I'd never realized a turtle could pull a sort of toad jump, though.

-Signing off.

Friday, June 3, 2016

This Isn't Even Going Into The Wild Vocalizations*

I've never really talked about how much I like the band Disturbed on here for some reason.



My biggest appreciation for the band is probably just the style and performance quality of the music itself; I've only heard two or three other musicians who do something similar (off the top of my head, Ron Wasserman [probably best known for doing the early Power Rangers themes] and Masaki Endoh [mostly known for being a prominent member of JAM Project, I'd wager] are the only other musicians I can think of who capture the style of intense guitar and whatnot that I'm thinking of in more than one or two songs).

I do also really appreciate the turns of phrase that pop up sometimes, though:


I... kinda doubt that the phrase "for the apocalypse must be televised" was intended to evoke a smile, but it does. I don't know how much it does or doesn't have to do with delivery, but a lot of Disturbed's songs get a similar reaction out of me for at least one line.

Which isn't to say I can't take the lyrics seriously, just that they're completely secondary to my enjoyment of the music.

*If you've listened to more than a couple of Disturbed's songs, you'll probably know what I'm talking about. Actually, the best example of them I can think of comes not from Disturbed itself, but from one of Weird Al's polkas; obviously, Weird Al's music is supposed to make you laugh, and the high-pitched squealy approach he takes to the vocals in question makes it hilarious.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When Is 1/48 An Intimidating Number?

(...Had a bit of an exhausting day because of a minor family emergency.)

When you're 1/144 or smaller.



It makes sense in context, that context being the Gundam Build Fighters anime, which 1) is lots of fun, 2) has an amazing soundtrack that I sort of rediscovered a few days ago, 3) is available on YouTube for free.

(I don't think you even need to be a Gundam fan to enjoy it, although it probably helps.)

-Signing off.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Truly A Severe Weakness

I've never really looked into the Fire Emblem games very much; I think I've been distracted by the razzle dazzle of Super Robot Wars every time I've considered it. (Yet when I look into the Advance Wars family of games, I don't have the same problem. Weird.)

That doesn't mean I can't appreciate what I've learned on those occasions I've managed to hold my attention on it, such as the following:



What I want to point out isn't the video's main subject, though, but this rather amazing summary of the extremely powerful penultimate boss's greatest weakness:


Crap acting.

I've heard much better voice acting in '80s cartoons*. (Actually, it's in the same neighborhood as a lot of '80s anime dubs, which were usually much crappier than average when it came to voices.)

*Granted, I watch the original He-Man cartoon a lot, and while that shows certainly isn't without flaw, the voice acting is well above '80s par. If you ever think it sounds bad (and sometimes it does), remember that there were like five to ten people doing all the voices, they were producing more than one episode a week just on that show alone, and they still managed to produce some genuinely wonderful actual acting (among other things, holy hell but could Linda Gary ever scream when she put her mind to it).

Also above par were several other Filmation cartoons and the original Transformers.


-Signing off.

Friday, May 27, 2016

(Fairly Brief) Game Reviews: Alien Invader

Alien Invader (hacked version linked because I'm lazy) is perhaps the funnest rampage game I've ever seen.


I suspect it'd be a little less fun if I'd played the non-hacked version, where I presume you're more vulnerable and don't get to do some cool things as often, and are more subject to a time limit. But the core of the gameplay is probably pretty fun anyway because it's awesome.

Playing as a tripod is a thing I think I've seen once or twice before in browser games, but my hazy recollection tells me that none of them were this beautiful. I mean seriously, that's a nice tripod. (Reminder: There's no such thing as a "wrong" tripod, or as I put it elsewhere, every tripod is a "right" tripod. But there is a such thing as a great tripod, and this is definitely one of them.) But that only adds to the enjoyment that this game brings to the table.

See, just walking around as a tripod would be kinda boring. Fun at first using your heat ray or whatever to incinerate things and withstanding things with your shields (I don't know how effective they are because I can't be bothered to play the game without infinite health and shielding), but it'd get old quickly. The game designer(s) clearly knew this, because rather than restricting your abilities that way, they threw in a couple of things I've never actually seen attached to a tripod before, and they're actually brilliant choices.

First is a dash step that lets you move about a screen's worth of distance in about half a second, which is really cool to watch, fun to do, and pretty useful if you're actually in a hurry to complete the game objectives (it's also part of the reason I presume the cooldowns slow things down a lot, because with the hacked version I can finish a level in fifteen seconds or so thanks to the dash step).

Second and even better is the shockwave stomp, wherein your tripod can jump, and if you do the highest possible jump will come down and just make a frigging explosion with the landing.


The screenshot only brings across a little of the glory of sticking a landing in the midst of a small army and sending them all flying, but I'd recommend playing the game at least once just for that.

Anyway, after playing this game a little, I found myself thinking "this is the perfect way to spice up tripods if you feel the need to." Because, you see, tripods are a bit played out, even if they're still great when they're just kinda there. If you want to make your tripods more impressive than the baseline by making their assault capabilities scarier, rather than going with concepts built around realistic advancement in technology and the like, come up with superpowers and tack them onto the tripods. It's a lot cooler that way.

Regardless of my alien invasion-centered nerdery, this is a very fun game and I can recommend at least the hacked version. (And you can play the hacked version with the hacks off, FYI, so there's that.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

(Fairly Brief) Game Reviews: StickyLinky

StickyLinky is a puzzle game that's actually mostly pretty fun* despite a title that, well, sounds a little dirty at face value.


It mostly involves clicking linked groups of these, well, blobby things, and using them to create the "creatures," that is, things with faces, to collect those creatures.

Which is also pretty weird.

The point is, though, it's actually pretty fun, and one of the reasons why is that sometimes the obvious strategy isn't actually the correct one.

Particularly, there are certain stages where it's hard to build a stable structure and you lose bits of it all the time, and at face value these things are presented as bad (in one case, fish come and eat your things, and you're told to click on the fish to destroy them and keep the things safe). But it can actually be beneficial to have an unstable structure, because you normally have a limit on how often you can click in a stage (not in an onerous way, you have a mana supply you can potentially replenish, and it starts at fifty). So unstable structures may give you more chances to build chains than you'd otherwise get.

My poor reflexes mean that a lot of games frustrate me because they demand you do things quickly, but this game's a good one because it doesn't make such demands. You can play it in a quick-moving way, but you can also play it in a slow, careful way, and it's just as useful of a strategy.

There's also Zen Mode, which lets you play until you run out of chains instead of when you run out of mana, and it's a sort of fun diversion, though also frustrating because it's a "survival mode" and actually wants you to play somewhat differently than standard, which can take some getting used to.

I rather like StickyLinky, and can recommend it.

*I'm not actually a particularly big fan of a lot of puzzle games in general, which is why I phrase it that way.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 23, 2016

(Fairly Brief) Game Reviews: BigTree Defense

BigTree Defense is a tower defense game with a somewhat unusual structure.

It's quite simple, really: You grow a tree (or perhaps are a tree), and the turrets are "flowers" growing from its branches.


This is a pretty fun idea, and I've always liked it. (I'd meant to review this game years ago, but never got around to it.)

On the other hand, while your tree can increase in size and become pretty impressive, I find the game's balance a bit iffy.


Specifically, each time I've played the game I've stalled out a couple levels in, because the enemies get dramatically stronger around the third stage or so.

I suspect part of the problem is the nature of the game's enemies and waves. You see, the enemies are insects that are apparently invading through holes in the sky or something, and when they successfully deal damage to you and then escape, they retreat and spawn new enemies. It makes for a very tricky gameplay experience (one enemy getting away can mean lots more enemies later), and I think the enemies could have used a bit more balancing.

Also, while I like the concept, the art of the game is... a bit underwhelming. The turrets and enemies are fine, but the shape of the tree and its branches is... ugly.

If you're better at this sort of game than I am (not unlikely), it might be more fun than it generally is for me. As it is, it's fun to play with until things get unreasonable a few levels in.

-Signing off.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bring Back Plastic Man Cartoon Villains 2016

So I watched this intro to the 1979 Plastic Man cartoon (thanks for pointing it out, snell).



And one of the first things to jump out at me was Plastic Man turning into a rickshaw.


Okay, I kind of adore rickshaws? But Plastic Man has often turned into cars, so that's definitely kind of meh.

Here's what really got my attention, though: The Clam.


Yes, this is a vaguely pirate-themed clam who is also apparently a supervillain.

And apparently, a lot of the villains from this cartoon were like this (names pulled from the wikiped page): Dr. Superstein, Doctor Dinosaur (hey!), Computerhead, Badladdin (apparently an evil genie?!), Count Graffiti, Joggernaught, and Gearshift Swift (who sells Earth to aliens for a quick buck).

Bring these guys back. Especially The Clam.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What Other Board Game Lets You Use Cannons? (Genuinely Curious*)

Some while ago, the functionality of Java was changed so that old things can't be made to work even if you want them to. (At least as far as I can tell, and I did a lot of looking.)

Which ticks me off the most because of the old chess applets at the Chess Variant Pages, because some of those were really fun.

On the other hand, there's now Jocly.com, a weirdly named site that lets you play plenty of board games, including xiangqi, which is something of a drug for me**.


And it's a lot prettier than the old applets, I'll give it that, even if it doesn't have a tenth of the variety. (Big missing example: No shogi. Y U NO SHOGI, JOCLY? More understandable missing example: Yitong [see below footnote link], which isn't much of a game because one and only one side has a rook/cannon/quasi-knight composite piece that can go anywhere and kill everything.)

*I know that janggi does, but the elephants in that game make me incredibly furious, so they don't count.***

**It's the cannons. It's always been and will always be the cannons.

***Also the cannons in janggi just aren't fun the same way the xiangqi cannons are.


-Signing off.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Non-Indicative Title

This game feels like it ought to be a bit better known than it seems to be (which is to say "I know I've heard the name but I've never really heard people talk about it).

(NOTE: I watched this with the speaker off, so I've got no idea what some shrill noises in it sound like*.)



Live A Live (what the hell kind of name is that supposed to be?) has to have been one of the most ambitious JRPGs of its era, what with all the genre-shifting and sharp story twists going on.

*Rather wish the guy who did this video had used a more tasteful phrase than "ear rape."

-Signing off.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Truly Baffling

One thing that's a bit weird to me just in general is the game Lemmings.



Not quite the fact that it exists, even though it is pretty weird that a game about leading around a bunch of cuddly little anthropomorphic lemmings and trying to save them from awful death was ever a thing.

No, the thing that truly mystifies me is the fact that, for a period from the mid to late nineties, it seems like it was on at least one school computer in every school I was ever in. What the sweet hell was up with that?

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Run, Little Dinosaur, Run!

Okay, this update is very light because my internet connection was dead, but it also provided the content, so...


While Chrome is inferior to Firefox in most particulars, I'll admit it's pretty hilarious Chrome has this little game on its error page.

Though the day/night switch thing it does is painful for my eyes (my eyes don't like the blurring speed either) and when I'm on a decent run said switch is the most frequent direct cause of my losing, which makes it even worse.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 9, 2016

And You Ask Yourself How This Got To Be A Thing

This is one of those things where I feel like most of the people who are interested in it have probably seen it already, then remember that there's all sorts of things that are right up my ally that I didn't see until the past year or whatever.

So here's a pair of music videos that have a tremendous fandom all their own.




Because Scooby Doo parodies created for music videos need surprising depth of story and characterization, right?

I think the second video relies a little too much on the first one to build on by comparison to the ridiculous number of details and amount of information you can actually get from the first one, but it's not bad (and I like the oni chick or whatever she is, for that matter).

-Signing off.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Perhaps The Best Approach To Eldritch Abomination Characters

It's hypothetically possible that I blogged about this at some point in the distant past, because this has been lurking in my bookmarks since a computer or three ago, but if I did, I can't find it.

I have no interest in playing League of Legends, but some of the things they do with their characters are fun, like the alternate skins that come with character personality changes.



Gentleman Cho'Gath is perhaps the single best thing I've seen associated with League of Legends, which (in case you aren't aware) also has a mummy whose central character conceit is that he's sad all the time and a robot character who has an alternate skin called Definitely Not Blitzcrank which is wearing mustache glasses to prove to you that this is Definitely Not Blitzcrank.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Influence A Bandersnatch

Apparently, I'm in the kind of mood for posting random vaguely humorous things I find on Wikipedia:

"In a letter from 1959, C. S. Lewis wrote, 'No one ever influenced Tolkien—you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.'"

C. S. Lewis you frigging nerd.

-Signing off.

Monday, May 2, 2016

They Had a Whole Island Disappeared (Not Really)

(My sister has a Patreon now. I will point out that we are poor and this would benefit me, personally. Not to guilt you or anything.)

Amazing Wikipedia article sentence of the day:

"Explanations for [Bermeja's] apparent disappearance include an erroneous observation by the early cartographers, shifts in the geography of the ocean floor, rising sea levels and conspiracy theories claiming that the CIA destroyed the island to expand the economic zone allotted to the United States."

Considering that there were apparently reports of the island's disappearance dating to over one hundred years before the CIA actually existed, that last one seems even a little more unlikely than usual.

(Also is it just me or does the CIA attract more conspiracy theories than other organizations of its type? I mean, I don't have numbers or anything, I just have a vague impression that this is the case.)

-Signing off.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fund It! Ultraman!*

Okay, this appears to not be a trailer for an actual movie or anything (at least not an official one), but it's pretty sweet. (If you aren't yet aware that I would watch the living hell out of an Ultraman movie, you haven't been here very long.)



I have to say, Zaragas wouldn't have been my first choice for an Ultra kaiju from the original series (though when you get down to it, generic-yet-iconic wasn't something the original Ultraman had much of**), but that's a pretty sweet redesign for a monster that's 1) a bit derpy, and 2) has somehow never really had an official redesign that I can tell? At least it's not frigging Gomora***.

*"Fund it" is now my sister's go-to phrase for "I need this in my life," and I kinda like it for the purpose myself.

**Corn Godzilla Red King would have been a generic-yet-iconic choice, except that once you get past the fact that he's basically a copyright law friendly corn Godzilla, he's actually got an awful lot of personality and stands out from the crowd by virtue of being a tremendous frigging jerk. Like, even by kaiju standards. He's basically a literal schoolyard bully right down to the mannerisms.

***I hate to call any episodes of the original Ultraman "bad," but there were a couple that get no other reaction from me, and the sole two-parter, The Monster Prince, may be the single part of the series that makes me actively angry. Most of the time when the show gets stupid, it's good for a laugh, and then there's Monster Prince stupid. "Oh no Ultraman dropped his transformation device while he was Ultraman WAITAMINNIT HOW IS THAT A THING THAT CAN HAPPEN I CALL BULLSHIT!" And being in this spectacularly stupid episode won Gomora a special place in kaiju history as "the first kaiju that defeated Ultraman." Uh, I watched that episode too, he just kind of... fought until Ultraman had to leave because he was out of time? That's not the same. Let's not even get into the silliness that was the fact that somebody in this episode thought it was a good idea to airlift a giant monster into the middle of urban Japan. I'm giving the kid appeal stuff a pass even though it was the worst kid appeal plot in the series (and there was some competition by virtue of sheer volume, I can tell you).


-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You Got Some MTG In My D&D

Okay, so pretty neat thing I've seen in my regular trawl: Wizards of the Coast has published a small free PDF for adapting Dungeons & Dragons rules for gameplay in their Zendikar setting (which is a Magic: The Gathering setting).

There are a few reasons I'm all in for this. One of them is that Zendikar's the Eldrazi setting, and I love Eldrazi. (True story: I've never played Magic, but since the first Mirrodin block I've followed the Daily MTG site on and off because I found I enjoyed reading about the game's mechanical structure and the story and worldbuilding stuff seemed interesting. I stopped reading for a while around Ravnica, because it bored me for reasons I couldn't put my finger on*, checked in a few times without quite getting back into it, then got back into it aggressively when they started doing Rise of the Eldrazi previews. Ahead of even Mirrodin [still my actual favorite MTG setting and one of my all-time favorite fantasy settings] and the Phyrexians [who are hilariously cartoonish gruesome villains and not for the faint of heart; neither are the Eldrazi, for that matter] and Innistrad** and Kamigawa [both fantastically flavorful settings], the Eldrazi are my single favorite thing about MTG.)

Second is that this free PDF seems to be inspired by a lot of ideas I've seen where someone adapts a creature design into another creature using a set of cosmetic changes and some relatively minor ability alterations. This is a fantastic idea and a very useful one (that I've seen thrown around by a lot of D&D fans who homebrew a lot), and seeing it used in an official WoTC document is neat.

...Though I kinda feel the need to call a bit of BS on some of the choices made:


Honestly, part of the problem is that MTG and D&D are differently scaled games from each other, but these are generally "Colossal-sized" creatures, and "Colossal" is a D&D descriptor with some serious problems. Which is to say "MTG 'colossal' is completely different from D&D 'Colossal.'" A "Colossal" creature in D&D can be just 30 feet in one of its dimensions (the PRD for reference; it's effectively a different version of the game published by a different company, but the size categories are probably still about the same***), but a "colossal" MTG creature is something more on the order of big kaiju. (You know those scenes where you can see kaiju towering over bridges? Like that. MTG "colossal" is EFFING MONOLITHIC.) Obviously, everything in D&D is ultimately intended to be hypothetically killable by some guys with nice swords and a bit of magic, and the big Eldrazi, who are definitely big kaiju big, are kinda hard to approach that way.


(Art is a cropped version of the art of Witness the End, which I found on some Daily MTG page I'm not hunting down sometime last year or so.)

D&D has occasionally flirted with monsters on this sort of scale, but only for extremely high-level characters, who are generally essentially physical gods. (For instance, the draeden from BECMI/Mystara, which is something like a thousand miles long and has forty comparably sized tentacles, is immune to mortal-cast spells and will shrug off even Immortal-cast spells 99% of the time, and can cast every mortal spell at will [yes this includes wish go ahead and start crying]. While draedens don't get talked about much in later D&D, there was a reference to a draeden's body actually basically taking up an entire level of the Abyss and its mouth being used as a garbage disposal, which is amazing. Obviously this is a rare case of being much bigger than even the typical MTG "colossal" size, but it's a useful counterexample because it's definitely the exception that proves the rule. The only other major example of a "serious" monster on that scale I can think of is Spelljammer's stellar dragon, which can be millions of miles long, can cast all spells at will and combine or alter other spells or basically invent new ones on the spot, will "only" be completely unaffected by 70% of magic, has a sphere of annihilation in its gut and a tractor beam breath weapon, and can do other stuff that's probably irrelevant because why the hell not at that point these stats only exist to try to terrify you into not picking a fight/tempt you into picking a fight because you're really into Lord British Postulate gaming. And in Spelljammer you'll be meeting this thing while riding a spaceship.) And therein lies a part of the problem: MTG's protagonists, while they're less over-the-top than they used to be, are naturally equivalent to at least very-high-level D&D characters most of the time, and players themselves are still essentially the old-school really ridiculous versions. MTG's kaiju big monsters exist to be cool things for what amount to gods to summon and attack each other with.

Too long, didn't read version: Eldrazi titans would eat the tarrasque for lunch, so at least slap some extra HD on there guys I mean really.

Third, I love seeing intellectual properties being converted to different formats than what they're specifically "intended" for, and a gaming company converting one of its own properties for a different gaming system is such a slam dunk in terms of product synergy that I'm kinda amazed they haven't done this before. (I actually had mentioned this exact subject-that is, using D&D to play MTG settings-to my sister sometime in the last year or two.) It might not take off, but hey, you didn't have to burn money developing a setting or creating a new game, so the development costs are probably just whatever you paid the person who whipped up the PDF.

So I kinda hope to see a bit more of this.

*I eventually did figure out the problem: An ecumenopolis is boring when it's in the context of being the norm. It's only interesting when it has more normal worlds to contrast, and in general Ravnica is basically an extremely isolated ecumenopolis, thanks to the rarity of planar travel in MTG for anyone but planeswalkers. If it was part of a multiverse with more open travel, e.g. Planescape or Spelljammer (to give D&D examples, since I'm on the subject), I'd actually think it was pretty cool.

**Digression: I love Innistrad, but I've been pretty lukewarm so far on Shadows Over Innistrad block. Biggest issue: They killed off Avacyn, perhaps my favorite part of the setting. Why do I love Avacyn? Because she's an angel who's a bit gothy because she was created by a vampire. That's astounding. (Also, she was created by said vampire because he realized that the vampires would have overrun humanity and eventually gone extinct without her influence. In effect, he created an angel to be a sheepdog because he thought the figurative wolves were thinning the figurative herd too much. I love that, too, in a sort of darkly funny way.)

***Assuming 5ED D&D even uses size categories; I've done some admittedly minimal searches and I don't see references to sizes in some of this stuff.


-Signing off.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Excuse My Science Nerd Humor Moment

So apparently science has demonstrated that insects have consciousness and egos.

And I can't help but nitpick (at the news site)...


You forgot a few digits there, guys.

I mean yeah, technically it'd be correct to say "more than six hundred years ago," but leaving out the "million" makes it a kind of misleading statement. Even better, that's the correct order of magnitude that if you scaled all of history that way, it'd be legitimate for some grandparents to say "back when I was young during the dinosaur days..."

There's also a joke in there about medieval people not having developed conscious thought yet, I think.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Don't See This Movie (Even If You Want To)

I'm sorry, but please don't watch Doctor Strange when it comes out.



(I realize there's irony in just giving the trailer more hits, but...)

Casting a woman as the Ancient One? Yeah, sure, guys. But couldn't you have cast, I don't know, an Asian person? And it would have been really nice if you'd cast an actual Tibetan, for that matter (I doubt this casting choice was actually intended to cover up the nasty real-world bullshit (pardon my pottymouth) that Tibet's had to deal with over the last few decades [what with China taking them over, trying to take their name away, and killing a bunch of Tibetans]*, but yeah casting some white person is pretty crappy of you guys).

And as my sister has said, if you're going to cast someone to be Doctor Strange, it had darned well better be somebody who looks good with facial hair, not Benny D. Cobblingblock.

Best YouTube comment on the trailer:


Sadly, no, Robert Downey Jr. is not in this. He'd actually have made a pretty decent Doctor Strange, and then they could have done bluescreen gags with Strange and Tony Stark and everybody insisting they look alike and both of them going "no we don't, what are you talking about?"

...That's probably why I'll never make a Marvel movie.

*EDIT: Apparently my worldview is too optimistic because somebody... admitted that appeasing China was an actual intention behind the casting? Darnit you guys.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Here's Shere Khan

Okay, somehow I'd managed to basically completely miss that a new Jungle Book movie was coming out. Which is funny, because I always did enjoy the old Disney movie, and also enjoyed a fair bit of Kipling's work.

And after some preliminary investigation, I have two things to say specifically about Shere Khan in the new movie:



1. Casting Idris Elba as a tiger is a pretty great idea. (Granted, casting Idris Elba in most roles is at least a good idea, but still...)

2. I actually really like that they gave him a blind eye, because the original Shere Khan had a crippled leg and had actually been nicknamed "the Lame One" by his mother (ouch); obviously, there's a big difference there, but I think it's a nice nod to the original source material.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Raises So Many Questions

So there used to be a robot on Sesame Street that needed things explained to it.

You know exactly where this is going to lead, right?



CALM DOWN, Sam, this is a kids' show.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 15, 2016

This Almost Makes Me Want To Watch The Movie

Apparently, for at least some of the Star Trek movies just watching the ships is almost as good as watching the actual movies*.



One could argue that using Wrath of Khan as the example is cheating, but the guy who did this did it with all of them, so...

*Biggest benefit: Watching just the ships takes a lot less time than the movies, which are long.

Biggest drawback: The soundtrack sounds mincey.


-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Latest Godzilla Trailer Hits

...This is the objectively best Godzilla trailer I've ever seen, and tied for best kaiju movie trailer I've ever seen with every Pacific Rim trailer.



Also, that thing with the tail sweeping overhead at the beginning? Awesome.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Internet Subpar Day

(Dear Google, why is Chrome so bad compared to Firefox? My Firefox install's been crashy and I decided to let it be for a couple days because of reasons, so Chrome it was, because IE is the devil*. So why is Chrome only a little better than IE?)

I've listened to a lot of Megalovania covers, and this one is sorta weird for me, because out of them this is the one that sounds most unambiguously like the original.



Except with physical instruments instead of the ol' electronic thing.

*And also crashy, usually specifically when I tried to use Google to find the Firefox installer to grab it. What the flip, man.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 8, 2016

CRY HARDER, BABIES*

On the one hand, I'm still occasionally a bit salty about the death of the old Star Wars EU. On the other hand...



...the fact that "Rogue One" is apparently now a teenaged girl who spied for the Rebellion around the time of the Death Star?

Yeah, okay, that's good.

*This is a reference to 1) the fact that there are (sexist) people complaining about this (of course), and 2) there's a rather infamous screenshot of Bandora/Rita Repulsa saying "Cry harder, baby!" to, well, a baby.

Other Bandora quotes from the Zyuranger super sentai subtitles include:

"Dora Argus, go to Earth right away and harm the children!"

"Humans live too long already without the elixir!"

"The magic spinning wheel! Send that baby to hell now!"

...Bandora really hates babies (and all children, really).


-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Still Posting Undertale Music Covers

Despite still not having played the game.



Honestly, I think enjoying media peripherally rather than directly (through things like Let's Plays, or through listening to a part of it, or just things like appreciating the design aesthetic) is a perfectly legitimate form of enjoying said media; I've been doing it through the Internet for oh, over fifteen years now, and I was doing it before that through other means, like reference books for shows I never watched or for games I never played.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 4, 2016

This May Remind You That Making Shipping Choices Is Premature For This Trilogy*

Second favorite thing about the "How It Should Have Ended" series is still the "I've got a son!" gag**. (Although the alternate take on the death scene in this skit is close competition.)



I might have posted this closer to when I first saw it, but 1) I sorta forgot, and 2) I'm a little irked, actually, that the Starkiller base was depicted as just a bigger Death Star.

Yes, it's a bigger Death Star (which can fire beams at plus-c velocities), but it's a bigger Death Star that's wrapped in a planet, not just a generic gray sphere.

*Because who knows who might be related to who. This is Star Wars, it's basically a soap opera/space opera hybrid.

**The favorite overall being the whole Pacific Rim skit.


-Signing off.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy Day That Should Be More Normal

Hope your April Fool's wasn't too stressful and annoying this year. Have a classic Muppet skit.



I'm kinda glad that major April Fool's Day gags seem to be mostly going out of style on the Internet, Google's recent faux pas aside.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Still The Best Version of That Dragon

Y'know, I'm mostly neutral on the old Hobbit cartoon, but one thing I did rather love in it was the depiction of Smaug.



In fact, in terms of presence and personality, I can't think of more than, oh, one other dragon with the same degree of presence as Smaug has here*, with the strobing spotlight eyes and the booming voice. Having watched a random clip of the Hobbit trilogy Smaug, I had to respond "what's up with this weird flat little hissy guy?"

(Also still holding out for David Kaye doing a dragon character voice, seeing as how his BW Megatron voice was basically an ideal dragon voice already.)

*Draco from Dragonheart; much as I love Granamyr from the He-Man series, he's got the presence of a huge old man, not a furious dragon. Which kinda fits; he's a lot more scholarly than the average dragon, and his main claim to extreme dragonlike power comes from the fact that he's the most powerful wizard on a planet crammed with extremely powerful wizards**.

On the subject of voices of dragons, on the extremely unlikely off-chance that I was ever casting current voices for a He-Man cartoon, Hector Elizondo, who voiced Wan Shi Tong in The Last Airbender and Viragor in the Thundercats remake would be my ideal Granamyr voice.

**A relatively mid-range pair of Eternian magic users combined their magic to create a spell that knocked one of Eternia's moons from its orbit. Granamyr was unambiguously much stronger than another individual who was ambiguously stronger than an individual who was stronger than either of them. Which is to say Granamyr's a really powerful wizard.


-Signing off.

Monday, March 28, 2016

You Won a Few Points Back, Voltron

So I've been unable to develop any interest in the most recent Voltron series, just because it doesn't look like my proverbial cup of tea.

Then I see this trailer for an upcoming and apparently mostly or entirely unrelated Voltron series:



Hot dang, I want to see that (which is unfortunate, because it's a Netflix thing and I don't have Netflix). It almost makes me forgive Voltron for draining resources that would have gone to producing more GaoGaiGar dub*.

Almost.

*I should note that the animation style of the transformation sequence is very reminiscent of the seminal Sunrise super robot anime, which would have drawn a comparison even if there hadn't been that previous link between the two series.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 25, 2016

HUGGA WUGGA BUGGY MUGGER

I really love surreal skits, such as this particular random Muppet skit.



You know, "Hugga Wugga" may be a rather nasty bully, but his song's definitely the best.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pöpcørn (Can't Really Improve On That Title)

I don't know why I love Swedish Chef segments so much, but I do.



(I also love how, since he's a Muppet, Waldorf is typing so frantically that it appears that about half of his keystrokes are hitting his number pad.)

-Signing off.

Monday, March 21, 2016

This Makes Me Smile

In some respects, it's kinda astounding that The Muppet Show is a thing that actually happened.

This chunk of the series' pitch especially shows how audacious it could be, in a way that rather defies its roots as "just" a bunch of puppets for kids.



Also, I heard recently that Jim Henson's default answer to not being sure how to end things was generally mayhem. That... explains a lot about the Muppets in general.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 18, 2016

McDonald's (In Japan) Made A Cute Ad

Why must you do this to me, McDonald's (in Japan)?



Goodness help me, but I ship it now.

Nobody ruin this for me by translating it, plz.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I Am Always On The Lookout For Good Free Stuff

So I found myself hunting around for programs to simplify playing tabletop games without needing as much physical space (because of reasons), and found a site called RPTools.

There are other applications and things for the purpose, but this site's MapTool is one that 1) is actually functional, and 2) doesn't cost anything or need registration for the basic level of use.

Such as this random stupid "battle" I staged in a couple of minutes using the included database.


(For the sake of making things look a little better, I made everything at least a bit bigger than the default size. You may want to view at full size to get a sense of how things look.)

The site's also got a DiceTool and a few other tools which are largely intended to be compatible with each other.

So if you're interested in tabletop gaming, you might find this tool useful. You might also just like playing with the virtual miniatures.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's All Inferior To Getter Robo, However

I've only seen a few bits of the overall Mazinger family of mecha (not counting Getter Robo, because I'm a bit of a Getter Robo purist and like the versions of it that are less related to Mazinger better than the ones that are more related... though Getter Robo has my unending affection in all its forms), but out of what I've actually seen all of*, this short is easily the best.



(Side note: God Mazinger, the rather pharaoh-esque robot with the sword, had his own technically completely unrelated show, and from one episode of it comes this amazing clip. Also, I've learned [well after my initial investigations of this short] that the modestly ugly Mazinger lookalike with the assault rifle, Govarion/Gobarian/what'sitsname, is actually a construct created through its pilot's psychokinetic powers, which is amazing in its own right.)

Out of the broad family of Mazinger media, the next best part I've seen from one end to the other is Mazinkaiser SKL (not to be mistaken for regular-brand Mazinkaiser, who is terrible-and I know because I watched the OVA, thank you), which is a movie that can be found in its entirety on Crunchyroll and probably other legal streaming sites.

It's... still got some more-than-a-little skeevy bits (which are my biggest problem with regular-brand Mazinkaiser), but to nowhere near the same extent. Granted, the ostensible main characters are... let's call them boring as hell, but if you're just watching for ridiculous action sequences? This is a lot better than regular-brand Mazinkaiser.

*The best Mazinger thing was Shin Mazinger, which was ridiculous and funny and cancelled too soon for this world.

I'd link the time I embedded a video from it, but the video's gone. The video involved an animate giant robot** throwing his own severed arm at someone because he saw Mazinger Z's rocket punch and thought it looked like fun.

**Who was 1) much bigger than Mazinger Z, who could ride comfortably on his shoulder, and 2) was supposedly the mythological Zeus***.

Easily the best reinterpretation of that jackass ever, right?

***Considering that the Mazinger mythos involves ancient an extremely technologically advanced civilization popping up next to ancient Greece and having influence on Greek culture, that actually kind of follows.


-Signing off.

Friday, March 11, 2016

One More Black MIDI For The Road

Once again, this is a thing.

I probably should have noted that it's probably a bad idea to watch these black MIDI videos if you're at risk of epileptic seizures; they've got a lot of flashing colors (and enough to give other people a headache if they watch too long).



I think it's really funny that this piece is a number joke (3.14 million-ish notes, i.e. pi).

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Title of This Video Is Incorrect

This song is not named Death Waltz, although that is apparently a thing. (Reminder: Black MIDI is a thing.)



The actual name is "UN Owen Was Her." ...No wonder everyone wants to call it Death Waltz.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Because the Best Way to Do Computer Music Is to Make Impossible Music

How did I not know black MIDI was a thing?



Because it's a thing that's right up my alley.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 4, 2016

I Don't Even Care About The Character Whose Theme It Is*

So I come across this remix of the Imperial March and think "that's pretty cool."



Then I see that the same guy did a remix of Duel of the Fates and went "that's awesome."



Because much as I love Imperial March and think it's a pretty iconic piece, Duel of the Fates is my favorite Star Wars composition by far, and never mind that it's from what many argue is the worst Star Wars film.

(Out there somewhere, there's somebody who gauges/used to gauge the Star Wars movies by the number of hands cut off in the particular movie in question, and points to Episode I's lack of any such as a sign of poor quality. My sister suggests an alternate scale: Rating the Star Wars films by music. Since Episode I is the only film with Duel of the Fates, it is by this scale clearly the best.)

*Darth Maul, if context doesn't make that as clear as I think it does.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I'm the (Sexy) Bad Guy

I know very little about this show*, so I'm not entirely sure how to approach talking about this clip.



Beyond something like "dang she's cute."

*The title is Wander over Yonder, and if the video is removed at some point, the song is titled "I'm the Bad Guy." Mainly what I do know is that many people were shipping two dudes in this show, and that this character showed up and turned into something of a slap to the face to that idea**, almost as if the show's producers were saying NO NO NO, NO GAY SHIPS. ...Awkward.

**Knowing nothing about the show beyond what I've seen other people say, this is where I heard about this specific thing. That blog is also where I first saw a slightly shorter version of the clip, so...


-Signing off.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Greatly Belated Book Reviews: The Last Days of Krypton

(SPOILER ALERT: Krypton blows up at the end.)

Back in the day, I read a lot of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. Nearly all of them, in fact. (Not counting a number of children's books and such, though I read a fistful of those as well.)

I didn't stop until the "Jacen is a Sith" story started wearing me down*, which means I sat through the entire friggin' Yuuzhan Vong storyline from one end to the other and spent a lot of time carping about the creative choices that were forced on the story by various editorial and publisher mandates**.

And so that means I read a pretty fair fistful of works by Kevin J. Anderson, the author of this book, The Last Days of Krypton (who wrote a trilogy, a fistful of short stories, edited collections of short stories, and co-wrote a pile of kids' books with his wife, all of which are part of the now-defunct Star Wars EU).

I didn't have a problem with the stories at the time, but looking back, a lot of his works... well, let's just say I understand the criticisms leveled at them. (It likely has a lot to do with the fact that I've since had a big chunk of literature-focused college education and my brain finished growing; I was kinda still a kid when I originally read them.)

So how does The Last Days of Krypton hold up?

Eh, meh.

A work like this was always going to borrow a lot from preexisting media; it was published in 2007, well into the nerdstalgia era. This isn't inherently bad; the DCAU managed to take that sort of thing and trim it down into one of the best possible versions.

This, well... it basically wants to be the prequel to the old live-action Superman movies, and just filled in the gaps with Silver Age stuff lifted wholesale from the comics.

Those movies were, well, mostly mediocre except for their casting (I know I'm in a relative minority for not liking them, but I'm not the only one) and so I found details such as Jor-El having white hair and the Phantom Zone being a window pane to another dimension stupid distracting.

There were, on the other hand, things I did in fact like.

For instance, an alien shows up and (rather heavy-handedly) tells the isolationist Kryptonian government that they really would benefit from outside contact and trade. They don't respond well to him, and so he wanders off with Jor-El, who he clearly sees as a kindred spirit of some sort as one of the only serious scientists on Krypton. Jor-El and the alien are trying to figure out something to do about the seismic issues Krypton's been having, when Zod (because OF COURSE there's Zod) has the experiment sabotaged and it blows up in their face, killing the alien.

Because a visitor from outside, a place Krypton has no familiarity with, has just been killed, and Zod is whipping up paranoia in an effort to gather personal power to himself, the Kryptonian government decides they should throw Jor-El under the bus for the accident and punish him to the full extent of the law.

But before that can happen, Brainiac carries off the capital city of Kandor, and does so in such a way that only Zod knows the truth. And Zod uses this as an opportunity to seize power for himself.

I should note that I find Zod kinda really silly, but this explanation for how he came to power actually really works***.

This actually ends up being where the story kind of goes off the rails, though; thanks to Zod coming to power, Jor-El is able to effect a solution to save Krypton.

You read that right-Jor-El stops the original Krypton disaster.

It isn't that simple, of course; while watching the skies as part of Zod's new planetary security mandates then spots an incoming comet. (He also overhears a message from Mars at the end of its history, which ends up being why he sends Kal-El to Earth-because J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter, brought his attention to our solar system. Which is another thing I'll admit to liking pretty well overall.) In a convoluted but predictable fashion, Jor-El is then forced to engineer Zod's downfall and destroy the comet in one fell swoop by wasting Zod's doomsday weapon trump card on it.

(Another thing I'll admit to liking: The weapons in question were extremely long-ranged and very powerful missiles created by an ancient Kryptonian warlord who definitely had panache when it came to naming stuff, such as these weapons, the nova javelins.)

Day saved again, right?

Except then a bunch of idiots throw the Phantom Zone into a volcano (...how does that even work? That's why I don't like the stupid movie version of the Phantom Zone), and Krypton explodes anyway, because it's a bad idea to throw naked singularities into your planet's core.

I'm a little torn; I'll admit I find the sudden "Krypton is always doomed" factor kind of amusing, but mostly in a narmy way. It's almost as if the cosmos of the novel is self-correcting. "This isn't an Elseworlds," cries the cosmos, "Krypton's supposed to blow up!"

But that brings me to my biggest problem with the story: The way the narrative treats... well, a lot of things.

The reason the Phantom Zone gets thrown into a volcano is because some people who'd been in it had been put straight into positions of power afterwards, the Phantom Zone having been the way Zod quietly disposed of his political dissidents. These people had been quivering wrecks when they'd been brought out, and serious PTSD sufferers at best, and you people put them straight into positions of power in the government? At the very least, give these guys some time to recover before you give them serious responsibilities again!

And the narrative essentially treats these guys as being at least a little evil for having PTSD. What the hell.

It gets... further down some kind of rabbit hole. The author seems to find writing Zod romancing his girlfriend/consort/wife a little too fascinating, if you catch my meaning.

While it wouldn't necessarily have jumped out at me, the story ends up having Jor-El's and Lara's romance parallel that of Zod and his ladyfriend, and Jor-El's and Lara's relationship is very chaste while Zod's and his gothy hipster girlfriend's relationship is sexy (the reader is subjected to actual foreplay). There are multiple things I could see this meaning, one being what I've already suggested (the author finding it sexier than the other romance) and the other main one being that the author was depicting sex scenes as evil. And both those things are pretty screwed up. (Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, the author seems to like writing women who've had sex with powerful men, e.g. Admiral Daala from his Star Wars novels, who'd been Moff Tarkin's lover [yes THAT Moff Tarkin]. Weird.)

(And it's very specifically sex scenes, not actually sex. And having babies is highly acceptable, because Kal-El had to happen. Also Kal-El was conceived in his grandfather's Fortress of Solitude, which in the novel's universe apparently somehow inspired Superman's Fortress of Solitude. I'm not making this up.)

And oh yes, apparently gothy hipsters are evil and ambitious.

And then there's Nam-Ek, who aside from suggesting a DragonBall Z joke is a really horrible stereotype of a character, a man rendered mute by the horrifying experience he had as a child when his father killed the rest of his family and tried to hunt him down as well; he loves animals and tortured and murdered a man who slaughtered some animals, and implicitly from his skill and efficiency had been killing a lot of people. I'm not sure exactly what stereotypes these embody, but they sure as hell are stereotypes of something, and I don't like what they say.

Finally, there's the strangest, most bizarre thing in the entire story, which makes me shake my head at the whole thing: Supposedly, Krypton's long, heavily regulated history made everything too average, and as a result of this too average-ness, there was a sudden spike in violent maniacs and a fistful of supergenius people to counterbalance the disruption of the bell curve.

THAT. IS. NOT. HOW. STATISTICS. WOOOOOOOOOOOOORK.

In review, let me put it this way:

I read this book so nobody else would have to.

Yes, there are parts of it to like, but they're isolated bits in what is for the most part a train wreck. Even if I'm not a fan of his Star Wars novels, they're better than this was.

*This is actually my biggest concern about the new Star Wars trilogy; it's already, in the first movie, retread a lot of the ground from the EU that I'd have been fine depth-charging into oblivion. I'm really hoping it goes in different directions with the next two.

**For instance, there were three Solo children in the old EU. They were going to have the youngest do some critical magic things in the war with the YV, but they were told that they weren't allowed to focus on that kid by Lucasfilm... because said Solo kid was named Anakin and the prequels were still coming out, so they were concerned audiences would confuse the two characters with each other. Might not have been so bad, except that they decided that meant it was time to kill Anakin Solo.

***It also ties Brainiac's theft of Kandor to Krypton's destruction, something that was done in a similar yet quite different way in the Legion of Superheroes cartoon. Actually, while LoSH was a rather underrated cartoon and one of my favorites from its era, I think I actually like the more sociopolitical explanation from this novel better, despite this novel generally being hit-and-miss.


-Signing off.

Friday, February 26, 2016

(Brief) Game Reviews: Free Fred

Free Fred is a harmlessly stupid kind of game. (Which describes a lot of games, so...)

You play as an old fart* who, upon seeing that his dolphin friend has been kidnapped by an oddly huge and extremely well-equipped group of... dolphin-nappers, concludes that the reasonable response is calling the authorities strapping some weapons to his boat and slaughtering them all.


There's really not a huge amount to say about the gameplay, which is what I've seen described as a rail shooter, i.e. you can't actually move and the only way you can avoid getting hit is by shooting things before they reach you. You start with a boat with a single measly gun and can upgrade it and obtain new boats; eventually you end up with the boat pictured above, which can heal itself and has a plethora of autofiring weapons (even the basic boat's gun can be upgraded to autofire). In fact, once you've upgraded the boat enough, if you just point the gun in the right direction and then go to another tab/window for a while, the strongest boat can go about two-thirds of the way through the game without further guidance. (It is admittedly not a very long game.)

The main draw, really, is the ludicrousness of the premise; this implacable old man is directing a massive amount of munitions at a bunch of generic bad guys and somehow managing not to injure the dolphin that they've trussed to the back of their bizarre battleship.

So, well, really just something you can spend an afternoon on; I don't know that it would take a good player even that long.

*Actual quote from the game's description: "As a kid, your best friend was a dolphin, some bad guys kidnapped it and now, while you are older, you are going to fight them." Now, while you are older. That's just kind of a funny way of putting it.

**Dolphins have a reputation, of course, of being nearly intelligent as human beings and also of being pure, wonderful angels of the sea. In truth, dolphins aren't nearly as smart as they have a reputation for being (they're probably not any smarter than dogs, it's just that they can talk to each other-and tool use has been observed in very simple animals such as wasps, so communication most likely doesn't necessarily require a lot of smarts either-in fact, bees have a pretty sophisticated language too, so...) and are horrible, horrible creatures (known to kill babies to make females come into heat, known to rape, and known to assault or attempt to assault humans as well as basically everything else-they're probably as or more likely to attack you as any random shark-and are known to kill just for fun rather than for any particular good reason***).

...It's possible I'm using this post as an excuse to rant about dolphins.

***One could almost argue that this is their most human trait, though seemingly wanton slaughter is more common in nature than popular culture would have you believe.


-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kazoo Again

I kinda have to wonder if perhaps the reason kazoos aren't taken seriously as an instrument has something to do with the fact that "kazoo" is an inherently funny word.

Because if you're good with a kazoo, you can actually do a lot with it. Case in point:



Of course, I think I've already established I like kazoo music quite a bit; I fairly gush over it here.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 22, 2016

TURAGA DUME SEES ALL

So would you expect that a series about a bunch of colorful toyetic robot people would include a terrifying Orwellian police state in its history?

No?



Well, it happened, and eventually it happened again. (Admittedly, the Transformers case is a little less in-your-face-dramatic* than the Bionicle iteration and is actually from fiction for adults instead of the technically-strictly-for-kids Bionicle material, which... is probably closely related to the difference.)

*If you'll pardon the pun, the exception to the in-one's-face thing is probably empurata, which... (shudder) Well, let's just say it's bad.

-Signing off.

Friday, February 19, 2016

WELCOME BACK BARBEQUE*

It's always a darned shame when a mediocre product (e.g. a game) has something in it that's pretty great; perhaps the best example of this is when a game has serious issues but a great soundtrack.

For instance, 7th Legion (available on GOG.com, incidentally, with its soundtrack included as DRM-free MP3s).

(Watch out for the one-finger salute, which there's a good chance you've seen already because it's right there in the preview.)



I can't say anything regarding its gameplay or story (beyond the basic premise sounding pretty amazing*), but the soundtrack? Yeah, I'd pay the six bucks GOG.com's asking for to get that.

*Basic premise: All the rich people left Earth when it became unlivable. Centuries later, their descendants come back to reclaim it. But the 7th Legion, presumably the toughest descendants of the people they left behind, are throwing them a "welcome back BBQ." Hence the "A good 7th Legion recruit ALWAYS [one-finger] salutes his victim."

-Signing off.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Chrono Trigger Music Is Awesome

And so are remixes of such music.



That is all.

-Signing off.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Game Reviews: Aisleen

Aisleen is... a pretty weird game.

Although not necessarily in a bad way. (Fair warning: There's a bit of fanservice and cartoonish blood, and if you read into the story, it kind of comes across as a weird inner journey that has some decidedly disturbing aspects, although it's not deep mindscrew, it's just... kinda a bit horrifying in a fridge logic sort of way.)

Through a combo-oriented card game, you're playing through the story of an artist who is struggling with her own disappointment in her art.


If you're an artist or have ever known one, you're probably aware that this is a problem basically all artists have.

Anyway, the basic format is similar to that of Ether of Magic Cards (and Nan Creatures by extension, though like EoMC the game's purely one-on-one), with a few pretty key differences.

First off, the enemies all have very similar basic attacks and no cards the way the player does; the game's bosses each have a special ability, and every enemy heals each turn as well, but that's it. Each enemy has more hitpoints than their predecessors while the player's are capped at 100, and the later enemies tend to have over a thousand hitpoints.

But that doesn't matter, because while you still draw four cards per turn most of the time* (losing any cards you had before), you can play any number of cards per turn as long as you have enough "inspiration," the cost you have to pay for many cards and many of the game's cards will draw specific new cards and/or increase your inspiration. Most of the cards that do these things don't harm the enemy, but building up lots of inspiration also lets you use several abilities that aren't stuck to cards. (The best of these is definitely the most expensive one most of the time because it replaces your current hand-or lack thereof-with a full set of cards that draws a random card and adds two inspiration, but if you ever pull off a massive combo and build up maximum inspiration, the cheapest one will actually be more useful for replenishing your hand in the right circumstances. The middle one... eh, it was kinda more mediocre than it should have been.)

What makes this game unique is that there's no pauses between gameplay. Once you've defeated an enemy, the next one shows up, and it probably shouldn't even disrupt the flow of your turn (though the story bits might make you forget what you were doing occasionally). I'm pretty sure I've killed two or three enemies in a single turn.

You might be wondering about the card aspect of the game since there's no point where you can edit your deck; this is handled in a way that I don't believe I've ever seen in a computer card game. As the game progresses, cards are added to your deck automatically as part of certain abilities, attached to both certain of your non-card abilities and one of your cards, as well as to the final boss**. (Which makes the final boss a unique pest-it adds a useless card to your deck that clogs it up, making certain of your card draw cards' abilities draw it instead of the useful cards they're meant to.)

In and of itself, this is annoying, but what makes it interesting and more fun than it normally would have any right to be is that all of this-all of it-is being used as a surprisingly apt metaphor for creativity. The clog-up cards? They're a manifestation of artist's block.

And many of the cards seem to represent artistic moods; for instance, the card "Gore" (pictured in the below screenshot) apparently represents a mood of violent catharsis (a thing I know my sister occasionally finds herself expressing).


This is brilliant, regardless of what I think of the actual story.

What makes it even more incredible is that this game was apparently made in a hurry for a contest.

I really like this game, and if a card-based computer game with some twists sounds appealing to you, I'd definitely recommend it.

*There's a chunk of the game where Aisleen's emotional state halves the number of cards drawn per turn periodicially, though this fortunately doesn't affect the mass draw abilities any. This is also a pretty amazing of the sorts of ordeals real artists have.

**The game's creator intends to add some more content to the game, so the current final boss may not continue to be the final boss.


-Signing off.