Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Briefly, Thoughts on Pokémon Conquest

I recently managed to get a copy of Pokémon Conquest.  It took this long because it apparently sold quickly, and because I didn't look that hard for it.  (I could have scoured several stores looking for a copy, but I just went with what was convenient.  After all, I don't exactly have a great need of yet another video game to play.)
My initial impressions are that, overall, I'm enjoying it.  It has a trait, though, that, for my purposes, is a slight drawback:  I actually need to pay attention to what's going on, which means that it's bad for multitasking.  I mean, I could figure out what has happened once my turn rolls around, but it's just much easier to have been watching the whole time.  Otherwise, though, it's pretty good as a light turn-based tactical game that features pokémon.
It does have an odd reversal, though:  Each pokémon only has one attack available, but it has up to three potential abilities (of which it can still only have one at a time).  This is quite different from the main games, where a pokémon has one of either one or two abilities (or sometimes three, once hidden abilities get involved), but will usually have access to at least a dozen attacks just from leveling up, and will usually know four at a time.  This doesn't detract from gameplay, though, so I'll classify this as not-a-problem.

Sudden Short Story 35

He entered the facility warily.  It seemed empty for a moment, but then he was greeted by someone in the door at the other end of the hall.
"Ah, N," he said, "Come along.  Your memories should return more quickly once you see the rest."
"I..." he started, but it felt so familiar.  "I am N."
His host had come along the corridor by this point.  "Sometimes it's a bit bewildering.  After you, if you prefer," and he gestured for N to lead.
N - as he seemed to be called here - started along slowly at first, but was at a determined pace by the time that he reached the other door, for that now was no time to let these strange feelings get to him.  "Which way?"
"Right.  It's good to see that you're coming back to your old self."
"Just to be clear, this is the place that's to give me a new body, right?"
"That's correct.  You'll see them soon enough."
"Just for my own edification, why all the secrecy?  It seems that you could do a bang-up business on the open market."
"Well, resources are still scarce.  It's all that we can do, so far, to give you a new body every generation."
They stopped at a door.
"I've been here before, then?"
"Yes, of course.  Oh, once you open the door, there's a fainting couch just to the right, though there hopefully won't be any actual fainting going on."
"You also just said that you had multiples."
"Well, no - Only one is new, you see.  You'll remember more once you see it all.  Do go on."
N paused for a moment to consider things.  Seeing no harm in just looking, he opened the door, to look inside.
The walls of the small laboratory were lined with large tubes, all but one of which - the one labeled with his own name - housed human bodies.  He set himself upon the fainting couch.  The faces and names all brought with them such familiarity.  The layout was itself obvious - only one of the bodies was young, and it came just after the empty tube.  The bodies served as reminders, and as reference points, and as a backup in case N should be unable to continue his work, for that they were the only subjects on which the procedure had been performed in any way.  There was the mental impulse transfer device, and there were the notes on the lives....
N managed to avoid fainting, but was glad for the couch, which allowed him to recline while taking it all in.  After what felt like only a moment, his host seemed to get his attention.
"Yes, it tends to overwhelm you whenever you're brought here under other circumstances.  Of course, by now you probably remember that the duplicity is only a reminder trigger, used only when you forget so badly that you miss your appointment."
"Yes, I remember it all, now.  So, shall we bring out your assistant and get started?  I'm not getting any younger, you know."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Regarding A Clash of Kings

[Significant spoilers for A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin follow.]
Recently, I finished A Clash of Kings, and I've moved on to A Storm of Swords.  As much as I'm enjoying the series, I'm going to have to take a break from A Song of Ice and Fire after that, since I'll finally be ahead of the HBO series that's been prompting so many spoilers around the web.  I've got, like, a bajillion other things to read.  I'll get back to it, don't worry.  I do have the next two books, after all.
A Clash of Kings is what it says on the can.  We start out with the four kings that we had at the end of the last book.  Then one is assassinated by magic - hooray for more magic - and then another one pops up on the other side of the continent.  Though, now that I think about it, Greyjoy sure is taking his dear sweet time about conquering things, especially given that the iron men are pretty much straight up viking/klingon/those-bad-guys-from-The-Chronicles-of-Riddick analogues:  Kill people and take their stuff.
The main impression that I have from A Clash of Kings comes from a few chapters during which I felt rather upset not only that Bran and Rickon had been killed off - especially before Bran got to really utilize his psychic mystic powers - but also that we didn't even get to see how Theon managed to find them and get past the direwolves.  So, basically, I was relieved when that turned out to be just a fake-out.
Oh, also, I was frustrated to no end with Arya's incompetence regarding her three kills.  I kind of wanted to see that chaos that would be wrought if she'd spent one on Tywin Lannister.  Furthermore, I was just plain surprised that she didn't use one on Gregore Clegane:  He was responsible for the deaths of several of her fellows, her own capture, and that of her fellow survivors, and he's nearly unkillable.
I was also glad to get some progress on that stuff beyond The Wall.  (It seems to be paying off quite well in A Storm of Swords, too.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sudden Short Story 34

Black was the color of his jacket.  Black was the color of his leggings.  Black was the color of his boots.  Black was the color of his gloves, except for the fingertips, which were all the colors of the rainbow.  He kept the tips in groups - blue to blue, yellow to yellow, red to red, green to green - and waved them about in the ever-warm air.  A great machine copied his movements, reaching for a large canister.  It was also a bit noisy - an unusual feature for its size - and so he did not hear her approach on her green ATV.
"You've got to be hot under all of that," she shouted to him.  "You look like you're dressed for a funeral."
"I suppose that I am," he shouted back, "but it's cold in space.  You'll see."
"I don't know that I need to go all the way to space to know that," she replied.  "So are you The Spacefarer, then?"
"I am.  Am I still the only one who's left?"
"Well, I don't suppose that anyone has, really, seeing as how you came back."
"I'll be heading out again soon enough."
"Don't tell me that The Spacefarer has returned to Earth just to do an experiment at Kilauea."
Another voice interrupted them.  "HALT, EVILDOER!" came the sudden, loud cry from an indiscernible source.  The Spacefarer was sliding down the slope before he realized that he had suffered a rather strong impact to his chest.  The man dressed in blue landed on the rim, and quickly discarded his overheated and spent jet belt.  He faced her through his mask and asked, boldly, "Are you alright, madam?"
"Why shouldn't I be?  You didn't fly into me at highway speed!  What's the meaning of this?"
"Don't let him fool you.  He's here to kill us all."
The Spacefarer staggered to his feet.  "You see, this is why I didn't tell anyone.  You'd all get upset and start trying to ruin my plans.  Fortunately, I'm not the one who was fool enough to wear a cape."  The Spacefarer brought his fingers together and wheeled his hand through the air.  The canister was released, and one of the great mechanical arms grabbed the hero's cape, lifting him into the air, but before it had him even a meter off of the ground, he struck a latch around his collar, releasing himself from his cape.
"I'm not so great a fool as that.  --"  The hero was smacked away suddenly by a great mechanical arm.
"Don't think that I wasn't prepared for this possibility.  Somebody would notice my return, and there was a chance that somebody among them would suspect my motives.  There was then a chance that one of those would actually piece it together, and then a chance that that individual might take action.  With nearly ten billion humans on the planet, I didn't put it past you."
She asked her would-be savior a question.  "How did you know?"
He groaned out a reply.  "He went out there... so far... He brought back a sizable payload.  It's suspicious, and then he takes it to a volcano.  Hawai'i is just as good a place as any....  Nobody cares any more."
She turned to address The Spacefarer.  "So what is it, then?  Neutron degenerate matter?  Strange matter?  Some new isotope that can only be found in space?"
The mechanical arms worked at full capacity to lift the massive container high enough to pass the rim.  "It's nothing so unlikely as that, really.  I call it the Absolution Link Device.  The Hawaiian hotspot gives the right combination of lift and heat to ensure that the container is destroyed just before reaching the core.  At that point, containment will be lost, and the link will be re-established, with this end connected to Earth's core.  You'll never guess where the other end is before this hits the core, let alone actually reach it, you know."
She pretended to examine the body of the would-be hero, to see what she could do to help him.  Really, she examined him for anything useful.  He had been armored, which was excellent for his health at this point, though it was now heavily dented.  He had apparently underestimated his opponent's machine's strength.  Electric charges in the gauntlets.  A lightweight baton.  A pouch apparently containing tiny transmitters.  A shield had been in his left hand, and it seemed to be made of the same stuff as the baton.  Then, she realized what she needed, and it was on her ATV.  She went to it, grabbed it and her first aid kit, and went back to the would be hero.  At the same time, she confronted the riddle that had been put before her.
"It could be almost anywhere."
"'Almost anywhere' is a lot of places."  The Spacefarer's head was suddenly interrupted by a flying wrench.  He collapsed immediately.
She went over to him, removed his gloves, donned them herself, and set the canister down short of the rim.
"Please tell me that you have some manacles in that getup of yours," she called to the man bedecked in blue.
He moved his arm, but found that it hurt too much.  "Third pouch on the left.  So where's the other end of this thing?"
She went to retrieve the handcuffs.  "Most of the universe is cold, hard vaccum.  It's there."
"You know, for a guy who said that he anticipated me, he sure didn't anticipate you."
"Apparently, he's got a shield field generator to stop beams and bullets - personal sized, if you can believe it - so it's a good thing that we didn't have guns to try to shoot him.  I think that he was relying on those arms to stop anyone who tried to melee him."
"That's still quite a chance.  If you didn't hit him in the head, neck, or crotch, then you wouldn't have stopped him."
"You're right," she replied.  "That's why I hit him in the head."