Saturday, April 20, 2013

32 BBY: Incident at Horn Station

Incident at Horn Station tells the story of what an everyday Jedi Knight does to bring peace, order, and stability to the galaxy.
Written by Dan Jolley and penciled by Sean Phillips, it’s one of the best stand-alone Jedi narratives I’ve read in a while because it’s a story about what I imagine a lone Jedi should be doing in the galaxy: freeing citizens of the Republic from oppression and warlord tyrants.  This nameless Jedi stands in stark contrast to Qui-Gon Jinn – a Jedi who feels it’s perfectly acceptable to turn a blind eye to slavery.

This Jedi ranks high in my esteem, alongside the likes of Zayne Carrick, Kerra Holt, and Gorlan Palladane – Jedi who attempt to make a real difference in the galaxy while doing their utmost to preserve the sanctity of life, not destroy it.
It’s likely this Jedi was sent to Horn Station by the Jedi Council to bring Shoto (the warlord in question) to justice.  If I were to speculate about this nameless Jedi I say it’s possible he studied under Master Yoda since he takes a page out of the old Master’s MO and hides his Jedi strength behind a veil of humility.  Aboard a stuttering ship and cloaking himself behind stuttering speech, the Jedi lays his trap for the warlord by presenting himself as a weak and cowardly miner.  Then, wounding a gunslinger in bar who tied to rob him, the Jedi knew that Shoto would hear of his exploits and invite him into his high-hilled fortress to duel him. 

It doesn’t take much for the Jedi Knight to spring his trap, wound Shoto in a blaster duel, and cart him off in his ship now a prisoner of the Jedi Order.  Before long I imagine Shoto is in front of a Republic court, answering for his crimes against innocent sentients.  Before he leaves Horn Station the Jedi even receives some fawning gratitude from a good-lookin’ blonde, who asks him his name.  However, not to be taken in by a pretty face, the Jedi Knight plays it cool and tells the attractive girl he’ll tell her his name the next time they meet.
Beside doing what I imagine a Jedi Knight should be doing in the galaxy, what I also enjoyed about this story is that if my speculation is correct, and indeed the Jedi Council did send this Jedi to Horn Station to free it from its oppressive warlord, it means that the Council is not far removed from the suffering of the galaxy – an impression I’ve been feeling since working my way through the Ride of the Empire era.  I’m going to interpret this short tale to mean that the Jedi Order, there in the centre of the galaxy and protected by their high-white walls, are in touch with the Force, and are still called to free the oppressed, argue for equality, negotiate peace, and, if necessary, BE the justice the galaxy so desperately needs. 

Out of curiosity – many Star Wars chronologists all agree to place this story at just after the events of The Phantom Menace, but I didn’t find anything remarkable in the story that would definitively place this tale at this particular point in history.  What is it about this story that places it in 32 BBY post TPM material?  Your thoughts on this would be enlightening.
For my next post I’m going to look at another Star Wars comic short: Bad Business.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

32 BBY: Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier.

 “Have you ever thought to yourself ‘I love Star Wars.  I love Star Wars games, but only if there was, like, Sim Earth meets Sim City, but with racist stereotypes hosting.  Well, lucky for you, some executive at Lucas Learning thought exactly the same thing, and, they made Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier’”.  
This is the opening message to Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier’s walkthrough by CybeargPlays on YouTube, which had me laughing right from the start.  With the spate of terrible walkthrough narratives I’ve recently put myself through it’s about time I came across a good one.  One minuet into the video and I like this guy.

But before I continue with my reactions to the game, it’s important to note that we’ve moved the chronometer.  We are now officially into post Phantom Menace material.  Naboo has been rescued, Maul is “dead”, and Anakin is now the apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Take note, and take a deep breath.  We did it.

Now, on to my reactions.
The opening crawl of the game begins with its premise: the underwater city of Otah Gunga has become dangerously overcrowded, therefore the Gungans of Naboo need to colonize Naboo’s watery moon (Ohma D'un).  This task of colonization has been placed into the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala.

I know, pretty wild right?  Not scientists or trained intergalactic terra-formers, but a Jedi and a Queen.  Two minutes into the video and the game has become endearingly strange.
Then, the underwater craft from The Phantom Menace, the Tribubble bongo, comes flying overhead through space, enters the atmosphere of Naboo, and plunges itself into the water. That’s right!  It comes through space!  Though it’s clearly a submersible, it can somehow blast off into space as well.  Three minutes into the game and it’s just became absurdly fun. 

When the introductions are complete, and we get to the task of having to create an eco-system, CybeargPlays does a good job of explaining what everything does and how it works.  By video three he’s lunched into an actual game and is doing well sustaining a Nabooian environment, complete with nunas, hsuberry trees, and falumpasets.  However, by video four everything goes terribly wrong as he doesn’t keep an eye on his kaduu population while it begins to run amuck, and sadly, the kaduus destroy the bio-diversity of his little patch of Eden.
What I loved most about this game was the level of detail concerning the flora and fauna.  Created in 1999, I imagine this game had an impact on the developers of Star Wars Galaxies, as many of the plant and animal names rang a bell.  I think even I remember coming across hsuberry trees with my avatar while on Naboo.  The creating, naming, and designing of all the living things in this game had such minute detail; I liken the developers of this game to the people that create props for model train enthusiast.  Watching CybeargPlays create an environment for the moon of Ohma D’Un was like watching the work of an avid train modeller build his city for his train to run through. If you’ve ever been to a model train show I think you’ll understand what I’m driving at here.  A master train modeller will have a city filled with the smallest of details: milk men delivering milk to homes, workers loading the backs of trucks, mothers serving their family dinner through a back-lit window, a lone dog in a backyard.  I go to model train shows with my father not to look at the trains, but to be amazed at the level of detail the modellers put into their sets.

I’ve never played Sim Earth, but I imagine it to be as fun as something like Sid Meier’s Civ games.  The premise behind all of these activities is the same: to create a little world full of minute details, and at some point sit back and take in all your hard work. 
On a side note, at the end of video four CybeargPlays mentioned something called the Oracle VM virtual box.  He said it was a program he used to be able to play the game, since it originally ran on Windows 2000 and computers with Windows 7 can’t run old games (which I can attest to.  If I had known about this I wouldn’t have had to go out and get an N64 to play Battle for Naboo.  I know for next time.

For my next post I’m going to examine Star Wars Tales: #2: Incident at Horn Station. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

32 BBY: Star Wars Battlefront: Naboo and Kashyyyk missions

So I actually fired up the old processor and reloaded Star Wars Battlefront for this source, making it my second time through this game. Back in August of 2010 I played Battlefront thinking it was Galactic Battlegrounds, and only realized my mistake about 2 hours in to the game.  The Battle of the Grassy Plains, The Rebellion of Theed, and Aggressive Negotiations on Kashyyyk were fun missions where you get to play a battle droid and a super battle droid.  Going through these missions a second time affirmed for me the fun of this game.
What I was reminded of when I played again was that the battle droids in the first two missions were way more agile than the battle droids from the movies.  If the battle droids from the movies could move as fluidly and shoot as accurately as the battle droids from the video game could, the Gungans, and indeed all of the enemies of the Trade Federation, would be in deep trouble. 

Besides being a bit of FPS fun, there really isn’t much to this game.  You can find a YouTube walkthrough here, but it only takes less than an hour to get through the content of these first missions.
I think when I edit and reorganize this chronology project when it’s done I’ll place this source closer to the Invasion of Theed Adventuregame from WOTC.  It’s more in line with that collection of narratives, detailing the un-sung heroes of the Naboo resistance movement who tried to stop the invasion of their home planet.

For my next post I’m going to take a look at Star Wars Episode 1: The Gungan Frontier, but before I sign off I just want you other chronologists who have been following my progress to look over the remaining sources I want to examine before I begin to exit my way out of 32 BBY.  Regarding our conversation Plaristes, this source, I should follow this list (I’m not going to cover Lego infinities), yes?:
Episode I: The Gungan Frontier (video game)

Star Wars Tales: #2: Incident at Horn Station; #8: Bad Business
"Peril in the Ionosphere" rpg scenario in Star Wars Gamer #1

"Save the Mantaris!" rpg scenario on WotC site
The Living Force Campaign: Eye of the Sun Trilogy: 1) A Cularin Presence; 2) The Resistance Within; 3) Revelation and Refutation

The Living Force Campaign: An Uneasy Peace
Star Wars #7-12: Outlander

Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force: 1) Part Six: Arrival at the Jedi Temple; 2) Part Two: Illustrious Lightsabers
The Living Force Campaign: The Price of Business

Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force: The Force as a Source of Energy, The Return of the Sith, and The Conversion of Count Dooku

Bounty Hunter (video game)

Jango Fett: Open Seasons

The Living Force Campaign: Between the Worlds Trilogy: 1) TopWorld; 2) MidWorld; 3) UnderWorld
"The Nova Crystal" rpg scenario in GameTrade #10 (available at

The Bounty Hunters: Aurra Sing
Star Wars Tales #21-24: Nomad

Darth Plaguies
Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

32 BBY: Duel of the Fates

Back in June of 2012 I did a write-upon The StarfighterTrap, a forgettable story by Steve Miller.  Most of that post was about my World of Warcraft addiction and how I had just recently beat it.  When I originally read the story I had only an e-source I pulled from the internet, and not the actual print copy found in Star Wars Gamer #1.  I’m sorry I didn’t try a litter harder to get my hands on the original source material.  Star Wars Gamer Magazine (after the Star Wars Adventure Journal) is now my favorite print anthology of Star Wars short stories.  This magazine is absolutely phenomenal.  I regret not collecting them when they were first released in 2000.  I’ve since remedied the situation as I’ve got almost the entire collection minus issues 2 and 3 (thank you eBay). 
That I enjoyed Star Wars Gamer so much is not surprising; it’s the natural heir to the Star Wars Adventure Journal.  I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I’d love to revive the Adventure Journal, and it seems that Star Wars Gamer Magazine was a tacit attempt to do so.   Both works are essentially the same animal.  Last summer I made a few frivolous attempts at looking at how I would go about doing such a thing, creating my own unofficial Star Wars short story / RPG magazine (I talked a little about this in my post on The Tenebrous Way).  Like anything it’d take a bit of work, and more importantly funding, but I honestly think I could get something like this going.  Maybe I should start using AdSense in my blog, and with the money I raise direct it towards my secondary dream of creating a Star Wars fanzine?  I genuinely wonder how Disney would react to such an endeavour – if I actually got it going.  Would they sue the shirt off my back, or would they react like Lucas Licensing did in the late 70’s to the Star Wars fanzines that popped up and turn a legal blind eye to them?  Funnily, even though Lucas Licensing turned a blind eye to these magazines, they still demanded that the fanzines submit their pages for archival purposes.  Though I never read or was familiar with Polyhedron, I suppose I’d like to get something like this going, but just with short stories and D6 stats instead of D20.

Honestly, how does one start to put a magazine together – anyone have any input on this?
Anyway, enough of my crazy schemes.

Duel of the Fates, an RPG scenario from Star Wars Gamer #1, gives fans of the Star Wars d20 system a breakdown, round by round, of the final battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. As an old D6 gamer I often watch the films and try to correlate the actions of the heroes with what I imagine their role-playing-game stats to be.  Before I even saw Han Solo’s character sheet, I knew he had a blaster skill above 7D (It’s actually 9D+1 – super impressive!).  When he tried to tell the Imperial Officers in the Death Star that there was a “slight weapons malfunction” in the detention block, I knew he failed his roll at his con skill.  As me and my old GM used to joke, he rolled a 1 on the uncertainty dice. 
Duel of the Fates gives us gamers those nitty-gritty details we wonder about when we watch the films.

Two things struck me in this source.  Firstly, I was surprised at how out-gunned Kenobi was in this fight.  He’s only a level 6 Jedi Guardian with 38 vitality available (of 52), whereas Maul is a level 12 Jedi Guardian with 63 vitality points (of 120).  On paper, Maul wins this fight 98% of the time.  Secondly, Kenobi makes an awesome roll to win the day.  Even though Kenobi was out-gunned on paper, the Force played a cruel trick on the Sith acolyte, and stood by Kenobi in the end.  Jumping from the pit of defeat, and grabbing his fallen Master’s lightsaber:

“… (Kenobi) then attacks the flat-footed Maul, scoring a critical hit and rolling maximum damage (18 points).  This is enough to reduce Maul to zero wound points.  Adding a bit of flavour, the GM rules that this attack severs Maul at the waist and sends the body tumbling down the shaft” (Star Wars Gamer #1, pg. 47)
The Force was with Kenobi, and always will be.

For my next post I’m going to look at the historical missions of Naboo and Kashyyyk from the Star Wars Battlefront video game.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

32 BBY: Star Wars Saga Annual 2006, Star Wars Annual 2007, Star Wars Annual 2009

I have a copy of the Star Wars Annual 2009 thanks to Plaristes, but I’ve been hesitating on picking up a copy of the Star Wars Saga Annual 2006, which contains a Phantom Menace adaptation, as well as the 2007 Star Wars Annual, which contain in-universe journal entries that adapt the films, including The Phantom Menace.  They are a little too pricey for me right now, but I’ve convinced myself to fork out the money for them, just not yet. In the interim I’m going to make a placeholder post, like I did with the Episode 1 Adventure Games, and back track my way to these sources once I have them.
I’ve also ordered Ultimate Missions: Clone Strike, so I’ll also be making a placeholder post for that source and do a write-up for it once the book comes in.  In the meantime, I’ll move on to Duel of the Fates, an RPG scenario from Star Wars Gamer. Until then my friends may the Force be with you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

32 BBY: Anakin Skywalker & Jar Jar Binks

Continuing with my trend of examining Star Wars children’s books, I have before me Kerry Milliron’s Anakin Skywalker and Jar Jar Binks.  I managed to pick-up these two books for a buck at the annual city wide book sale a few Octobers ago.  No amazon for me this time.
Like most children’s material there is not much to say.  Ken Steacy’s illustrations were neat enough; the only notable thing to comment on is Jar Jar’s truly heroic pose on the last page of his book.  He’s riding a Kaduu armed with a shock staff and fearlessly riding down battle droids- not the Jar Jar we’re familiar with at all.

For my next post I’m going to look at the Star Wars annuals dealing with The Phantom Menace material.  I know I said I was going to do it this post, but upon looking at my post Handling 32 BBY I realized I missed this stuff.  Anyway, until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

32 BBY: Star Wars Episode 1 and R2-D2 Play and Sound books.

Margret Lansing’s R2-D2 and Star Wars Episode 1 play and sound children’s books both go over brief episodes from the film.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of Lansing’s Episode 1, but thanks to Plaristes for providing me with a copy of the R2-D2 play and sound book.

I have a few of these types of books for my children, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is the one I can name off the top of my head.  They’re neat.  When you read the story and get to an icon, you push a button and a sound emanates as a representation of the icon.  For example, in the R2-D2 play and sound book, when you get to an icon of R2 and push the button I assume there is an R2-D2 sound effect (I don't know for sure as I only have a scanned copy available).  The R2-D2 play and sound book details the part of episode 1 where R2 and Anakin hijack a Naboo S1 and fly off to blow up the Trade Federation cruiser. 
I’m not sure which aspect of The Phantom Menace the Episode 1 book deals with, and at this point I’m not sure I ever will.  Sadly, this is the first time in my project where I don’t have some sort of manifestation of the source in front of me.  I don’t want to buy a copy because money is tight with my wife on mat leave right now, plus, I’m not going to get worked up over a pre-school book.  I guess my completionist desire has met its limit in the form of pre-school children’s books.

For my next post I’m going to briefly look at Star Wars Saga Annual 2006, Star Wars Annual 2007, Star Wars Annual 2009, and TPM Pocket Money Treats.  Again, thanks to Plaristes for sharing his copies of these with me.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

32 BBY: Jar Jar's Journey

The animated medium is where Star Wars belongs.  I talked about this in my post on Return – the animated cinematic from Bioware.  In that post I argued that Star Wars would be best served if it moved exclusively to the animated medium.  More could be done and more stories could be told.  I even went so far as to say that I think episodes 1-6 should be re-made into The Clone Wars style of animation, thereby creating a consistent visual story of the Skywalker saga.  Very wishful dreaming on my part, I know, but sometimes I like to think about the logistics of such an endeavour.  If this were to happen there would all sorts of hurdles to jump of course, like whose voicing would be used?  Would the films be best served if all the original voicing from the original actors were used, or – taking into consideration episodes 1-3 – would they be re-done using the voice actors from The Clone Wars series?  Fun questions to think about.
Though I’m excited about episode seven, I’d be more excited if it was going to be an animated feature like The Clone Wars.  Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher could reprise their roles as voice actors, and more importantly, the three stars could appear in the film looking like the older and still heroic versions we are familiar with from the EU book covers.  My greatest fear with episode 7 (among many) is that these three will look too real – too tired, too saggy, and too old.  It’s apparent the three have aged better on book covers than they have in real life.  With an animated feature, the reality of old age need not get in the way.  Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we want our mythological heroes to look young for as long as possible.  An animated film solves this problem.

Again, and in the same vein, the possibility of a live action show is exciting, but I’d rather have an animated show.  The Clone Wars proved that a consistent audience of young and old fans (and by old I mean myself and other 70’s and 80’s children who keep this IP alive) can sustain such programming.   I can’t be alone in my thinking here.  Does anyone else want to see Star Wars move to an exclusively animated medium?  Give me your thoughts.
I bring up the topic of an animated Star Wars because in the source before me, Jar Jar’s Journey, we are presented with The Phantom Menace in cartoon format – and putting aside what this is; namely, a computer learning program for kids – the effect is tremendously cool.  Though I haven’t engaged with the source directly (and I still might, the only thing holding me back is not knowing whether or not my computer will run it), there is a short YouTube video of it here, and the website, has a page dedicated to it here. Take a look at these links and tell me The Phantom Menace didn’t just get a little bit better because it was a cartoon. I dare ya!

As it is, I still might pick up a copy.  There are all sorts available on eBay, and I can probably get away with spending 20 bucks or less for it, but even then, the price is little too steep.  I can perhaps justify my expenditure with idea that I may go through the game with my 5-year-old son, but like I said, I’m worried my computer won’t be able to run it.
Accordingly, I think the two links above did well in presenting the essence of the game. So, in the same spirit of Obi-Wan’s Adventures, I’m going to check off this source as ‘dealt with’. 

For my next post I’m going to take a quick look at Star Wars Episode 1 and R2-D2, both children's books by Margret Lansing.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.