Stolen Pixels #215: Versus

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 27, 2010

Filed under: Column 66 comments

I have these memories of sitting around the lunchroom in highschool, listening of Def Leppard cassettes on my brick-sized Sony Walkman. The guys were dressed as guys always are: Jeans and T’s. The ladies were dressed in outfits that now border on comedy, and displayed hair structures of such height and complexity that I think more of them should have gone into engineering.

It was during these days that we would hold detailed discussions about whether or not Yoda could beat Vader or if a Wookiee could become a Jedi or if lightsabers could come in other colors. Return of the Jedi was fresh in our minds, we hadn’t discovered the expanded universe, and the prequel trilogy was both fantastical rumor and distant dream. We weren’t particularly well-informed, but we were passionate and very interested in discovering the truth.

Today’s strip is dedicated to those long-ago scholarly discussions.


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66 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #215: Versus

  1. Rutskarn says:

    We had the same discussions at my age. Expanded universe had already arrived, but we were, for a few years, blissfully ignorant.

  2. RTBones says:

    Funny. I read the title of your post today, and immediately thought of the TV channel – perhaps the only place on can watch NHL Hockey or the Tour de France for free, if youre into those sorts of things. It (the channel) is discussed with nearly as much fervor (keep it, or put everything it has on ESPN) as the arguments about Wookie Jedi or Lando Calrissian being good or bad. Ahh, yes, the good ole days — we had no expanded universe either.

  3. kikito says:

    The Force Unleashed got a nice discount on Steam this summer and I got it. At the beginning it was ok but …

    Somewhere during the middlegame the lightsaber started being less and less useful. They had force-resistant troopers. Then invisible troopers.

    Then the “I’m-not-sure-if-it-is-a-robot-or-a-clone troopers” arrive. Those guys are really irritating. You have to hit them like 30 times with your lightsaber before they fall. WTF. What is my lightsaber made of? Herring?

    I vote the dueling gameplay to be mandatory for now on in all games involving sword-like weapons.

    1. Taellosse says:

      They’re droids that look like storm troopers. And yeah, the lightsaber is nearly useless against them. Lightning works a lot better, though even then, it takes pretty much all your force power to mostly-kill one (on the lower difficulties you can pretty much dispatch one by totally unloading, at higher ones it takes about 1.5-2 rounds of this). Lightning-augmented attack combos are also much more useful than straight attacks with the saber. They’re definitely a bit ridiculous.

  4. ToastyVirus says:

    I still have conversations like that.

    Ignoring that the Prequel films and the Expanded Universe don’t exsist can do wonders

    1. Sumanai says:

      Double negative there. I just consider them different canon. Original trilogy is one, prequels another, Clone War-animation series and then EU. So four different canons. If I’d actually bother reading the EU, I’d probably separate different book series into their own groups as well.
      Prequels and EU can rot in Hell as far as I’m concerned though.

    2. hewhosaysfish says:

      Which kind: about duels, about sex or at totally cross-purposes?

  5. I think I must have been in the wrong high school lunchroom. The only song I ever heard was Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, blaring over and over again from the jukebox.

    “Just fly the ship, dumbass.”

    Love it. Love it!


    1. blue_painted says:

      Arrrgg! Earworm …! Now I must listen again …

  6. Ouchies81 says:

    I admit, I laughed quite a bit and had to re read it under the new context. bravo.

    1. Pickly says:

      Agreed, completely. :)

    2. somebodys_kid says:

      Oh yeah. I laughed very loudly on the second read through. Well done, Shamus.

  7. Sumanai says:

    Interestingly, never had the same discussions. I think I never saw a point to it. Besides, wouldn’t Yoda’s hiding indicate that he couldn’t win against Darth Vader?
    But I happily avoided knowing about the Expanded Universe till 2006 or something. Then, after maybe a few days afterwards I heard that in one book two Jedi fly by using the Force on each other, and didn’t want to hear more. Seriously, either follow Newton’s 3rd law of motion (no flight) or don’t (flight).

    1. Sheer_Falacy says:

      Yoda’s hiding meant he couldn’t win against Darth Vader, 3 bazillion storm troopers (they were very competent at the end of 3, and what with the swamp planet and all he didn’t get the memo that they removed the eyeholes in the helmets between 3 and 4), and enough starships to blot out the sun.

      1. Sumanai says:

        I’m certain he would’ve made an effort to join with the resistance. Or try to find out if there was a resistance. Note that this hypothetical conversation would be taking before the prequels came out.
        And eyeholes? I never bothered to watch the episode 3 with that kind of attention to detail, being painful enough as it was (better action my ass).
        And he could’ve fought in the shade.

        1. silver says:

          Eyeholes wasn’t literal. He was just referring to how a zillion Jango clones should have been awesome, but they never actually managed to hit anything they were aiming at while on screen during the whole first/fourth movie.

          Then again, neither Jango nor the young clone he personally trained did all that well in either of their combat appearances. Perhaps someone mixed up the paperwork on which bounty hunter to clone.

          1. Fists says:

            I particularly liked that Ben/Obi-wan said “Only imperial storm troopers are this precise” or something similar with respect to the attack on the Jawas followed by troopers which fail to hit half a dozen stationary targets in small corridors.

            1. Sumanai says:

              Some fans try to explain that away by mentioning that Darth Vader wanted them to escape and lead to the rebel hideout. But that doesn’t really explain the rest of the trilogy.
              Unless everyone else is even worse.

          2. Stormtroopers aren’t Clone Troopers. Between Episode 3 and Episode 4, the Empire turns the Clones in to Storms, and when the movie starts, stormies are made up of people from all walks of life. They’re still well trained military, but they aren’t the uber-Jango clones any more. Or not all of them.

            And I had a discussion like that 2 days ago. At one point I used the phrase “Oh, excuse me Mr. ‘I-can’t-love-because-I’m-scared-of-emotions'”.

            It was a great conversation.

            1. Will says:

              The actual Clone Troopers don’t do any better.

              Ovbiously, the real reason is because if you actually put a man with a sword against a man with a gun, the man with the gun will win. Unless, of course, he cannot hit a stationary target with a point-blank shot.

  8. silver Harloe says:

    “especially considering that Palpatine fights like a coward and brings in about a dozen extra dudes to fight with him”

    To paraphrase Corwin of Amber, life and death fights aren’t the Olympics. There’s score is very binary, and none of this “playing from debt hoping to win back your losses” – so you are simply stupid not to use any resource you have to win. Overwhelming force may be unfair, but you don’t get to rule a galaxy with ‘fought fairly and bravely’ engraved on your tombstone.

    “wouldn't Yoda's hiding indicate that he couldn't win against Darth Vader?”

    Unless he’s more concerned about the consequences of a “victory” against Vader, knowing as he does the prophecies and all. Setting that aside entirely, he might also be thinking that being one of two remaining Jedi puts even “I’m 90% likely to win” scenarios into more of a “I’m 10% likely to lose half the ability to train new (good-guy) Jedi ever again (forever)” light. PLUS he had to run off to learn his new pseudo-immortality skill from Qui-Gone before making any rash moves.

    1. Shamus says:

      I wasn’t REALLY suggesting that a SITH should “fight fair”. But it’s a very un-palpatine move and sort of… eh. Not very much like the movie duels. It feels more like a videogame end boss and less like an epic Lightsaber fight.

      1. Taellosse says:

        I don’t disagree with you, but I think it would have felt redundant to duel Palpatine saber-to-saber, right after beating Vader. Never mind how annoying the Vader rematch is if you take the Dark Side ending (despite being beat all to hell, with half his cybernetics badly damaged and his breathing apparatus clearly not functioning properly, he’s MUCH harder than the earlier fight).

    2. Sumanai says:

      You know “run away to fight another day” to me suggests some sort of fighting someday. And he seems very much against training Luke, despite being essentially the last hope. Either coward, fatalist or beaten. I’m going for the last.
      And I don’t consider “wanting to avoid making things worse” as a valid counter for the unwillingness to train. At that point training Luke would at least disrupt the empire.

      About Shamus’ comment about Palpatine, I always imagined him egotistical enough to just go head to head with the apprentice. If you watch closely Return of the Jedi, he hasn’t exactly filled the room with guards. Nor does he bother tag-teaming with Vader. Just talk, lure, luring doesn’t work -> kill.

      1. silver says:

        From Yoda’s point of view, there was an alternate to Luke. He even said as much when Luke flew off to get himself killed and Kenobi said “there goes our last hope.”

        While he was annoyed at Kenobi for bringing him Luke 6 to 8 years too late, he was always going to train Luke or Leia or both, and he knew it. He just wanted to window shop when he found out what a little brat Luke was.

        And in the climactic duel of Return, Palpatine wasn’t in a life or death struggle with Luke, he was trying to turn to Luke and replace Vader. And his miscalculation wasn’t in regards to Luke at all – Luke didn’t stand chance one against him, and Luke didn’t beat him.

        1. Sumanai says:

          And what exactly was Yoda’s plan to get Leia to Dagobah, or whatever, in order to train her? And did he expect her to be 6 to 8 years younger than Luke? And Yoda is damn old at that point, so there’s starting to be a bit of hurry, so if he could have summoned Leia to him using the Force, why didn’t he do it?
          From what I remember, his plan seemed to consist of hiding in a swamp planet and hoping for the best.
          So I suppose he’s a fatalist.

          From what I remember, neither did the apprentice, but fine. I don’t remember that one all that clearly. Close inspection of the plot doesn’t really make the game better.

  9. acronix says:

    I don´t know about you, but I feel there´s something extremely wrong in that woman´s uniform. Is she an imperial officer? If so, what is the military reason for her to show so much skin? Why don´t other imperial male officers show that much skin in their chests too, then? Fan-service sometimes makes me sick.

    1. Sumanai says:

      I’m fairly certain no other female soldier shows that much skin either. It’s an interesting, or rather annoying and childish, attribute of the gaming industry. For some reason most big companies seem to think that ‘sex sells’ means ‘every woman has to appear sexy’ and that ‘sexy’ means ‘shows as much skin as possible’.
      Or it’s the result of George “No Bras in Space” Lucas having anything to do with the game.

      Quick guide: Sexiness isn’t about what you show, but what you cover (and how). Sometimes less is less.

      1. Robyrt says:

        It’s not even the gaming industry – female Imperial uniforms in the Star Wars MMO didn’t have cleavage. Even Princess Leia is usually wearing a sensible outfit. It’s just the female lead in this game who inexplicably needs to show some skin.

        1. Tizzy says:

          The operative word In Leia’s case being usually

        2. Sumanai says:

          I didn’t really mean it like that. I didn’t want to imply it was a case of all games, just notably more than in most other mediums. Usually in action games and especially ones that have come out this console generation.
          And not a IP specific. I don’t remember incredibly revealing clothes in Jedi Knight games either.
          But you go through games in general, you’ll notice a weird appearance of strangely revealing clothing. That often don’t make sense in-game.

          1. Sumanai says:

            Holy crap. How many typos have I done in the last two days?

            “And is not a IP specific.”
            “But if you go through…”

            1. Jarenth says:

              “How many typos have I done” is probably not completely gramatically correct, either.


              1. Sumanai says:

                (Haven’t been checking back on my posts.)

                I’m pretty certain it is. I try to roll in my head and I just can’t form it in another way. Unless “typo” is not something you do, but something that happens to you.
                “How many typos have I had in the last two days?”
                Which makes sense. Damn.

                And I might be wrong about the typos themselves. I’m not certain if dropping a whole word is technically a typo.

    2. Taellosse says:

      The image that Starkiller’s droid uses when reciting her bio is in a proper uniform. I think she gets to wear a more relaxed outfit because she’s on special assignment/detached duty, and isn’t officially working for the Empire anymore.

      Of course, I’m trying to backfill a justification into what is essentially “we must at least hint at cleavage for the female character, or all the sex-crazed male teenagers that buy this game will grow bored.”

  10. Gary says:

    You misspelled Amidala wrong in the comic.

    –Your friendly neighborhood grammar-whore/Star Wars geek

    1. Mari says:

      Yes, but “misspelled X wrong” is itself a double negative, thus negating your Grammar Nazi status ;-)

      1. Sumanai says:

        Shouldn’t it make him a hypocrite?

      2. Pickly says:

        Or it might mean that he attempted to spell something in a way that was wrong, but typoed or misspelled that, thus adding back his/her grammar nazi status until someone else comes up with another pedantic twist to grammar logic.

        (and I almost spelled someone wrong in this post. :) )

  11. Johan says:

    I must say, I recently played Knights of the Old Republic for the first time, and as soon as I got my lightsabre I started thinking back to your dueling gameplay post. The only problem I found was how you would do it if the fight wasn’t 1v1, but 3v1 or 3v7 or whatever KOTOR tends to throw at you. I would guess that you’d get a bonus for flanking them, but you need to have the person being attacked on all sides animated blocking each attack, so you need to have animations for blocking an attack in front, to his left and right, behind, and what if two attacks come at the same time? Instakill, or how does the animation handle it? It’s not as simple as it seems [/ponder]

    Also, when I was a kid (more recently), we talked about who would win between Batman with a Green Lantern Ring and X. Comic crossovers were fun.

    1. Atarlost says:

      [dubious justification]
      If in the KoTOR era they bother manufacturing lightsabre resistant vibroblades I’m sure they put the same stuff in their armor. You’re not actually cutting through your enemy at all, you’re just heating up the armor with your lightsabre until it causes burns.
      [/dubious justification]

      1. Sumanai says:

        That’s actually a pretty good justification.

        1. Will says:

          That’s the reason why those big black Stormtrooper Droid things are so indestructible; they’re basically made out of that material (the name of which escapes me).

          1. Arquinsiel says:

            Cortosis weaves were everywhere in that game. There was also the shields which blocked various energy types, the simplest being “Laser and your Saber, IE: everything useful.”

            Also I like to pretend that everyone is using this:

    2. Mari says:

      The answer is Batman. The answer has always been and will always be Batman. This is because Batman is the single most awesome being in the known universe. Also because Batman does not enter a fight he can not win until he figures out a way to win it, being a brilliant strategist and all. This is, of course, pre-Knightfall, although I’m inclined to ignore all the Knightfall nonsense anyway but that’s the way it is with hopeless fangirls like me.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Isn’t there a de-motivator with a picture of a Green Lantern Batman with the text “Overpowered”?

        Right, found it:

        1. Old_Geek says:

          There’s no such thing as overpowered. That’s why the US has enough nukes to destroy the world seven times over.,

          1. BeamSplashX says:

            We’re saving them for an inevitable X-COM scenario, of course.

        2. Gabriel Mobius says:

          Actually, I know the comic that’s from, and it’s misleading. In that Green Lantern comic, they showed that Batman can’t use the ring. He not only has the same ‘cynical will’ as Green Arrow, but he’s also full of too much fear to wield it even remotely. When he puts it on, it senses the potential for him overcoming great fear, and Hal talks him through accepting its help. At which point, he wusses out and clings to his dead parents, willingly embracing his fear and causing the ring to immediately fizzle.
          Now, when the Sinestro Corps ring searched out the next most fear causing being in 8214, it of course went immediately for Bats.

          [/Green Lantern nerd]

      2. silver says:

        “who would win between Batman with a Green Lantern Ring and X.”
        Batman doesn’t need the ring to beat X, for any value of X. As the poster says, Batman _with_ the ring is ridiculous. Power Overwhelming.

        Weird. Haven’t read any DCU in like a decade and part of me still responds to that poster with “I hope that cover is from a what-if and not part of the regular canon, because it’s wrong to both characters.” You’d think I wouldn’t care anymore.

        1. Sumanai says:

          If I’ve understood correctly, it’s from a What-if where Batman found the Green Lantern Ring instead of whoever.
          Interestingly, I found the picture in a versus post, linky:

    3. Sumanai says:

      First: the D&D system is itself turn-based, so technically it shouldn’t be too difficult to make it so that enemies attack in visible turns. Although, if you’re surrounded, you’re essentially against a wall so can’t back off, and getting attacked constantly. Fast focus drain, so you’d be dead meat in seconds.

      But if a game has a more realistic/serious take on combat, that means that encounters should have the same treatment. Which means less enemies, both per fight and in general. So most easy fights could be 3 vs 2 and normal fights 3 vs 3. Naturally ganging up on someone would mean that one’s doom, barring abilities and powers.
      Most of the challenge should come from powerful individual enemies instead of large groups.
      One solution would be to have most of the màªlée fights be 1-on-1 boss fights with sith or jedi, with the rest being ranged combat.

      But I don’t think that Shamus’ system works for KotOR’s more hands-off gameplay. KotOR feels inherently stiff, which doesn’t really fit a more action based combat system. I planned a more stiff one to fit with the D&D system while reading Shamus’ one, but I don’t think it’s any good.

    4. Amarsir says:

      I’m pretty sure my Jedi Guardian was one-shotting most things by the later levels. Problem solved.

      (By one-shotting I mean one-rounding. If you slice them 5 times before they hit the ground, who’s to say what shape they were in after the first two?)

      1. Sumanai says:

        You evil power playing bastard.

  12. DaveMc says:

    I said it at The Escapist, and I’ll say it again here: Great comic!

  13. Polecat says:

    Okay, the Motorcycle will be around, but I doubt it’ll be too common. About 15K is the MINIMUM price you’ll see it for sale, and then the engineer who built it is at a loss. As an engineer that can build it, let me explain the pain it is to do it:

    Step 1: Be exalted with the overarching groups in Northrend. This is the easy part, as if you just keep questing after you ding 80, you’ll get it

    Step 2: Buy the way overpriced “recipe”. The thing itself costs a few thousand gold.

    Step 3: Collect some Titansteel bars. I’d have to power up my WoW account to remember how many, but Titansteel is a Mining cooldown. At first it was on a several day cooldown (I think 3), but when I got around to building it, it was on a 24 hour cooldown. Now given how many bars are require,d this puts minimum building time at a week to a week and a half…. and that’s assuming you get enough ore, which is extremely rare itself.

    Step 4: Catch up with the goblin vendor in K-12 9I think that’s the name of the place) where he can sell you one of a LIMITED NUMBER of items to add to it. He restocks daily, but 2 of the items he only holds 1 of. And you need 8 pistons, which he charges 1K apiece for. This means that about 12K or so is right off the bat forced by the vendor, and if other engineers are trying to build the cycle as well, then you’re competing for the limited parts too, which can add additional time to the building costs.

    Step 5: With all the parts together, actually build the danged thing. That’s the easy part, and you’re given a key for your hard work.

    I’ve only been willing to make one from all that, and it took me 2-3 months to collect the gold and parts together to build it. I tried to sell it first, but no one took it (And my sale price would have given me a very lean 1K profit for all my work) so I used it myself with my engineer. At this point, I’m not even willing to CONSIDER building additional ones for my alts. That was like pulling teeth for me.

    – Polecat

  14. Rayen says:

    in all honesty; princess leia or senator amidala?

    1. Tizzy says:

      Leia. Without a doubt.

        1. Any Twi’lek. Sorry, but it’s true.

          1. Sumanai says:

            I didn’t know Twi’lek were that powerful.

    2. thebigJ_A says:

      Leia would KILL Amidala in a duel!


      1. Axle says:

        Di’dn’t Leia killed Amidala at birth?

        I don’t think it’s a fair fight killing a woman after giving birth to twins….

  15. Gandaug says:

    Excellent comic. Punchline wasn’t telegraphed three frames before the actual comic started and it was actually funny.

  16. (LK) says:

    Pirates of the Burning Sea uses a system like this for swordfights.

    There is a bar to measure to defense of a combatant, and a refilling bar metering their reserve of stamina for attacks.

    It actually replaces an old system which used HP and required you to perform special attacks to build up your focus instead of requiring it to make attacks.

  17. Talorc says:

    Damn funny, particularly the bit about the wookie and as it slowly dawns on the guy just what the “Princess Leia” answer means.. ;-)

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