Knights of the Old Replay: Kashyyyk

Back when I was a wee child, one of the first Star Wars books I ever read was Young Jedi Knights: Darkest Knight, which takes place primarily on Kashyyyk. Ever since, I’ve though the planet was super cool. It’s a city in the trees with very natural architecture and also a killer under-forest. Only the bravest can go down to the Shadowlands and return alive. Obviously that includes us.

When you have a wookiee in your party and you go to Kashyyyk, obviously he’s going to have some family drama that you need to deal with because that’s just how this works. Zaalbar is no exception to the rule. It turns out that he was exiled from his home for attacking his brother with his claws, which is apparently super terrible amongst his society. To be fair, he did it because his brother was dealing with Czerka slavers but no one believed him. Now his brother’s in control and holds Zaalbar hostage and sends you down to the Shadowlands to deal with this other crazed wookiee… who happens to be their father. (Family drama: not just limited to Skywalkers!) Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Tatooine

Anakin Skywalker was right: I hate sand. It’s rough and it’s coarse and it gets everywhere and the sands of Tatooine LITERALLY NEVER END. That’s what the game tells you if you try and go outside the Czerka boundary markers. You’ll just wander the desert wasteland and die if you keep going. (Note: The game does not let you keep going.)

Every single time I start this game, I tell myself that I’m going to change up the order of the planets and every single time, I go to them in basically the exact same order. Is it because of the story? Nah. (Okay it is for one planet.) It’s because I really want to get the crew members from certain planets as soon as possible. Why on earth would I go to Manaan first when I could maximize my time with HK-47?
Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Dantooine

Dantooine… they’re on Dantooine… parts of the Jedi Council are at least. Honestly, I always forget how much I love this planet because it is so completely and utterly ridiculous at times. Take this woman Elisa. She wants you to find her droid because it’s all she has left of her dead husband. One problem: the droid ran away because she was treating him a little too much like her dead husband. Yeah. It’s exactly what your brain went to and it makes me laugh every time.

The real point of Dantooine though is for you to be accepted into the Jedi Order and learn to use the Force because you and Bastila have some sort of connection and some super weird dreams about Darth Revan. (In retrospect, my 14-year-old self should have picked up on this foreshadowing way sooner but more on that later.) This means that you’ve got to study the Jedi way of life, their code, make your lightsaber, and decide what class of Jedi you want to be. I used to go for Sentinel but then I realized that I just want more of those sweet, sweet Force powers so Consular it is! It’ll be a cold day in hell before I go for Guardian.

There’s one final test before they make you an official padawan: you must cleanse the ancient grove of the dark side taint. Or something like that. This is flashing warning sign number one that the Jedi Order is kind of screwed up. You have to redeem a Jedi padawan named Juhani who fell to the dark side after her own master was testing her and made Juhani think that she’d killed her. It’s kinda messed up. Incidentally, that’s a good tagline for the Jedi Order. Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Taris

When I started this project, I had magical dreams about being able to use Twitch to livestream my game play and/or maybe recording videos of my playing and editing them into highlights. Unfortunately, then I remembered that I don’t actually have the technological abilities to make those things happen so uhhhh… gold star I tried?

On the other hand, it’s actually a good thing that you didn’t get to watch me play the game with the exception of those of you who tuned in for a little bit during my very early game play via Instagram. I die a lot. Now before you pull out your pitchforks, let me explain. For some reason, I like playing the game on the hardest setting which is still not terribly hard. Where I throw in the real challenge though is by leveling up my character as little as possible on Taris. What does that mean? It means that my Level 3 Kassia Ettyk dies a lot and poor Carth Onasi has to compensate by frantically shooting people and also dying a lot. (Seriously though: she’s supposed to be like a Level 7 or so by now.) Why do I do this? So I can get more Jedi powers once I go to Dantooine.

The initial levels of a game are often painfully slow no matter what but after almost a year of playing Mass Effect religiously, KOTOR’s older mechanics really suffered in comparison. (It also didn’t help that I’m switching from a PS3 to my laptop.) You’re setting up your actions about 4 moves in advance and you can also switch to actually fight as one of your crewmembers. (That last part is actually pretty nice… it helps me die a lot less.) The downside is that it feels a lot slower and less exciting. Getting off the Republic ship just made me want to take a nap until it was over. (Literally no one cares about you, Trask.)

Thankfully, things get a lot more interesting once you crash on the planet because now you and Carth Onasi (my boyfriend!) have to figure a way off Taris and then past the Sith blockade. This involves a lot of running around the Upper and Lower City levels, breaking into apartments, and either helping people or being a massive jerk to them depending on whether you’re being a light sider or dark sider. There’s approximately zero nuance involved with the light/dark choices. I think that’s why I never had a problem playing as dark side because you’re evil to such a comical extent that I never felt like a total jerk. Also the powers were cool.

Because I just wanted this planet to end, I skipped doing all the death ring battle matches this time around and I definitely didn’t play Pazaak with anyone. Instead, I just killed a Sith soldier, stole his armor, went down into the really Lower City, tried to avoid getting infected by these creepy Rakghouls, and then dived right into the sewers. Along the way, I picked up/rescued Mission Vao and Zaalbar to help me break into one gang’s base so I could steal back a prototype engine and give it back to another gang who let me ride the swoop bike so I could win a race and rescue Jedi Knight Bastila Shan. And all of that sounds way more convoluted when I actually write it out. Wow.

But wait there’s more! I also teamed up with Canderous Ordo to acquire an astromech droid (T3-M4) so I could break into the Sith base and steal codes and then we stole a ship from some crime lord and blasted our way off the planet while Darth Malak tried to bomb it into oblivion. (Nice try, buddy. Come back when you’ve got a Death Star.) Thankfully, I’m finally off Taris and have made my way to Dantooine.

One of my favorite things about this game is getting to know your crewmates and that kicks off almost from minute one. Carth has more trust issues than any one man really should but he also flirts with my player character and calls her beautiful so it all evens out really. I also love his interactions with Mission and Bastila that are randomly triggered as we run around the city. Mission and Carth clash because she’s a teenager pushing back against authority and Carth and Bastila clash because… she lost her lightsaber? Actually that last one’s just funny. If I didn’t play favorites, I’m sure that I would have encountered more of these conversations already but… well… Listen: I just know which crewmembers I really like, okay? Curse you Bioware for only letting me take two with me at a time!

Taris may have been a bit of a drag but I’m hoping that things will pick up now that I’ve made it to Dantooine and can get cool Jedi powers! I’m readjusting to the older game mechanics and the story’s more fun now. And hey! Maybe I’ll even remember to take screenshots while I’m actually playing this time…

Knights of the Old Replay: The Cosplay Interlude

So listen. There was a plan. There was a great plan when I started this series that I was going to play the first game in January and casually work on my Visas Marr costume for Celebration at the same time. That? That went out the window around the time when I decided, “Hey what if I made the costume in time for Katsucon in February and got it 501st approved by then too?”

We’ll just consider this an interlude. All the cool writing projects have them now, right?

I’ve loved Visas ever since I first played the second KOTOR game over a decade ago because 1) Rule of Cool and 2) I just really liked her character and backstory. I think I played favorites with her, Atton, Mandalore, and HK-47 once I got the latter two. Visas has been on cosplay wish list for at least five years now and when I discovered during Dragon Con that some of my friends were still as into the KOTOR games as me… honestly, it was meant to be. (If only you could have seen the aggressive high fives that kept occurring that weekend once we decided to do this group for Celebration and Dragon Con next year…)

One of the best things about making a costume with the intent of submitting it to the 501st is that breakdown your research is done for you. You just have to look up the CRL, study the breakdown intensely, and then go from there. It’s just a matter of finding everything and making it. That’s the real struggle. Thankfully, I lucked out with finding my fabrics. For the leather, I already knew from a previous project that JoAnn’s carried one that would work and for the red, my magical fabric warehouse place came through and gave me what I needed for a good price. Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Demon and War

How to make yourself finally commit to going through all the omnibuses of a comic you’ve really wanted to read: do a project! I’m glad that I finally went through these because it was definitely a treat! But hey… there are two more story arcs to talk about!

Demon
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Brian Ching, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

A lot happens in this arc. Like… A LOT. Or rather… maybe it would be more appropriate to say that we learn about a hell of a lot in this arc. Demon, despite not being the actual last arc in these omnibuses, was the last arc in the original KOTOR comic run which lasted 50 issues. If you know comics, you know that’s a solidly respectable run especially for something that’s not creator owned.

All of this, however, is beside the point. It turns out that Rohlan has actually been Demagol since Flashpoint and Demagol is actually Antos Wyrick (aka one of the teachers at the school Jarael attended before she was captured) and the REAL Rohlan has been in a coma in the custody of the Republic who believe that he’s Demagol. Everyone still with me? Good because there were a few minutes while reading where even I got lost. I knew there wasn’t something quite right about Rohlan though! I just knew it. He was too creepy even amongst the other creepy men in Jarael’s life. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, DARTH SQUIGGLYPANTS.) Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Faithful Execution through Destroyer

Back when I first started this project, I thought that I’d read through most of these comics way back in the day. Turns out I was definitely wrong because I’ve remembered absolutely nothing since they took down the crazy cabal and even some from before that. (I may have been a little bit rubbish about keeping up with and reading Star Wars comics back in my younger days.) But hey! That’s part of what makes this project fun! I’m getting to experience stuff that’s both brand new and stuff that I know like the back of my hand.

Faithful Execution
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Dean Zachary, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Faithful Execution does a lot to reset the board, so to speak. Actually, I feel like it does even more to do so than Prophet Motive did and Dean Zachary’s art has a lot to do with that since it’s so visually distinctive from the other work we’ve seen in this book. It’s a relatively small-scale murder mystery story but it does a lot to reup the overall story’s intrigue. Now I really want to know more about Zayne’s vacation and what the heck is going on with Jarael.

More importantly though… someone needs to give Elbee a hug.
Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Exalted through Prophet Motive

There is a slight chance that you will be able to tell how tired I was when I wrote this column. Just a slight one. But that should definitely not detract from my unbridled enthusiasm for some of these issues because hot damn, KOTOR! Hot damn!

Exalted
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Bong Dazo, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Another one bites the dust DUN DUN Another one bites the dust DUN DUN Another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust!

See your way out of that one, Feln! Actually, it should have been pretty easy… common sense says that blowing up a giant warehouse full of Sith objects isn’t a great idea if you’re going for a contained explosion.

The crazy busy pages seem to be Bong Dazo’s niche for this book. None of the other artists on this book manage to capture the chaos of a fight quite like he can. It’s starting to feel like his trademark.

I really don’t have much to say about this arc. Maybe it’s because I read it while stuck in a never-ending loop of Christmas hold music and my brain just went numb. That’s probably it. No wait! I do want to point out that letting Lucien on the Council is just Dumb with a capital D no matter what Vrook and Vandar think they’re being oh so clever about.

Okay, now I’m done. Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Daze of Hate through Vector

One of the fun things about doing this retrospective is that a creator just might pop his head up with some commentary. Last post, I mentioned that Days of Fear/Nights of Anger felt like one big story. Turns out that they are! Those two arcs plus the first two I’m covering in this post are just all one big story split into bite sized chunks for the retailers. (Thank you to the esteemed John Jackson Miller for this insight!) It’s a shame that the entire story couldn’t be in the same omnibus but that’s the way of comics, I suppose.

Daze of Hate
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Bong Dazo, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not— damnit. Here’s the thing: I’m fairly sure that I didn’t have any strong, ship feelings about these two when I first read this comic. I don’t know what changed now unless JJM has some magical ability to go back in time after making me fall for Hera/Kanan to make me fall for another ship? (I used to live such a happy ship-free life, kids.)

Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Homecoming through Nights of Anger

The Awful Adventures of Zayne Carrick continue and, well, we actually get a really neat mixture of stories and character backstories. I might be doing this whole thing backwards though because I’m pretty sure I wrote the most about the shortest arc this time around. Oh well?

On with the KOTOR!

Homecoming
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Brian Ching, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Homecoming is really the only thing that this standalone issue could have been called. Lucien and the other Masters return to Coruscant to report back to both the Jedi Council and their manipulators: Lucien’s own mother (Krynda) and Haazen (a failed padawan.) We get a hell of a lot of backstory and our very first encounter with the person who will become Revan! Continue reading