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Mar 282012
 

One of the first Simpsons video games for the Super NES was The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare. For a “newer” video game console, this title already sounds interesting compared to some of the older Simpsons games for the NES.

The story begins with Bart doing his homework and falling asleep. Suddenly, all eight pages of his homework fly out the window and Bart has to rescue them from his nightmarish dream world that’s filled with unusual, but very familiar beings.

Once you arrive in the central area called Windy World, you’ll have to search for the homework papers moving around the ground with the wind blowing. While doing so, you’ll have to keep your Z’s meter up by dodging enemies and collecting items all around. Once you find a paper, jump in.

Each paper has a different level inside. It’s usually random which level you’ll be going to, but the colors of the doors make it easier to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

The blue door leads to a superhero level. As Bartman, you fly through the sky with unlimited ammo in your slingshot. Many things try to kill you from killer clouds to missiles launched from below. (Who could be launching them?) There are also five bosses to face. They include the twins in a hot air balloon, Barney on a pink elephant that flies and shoots beer nuts, Smithers in a small missile blimp (twice), and Mr. Burns in a biplane. It’s a little disappointing that you only get one paper after all that.

The red door leads to a bloodstream level, where Bart swims around and blows up enemy viruses with a bicycle pump. In order to free the paper from a force field, you must collect six Smiling Joe Fission characters before the viruses get you. The only tough part is dodging the mini bombs they throw. It only takes one to kill you.

The rest of the doors have two stages and papers. The yellow one goes to the world of Itchy & Scratchy, which is a more violent take on Tom & Jerry. Bart watches this cartoon series all the time on the Krusty the Clown Show. Now he’s living it while trying to survive the violent cartoon enemies. Itchy and Scratchy themselves get killed and come back frequently. Personally, I think Itchy is harder to beat, especially when he brings on the bazooka.

The green door leads to a monster level. As Bartzilla, you must destroy enemy tanks, jets, and helicopters to get to a very tall building. The enemies are hard to dodge, so you have to blast them before they get the chance to shoot you.

In the second stage, Bartzilla must climb a very tall building while dodging various objects people throw out the windows. You can climb the side, but the UFO will get you. If that wasn’t tough enough, you must also dodge Marge the giant hornet before getting to Homer Kong at the very top. At least he’s easy to beat.

Come to think of it, I now realize that Marge the hornet is meant to resemble Mothra.

Speaking of Homer, here he is at Universal Studios in 2011.

The orange door leads to the Temple of Maggie, where Indiana Bart must follow four rows of platforms to get through. This is my least favorite level because random platforms are booby-trapped. That makes it frustrating when you don’t know the exact path to take. One little mistake and you die.

This is a good game with interesting adventure. The only thing at stake is Bart’s grade. Oh, the sacrifices one must make just to pass.

Jan 202012
 

Even though Futurama ended in 2003, there have been several straight-to-DVD releases before the series returned in 2010. My most favorite is Futurama: Bender’s Game.

It starts with Leela losing her temper after rednecks insult her. That drives Leela to enter a demolition derby, which featured some creative ships. They include a LEGO ship, an Erector Set ship, and two mini Enterprise ships. One had George Takei’s head (voice of George Takei) and the other had Scott Bakula’s head. This combination was such an interesting parody to classic pop culture.

Meanwhile, Bender manages to develop an imagination while playing the Dungeons & Dragons board game as Titanius Englesmith of Cornwood. Unfortunately, it goes too far. Bender becomes insane and sent to the robot asylum, where we get to see the classic inmates again.

Fans might remember Roberto, the Mad Hatter bot, and the defective vending machine. There was also a bot, which looked like Rosie from The Jetsons. I couldn’t help but notice that her crazy behavior was a lot like from the Jetsons episode when Rosie ate the defective lug nut.

With fuel prices too high, the Planet Express group infiltrates a dark matter mine owned by MOM. It’s real exciting when they fly past the robot guards that blast at the ship. They also end up blasting each other because it’s hard to hear. After that, Fry, Leela, and Professor Farnsworth get inside past some more robot guards and to the heart of the mine.

Okay. The story is interesting so far, but I was expecting more of a fantasy adventure quest like it shows on the cover. Soon, it finally happens. After falling through the Earth, Fry, Leela, and Farnsworth end up in an enchanted world based on Bender’s imagination called Cornwood as different types of epic fantasy characters.

There’s also a dice of power, which is used like on the Dungeons & Dragons game. It’s definitely not a power source you would see in any other Dungeons & Dragons film.

This adventure soon becomes more like a Lord of the Rings quest, only with the dice of power that must be destroyed at the Geysers of Gygax from whence it came.

During the quest, Fry becomes obsessed with the dice of power and acts like Gullom. “Hands off the dodecahelicous,” he says. As Fry talks to his reflection, it becomes like a QVC ad. I found it funny at first, but the gag ran a bit long.

The others gather allies at Wipe Castle, which is appropriate for what it’s based on. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. So now it’s just Bender and his team against the army of orcs. That becomes a real exciting battle, but it’s not over yet.

This was a well-made film. If there’s one thing Fururama is known for, it’s adventurous parodies that I find creative.

Feb 072011
 

The Simpsons are favorites of mine with their brand of humor, but did you know that there was an arcade game based on them? Back in the early 90s, The Simpsons Arcade Game was one of my favorite arcade games to play. Unfortunately, this game has never come to any other video game console like many other games have. What a rip off!

As the story goes, Smithers is a mad bomber, who robs a jewelry store. He comes out, only to run into the Simpsons. A diamond falls into Maggie’s mouth and she sucks on it like a pacifier. Instead of snatching back the diamond, Smithers kidnaps Maggie and it’s up to the other Simpsons to rescue her. That’s where up to four characters can play at once.

The game play is unlike anything you’d find on the series. Bart swings on his skateboard, Lisa uses a jump rope like a whip, Marge pummels enemies with a vacuum cleaner, and Homer fights with his bare fists. Plus they all jump very high. How exciting is that? When a Simpson loses a life, he/she flies back in a superhero costume. (Too bad they don’t get to keep it.) I’m sure that was based on Bart’s popularity at the time as Bartman.

The bosses in this game are also neat. The Simpsons end up fighting tough fighters like a pro wrestler and a ninja master, freaky objects like a giant Krusty balloon and a monstrous bowling ball, and even Mr. Burns in his destructive suit. Seriously, all this over a little diamond? I always thought that Smithers was crazy.

As Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa chase Smithers throughout Springfield, they have to fight their way through all kinds of enemies, most of which are not from the series either.

There are eight stages in this game. Some of them are as creative as they are challenging. And of course the background music on these levels is awesome too. It starts with chasing down Smithers in Downtown Springfield, which totally sets the mood for how exciting the game is.

Next you fly to Krusty Land by balloons. It’s not all fun and games, especially with that giant balloon boss.

After defeating the giant balloon, you fall down to Springfield Discount Cemetery, which has a nice spooky setup and zombies to fight. It also has an open grave with Krusty’s picture on it, which is actually a secret passage to Moe’s Tavern.

You fight an angry drunk at the tavern and ride an elevator up to Springfield Butte. Out in the wilderness you fight a Bear boss and there’s an exciting part where you dive in the river to rescue Maggie, but fall down the waterfall instead.

It doesn’t kill you, but you do end up in Dreamland, where you have to fight your way back to reality. You then catch a lucky break when you find Smithers at the Channel Six TV station, which has three sections. First in the newsroom, a news anchor talks about Maggie and Mr. Burns. Yet he doesn’t notice the action going on in front of his desk. After that is a sci-fi section with robot monsters and a section with ninjas. Once that’s all taken care of, you follow Smithers to the Nuclear Power Plant for a final showdown, but it’s not over yet.

Although The Simpsons did have a widespread of video games over the years, none of them come close to this one. They don’t make arcade games like that anymore. I still don’t understand why this game was never released for a video game console, but it will always be a favorite to me. Thank goodness for YouTube.

Jan 052011
 

With Matt Groening’s success with The Simpsons, he was able to create Futurama (1999-2003), then brought back in 2010-present), which is about a cryogenically frozen delivery boy named Fry, who wakes up in the year 3000 and living his dream. Traveling through space… as a delivery boy working for his elderly nephew Professor Farnsworth. Leela the mutant captain, Bender the comedic robot, Doctor Zoidberg the lobsterman, Amy the attractive intern from Mars, and others accompany Fry on these adventures.

Some of my favorite episodes are the ones when the Planet Express crew finds adventure on other planets. Sometimes it’s a spoof on something else like the Slurm Factory and the planet Nintendu 64. Other times it’s something generic like the planet Amazonia. Those giant women are hilarious. “Me want snoo-snoo!”

Other than Bender, there are plenty of creative robot characters. Some of my favorites include the defective vending machine, the Femputer, and the Mad Hatter bot. “Change places!”

There are also different types of mutants that live in the sewers. Most of which have different body parts in the wrong places. It’s so artistic that each mutant is completely different. This show also features various celebrities’ heads in jars of water. I don’t see how that keeps them alive.

I’d have to say that Futurama is a good creative series of comedy and space travel. One thing I still don’t understand. Why doesn’t reoccurring character Zapp Brannigan ever wear any pants?

Nov 272010
 

The Simpsons fourth album was another TV soundtrack called Go Simpsonic With The Simpsons: Original Music From The Television Series. This one not only had songs from newer episodes, but also older ones that weren’t on The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield. Some of the major highlights include, Homer and Marge singing “Those Were the Days”, which fits perfectly in comparison to the theme from All in the Family, especially Marge’s singing voice. As well as “Canyonero” and “Garbage Man” (Based on “Candy Man”).

Just when I thought The Simpsons discontinued having new music on the series, they had one more called Simpsons: Testify. Highlights from that include Bart singing “Testify” and Weird Al Yankovic singing “Homer and Marge”.

As The Simpsons continue in popularity, I don’t know if they’ll have another album, but these are all favorites, especially if you’re a fan of classic Simpsons.