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May 112016
 

As much as I enjoyed the Animaniacs TV series, why not try the video game based on it. In Animaniacs for the Super NES, Pinky and the Brain stole a movie script from Warner Bros. Studios as a means to take over the world. CEO Thaddeus Plotz assigns the Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot to get it back. Of course it won’t be easy.

As you go through each stage focused on a particular genre (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adventure, and Aquatic), before going up against Pinky and the Brain in the editing room, you fight your way past different obstacles and enemies, most of which cannot be killed. Mainly since the only attack any of the Warners have is a dash attack.

The most common enemy is Ralph the security guard. He may be bumbling on the show, but in this game he is hard to dodge. No matter how many times you dash attack Ralph, he will never let up. More importantly, if you don’t get Ralph at just the right angle, he will get you every time.

The Warners do have some other cool skills like the three of them can stack up onto each other’s shoulders to reach high platforms. However, my biggest concern is that the Warners cannot take any damage. After one hit, a Warner is captured and you have to start the stage all over with the others.

If the one-hit deaths aren’t bad enough, there are also stages where the screen moves too fast. If you miss even once, you’re faced with the same problem. The best example is at the beginning of the Fantasy Stage, where the Warners ride broomsticks past trees blocking the pathway. It’s just like the Turbo Tunnel on Battletoads, or the Quarry on the Cutthroat Island game. Those kinds of levels are frustrating if you’re not perfect.

As you collect coins, there are opportunities to get continues and other bonuses. However, it’s completely random as a slot machine automatically goes off while you play. The biggest flaw with having continues is that you don’t get to continue the level with all three Warners. You only get one and the only way to leave the stage is to get through it with one Warner. That doesn’t sound right.

On the plus side, there is an opportunity to get the captured Warners back by going up the water tower. You ride a platform up while dodging vultures and Ralph with a hose. You can get a glimpse of the Good Feathers on your way up.

Speaking of other characters, Animaniacs regulars like Mindy and Buttons, Rita and Runt, Dr. Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse, and the Mime make walkthrough appearances as you play, which is pretty neat.

Each area also has a boss, but they are also tough to get around even if you know the strategy to beat them. Some of the bosses include Count Dracula and Captain Mel, who were only featured in one episode.

Animaniacs is an interesting game with easy control and good music, but man is it hard. On top of constantly dodging fast enemies, you also have to search the stages for pieces of the movie script, which was separated into 24 pages. I liked the story behind the game, but I would rather watch the TV show for it has more laughs.

Mar 282014
 

Among the many stars I met at MegaCon this year was voice actor Rob Paulsen. He has had a ton of great characters over the years, many of which I grew up with. It was so awesome to have met him. Here are some of these classic characters.

Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (80s version): As we all know, Raph is the rebellious turtle with the Sais, but this version is different. He is actually comedic and often uses rude wisecracks when either faced with danger or tolerating dumb situations. Since this is the main version of TMNT I grew up watching, I was surprised that this take on Raph’s persona didn’t happen in any other version.

Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 version): Of course, he’s the inventive genius turtle with a Bo staff. This version of Don is different than most. For starters, he has a gap in his mouth and there’s no mention of how he lost that tooth. Don is also in love with April, but nobody thinks the relationship will ever work. Is it because April is a human and Don isn’t?

Arthur from The Tick (90s version): He was once an accountant before he became the Tick’s sidekick. Although Arthur is often timid and can’t fight his moth suit allows him to fly and he’s also more sensible than the Tick. He’s a devoted sidekick, but somehow I just don’t see Arthur going solo.

Caped Chameleon from The Tick (90s version): This superhero is one of my most favorites in the series. He can walk on walls like Spiderman and blend with any color surface or object except plaid. It’s hilarious when that happens. He still makes a good ally. Unfortunately, he’s not featured often in the series.

Yakko from Animaniacs: He’s the oldest of the Warner siblings and is very witty. He’s quick with a joke and his most common wisecrack is, “Good night, everybody.” Yakko says it whenever a situation is on the verge of being inappropriate. I used to not understand that.

Pinky from Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain: This lab mouse is the Brain’s imbecilic sidekick that’s the comic relief of a world domination plan. Brain often clobbers Pinky when he says something dumb. That mainly occurs when Brain asks, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” Then Pinky’s answer is something completely unrelated.

Dr. Otto Von Scratchansniff from Animaniacs: He’s a psychologist of the stars. With the Warner siblings as his most common patients, Dr. Scratchansniff is the main adult they drive crazy. He is close with the Warners and eventually he becomes their father figure. Unfortunately, the Warners’ antics caused him to rip out all of his hair. He also never takes off his glasses. Why do you suppose that is?

Bobble from Tinkerbell franchise: This is one of the tinker fairies that work with Tinkerbell. He’s a nearsighted inventor that’s both refined and smart. What really stands out is that Bobble always wears goggles with water drops as lenses. How do they stay in there, and how does that really help his sight?

Corky from Snorks: This Snork Patrol officer is a dedicated defender that can play a fanfare with his snork, but tends to be a workaholic. Still, it makes you glad that he’s on the side of good. At one point, I thought he sounded a lot like Ninjor from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it turns out that it’s not the same voice actor.

Gusto Gummi from Gummi Bears: He’s an artistic Gummi Bear that lived alone on a desert island for 12 years. In season three, he and his pet toucan Arty join up with the other Gummi Bears. Sometimes Gusto takes his art a little too seriously and forgets what’s important, but his heart is always in the right place.

Hard Drive from SWAT Kats: This colorful villain has a surge coat that allows him to smoothly and easily travel through anything electrical and can absorb data like a vacuum. Without it, he’s just a common thief. There’s no mention of how Hard Drive acquired that surge coat, but he is hard to catch when he has it on.

DECKS from Wake, Rattle and Roll: He’s a robot entirely made from audio/video equipment and the name DECKS is an acronym for Digital Electronic Cassette-headed Kinetic System. DECKS’s persona is much like a surfer, which makes him likable. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he can also show cartoons at anytime, but there is a limit of two per episode.

Gladstone Gander from Ducktales: If there’s one character that represents the phrase “Lucky Duck”, it’s Gladstone. He relies on his luck to get through life because good things always happen to him, no matter the situation. The most common situations involve money since he has none. However, Gladstone is no gambler. His luck includes winning contests and raffles, as well as finding money on the street. Even though Gladstone only appeared in two Ducktales episodes, I heard that he was a popular character in the Donald Duck comics along with Scrooge McDuck and Magica de Spell.

How’s that for a list? Do any of you have favorites you’d like to mention?

Feb 222013
 

Welcome back. Animaniacs (1993-1998) has a huge ensemble of characters. So far I have gone over the Warner siblings, Slappy Squirrel, the Goodfeathers, and Pinky and the Brain. Here are the rest of the reoccurring characters.

First there’s Rita and Runt, a couple of stray animals looking for a home and never succeed. Rita is a singing cat and Runt is an unintelligent dog, who thinks Rita is a dog. Whenever Rita corrects him, saying that she is a cat, Runt asks where the cat is so he can beat it up. What’s also interesting about Runt is that he talks like the Sewer Urchin from The Tick, when he constantly says, “Definitely”.

Next we have Buttons the dog. This segment is always so repetitive with the same basic story. Buttons takes care of Mindy, who is a little girl that always wanders off and addresses her mother as “Lady” and her father as “Mr. Man”, because she’s not very bright. Even though Buttons always saves Mindy from impending danger, he always gets the shaft from her parents. If only they knew the truth.

Then there are the Hip Hippos. Flavio and Marita are a wealthy Spanish hippo couple obsessed with being trendy. Sometimes they get into dangerous situations without realizing it, but never suffer any harm. It’s usually whoever is with them that does.

A very unusual character is Chicken Boo. He imitates humans with even the tiniest disguises, like a beard or a hat, and somehow easily fools everyone except for one person until the disguise falls off. How does Chicken Boo do it without having the ability to speak?

Minerva Mink is an attractive mink, who can easily drive males wild in love just by looking at her. However, she only likes attractive males who cause her to go wildly in love. Talk about superficial.

Katie Ka-Boom is a teenage girl, who lives with a nice family. But when Katie gets angry, she becomes a She-Hulk. There’s no mention on how Katie acquired this skill, but once it’s all over all her dad can say is, “She’ll grow out of it.” Yeah, right. What Katie needs is anger management.

Last but not least, there are the two silent characters. Mr. Skullhead is a skeleton that’s featured in a reoccurring segment called Good Idea/Bad Idea. He demonstrates a beneficial good idea, then a slightly altered bad idea, which has disastrous results. Whenever I see the good idea, the bad idea is something I would never expect. For example, “Good Idea: Doing your own yard work. Bad Idea: Doing your own dental work.” It never ceases to amaze me.

The other silent character is a mime in a reoccurring segment called Mime Time. He does a simple mime technique and it comes to life, maiming him. For instance, the mime climbs an imaginary mountain and real boulders that come out of nowhere crush him.

Animaniacs is without a doubt a timeless classic, even though I still tend to remember it as the show that always came on right before Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Still, you gotta love those Warners.

Feb 192013
 

Another classic series from the 90s was Animaniacs (1993-1998), which is about three mischievous toon children called the Warners, who live at the Warner Bros. movie studio. They are Yakko the witty smart aleck, Wakko who isn’t too bright and always has a huge appetite, and Dot their cute and sassy sister. Together they run amok and drive everyone they meet crazy with their hilarious antics.

The main adults the Warners drive crazy are Thadius Plotz the studio CEO, Dr. Scratchansniff the studio psychologist, Ralph the security guard, and Hello Nurse the beautiful nurse that Yakko and Wakko always fawn over. I can’t say I blame them.

Sometimes before the theme song, there’s a brief prologue about the Warners. It’s revealed that they were created back in 1930, which makes sense since their appearances do remind me of the types of cartoons from that time period.

After making many films, which made no sense, the Warners were locked away in the studio water tower for over 60 years. Oddly they haven’t aged a bit. Then again, cartoon characters never age. However, I still get confused sometimes when the Warners visit different time periods and meet historical figures like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Michaelangelo. The Warners are still the same age even then, unless they used a time machine that we don’t know about.

This series also features an ensemble of other characters with reoccurring segments. Come to think of it, this marks one of the largest cast of characters I have ever seen in a cartoon series, next to Looney Tunes. It’s so clever when these assorted characters run through each other’s segments.

Image result for slappy squirrel

Let’s start with Slappy Squirrel. She may be a curmudgeon, but she knows comedy when it comes to using high explosives and anvils. Slappy’s nephew Skippy lives with her and is best known for saying “Spew!” when he hears something gross. I always found that funny.

Pinky and the Brain are two laboratory mice from Acme Labs that are always intent on world domination. The Brain is highly intelligent and Pinky is the exact opposite. Every one of their plans always end in failure, mostly because of Pinky’s foolishness. Later on, Pinky and the Brain had their own spin-off series from 1995-1998. Not too shabby.

Then there are the Goodfeathers, which are a trio of pigeons that spoof characters from the movie Goodfellas. Bobby is the tough leader. Pesto is short-tempered, which makes him hard to talk to because he always takes everything the wrong way. And Squit is the optimist that always wears a grin. He also narrates each Goodfeathers segment with, “As far back as I can remember…”

Even though these three are a team of gangster-like birds, they often argue with one another. The most common confrontation is when Pesto goes berserk when Squit gives him an innocent complement that always seems to come off as an unintentional insult. I can’t help but feel sorry for Squit because he’s always the victim of Pesto’s temper. You’d think that Bobby would break up these fights, but he all he does is stand by and laugh. I don’t see what makes that so funny.

The true boss of the Goodfeathers is the Godpigeon, who is based on The Godfather. He always speaks in a strange language. How does Bobby always know what he’s saying?

Sorry to cut this short, but like I said. The cast of characters is huge. Check my blog for Part 2 to hear about the rest of the Animaniacs.