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Feb 042015
 

One of my most favorite games on the Nintendo Wii U is DuckTales Remastered. If you remember the original NES Ducktales game as well as the animated series from the 80s, this is definitely a game to look forward to.

The object of the NES version was for Scrooge McDuck to travel to five different locations, which are the Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, the Himalayas, and the Moon. Then he collects a treasure after defeating a boss. Afterwards, the treasures get stolen and he must defeat Dracula Duck and race Flintheart Glomgold to the top of a pillar. Then that’s it. The game is beaten.

Ducktales Remastered is basically the same game, but with new additions like two extra levels and an actual plot. A really awesome addition is the voice acting. All of the surviving voice actors from the original Ducktales series reprise their roles. The characters even speak during the game play, which makes it more interesting.

Wendee Lee, who I met at Anime Festival Orlando 2011, voices the role of Mrs. Beakley in place of the late Joan Gerber.

The story starts with the Beagle Boys taking over Scrooge’s money bin. You go through the place, rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and fight Big Time Beagle by clobbering him with a safe on the ceiling before being given the option to select a level. That is an intro that helps the story line make sense.

I’m so glad that each stage has a map screen because in order to proceed forward, you have to find items that are scattered throughout the area. I used to enjoy exploring the stages in the old game to locate hidden gems and it’s certainly paying off here.

After collecting all five treasures, Scrooge must go to the other new stage, which is Magica de Spell’s home on Mount Vesuvious to get back the treasures and his kidnapped nephews to face Dracula Duck. Before it was just the Transylvania level again.

I should point out that among the special unlockable features there’s a section of the music score from both versions of the game. It even includes 8-bit versions of the two additional levels. So maybe they did exist in the old game, but were later removed. Are there any theories on that?

The boss battles are the most exciting. Before it was simple with just five pogo jumps to beat them. Here, only some of the bosses take five hits and the others take more. It also includes random dialogue and more elaborate attacks.

Dracula Duck is the final boss of course, but Magica gives him more power every time he gets pogo jumped on. The effects are amazing. I love it.

Then we have the epic climax. Scrooge must race Glomgold to the top of the mountain, but it’s not just up one chain this time. It’s tricky with the breakable chains and fast rising lava.

This is truly a great Nintendo Wii U game and I’m not just saying that because it’s a 2D-platform game, which is surprisingly a rare type of video game nowadays. It’s so wonderful that a classic franchise was brought back and still stayed true to its precedent. Do you suppose any other classics like Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers may do the same someday?

Aug 132014
 

The Scooby-Doo franchise has certainly evolved over the years. Scooby-Doo: Mask of the Blue Falcon actually goes back to its roots by including the Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. That used to be an old cartoon series from the 70s and the two of them were on the Scooby Doobies team in Laff-A-Lympics, but in this feature Blue Falcon and Dynomutt are portrayed as old comic book characters that also had a TV series.

The Mystery Inc. gang travels to the city of San de Pedro to attend a comic book convention. Shaggy and Scooby are very excited since they are such huge fans of Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. They even made costumes out of string cheese and food coloring. Now that’s just weird.

I go to comic book conventions all the time. They always provide a great atmosphere with posters, pictures, displays, backdrops, and wall hangings of classic characters randomly placed all around. This one has that too and the characters displayed are all from classic Hanna-Barbera franchises. Ones like Space Ghost, Frankenstein Jr., The Jetsons, Atom Ant, Herculoids, Mightor, Yogi Bear, The Impossibles, The Flintstones, Magilla Gorilla, and others. So these characters were really all just fictional in the Scooby-Doo universe, even though some of them did coexist in Laff-A-Lympics with Shaggy and Scooby?

One of the celebrity guests there is Owen Garrison, who played the original Blue Falcon. Now that’s clever because in the actual Dynomutt cartoon series, Laugh In star Gary Owens voiced the Blue Falcon.

The main event Fred looks forward to is the premiere of the new Blue Falcon movie that’s darker and edgier. The leading actor is Brad Adams, who never really watched the original Blue Falcon TV show in order to prepare for the role. Instead he wanted to give the character a clean slate and only sees the Blue Falcon as an enigma. Somehow this reminds me of the comparison between the old Batman series from the 60s and the Batman movies of today.

Meanwhile, Daphne’s desire is to complete her collection of cute stuffed dolls called Littlest Fuzzies. Man, I have never seen her get so obsessed over anything.

I met Grey Delisle, who was the voice of Daphne, at AFO 2012.

However, Velma isn’t thrilled to be at the convention at all. Her only interest is the mystery going on about a monster terrorizing the place. This is no ordinary monster though. It’s the Blue Falcon’s archenemy Mr. Hyde, who is a creature of chaos. Mr. Hyde wasn’t in the new movie, but he was in the old TV series. That’s why Shaggy and Scooby know about him so well.

As the Mystery Inc. gang gets on the case, Shaggy and Scooby are the most knowledgeable and take the mystery more seriously than they usually do. However, the number one suspect is Owen Garrison because he tried to revive the Blue Falcon and every studio turned him down. And with the new movie version out, Mr. Garrison’s fan base has disappeared. He keeps going on and on about it. It seems obvious, but Shaggy and Scooby refuse to accept that because they still believe in the original Blue Falcon. They even found other suspects, yet Fred, Daphne, and Velma still think Mr. Garrison is Mr. Hyde. Can you believe it?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Severin the writer/producer/director of the new Blue Falcon movie takes advantage of all the publicity involving the Mr. Hyde attacks. What I couldn’t help but notice is that she believes that her movies should have less story line and be more about blowing things up since that’s where the money is.

This was a great movie with a modernized collaboration of Hanna-Barbera nostalgia. Even the opening credits feature some of the ghosts from the classic Scooby-Doo series. If you’re a fan of classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, be sure to observe the backgrounds and cosplayers closely.

 

Sep 272013
 

Like many of you, video games have been a big part of my life growing up with iconic characters that are still popular even today. Wreck-It Ralph provides a whole new perspective of that world. Who would’ve thought that after the arcade closes every night, the characters of every game come together and can travel to different game worlds, thanks to a public transportation area called Game Central Station. I haven’t seen anything like that since Captain N: The Game Master.

There are quite a few classic video game characters featured from franchises like Street Fighter, PAC-Man, Q-Bert, Sonic the Hedgehog, Frogger, Dig Dug, even King Bowser makes an appearance. However, this movie is not about any of them. It’s about Wreck-it Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) the villain of Fix-it Felix Jr., who wants to be a good guy because he feels lonely and unappreciated. In a way, this game reminds me of classic Donkey Kong.

At Anime Festival Orlando 2012, I met Kyle Hebert who voiced Ryu from Street Fighter.

Ralph isn’t alone though. Other video game villains can relate to how he feels. Can you believe that they actually have a support group for these guys?

The hero of Fix-it Felix Jr. of course is Fix-it Felix Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), who has jumping ability much like the Mario brothers and a magic hammer that can easily fix anything as good as new. Although Felix and Ralph are enemies in their game, there’s no real hatred between them, but the other characters are another matter.

Ralph is now determined to win their respect by getting a medal, but since only heroes can earn medals, he goes to a military sci-fi shooter game called Hero’s Duty. There he must fight Cy-bugs and climb the tower, which isn’t easy. The Cy-bugs become whatever they consume and unlike other video game villains, these creepy bugs are wild monsters. The only way to control them is with a giant beacon that works like a giant bug zapper.

Ralph does get the medal, but it doesn’t go smoothly. He accidentally brings a Cy-bug with him as he ends up in Sugar Rush, which is a go-kart racing game in a world made of candy and ice cream. The racers inside this game remind me of the characters from Strawberry Shortcake.

One major issue for video game characters is that if they are caught out of their game, the players will think the game is broken and will possibly end up unplugged. To keep that from happening, Felix goes to find Ralph along with Sargent Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) the hero of Hero’s Duty. She is one tough chick, but I think it’s cute that Felix has fallen in love with her.

Meanwhile, Ralph meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) who is one of the racers in Sugar Rush, but is also a glitch. She steals Ralph’s medal and he’s determined to get it back, but after seeing a whole different side to Vanellope, they become friends.

A common term mentioned throughout the movie is “Going Turbo”. At first I thought it had something to do with Street Fighter 2 Turbo, but it isn’t until much later on when the meaning is finally revealed. Years ago there was a racing game called Turbo Time and the hero Turbo loved the popularity. Then when another racing game came along, Turbo got so jealous he snapped, which led to both games getting unplugged for good. No one has seen Turbo since, but he sure left his mark in the arcade community.

This is by far one of the most creative films I have seen about video games in a long time. It’s nice to know that the 8-bit era can still be as popular with today’s standards as it is nostalgic.

One last item: At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I got to meet Ralph and Vanellope at a character greeting.

Sep 102013
 

In this hilarious Anime comedy, Squid Girl (2010-2011) is a girl from the sea with squid-like qualities like tentacles as extra arms, glowing in the dark, spitting squid ink, and her love of shrimp. Boy, does she love shrimp. Squid Girl vows revenge on mankind for polluting the ocean. As determined as Squid Girl is, she isn’t very bright and always fails when it comes to dominating people.

The first building Squid Girl finds after coming out of the ocean is the Lemon Beach House, which she originally planned to make as her base of operations, but after damaging one of the walls, the beach house manager Eiko has her work off the damage as a waitress. Eiko is a strong-minded girl. When Squid Girl drives her crazy, it always leaves me laughing.

However, the one who really keeps Squid Girl in check is Eiko’s sister Chizuru, who is the beach house cook. Sure she appears kind, but Chizuru has incredible strength and fighting skills, which is enough to make Squid Girl afraid of her. It makes you wonder where Chizuru learned those skills.

Then there’s Takeru, who is Eiko and Chizuru’s little brother. He enjoys Squid Girl’s company and loves to play with her, no matter what her game is.

Yuuta

At MythiCon 2013, I got to meet Marianne Miller, who voices the role of Takeru’s friend Yuuta. When she talks about Yuuta, she often mentions that he talks about poop. This is a reference to the episode when Squid Girl builds a sandcastle that looks like poop.

Occasionally Goro, who is one of the lifeguards, comes to the beach house and Squid Girl always secretly swipes the shrimp from his meals. Goro is devoted to his job and many girls find him attractive. If only he had the courage to talk to Chizuru, whom he has a crush on.

Later on, Squid Girl meets other human friends like Sanae, who has an obsessive crush on her, as well as surfer girl Nagisa, who actually fears Squid Girl. Squid Girl loves to take advantage of that as a big break in her attempt to invade mankind.

I met Christina Vee, who voices Nagisa, at Anime Festival Orlando 2011.

There are also extraterrestrial researchers who believe Squid Girl is an alien. Leading the group is Cindy Campbell. She’s obsessed with getting Squid Girl to admit that she’s an alien, even though she isn’t.

If you think Cindy is funny, you should definitely see the rest of her team. Harris, Clark, and Martin are just as obsessed as Cindy is if not more so. They are hilarious, despite that they always brag about being MIT graduates.

Of course even beach houses have competition. The strict owner of the Southern Winds Beach House, whose name is never revealed for some reason, finds out about Squid Girl and tries to capitalize on her popularity. He has his shy daughter Ayumi wear masks of Squid Girl’s likeness with crazy gadgets inside that often backfire.

I can’t help but feel sorry for Ayumi when that occurs, but she becomes a little more comfortable when she works at the Lemon Beach House occasionally.

I also met Tony Oliver, who voices Clark and the unnamed beach house owner, at Anime Festival Orlando 2010 and again at AFO 2013.

I enjoyed this Anime series. Even though Squid Girl intended to invade the surface world, she ends up finding friends and family instead, not to mention a few unwanted admirers.

Sep 032013
 

TMNT

I never thought it would happen, but at these past two Anime conventions, I got to meet two of the voice actors from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 version).

The first was Michael Sinterniklaas at Anime Festival Orlando 2013, who was the voice of Leonardo. He was awesome. When Michael autographed two of my TMNT DVDs, he mentioned that he grew up watching the Ninja Turtles and that he liked the newest version that is on Nickelodeon.

The second TMNT voice actor was Sam Riegal at Mythicon 2013, who was the voice of Donatello. He also grew up watching the turtles and was thrilled when he got the role.

I wonder if any other voice actors from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 version) will come to Orlando in future conventions. I’d sure look forward to that.