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Sep 282016
 
Many pop culture villains are straightforward with their evil plots. Then there are ones that use a more creative approach to either terrorize the innocent or force the hero(s) to alter their tactics when challenged. Here are some of my most favorite interesting villains who stand out in that unique manner.
Cheapo
#10) Cheapo from Stripperella: Of all the villains on this series, he is the most unusual because he’s very cheap as a crime lord. Cheapo’s resourcefulness is based on how he plans everything the cheapest way possible. However, it affects his common sense. So much so that his own henchmen appear to be smarter then him. Seriously, what criminal mastermind prefers copper to gold?
Floatzart
#9) Floatzart from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This ghostly maestro uses music to subdue his victims, whether it’s to conduct ghosts with his baton or play his float flute that’s made from a long bone. Very little is known about Floatzart since he was only in a few episodes and, like the other evil ghosts, his background from when he was alive is not revealed. I do like his style though. He is one of few musical villains that aren’t annoying.
#8) Leaky Faucet from Power Rangers Zeo: Many of the monsters on Power Rangers normally don’t stand out too often because they’re only featured once before getting destroyed, twice if they’re lucky to be brought back. In this version, Leaky Faucet is different than most. He can liquefy at will and easily sneak into water pipes in order to spread his toxins. For a machine monster, that’s quite impressive.
#7) Dr. Bad Vibes from C.O.P.S. the Animated Series: He’s a brilliant scientist that invents high tech gadgets for the Big Boss. Along with his robot companion Buzz Bomb, Dr. Bad Vibes commits crimes with unusual inventions from a circus train that can bash through buildings to speed suits that make criminals run really fast. I still can’t get over the fact that he has his brain under glass and never takes off his wild shades. I wonder why that is.
#6) Ty-Lee from Avatar: The Last Air Bender: There are many benders, but this cheerful acrobatic girl has the skill to chi block a bender’s power using pressure points. This makes Ty-Lee a very dangerous opponent along side her friends Mai and Azula. It just goes to show that Ty-Lee may be beautiful, but looks can be deceiving.
#5) Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons: Bob Terwilliger used to be Krusty the Clown’s sidekick until he was put in prison for framing Krusty for armed robbery. On each of Bob’s return appearances, he seeks revenge on Bart while coming up with crazy but ingenious plans like running for Mayor of Springfield and abolishing television, yet it’s always Bart and Lisa who defeat Bob and put him back in prison. Aside from Bob’s dangerous persona, he always ends up in funny situations. That always makes me look forward to Bob’s next appearance, since he’s only a reoccurring villain.
 
#4) Mystique from X-Men franchise: If there’s one mutant power that makes a villain tough to beat, it’s the ability to shape shift. Mystique is a unique mutant with smooth fighting abilities, but what really makes her interesting is that she can turn into anyone. If she turns into another mutant, she can use their powers against her opponents. It’s very difficult to see through Mystique when she takes another form. This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Master of Disguise”.
#3) Live Wire from Superman franchise: She was once a radio personality named Leslie Willis. After getting struck by lightning, she became a super villain with the power to control anything electrical. Not only are her powers smooth, Live Wire can easily travel through electrical wires anywhere. What I like most about Live Wire is her witty personality. She always has something funny to say while fighting her enemies, next to Harley Quinn of course.
#2) Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise: Once again, the most creative villain is the deranged scientific genius. Stockman isn’t really a much of a fighter on his own, but he can be a very tricky adversary. Whether he’s leading an army of mousers, wearing advanced battle armor, or fighting as a mutant fly, Stockman’s skills always give him an edge that even some of the strongest villains don’t have.
 
#1) The Riddler from Batman franchise: Batman has faced a huge number of creative villains, but none come as close as Edward Nygma a.k.a. the Riddler. Using his brilliant mind, he comes up with brainteasers that are so advanced that they often have a double meaning. Somehow, Batman is always able to figure them out. After he does, it’s so interesting to see the different angles from the advanced riddles. I’m not sure how the Riddler comes up with those so efficiently, but it’s so cool how he can make a game out of a crime caper apart from the Joker.
Nov 162012
 

If there’s one thing that makes a video game exciting, it’s a boss battle at the end of a level. Whether it’s for the creative look of the character, his or her fighting style, or even the musical score, boss fights are always something to look forward to after getting past a whole bunch of other evil minions as long as I can figure out the strategy. Every boss has one. Unless you have a strategy guide, it’s usually only found by trial and error. These are bosses that truly stand out as big favorites of mine from video games I’ve played, not including final bosses.

#10) Doppelganger from Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (NES): Normally, doppelganger bosses are a cliché, but this evil clone of Billy Lee is so mysterious and sneaky, it’s cool. The Doppelganger not only has the same fight moves; he can also turn invisible and attack by clenching onto Billy, rendering him helpless. How many evil clones do you know that can do that?

#9) Two-Face from Batman Forever (Sega Genesis): It may seem like he’s the main boss of the game, but he isn’t. The Riddler is. Two-Face has a perplexing fighting style because it’s different, depending on which direction he’s facing. I don’t believe he ever used swords and bear traps in the movie, but can you believe that Two-Face can actually restore his life meter just by flipping his coin?

On a side note: I’d also like to include Two-Face’s two girlfriends, Sugar and Spice, because I think they’re both interesting fighters even though the movie doesn’t feature them that way.

#8) Master Necky from Donkey Kong Country (Super NES): This giant buzzard can spit coconuts, but what I like most is that he only peeks his head out from either side of the screen. Necky never shows the rest of his body, even when he gets defeated. It’s hilarious when Necky’s head falls to the ground and still makes noise while Donkey Kong cheers for victory. Is that what a buzzard looks like when it has a concussion?

#7) The Wrestler from Simpsons Arcade Game: Dropping in from a set of stage lights, this strong unnamed character is the first boss of the game. Like most of the other bosses, it’s hard to determine how he fits into the story, especially since this character was never on the series. You’ve got to admit though. The Wrestler is a fun boss to fight on a game like this.

#6) Goldar from Power Rangers Super Legends (Playstation 2): Even though it seems like every boss in this game is defeated by the same simple strategy, this classic character is the most awesome one to fight, and I’m not just saying this because he’s old school. Goldar likes to talk during the battle and he doesn’t fly out of reach as often as he does in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the Movie game for Sega Genesis. Of course, Goldar could’ve come up with something wittier to say than, “Why did the chicken cross the road? To meet his doom.” Dude, that’s lame.

#5) Horsehead from Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (NES): Armed with a mace, he’s the guardian of Parapa Palace. Apparently, Horsehead’s only weak spot is his head, which sounds very simple. However, I never would’ve known that if I hadn’t seen that episode of Captain N: The Game Master called “Quest for the Potion of Power”, where Horsehead made an appearance. Isn’t the animated version cool? What I don’t understand is why Horsehead never returned on any of the later Legend of Zelda games as some of the other bosses in this game have. Wouldn’t it be neat if he did?

#4) Dancing Specters from Super Castlevania 4 (Super NES): Also known as Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare, this pair of dancers are the stars of the haunted ballroom. As they dance away to the awesome boss music, these ghosts use swords and flying blades that keep Simon Belmont from “cutting in”. You won’t see this on Dancing with the Stars.

#3) Phantom of the high school musical from Scooby-Doo First Frights (Playstation 2): With the aid of his skeleton henchmen, this creepy character has an edgy presence. I think it’s neat that the Scooby gang gets to actually fight a monster before unmasking him, but before doing that you have to hear the Phantom sing and take out his henchmen. What really makes him interesting is the mystery involved. So what if he’s just a guy in a suit.

#2) Nano from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playstation 2): There are several versions of this boss, but I mainly want to focus on the giant monstrosity at the end of stage 2. I always find giant bosses more exciting because of the intensity. Although it took me a little while to figure out how to fight Nano at this point, I totally found this boss battle interesting. Just aim high, robot goes down.

#1) Lobber from House of the Dead Overkill (Nintendo Wii): Of all the different types of monsters I’ve seen in horror themed video games, this is definitely one of the most original creatures I ever saw. Lobber hides out in the fetid waters and attacks by throwing chunks of its body. That’s just nasty, but my only real concern is that you have to fight a bunch of bats also. They’re harder to aim for than the monster itself. Other than that, Lobber is a villain that’s unique as well as creepy.

Apr 202012
 

Primates are intelligent animals that love bananas. But like humans, they can use their superior skills for good or evil. Either way, apes and monkeys do leave their mark as pop culture icons. Here are some of my favorites.

#10) King Kong from King Kong: This gigantic ape has been around for ages with at least several movie versions. He’s well known for being brought from the jungle to New York City, where he runs amok and climbs the tallest building with the woman he loves. After seeing the newest version from 2005, I realized that King Kong is more of a love story than an adventure story. You’ve got to admit though. Kong sure knows how to beat up a T-Rex.

#9) King Homer from The Simpsons: One of the stories on Tree House of Horror III spoofs King Kong with King Homer. King Homer is not only in love with Marge, but he eats people alive, along with Shirley Temple.

King Homer’s only other appearance was on the Super NES title, The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare and was surprisingly easy to defeat with Bartzilla’s electrical body.

#8) Silver from Ninja Turtles the Next Mutation: He’s a gangster Himalayan ape and is the last of his kind. That’s why Silver became so greedy. Whenever there’s an opportunity to steal a ton of money, Silver and his gang of well-dressed crooks will seize it.

#7) Grape Ape from The Great Grape Ape Show: Now here’s an ape I really enjoyed when I was a kid. Grape Ape is strong, gigantic, and kind hearted. However, most people fear him because of his size. At least he has Beagle Beagle as his best friend. I have always wandered how Beagle’s van supports Grape Ape on top so easily.

#6) Primator from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lord Zedd created this ape monster from a gorilla costume. Primator is a shape shifter, who can turn into anyone of the rangers and imitate any of their voices. His only weakness is mirrors. When Primator sees his reflection, he instantly changes back into himself. If only it were that simple with other shape shifters.

#5) Bogey from Shirt Tales: With his appetite for bananas, tree swinging skills, and Humphrey Bogart persona, this orangutan has always been one of my most favorites among the Shirt Tales. Bogey also has a habit of calling everyone he meets “Sweetheart”, but I’m sure that’s just his way of presenting himself as a friend.

#4) Tracy from Ghostbusters (1986 version): He’s a brave and intelligent ape with great strength. Tracy is also inventive. He created all of the gadgets for the Ghostbusters team and loves to cook, especially with bananas. However, you should never call Tracy a big ape. That makes him lose his temper.

#3) Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls: Of all the villains the Powerpuff Girls face on a regular basis, this primate is their biggest foe, whose grudge is too close to home. Mojo used to be Professor Utonium’s lab assistant until the Powerpuff Girls were created. The Chemical X made him more intelligent, but he felt ignored and unappreciated. Now Mojo is an inventive mad genius, who likes to talk. He’s definitely worthy of the title Super Villain.

#2) Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: This iconic ape started out as the main villain of a classic arcade game from the early 80s because he had kidnapped Mario’s first girlfriend Pauline.

I also remember Donkey Kong as a giant sized villain from Captain N: The Game Master.

Years later, he becomes a jungle hero that began with the Super NES title Donkey Kong Country, which brings me to…

#1) Diddy Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: He’s Donkey Kong’s junior partner in battle, like Tails is to Sonic the Hedgehog. Diddy may not be as strong as Donkey Kong, but he’s light on his feet and can smoothly cartwheel his way out of trouble.

Diddy later proves to be more of an adventurer when he partners up with Dixie Kong in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. I can’t help but love this little guy.

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.

Oct 122011
 

Many of the classic horror movie monsters like vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster have been portrayed in many different ways. Among the first ones to be on a family friendly level are The Munsters (1964-1966).

They include Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) a Frankenstein monster who works at a funeral parlor and doesn’t know his own strength, his vampire wife Lily (Yvonne DeCarlo), and their son Eddie (Butch Patrick) who is a young werewolf.

Also living with them at the spooky house on 1313 Mockingbird Lane is Lily’s father Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis), who is both a vampire and a mad scientist.

Herman and Lily’s niece is Marilyn a beautiful college student. (She was played by several actresses, Pat Priest, Beverly Owen, and Debbie Watson in Munster Go Home.) As lovely as Marilyn is, the other Munsters don’t see her that way, but still accept her for who she is. Herman blames Lily for it because Marilyn is her sister’s daughter.

Last, but not least is the family pet, Spot. Spot is a dragon that lives under the stairs. Very little is actually shown, except the occasional breath of fire. You can only imagine what spot looks like, when and if he ever comes out of that stairway.

To many of the other townspeople, the Munsters are frightening. However, despite their appearance, the Munsters are still just a typical family. Anything monster related is actually funny. Things like Herman’s strength and Lily and Grandpa’s vampire qualities like age and thirst for blood.

At Spooky Empire 2011 I met Butch Patrick, best known as TV’s Eddie Munster. When I told him that I liked The Munsters, he replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Can you believe that among the choices of photos for Butch Patrick to autograph included one from his appearance on The Simpsons?

After the sitcom ended, the franchise continued with some Munsters films. My most favorite is Munster Go Home, which is about the Munster family moving to England to inherit an estate. This adventure has a great amount of that fast motion humor to go with the funny antics the classic sitcom is known for, but without the laugh track.

I admit that on occasion I have easily confused The Munsters and The Addams Family because both franchises are very similar and started with sitcoms that premiered around the same time. The Munsters aren’t as over the top as The Addams Family, but I still think of them as classics even today.