Category : Cartoons

Hello Retro Fans!

It’s a wonderful beginning to spring in my part of the world. If there’s one thing that Spring makes me want to do, it’s SPEND MORE TIME INSIDE! Just Kidding (maybe not) but it is hotter during the day and with the high temperature in Spring reaching near all time highs, I shudder to think what the summer might be like. In any case, after spending a few months bouncing around from trying to play SWTOR with my critically low-speed (3 mbps on a good day) internet while my wife streams her Netflix and after spending another few months playing some highly modified Skyrim, I decided to take a break from all of that and return to… you guessed it… RETRO GAMES!

So what did I decide upon? Well, I normally do a yearly play through of Final Fantasy 2 (FF4 Japan) but honestly I have not done that in a few years. I almost did that but ultimately, I realized that I had only done one full play through of Final Fantasy 3 (FF6 in Japan) in recent memory so I decided to do it again. Ah… to walk through the 16-bit fields of snow toward Narshe in my MagiTek armor… what fun! Plus, in reviewing my site, I have never actually made an RGB style review of this game so I will do so when I am done.

At this point, I am only about 4 hours in to the game, I am about to finish all the ‘scenario’ quests after your crew flees Figaro Castle. I already did Locke’s scenario and Sabin’s scenario so now I just need to do the Edgar, Terra and Bannon scenario. I also am trying to develop some more of the characters that I usually don’t do much with (such as Gau and Gogo) to add a new spin. Of course, if any of you have played this epic game, you know it is VERY large and one of the most complex games of its time. Even the brief time I have spent in this world has reminded me of the greatness of this game and the series as a whole. I also am surprised to realize that I actually don’t remember as much of the story as I thought. Of course, I remember the key components: Empire, Returners, Terra, Espers, etc., but some of the finer points are still blurry. That’s a good thing, like having semi-fresh eyes.

On another note, I did something else to feed my retro soul. If you were a kid who grew up in the 90’s like me, you probably watched Mighy Morphin’ Power Rangers. I don’t know if you made it into Zeo, Dino Squad, Space Force, etc., but you probably at least remember: “Mastadon! Pterodactyl! Saber-Toothed Tiger! Triceratops! Tyrannosaurus! and Dragon Power!” You probably are also aware that Haim Saban is at it again and is planning on releasing a ‘darker and more adult-themed’ version of the Power Rangers for the movie coming out in a few days. I want to see this movie, have wanted to ever since I heard it was coming out and only moreso as I have watched trailers and researched it. I first decided to remind myself of the awesomeness of the original series (cheesy dialogue aside) by watching it over. I am almost done with Season 1.

However, I also remembered that a majority of the footage from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was initially drawn from “Kyuryu Sentai Zyuranger” (Kyuriyu SIN-tie JYU-rain-jer) which came out in Japan about a year prior to the show we saw. To my excitement, Shout Factory picked up the original series some years ago because of its impacts on pop culture. It was not available to watch on any standard streaming service I found, BUT my Amazon Prime account allowed me to pay $2.99 per month extra to access the “Shout Factory” Channel with… YOU GUESSED IT… Zyuranger! So I decided to watch it (subtitles and all).

Wow… the character that Rita Repulsa (the main bad guy in MMPR) is based off of, “Evil Witch Bandora” is FREAKING evil. WAY worse than Rita ever was. In that story, she’s the “most powerful force of darkness this world has ever known” and she makes you believe that. Not to mention, her assistants (that are loosely used in MMPR) are much more capable (though still annoying) than their MMPR counterparts. In almost every episode, Rit…err… Bandora, always has some children (like young kids.. like 10 and even younger) in danger. Not just kidnapping them… no… more like shrinking them into a miniature space shuttle that is locked in place with a time-triggered IRON MACE BALL ready to drop and crush them if the Pow…I mean… Zyurangers don’t save them in time. Oh and that other kid who SHE TURNS TO STONE BECAUSE SHE IS EVIL is also a good example. I can imagine being a Japanese child in that era and literally being scared to death of Bandora.

Also, the rangers themselves are much less one-dimensional than their American counterparts (though only slightly). They represent 5 different tribes of prehistoric dino-worshiping people each with their respective creature of power… you guessed it: a Mammoth, a Pterodactyl, a Saber-Tooth Tiger, a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus (I have not yet gotten to the Green Ranger story). Each ranger was frozen for “170 million years” so they could defend the Earth when Bandora rose again. They appear to have no stupid high school drama to deal with (dude… they missed like… a ton of reunions) but also seem very much content to just sort of hang out with “Mysterious Sage Barza” (their version of Zordon but without the stupid “Ay yi yi yi” of Alpha 5) in his magical palace until they need to go fight Bandora’s baddies. I have only seen them do a few ‘non-fighting’ scenes so far but they appear to have at least some inkling of depth.

In any case, I am actually excited to learn how their story diverges from the story I know. I did figure out why Trini always looked ‘flat’ in her ranger suit. That’s because the Yellow Ranger in Zyuranger is actually a boy. He’s so much of a boy that his name is ACTUALLY ‘Boi’. Although the pink ranger is still a girl but her name is Mei and her favorite thing to do appears to be helping other people and saying “okay!” in perfect English when her ranger colleagues tell her to do something in Japanese. Barza is…well… strange. The verdict is still out on him.

See you guys later! I have watching and gaming to do!

Captain N Pt. 1 – The Good Guys

It has been a while since I last posted and I apologize, the world was a very busy place and then I fell head-first into the holidays and am still barely recovered but c ‘est la vie!

 So here we are in the wonderful late 1980’s and early1990’s, the US Economy is booming thanks to the Technology Explosion (the bubble has not been popped when this show hits). Starbucks is becoming well known for its coffee in major metro areas but is still a far cry from the daily staple it is now. A new generation of latchkey kids has emerged but they are rarely children of a single working parent who can’t be there with them because she works two jobs just to keep the family fed. No, this generation is the kids whose parents are too busy working 12 hour days because they WANT to. By this time, the Nintendo has grabbed hold of the attention of US gamers by the gazillions and a child without an NES is a sad child indeed. Their life is spent dealing with parents who don’t understand why they want to sit in front of a TV and push buttons on a controller instead of going outside to play but the world inside the game is much more interesting to them. In fact, the world is captivating to them! So the amazingly talented marketing team of Nintendo America comes up with a way to fuel the fire. Create a cartoon that fulfills every 90’s boy’s dream – to be sucked into the video game instead of having to clean their room!

The concept is raved about by folks in the USA but Nintendo of Japan is nursing wounds from being beaten up by game developers such as Konami or Capcom because of how the licensing for games and the subsequent royalties of said games are to be disbursed. The end result is that anything Nintendo corporation as a whole owned rights to could be used but although the names of game characters could be used, their actual likeness could not be identical to the likeness included on video games that were not created wholly by Nintendo. The final result… Captain N, the Game Master!

Captain N is actually a cool nickname given to a one, Kevin Keene, who lives in the wealthy suburb of Northridge in Los Angeles, California. He is the essence of the valley boy and looks like he would fit better as a character in Saved By the Bell. However Kevin is a different breed of valley boy. Sure, he might have the letter jacket (evidently from being awesome on the swim team) but he loves video games and has played MORE VIDEO GAMES THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. Because of his amazing knack for video games, he is summoned to Videoland, a world where Nintendo characters are very real and a Nintendo Zapper will blast away baddies like it’s nobody’s business. To make him even cooler, his Golden Retreiver Duke gets sucked in too (but Duke has a black circle over his eye when animated and the live version of Duke does not). He is armed with a nintendo game pad on his belt buckle (How’s THAT for a utility belt Batman?) and can do amazing things like pause the world, move at super speeds and various other cool Nintendo things. All while having his trusty dog at his side saving his bacon from time to time.

When Kevin first visits the world, he is greeted by the gorgeous (but rather ditzy) Princess Lana and this is where the character strangeness begins. If you look for Lana in any video game on the NES, she won’t be there. However, she bears a striking resmblence to a more humanized Princess Peach (who was, at this time, only known as Princess Toadstool… so her name COULD have been Lana…) but also has some characteristics similar to Princess Zelda. You see, Peach was already taken by Mario and appeared in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show which aired nearby and on the Friday shows of SMBSS you would get to watch an episode of Zelda instead of Mario brothers so Lana ends up becoming a mashup of every princess cliché known far and wide. She is a weird mixture of Girl Power in and Damsel in Distress with some instances where she appears relentlessly ditzy and can barely take care of herself, much less her kingdom then appearing to be a firm and devoted leader to the people of Videoland at others. As the story progresses, Lana becomes a bit more sure of herself and, as you would expect, falls head over heals for Kevin, the Nintendo game world equivalent of a super knight. This draws much ire from the next character in the good guy gaggle… Simon Belmont.

Now, I don’t know if I played a different game than you did but when I look at Simon in the actual Castlevania games, he looks more like a half dressed barbarian than this guy. I mean… I think THIS Simon belongs in California with Kevin. This is actually intentional because any retro gamer knows that the Castlevania franchise is owned by Konami. So Nintendo was forced to make this Simon ‘similar’ to the one in the games but having to look completely different in order to be legal. In the show he is a darkly tanned, narcissistic, hopeless romantic that is madly in love with Princess Lana. Even though he professes his love for her on countless occasions, she is… of course… completely taken by Captain N. You know how these princesses are, they always want someone who doesn’t live in their country to be their man. Much like the character of the video game, Simon does actually use the trademark leather whip as his character in the game uses but the whip sometimes acts like a character of its own by moving without warning and sometimes wrapping Simon up inside it. Even so, Simon proves his capability with the whip is quite high and saves the day on numerous occasions. He never does get the Princess though. On a few occasions you get to see Simon face his arch-nemesis, Dracula. But I can’t take Drac seriously since he is wearing a bright yellow leisure suit and looks like more like those cardboard cutout vampires you see at Halloween time than the real Dracula… of course, Konami owned rights to their version of Dracula too.

Next up comes Pit, aka Kid Icarus. You will remember this dude from one of the first Nintendo games where he flies about the world shooting baddies with his arrows and eventually saves the entire world from evil. However, the 8-bit representation of this character is much cooler than Pit in the series. Just look at the poor guy! He’s very feminine and wears white Mickey Mouse gloves with sandals and a toga. As if that wasn’t making Pit even less cool than before, the producers of the show decided to make him say “icus” after EVERY sentence. Example: “Holy cow! We have to fight Donkey Kong-icus! That’s impossiblicus!” I can’t make up diaglogue this bad! The conspiracy to make Pit seem like a wussy boy is worsened by the fact that in one particular episode, the crux of the story lies on how unimportant and useless he feels and how he is made to feel better by an arrow maker. Despite his apparent wussiness, Pit can fire some mad arrows at baddies and being able to fly comes in really handy at times.

Rounding out the main good guy group is this guy… No, he’s not some weird Dig Dug character or anything like that. He’s actually… ahem… Megaman. I will pause while you scream “FAIL” at the top of your lungs… done? Good! Any way, this is the single worst example of Nintendo’s licensing issues on characters. The totally awesome blue guy we know and love from the series that now has its own cult following is owned 100% by Capcom. When attempting to create the series, Nintendo wanted to use the blue guy and was harshly told “No”. The Capcom folks would let Megaman appear only if he was completely the opposite of the real Megaman and since he was the epitome of awesome, Megaman in this series is the epitome of loser. He is GREEN instead of blue because the blue version was too similar to the megaman in the games. Also, the real Megaman is about the size of a normal human being in most of the commercial art both past and present so they made this Megaman a dwarf. Yup… he’s…like… 3 feet tall at best. Furthermore, although Megaman had never actually been given a voice in the games to this point and didn’t actually get any kind of voice until around the PS2 and Gameboy Advance era (it was financially and technically impossible in those days) he is usually depicted as sounding something like a young teenager. Not THIS Megaman… nope… he reminds me of the character on South Park who speaks through a cancer harp (hole in the throat) with a very monotone and downright gross sounding voice, I wonder if this character smoked 4 packs of smokes a day while filming the show. Oh… and since Pit has to say ‘-icus’ AFTER everything he says, they make Megaman START everything he says with the words (*cringe*) Mega… In fact, in the opening sequence of the series, the camera pans over Megaworld and you here the starkly monotone words “Mega-Hi!” when we see Megaman. In countless diaglogue, we actually hear Megaman say something like “This is MEGA-bad news!” and Pit responds with “It really is bad-icus!” (I cry). However, despite his horrific voice, Megaman does have the ability to shoot stuff with his gun but due to licensing issues, it is not a gun-arm like we know but rather small projectile shooters (those little diamonds on his glvoes) that shoot his trademark white ball pellet gun. Making an unexpected appearance in the show later on, is a character named Megagirl who is clealry the Captain N variation of Roll. Again, she looks like a dwarf (only pink instead of sea green) but only appears in one episode. Also, Megaman does get other powers throughout the series but unlike the Megaman series of games, he just uses the robot masters’ weapons by throwing them back at them… being able to actually USE those powers would be too close for Capcom to approve.

Halfway through the second season of Captain N, Nintendo was trying desperately to launch their first portable device, the iconic “Gameboy” which was the precursor to a modern Nintendo DS. By this point, every video game playing kid was hooked on watching Captain N every time it was on so why not include the Gameboy? So here he is as a supporting character. But if you watch the episode that this guy first appeared in, you wonder if Nintendo was trying to make the Gameboy UNPOPULAR instead. In his first appearance, the Gameboy almost gets the N Team killed THREE times because he is a raving lunatic. For whatever reason, he was popular enough to keep so he remained but about all I ever saw him do was be a pretty bizzarre surfboard for the team and occasionally work like a ‘super computer’ to do technological things. Even so, I would often choose not to watch episodes which featured him because he was annoying. He also uses a weird high pitched synth-voice which makes it hard to listen to him at all. Thus rounds out our famous N Team! Of course, other NES staples such as Dr. Right (Light), and even the cool Bayou Billy from the under-appreciated NES game “The Adventures of Bayou Billy” with Link from Zelda appearing (after the SMBSS/Zelda block was not as popular).

With all these Good Guys around, what about the enemies? Who are they fighting? And… what did I think of the show? Well, I shall post follow ups to describe those things.