About ultrasonic9

I am a retro gamer, aspiring writer, and podcaster who loves music from the 80s and great movies, both classic and modern.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (25th Anniversary)

25 years ago today, a motion picture based on a phenomenal TV Show – or should I say morphinomenal – was released in theaters, to the joy of young fans the world over, including yours truly (I was nine at the time).

So for those who were able to see this movie when it came out, what memories do you have about the movie, or just anything Power Rangers-related?

Teaser Poster

Avatar: The Last Airbender Review

We have all heard the phrases, “Once upon a time…”  as well as “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” but in February 2005, a new opening phrase was created.

“Water, earth, fire, air…”

If one hadn’t seen the intro one would think that it was yet another generic adventure series, nothing too serious.  But if one took a closer look, they would find that this is no regular animated show on Nickelodeon.  In fact, much like certain animated series from the 90s – like Batman The Animated Series and Disney’s Gargoyles – this would be yet another great show that challenged the conventions of animation on TV, and would become a true classic.

Created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, Avatar takes place in a world that is made up of four different nations: The Air Nomads, The Earth Kingdom, The Water Tribe, and The Fire Nation.  For many generations the four nations “lived together in harmony”, but then the Fire Nation became power-hungry and began attacking the other nations in an attempt to seize more power.  Fortunately there was one force that could stop them: The Avatar, a being who has the ability to utilize all of the four known elements – water, earth, fire, and air – to keep balance in the world.  Unfortunately this individual had disappeared at a critical moment in the conflict and as such the Fire Nation was able to continue extending their grasp over the world.  Despite this a Water Tribe native named Katara still held out hope that the Avatar would return, given that the being had the ability to reincarnate itself within different people over the centuries, with Roku being the most recent.  In keeping with the life cycle this would mean that the next one to have the Avatar’s power would be an Air Nomad, though no one had seen said nomads in a long time.

The story begins with Katara and her brother Sokka out to catch fish to bring back to their tribe, and Katara is practicing her ability to waterbend, something that her brother dismisses.

After no success in their hunt, which in turn leads to an all out argument between the two siblings, Katara and Sokka discover an iceberg that surfaces in front of them, only the iceberg isn’t empty.

Once Katara breaks the ice enough a figure emerges, revealing itself to be a young airbender a few years younger than the two siblings with arrow tattoos on his head and arms named Aang.  Once Katara introduces herself and her brother Aang introduces his flying bison Appa and the group then make their way back to the Northern Water Tribe.

Unfortunately this didn’t go unnoticed to some extents, for a short distance away a Fire nation ship containing an exiled Prince Zuko and his Uncle Iroh was within range of seeing the energy emitted by the new Avatar, which Zuko happened to see.  While not much is known about why Zuko is so obsessed with finding the Avatar, it is something that becomes much more clearer as time goes by.

So Aang gets acquainted with the rest of Katara and Sokka’s tribe – small as it is – and brings a sense of fun to the children there, which is something they haven’t had in a while.

As Aang and Katara are going penguin sliding the duo stumble upon an old Fire Nation ship and Aang accidentally triggers one of the traps which in turn causes a flare to shoot out from the ship, thus catching the attention of Zuko.

Although Aang and Katara manage to get out of the ship the tribe reveals that a Fire Navy ship has been spotted and is on its way here.  Admitting his culpability and also at the insistence of Katara’s grandmother Aang leaves the village, but no sooner does he leave that the Fire Nation finds the village and attacks, with Zuko demanding the Avatar show himself. Fortunately Aang wasn’t too far away and eventually with the help of Katara and Sokka managed to fight Zuko and the rest of the Fire Navy off, but not without having the Airbender’s true identity as the Avatar revealed.

Despite not wanting anything to do with being the Avatar at first, Aang steps up and accepts his destiny and begins his journey with Katara, Sokka and Appa to master the other elements and bring balance to the world, as other Avatars before him had done.

While this is only the first two episodes of the series, it is one heck of an introduction.  Right away you meet most of the main characters who will play a massive part in the story that takes place over the course of three seasons, and not one moment is wasted.  And the writing on the show is treated the same way as some other animated shows from the 90s were-on multiple levels and even then, said writing was taken to a whole other degree not seen in a Nickelodeon show, which in turn led to winning an Emmy, Kid’s Choice and Peabody Awards as well as catching the attention of audiences beyond the kids.  Adults found themselves enthralled by the adventures of these characters as well, and thanks to the writing, all the characters grew and matured in very realistic ways that everyone could connect with.  And much like the best serialized storytelling, it all built to an incredible climactic finale that only a few sagas can match.

As such, this is a series that has endured, and transcended in many ways, and still holds up to this very day, and now that it has arrived on Netflix fans can once again enjoy the adventure from the beginning and for new fans to discover for the very first time.

So if whether you have Netflix, or if you have the Blu-Ray collection, watch this series.  There is a reason why it is hailed as one of the best animated series out there, and once you start watching Avatar, you will find yourself pulled in, and just like Aang’s friends when he goes into the Avatar state, you will find it a series to behold.

Team Avatar Assembled

Pac-Man Month Special: Pac-Attack (SNES)

Pac-Attack_Coverart

To say that Pac-Man is a video game icon is no understatement.  Since his 1980 debut in the arcades Pac-Man has become an institution, one that doesn’t reinvent itself too much over the years but even when it does, it doesn’t stray away from the basic fundamentals that co-creator Toru Iwatani and his team established, and this is made pretty clear with the array of sequels/spin-offs that have followed the original arcade game.  For myself, I have been fortunate to have played some of these, but the one that that stood out to me the most – especially during the 90s, was the game called Pac-Attack.

Pac-Attack Adverstisement

If you’ve ever played games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Columns or Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine then the gameplay shouldn’t feel out of place.  The objective of the game is to basically line up the blocks that drop into rows, with each row disappearing once it’s made.  Sounds pretty simple, until you consider the ghosts, for they will be there as part of the blocks as they appear.  Fortunately Pac-Man will be there as well to help gobble up the ghosts and clear the way.

Like with the aforementioned games, there is both a one player mode as well as a two player mode but with this game there’s two types of modes for single players.  One being the normal mode and the other called puzzle mode.

304px-Pac-Attack_mode_selection_screen

In the normal mode all the player has to do is first choose a level of difficulty, then as mentioned before, line up the falling blocks into rows, and clear out the ghosts using Pac-Man once he appears.  As Pac-Man eats the ghosts a fairy meter on the left side of the screen will start to fill up.  Once it’s completely full a fairy piece will appear, clearing out all ghosts below said piece.  The difficulty you choose will determine the level you start at, so the higher the difficulty, the higher the level, and the faster the blocks will drop.

220px-Pac-Attack_SNES_screenshot

As you clear out rows of blocks your level goes up, and as this happens the new blocks that appear start to descend faster.  This can get hectic if you’re not quick enough, so keep your wits about you.  Of course, don’t fret if this your first time playing this game.  Like most titles during the 8-bit/16-bit era, it takes messing up a lot before you start to get good.

Puzzle mode is another mode that is also fun – and a little more fun than normal mode in my opinion – because while you still can clear the rows, you aren’t obligated to.  Instead the objective in puzzle mode is to clear out all the ghosts on the screen.  Once you do you can then move on to the next level.

Pac Attack Puzzle Mode

(One cool thing about the puzzle mode is that if you manage to clear out all the ghosts in one shot, you get a cool message)

While there are 100 levels in total, you don’t have to worry about trying to play the mode all the way through.  For each level you play there’s a password that players can make note of and use later on if they have to stop the game at some point.

With two-player mode it’s pretty much what one would expect from any vs. mode: try to outlast your opponent.  Each player can pick their own difficulty, which is a nice touch because at least that way you can play to your strengths and decide what speeds to go with.  Best two out of three wins.

pac-attack two player vs

In all, Pac-Attack is definitely a game worthy of being a part of the best Pac-Man games.  It isn’t completely like the original, but there’s a good enough balance in the game that you won’t be put-off or be bored.  Plus, like Tetris and Dr. Mario Pac-Attack is another game that you can play in short spurts or for a long duration if you feel inclined.  And most importantly.  It’s just a lot of fun.

So if you do have a copy of the game – hard copy or digital – enjoy it.

Happy Eating Arcaders!

Voice Lessons by Rob Paulsen (Ultrasonic’s Thoughts)

Voice Lessons Rob Paulsen Book cover

When it comes to most Autobiographies/Memoirs, one can always come away with them with a sense of “If you’ve read one, you’ve read them all”.  Aside from some notable exceptions out there audiences tend to expect some degree of embellishing when reading these types of books.  However, this book is very different from the pack.  While it isn’t the first autobiography from an actor – let alone the last – what makes Voice Lessons different is that is a book written by an actor that very few people would recognize on the street.  The reason for this is because Rob Paulsen is a voice-actor.

Now what exactly is a voice-actor?

MR-2116-Which-microphones-are-best

Well, it is the title for an actor/actress who does what they would usually do – portray characters but the difference being that the actors themselves are not on camera.  Instead they are behind a microphone, with their scripts on a music stand.  Now this isn’t a novel concept, given that the history goes all the way back to the 1930s/40s with radio shows.  Then as cartoons began to emerge actors from said radio shows found themselves segueing into that and were able to bring life to characters that would become legendary, with Mel Blanc and June Foray being the most notable ones.

Mel_blanc_002 June Foray

Then when the 1980s came around a surge of cartoons designed for syndication (around 65 episodes) began to be made.  As such this opened up more opportunities for actors, and for Rob Paulsen, this is where he came into prominence after having had a few stints in some live-action roles (Jack-In-The-Box commercials, MacGyver).

From starting out in G.I. Joe as the voice of Snowjob, to Transformers G1 and then several characters in the now-classic Disney Afternoon shows, Rob Paulsen had truly found his niche in show business.  And when he was offered the opportunity of auditioning for an animated series based on an indie comic called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, Rob would find himself being a part of not just a great show, but a phenomenon.

TMNT Original cast

As the voice of Raphael, as well as some incidental characters, Rob along with Cam Clarke (Leonardo), Berry Gordon (Donatello) and Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo) would bring life to four heroes in a half shell for many years to come.  And for kids – myself included – that was fine by us.  From merchandising of all types to especially video game adaptations and a hit film that would hit in 1990 (of which Rob and the others weren’t a part of sadly), as well as the actors doing vocal “appearances” via charity calls and the like, Ninja Turtles proved to be one of those moments in pop culture that transcended beyond what it originally was.

TMNT Movie Promo Poster

But as totally awesome as it was for Rob, more great moments would come as the 90s came around and Paulsen found himself cast in more great shows like Tiny Toon Adventures and especially Animaniacs.  And interestingly enough, Paulsen would even find himself cast as Stanley Ipkiss in the animated version of The Mask.

But beyond all the animation work that kept coming during this time, what makes this book special is also the other moments that Rob went through, both from the beginning of his acting career to the slow time during the late 2000s when Rob wasn’t getting much work.  While his voice-over career would kick back up again – from “Tuff Puppy” to being cast in the new iteration of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in 2012 as Donatello, as well as starting up a podcast of his own named “Talkin’ Toons” which took off magnificently – Rob would face his greatest challenge in the form of throat cancer, which he more than highlights in the book.  While his battle with cancer is something only those who have either gone through it or seen family members/loved ones go through it can understand, you still are able to empathize with him in those moments as much as you can, and through it Rob details every stage he went through – from his initial gung-ho attitude to fighting cancer, to the times when he couldn’t even keep a glass of water down and felt as low as ever due to the chemotherapy and other treatments.  Through all this, Rob would eventually draw on the life lessons he had learned before early on, and in a lot of cases relearn.  In the end, Rob did win his battle with cancer, and he was also able to save his voice.

Southwest The Magazine October 2019 Rob Paulsen

(From Southwest Magazine)

In all, this book is definitely a must to have.  And not because it’s yet another actor’s biography, but because it’s one by an actor from a different part of Hollywood.  For voice-actors the true celebrity is in the characters said actor has played, and as Mark Hamill put it best, “The character actor disappears into his role and you don’t see the actor-you see the character.”  As such audiences can connect with the character fully and yet the actor isn’t recognized for the role unless folks are looking at the credits.  Whether it be from the book itself (paperback or eBook), or the Audiobook version, I can definitely guarantee you will be pulled into Rob’s story, and hopefully you get a sense of some of the greatest gifts we have within us: The power of the human spirit, and how through all the experiences we go through, good and bad, we can all find our own voice lessons and impart them not just to ourselves, but to others as well, and in the most positive of ways.

And to finish it up, here’s a treat from one of Rob’s characters.


Available wherever books are sold, including:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Voice-Lessons-Couple-Turtles-Animaniac/dp/B07Y8VQJT9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=MVCUFJMIUMP8&dchild=1&keywords=voice+lessons&qid=1588643851&sprefix=Voice+Less%2Caps%2C191&sr=8-1

And of course, Apple Books.

Video Game Boom Box: Star Wars Clone Wars Theme (8-Bit)

In celebration of the true finale to an incredible animated series, here’s this month’s track to the main series theme covered by the talented band 8-Bit Universe.

It’s definitely been quite a ride, and one that I don’t think anyone thought would ever happen, but here we are.

So, from all of us here at the Archives to everyone out there…enjoy the finale, and most important of all…

May the Force be with you.

Star-Wars-saga-1-6

ALWAYS!

Avengers Infinity War 2 Year Anniversary

“There was an idea…”
-Nick Fury

And both in front and behind the camera, there truly was.  An idea that, back in 2008 seemed almost too ambitious, almost impossible.

But yet…through simple hard work and determination, and having the right people (Directors, cast, crew, etc.) in the right place at the right time…and with each film building on what came before, culminating in this film…the impossible was achieved.

 

And reactions from fans said it all.

So what were your feelings when you first saw these two trailers for Infinity War?  Comment below and tell us what you think.

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