Video Game Boom Box: Super Mario Bros. 35: Mario Medley

To start off this month’s Video Game Boom Box – as well as to celebrate not just National Video Games Day but the 35th Anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros., here’s a medley that Nintendo came up with to help celebrate.

But that’s not all-stay tuned Arcaders, for more tracks are coming!

Mouse Trap Arcade (Ultrasonic’s thoughts)

As many Arcaders know, after the phenomenal success of Pac-Man, a whole slew of maze games were made, some of which have been covered here on the site. But there was one that also merits mentioning, and that title is Mouse Trap.

Created by Exidy in 1981, this Arcade definitely emulated Pac-Man in many respects, yet it had a style all its own.

In this game Arcaders were placed in the role of a mouse who is trying to collect/eat cheese in a maze. Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong, because there are cats in this maze as well as occasional hawks who are looking for their next meal, and you are on the menu.

But fortunately, you are no ordinary mouse, for you have the ability to open/close doors in the maze to help you, plus there are bones that can turn you into a dog once you eat them. Much like how the energizer dots allow Pac-Man to eat the ghosts, Once you are a dog you can attack the cats with gusto.

In all, it is a really unique Arcade game and one that truly deserves notice, even among all the copycats that came out after Pac-Man, as well as one that stood out among the many Arcade games that were in Disney Quest. So this game definitely gets an okay from me.

And on a lighter note here’s hoping that this title comes to the Switch down the road!

Ultrasonic’s thoughts: Independence Day video game (Sega Saturn, Playstation 1)

When Independence Day came out in theaters, it was definitely a movie that helped bring back the summer blockbuster, which had been in a bit of slump for a while until the mid/late 90s. Given the science-fiction/action nature of the film – particularly with regards to the dogfight scenes between Earth’s fighter planes and the Alien Attackers – it felt like there was a video game that could be made out of this. Or at least that was the mindset the developers at Radical Entertainment had when they got the call to create a video game tie-in to the film.

Much like the flight simulator games that came out during this time, ID4 puts you in the cockpit of a fighter plane – with Steve Hiller as your wingmate – and you have to complete an objective for the place you are at (destroy Shield generators, protect an AWAC, shoot down X amount of Alien craft) and then once you complete that objective you then have to take out the City Destroyer’s primary weapon to complete the whole mission.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there’s the fact that you have to contend with Alien Attackers that will try to shoot you down, to say nothing of everything else the enemy will try to throw at you – gun turrets, smaller transport ships, and other types of attackers besides the one audiences know from the film.

In just about every location you will find yourself confined to flying underneath the Destroyer so you can only go so far. However, the space is large enough to where you can take it all in, while trying not to get shot down, of course. Plus the fact that you can shoot down the Alien Attackers is definitely a plus.

While the fighters you fly can take punishment – unlike the movie – that’s not to say they are invincible, for the life gauge – or shield gauge if you want to call it that – does decrease as as you get hit by enemies weapons or even if you accidentally run into buildings or even get up close and personal with either the City Destroyer or the perimeter shield. Plus the missiles you have will also decrease as you use them, and if you run out you’ll be in quite a pickle because while the cannon you have shoots unlimited tracers, it’s not going to inflict as much damage as missiles will.

But of course, what kind of shooter is complete without power-ups? And this game has plenty. From to missile power-ups to Health power-ups to repair your fighter jet, even one that not only repairs your fighter’s life gauge to the max, but gives you an energy shield of your very own, you’re pretty much set. But’s only the tip of the iceberg, because there’s plenty of other power-ups to discover, from finding other fighter planes to unlock, along with other types of power ups that can range from freezing aliens for a short time, as well as weapons that can either blind alien craft from seeing where they’re going to sending them out of control, and even unlocking portals that can take you to different places, this game definitely wasn’t lacking in material.

(The Alien attackers definitely got my attention more, given their design aesthetic. I wonder if some of these were done by concept artists from the movie but never made it into the final cut)

In all, this game was a decent one to me. While it was no StarFox 64 epic by any means it isn’t as awful as some say it is, and if nothing else it was a game that tried to be more than just a cash-in.

So if nothing else it is a game that will at least keep you entertained for a while.


References: https://independenceday.fandom.com/wiki/Independence_Day_(video_game)

Star Wars The Bad Batch Animated Series Coming Soon!

Attention Star Wars Fans! Today the new Star Wars animated series has been announced for Disney+. Titled Star Wars the Bad Batch, it will follow the titular characters as they deal with the aftermath of The Clone Wars. The Bad Batch will be executive produced by Dave Filoni and other veterans of the previous Star Wars animated series.

The Bad Batch aka Clone Force 99 is a squad of super-enhanced clones introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars. The squad includes Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and their latest member Echo. Each member of the Bad Batch has desirable mutations that allow them to excel at different jobs and working together they make a formidable squad.

My Thoughts

I think this show has a lot of promise and deals with a side of The Clone Wars that I don’t think we’ve ever really explored before: What happened to the Clones after Order 66? Since the start of The Clone Wars series, this has been a question that I keep thinking about. While we got an answer for Rex, Wolf, and Gregger when they appeared in Star Wars Rebels but it didn’t answer what happened to all of them. With this series though we get to make a laser focus on the clones and maybe we get to see how they were affected by the changing galaxy and Order 66. I can’t wait till it premieres next year on Disney+. Stay tuned to this site for more updates on this upcoming series!

But what do you think? Leave your comments below.

Click here to read my review of the Bad Batch Arc from Star Wars The Clone Wars’ final season.

StarWars.com article on The Bad Batch Announcement.

Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Review – Now-stalgia on Disney+

Series' title card

Premise 


For 800 years The Ninja has protected Norrisville. Unbeknownst to the citizens every four years the mantle of The Ninja is passed to a new person, which is ninth-grader, Randy Cunningham. Now he must learn how to use his ninja powers to protect his city from an ancient evil. 

 

The Positives


Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja has several things going for it; a unique look, a great voice cast, and some truly funny jokes. The unique look of the cartoon is mostly credited to Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Invader Zim. Jhonen’s design style is very unique which makes Randy Cunningham stand out from most cartoons out there. Another point in its favor is the voice cast, which is stellar. The cast includes Randy himself voiced by Ben Schwartz of Parks and Rec fame, John DiMaggio from Adventure Time and Futurama, Kevin Michael Richardson from Teen Titans and Green Lantern the animated series, and of course, Tim Curry of Home Alone 2 and Clue fame plays the main villain (even though he only does it for the first season). Because of the pedigree of voice actors, the cartoon never feels dull or that comes from the actors are phoning it in. In fact, it seemed that the voice cast had fun with their characters especially Ben Schwartz. Finally in a world where cartoons and animated films seem only to rely on fart jokes Randy Cunningham also does. Though every once in a while the show can have some really funny jokes which made me laugh that wasn’t fart related. These would usually come from Randy and his pal Howard which is important cause it made you like the characters. I also want to make an honorable mention to another weird but fun part of the cartoon which is the unique sayings they have throughout. These include everything being Bruce or calling people a shoob. I like that they added their own kind of popular language to the characters. It gives the world a special feel even if it’s a bit confusing at times what they actually mean. 

Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja wwwgstaticcomtvthumbtvbanners9158079p915807

The Negatives


While Randy Cunningham is an interesting take on the high schooler hero genre unfortunately it isn’t the best example of it. Many shows have come before it and done a similar story better like Kim Possible and Danny Phantom. This doesn’t make it a bad show by any means just a show that had a lot of potential but never used it correctly. Most of my problems with the show stem from there not being any real character growth. Every episode of the series sees Randy learning a lesson but you never see him grow as a character. Likewise the show puts forth a lot of great questions that if answered would elevate the show quality wise while building the world but they never really answer those questions they just kind of leave it hanging. Some of these questions include: why was Randy chosen as The Ninja? Why is McFist, one of the villains of the story after The Ninja when he already owns the town for the most part? Where are Randy’s parents? I believe if they would have answered some of these questions and given the characters some growth through the series it might have made this a classic. Unfortunately, it just falls short of that and with some other classic shows doing it better it can come off as forgettable. 

Final Thoughts 


Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja has a lot of things going for it; a great voice cast, interesting ideas, and a unique animation style. Despite these great things the show falls short due to its lack of character development and world-building. By no means is it a bad show and I say check it out on Disney+ if you get the chance. Just know that it’s not as good as it could be compared to other shows that have come before it and use the teenage superhero trope better.

Series Review Score: B

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

Marvel Rising Series Review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

Synopsis

The Secret Warriors are a group of up and coming super powered teens led by Daisy Johnson aka Quake. The team also includes Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Ghost Spider (aka Spider Gwen), Patriot, Inferno, America Chavez, and Ironheart. Together they learn how to overcome their differences to fight with each other against evil villains and save the day.

My history with Marvel Animation

I am a 90’s kid, so if you’d ask me what my favorite animated superhero shows were my immediate answer would be Batman Beyond, Batman the animated series, Superman the animated series, Teen Titans, and Static Shock. That’s because I feel that even still to this day DC has a better library of animated properties. That’s not to say Marvel didn’t have any at all in fact they had two other favorites of mine Spider-Man the animated series and X-Men the animated series. Beyond that however, there hasn’t been much else at least in my opinion. That’s a shame too because with all the amazing things Marvel has done for live action movies you would think that they could also make a great animated show too. With Marvel Rising I think they have pretty close but still haven’t reached that mark.

What I liked

Marvel Rising was trying to make a series that was appealing to everyone but mainly focused on girls. This was a similar attempt done by Disney with the Star Wars Forces of Destiny short series. One of Marvel Rising’s strengths is the fact that more than half their cast is female with only two men. I feel that this is a strength for the show because a lot of superhero animated shows are usually male dominated. Another strength was using relative unknown superheroes or heroes that haven’t gotten the spotlight. The animated series that I grew up with were, for the most part, my first introductions to characters like Batman and Spider-Man. Because of this I found a love for them that continues today. So why not introduce kids and adults to characters they’ve probably never heard of like Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel. For example, I was happy to see Ghost Spider (aka Spider Gwen) in the group because I like the character and ever since her appearance in Into The Spiderverse I would like any opportunity to get the know the character more. Daisy Johnson aka Quake’s inclusion was something that I also liked because it was a node to any adults watching the show. For those of you not aware Daisy is a character from the comic series Inhumans. But she is commonly know from the live action Agents of SHIELD series played by Chloe Bennet. It was kind of nice touch for the show runners to get her to reprise her role in Marvel Rising, even if the character is different from her live action counterpart. Another strength for this series is the animation. The animation sort of reminded me of older cartoons I used to watch like GI Joe or ThunderCats. While the animation isn’t perfect it does it job very well. I mainly liked the action scenes which flow very well and definitely have some anime influences.

What I didn’t like

I applaud Marvel Rising for attempting to try something new and for trying something different. Yet there are some problems I would like to discuss. Starting with my biggest problem, the potential for great story telling was kind of wasted. The series has a good set up, interesting back stories for a lot of the characters, and room to expand on those characters. They come very close but they miss that mark. For example we get introduced to Ghost Spider and her back story is very similar to what we see in Into The Spiderverse and in the comics but instead of Peter Parker getting killed it’s some random guy named Kevin. This was a golden opportunity to explore an alternate universe, one that we aren’t completely familiar with but instead they don’t go there. Even though you can see that Gwen and this Kevin guy were close friends it doesn’t pay off as much as other stories have. Marvel has a plethora of interesting villains that haven’t been used yet. In Marvel Rising they don’t use any villains to their full potential. A good example is exile, the main antagonist, you’re not really sure of his intentions from the beginning and worst of all his powers aren’t really explained to well. This just makes him a very confusing villan and worst of all a terrible main antagonist. Like the heroes I applaud them for trying something new. The villains aren’t proper used to their full potential or stand out and that’s a big problem for your overall story. This is just a personal preference problem but how Disney+ puts Marvel Rising on its service is weird. The first few episodes were released originally as seven minute long shorts. Then each of the episodes that followed released as movies. These movies range in length from 45 minutes to an hour. Instead of putting them altogether Disney+ has put all of them separate and doesn’t tell you which one came first so it’s kind of a guessing game, this is frustrating. They should have just put them all together which would have made for an easier viewing experience.

Conclusion

Marvel Rising was a good attempt at trying something new and reaching a broader audience. While I didn’t hate watching it I couldn’t help but think they could have done more with it. As of the writing of this review I couldn’t find any plans to continue the series. So that potential, at least for now, will never be fully realized. Which is a shame because while I do have some problems with the show I don’t see it as a complete failure. If you have young kids who like superheroes this show is a pretty good show to sit down with them and watch. If you don’t have kids and you like superheroes and have a free afternoon I say give it a watch. Just have Google ready so you know what order to watch the episodes.

Have you watched Marvel Rising what are your thoughts? Comment below!

Series Review Score: B+