Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures Series Review: A Pac-Man Month Special

Reviewed by Joshua Jordan

Pacopolis is under constant attack by an army of ghost from the Netherworld and there’s only on yellow hero who can stop them, Pac-Man! Along with his friends Spiral and Cylindria and a slew of other allies Pac will have to face off against Lord Betrayus and his underlings to save the city and quite possibly all of PacWorld from certain doom.

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures is a very interesting example in how to have a good foundation of a story but not use that foundation to an advantage. On the positive side this animated series looked pretty good. It had imaginative world that looked both colorful and bright but also used iconography from the real Pac-Man games as intricate designs for everything from the streets to the buildings. Another thing I enjoyed about the show is Pac-Man’s powers. I like how he eats different berries to gain different abilities and I also liked that his friends could eat them too but the berries effected them differently than Pac-Man. All of Pac-Man’s transformations look pretty cool even if they kind of looked like another round video game character named Kirby. One of the more unique aspects of show was a really good set up for the characters with compelling backstories that took a lot of great liberties that could have led to attention grabbing storytelling.

The negative side of Ghostly adventures is a lot of wasted potential. Something that could have been great but turned out not so much. The biggest problem I have with the show is that it never reaches its full potential story wise. Instead of building on the wonderful foundation that the creators of the show made with compelling backstories that could had led to potentially fascinating episodes. They almost completely ignore it and only refer to it occasionally. Another example is the humor. There is a lot of good jokes in this show that made me laugh. My problem is when they start focusing heavily on burp and fart jokes that over stay their welcome. Another good example of wasted potential is the animation. While the animation looks good at times the lip sync isn’t right and most of the time breaks the illusion. Finally, and I know this might seem like a minor gripe but the theme song isn’t good. A lot of shows have great theme songs that either set up the premise of the show or are such a great ear worm that you can consistently hum it to yourself. However Ghostly Adventures doesn’t have one, in fact, it seems like the theme was either thrown together quickly or edited so poorly that it just doesn’t work. So much so that I just tried to skip the theme song every time so I didn’t have to hear it. The Pac-Man games all have a wealth of amazing music and it would have been so much better if they’d just used one iconic tracks and just gave it a remix. As you can see Ghostly Adventures has a ton of wasted potential that stops it from being great.

Is Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures worth watching? If you’re a very young kid like five or six years old, the answer is yes. The colorful world and characters are enough to grab any young kid’s attention. For older kids and adults however I can’t really recommend it. Which is sad because of the potential you can see in the show. A potential that could have reached a wider audience with its story and characters. If you want to check it for yourself out the easiest way is to stream it on Netflix or watch it the reruns on Discovery Kids. There are better shows out there that masterfully bridge that gap between kids and adults but Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures isn’t one of them.

Series Review Score: C+

Coin Up Review Of Pac-Man!

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Hello Arcaders!

Welcome to the latest issue of COIN UP! This is the review series where I go back in time and review those arcade games of the past that you probably remember or or have a memory vaguely playing at the local arcade- the game tucked away in a corner while you’re waiting for your turn at Frogger. If you have a favorite game you would like to see in a review- let me know in the comments section below! Lets start this Maze Madness series on the Pac-Man games of the Bally-Midway Era, with the one that started it all! Continue reading

The Legend of The Three Caballeros – Series Review: Now-stalgia on Disney+

The Legend of The Three Caballeros – The Entire Series (2018)

Donald Duck’s birthday was a disaster! In the span of a few hours he lost his house, his job, and his girlfriend. But things might be looking up for Donald when he gets word that his Great-Grandfather, Clinton Coot left him a cabana and a bunch of priceless artifacts. Though as Donald’s luck would have it he wasn’t the only one Coot gave all of this to. As two others also co-inherited the cabana, a Mexican Rooster named Panchito Gonzalez and a Brazilian Parrot named José Carioca. Together they discover a mysterious atlas that releases a goddess named Xandra. She tells the trio that they are the descendants of a group of legendary heroes known as The Three Caballeros who had long ago defeated an evil sorcerer name Lord Felldrake. Meanwhile, the trio’s new neighbor, a stuffy aristocrat and descendent of Felldrake’s named Baron Von Sheldgoose discovers the evil sorcerer imprisoned in a staff and the two hatch a plan to conquer the world. Can Donald, Panchito, and José stop Felldrake and Shelgoose from conquering the world by becoming the new The Three Caballeros?

When I was growing up one of my favorite VHS tapes was The Three Caballeros, a classic Disney movie from 1944. I would watch that movie over and over and enjoy it every time, even if it was a bit trippy at times. As I grew up I was always delighted to see the trio pop up in various other Disney shows throughout the years. Fast-forward to about a year or so ago and I heard news that there a series was in production and was genuinely excited till I heard that it wasn’t available in the US. Then Disney+ launched and I was very happy to see that they released the show on their streaming service. I felt thrilled as I started to binge the show but I thought it could never live up to the high standards the new DuckTales reboot had set but boy was I wrong.

The Legend of The Three Caballeros is a fun and funny show for all ages. My favorite parts being The writing, jokes, and voice acting. The writing is very funny, inventive, and most surprising of all is that the three protagonists actually have a really interesting and strong character arcs throughout the shows 13 episodes. The jokes are funny and they even throw an occasional one for the adults watching but it’s nothing crude as this is a Disney show. Thirdly, and honestly this is no surprise since Disney isn’t a slouch when it comes to voice acting but it is top-notch with really big voice talents like Jim Cummings, Dee Bradley Baker, Grey Griffin, Wayne Knight, and of course Donald himself, Tony Anselmo. Everyone in this cast gives it their all and brings a lot of fun, heart, and even serious moments in the show.

I do have two minor grievances with the show. First the visuals, which are a mixed bag for me. Though it does look like a traditional animated show there small points in the animation that can be a bit stiff and not as lively as those in the new DuckTales. You can only see that stiffness every once in a while in the animation but it still bugged me a bit when I was watching it. Second, the choice to add April, May, and June, Daisy’s nieces to the show was a great idea. The execution however only made me wished they would have done something more with the characters. Even though I knew The Three Caballeros are the focus of the show it would have been nice to get to know these characters a bit better. We never get that though they just end up being girl versions of Donald’s nephews. Just to reiterate though these are two very small problems that I had with the show. None of these problems I mentioned mess with the very interesting story they are trying to tell.

The Legend of The Three Caballeros is a great addition to the Disney+ service. As of the writing of this review there isn’t any plans, at least none that I have heard of, to continue the series. Which is why this review is a complete series review. In the future though if they decide to continue I will review those as a separate season. Regardless of whether you’re a young Disney fan or an older one I would highly suggest this show. There are a few hiccups here and there but overall it doesn’t hinder the experience.

Series Review Score: A+

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.