RANKING THE PIXAR MOVIES: No. 16

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NO. 16 – Brave (2012)

DIRECTORS: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

In the years following the release of Toy Story 3, Pixar underwent a brief but awkward period in which their films weren’t as universally acclaimed as they were before. Out of the three films released during this period, Brave is generally regarded to be the best out of all of them, and while I don’t necessarily agree with this statement, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t have anything good to offer. So, how about that story? In ancient Scotland, a princess named Merida doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her mother, Queen Elinor. On the day that she is to be betrothed, Merida’s rebellious nature gets the better of her, resulting in a nasty falling out with her mother and ultimately running away. Eventually, she stumbles and bargains with a demented witch to do something about her mother, which happens to be a spell in the form of a cake. But, wouldn’t ya know it – the spell is actually more of a curse than anything, and ends up turning Elinor into a bear. With her kingdom in disarray, Merida must find a way to set things right and prove that she truly is “brave”.

Title drop aside, how does the movie fare on its’ own? Well, as I’ve mentioned earlier, it has some good stuff to offer – the animation is outstanding, as it truly invokes a fantastical and atmospheric tone while also managing to bring the contemporary but grand landscapes of ancient Scotland to life, with a vast amount of detail given to the designs of the characters as well. Speaking of which, most of the characters are also great and entertaining to watch, from the loud yet fatherly Fergus, the eccentric Witch, and the amusing clan chieftains. However, if there’s one thing that really holds this film back, it would have to be the story. Like A Bug’s Life, it utilizes a tired plot cliche that we’ve seen countless of times before, which in this case is the “parent and offspring don’t get along but eventually do” type. Granted, there can be circumstances in which a film’s plot can be driven by a cliche but still manages to be great in the end, something which other animated films such as A Goofy Movie (another Disney film, though Pixar was not involved) and Rango have proven. However, you have to make sure that the characters (especially the main protagonist) are worth rooting for, otherwise it’ll just fall apart, a lesson that Brave unfortunately doesn’t seem to get. Merida is possibly the worst character in the entire Pixar canon. In addition to being the typical “rebellious teenager”, she’s also responsible for nearly everything that goes wrong during the course of the film, whether it be her mother’s (and eventually brothers’) transformations or the four clans going to war. Elinor is far more tolerable, but even she isn’t that great of a character either, being the “strict and overprotective but well-meaning parent”. Of course, you could say the same about Marlin in Finding Nemo, but he was done in a way that actually made him not only extremely sympathetic, but worth rooting for as well. Now with that out of the way, is Brave a bad film? Not by a long shot – it’s just that it suffers from a rather straightforward story and an unlikeable main character. Brave; Not up to par with the legendary Pixar classics, but worth a look for the gorgeous animation and charming side characters.

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RANKING THE PIXAR MOVIES: No. 17

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When it comes to companies that are known for not just making some of the best animated films, but some of the best films PERIOD, Pixar Animation Studios is one of the many that will immediately fly off the mind. From their humble beginnings as The Graphics Group, their valiant efforts to revolutionize the industry by making the first ever computer-animated movie, their glorious rise to fame, to their role in helping Disney climb back to the top in the wake of their devastating slump in the 2000’s, they have certainly more than earned their status as one of the greatest cinematic storytelling legends. And with these articles, I’ll be listing off all seventeen of their movies and rank them from worst to best. Get ready to go infinity and beyond, as we take a crack at Ranking The Pixar Movies. Oh, and happy Turkey Day by the way.

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NO. 17 – A Bug’s Life (1998)

DIRECTORS: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

This is one of the more lesser talked about installments of the Pixar canon, and to be honest, that’s kind of understandable. What really drags ABL down is how when compared to the rest of the films on here, it doesn’t take a whole lot of risks in terms of its’ story. It’s essentially two plot line cliches that we’ve seen countless of times before merged together, one being the “screw-up underdog has to save the day” type, while the other being the “liar revealed” type. However, that’s not to say that it manages to drag it down to the point where it’s bad; far from it, actually. The characters, while fairly generic, are highly likable, and the animation itself is just superb, showing in great detail what life is like through the eyes of a bug, with a few really intense action sequences to boot. Oh, and have I mentioned that Hopper is the third best antagonist in the entire Pixar canon? Well, I have now. A Bug’s Life: It truly is a life worth living.

REVIEW: Cheetahmen (1991, Action 52/NES) *100th ARTICLE!!!*

Every once in a while, there comes a game that is so relentlessly, unabashedly awful that it manages to go down in the history books. Action 52 is one of those games.

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Noted for attempting to break the mold by featuring 52 titles in one cartridge, the game was the brainchild of aspiring developer Vince Perri and his studio Active Enterprises, and was released for the NES in 1991 followed by a 1993 Sega Genesis port, with a planned SNES port getting scrapped. While AE had remarkably high hopes for the game, literally everything but success barged through their door when the time came for the big release as extremely poor word of mouth spread throughout. That’s not to say that they’re wrong, though – in fact, they’re pretty much dead on, as the game itself is simply atrocious. From glitchy and in some cases completely unplayable titles, retina-assaulting visuals, and much, much more, it’s no wonder why Action 52 has went on to become one of the shining beacons of horrible video games. With that said, there’s one game that stands out more significantly than the rest, said game being Cheetahmen.

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(NOTE: This is the title screen of the Genesis version. The NES version doesn’t have a title screen, though it does have an opening cutscene.)

In what could best be described as AE’s attempt to cash in on the immense popularity surrounding the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the game follows a trio of anthropomorphic cheetahs, two of which named after ancient Greek gods (GOLLY GEE GOSH, I SURE DO WONDER WHO COULD HAVE INFLUENCED THAT IDEA!?) named Hercules, Apollo, and Aries, as they valiantly battle to thwart the dastardly plot of the mad scientist Dr. Morbis. With that out of the way, can these ferocious felines possibly offer any sort of redemption to such a catastrophe of a game, or was their placement as the very last title an indication that AE saved the “best” for last? Let’s find out, shall we?

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THE LOOKS

Well, one thing’s for sure; they haven’t eased on the godawful visuals by a LOOOOOONG shot. The best way that I can describes the graphics is that they look less like an NES game and more like an Atari 2600 game that was given a makeover to include a tiny bit of detail. In addition to that, the character sprites are some of the worst that I’ve ever seen in an NES game. Not only is it difficult to make out what a majority of them are even supposed to be, they all look lazily and sloppily designed, some of them often flickering most of the time. But you wanna know what the worst part about this is? The graphics are just the least of the problems here…

You hear that obnoxiously repetitive tune above? Well, you better get used to it, because that is literally ALL THAT YOU’LL BE HEARING THROUGHOUT THE GAME. The NES Rocky and Bullwinkle game, while worse on a technical level, at least changed the tunes around for a few levels. But that’s not even the most insulting part! In the sequel (trust me, I’ll get around to ripping that piece of crap a new one at a later date), THEY DO THE EXACT SAME THING!! There’s being cheap, and then there’s…I don’t even know how to describe this!

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THE GAMEPLAY

On paper, the gameplay isn’t complex by any means. It’s your typical side-scrolling platformer with some elements of a beat ’em up thrown in for good measure, with some levels having you shift control to another Cheetahman, whether it be the the club-wielding Aries (who you start off with), the bow and arrow-wielding Apollo, or the muscular Hercules. In execution, however, it is literally broken far beyond possible description. First off, the controls are horrible. Not only are they incredibly stiff and clunky, but they can also be barely responsive at times. The level design is tepid through and through, offering nothing to stand out from the rest of the NES library while being boring and bland at best to infuriatingly tedious at worst. Add in some cruddy hit detection and all of the other aforementioned issues, and you’re left with one sad mess.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Action 52 has rightfully earned its’ status as one of the worst video games ever made, and Cheetahmen only enforces that fact even more with its’ hideous visuals, remarkably lazy soundtrack (if you can even call it that) and gameplay that brings one of the most legendary video game consoles of all time to a whole new low. Simply put, avoid it and Action 52 as a whole like the plague. Now if you excuse me, I’ll be busy taking up an occupation as a poacher in the savanna.

THE RETR0PIA RANKING

F

BONUS QUESTION: What do you love the most about Thanksgiving?

Also, thank you all for ONE HUNDRED ARTICLES! Here’s to another one hundred!

retr0spective: Sucker Punch Productions (Part Three) *FINAL PART*

In 2009, SP released their valiant leap into the seventh generation and their first PS3 title, Infamous.

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Being a vast departure from SP’s previous titles, the game revolves around a bike messenger named Cole McGrath, who gains electrical powers after getting caught in a horrific explosion that completely obliterates his home of Empire City. When the city begins to plunge into madness, Cole takes it upon himself to use his powers for good and do something to make things right…somehow. The concept for the game originated when development for the third Sly game, Honor Among Thieves, was quickly approaching the finishing line. Wanting to take their studio into a more “brazen and loud” direction, they decided to make a deconstruction of sorts of the superhero genre. However, this iteration was initially not the Infamous we all eventually came to knew – in fact, it was an entirely different project altogether in terms of visuals and even its’ name. Originally, the game went under the title of True Hero, and was also less realistic in terms of art direction and leaned more towards the style of the Sly games. Ultimately, this iteration of the game was not able to make it into the beta stage…at least, that’s what I think. Aside from the concept art, there’s not a whole lot of things known about it. Getting back on track, like many other PlayStation franchises, the game had a large amount of influences that contributed to its’ development. Being a sandbox game, titles such as Grand Theft Auto and the tie-in video game for Spider-Man 2 (the GOOD one, mind you) helped to lay the basic groundwork, and even some comic book story lines (this being a superhero game and all) were fairly influential too, such as Batman: No Man’s Land, in which Gotham City is seperated from the rest of the globe in the aftermath of a devestasting earthquake. However, we still haven’t gotten to the real meat of the game; the Karma system. Essentially, it’s a sort of “choose your own path” sort of deal in which you can either use your powers for good or for evil. The decisions you make throughout your playthrough are also a major factor. In practice, it’s kind of similar to the spin-off Shadow the Hedgehog game – oh great, now I have to wash my mouth out with soap for reminding people that thing exists. When the game was released, it was met with overall positive reviews, with many praising its’ visuals, mechanics, structure and implementation of Cole’s powers, though reception towards the Karma system and the combat were a bit more mixed. As for sales, they were outstanding, with 175,900 copies being sold in just one week. In wake of the game’s success, SP found themselves with a whole new franchise on their hands, with a sequel being released in 2011, a stand-alone expansion for the sequel released during October of that same year, and a third game and second stand-alone expansion both released in 2014. There was even a feature film planned, though it’s pretty much fallen into the pit of various other video game movie “never gonna happens”.

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Now with all of that out of the way, there’s just one little factor left to address…what is Sucker Punch’s future? The answer is…well, I don’t know. In fact, nobody really seems to know. Recently, there was a rumor going around that they were developing a PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game, but that job turned out to be Insomniac’s. But no matter what happens, whether it be a return to the Cooper Gang, another journey with the Conduits, or an entirely new IP altogether, we’ll be waiting for what comes next.

THE END

A retr0pia Production

BONUS QUESTION: If Nedford, Thistle, and Ira were to be played (pun not intended) by professional and well-known voice actors, who would you choose for each of them and why?

ALSO: Feeling bored on a Saturday? Then come on in over to CyTube and enjoy even more retro goodness at retr0piaTV, 10: A.M. Eastern Standard Time!

50 FOLLOWERS!

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First off, I’d like to give out a very special thanks to all of you for helping me reach 50 followers. When I first started this whole endeavor, I didn’t expect it to grow into what it is now, but in a little under ten months, it’s managed to do all of that and more. Also, I’d like to apologize for not doing a Halloween special, as my schedule was at an extremely hectic point at the time and ultimately ended up leaving no room for me to make one. However, I will try to make a Thanksgiving special. In other news, I’ll be hosting my very first stream tomorrow on CyTube here, so be sure to join me! Thanks for supporting my blog, and remember to stay retr0!

retr0pia75 & The Liebster Award 2

I’ve been nominated once again, this time courtesy of Evil Wizard, whose blog can be found here. With that said, let us go over the rules:

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  1. Thank the person who nominated you and answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  2. Nominate 5 to 11 blogs and give them 11 different questions to answer.

And now, for the questions…

“If you could have one more visit with someone who is no longer in your life, who would it be?”

My grandfather. I won’t go into details, but all I can say is that I still miss him deeply after all these years.

“If you won the lottery tomorrow and were financially set for life, what would you do?”

Start up my own Triple-A video game development studio devoted to delivering unique and engaging titles that people of all ages can enjoy, with a Pixar-esque brain trust.

“What is your absolute favorite place on Earth?”

I don’t really have a specific one, but there is an Air Force base located close to where I live that has a very nice town.

“What is your favorite game, book, film, show, etc.?”

Again, don’t have any specific ones, at least for books, films, and TV shows. As for my favorite game, it’s Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

“If you lost everything you had, who is the first person you would turn to for help?”

One of my family members.

And now, for the nominations…

Kyle Loves Animation and More

Stuff And That

Conquering the Gaming Backlog

Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings

Walk Away From The Sun

My questions:

  1. Who is your favorite Muppet?
  2. What are your favorite and least favorite DC Comics films?
  3. If you haven’t already or are at the legal age but haven’t done so, would you ever drink acholol or do you prefer normal beverages?
  4. Who is your favorite Marvel character?
  5. Who is your favorite video game antagonist?