Color A Dinosaur: An Analysis Of A Masterpiece

Throughout all the years that I have spent playing video games, one question that has stuck firmly with me is the topic on whatever or not they can be considered art. While many have offered varying viewpoints on this, I can say that there is one game that has singlehandedly made the answer point squarely to “YES”. I am of course talking about FarSight Studios and Virgin Games’ Color A Dinosaur.

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Released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the year of 1993, Color A Dinosaur gives you, the player, the task of bringing vibrancy and wonder to the beasts that once roamed the Earth. Right off the bat, gripping and thought-provoking ideas have been brought to the table. While games such as InFamous and Epic Mickey have utilized the morality concept, Color A Dinosaur had already took it to its’ utmost advantage years prior; you have been granted with the ability to either create life or let it wither away to an achromatic oblivion, void of anything resembling soul. This, in turn, leads into the visuals….

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…dear god. If this doesn’t prove my point about how this game is an objective work of art, I don’t know what will. Just take a long glance at that triceratops’ face. THAT is the look of someone who is ready to take on the world. After all, what could possibly stop him? A tyrannosaurus? Naaah. A meteor shower? An actual bath shower would pose more of a threat. An ice age? A total cakewalk! What’s that, you say? You want to see more? Well, I’m not sure what could top this symbolic brilliance, but I’ll try.

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In stark contrast to the triceratops’ fearless enthusiasm, it could be argued that the stegosaurus pictured in this scene shows reasonable concern to the prospects of having color brought upon him. However, despite his slight unease, he allows the process to go forth, not wanting you to carry the guilt of leaving him colorless. Dear god, it’s all starting to make sense now – the “FOR AGES 3 TO 6” text located at the upper left of the boxart wasn’t informing us of the game’s target demographic, but an immensely clever ruse on FarSight’s part to keep us away from playing it, as they knew that its’ artistry and high quality was so severe that they were convinced that noone could handle it or understand it!!! IT ALL MAKES SENSE!!!!

…okay, I might have gotten a bit “carried away”, if that is the proper way to describe it, but my point stands nontheless that Color A Dinosaur is a true, unsung classic of our times. It is more than just a game, it is a thought-provoking, poginant tale about creation, our duty as individuals of this planet, and what we must do to ensure a brighter future for those who live on it. And for that, it is worthy of more than a A+. That’s right – Color A Dinosaur has reinvented the alphabet as we know it. That is literally how good it is. 

With that said, have an episode of Xavier: Renegade Angel. One Adult Swim’s most underrated cartoons IMO.

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Boogerman Revisited

There’s a frequently tossed-around saying that we’ve all got to start somewhere…and needless to say, I picked quite the game to start off this whole shebang.

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On January 17th, 2016, I published my second article and my first ever review, which was centered around the 1994 side-scrolling platform game, Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure, released for the SNES and the Genesis. Developed at the peak of the “absurdist humor/gross-out” craze generated by the likes of Ren & Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, and Earthworm Jim (which actually has quite a lot in common with this game, which I’ll explain later on during the review), the story revolves around Snotty Ragsdale as he must travel throughout Dimension X-Crement (get it, because it’s seven letters away from excrement which is another word for poop…yeah, don’t expect the comedy gold to end there) under the guise of his superhero alter ego, Boogerman, in order to retrieve a power source to a machine built to stop pollution, encountering several foes and obstacles along the way. Like I said, it was a pretty bizarre choice for the game to really get this going to where I am now. And looking back on the original review, I can say that from a personal perspective, it… hasn’t really aged that well. Of course, that’s probably because of how my writing style has generally evolved throughout all this time, but I didn’t exactly elaborate on certain points very well. However, with that in mind, I’ve decided to take a crack at remaking my original review to paint a better picture for hypothetical interested newcomers. With that said, does Boogerman manage to hold up after all this time, or was it just a relic of the 90’s that’s better off staying as such? Well, if you’ve read the original review you already know that answer, but for curiosity’s sake, let’s say that I don’t. Anyways, let’s find out, shall we?

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THE LOOKS

Make no mistake – this is a game that is gross, and one that is more than certainly loud and proud about that fact. Throughout your playthrough, you’re be greeted a nonstop barrage of visual gags revolving around bodily fluids and functions, and good god do they utilize them at every chance that they get. For example, as I’ve stated in the original review, the second world of the game, aptly named The Pits, features such lovely details such as wax oozing out of ears. And if that wasn’t enough, in order to get to bonus areas (which are sewers, because of course they are), you’ve got to flush yourself down a toilet. And if THAT wasn’t enough, the checkpoints are represented by outhouses (yes, in case you don’t know, those are a thing). And if THAT wasn’t enough, there are parts in which you have to get sucked up by a nose to get to one place to the other. And if THAT wasn’t enough – yeah, by now the main problem here is pretty transparent: it all generally reeks (no pun intended) of desperation. With that said, are the visuals outright terrible? Not really – even if the gross-out aspect can get tiresome after a while, the amount of detail that’s put into the backgrounds is pretty admirable and the character animations are very smooth and fluent. It’s just a shame that they’re going into a game that, again, is running partially on a gimmick that wears out its’ welcome.

THE SOUND

If there’s one thing that I can say this game truly gets right, it would have to be the sound, no doubts about it. For something built upon the foundation of a superhero who battles evil with bodily functions, the music honestly has no right to be as good as it is, offering some very catchy tunes that make a fine use of bass. Oh, and how could I leave out the fact that this might just be the first video game in history to prominently feature digitized burps and farts? Man, this might be more of an iconic landmark in the industry than I think it is…

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THE GAMEPLAY

This is where the aforementioned Earthworm Jim comparisons emerge. Both games feature an unconventional protagonist, a satarical and humorous style (though EWJ is based around absurd humor rather than just gross-out humor), and even some similar level design ideas, notably setpieces based around the theme of a level. However, while EWJ and its’ sequel (especially the latter) knew how to keep shaking things up to keep the player’s attention, this doesn’t really make an effort to keep things from eventually turning stale. As stated in the original review, each world has a total of four levels, each one increasingly more tedious than the last, which just gives off the overall feeling that the game is dragging on and on, refusing to end. The bosses can also be somewhat fustrating, as they’re significantly faster in comparison to Boogerman’s rather limited attacks, which primarily consist of snot-flinging, burping, and farting, which is not helped by the fact that it’s a bit of a challenge to pin down their patterns. There are also a fair amount of leaps of faith, a flaw that I personally believe a 2D platformer should NEVER suffer from. While it’s not Bubsy-levels of unpleasentness, this certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the big-name platformers by any means.

THE BOTTOM LINE

At the end of the day, while Boogerman admittedly has some good things going for it, it’s not enough to save from becoming a blandly-designed platformer that tries way too hard to be funny. If you’re a huge fan of character-driven platformers, I suppose you might find some enjoyment out of it, but other than that, there’s nothing really worth sticking around for.

C-

BONUS QUESTION: If merchandise of my characters was hypothetically made (shirts, plush dolls, cups, etc.), would you buy it?

NOW PLAYING: The Lego Batman Movie (2017, Warner Bros.)

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It’s safe to say that when The Lego Movie was released back in Feburary of 2014, nobody was expecting it to become the mass phenonemon that it did. With its’ satirical yet innovative take on the “chosen one” plotline, great characters, and superb humor and animation, it set Warner Bros. on the map to become the newest contendor in the Pixar/Dreamworks/Blue Sky/Illumination competition. Of course, seeing as how the film’s take on Batman and other DC Comics characters were seen as one of the highlights, one of the next logical steps would be to make a spin-off starring said take on them. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what they’ve done.

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I’ll admit that when I first heard about The Lego Batman Movie‘s announcement, I was unsure about what to make of this. Granted, that’s not to say that I thought it was going to suck, but the fact that this along with the sequel to The Lego Movie and Ninjago were on the horizon so early made me wonder if Warner Bros. was counting their chickens a bit too early. Fortunately, when I went to go see it the other day, I was proven 100% wrong.

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It’s a bit difficult to find a good place to start in terms of what this film gets right, but the most logical one would have to be the story. Some time after the events of The Lego Movie, billionare Bruce Wayne continues to protect Gotham City from all sorts of scum and villany under the guise of his alter ego, Batman. After thwarting a scheme by The Joker to blow Gotham to shmithereens (but not before fighting practically HIS ENTIRE ROGUES GALLERY, including some that haven’t even appeared in a Batman film before now and even some that aren’t even that well-known), he unwittingly adopts an orphan by the name of Dick Grayson while attending a gala in honor of Commisioner Gordon, who is retiring, and his daughter, Barbara, who is stepping in to take his place as the city’s police commisioner. However, when Joker and the villains crash the gala and openly surrender themselves, Batman suspects that something is afoot, leading him and Dick (now under the alter-ego of Robin) to investigate what the Crown Prince of Crime is truly up to, leading to a series of events that threatens to unravel Gotham City as they know it. Despite being fairly straightforward, it’s told suprisingly well, having many interesting twists and turns with a good balance of comedy and immensely heartfelt moments to boot, with prominent focuses on Joker’s quest to get Batman to care about him, and Batman’s scepticism of becoming part of another family in the fear that he’ll lose them like his parents on that fateful night. Speaking of which, the comedy is great. No joke (and no pun intended either), you’ll find yourself laughing quite often throughout the runtime. Take my word for it.

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Another element worthy of praise is the animation – like its’ predecessor, you can tell that a vast amount of attention to detail has gone into making it resemble actual Lego bricks, from the tiny scratches, textures of fabric on the capes of some characters, and overall sense of scale that can be felt. And then there’s (ironically enough, considering this is a Batman film) the sheer vibrancy of everything. I’m not exaggerating – along with Trolls, this has got to be one of the most vivid animation features I’ve seen in quite some time, with various locations managing to have their own recongizable palette. Despite this, it never gets to a point where it really goes overboard, which helps to keep it at a concrete level.

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One thing that I’ve especially noticed is the amount of references to not only previous incarnations of the Batman mythos, but the DC Universe as a whole. In addition to the previously-mentioned opening fight scene, there’s a scene in which Alfred tells Batman about his various phases shown in the form of all of his live-action theatrical features up until this one (including the 1966 film based on the Adam West series), as well as nods to some of the more obscure characters in the DC Universe. And that’s not even mentioning the latter half, which has to be seen to be believed.

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Like it’s predecessor, The Lego Batman Movie is a gloriously frenetic and heartfelt romp that’s sure to keep you glued to your seats. If you’re in the mood for more superhero films that don’t take themselves too seriously or just looking for some all-out fun, this is the film for you. With that said, BRING ON NINJAGO!

A

Movie Reviews?

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As of late, I’ve been noticing that the very positive reactions that’s been surronding Ranking The Pixar Movies. In turn, I’ve been wondering whether or not I should do movie reviews on here. However, that’s not to say that I haven’t before – in fact, last year I did reviews on The Angry Birds Movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, but I haven’t made any since. So, how would you guys feel if I started doing regular film reviews?

RANKING THE PIXAR MOVIES: No. 14

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NO. 14 – Monsters University (2013)

DIRECTOR: Dan Scanlon

If there’s one thing nobody really expected Pixar would attempt to do, a prequel wouldn’t be low on the list, especially a prequel to what many deem to be one of their best films. Also, weren’t there parts in the teaser for the original and the original itself where Sully tells Mike about how he spent time passing notes to a girl in the fifth grade, and where Mike tells Sully that he (Sully)’s been jealous of his looks since fourth grade? Bizarre decisions and continuity errors aside, how does Monsters University fare on its’ own? Pretty darn good, actually. Okay, it isn’t exactly great and it definetely doesn’t top the original (not that anyone was expecting it to do so), but it’s time we truly start to delve into it. Ever since a fateful elementary school field trip, Mike Wazowski has devoted his life to becoming a professional Scarer for Monsters Inc. Eleven years later, his dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality when he becomes a student for Monsters University. There, he meets his future best friend (I mean, come on, that isn’t really a spoiler) and one of the “jocks” of the university, James “Sulley” P. Sullivan. The two start off on rather rocky terms, and it escalates to the point where an incident results in the both of them failing the semester’s final exam. However, a sheer miracle shines through for them in the form of the “Scare Games”, the only problem being that they’re competing against the university’s strongest fraternity Roar Omega Roar, and that the fraternity they’re on, Ozma Kappa is…well, not the strongest by any means. Now with all odds against them, Mike and Sulley have to find a way to pull through, while also forming a strong bond in the process. With all of that out of the way, let’s get into what’s good. The animation (as to be expected from The Big P) is gorgeous, with the monsters having wildly creative and varied designs, along with some fine textures in terms of their fur, scales, horns, etc. The attention to detail that went towards the university is very impressive as well, as there are times where you’ll really feel like you’re at an actual college (expect with, y’know, monsters) more often than not. Heck, they even made a fake website that’s still up to this day! The development of the relationship between Mike and Sulley is also very well done, as they come to realize that while their obsession with trying to outdo each other has led them to their current situation, they can manage to work together along with Ozma Kappa to get out of it. Speaking of which, the other characters, both old and new, offer plenty of charm and likeability, the lovable misfits of Ozma Kappa being a shining example. In addition, the action sequences are fantastic, being exciting, fast-paced, and even a bit suspenseful at times, the Library scene and the climax being the most worthy of this notion. Now, let’s move on to the flaws. While the plot is executed in a satisfying manner, I won’t deny that it can be a bit slow at times, as a chunk of the plot is spent towards Mike and Sulley’s eventual friendship rather than the Scare Games. There’s also the problem that for a Pixar film, it can get suprisingly mean-spirited at times. I mean, just watch the final exam scene and the (SPOILER WARNING!!!) part where Sulley admits to Mike that he essentially helped him cheat without him knowing and you’ll see what I mean. Regardless, Monsters University is a perfectly good prequel that manages to stand on its’ own ground.

REVIEW: Rayman (1995, PlayStation)

In the mid-90’s, the gaming industry was undergoing a drastic and bold transition from the fourth generation into the fifth generation; developers were working harder than ever to refine their technology, a wide variety of iconic franchises were introduced, and the third dimension was officially taking center stage. However, if there’s one game that perfectly signifies this transition more than any other one released during this period, it would have to be the first game to star Ubisoft’s limbless wonder and mascot of sorts, Rayman.

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Initially released for the Atari Jaguar and later ported to a multitude of consoles throughout the years (and I do mean a MULTITUDE), this side-scrolling platformer revolves around the titular character as he must make his way throughout a wide array of bizarre lands to thwart the schemes of the evil Mr. Dark. With that said, how does this game hold up years after its’ release? Let’s find out, shall we?

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THE LOOKS

Right off the bat, these are visuals that WILL grab your attention just by the sheer vibrancy and creativity of them. Not only is this the best looking 2D platformer of its’ time, but it also might just be the best looking 2D platformer, period. Rather than just using the typical “grass world, desert world, ice world, lava world” and so forth, each one is extremely distinct and unique in its’ own right, Band Land and the Candy Château being the best examples of this. It especially helps that you can tell that a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into making each and every one of them as bursting with creativity as they are, which can also be applied to the many characters that Rayman will encounter on his journey, whether they be good or bad. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s simply pure eye candy.

THE SOUND

A good percentage of my favorite music comes from video game soundtraccks, and this is no exception. The music is just amazing, managing to range between a wide variety of styles, whether they be atmospheric, buoyant, or whimsical. The sound effects help to add to the general aesthetic to the game, helping it feel like you’re truly playing an interactive cartoon. In addition to the visuals, the sound might also be the best I’ve ever heard in a 2D platformer.

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THE GAMEPLAY

Now the gameplay is where things get difficult to throughly summarize. On paper, it’s fairly typical – you go from A to B collecting stuff while avoiding enemies, fighting various bosses along the way until you get to the guy who’s been causing you all the trouble in the first place. However, there are plenty of things to keep it fresh. To start off, as you progress throughout the game, you gain more and more moves, whether they be using your hair as a helicopter or using your detached fists as a defense mechanism, that will aid you against certain types of enemies as well as being beneficial to certain areas. You’ll also have to search for the MacGuffins of the game called Electoons, which are scattered throughout each of the levels and are locked in cages. The level design is superb, offering the right amount of platforming as well as some stages that can get pretty brutal at times in turns of difficulty. You can also gain extra lives by collecting 100 Tings, which are the coins or rings of the game. While some might be turned of by the difficulty, the gameplay is still very much fine as it is.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I can see why the Rayman franchise has stayed around as long as it has, and the first game is definitely an ode to this notion, giving an engaging, immensely colorful, and challenging take on the side scroller. While I like the sequels and LOVE both Origins and Legends, there’s something about the original that keeps bringing me back for more. I’m not quite sure what it is, but it’s surely enough for it to earn a spot in my favorite games of all time.

A-