Thunder, Thunder, Thunder!

The original Thundercats cartoon was great. Twenty five years ago, it was fantastic. But that’s a bit like saying that the Austin Metro is a great hatchback. It was true in the 80s, but if you bought one now for your wife’s birthday she’d divorce you and probably take the kids, because you’d be demonstrably incompetent with your idiotic choice of automobile.

But, like anything at the time, it was all we had, and we knew no better. Until 2011 that is, when Warner Brothers shocked the world by spending a bazillion dollars on making a NEW Thundercats cartoon. It was bloody amazing and I loved every second of it. But some insist that it was crap in comparison to the original. I think it’s about time we got to the truth of the matter and compared the two:

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Let’s start with the originals, or Thundercats: Classic as no-one calls them. Well, the first thing you may notice is that all the characters wear leotards. It’s weird. Like they all just got home from a gymnastics competition. And while we’re at it, who the hell dressed Wily Kit? Her dress is all torn up; she looks like she just escaped from Michael Jackson’s house. Nothing dates quicker than clothes and hairstyles, sure, but I think the Thundercats looked odd even back then. He-Man never had this sort of problem, probably because he didn’t wear any clothes at all. Now I see why.

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The new guys all look a bit more savvy. Some of them are even wearing armour; a sensible decision if you’re fighting guys with swords. They look a whole lot more dynamic, too. The Sword of Omens has had a bit of a makeover, not that it needed one. Overall, they look suitably modern and stylish. Some have complained about their Japanese styling, but seeing as the original show was also animated in Japan, I think that these people should be mindful of their glass house before I come over and smash it in with the Thundertank.

LION-OLIONOCOMP

Lion-O has that weird five o’clock shadow thing going on. Like he had a beard the whole summer and then shaved it off. Don’t forget his tummy-window, either. It’s so we can all see his rippling abs. His whole costume is a silly shade of robin-egg blue, and it’s a bit skimpy really. It’s more like underwear than a proper outfit. He obviously spends a lot of time shaping his eyebrows and applying emo-style mascara because NOBODY UNDERSTANDS HIM.

The new Lion-O is a little younger and not so creepy. He can dress himself properly, and even has a shoulder pauldron. Like all of the new Thundercats, he is noticeably more cat-like in appearance. He actually appears to have fur, whereas the original Lion-O just looked naked. Gone is Larry Kenney’s booming voice, but the replacement fits the character well. New Lion-O puts me in mind of the impetuous Hot Rod from Transformers the Movie. Top marks.

CHEETARACHEETCOMP

Cheetara looks a bit like your friend’s mum that you fancied when you were ten. She has a wicked eighties haircut, but she needs to find someone other than KISS to do her makeup. She’s missing a sleeve on her costume for some reason – I can only imagine it was torn off by the same person who sexually assaulted Wily Kit. Her skin is a pallid and shocking white, making her look very sickly.

Just gonna put this here... for reasons.

Just gonna put this here… for reasons.

New Cheetara is younger and more nubile. She’s well fit, and has ditched the leotard for a sports bra and short trousers. She can run at super-duper speeds like her counterpart, but in this continuity she’s also a cleric, part of the elite King’s Guard. Frankly, this is one pussy I wouldn’t mind sitting on my face. Uh, lap. IN MY LAP.

PANTHROPANTHCOMP

Panthro is arguably the best Thundercats character, even if they didn’t manage to make him look much like a cat. He looks more like a shaved elf. His harness/pants combo makes him look like he got stuck in one of those baby-bouncer things you hang in a doorway. New Panthro is the same character, but wears big-boy trousers and grew some muttonchops. Halfway through the series, he loses both his arms like it ain’t no thing. Because he’s WELL ARD M8.

WILY KIT & WILY KATKITCOMP

Wily Kit and Wily Kat have aged the worst, which is strange as they’re the youngest characters. Well, technically Lion-O was the youngest character in the original series, but that’s a whole kettle of weird that I’m just going to ignore. They look sort of haggard. Small, rather than young. Gives me the creeps, really. Like if you put granny in pigtails.

KATCOMP

The new Thunderkits are wicked. Look how cute they are!! They even have little bushy tails and everything. Those mischievous scamps! Wily Kit is just adorable. I’d totally giver her a cuddle if it didn’t mean I’d get banged up in a Thunderian prison along with Mumm-Ra. Moving on!

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The less said about Snarf, the better. He talks and it’s annoying and weird. I’m reminded of those deluded bastards who teach their dogs to speak, and the animal painfully manages to mewl “I ruuuffff yuuuuuuu” in exchange for a biscuit. It’s sad. He’s also ugly as shit.

New Snarf is much better. He doesn’t talk and behaves more like an animal this time. He’s kept as a pet rather than a slave, which makes more sense. He’s cute and nice to look at, even if he is vaguely reminiscent of Pikachu.

THE FINAL WORD

I think it’s obvious that the new Thundercats inherits the mantle of best anthropomorphic cat cartoon. It outshines the original in every way, but the world just wasn’t ready for it. Today’s children have been spoiled with their newfangled Playing Stations and needle drugs.

“Why does no-one love us, Kit?”

2011 Thundercats is painstakingly well animated, fresh and relevant. The story and mythology has been tweaked slightly, as have the characters, so it doesn’t feel like a re-tread of the original. Oh, and Lion-O can turn into a wicked flying space robot. What more do you people want!?

“Forget his tummy”

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Psycho Kid Cool Turbo Fox Attack

Have you ever played a video game and thought to yourself, this seems familiar? You probably know the feeling if you’ve played any of the big modern franchises like Pokémon or Call of Duty, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about any two distinct, separate games that play exactly the same.

It happened to me with Psycho Fox, on the Sega Master System. Bloody great game, unless you live in a PAL territory, which… uh… I do. So it was a bloody great game, if you didn’t mind playing in slow motion. I actually took a solder iron to the console in the end and gave it an emergency PAL-ectomy. The games now play at their correct speed. Proper job.

Ignore the patronising flash in the top corner.

Good game. Better box.

Anyway, the story starts in Japan some time in 1988, with a game by Vic Tokai called Kakefu-kun no Jump Tengoku: Speed Jigoku. It was fairly decent, and soon repackaged for the west as Kid Kool to remove any association with the game’s main character Kakefu-kun, himself based on popular Japanese child actor Kenji Sagara. With the most minor of modifications the game would later receive, they simply took his hat away.

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A decent shade of blue on the NES!? Heresy!

So, a year later when the time came for Vic Tokai to release a game on Sega’s floundering-but-still-awesome Master System, they did what any of us would do in that situation and skinned Kid Kool alive.

Keeping the gameplay intact, they painted it over with cute animal characters and called it Psycho Fox. What’s ‘psycho’ about him, I don’t know, but it’s a catchy name. I don’t think the game was ever released in Japan, but if it was it almost certainly would’ve been renamed something like Jump Hit Troublesome Fox Bang Bang! Wonderland.

Looks cute in his little shirt, dun't 'ee?

Looks cute in his little shirt, dun’t ‘ee?

Over the pond in Brazil, they loved the Master System but hated foxes, so when distributor Tec Toy released the game over there, they hastily replaced the main characters and christened the game Sapo Xulé vs Os Invasores do Brejo, or Stink-Foot the Frog Vs the Swamp Invaders. I am not making this up.

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They also put him in Kung Fu Kid. No joke.

In 1991, Vic Tokai moved onto 16-bit hardware and left the Master System behind. They wanted to make a brand-new game for the cutting-edge Mega Drive, so they took the mutilated and defiled remnants of Kid Kool / Psycho Frog / Whatever and turned it into a virtually identical game called Magical Hat: Surprise Turbo! Great Adventure.

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The blue thing has seen some shit.

This wouldn’t fly in the west, so that game was reskinned as Decap Attack – a name that only makes marginally more sense. Deciding that our palettes were subtly different to our Japanese brethren, Vic Tokai set the game in Transylvania and replaced the cast with a green-moustached Dr. Frankenstein and Chuck – his lumpy orange mummy friend. Instead of punching things like a normal man/fox/frog, Chuck impossibly thrust his head out from the middle of his torso and attacked enemies or the landscape with his face.

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Eeww! Hearts! Bring back the fox!

Some of you Brits reading may fondly recall the Decap Attack comic strip in Fleetway’s Sonic the Comic. It was absolutely mental – a thing of comic genius penned by writer/illustrator Nigel Kitching. He turned it into a hilariously macabre sitcom, and pushed the envelope at every opportunity. The ol’ S.T.C deserves its own article, so look out for that in the future.

mjg

Yes. Yes I do.

Anyway, thanks to Vic Tokai, it was possible to buy six games for three different systems and end up with the same thing. The funny thing is, it would have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that progenitor Kafeku-kun had such a distinct play style. The gameplay, power-ups, controls, even the way the enemies move is entirely unique and unmistakeable. Had the first game been more generic, no-one would have noticed.

“Fox bang”

TMW Meets Games: X Rated

The Toy Meets World crew, and Pete, sit down for a play of some old games. We were going to do a toy section – it was great; we had boxes and boxes of toys and a My Little Pony blindfold! That hadn’t been used for deviant sexual purposes! But it turns out that I was so good at the challenge, it just looked like I was cheating.

Even the guys had their doubts. So it got snipped. Maybe next time.

Pony World

When driving around the British countryside, it’s very easy to get lost. The roads meander around like a drunken snake, the signs are marked with phantom towns that according to Tony Robinson may have existed in 1642, and you’re always three miles from everywhere.

GOOD LUCK

GOOD LUCK

It’s like being in the Twilight Zone.

So when we set out to find Castle Drogo, a castle atop a gorge about 15 miles outside of Exeter, it surprised no-one when we ended up lost on the moors with the castle nowhere to be found. Just when we were thinking about turning around and going home, we came across a sign.

“PONY FARM”

When I woke up that morning, there was maybe a thirty-percent chance of cuddling ponies. Now I could be sure. The other guys were a bit nervous about going to an attraction probably designed for children, but I insisted.

So we went into the pony farm, and the lady at the counter looked at us like we might have escaped from somewhere. This was not helped when my brother, helpfully paying for the tickets and making small talk, said “we haven’t cuddled ponies before. Well, Adam has. But we don’t talk about that.”

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They called in the choppers, just to be safe.

The faded sign outside didn’t really do the place justice. It was beautiful – a slice of Devon countryside you only see on postcards and in doctored Tourist Board pamphlets. There were more than just ponies there, too. There was a herd of donkeys, some comically large Shire horses, guinea fowl, chickens and lambs. It was a bit like an open-plan Crealy Farm, without the rotted playground and sulphur-spewing Go-Karts.

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It’s hard not to frolic through a field like this.

The sun was shining, it was unseasonably warm, and we were surrounded by the sights and smells of flowers, trees and animals. The ponies had a huge pasture all to themselves – rather odd for animals so small. And they really were small. The largest one was about three feet tall. They were a bit indifferent to our advances, but clearly happy and well looked after.

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My little pony. Arf!

They had something called a Willow Walk, which is… well, it was just a field really. But it had pussy willows in it, so I can’t argue with the description.

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Cool spring, or open tap? You decide.

A great time was had by all. We had a picnic on the bench, where we drank Pepsi and slurped up the liquid that had once been Mars bars, and I tried to feed a duck but the ungrateful bastard ran away. After two or three hours, we all had sunstroke and I was all cuddled out, so we hopped back into the car and onto destinations new.

We actually found Castle Drogo in the end, by heading away from it. That’s no joke.

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, we were banned for life and ordered to never come near the pony farm again. They put up a sign.

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And that is how you know you’ve had a good time, folks.

“It had pussy”

Chaos Control

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There’s a new Smash Bros out for Wii U. This is a pretty big deal, as developer Sora have proven to be masters at squeezing gaming goodness out of new Nintendo hardware. So naturally, when faced with the Wii U’s fancy touchscreen controller, both they and the fans decided it would be better to just use the old Gamecube controllers instead. Controllers which, may we remind you, debuted 14 years and two console generations ago. Only in the topsy-turvy world of Nintendo does this make sense.

That’s an awfully short cable. You’ll get eye strain sitting that close, m’lad.

Never one to miss a trick, Nintendo decided to do a cheeky re-issue of the ‘cube controller, this time tarted up with a little Smash logo on its pretty face. It can be yours – bundled with Official Nintendo Wii U Controller Adapter™ of course – for the modest sum of £54.00 and change. Incidentally, that’s more than half of what a brand new Gamecube (with game) would have set you back in 2003. How times change.

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It’s Hip To Be Square

By TMW newcomer Sam Taylor.

Oh hello there! I’m new here!

For my first review I thought I would start a bit easy as my writing and reviewing is a little rusty, so please bear with me as I spray it up with some WD40. In fact it has been about six years since I wrote a review for anything. So, I thought I would follow in the great Adam’s footsteps and write about a childhood TV show that sits closely to my metallic heart.

Now I am not very old, but I was raised watching old videos of Muffin the Mule, Camberwick Green and whatever else was on Watch With Mother. I remember there being a lot of Dr Who involved in my bedtime watches as well, however that is a different story for a different day.

To the people of Devon, this man is indistinguishable from the Third Doctor

To the people of Devon, this man is indistinguishable from the Third Doctor

This series is a lot younger than that. I am going to tell you about Cubix, a multicoloured robot that shows you just what you can do with a Rubix cube if you combine it with a Gundam kit. (If you listen closely and point your ears in the direction of the westcountry, you’ll hear Adam slapping his forehead as he only now realises the similarity between Cubix and Rubix. Only took fourteen years!)

I think the one on the far right is supposed to be a toilet. His eyes beg for death.

I think the one on the far right is supposed to be a toilet. His eyes beg for death.

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