Missing my Nemesis

Everyone needs a nemesis. Superman has Lex Luthor, He-Man has Skeletor, and Peter Popoff has James Randi.

When two polar opposites eventually throw down, it’s going to be something special. More than just another fight, this is a clash of irreconcilable ideals that will reverberate throughout the universe. TMW takes a look at the best clashes of good and evil throughout the ages.

Darth Vader Vs Obi Wan/Luke Skywalker

Speaking objectively, the first Star Wars film is great, even if behind the scenes George Lucas was going bald from stress and Alec Guinness was renegotiating his contract every five minutes. It introduced us to classic characters and ideas that will forever be embedded in our hearts and the hearts of our grandchildren.

"Daddy! Why won't you hug me!?"

“Daddy! Why won’t you hug me!?”

Obi Wan Kenobi’s fight with Darth Vader is remembered as one of cinema’s great moments. Or should that be misremembered? Watching it today, in Space Year 2015, the whole thing seems a bit of an anticlimax.

The lightsaber battle is dull – I’ve seen slicker moves when my grandma sweeps the kitchen floor. And the old wizard decides that while he could use his Jedi magic to drop a spaceship on Vader’s shiny black noggin, he’ll just stand there and die. Although the concept of death in the Star Wars universe doesn’t seem to be clearly defined.

What’s the disadvantage of death, exactly, if you can come back as a sparkly ghost and perv on Leia taking a shower? You know you would, don’t lie. Lies lead to the dark side.

"Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine"

“Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine”

The later battle in Return of the Jedi between all growed-up Luke and Vader is pretty hardcore by comparison, even if he does spend twenty minutes being called chicken-shit by Mumm-Ra The Emperor.

It all gets pretty heavy when poor old Papa Vader kicks the bucket, but it’s a happy ending after all when Han Solo, two robots and the semi-incestuous Jedi twins have a dance with the teddy bears.

Optimus Prime Vs Megatron

This is when most of us learned that heroes sometimes fail. You probably learned this with tears streaming down your face, your tiny little hands balled into fists in a display of smoldering, primal rage.

"Oh, and Santa Claus ISN'T REAL. Mwhahaha!"

Back in the 80s, film characters stayed dead, kids.

This was the battle of the decade – after all those years of threats and posturing, Prime finally gave Megs the fight he asked for. And boy, did he give him a whupping. Optimus takes Megatron apart – it’s like watching Muhammad Ali take on that Mr. Glass guy from Unbreakable.

For all of us watching, it was intensely satisfying. Prime saves the day, and he has Megatron at his mercy. It was all going to be okay…

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

So mere human words cannot describe the horror of seeing the cowardly Megs take a hostage and blast Prime in the face with a concealed handgun.

Prime dies in an awfully protracted deathbed scene that mentally scarred 50% of the pre-adolescent population in 1986. For many of us, it was the day our childhoods died. For the rest, that probably happened some time in the mid nineties when they got their first modem.

The Shredder Vs Splinter

There was always a bit of “will they won’t they” with Splinter and the Shredder. Mortal enemies, their paths rarely crossed. So when they eventually did meet, you knew some serious shit was about to go down.

"No! It's step, jump, THEN sashay!"

“No! It’s step, jump, THEN sashay!”

Shredder always seemed to have an unfair advantage over Splinter. He was about four feet taller and covered in blades, for a start. But Splinter is like Yoda. Small, wrinkly, but still able to kick an ass or two.

Their first proper battle in the Technodrome sent our pulses racing, even if it was a proper rip-off of Star Wars. Shredder even seems to pull a sword from nowhere (he’s never again seen using one), furthering the obvious parallels.

"Your powers are weak, old man!"

“Your powers are weak, old man!”

Still, we didn’t care. The Shredder was one of the great cartoon villains – just hammy enough that you could laugh at him when the Turtles threw custard pies at his metal-plated face, but just scary enough that you took him seriously.

Of course, in the Turtlesverse good always triumphs over evil, and any adventure usually ends with high-fiving and delicious pizza. Except in the 2003 cartoon, where Leonardo cuts Shredders fricking head off. But that’s a story for another time.

"Hmm"

“Sounds like a pain in the neck”

We all know that Master Splinter is the real hero of the series, anyway. He taught us all that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what is in your heart… As long as you have serious kung-fu skills. If you don’t, then you’re just a HIDEOUS FREAK.

He-Man Vs Skeletor

He-Man fought his nemesis all the time. It was like they had a playdate or something. They’d meet outside Castle Grayskull every Wednesday, exchange puns – occasionally waving a sword or staff menacingly in the others’ direction – and then go home.

"Take THIS!"

Spare a thought for the poor bastard on the tower in the background

Let’s not kid ourselves. No-one in the He-Man universe ever hurt or wounded anyone else. He-Man’s Sword of Power could have been used to slice and dice the entire evil horde, but instead he just used it to deflect lasers or cut conveniently-placed ropes.

Not that he even needed his sword at all; He-Man could rip Skeletor or any one of his minions in half like a Jelly Baby and feed them to Cringer. But he doesn’t. Because he’s a goodie, and with great power comes great… Uh… wimpiness?

Anyway, was Skelly really all that bad? In the He-Man Christmas Special, Skeletor kidnapped some children (admittedly a little bit evil) but then made lovely winter coats for them so they wouldn’t freeze to death (not at all evil). He even takes the time to cuddle the green robot puppy.

"Nyaa!"

“Nyaa!”

However, in the 2002 series, Skeletor was plenty evil, and made sure to keep his place on Evil Monthly’s Top 20 Maniacs list by throwing the reigning monarch off a cliff, throwing the crown prince off a cliff (the guy likes cliffs), and beating up He-Man’s pet cat.

Naturally, He-Man goes ape shit over that last one [Ape-Shit? I don’t remember him – Luke] and single-handedly takes down Skeletor’s entire army in an act of vicious but censor-pleasingly nonviolent retribution.

Sonic Vs. Super Sonic

Fleetway’s Sonic the Comic was awesome. We’re dead serious. Given the loose premise of Sonic the Hedgehog – in that there wasn’t one – the creators were free to do as they wished, and they crafted an unimaginably deep and dark universe for the Fastest Thing Alive.

Shit!

Not even Superman can make a 90 degree turn in mid-air!

It’s not too surprising that Sonic ended up with an evil alter ego – the concept is everywhere in the world of comics and cartoons – we have Judge Death, Bizarro, Captain Pollution, and Faker to name but a few.

Where Sonic is a cool, easygoing character, his opposite persona Super Sonic is enough to turn your blood to ice, despite having a slightly redonkulous name.

Super Sonic lived inside regular Sonic (or Sonic: Original, take your pick) and would come to the surface whenever he got stressed or angry. Sonic was basically a ticking time bomb, like Bill Bixby but without the flares.

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Unstoppable, insane, and with an appetite for carnage and destruction, Super Sonic gave plenty of readers nightmares and caused all sorts of problems for Sonic and his chums. Things hit a high point when the ‘Super’ was split from Sonic and given form all his own, creating a menacing villain who was present 100% of the time, and hit a low point when Super Sonic lost his memory and went on lovely adventures with a magic cat lady and her friend Pajamas.

For real.

Depth Charge Vs Rampage

This one had us on the edge of our seats.

Beast Wars was high on character development, low on toy advertising. It’s the Star Trek of Transformers franchises, and despite the lack of ‘red shirts’, the creators of the show weren’t scared to blow a brother away.

The evil robot Rampage is introduced early in the second season, and he lives up to his name. Apparently indestructible, he’s a sadist who loves killing, maiming and listening to One Direction. He turns into a big crab which is a lot less stupid in practice than it sounds on paper. He has a long-term rivalry with goodie Depthcharge, and they clash several times throughout the series.

Crabs are like Super Spiders.

“Which one of you dickheads ordered the crab!?”

Eventually, the two meet for their final confrontation, and it’s a shocker. After a long battle, the warriors end up locked in a deadly embrace. In stalemate, Rampage gives up, calling our hero’s bluff. So what does Depthcharge do….?

He plunges the sword straight into his enemy’s beating heart. The resulting explosion kills D.C and presumably doubly-kills Rampage.

Funny Fact: Beast Wars was called “Beasties” in Canada because they thought the title was too violent. Makes you wonder what they made of this episode.

“Face your tiny”

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Treat Time #2

Following on from our previous Treat Time, Adam once again travels back into the past to tantalise his tastebuds with sweet (and salty!) nostalgia…

Sonic Biscuits

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“Wear sunscreen, kids!”

Memory is a funny thing. I can’t remember a single thing from my college education, but I can still taste these biscuits. It was the height of Sonic Mania, some time in the early nineties… A friend had a bag in his lunchbox and charitably let me have one.

They tasted good, and my brother begged my mum to pick them up by the case at the supermarket. But on the lips of every Sonic fan (in addition to biscuit crumbs) was the question – why is Sally pink?

She looks somewhat denuded. Sally was, very briefly, this colour in the American comics but they soon brought her in line with the cartoon that launched alongside it, where as we’ve mentioned before, the pretty princess was a tasteful tan and brown with a shock of red hair. Burton’s obviously didn’t get the memo.

Sally was otherwise unknown on merchandise in our part of the world, and even America for that matter. Strangely enough, the distant land of Australia went Sally crazy – all kinds of dolls, clothes and other products were available. She also became the mascot for Segaworld Sydney. Upon hearing this, Luke changed into his swimming trunks and headed for the estuary, figuring to ride the E.A.C. straight into Sally’s waiting arms. If you see him out in the English channel, wish him Godspeed.

Ghostbusters Crisps

real ghostbusters packet

“WoooooOOOOooooOOO!”

Lunchtimes were great when I was in first school (yay for three-tier education!). I had a Super Mario Brothers backpack stuffed with Transformers toys, a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles lunchbox, and Ghostbusters crisps.

They weren’t just Ghostbusters crisps, though. They were REAL Ghostbusters crisps, if you know what I mean.

That’s a funny distinction to make, and the more you think about it, the less it makes sense. The REAL Ghostbusters were the dominant form of Ghost Buster, but of course they weren’t actually real, being a cartoon. But no-one called them the “real” Ghostbusters. You just said “Ghostbusters”.

If you did say “real”, you were normally talking about the movies, which you probably hadn’t seen because they had swearing in and Gozer the Destructor had serious cameltoe going on in that Gozerian leotard. Roll on the new movie, when people will have to say things like “Have you seen Ghostbusters? No, not the cartoon. No, not the Extreme Ghostbusters. The new ones. The real ones. No, not the “real” ones. The real ones!! ARRRGGH!!”

Fiendish Feet

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“WoooOO – Oh, we did that one already”

There’s something about yoghurts that attracts novelty. I don’t know why, it just does. I recall that most yogurts for kids had sweets or sugary confections inside, and some had Kinder Surprise-like toys in. Even grown up yoghurts like Muller Corner (and its sister product, Muller ‘Captain of your ship’ Rice) come in any number of tooth-rotting varieties. They always say “low fat”, too, don’t they? Like that’s a benefit when you’re spooning condensed sugar into your mouth.

Fiendish Feet were awesome not because of the yoghurt, but because of the pot. They had FEET! What madness!
Of course, as we all know, feet are a sure sign of the devil’s work so the yoghurts were declared “fiendish” by the manufacturer and appropriately decorated to resemble vampires, mummies, werewolves and so on.

These faces are etched into my memory, displacing those of family members and loved ones. At each family reunion or gathering, I look around dumbly like Mr Magoo, squinting at people as they pass. But I can recognise Fangs A Lot from a hundred paces. Weird.

Turtles Apple Pizza

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Introducing the 5th Turtle: McCainangelo.

Turtles was on everything in the late eighties and early nineties. I had a Turtles woolly jumper, Turtles slippers, the aforementioned lunchbox… One time my friend even came to school in his Turtles pajamas.

I’m not sure if I ever tasted these pizzas, though. It’s not the sort of thing my mum would buy… Anything that came in a box with branding (or even colours) on was ignored in favour of the own-brand, no-frills stuff. I can scarcely believe that they’re really apple flavour – that was pretty extreme even for the time.

If anyone still has one of these lurking in the freezer, please send it in to our usual postal address. I need to taste it. On a side note, last night I had perhaps the most vivid, lucid dream of my entire life: I was a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle, and along with the rest of the gang had been kidnapped by Shredder and bundled into the back of a van. He took us to Krang, but we soon busted out and kicked Shredder’s ass. Interestingly, either because of my own gentle nature or because of the standards set by video censors in the late eighties, we only fought Shredder by doing silly things like pulling his cape over his eyes and dishing out ridiculous puns like “Have a nice trip, see you next fall!”

I’m dead serious.

Sonic Pasta

sonic-hp-pasta-shapes-1a

HP up!

Pasta was cheap. So we ate a lot of it. In fact, I still eat a lot of it. Morisson’s recently had a deal on My Little Pony pasta shapes, so I filled a trolley like I was playing Supermarket Sweep. There weren’t any giant inflatable bananas in the aisles, though. Only shame.

You could argue that this is one thing that hasn’t really changed much over the decades. We still have pasta shapes, they’re still relatively cheap and they still come in cartoon varieties. The tins are smaller, though. About one quarter of the size. This is either because:-

a) the cheeky buggers want to sell you less product for more money, or –

b) Government guidelines limit the amount of salt and sugar you can give to kids in one meal. Being primarily composed of both, the pasta serving size was reduced. But most likely –

c) All of the above.

Join us again for more shenanigans, folks. And we’re not kidding about that Turtles pizza thing.

“Denuded Sally”

True Colours

In this wacky world of ours, hate is always more popular than love. People like to point out flaws and complain about things, to cynically pick apart someone else’s achievement and say why it’s a load of crap. That’s human nature.

As a fan of video games, I still like to read (what’s left of) the gaming press, and I’ve found that when releases dry up, they all tend to fall back on “Top Ten Worst” lists. One game that comes up time and time again is Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), although most people call it “Sonic Oh Six”.

Punch that screen!

He’s so eager, he’s trying to punch his way out of the box. Bless ‘im.

The game gets a bad rap on the internet, too, so for a long time I avoided it and went along with the popular consensus. Eventually, though, I decided that talk is cheap and the only way I’d discover the truth of the matter was to play the game myself. And you know what? It just isn’t that bad. In fact, it quickly became one of my favourite games on the console.

sonic2006_tails

Tails runs from Cream the Rabbit’s house, and therefore the law. For shame!

For one thing, the game is really quite relaxing. It has a tranquil, easy atmosphere and the music will warp you straight to the Chill Out Zone. I have the soundtrack on my MP3 player, it’s that good. Of course things heat up towards the end and they bust out the heavy metal guitar, but this time the lyrics to the game’s theme song actually make sense – there’s none of the mangled English that was to be found in Sonic Adventure.

Wave_Ocean

“No, Willy! They’ll take you back to Sea World!”

Much like Sonic Adventure, however, the game has “hub” areas that you can explore at your leisure. I really like walking around the pseudo-Italian city of Soleanna just talking to all the different people and listening to their quaint ramblings and non-sequiturs.

Soleanna

These cloud formations are known as “stratocumulus Segalus”

The place isn’t bad to look at, either. It’s blue-sky gaming of the kind only Sega can make. Compared to the bleached-white palettes of Assassin’s Creed (also set in a version of Venice), Sonic ’06 is a visual masterpiece. I’m dead serious. Look at them side-by side – which would you rather play?

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You paid £400 to see games rendered in sepia. Feels good.

In fact, I found that all the complaints leveled at the game are dwarfed when compared to modern releases.

The notorious glitches, for example. I didn’t have a problem with them at all. Some parts lacked a little polish, sure, but the occasional spastic jerk or pop-up is small potatoes when held alongside modern Xbox One and PC games such as Sim City or Batman Arkham Knight that – no word of a lie – don’t work at all.

The infamous loading times, too. They’re unbearable, make no mistake. But the other day I played a game on my mate’s Xbox One and assumed that it had crashed. But no, it literally takes six or seven minutes to load the title screen. And then another five minutes to load the first level. That’s if you’ve got all the latest updates, of course.

sonic06pic2_062611-600x337

Run! It’s the bestiality patrol! These guys don’t mess around!

The game also gained notoriety for its introduction of Silver the Hedgehog. In truth, he isn’t so bad. I’ve always loved Sega’s characters, be they Tails the Fox, Bean the Dynamite or Vector the Crocodile. Frankly I was disappointed not because of Silver’s introduction, but because he was labelled as a “hedgehog”. Like we didn’t have enough of those already. He also looks nothing like a hedgehog, but then neither does Sonic.

Oooh, one of those glowy things!

Hi Ho Silver, awaayyy! *dies*

Silver has gnarly psychic powers and can use telekinesis to throw objects around levels. It’s rather chaotic, but quite fun once you get used to the controls, which I never really did. My cousin Sam – who has spent his entire life playing games, yet for some unfathomable reason isn’t very good at them – went a bit Rain Man on these levels, however, and took to them like a duck to water (or Adam to a pony’s backside – Luke).

To sum it up – don’t let the haters tell you what you can and can’t enjoy. Some things in life are great, some are truly shit, but most things are completely subjective and you’ll get out from it what you put in.

For those looking for more misunderstood Sonic gaming, I can wholeheartedly recommend Sonic Colours for the Nintendo Wii. It’s more traditional platforming fare, and plays very much like Super Mario Galaxy. But with a Sonic.

That is all.

“Fox Bean”

Handheld Histeria

Game Com

The Game Com looks pretty ridiculous now, but back in 1997 it was hot stuff. In fact, I became rather smitten with the thing and yearned for it day and night, just like that little filly at Crealy Farm. However, just like that little filly, all it got me was a broken heart and worried looks from my friends and family.

xcbcgb

I also touched the Game Com in new and interesting ways!

Joking aside, it was pretty advanced for the time. I was most interested in its “personal organiser” functions; it seemed like something I could take to work. If I’d had a job.

It could even go on the internet and stuff if you plugged it into a modem. Which you wouldn’t. Because why would you own a modem if you didn’t already have a computer with which to check your email anyway? Continue reading

Review: AtGames Mega Drive Arcade Ultimate Portable

 

$_35

Blimey, that’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? We even left out the “SEGA” for brevity.

These things have been knocking around for a few years now in various forms. This one appears to be a special “Argos” edition, as it has a sticker on the back with their catalogue number on it saying “Imported by Argos Limited”. There’s a rumour going around that it has slightly different workings inside and outperforms the previous iteration of the same product.

We can’t say for sure as we don’t have the older model to compare it to, but it’s probably splitting hairs in any case. Besides, you won’t find these things elsewhere for less money, so Argos is your best option. Continue reading

Are you my mummy?

Mummies have always been a big part of popular culture, especially in literature and film. According to the popular anecdote, rich people living at the turn of the century used to have “mummy parties” wherein they’d hob-nob with their high society friends and unwrap ancient corpses.

I prefer Pass-The-Parcel myself. There is slightly less death involved. (This refers to a time when Adam, observing that the Sindy doll came with a plastic horse, was overcome with jealousy and broke little Susan Swafford’s arms. True story. – Luke)

Tantalising!

From Adam’s personal collection.

So, with the opening preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at TMW’s Top 5 Mummies, because we make this all up as we go along! Continue reading