Thursday, 2 August 2012

Kids in the Hall

A Canadian classic.


There are sometimes comedy shows I actually like. Though few and far between, they often have some kind of smart humour mixed with some kind of stupid humour. Kids in the Hall was one of those type shows. It established many of the tropes I use when I write comedy these days like the awkward reveal, the dumbass character, the stupid jokes...well, it probably didn't invent those, but I first saw them on this show.






Starring in the show were: tough guy Bruce McCulloch, meek guy Kevin McDonald, tall guy Mark McKinney, lead guy Dave Foley, and fruity guy Scott Thompson. I loved them all and it's really hard to pick a favourite.


The show ran from 1988 to 1994, burning over one hundred episodes across five seasons. A sketch comedy, it introduced us to many memorable (Canadian?) characters, like the Chicken Lady, Buddy Cole, and Darill (fun fact: that was one of my earliest online usernames). Some of the most memorable sketches included the pen one (guy freaks out when he loses his pen), Sausages (a bizarre Lynch-esque surrealist short about a man whose father loves sausages), and the fur trappers one (two French Canadian pelters who live in the modern day and hunt businesspeople for their suits). My personal favourite was the King of Empty Promises:




After the show ran they made a movie Brain Candy...which kind of sucked. Then they did a few new shows, which I've never seen. I'm always waiting for the day when they return to their sketch comedy routes in the vein of the original show. I don't think it'll happen. But I'll hold out.


Until that day comes, have the kickin' rad theme song:


Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Next Generation

Everyone who knows me knows I like Star Trek. I used to like it a lot more (in a weird fanboyish kind of way) but now I'm sort of settled into a calm enjoyment of the franchise. Either way there once was a time I didn't like Star Trek, and I think it may have been because of a show called Star Trek: The Next Generation.



When I was young my mother would watch reruns of the show on television (this is probably when it was first put into syndication, I remember because they were doing it to promote that dumb Generations movie). It was a very educated show but something clicked with me that meant I could never get into it on a weekly basis. It was cool but as a kid it just didn't have enough fun in it to keep me hooked. It soon fizzled into hate when I got into the preteen shithead phase and just thought it was boring and stupid. Dumb kid.



Then in high school I was given a bunch of magazines filled with Star Trek shit. Character bios, ship diagrams - and it worked. I, being a little sperglord at the time, fell in love. That's when I saw the original series, and that's what got me into the series. In fact I love the original series so much more.


Enough of my experiences, let's talk about Star Trek in the 1990s. Of course The Next Generation coasted from the '80s till about 2002 with half the series left and a string of shitty movies. Beyond that though were also Deep Space Nine (which is forever be my second favourite of the Treks) and Voyager (worst show ever lol).


The Borg two parter was what really got people into the show. I think it exploded over the summer between Part 1 and Part 2. You could find memorabilia everywhere, the shows were coming out on tape, and everyone was talking about it. It was like the time before the new one came out a few years ago. The Borg really mark the air of the '90s in Star Trek - their robotech appearance, which propelled toy sales with how cool and futuristic it looked, their stark contrast to everything else ever in Star Trek. They were the backbone of the series from their inception - the two parter made the show popular, the point of that ship on Deep Space Nine was to fight off Borg attacks, and Voyager even had a Borg crewmember. In fact they were so popular they had a movie based on them; albeit a shitty one. The Borg were the new Klingons - fearsome, popular, and evil.


The late '90s meant the death of Trek for a while unfortunately. The rise of the internet gave way for nerds to obsess over the most minute details of the series to anyone that would listen, which prompted the writers to gear the series more to them so as to curry their favour. When this happened the general public stopped caring about Star Trek and a few years later Nemesis was barely making its budget back and Voyager were being ended finally by the higher ups. Even Enterprise, a decent show in its own right, didn't really get a chance.


Bottom line, '90s Star Trek could be pretty good, but to quote Wayne's World "although in many way superior, it will never be as recognized as the original".

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

DK! Donkey Kong!



Here we go!

So they're finally here, performing for you
If you know the words, you can join in too
Put your hands together if you want to clap
And we'll take you through this funky rap! HUH!
DK! Donkey Kong!



That's quite a way to start an entry.

Everyone knows Donkey Kong. I mean everyone. Christ old people know about DOnkey Kong. It's no secret he's not from the '90s. But he was made in the '90s. That sound crazy?

Of course he would have remained a video game icon we'd all cherish if he stayed looking how he used to. But by now there'd be generations who didn't see him as anything other than "that old video game character", which obviously isn't the case. No, Donkey Kong had to change to retain his place as king of the video game jungle. And that happened.

See, until 1994 people stopped caring about Donkey Kong, or at least didn't see him as a character who'd be carrying on a legendary series the way Mario might (regardless of whether or not the games are good nowadays, Mario still is in them and they still sell a shitload of copies). Nintendo must have had a place to fill in Mario Kart though, because he was a character (still in the old leotard etc).

Then Donkey Kong came out on the Game Boy. This was, I believe, the first iteration of the simian with the monographed tie. He didn't have the cowlick - no, that would come later. After being in Mario Kart and on the Game Boy though he was ready for anything.

Rare came along and turned him into what he is today. Donkey Kong Country was born, and with it an entirely different design for Donkey Kong series games. He was fleshed out into a brand new character - no need for Mario except as an indirect reference in the intro. He was a brash, bold character whose game took advantage of the 3D "capabilities" of the SNES. It was an all new adventure, and it owned.

This bore witness to a series, which continues on to this day with brand new games and shit. Most importantly it spawned a television show in 1998 (for us Canadians) which is what I remember Donkey Kong for. Yeah - maybe the most famous video game character of all time and I remember him best for being from that monkey cartoon! Ironic!


As a footnote, I think he may have been part of the inspiration for my character Monocle Ape. No really! Gorillas in ties own!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Poo--Chi

What do you get when you combine robots with neon see-through plastic?


You get Poo-chi. Whether you remembered him or not, he was the best low-effort pet a parent could buy for their kid! This lovable mechanical dog sang songs, had a robo-bone you could give him, and came in four fashionable translucent neon colours - teal, hot pink, green, and pink. They could also sit down or stand up, and had red LEDs displaying their "emotion" for eyes. 


Shortly after they came out, McDonald's ran a promotion where you could get them in more colours in a Happy Meal. Just like Beanie Babies though they didn't have the same quality to them and were noticeably smaller (probably has to do with being a cheap plastic toy you get for free).


Poo-chi was superseded by the less popular Meow-chi (which actually was more effort than a real cat) and Dino-chi, despite dinosaurs being awesome. They also had Baby-chi, which was probably the most frightening thing ever.


Futurama captured the actuality of being a Poo-chi owner best:

Friday, 29 June 2012

Gotta Go Fast



A Sega was another of those things I didn't have when I was younger. I was like 14 before I played Sonic 1. But my memories of him as "that other video game character" go back farther, thankfully.

Let's kick it off with a little music. '90s music. Because that's what we do on the '90s blog.


Jesus CHRIST that's so out there man. The chipmunk voice, the early 3D, the catchy beat...holy shit. It reminds me of those commercials that were around when cell phones first started getting big where you could text a number for a ringtone of a singing baby or rabbit with cartoony voice covering love songs. Those weirded me out, especially cause they came on late at night. They plague me to this day.

Anyways, onto Sonic. Sonic has a fantastic soundtrack and is a poster boy for the struggle going on in the '90s between Nintendo and Sega, and later on Sony. The guy was created for the sole purpose of destroying Mario, like Cell from Dragon Ball Z with Goku. And for a while, it wasn't clear who was on top. 

Obviously it was Mario who prevailed, but for a short while our cyan compadre gave the plumber a run for his money. Sonic doesn't enjoy the fame he once did, but that was the nature of the business - in the game of thrones you either win or you die, and Sonic fell off the map in the mid 2000s after a few good games followed by some terrible ones. They still make Sonic games today (him in Brawl was a major point of contention for me because I had that one asshole friend who always played as him so he could use that annoyingly unbeatable final smash attack) and from what I've heard the recent ones aren't bad, but I can't be bothered with them any more. 

I watched the Sonic X cartoon too sometimes but I don't have a very good memory of it to be quite honest. It was on either before or after the Kirby show on Saturday mornings, a very finicky time for me.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Radio Active!



Think 'Community' but not very good and in high school. Also with a different main plot. Actually it's nothing like Community.


The epitome of Canadian teenager sitcoms from the mid '90s to early 2000s. It ran for three seasons and followed the miss adventures of a gang of high school students as they ran their school radio show.


The gimmicky characters, crazy aesthetics, and wacky "would never happen in real life" things that went on were all part of this particular breed of show's charm during the 1990s. Ms. Atoll was the sneaky, conniving bitch teacher who set out to make their lives miserable. I think every sitcom on YTV and Teletoon during this period had a character like that. Sadly I had a few of those teachers myself in high school! 


Just listen to that silly theme song with the boppy synths and shitty logo:






It starred Giancarlo Caltabiano, who would later go on to be the boss on another low budget Canadian sitcom "Fries With That?" in the 2000s. I hope that guy lands a big role or something again someday, he was fantastic.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

This is gonna be a big one. YTV.

YTV spans every Canadian aged 18 - 25's childhood probably.




What good shit used to run on there. Especially on The Zone. For the longest time 'The Zone' was the place to be on a weekday afternoon after school with your Coke and chips watching whatever the hell was on. There were the PJs, a line of 'programming jockeys' who supplied jokes and interesting facts between shows and during commercial breaks. Most often there were two. Phil was one of the most memorable ones. I heard from someone I worked with at the radio station that the Chinese guy does carpentry now for a living and one of the other ones smokes a ton of the ganja. These were people we looked up to, and even now they still own.


Sugar was one of the most notable. Stephanie Beard did the voice for someone on Sailor Moon and hosted the programming block we all love from 2001 to 2007 (so, just outside our '90s comfort zone). She also did some commercials for things like chocolate bars (which I swear used Crash Bandicoot music).


Speaking of commercials, YTV had the best bumpers. They were so eccentric and out there, keeping in line with the whole "Keep It Weird!" logo the company and its PJs enacted. Check them out!




Lots of greens, purples, and golds. And they remind me of Toronto for some reason. Maybe it's because YTV was based there. As well we had the classic Concerned Children's Advertisers PSAs. '90s as heck bro:




Watch 'em all sometime, they are a real flashback. 


Dragon Ball Z was on here either before or after it was on the 8PM block, and Pokemon was on every day at 4PM. I am still a manchild for that series. It is probably not healthy. 


Later on, when Spongebob Squarepants became a thing, they showed marathons of that and Fairly Odd Parents every holiday which they called "SpongeOdd SquareParents Day". They were a lot of fun even though we had seen the episodes like a million times!


Anyways, I'm off again. Have fun with those old PSAs!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

More 64 - Star Fox

Remember Star Fox 64?






Growing up I didn't have a Nintendo 64 (I had the Playstation because I was a cool kid) but I played it a lot at different friends houses. One of the games I remember most was Star Fox 64 - the low rez graphics, the cheesy dialogue, the excellent game play. Everyone knows this game even if they never played it because of that stupid "do a barrel roll" meme.


Until I got the game for the Wii I was mostly limited to the first couple of levels in danke, cold basements. Still I trucked on, however, usually making it to the end of the first Sector level before we went and played outside or whatever. Despite always playing there in Super Smash Bros. 64, I never got to the Sector Z one as it was at the end of the hard path. I did know if you saved Falco and swooped under the arches on the water in the first level you could initiate the hard path, though. There was that army base area that made fun of Independence Day (which came out in '96, Star Fox was '97) and the tank level at the end where you have to blow up the train. The Landmaster tanks actually gave me some inspiration for Larry Goose's Tank and Warfare when designing the factory levels.


One of the other levels I remember, mostly from playing it in the late 2000s on the Wii, was that darn Solar level. What the heck was up with that place, always draining your health and forcing you to smash asteroids for power rings? And that lava boss who threw the volcanic rocks at you. What a sun of a bitch he was (haha pun).


Only a few months ago did I see the game's ending. I was at a buddy's (in the basement, like old times) and we decided to play a bunch of classic games. He beat the final stage for me, which I've never been able to do, and probably never will. It was cool seeing James McCloud. 


Maybe I'll get this game for the 3DS sometime.


And now, for the song I know best from the game - Corneria City!




Sounds like a MIDI file and probably is. Have a good one!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Return! Plus Fresh Prince!

Hi! Sorry for the inactivity lately, I've had some stuff in ~*the real world*~ to deal with this past month and I haven't really felt the inspiration to jam about the '90s lately. Those things didn't exist in the '90s though so I won't pour them out onto here. 


With a new job and a day off under my belt though I may as well get a new entry done, this time concerning something that tickled my fancy the other day while watching television...



It's the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! Yes sir, a few days ago my mates and I were eating pizza and watching TV and this old gem came on. Brought back some golden memories of grade school. In particular coming home after karate (a big thing in the 1990s, also for the past two thousand years probably) and watching it at like 8PM. This is what replaced Dragon Ball Z. I guess it was a fair enough trade off.


I also remember a friend falling asleep on top of me one time while spending the night back in high school and being completely unable to crash because of how badly I had to piss. I didn't want to wake her up so I couldn't go to the washroom. It really sucked. In my haste to stave off the late night until she woke up I turned on the television and a Fresh Prince marathon was playing. I'd like to thank Will for giving me the strength to hold it all in. 


I could probably go on a tangent about how this show slung Mr. Smith into stardom or something about race relations but no I am talking about how it saved me from a rather unpleasant experience.


Anyways that's all I have for today, maybe I'll do another one tomorrow, or maybe not! Until then though here is the kickin' rad Fresh Prince theme:


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Old Logos

Just a quick one. I love the nostalgia of old logos. Let's look at some now!












Might do another one of these later. So deliciously easy!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dairanto Smash Bros.!

Excuse the very weeaboo title.



Super Smash Bros. came out at the turn of the millennium but quite literally captures some of the most famous gaming worlds of the past few decades. The classic beat-em'-up fighter features combatants from eight distinct universes, including Mother, Pokemon, F-Zero, Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, and Kirby. The quirky, campy, and certainly over-the-top style pays homage to the decade's most controversial series, the Mortal Kombat, with its mixture of character taunts, special moves, and zealous announcer. The plot - undeniably silly - involves an evil hand bringing to life dolls of our heroes, and their subsequent rebellion against the master hand and his faithful servants. 




Smash Bros. actually was supposed to have a lot more than it did, a lot of which got put into Melee then Brawl. Notable things included a playable Dedede, Mewtwo, and Bowser, plus the famous Final Smashes which made their way to the current chapter of the series. You can actually find Ness's voice records of PK STARSTOOOOOOOOOOOORM in the sound test.




I have a couple of childhood memories of the series. The first time I ever played it was at a block party two doors down. While all the adults were busying barbequing, drinking, and swimming, us kids were enamoured by the allure of fighting as our superstars. I only played a few rounds but I remember them fondly. The next was having the game and the N64 to play it rented to us for the weekend. Back in the day Blockbuster used to let you borrow consoles along with games. I don't know how that would fly in the era of gamertags and achievements though. Maybe that's why they went bankrupt (WRONG: it's because Netflix and Redbox driving them out of business. $$$$$). The last memory is the most lingering, and that's of going to a buddy's house for a night of mischief and shenanigans. At the time we weren't allowed being up late and only got to play the game for a few hours, with his kid sister interrupting constantly wanting to play as "dat monkey". But once he fell asleep, two of my other friends and I fired up the N64 and did a 99-stock match on Sector Z. We finished it.



Friday, 4 May 2012

Bash Crandicoot


Crash Bandicoot man.


There is so much I want to say about these games that I could dedicate a whole blog to how they shaped my childhood and how I view the world. Yes a video game about a goddamn orange rat thing made me what I am today. Explains everything.


I've decided I am going down a different road with this though and trying to see how little I can say. I could spend hours discussing the intricate coding, or the music, or characters, but each of those are just bricks building what I consider the breadth of the series - the EXPERIENCE.


The entire trilogy is a mishmash of style, atmosphere, comedy, and sound. Some kids were changed when the saw Star Wars, I was changed when I played Crash Bandicoot.




Why do I like this so much? It's so god damned memorable. There are so many themes, places, and people in the games that build up to this wonderful Warner Brothers-esque world down under. The music, done by my good friend Josh Mancell in his earlier years, is catchy and befitting - there is a surfboarder rock theme reminiscent of Dick Dale in the upstream boarding level, there is a sweeping space odyssey theme for the jet pack world, it's all just so good.


The designed world of Crash Bandicoot too had a very powerful influence on me; most kids my age got their idea of Arabia from Aladdin, I got mine from the Hang 'em High levels. My romanticised ideas of the medieval era pays much homage to the Double Header levels. Even the sewer stages in the second game made me want to explore the shit-infested gutters under my streets (no I didn't do this I am not disgusting). My friends and I used to come up with ideas for what the Wumpa Fruit were, and I was even convinced they existed in the real world as something called Pockercherry Peaches.


The designers really paid attention to the little things. In the first one if you didn't get all the boxes, they'd crash on Crash's head and it was hilarious. The third one had like a million different death animations, to the point where it was almost rewarding to die. The racing game had nigh on every minor character taking up the karting challenge, because there was always SOMEONE who wanted to play as Ripper Roo (or in my case N. Tropy, best character).


It's really hard to put into words how these games shaped me. I'm leaving this week off on a high note with talking about them I think. They're what made me want to get into game design.


Maybe one day I'll come back and talk about them more. Happy weekend!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sailor Moon

The girly girl's Dragon Ball Z.


This show was actually the first anime I had ever seen. Out of the three it's the one I refer back to the least, but maybe that has something to do with the subject matter and target demographic. It was a cool show though. Let's remember things about it!


There was a creepy phantom bad guy who was like an evil China doll face or something. Two of the superhero girls were supposedly sisters I think in the dub but lesbians in the original. The latter didn't hold well with US parent councils or some dumb shit like that so it was changed. There was that mini-pinky Sailor Moon introduced later on played by Sugar from YTV in the dub. Everyone called Moon "Meatball Head" at school if I recall correct. A neat  aura of a mystical space/night magic surrounded everything that went on in the show.


Oh, and Tuxedo Mask. In this very pro-feminine powers show, he was like a macho man or something. Seriously this guy has a hot blonde superhero girlfriend he does unspeakable things with by day and is the goddamn Batman by night. I mean they both win. Equality, man.


And finally, a kickin' rad theme song:




All those cartoons had awesome guitar solos in their intros. Must've been the thing.



Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Reboot!

Our blog today is on the world of Reboot, and I ain't talking about restarting beloved franchises.


Reboot was a fantastic Canadian CGI television series that stretched across a whopping six years of the decade, carrying over into the early 21st century. It might look dated now with it's ultra shiny characters, seldom use of texturing, and SUPER FLASHY CHROME, but back in the day it was the shit. It followed the adventures of Bob, who played games derived from cubes input by a "user". If he lost, shit went down for the good guys in our wacky computer world and they died or something. If he won, they were spared another day. A lot of times these games were parodies of famous phenomena from the period. I remember there being an Austin Powers one as well as a Pokemon one. Cool stuff.


As the series went on it became darker and more intricate. Enzo, ally to Bob, became an adult who took over his role as the main protagonist. He was rougher and more Han Solo-like, which was cool because he was an innocent kid or something who just liked baseball earlier on in the series. That development was neat.


Other characters I remember include the red and blue henchmen of the bad guys, the bad guy looked like a Bionicle, the evil wench female bad guy, the old guy who looked like a cross between an anti-Japanese WW2 propaganda poster and the pit droids from the newly released Phantom Menace, Enzo's sister Dot, the dog who looks like Rush from Megaman, and Enzo's sidekick who was orange and had neatly rendered hair. It all sounds like a mess when I describe it, but trust me it was cool.


The show also had a kickin' rad opening theme. I wonder how it ended. Maybe someday I'll go back and rewatch it.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

T-T-TONKA

Tonka owns.


If you don't know what Tonka is, it's a series of play vehicles from a long ass time ago. In the 1990s there was a revival of the die-cast metal construction vehicles, and I am proud to say I have some of these toys and used them on a very regular basis in schoolyard folly. I had the crane, two plows, and big metal dump truck.They were so cool because you could move the parts and and load them up with shit and haul it around. Very useful at the beach or sand pit to build your dream castle. Only peasants used the bucket and shovel!





Tonka also had a series of computer games aimed at young children that I was completely enamoured with. Kids used to call me Tonka Joe (name of the main character) because of my obsession with the games and the metal toys they were based on. Fitting!


My favourites were Tonka Construction, Tonka Search and Rescue, Tonka Garage, and Tonka Raceway. In Raceway you could spin around in the car you made in Garage, and Search and Rescue had an epic adventure feel to it. Tonka Construction was always my favourite though. It was the first time I ever saw a black person (warning: childhood race relations ahead!), so naturally I thought he was made of chocolate.Speaking of chocolate, I used to also believe the boulders on the cover of the box were Nesquik cereal bits and that you'd get to mine those in the game. It wasn't till later that my dream of chocolate was crushed by how doesn't take on the form of humans and precious minerals in the real world. 



Those were better days.



Monday, 30 April 2012

We're back, and in COLOUR.

Sorry about the hiatus, I've been nostalgia'd out lately and haven't had the motivation to do any.




Let's get back to speed with a HUGE '90s icon: the Game Boy, or more specifically, the Game Boy Colour. Yes I realize the actual name is Game Boy Color but I'm Canadian so piss off.


The Game Boy Colour debuted near what I consider to be the peak of the '90s, 1998. This is when true hallmarks of the decade like Pokemon and other such franchises washed upon western shores (we all know the west equals the entire world, remember). Like pretty much all electronics of the period, the Game Boy Colour came in several neonish paint jobs now considered to be eye-grating, with such lovely names as Kiwi, Midnight Blue, and Atomic Purple, the latter of which had your classic '90s see-through plastic. That see-through plastic dominated things like Playstation controllers (which we'll get into another day) and if you had it you were the coolest kid ever for being able to see the ~*circuit boards and parts*~ within your electronics. I had three different Game Boys because they got old/stolen: the yellow one, the green one, and the special gold/silver one with Pichu on it that came with Pokemon Gold.


Memorable games for the system of course included the Pokemon series, the worst of the Tony Hawk ports, the The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, and much much more. A cool trick was to put in a regular Game Boy game and move the D-Pad in conjunction with the A and B buttons to change the pallet of your older titles. I thin B-Up was inverted. We used to call it night time.


Though it was only three years before the Game Boy Advance would land, the Game Boy Colour had a lasting impression on many of our collective childhoods. It staved off bored, was a symbol of a new, rapidly changing electronic world, and provided countless hours of countless collecting and fighting our electronic animals. Truly one of the great titans of the 1990s.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Munchies + other novelties

Figures I wouldn't update on 420. Let's do something kind of related to it. Munchies!


Novelty foods really kicked off in the early '90s for Canada because we were starting to get all of the delicious goodies from the USA because of a little thing called the North American Free Trade Agreement. All of those sugary, fatty foods came to clog our arteries, and we were more than happy to let them. Some of their most '90s kitsch commercials filled our fertile young minds with dreams of candy and sweets the likes of which we had never seen!




We got those Pop Tarts with the purple and neon blue frosting (you know the ones I'm talking about, the really good kind). Our consumption of Doritos increased tenfold. At last we could out grease our American goon brothers in contests of who had the greasier Cheetos fingers! What a time to be alive. If you were a kid in grade school, you probably ate Lunch Mates. They came in a variety of "meals" including cheeseburger , pizza, cheese and crackers, tacos, nachos, and many many more. I was never allowed the cheeseburger one and for good reason - it looks absolutely abhorrent. It seems the '90s were truly the breeding ground of wacky foodstuffs that make you go "oh my god how can you eat that". I'm not sure how so many of us made it out of grade school without crippling diseases from all this toxic waste we used to eat.
Delissio pizza (DiGiorno in the USA) didn't come to Canada until '99 but from that year onward, birthdays and other social gatherings were never complete without their delicious array of rising crust pizzas. You had better be damned sure it wasn't delivery, it was Delissio.


It was in this glorious time that I discovered Swanson dinners as well. The chicken nugget ones would be one of my favourite easy to make dinners until I graduated to the Hungry Man dinners in 2002, which I happily snacked right up to the point when they changed the recipe. Gone were my Buffalo-style chicken strips and fries, replaced by some low end imitation with absolutely rank cheese fries or something. Maybe it's for the better because I'm pretty certain one of those and a pack of Mr. Noodles would be enough to kill a man if ingested in one sitting.


Okay, until next week...don't give yourself a heart attack if you decide to track down all this nostalgic sludge!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

SUPER SMASH BLOTHERS





Awesome fighting game and the earliest N64 game I can remember caring about. Says a lot about a console when the oldest game you can remember playing on it came out two years before its demise, but whatever.


Super Smash Bros. is one of my favourite fighting games and god dammit they're still killing me every time a new one comes out. I seriously get as happy as a pig in shit hearing perspective rosters for future titles and everything. It brings out the fanboy in me. But hey apparently everything I discuss on this blog does. It should just be called "Things Joe Likes". 


So back onto Smash Bros., it has eight of the most famous Nintendo characters duking it out, then four lesser known buggers you can unlock. It's a great game to play whilst drinking, and doesn't limit you in choice if someone picks your character - you simply get a different costume when you pick the same as someone else. There's a story mode that you kind of have to fill in with your mind, but the gist of it is that a giant hand takes toys and jerks them around for his pleasure. You, being one of those toys, have to fight back, but some of your stuffed allies decide to impede you. Thus, you must defeat the many ranks of Master Hand before getting to fight the pale glove himself. Crazy stuff. I like playing as Pikachu because of his dickhead double jump and rude-as-heck Up-B attack. Come at me.


Sorry for the lack of effort in this blog tonight but I just got off work a bit ago and want to wind down. Tomorrows might probably be better!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Way of the Dragon (Ball)

Dragon Ball Z is the best cartoon, nay, best TV show of all time. Thrill to its multi-episode long exploits! Chill at the thought of Goku spending half an episode screaming! Gooniest of goons, fap to the many female characters like Master Roshi would!






YTV, basically the Cartoon Network of Canada, used to broadcast Dragon Ball Z on weeknights at 8PM, usually until 9PM or so. On certain weekends in the summer as well as holidays where parents would be out, they served as a perfect cheap babysitter by locking down with marathons of the movies and key episodes of the show (like ones with the best fight scenes during the Cell Games or Frieza Saga). Basically nirvana for kids.


My favourite characters were always Trunks and Piccolo. Piccolo was one hella badass and had an interesting shift from bad guy to good, and Trunks had a really awesome aura of mystery around him. The way he effortless beat the shit out of Frieza let you know he wasn't playin' around.


Dragon Ball Z is the first anime I ever got hooked on, and it will be the last. I never really cared much about Dragon Ball (it was cool but the alien aspect that conquered much of DBZ was why I loved it), and Dragon Ball GT was a disappointment. Dragon Ball Kai is what I'm using to bang out my rewatch of the series. No filler, no pointless crap.


Seriously, I think any testosterone-enriched human being has to agree that this show is the best thing ever. It's pure male fantasy, the ability to change your hair and become deezed at the snap of a finger, as well as being able to survive being thrown through (not into, through) mountains.


Oh coincidentally I hear there's going to be a game made for the Xbox 360 Kinect where you can fight like a Saiyan. This can go one of two ways; it'll either be the greatest video gaming experience of all time, or a massive failure. Here's hoping there's no screwup!


What will I write about next time? Find out on the next exciting episode of The 90s Zone!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Super Mario Bros. 3!





I don't know if my blog writing powers will be enough to capture how good this game is or even how much I love it, but let's go.


Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first game I ever played, and quite possibly my favourite NES game of all time, except for Mega Man 2. A groundbreaking title in the Super Mario franchise, it brought a lot to the series and expanded upon much of the best from both Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (Doki Doki Panic in Japan, but actually was fully intended to be the true Super Mario Bros. 2 until Nintendo decided pulling vegetables out of the ground and drinking magic potions wasn't very Mario-like). The main map of the game was revolutionary for a Mario game, and used it to absolute the fullest the NES could handle, something sadly Super Mario World (or Super Mario Bros. 4 if you're a weeaboo sperglord) didn't hold up to. The card games, the white mushroom houses, the music.






Sorry but I have to gush for a moment.


Wasn't it cool how you could hop into Kuribo's Shoe and and run around the countryside killing things like Piranha Plants with a single stomp? Remember that one level that seemed to have no exit, until you flew up to the very top with a Koopa shell you had to use to open the path to the pipe? How about the Tanooki suit, which didn't see as much use in the series until Super Mario 3D Land tried to bring it back?


Oh my god there are so many things I can say about this game but you should honestly just check it out yourself. It creates this dazzling and very much enveloping environment that not many 8-bit games can muster with their limited technology, making you feel like you're in the Mushroom Kingdom. Which, oddly enough by the way, appears to be built like a stage. The hammered in platforms, the curtains at the beginning, it's like a Broadway musical or some shit and it owns. The feeling of adventure is something I really tried to capture with my own game Tita Gasman, but I'm not sure I could hold a candle up to this masterpiece. I love the orangish skies and the sparkling caves that look like starfields and the white lined skies in the ice world. I love giant land with the huge Koopas and blocks, and the warp pipe maze (actually that maze sucks) and the turbo tanks in Bowser's fleet at the end. I love it all. 


This game is a veritable feast for the eyes and ears.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

MXC and Pants-ing

So it's time to discuss one of those things that weren't really '90s built still feel like it! I put them in what I call the "90s gray area". Let's get to it.


MXC was a hell of a show. It stood for "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge" and followed contestants as they performed wacky stunts and off-colour challenges for a shot at the prize. It always featured two teams with very little relation to each other, like the Porn Stars vs. the Cheese Factory or what have you, and there was always one person whose last name was Babaganush on either of the teams. It was the quintessential Japanese game show.




MXC was adapted from a show called Takeshi's Castle which did in fact air in Japan during the late '80s and early '90s. It definitely had the period aesthetic within it, hence why I chose it for the blog. Amongst the characters (created for the English version by dubbing over the original run) were Kenny Blakenship, the drunken womanizer whose dirty comments made the show, Vic Romano, the straight-faced foil to Kenny and smarter of the duo, Guy LaDouche, the perverted field reporter, and Captain Tenneal, the marshal who lead the challenges. Here's a clip of the crazy shit they used to do!:






Back in the day there was a thing kids did called "pantsing". For the uninitiated, it was when you ran up behind an unsuspecting fellow and pulled down his pants. The four seconds of embarrassment before you raced those trousers back up was unparalleled, and you prayed to god you were wearing underpants. I remember this happened to one kid in late grade school while he was strolling along in the dead centre of the paved area. Poor guy had every boy, girl, and staff member turn to see him before he could get the pants back up. The kicker? He never wore underpants.


Anyways how this relates to the first thing I was writing about is that we actually used to imitate the MXC challenges when we got a bit older. My buddies and I were doing some obstacle course shit in a garden-type place that was fenced off and had a big tree in the middle. Adjacent to it was (at the time) a country road, and a busy one at that during high noon. Well I was hanging off the tree as part of a challenge and out of nowhere one of my mates came and pulled my shorts right down to my ankles. Because my hands were clasped to a tree branch (as they usually are when one is hanging from a thing), it took me a bit more time to react and figure out the safest way to get my pants back up. Unfortunately I was wearing Batman boxers at the time so every driver on the road could see my affinity for the Dark Knight plastered all over my rectum whilst they sped by.


At least I wasn't the guy whose shrivelled scrotual shame was exposed for all to see though. That's something that ruins lives.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Buffy

Man I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer.




Actually I mostly love Sarah Michelle Gellar (it's her birthday today!) and the '90s but it's kind of the same thing.


Anyways this show is fantastic. Made by the ultra goony but nonetheless talented Joss Whedon, it chronicles young Buffy Summers on her quest to vanquish dark spirits from the world. It's pure fanboy gold in that it has a bangin' hot lead character who kicks a lot of ass, along with some pretty awesome side characters like Willow (Buffy's best friend, also a lesbian [this is important to the story]), Giles (librarian at Buffy's high school who educates her on dark forces), and that other guy who's always with them (I think he does something important but I can't remember). 


I remember Buffy aired after Dragon Ball Z on Saturday nights back in the mystical time period of the '90s at 10:00PM. My mother was cool and let me stay up to watch. My first crush was Buffy and apparently still is because I own the first season on DVD. Back in high school my desktop wallpaper was the below picture of her until admin told me to take it down. Good times.




The show had some pretty intricate storylines but a lot of good humour peppered throughout as well. It went from kind of lighthearted in the beginning to a bit darker and edgier (for the better, of course) in the later seasons. I never saw the original movie but the poster makes it look like it's early '90s/wannabe '80s whereas the show was definitely the grittier type of affair that defined the latter half of the decade.


Blogs are now gonna be done only during the week because I have things (i.e. a life) going on on the weekend.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Neopets

Neopets are one of those things that came out in the last half of the 1999s that are still very much 90s despite never really catching on until the early 2000s. Oh well, to me the '90s die with Sept. 11, 2001. Bite me if you disagree.

Neopets are the epitome of the web in its adolescence. I'm not going to say it was the first social media, because it wasn't, but it was almost a prelude to that. I mean think about it. There were clubs you could join, games you could play, there was instant messaging and you could connect with people you met in the real world and online. Plus once it started dying off people flew over to Myspace, circa 2004. Then after that, Facebook followed. But this isn't about them, this is about our goddamn virtual pets.

The site used to have a lot of really cool games et cetera that you could play, plus items to buy, a house to build, and a whole wack of other neat things to do. You collected Neopoints, which were kind of like money, by playing games, buying stuff then selling it for more, and exploring the world. It was cool, and all the while you had to take care of your pets. You could pimp them out with fancy costumes or by magic paintbrushes that turned them rare colours (you started off with a choice of four and had to work hard at games to get colours like purple, gold, or even Christmas-themed). Back in the day it wasn't uncommon to spend a good four hours a night after school on Neopets. What a waste of time.

The guilds were kind of cool. I remember going on a Pokemon-themed guild and made friends with the leader. Then, being a little idealist, broke off and started my own. I asked to become allies with the head of my old one and she flamed (word we used that meant "got really militant with") the absolute hell out of me, saying I cheated or something and professed she would never do that. It was really really funny in retrospect, seeing that kind of spergrage over a Pokemon group on a virtual pets website. The person still has their page up and is still pumping out MS Paint comics, so go read those if you want to reminisce/laugh at art still trapped in the world of ten years ago.

I recently went back a few summers ago to try and eat up spare time I had, and my god they've royally screwed that place. It's very corporate now, "buy Neopoints or upgrade to a plus account" kind of thing, which I guess was only natural considering the site was moving towards that in 2003 before I left. The site heads used to be dicks and make you wait for a very slim opening to get rare breeds of Neopets (always the really cool designs), and now I can only imagine they flat out make you buy them with a credit card or something. Tis a shame.