Tag - TMNT

Art Tuesday – Week 2: Scrooge McDuck Blind Contour Drawing


I’m really happy with the turn out we had from last week’s assignment. There were a lot of people that took part in it that I wouldn’t have expected would turn something in, so that’s kind of cool. I guess because there is a surprise element to a blind contour drawing. It kind of levels the play field because unless you’re some sort of blind contour wizard, chances are everyone is going to have what they would consider an awful drawing.

The point of this exercise wasn’t to make an amazing drawing. It’s more about teaching yourself how to follow the lines of a picture and to help yourself remember the details of any subject. It makes the artist stay away from relying on symbols, things they think they know how to draw, and focus on the subject completely. Some really fun and interesting results came of this, so let us take a look at the gallery. At the end of the gallery you’ll also be able to find next week’s assignment, so don’t miss it!

Scrooge McDuck Blind Contour Results

This is the image I asked everyone to draw last week, so all of the following pieces are based upon this image.

I’m no expert in this assignment by the way, so my comments on everyone’s work will be kept to a minimum.

PhantomSpiker did a nice job keeping things kind of where they should be. This surely looks like a blind contour drawing, with lots of details being accounted for.

Dante369’s is interesting in the direction he took it. Instead of the body going towards the bottom of the page, he moves to the right, giving Scrooge an almost ghost like appearance.

John did a really nice job capturing the overall shape of Scrooge. Pieces like the coin in his hand and the cane are close to where they should be.

Russell Casse’s drawing is very close to Spiker’s in that it’s what you’d expect to see of a blind contour drawing. Lots of little details. His focus isn’t on the whole shape, but rather the details that make up Scrooge.

Russell’s wife got in on the action as well with the above two images. In the first one she did a nice job capturing the outline and shape of Scrooge. Unpleased with her work, she decided to focus on the more detailed end of him. Her first attempt is more appealing, because it is clear that on the second attempt she was focusing on the areas that she felt she failed on with the first image. The result is that she did those parts better, but left the rest of it up in the air. She cheats with the hands and simply makes circles where she thinks hands should go. Interesting to see how the brain works. This is a prime example of drawing actually. In the first image she let herself go and trusted her instinct. In the second image, her brain takes over and complicates things, forcing certain ideas of what she thinks the image should be, like the circle hands as symbols. I think the results speak for themselves.

Bowie kept things safe and also went with the general shape of Scrooge, foregoing detail for the silhouette of Scrooge. He did a nice job keeping the feet level with the ground. The hands are also close to where they would be.

My wife Demi decided to take part in this one and came up with this Scrooge. She hated it, but I think it’s really nice actually. She managed to get all of the important parts in there, and did a nice job with the fingers holding the coin, along with the feet and glasses. It looks pretty close to the original artwork.

Stillies’ Scrooge shows a different type of thinking. He works his image downward, with the important parts of the head slowly sloping downward. He spends more time on the arm with the cane and the coin but then goes for a more simple approach to the rest of the body.

I guess I felt the hands and feet were the most important part of my drawing because I went a little nuts with the proportions there. I really thought I had his left hand attached to his arm, but I guess I didn’t as it’s totally floating around in his chest. I thought I had a more complete head, but I forgot to do areas there too. I’m happiest with his right foot. It’s also worth noting I did mine on a tablet, I probably should have done it on paper. I think I would have had a better drawing if I went with paper.

Anyway, lots of real good drawings here. I’m happy with the gallery we have here.

Next Week’s Assignment – Upside Down & Right Side Up Leonardo

Hopefully I’m not scaring anyone away with this next one because it’s going to require a bit more patience and effort as it has two parts to it. Last week I tried to get you to really pay attention to lines and details, and this week you’re going to take that and apply it to something familiar, but not in the way you’re used to doing it. What you’re going to do is draw the following image as it appears here.

I want you to draw Leonardo, starting from the top and working your way down. It is extremely important not to think of it as drawing Leo and to instead focus purely on the lines. Your brain will be taxed and you’ll probably get thrown into a fit questioning your every move. Try not to let that happen, instead focus on the lines, not Leo. Now, when you’re finished set the drawing to the side and do not look at it. That is when you’ll move onto the next phase.

Now draw the same image right side up. You can draw this picture how you would any other picture. There are no rules, just draw it how you feel most comfortable. When you’re finished drawing it, take your original upside down picture and flip it to compare to the one you just drew. I think that you’ll find very surprising results.

Quick run down of what you’re going to do:
1. Draw the upside down Leonardo image from the top to the bottom. Take all the time you need. Don’t rush or it won’t pay off.
2. When you feel like the drawing is complete, put it to the side and do not look at it.
3. Move onto the next picture and draw it right side up. Draw it how you see it in any way you please. Take all the time you need.
4. Compare your pictures and post them on our message board. Post the upside down image right side up so we can see the result without having to flip it.

As always you can either post your images on our forum (the easiest way) or send them via e-mail to phil at shamoozal.com, or tweet them to me.

Looking forward to seeing these, have fun with it.

Turtles Forever


Being a long time fan of the Ninja Turtles, I was not only shocked to find out that I had no idea about a brand new feature length cartoon that was in the works, but was already being aired on TV the moment I learned about it. The premise of the new cartoon is to celebrate 25 years worth of Ninja Turtles legacy in an hour and a half, and celebrate it they do.

The idea is that the Ninja Turtles from 2003 end up in the same dimension as the Ninja Turtles from the original 1987 cartoon series. Eventually, the 8 Turtles even meet up with their black and white comic book counter parts. Along with all the different versions of the Turtles are also different versions of Shredder, April, and Splinter along with classic characters like Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady.

I only caught the final 20 minutes of the show on Saturday morning, but as it turns out CW Kids will be airing it over the next three weekends, so I already set the DVR for next weeks showing. From what I saw, I had some mixed feelings, but generally I loved the idea of it. Of course the story your standard Saturday morning cartoon nonsense, but then again, I guess Saturday morning nonsense is what I loved so much about the Turtles back in the day.

One thing that sort of irked me was that the original Turtles don’t have their original voice actors, which, I guess is understandable even though the original cast still does plenty of voice acting today. To hear guys like Cam Clarke and Rob Paulsen revise their roles as both Leo and Raph respectably would have been a real treat. Plus, as a long time fan it kind of sucked to see that the 1987 Turtles are depicted as even more stupid than they were just to be the butt of all the jokes. Is it wrong that I find it disrespectful that as goofy as they were back then that those were the Turtles that really put the franchise on the map? I know, I shouldn’t care, but I just don’t find the 2003 Turtles nearly as appealing. Even seeing them stand side by side with their ’87 counterparts, I can’t help but feel the original gang just looks more iconic. Goofy sure, but classic as hell.

For long time fans I think the special is worth checking out, and I myself look forward to watching the entire thing. It’s cool to see 25 years worth of Turtle material mesh together and celebrate its long legacy. It has a little something for everyone, the kids that only know the 2003 Turtles probably ate it up since they’re the stars. For people my age, all the nods to the original stuff is so fun to see again regardless of how lame is it by today’s standards. For the guys that hated the cartoons and loved the original comics, there is even a few minutes worth of trash talking from the obviously more hardcore comic book Turtles along with dialogue ripped straight from the pages of the original book. All in all, pretty cool stuff from what I saw.

Still collecting TMNT stuff 20 something years later


I guess my love for the Ninja Turtles will never truly fade. I’ve loved the Turtles since the second or third grade and while I didn’t really follow the comics, newer animated series, and the terrible live action series, I’ll always have a special spot for them.

As a grown adult, I still enjoy my fair share of TMNT merchandise. A buddy of mine handed me this super sweet “Artobiography” about the original TMNT comics that is full of all sorts of great content. The book is packed with tons of drawings, story boards, character designs, and behind the scenes insight all compiled by Kevin Eastman himself. It’s a great book, even if looking at it now shows me that Eastman and Laird weren’t exactly the greatest artists. That doesn’t matter because their idea was so solid, and their work ethic so dedicated that they were able to take TMNT from their small apartment and turn it into a world wide phenomenon that has become ingrained in culture as much as anything from Marvel or DC.

Second, I ordered a beat up copy of TMNT: Fall of the Footclan for the original Gameboy for a whole six cents off eBay. The thing looks like it’s been through a bomb blast, but I cleaned it up, threw some double A’s into the old green beast and played through the first stage of the game. I loved this game back when it came out, but it’s a rather average action game these days. Since I didn’t want to deal with the ancient Gameboy screen, I ended up playing through the whole game using Super Gameboy. There was some great TMNT fan service in here including lots of great stills right out of the pilot episode of the cartoon. Sure, it’s really dated now, but back then Gameboy games just didn’t have graphics that looked like the real deal.


On top of all that, I was also handed a cardboard box full of over 30 loose TMNT action figures. To be quite honest, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with these things. I was doing really well in my quest to sell or throw out all of my old action figures and now this comes along. I’ll likely pick through it and grab some of the figures I really want, like the original four Turtles, and Mecha Turtle. Mecha Turtle was the first TMNT figure I ever had when I was growing up, so that figure in particular means a little something to me, and even though I still have my original, he doesn’t have any limbs. It is kind of crazy that I had most of the figures that are in this box at some point in time, so it was actually worth the memories alone.

Being that this is the 25th Anniversary of TMNT, this year in particular is seeing the release of all sorts of cool TMNT stuff that I’m tempted to grab. There’s a bunch of new action figures, DVD releases, and even screenings of the original film at certain theaters. What I’m interested in however is the new Smash Brothers inspired TMNT game for Wii from Game Arts, which could be something worth looking into. Then there is the recent announcement of the Turtles in Time remake for Xbox 360 and PS3. While I’m pretty turned off by the artistic approach to the game (the game loses much of it’s charm with it’s new 3D graphics), I’ll probably get it and enjoy the hell out of it.

So yeah, I still love TMNT and at this point, I probably will for the rest of my life. Cowabunga dude.

TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist


Lately I’ve been dying to get my hands on a Sega Genesis and a handful of games for it. Growing up as an SNES kid, I was willfully ignorant towards lots of the cool stuff that was on the Genesis and I guess I regret treating Sega’s black box that way. Thanks to my extremely generous friends (thanks dudes), I now have a Genesis complete with a library of great titles. One of those games in the library happened to be Ninja Turltes: The Hyperstone Heist, which is fantastic since that’s one of the games I wanted to revisit.

I played through Hyperstone ages ago at a friends place and being the jerk I was, I just kind of wrote it off as the poor mans Turtles in Time. In a way, I’m still right in thinking that, because I believe Konami wasted a really cool opportunity here. Instead of crafting a brand new experience for Genesis owners, Konami decided to take the easy way out and use all of their assets from both Turltes In Time and the original Arcade game. Mainly aping Turtles in Time, Hyperstone literally shoe horns in some of the locals from previous games, like the pirate ship which is now a ghost ship. With the exception of a stage themed after a dojo, along with a brand new boss (Tetsu from the TMNT movies), a handful of different foot soldiers, and a new music track or two, nearly everything in the game is recycled from previous titles.

Speaking of the bosses, the first three bosses in the game (out of about 6) are nearly identical in their attack patterns. They stick to one side of the screen, throw a few objects and then charge to the other side of the screen. Considering the wide variety of bosses Konami had to choose from (since you know, they didn’t feel like creating new ones) you would think they would choose some characters that offered a couple different attack patterns.

Konami cut other corners too, like taking out the ability to throw foot soldiers into the screen. This is most likely because the Genesis lacked the ability to scale objects, but we all know Konami made the Genesis do amazing things in both their Contra and Castlevania titles. Other graphical missteps are in the sewer scenes where the turtles appear to be walking on top of water while the pizza monsters jump up from under the water. Back in the day, Konami was known for their craft, so it’s rather obvious they were in this for a quick buck.

As I said before, it’s a huge missed opportunity on Konami’s part. The Hyperstone, Shredder’s mega weapon, has the ability to shrink things, and the game starts off with him shrinking New York City. At one point he threatens to use the Hyperstone on the Turtles, but it never amounts to anything but a threat. Konami could have had a lot of fun here, had Shredder shrink the Turtles and then have them fight all sorts of little critters and do a Honey I Shrunk the Kids type of deal with the Turtles. Sure it sounds a little cliche, but it’s something they could have had some fun with.

All this bitching aside, Hyperstone is still built upon the foundation that is Turtles in Time, which means it still plays like a dream. Unlike the SNES game, the Genesis version runs quickly at all times with never a hint of slow down (it must be all that blast processing). Kicking ass and beating up the Foot still feels great and when everything is all said and done, that’s all that matters. Though a personal pet peeve of mine is that the dash is activated by using the C button, and is no longer auto-activated nor the option of double tap activated, but I still got used to it by the end.

The strange hodgepodge of elements from both of the TMNT arcade games, plus the new stuff, gives the game enough of an oddball appeal that a person like me sort of has to have it in their collection. The Hyperstone Heist is probably one of Konami’s weaker Genesis games, but it’s a quick paced, lightening fast brawler that still offers a great (yet brief) time.

Review of the last 45 minutes of TMNT2: Secret of the Ooze


Caught the last 45 minutes of this on cable last night. It’s literally been ages since I’ve seen this train wreck, and watching it again now proves that it’s even worse than I thought. The original film, while having its fair share of cheese, is still a worthwhile movie to check out. The creators of the franchise had absolute control over the original movie and I think it showed. In part 2 it’s pretty obvious that the suits got a hold of this franchise and decided to make an extremely manufactured film. The entire Vanilla Ice segment is painful to watch. It really is the first Jump the Shark moment in Turtle history. The Turtles themselves not only look terrible (how can the costumes actually downgrade with the sequel? And to think they get worse looking in part 3) but don’t say or do anything worthwhile through the duration of the movie.

Donatello in particular looks like Kiddy Kong, with this big stupid jaw, and at one point he’s upset because he finds out that the turtles were created by mistake. He then boo hoos to Master Splinter saying he thought maybe they were a little more special than he originally believed. Donetello would never question science, and he would understand completely that they’re a genetic mutation that was nothing more than a freak accident. I could see Mikey bitching about this since he’s the dumbest turtle of the group, but regardless, what the hell is the big let down? Freak accident or not, they are special because how many fucking turtles are walking around kicking ass? Four. So he better shut his flipping pie hole about being special. What a worthless plot point in a worthless movie.


Speaking of kicking ass and being ninjas, everyone in this movie is the worst ninja ever. In the scene where the Turtles confront Tokka and Razar, Leo comes out like he’s sneaking around and walking all quietly yet he is out in the open clear as day. John Locke could have picked him off from three miles away. So then Tokka and Rahzar come out, who are actually worse than I remembered, (I remember Razar looking so awesome when I was a kid, and he looks like a pile of shit with fur and teeth) and the “fun” begins. The turtles are surrounded by foot soldiers, the Shredder, that bald guy, and the two big bad mutants. And somehow the Turtles manage to not get the absolute shit kicked out of them, nor beat up anyone themselves. They just kind of get thrown in the Vanilla Ice club (literally) and fumble and dance their way to victory. At one point, the Shred shows up holding the “last” vile of ooze, and he’s standing there like a complete cock sucker just hoolding the can out for everyone to see. Then the kid from Red Sonja shows up and kicks the can right out of Shreds hand. Now lets not forget that this is the Shredder. At this moment, he would have just snapped that kids neck. Actually, he would never have ever let that kid kick the can out of his hand. He would have just sliced the kid’s leg off in mid kick. Shredder spent all this time making himself and his helmet extra sharp and he never does anything. Shredder never fights anyone or anything during this entire movie. He just kind of stands around and yells like an asshole for an hour and a half.

As if getting the canister kicked out of his hands wasn’t enough, Mikey (or Raph, I forget) grabs a keyboard and wails on it, causing a speaker to blow Shredder out of the building. Seriously. Embarrassed, the Shred drinks the vile of ooze and turns himself into Kevin Nash. I guess since his ninja moves weren’t working out, he might as well just become a meat head wrestler and see if a few suplexes can’t get him to victory. So instead of actually trying to fight the turtles in his new super state, he proceeds to act like a maniac and knock an entire dock over onto himself. So again, the Turtles never actually fight the Shredster. Also, how does knocking a dock down kill him? In the original movie he falls off a 50-story building, into a garbage truck, then crushed in the garbage truck, only to wake up a few weeks later unscathed in a dump. That was when he was just a regular human too. Again, how the hell does Super Shredder die by a couple of two by fours? It just makes me hate this movie ever more than I already do.

I can remember when this movie came out and I actually had arguments with my friends about the first movie being better than the second. For some reason everyone seemed to like the second movie better. It is good to know that today I was right in that the first movie truly is the superior film. At the same time, it’s also sad to know that I still give a crap about something like that. If I had that conversation with the same people today, they’d probably just say “who cares about TMNT anymore?” At that point, I’d wail on a keyboard and send them to the moon.

The Wizard – Where Are They Now?

Wizard Header

March 2016 Update This article remains the most popular article on this site so I figured I’d give it a bit of a refresh. Since the creation of this article in ’08, more light has been shed on the film. Actors have been tracked down and interviewed, along with director Tod Holland, and some people removed from the spotlight have resurfaced. A few “Where Are They Now” style articles have appeared on other sites, but I think this one is still the most complete. Enjoy!

I recently watched The Wizard again for the first time in over a decade. Coming out of it as an adult, I feel like a have a stronger appreciation for the movie. This movie is by no means good, and it suffers from some of the most blatant product placement I‘ve seen. On the flip side, this film is absolutely amazing in that it has captured an era so perfectly. For a child who grew up in the NES era of gaming, this isn’t a commercial to sell video games. The creators weren’t selling Simon’s Quest and Ninja Gaiden to us because we already knew those games inside and out. This was simply something we could relate to as children. As corny as it is to see Fred Savage compare Jenny Lewis’ life to The Adventure of Link, we understood what he was trying to say, even if he did describe The Legend of Zelda. Watching the movie again is like taking a look back on a childhood that we once had. The discussions of video games on the play ground, talk in the lunch room, and salivating over the pages of Nintendo Power magazine. A life that was heavily influenced by the culture that Nintendo helped create. In this way, the movie succeeds where it didn’t intend to, but that’s part of the charm. This movie was created for generation NES, and no one else. Everyone who watches this movie today will see it for the crap that it is, but the rest of us will see yesterday.

Considering the subject matter, The Wizard actually had a decent cast. Fred Savage and Christian Slater? Come on, this movie was created when they were at their prime, how can we not want to know where these guys are now? Oh you don’t care? That’s okay, I’ll tell you anyway. Let us take a look at not just the actors all these years later, but also the games that defined the movie. So flip up your collar and get ready to learn a few things you didn‘t want to. It’s going to be rad.

Luke Edwards – Jimmy Woods / The Wizard

Luke Edwards and Jimmy Woods
California. One of the only words that Edwards needed to mutter in The Wizard, and he couldn’t even deliver it properly. Maybe it was better that little Jimmy Woods didn’t have much to say during the film. Okay, so Edwards wasn’t the greatest child actor, where does this leave him these days? Edwards has appeared in a variety of roles in movies and shows that I actually never really heard of. His highest profile movie is Jeepers Creepers 2, but I’ve never seen it, so who knows if he is even a main character. It doesn’t matter what he’s in, he’ll always be that kid that wanted to see the dinosaur’s from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to me.

March 2016 Update In an interview with NintendoLife from 2011 Edward’s revealed that he’s had steady acting gigs since The Wizard. In addition to his acting, he also teaches the occasional acting class in LA and coaches aspiring actors. He recently appeared in episodes of True Detective.

Fred Savage – Corey Woods

Fred Savage is Corey Woods
Savage played the lead role and was the middle brother of the Woods family. If not for Corey Woods, Jimmy would never have embarked on his journey to Video Armageddon. Savage was one of the few kid actors that was actually good, so it’s sad to see his career fade after The Wonder Years. These days, Savage mainly directs children’s shows. In particular, he’s responsible for episodes of Zoey 101, That’s So Raven, Hannah Montana, and Drake and Josh. He has also directed a handful of episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his feature film directorial debut was the box office bomb Daddy Day Camp. He might not be an A-list actor, but Savage has been keeping himself busy over the years. Good for him.

March 2016 Update Savage currently stars in the Fox comedy series The Grinder after a long acting hiatus. He has not slowed up in directing TV shows. Recently directing shows such as Modern Family and The Goldbergs.

Jenny Lewis – Haley Brookes

Jenny Lewis is Haley Brookes
Lewis is the spunky red headed girl who managed to worm her way into Jimmy and Corey’s life, and was also responsible for pointing out Corey’s natural gaming talent. The character Haley was what every 11 year old boy was looking for in a girl, and that’s the fact that she apparently loved video games. The term girl gamer didn’t exactly exist then, so this made up character is the first mainstream one ever. Lewis actually had a short lived career, but mostly because she chose things to be that way. After acting for several years, she decided to take a break and form the band Rilo Kiley with a few of her friends. Rilo Kiley’s latest album, Under the Black Light, was 8th in Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Albums of 2007.

March 2016 Update In 2011 Rilo Kiley officially disbanded. She has since had a successful solo career.

Christian Slater – Nick Woods

Christian Slater is Nick Woods
Nick Woods is the eldest Woods brother, and helps his father in trying to track down Jimmy and Corey throughout the movie. Nick Woods is mainly remembered for having the magical ability to turn off the NES by unplugging the controller. Slater went from staring in a movie about video games, to staring in a movie based on a video game. That movie is none other than the terrible Alone in the Dark which has a 1% on RottenTomatoes.com. For some reason when I was a kid, I always got Slater confused with Kevin Bacon, which is why I find his role in the direct to DVD sequel, Hallow Man II, even more hilarious.

March 2016 UpdateSlater has seen steady work over the years and I’d say is still a big name. Probably the biggest one on this list. Most recently he is part of USA Network’s Mr. Robot.

Beau Bridges – Sam Woods

Beau Bridges is Sam Woods
Sam is the father of our hero The Wizard. During the movie Sam is not only trying to find his son, but also piece his family back together. Beau is actually the older brother of Jeff Bridges, and since The Wizard he has only seen a string of minor roles. However, he has found success in the hit sci-fi series Stargate-SG1 as General Landry, as well as the TV comedy My Name Is Earl.

March 2016 Update Bridges has had steady TV work over the years. Most recently he starred on the The Millers which ran from 2013 – 2015.

Jackey Vinson – Lucas

“I love the Power Glove, it’s so bad.” When Jackey Vinson shot that scene, there was no way he could have predicted that the internet was going to make him into a star nearly 20 years later. Lucas is Jimmy’s rival gamer in the movie. We all know that the Power Glove is actually a big giant piece of shit, which is what makes this scene all the better. Lucas is basically saying to Jimmy “Listen kid, if I can beat Rad Racer with this piece of shit on my hand, then I’m going to mop the god damned floor with you when I’m using a standard controller.” He handicapped himself in an effort to show off just how awesome he is. No wonder Jimmy bitched out and ran out of the house. Of course, Lucas loses against The Wizard in the end. As for Jackey Vinson? No one really knows. He was only in a handful of episodes of some TV series and one other movie back in ’92. Aside from that, you can’t even find a Wikipedia page on the guy. Maybe he really did see into the future, saw what was coming and ducked out of the publics’ eye. Jackey Vinson, where are you?

UPDATED: 2/4/11
Well we now know where Jackey Vinson is, and boy it isn’t pretty. Reader “King1501″ provided us with a link as to what he’s been doing. Say it aint so Jackey. He should have took Fred Savage’s advice and just kept his Power Gloves to himself.

March 2016 Update So it didn’t take long for word to spread of Jackey Vinson’s sex offender violation, but the details are not known (which is fine, that is his business). It’s unfortunate because a question about this even popped up in the above linked interview with Luke Edwards regarding Jackey’s charges. What we do know is that in 2012 Jackey tried to crawl out of the woodwork a bit by creating an official Twitter handle. A glance through his feed showed that he was trying to embrace the whole Power Glove line and attempt to connect with his audience. He made one small tweet about making mistakes in his life and wanting to reconnect. It seems to Twitter time only lasted a few short months.

Lee Arenberg – The “NINJA GAI-DAN! HAI!” Guy

Lee Arenberg is Ninja Gaiden Guy
My favorite part of The Wizard is when the kids finally make it to Video Armaggedon and sign up for the tournament. There they meet Lee Arenberg, who shouts and screams his three lines with more enthusiasm than anyone in the movie. It was hilarious then, and it’s hilarious now. What you don’t know about Lee Arenberg is that he’s a secret great bit actor, and has shown up in more movies and television shows than anyone on this list. He has been in episodes of Star Trek, Friends, Walker Texas Ranger, and Scrubs. Most people would probably know him as Pintel from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

March 2016 Update Arenberg currently stars in Once Upon a Time as Grumpy.

Tobey Maguire – Lucas’ henchman

Tobey Maguire is Lucas’ henchman
Who would have guessed that the person who made it big from The Wizard was the little kid that was cast as Lucas’ thug friend? No one. Yup, our friendly neighborhood spider had an uncredited role in The Wizard. It’s a cool easter egg that fits in with the movie quite well.

March 2016 Update A recent interview with Maguire from the Collider actually has him going into a story about his bit part in the film.

The Games of The Wizard

Contrary to the 97 games that this movie claims to have existed at the time, the NES actually had something closer to 1 bazillion games, and the producers made sure to pick the games they knew kids loved at the time. I imagine that back in that time it was a little harder to pick the most popular games, though I’m sure Nintendo probably helped point them in the right direction. Many games were mentioned during the movie, but few actually had long moments of screen time. So, which series of games mentioned in this movie stood the test of time?

Double Dragon

Double Dragon
Strangely enough, the first game showcased in The Wizard is the original Double Dragon. Double Dragon is one of those series that didn‘t quite graduate from the 8-bit era. The height of Double Dragon was with it’s NES sequal, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, though the SNES’ Super Double Dragon was a decent game as well. Double Dragon became popular enough to get its own feature film and Saturday morning cartoon series, but it’s popularity died not long after. The game series basically ended in the mid 90s, though there were some spin off fighting games on the Neo Geo. In 2003 the original Double Dragon was recreated for the Gameboy Advance, but no new titles were developed for the platform. In May of ’07, a port of the arcade original was released for Xbox Live. This series is a shell of what it used to be, and these new releases are likely only purchased by people who have loving memories of the early games.

March 2016 Update Double Dragon had a slight comeback with 2012’s excellent Double Dragon Neon by WayForward. It’s easily the best Double Dragon since 2 on the NES.

Rad Racer

Rad Racer
This game was done by Square before they created (and milked to death) the Final Fantasy series. It’s really interesting to see people like Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu have their names attached to a title like this. As for the Rad Racer series, Square did an exclusive sequel for North America but sadly the series has passed on with the 8-bit era of video games.

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden
This game is actually featured twice in the movie. We get a glimpse of Jimmy playing it earlier in the film, and again at the competition. Ninja Gaiden went on to become a successful trilogy on the NES, and even had a Gameboy iteration. Several ports of Ninja Gaiden were available on a variety of consoles, but none of them had the success of the NES titles. For nearly 10 years the Ninja Gaiden games remained dormant, until 2004 when Tecmo revived the series for Xbox. The new game did extremely well both commercially and critically, and new titles for the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS are right around the corner.

March 2016 Update Ninja Gaiden is still very much a thing. Ninja Gaiden finally returned to Nintendo with 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Along with that, the classic NES Ninja Gaiden games continue to roll out on Nintendo’s download services like the eShop for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This game was likely spotlighted because not only was the NES the talk of the town in ’89, but so was TMNT. As we know TMNT has never really gone away, though the franchise never quite hit the stride it once had. TMNT on the NES isn’t really a good game, but the fact of the matter is that everyone was playing it. Because the game was so damn hard, people were no doubt trying to give tips to each other on how to get through the thing. It was only fitting to see it in The Wizard. For years Konami made TMNT titles that appeared on nearly every console, skipping only the 32-bit generation. Last year with the release of the TMNT movie, Ubisoft released new titles across all major platforms, as well as the arcade original for XBox 360, and this very game on the Wii Virtual console.

March 2016 Update Ninja Turtles had a huge resurgence when Nickelodeon rebooted the series with the latest cartoon series. Now we’re in the middle of a whole new TMNT renaissance with new toys, games, shows and movies. Due later this year is a TMNT game from Platinum.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Zelda II
For whatever reason, this movie never mentions the original Zelda game. The Zelda series has held in tight, and the overall quality of the entire series has never truly faltered. Zelda II in particular is somewhat of the black sheep of the family, but that didn’t stop Nintendo from packaging it in the Zelda Collector’s Edition for Gamecube, as a Gameboy Advance game, and as a Wii Virtual Console title for download. Not only has the Zelda series survived the times, but so has this game in particular.

March 2016 Update Nintendo never forgot Zelda 2. It has since hit 3DS and Wii U’s eShop services and has been remixed into the game NES Remix 2.

Super Mario Brothers 3

Mario 3
Perhaps the reason every child begged their parents to see this movie. The Wizard promised us the first real look at Super Mario Brothers 3, and it delivered. Though it likely would have become a hit regardless, Super Mario Brothers 3 not only went on to become the best selling NES game, but the best selling game of all time. Super Mario Brothers 3 has since been rereleased through Super Mario All Stars on the SNES, ported to the Gameboy Advance, and available for download on the Nintendo Wii. The Mario brand is still as strong today as it was in ’89 both commercially and critically. The recently released Super Mario Galaxy has once again solidified Mario’s place in gaming, and New Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo DS is the second highest selling Mario title to date, proving that the world still loves Mario the best when he’s running from left to right.

March 2016 Update Much like Zelda 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 never really went away. It has since been launched for 3DS and Wii U, along with being remixed into NES Remix 2. It was also part of a reissued Super Mario Allstars for Wii in 2010.

Dr. Chaos

Dr Chaos
The only game mentioned in The Wizard that didn’t deserve a mention is Dr. Chaos. Oddly enough, even though Dr. Chaos was released in ’88, ads for the game weren’t created until ’90. Considering the fact The Wizard came out at the end of ’89, these ads were likely the result of Haley’s shout out of the game towards the end of the movie. Not sure if it did the title much good because Dr. Chaos began and ended with this game.

Other popular titles and series mentioned in The Wizard include Metroid, R.C. Pro-Am, Simon’s Quest, Mega Man 2, Contra, Rampage, and Super Mario Brothers 2. Aside from the Rare developed R.C. Pro-Am, all of those series are still relevant to this day.

March 2015 Update Some of these franchises are now waning. Mega Man, Contra and Metroid have not seen much in the way of significant new titles in years. Rereleases for all of these classic franchises of course continue. Rampage could have a potential resurgence with the movie starring The Rock. There is no date attached the film that I’m aware of, but I assume new games will be made and old ones will be rereleased when/if it is released.

The Power Glove

The Power Glove
The device that couldn’t deserves a nod as well. Always at the butt of an internet joke, the Power Glove is remembered for all the wrong reasons. It’s worth mentioning though that Nintendo never gave up on the idea of motion controls, and we can all see a bit of the Power Glove in the Wii controller.

For anyone who grew up during the height of the NES, it’s worth watching The Wizard for reliving the moment. For everyone else? It’s a terrible movie that serves as a good reference to what was popular in ’89.

Film Review: TMNT

TMNT Header

If you read our Ninja Turtle feature from a few days ago, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Turtles and was pumped up to see TMNT no matter how it turned out. I managed to squeeze in a viewing during what was a rather busy day, and the good news is that TMNT is the follow up to the original movie that we have all been waiting for over the last 17 years.

Similar to how Bryan Singer handled Superman Returns as not only a follow up to the original Superman movies but also a reboot of the franchise, TMNT follows the same path. The events from the first three movies have all taken place (you can spot some evidence of all three movies with a keen eye) making this the fourth film in the saga. The movie begins with a quick history of the Turtles and who they are and how they have defeated the Shredder. Fast forward to present day, and we come to find out the things aren’t going so well for the brothers four. Leonardo has been sent away by Splinter, but has taken longer than expect to return home. Michelangelo has gone the route of the Ghostbusters after they were put “out of business,” Donatello’s genius has been reduced to being tech support for computer users, and Raphael has decided to take up the cape and cowl. That said, the premise of the entire movie is to reunite the Turtles as a team, and as a family.

As a long time fan, it’s interesting and refreshing to see this take on the Turtles. In fact, when the Turtles are the center of attention, the film seems to find its stride. For the first time since the original movie, each of the Turtles has a unique and distinct personality. Unfortunately, the good stuff is tied together by what ultimately makes the whole picture fail as a good movie.

The bad guys just aren’t interesting, and almost seem forced into the plot. There is this whole story arc going on that doesn’t actually involve the Turtles, but they manage to get thrown into the mix simply because they have to have a bad guy to fight for the sake of the movie. More disappointing is that the final battle is as anti-climatic as when Super Shredder knocks the dock on top of himself in Secret of the Oooze.

With that out of the way, the relationship being built around the Turtles is what makes this film stand head and shoulders above the second and third films. It’s great to see the Leo and Raph feud back in full effect, and as fun as ever. A serious nod to the first movie is the friendship that Raph and the lumbering fool Casey Jones share. Even Splinter’s role has been heightened, and it’s almost startling to hear the Turtles refer to him as “Father” instead of “Master” or “Sensei.” I was never the biggest Michelangelo fan, but even his role in the movie made me appreciate the character just a little more. One let down is that Donetello takes a back seat in this movie, and is the least explored character of the group. Then there is April who has gone from news reporter to… ninja? (see: Lame)

CG wise, the actual movie looked really good. The movie is no Pixar production, but overall solid design and animation helps keep the film looking sharp. Surprisingly, some of the jokes are kind of funny, and it’s nice to hear the Turtles toned down for once. There isn’t one “BODACIOUS!” in sight. Some of the action sequences are really well done, and I might add that one scene in particular was awesome. Without going into detail, it’s basically a TMNT fans wet dream, and it is without a doubt the films show piece as it’s both executed well, and emotionally rewarding. The movie could have ended with that scene, and I would have left happy.

Gushing aside, thanks to the weak villain plot, and some lame dialogue, it almost puts the movie into Saturday morning cartoon territory, which is clearly why critics are blasting the movie. However, for the Turtle fan that is hopefully left in all of us, you’ll be happy to know that the first movie finally has the successor it deserves.