Things I Think Too Much About: The Kongs

November 30, 2009

I’ve recently went back to playing Mario Kart Wii after a long respite. The game is equal parts fun and frustrating. Racing on the bizarre courses and nailing the other racers with weapons is fun. Likewise, your opponents can hit you back and send you to a lower placing bracket through a sheer lack of luck, not skill. It can be maddening to run a course while in first place the entire time, only to get hit with an unavoidable blue shell as you’re going on a jump in the final stretch, sending you falling down an abyss and ending up in tenth place (which actually happened to me last night). The Rubber Band A.I. can be brutal and, at times, downright unfair.

But I’m not writing this to talk about how Mario Kart Wii cheats (which it does). I’m here to discuss a little malcontent who doesn’t even belong in the game, and yet he’s available on the roster. I’m talking, of course, about Diddy Kong.

Diddy Kong, I want to kick you in the face. Nothing personal.

Diddy Kong made his debut in the Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong Country. Through the Fourth Wall-breaking narrative of that excellent platformer, we learn that Cranky Kong, the lovable old coot who dispenses advice, was the original Donkey Kong from the 1981 arcade game. The tie-wearing Donkey Kong that we know today is his son (or grandson, depending on what game you’re playing).

Cranky Kong has seen better days. Insert: Better days.

Here’s where the confusion comes in: Rare, the developers of Donkey Kong Country, originally wanted to make Diddy Kong an updated Donkey Kong Junior, but Nintendo said that either he wear the white singlet from previous games or be given a different name. Since Rare liked their design of the character, they renamed him Diddy Kong and made him Donkey Kong’s nephew. To make sense of the new family they created but still keep it in the Donkey Kong universe, they aged everyone and made the already-approved Donkey Kong the original DK Jr. and Cranky Kong the original Donkey Kong.

But before DK Jr.’s redesign into the new Donkey Kong, he raced in his white singlet with the other Mario Karters in Super Mario Kart.

"Boy, Mario, I'm glad we could put aside our petty differences about you kidnapping and enslaving my dad! Now let's go go-karting! DERF!"

So in my opinion, Donkey Kong can stay in the Mario Kart games. He’s in the Mario universe and has interacted with Mario in several games outside of their non-canon, franchise-milking crossover games. (I’m looking at you, Super Smash Bros.) I’ve got no beef with him.

But why the hell is Diddy in the Mario Kart games? He doesn’t belong. He’s from an entirely new universe and in a different series of games. He has no idea who the hell Mario even is. Sure, you could argue that Diddy is sort of related to Donkey Kong and belongs in the game by proxy, but you’re reaching. Through association, I could argue that Link and Samus belong in the Mario Kart games since they had cameos in Super Mario RPG. Despite how weird that would be, they have more of a right to be there than Diddy does: they’ve at least met Mario. There’s TONS of characters in the Mario Universe who could be in a Mario Kart game who haven’t been in one yet. Why resort to Diddy freaking Kong?

To add greater insult to the fact that Diddy’s now in the Mario Kart games, the most recent iteration added Funky Kong, the one-dimensional XTREME SURFER DUDE who felt dated back when he first appeared in ’94 with the original Donkey Kong Country. For those who love Simpsons references, Funky Kong is essentially the Poochie of the Nintendo universe.

"I'm Funky, the rockin' Kong!"

Now that I look at him, he looks like he belongs in a pride parade.¬† But if that’s the design Nintendo is sticking with, then more power to them.

Before I end this tirade that no one cares about, here’s something else to consider: Gorillas live to be 35-50 years old, depending on whether they live in captivity or not. How is it that the Kongs get older (and die), but everyone in the Mario universe stays the same age? How are these future versions of the Kongs meeting up with a Mario who hasn’t aged? Is there some sort of time rift going on in the Mario Kart world?

Uh... I'm gonna go with a "yes" on that.


Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 Review

November 9, 2009
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Jesus Fucking Christ.

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 has the notorious distinction of being the ONLY film to be in the Top (Bottom?) 20 Worst Films of all time on three of the most well-known film reviewer aggregate sites on the web: IMDb, RottenTomatoes and Metacritic. Let that sink in for a moment. Not only do all of the educated and legitimately published critics on the planet think that the movie is the worst piece of crap ever made, but so do the basement-dwelling, OCD nerds who have nothing better to do than watch movies and comment about them on internet forums. Bottom line, EVERYONE agrees that this movie is garbage. This film is, quite literally, the worst of the worst, and that is precisely why I watched it. And since I don’t like suffering alone (my girlfriend refused to watch the movie with me), I’m reviewing this piffle for all to experience.

The story follows a boy named Kahuna, a child who…. *sigh*
Okay, look. I’m going to explain the “plot” of this movie now, so you’re about to read the stupidest sentences you’ve ever read in your life in rapid-fire succession: Brace yourself. Also, spoilers abound, but it’s not like you’re actually going to watch this shitty movie, right?

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SPOILER: This actually happens in the movie.

Moving along…. Kahuna is a 4-year-old-looking boy (they never say his age) who is a super sleuth who uses crazy spy gadgets like a miniature James Bond. When he has to resort to fisticuffs, Kahuna drinks a super serum of his own design that gives him super strength and the ability to run up walls and jump really high in some of the worst displays of wirework ever seen in a film. Kahuna uses his tools to fight the evil, German Colonel Kane (Jon Voight) and foil his attempts at trying to take over the world.

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He eats his Wheaties! And steroids.

As retarded as this all is, it’s actually just a story that a baby is telling other babies — Kahuna is just an urban legend, of sorts, amongst the toddler community. The audience then breathes a sigh of relief as they realize, “Oh! This retarded bullshit is all just the imagination of a pants-crappingly stupid-ass baby! Boy, am I relieved. For a second, I thought this movie was actually going to be about this horrible, nonsensical garbage.”

Then Act 2 starts, and Kahuna and Jon Voight’s Colonel Klink impersonation show up in the context of the “real world.” Not only that, but Kahuna is still a baby despite the fact that the “legend” of Kahuna took place in Cold War era Berlin.

It’s at about this point that the audience realizes that this movie has gone off the fucking rails, detoured into Crazy Town and staked permanent residence. Yes, this whole movie really is all about a goddamn super agent toddler with a rocket-powered baby buggy and glowing super serum beating the shit out of Jon Voight and his army of ne’er-do-wells.

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They're laughing at the audience, not with them.

Several babies (and their sitter) get embroiled in this international game of espionage when they accidentally bump into an agent of Kane’s and unknowingly end up with a data disc containing… something. Who cares? Anyway, seeing that they’re in danger from Kane, Kahuna swoops in and protects the little bastards by whisking them away to his secret lair that looks like Michael Jackson’s bedroom.

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"So you, uh... live here? It's, um... nice. Very nice."

It’s here where the audience is explained many things about Kahuna, none of which make sense. First, the little kid Kahuna is actually an old man who was born in the 1940s. He looks young because his scientist father made a super soldier serum that had a side effect of freezing Kahuna’s aging process, making him forever a young boy. He’s nearly 70-years-old, but he looks four. If you stop to think about that for more than a second, you’ll realize this plot development brings up more creepy grown-up-in-young-body questions than Twilight could ever dream of.

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"108-year-old SWM seeks 16-year-old female. Must like nighttime walks and/or sparkly skin. Enjoying baseball is a plus. No fatties."

Second, Kahuna and Colonel Kane are — bum, bum BUMMM! — brothers! Kane resented Kahuna getting the serum because he was older and felt he deserved it, so Kane spent his entire life in a pissing match with his (literally) baby brother, essentially making him the most pathetic villain in the history of anything ever.

I have a question for the makers of this film: Why attempt a backstory or any semblance of character development when it’s so goddamn stupid?

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Movie Cliché #135: Super serums and science-based elixers must glow because of SCIENCE.

Moving right along, Kahuna decides he needs help to stop his brother’s scheme for world domination, so Kahuna uses a machine that gives the other babies super powers (LIKE IN THE TITLE LOL!) so they can help him fight the evil blah, blah — you know what? Screw this dumb shit. I’m getting a headache just trying to recollect this movie so that I can write this review, and I’m running out of Aspirin.

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Everything you need to know about this movie is contained in this one picture. Fuck this idiotic film.

I usually don’t get angry at movies, but Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 is ten hours of pure stupid condensed into 85 minutes, and I hated every second of it. Okay, granted, the title alone should clue you in on how bad it is, but nothing can prepare you for how bad it REALLY is. There is nothing good about this movie. Nothing. This movie deserves every bit of scorn that it’s received. It’s the film equivalent of cancer and AIDS put together.

I’ve seen The Star Wars Holiday Special, Battlefield Earth, Gigli, Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever and almost every Uwe Boll film made, and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 is the film that almost broke me.
0/10


Muscle March (WiiWare Game) Review

November 2, 2009
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"Hey, big boy. Wanna play a game with us?"

The video game Muscle March tells the classic tale of a gaggle of weightlifters who had their protein shake powder stolen by a football player/Martian who is then chased from Japan to outer space by the muscle-bound behemoths trying to get their drink mix back.
Okay, so it’s not so much a classic story as it is a fucking bat-shit insane one, but who needs a story when you’re talking about an arcade-style, downloadable Wii game?

Muscle March was released on the WiiWare Channel in Japan in late May this year, and it’s every bit as crazy as this video portrays it.

As you could see from that footage, the point of this way-hetero game is to select your not-at-all-gay-looking character and strike flexing poses to fit through the holes punched out by the protein-shake thieves as they smash through walls. Using the Wiimote and nunchuck, you strike a pose by lowering or raising your arms, your movements corresponding to your characters’. Pose incorrectly and you run into the wall and get hurt — get hurt 5 times and you lose. When your more-than-likely-heterosexual character gets close enough to the perp, you go into a short mini-game where you shake the Wiimote and nunchuck as fast as possible to make your character run faster and eventually hip tackle the thief in a completely straight manner. Screw up and the level starts over again.

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Totally not gay.

There are three levels in Muscle March (Modern Japan, Feudal Japan and Outer Space… yes, I’m serious) with each level having three sub-levels. The game also has an endurance mode where it’s one unending level; the point being to rack up the highest score possible by seeing how far/fast you can go without messing up.

The game tries to coast on quirk and charm (and let’s face it, sheer madness), but as you can probably guess, it’s still a pretty shallow gaming experience. The controls, while functional and fun, are extremely simplistic. I mean, I described the ENTIRE game to you: Lift your arms like an idiot, chase guy, the end. You can pretty much see everything the game has to offer in half an hour. It’s like a mini-game from Wario Ware being stretched out about as far as it can go.

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WHO IS PLAYER? OH MY GOD, BEAR IS PLAYER! HOW CAN THIS BE!?

I hate to bring up graphics when concerning a downloadable game, but the Playstation 1 could probably run Muscle March. The textures are muddied and most of the low-res sprites are downright terrible. You could argue that the bad graphics are part of its charm, and you might be right, but when you see it in motion, some of the visuals are downright inexcusable. On the plus side, the game runs at a decent clip without any frame rate hiccups or slowdown.

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Wait a minute.... Is that a baby chick sitting in that black guy's afro like it's a bird's nest? That's racist... right?

If Muscle March were $5 or cheaper, I’d recommend it for its sheer absurdity alone: It’s almost worth owning just to show people that this game actually exists. Guaranteed, you and your friends will laugh playing this crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat game. However, given that Muscle March is actually $8, it’s a bit hard to recommend. To me, three bucks is the difference between a fun lark on a lazy afternoon and an all-too-short arcade game that you regret for spending that much money on.

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And did I mention how completely not gay it is?

It’s fun and all, I guess, but the price point is hard to swallow.
(Heh, heh…. Not gay.)
5/10

PRO-TIP: If you’re having a hard time beating a level, try intentionally getting hurt a couple times near the beginning of the stage. The level is only a certain length, so you can protract the introductory slow part by running into the walls before the hard parts begin. Sure, your score will decrease, but your odds of beating the game will be better.