October 11, 2007

Super Mario Lands On Gameboy

Sarasaland has been taken over by a slimy extraterrestrial named Tatanga. He has kidnapped Princess Daisy with the intention of marrying her and brainwashed the inhabitants to do his bidding. The plumber with a passion for princesses known as Mario decides to further his heroic resume by purging this land of evil.

Mario must venture through four kingdoms, each comprised of three stages, that make up Sarasaland.
-Birabuto is a desert land populated by insects that hop around, as well as fly and drop spears. You'll head into the treetops as you make your way to an Egyptian styled temple, decorated with hieroglyphics and guarded by a fire spewing lion named King Totomesu.
-Muda is a water land with spaceships and robots that launch their heads at you. Fish bones and sea horses that spit fireballs will leap out of the water to try and take you out. The last stage lets you navigate a submarine known as the Marine Pop, utilizing torpedoes to take out aquatic adversaries and the boss, a sea dragon named Dragonzamasu, who spits (apparently water-proof) fireballs at you.
-Easton features enemies that take after the legendary moai statues of Easter Island. There are stone heads that hop with wings, and others with arms that chase after you with great speed. After navigating two spider-infested temples, you'll encounter a boulder-chucking moai called Hiyoihoi.
-Chai may as well stand for "chinese", because it has a very Asian atmosphere to it, from the music to the background design. There are demons that hop around and pop back up after being stomped on, as well as walking plants that spit deadly seeds into the air. You'll take to the skies in the final leg of your journey in a plane called the Sky Pop, which controls like the Marine Pop you rode in previously. The boss in the sky is a bird-dispensing cloud called Biokinton. Upon evaporating it, Tatanga immediately appears to try and stop Mario himself.

The only familiar series character in this game is Mario. There's also foes that resemble Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Piranha Plants, and Bullet Bills but they are known as Chibibo, Nokobon, Pakkun Flower, and Gira. The turtle-oids in this outing have bombs on their backs rather than shells, so you best clear out after stomping them. The only lasting feature to come out of this game is the introduction of Princess Daisy, the damsel in distress this time around. She also does the old "your princess is in another castle" routine, except instead of rescuing her servants, you find a mock Daisy that morphs into an enemy and flees.

Power-ups in this adventure include Super Mushrooms, a flower that gives you a ricocheting Superball rather than fireballs, and an invincibility star that plays The Can Can when it's caught. 1ups are represented by hearts instead of mushrooms.

This entry in the Mario series occurs between Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3. For the first and probably last time, a Mario title launched simultaneously with a new game console was overshadowed. Although you'll understand why because the other title was none other than Tetris, making its handheld debut and usually included in the package of the Gameboy unit itself.

The graphics aren't recycled sprites from the first Mario game, save for the Super Mario sprites. This makes it feel like you're in a whole different land instead of a rearranged Mushroom Kingdom. Nice game to blow through in about half an hour if you're good at it. The music is memorable and upbeat. Besides its short length, the major gripe about this game is how it controls. Hit detection seems to be a bit off, especially if you try bopping multiple foes at once. Mario also falls a lot faster than he did in the original Super Mario Bros., making it slightly harder to land on smaller surfaces after a jump.

And that's just the way it is.

October 4, 2007

The Rock's Game Plan

The Game Plan is the latest movie of pro-wrestler turned actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, this one put out by Walt Disney Pictures. This is Disney's latest attempt to take rough 'n tough action film bad asses and cast them in humbling roles. Remember The Pacifier? First it was Vin Diesel singing a lullaby, now it's The Rock in a ballet. Eh, he's had less macho roles before. Remember his gay bodyguard character in Be Cool? That's not a knock either, he was absolutely FABULOUS in that movie. Anyway, since I'm such a mark for The Rock, I had to see this.

I used a gift certificate to pay for my ticket... it's been years since I actually used cash to for one. Even though The Game Plan was #1 in the box office the previous weekend, the theater was empty except for a father and son who came in just as the open credits started. This movie review outlines most of the movie, so don't read any further if you plan on watching it soon.

The Scorpion King is now Joe Kingman, a star football player for a fictional team called The Boston Rebels. He has state-of-the-art furnishings for his apartment, a trophy girlfriend, million dollar endorsements, and the love of the fans. One thing he appears to be lacking, a notion reinforced by one of his married with children teammates, is a stable companion. Evidently, his girlfriend seems to enjoy going on extended trips to places like Paris. All this changes one day when the doorman for the apartment complex calls Joe to inform him that a cute girl wishes to see him. Naturally Joe tells him to send her up. When he opens the door, he looks down to see a kid named Peyton who claims to be his daughter. Shocked, Kingman denies having a child until he remembers a romantic interlude he had with an old flame right before breaking up with her. Peyton claims that her mother is in Africa doing charity work and sent her to meet her estranged father with the intention of him playing the part of babysitter.

Totally unprepared for the responsibility of parenthood (that's right folks, The Rock "doesn't know his role"), Kingman does everything from trying out a babysitter to enrolling her in ballet class. The teacher of the ballet school, a Puerto Rican doll named Monique, is unimpressed with Kingman's fame and insists that he take an active role in an upcoming performance. He reluctantly goes along with it and discovers that the training regimine of the petite and nimble ballerinas is enough to reduce Kingman into an aching, sweaty lump. As time goes on, Monique becomes more and more enamored with Joe's commitment to his daughter. Good thing too, because Joe's other flame doesn't seem particularly thrilled with the revelation of a secret daughter.

While at a restaurant, Peyton has an allergic reaction to nuts, causing Kingman to rush her to the hospital on foot, as heavy traffic conditions would have made waiting for an ambulance too time consuming. While she recuperates, a woman named Karen shows up claiming to be Peyton's guardian, and she's none too happy with some of Kingman's heavily publicized parenting mistakes, as well as the current hospital situation. It appears that Peyton's mother died in a car accident six months earlier, and appointed her sister to look after her daughter. It turns out that Karen was the one who went to Africa and sent Peyton to stay at a local ballet academy. However, Peyton took it upon herself to divert her cab to drop her off with her father instead so she could get to know him. With Peyton feeling better, Karen returns home with her.

The finale of the movie involves the Boston Rebels in a championship game, giving Kingman the chance to win something that's eluded him his entire career, and that's the championship ring. But Joe's heart isn't into it now that his daughter is no longer with him. Not only does he perform poorly, but a rough tackle appears to be enough to take him out of the game. Watching the game on television, Karen decides that Peyton belongs with her father after all, and takes her to the stadium to give him the confidence boost that he needs. Kingman forces himself not only back onto the field, but with the rigor that made him the most acclaimed star in the sport. The Boston Rebels do win the game in the end, but Kingman wins something even more important, and that's a family.

This movie must have been custom made for The People's Champion. Rock is a former football star with college team the Miami Hurricanes. The Joe Kingman character is also shown to be a major Elvis fan, much like The Rock. Those of you who are fans of both Elvis and Rock's melodic vocal chords should be happy that he sings a little bit of The King in this movie, even strumming a guitar. And much like his days back in World Wresting Entertainment, Rock and Kingman are the biggest stars for their respective industries. When all is said and done, this Disney family film exhibits the value of family and teamwork. Only go to this movie if you're ready to learn life lessons.

Overall, a great film. And unless I missed it... there was no People's Eyebrow anywhere in this film. So if I was grading it, I'd take off a point.

And that's just the way it is.