Nathan (vovat) wrote,

  • Music:

I am programmed to play games

In this post, I offer reviews of two They Might Be Giants podcasts and two Captain N episodes. I have a feeling a large number of you aren't going to bother reading the post now, but hey, better to know that beforehand, right?

There isn't that much new in Podcast 36A. In fact, several of the songs were already played in other podcasts. There is one number I hadn't heard before, though, and that's "Kids Go" from PBS Kids. Podcast 36B is more interesting, as it plays songs from the Hello CD of the Month Club. This was something John Flansburgh ran back in 1993, four years before I got into TMBG. It's too bad I missed out on that, as it had a LOT of cool artists, and while some of the tracks have since been released elsewhere, not all of them have. Andy Partridge, Frank Black, the Minus 5, and Laura Cantrell all had material out on Hello discs. How can you possibly go wrong with a lineup like that?

And now, on to the Game Master!

For the second season of Captain N, they used an idea so simple, those egghead writers never would have thought of it. They introduced a new character. As the first episode of this season opens, the N Team is making arrangements to rescue King Charles from the Mirror World through a warp that only opens every thousand video-years. (And no, there's no indication as to how long a video-year might be.) During the process, Mega Man turns one of his fingers into a key, which is a little weird for someone who was supposed to have turned human at the end of the last season. Oh, well. The team somehow gets in touch with the King, who claims that he's sending someone named Gameboy in his place. Kevin asks what a Game Boy is, but since it was released in this country in the same year as the first Dragon Warrior game (which he says he's played in "Three Men and a Dragon"), it seems like he would know. Gameboy arrives in a space capsule that everyone insists on calling a satellite, even though it doesn't appear to be orbiting anything. As you might expect, Mother Brain is spying on this, and calls out King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard, the former of whom knocks himself over while trying to salute. I think he might have gotten even dumber during the rerun period. The goons take a spaceship to try to capture Gameboy, but Kevin and Simon arrive in the Warp Wagon to stop them. They seem to have no problem at all breathing and talking in space, which I guess must be different in Videoland. Kevin and Simon get Gameboy back to the palace, and he turns out to be...well, a giant Game Boy, voiced by the legendary Frank Welker in a stereotypical computer voice (which means he's constantly saying things like "affirmative" and "compliance"). He goes on to wreck all of his toys, fire lasers from a tiny spacecraft at Kid Icarus, and force Kevin, Simon, and Mega Man into the world of Burgertime. There, they turn into a hot dog, an egg, and a pickle, respectively. Also, the freeze setting on Kevin's Zapper (which I can't recall having seen before this episode) produces ketchup. Once they get Gameboy back to the palace, they take out his batteries and try to decide what to do with him. After they've left the room, Hippo and Eggplant kidnap him (despite their protests that the palace is dangerous, which they never seemed to think during previous visits), and Dr. Wily figures out a way to let Mother Brain control him. Wily somehow has a schematic of Gameboy's circuitry without even having seen him, despite the fact that Gameboy had been living in the Mirror World. The N Team shows up to rescue Gameboy, who, under Mother Brain's control, creates a lot of Metroid monsters to fight them. We then get a montage of different members of the team fighting creatures, to a song called "Do the Freak." This song is a total rip-off of "The Monster Mash," but is apparently different enough that they didn't have to edit it out like they did the cover songs in the first season. During one scene, Lana is outside, and it's daytime. I didn't know Metroid had daytime, although we did recently see it floating over the Palace of Power, so maybe that's where the light comes from. We also see what are presumably the show's versions of Kraid, Ridley, and Metroids. The latter just crawl around on the ground, though, so maybe they're not full-fledged Metroids. Anyway, Duke tries to stop Gameboy, and somehow ends up overloading his circuits. Mother Brain's helpers warp away, Gameboy is restored to his old self, the monsters disappear, and Mother Brain herself is sent spinning away down a corridor. The N Team then accepts Gameboy, even though he didn't really do anything to redeem himself, and he would be a fixture for the rest of the show's run.

In the next episode, "Queen of the Apes," Mother Brain decides she needs a body, and Dr. Wily immediately shows up with a brain-swapping machine. How does he KNOW these things? As with most cartoons where the characters switch minds, they switch voices as well, which doesn't make any sense and is kind of insulting. It's like the show designers say, "Hey, if we don't switch the voices as well, those stupid kids aren't going to know what's going on," even though the plot itself explains exactly what happened. Anyway, Mother Brain wants to have Princess Lana's body, and it just so happens that Lana and the N Team are currently guests of Prince Plenty, ruler of a group of blue-skinned Kongoland natives. After Mother Brain gets to Kongoland, Donkey Kong captures both her and Gameboy. I can't say I blame the big ape. Gameboy is kind of annoying, and the Brain probably stiffed him on his pay when he played for her team in the Videolympics. Due to the typical incompetence of Hippo and Eggplant, the brain-swapper is activated, and what follows is a three-way brain swap. Mother Brain's gray matter is actually replaced with Gameboy's circuitry. I thought the device would just switch minds, not physical brain matter, but I guess now I know better. Gameboy, with Donkey Kong's brain, starts hanging out with a bunch of apes wearing clothes. None of them are DK's enormous size, so I guess his hugeness must be an anomaly even for Videoland. And Mother Kong, as she's called, demands tribute from Prince Plenty's people, who give her a big pile of gold. So does that mean Kongoland has gold mines? I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since it's very loosely based on Africa. The N Team has to bring the three beings with mixed-up minds back together. At one point, Kevin once again tries the freeze setting on his Zapper. This time, it works properly, freezing a gang of apes in a block of ice. It looks like the Zapper also has a third setting, but Kevin never uses it. I've considered that the Zapper might parallel the weapons of Metroid and include a Wave Beam, but I suppose it's just as likely that the third setting fires, say, sunscreen or chicken feathers. So, anyway, the show ends up with all of the brains being switched back, and the apes running off with Simon.

It looks like the next episode up on the DVD is the Zelda II episode, "Quest for the Potion of Power," which seems to be a favorite among fans. We'll have to see if I agree upon another viewing.
Tags: podcasts, television, tmbg, video games

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