Tag Archive: Cartoons



This week’s game is another NES classic: Duck Tales by Capcom.

DucktalesNESCover1

Duck Tales is one of a modest collection of Disney Games made for the NES and is based on the popular cartoon series of the same name. Amazingly, most of the games released with the Disney license by Capcom were actually rather good, and Duck Tales was probably the best released.  This flies in the face of the conventional logic that games based on Movies/TV shows automatically suck.
Continue reading

Advertisements

This weeks uh… webcomic? is Simon’s Cat by Simon Tofield.

Simon’s Cat is a “comic” that is hard to classify because it is equal parts comic, cartoon, and blog. There are also a few games. Simon’s Cat is a “Frenemy” comic based on the relationship between Simon and his mischievous cat.

Simon’s Cat is a pretty simple premise, so there really isn’t much to say about it. Go check it out.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

De-enriching children’s lives


With my current foray into 1980s and 1990s cartoons I unavoidably started thinking about and comparing the cartoons of my childhood with more modern cartoons.

The comparison was not favorable to the modern cartoons.  For example, let’s take one of the best cartoons of my childhood: Batman The Animated Series.

Everyone squee for Batman!

 Batman started in 1992 during a time where superhero cartoons were extremely popular.  It joined the ranks with The Uncanny X-men and later Spiderman in 1994.  All these shows were rather good, though X-men probably fared the worst with age.  Rewatching the X-men is almost painful during the first dozen episodes; the dialogue is pretty corny.  Batman, on the other hand, aged very gracefully and is still one of my favorite cartoon series.

But, looking to today, what do kids have?  Well, shows like Young Justice.  A show that allows the X-men to feel good about their dialogue.  Teen Titans is another in this basket.  In order to both appeal to the younger crowd, and meet the ever increasingly stringent guidelines for child-friendly TV, we end up with cartoons full of fairly whiney teens that seem more preoccupied with fitting in with their peers than actually fighting crime.

And it doesn’t just extend to the odd Superhero Cartoon; even the humor cartoons have dwindled.  The jokes are milder and there seems to be more of a focus on ninja-ing wholesome values and learning at children rather than entertaining.  In a comparison with today’s cartoons, Ducktails is down right racy with some of its humor.  Which is why it’s still rather funny.

So what happened?  Well, it started primarily with the downfall of Saturday Morning Cartoons.  As cable children’s networks started to take over the cartoon scene in the 90s, the need for a saturday morning cartoon decreased.  The problem there is that when you go from 7 competitive channels trying to put out cheap but quality cartoons in order to suck in the kids to 2 channels that don’t really actively compete with each other; there really is no need to try to produce something really good.  The lack of competition means the lack of innovative product; which is why 90% of the cartoons that come out these days are basically the same.  They found a jig that works well enough so they just cookie cutter new cartoons to fit the mold.

Further, around the same time, children’s advocacy groups started dismantling TV programming to fit their more extreme view of what the programming should be.  Less violence, more values; less humor more learning; less entertainment, more structured information.  The problem there is that, just like adults, children need a break.  Playing outside, watching mindless cartoons, hitting each other with stuff, etc.  So by trying to enrich which is essentially a break for the children, you marginalize the actual purpose.  Less cartoons are watched, and children gravitate away towards other, truly fun/entertaining things.

Further, these groups also cracked down on the focused advertising campaigns of companies who sponsored the cartoons (which is probably a good thing, actually).   So, with cartoons producing less income now that companies can’t pimp their new marshmallow explosion cereal or the new line of action toys, there is once again no real incentive to continue producing good cartoons, let alone bad ones.

This probably explains the rise in popularity of video games.  Kids need a break from all the enrichment (I know I did).  You can only take so much structured learning, ninja’d value lessons, and wholesome activities before you need something stupid, brainless, and fun without strings attached.  That used to be cartoons, play fighting, lawn darts, playgrounds, sports, and video games.  But with the introduction of the super parent who has nothing better to do than add more structure to everyone’s children, these things have been taken away.

Play fighting is now a thing of the past, lawn darts are now plastic and blunt, playgrounds are close to the ground and most of the more dangerous and fun equipment has been removed, sports are still around but funding isn’t really there anymore, and cartoons try to teach morals and education or just whine about middle school.  So we’ve got video games left on the list… and those are getting cracked down on as well.

So soon we’ll have children who are enriched on every front.  Everything they do is aimed at teaching them a lesson, giving them knowledge, or tricking them into learning.  They will live their joyless lives under the thumb of the wholesome entertainment we have provided for them; dreaming every day that they can grow up and start having fun.  Is it any wonder that kids are spending less time being kids these days?  We’ve done that, by design or by accident, it’s all on us.  So preoccupied with enrichment and wholesome activities for our children we have forgotten that, from time to time, they need to be kids.  No learning, no structure, no moral lesson; just kids playing for the sake of fun.  Why is that considered such a horrible thing?

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Young at Heart?


I’m not what you would call a typical “Adult” person.  But then who is, right?

I do adult things like mowing the yard and doing yard work, gardening, and working on my house.  I pay bills, I work a day job, and I go grocery shopping with the wife.  I have a friggin’ kid, even!  So why don’t I feel like an adult; why don’t I consider myself one?  I do all these adult things, should I not say, “I’m an adult!”

Adults™

It might have something to do with all the cartoons I own and watch (and not just anime, mind you, but things like Ducktails, Darkwing Duck, Tiny Toons, The Tick, Rescue Rangers, and on and on).  An impulse buy for me is not a tool at the hardware store, or a picture for the bedroom.  No, an impulse buy is a Batman action figure with karate chop action, a Jedi Knight figure set, or a video game.  When we visit our friends, it’s not to talk, or to visit and catch up, it’s to pull out chracter sheets, start rolling dice, and play a structured version of “Make Beleive”.

Even when we visit my Sister-in-Law we rarely go without bringing our Munchkin deck with the expectation of playing a hand or 3.  And when we visit my sister, our expectation is to play a hand or 20.

I don’t look forward to Home and Garden shows, or Boat Expos, or even the Country Fair.  I look forward to Gaming Shows and Comicon.

Adults!?

It struck me the other day that when I was young I had expectation to someday be an adult.  A real adult, not the kind I actually am.  Someday I would stop liking all the things I liked as a kid, I would grow up, and suddenly be that boring adult who likes nothing more on a weekend than to watch the news and tune up his car.  So far, to my relief, that hasn’t happened.  So, whenever I talk to people about doing “adult” things, I’ve always said that I have to spend some time “pretending to be an adult.”  We chuckle at the joke and move on.

But what the heck does that mean?  I’m an engineer who works with engineers, and all of us are pretty big dorks.  At lunch we talk about old 80’s era cartoons, video games, and other such stuff.  We all talk about pretending to be adults, but if we aren’t adults, what the heck are we?

Looking to who/what children actually are, we definately aren’t children anymore.  I daresay we have a modicum of wisdom granted as only the experience of life can give.  We could give a rats ass about what others think of how cool we are and, more importantly, we now have more freedoms to make our own choices; something a child gets only in extremely limited situations (like what flavor icecream they’re gonna have).

Nor are we of the teenage ilk; which we are all grateful for being excluded there.  Again, a 34 year old playing Pokémon during his lunch break obviously couldn’t really give a crap how cool poeple find him.  Actually, if he’s got a spare Drowzee, I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on… er… yeah.

If you’re older than 20 and you miss the pep rallies, I have some bad news for you…

So what is a 29 year-old who finds himself roaring with laughter while watching Tiny Toons to consider himself?  Probably just a dork.

In a conversation with my in-laws it came out that apparently one doesn’t start feeling like an “Adult” until you are in your 40s.  And my dad claims that not even then do you really feel an adult.  My dad, 53 now, still claims he’s waiting for the ‘adult’ feeling.

It’s probably all just one of those culturally enforced expectations that you never get to capitalize on.  Like everyone wanting to be a super model, or expecting to win the lottery at some point, or having a flying car by the time you turn 25.  We don’t actually get these things, but we’ve been taught to expect them.  Such is the “adult” feeling.

Our growth is constant.  Beyond that of physical maturity, there is a continuum of mental growth.  But, as each moment of our growth is based on the moments before, there is a natural inclination to carry certain things with us as we evolve.  I may never be what I imagined an adult to be when I was young, but then again, when I was young I was also pretty stupid (weren’t we all), so I guess that image of adulthood might have missed the mark a bit.

I may never be an Adult™, but I’m kind of fine with that.  So I’ll keep watching my cartoons, playing make believe with my friends, and all the while waving my Geek Flag high!

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?