Inside Pulse 12

Retrograding Mailbag 11.19.03

Well, I do have a good excuse for this being late. More than one in fact. The first is I created a nifty new meme that some of the 411 guys have been having fun with. You can check it out at This location. Just be sure to email me with your results and if you found it funny or not!

The second is that I’ve completely redesigned my own web page to have a very Eternal Punishment + Pikachu theme throughout it. That and doing a Double Dragon review took precedence over the Mailbag. Of course, this will still be up before the DD review even though Pankonin got it on Saturday and was complaining about how everyone’s been slacking off on doing reviews. That’s some irony for you. But yeah. Here’s the mailbag, chock full of letters from the past two weeks.

Let’s start with review commentary. First we’ll go with TMNT.

Nice review! I just picked the game up a couple days ago, and have been playing it through with Donatello before jumping in with the others.

By the way, Baxter’s black now because in the original series, Baxter was black…they just went back to it after the other cartoon changed him. And April used to be his assistant too, that’s how she met the Turtles. They went to stop Baxters mousers that had attacked Splinter just as Baxter was about to have April killed for trying to stop him. No idea how they did the April thing in the new cartoon though, I haven’t been able to catch it.

Klitke

A nice starting letter from a 411 staff member. Yeah, I always print these. Why? Because I loooooove pimping the other guys on the staff.

And he’s right. I never got the first volume of the Turtles. I got collections 2-4 in 6th grade, but never tracked down the first collection. I did have the first issue where Shredder appears and dies. Which is still why the comics are totally lame to me. And then to bring him back as a clone? Uuuuuugh. So lame it’s not even funny. I hate clones.

Wasn’t Raphael in the original comic strip a sadistic psycho? He was WILDLY
changed for the original cartoon, if I remember correctly. So was
Donatello(pacifist -> machine nerd). Whatever makes it more palatable for
the kiddies, I guess. The new cartoon at least pushes Raph closer to what he
should be.

As for the game itself – pretty spot on. Good to whittle a few hours away,
but not exactly a challenge. Keep up the good work.

Brett

I never saw Rapael as a Sadist in the original comic. He seemed just like an anti-hero. Like Batman. The new cartoon makes Raph look like he’s on total roid rage to me. Still hate it, even if Widro pimps the hell out of it.

Here’s a nice two parter.

Alex,

I must say I disagree with -almost- everything you had to say about the new TMNT cartoon and the whole resurrection of the franchise. This is coming from a 30-something that bought the original Eastman & Larid comics, played the original RP game and absolutely loved the original live action movie. This is not coming from some kid that doesn’t know TMNT roots.

I thought the original cartoon was ridiculous and way to juvenile and campy to have ANY relation to what Eastman & Laird created. What about BeBop and RockSteady, you ask. R.I.P I say. The entire cast of characters from the old cartoon were just painful to watch as a true Turtle fan from the beginning.

Instead if trashing it, you should be applauding what is easily one of the truest incarnations of the Turtles ever released to the mainstream.

Sincerely,

Tim Winn

My response:

First of all, I didn’t trash the game. It got a 7.0 and I told people
to go out and buy it.

Second of all there is a reason why the cartoon sold and made millions
and why the comic struggled four different times to make it. Even the Archie
comic sold better than the original comic and that says something.

Remember that the comic, at least the fourth story arc (return of Shredder) is
what the movie is based on, just with Raph and Leo juxtaposed. And the
movie never would have done well without the cartoon..

Hi Alex,

I should have been more specific about what I said you were trashing.
You are correct, the game reviewed pretty well and you did have positive
things to say about it. However, I have to admit that I did not even
get down to the game review the first time I read your site before I
emailed you. This was due to the severe negativity toward the whole
TMNT renaissance in general, not necessarily the game.

You are also correct in that most of the Turtles success the first time
around was due to the fact they catered almost specifically toward very
young children. They were certainly able to package up a nice, fun,
innocent product and it became a part of popular culture. You will
notice, though, that the movie was much more in line with the original
TMNT vision and bore very little resemblance to the cartoon. The 2nd
movie, which did not do so well, seemed to stray a bit further into the
realm of the silly and it also was burdened with a very low budget and
that certainly didn’t help).

However, if you read and follow Eastman & Laird themselves, they were
always hoping a ‘truer’ representation of the Turtles would eventually
be endorsed and released to the mainstream. I think this latest media
blitz with new artwork, dialogue, character development and a bit more
mature story lines is a perfectly natural progression. I believe it is
very much in line with what the creators have always desired, and I
don’t think they have pushed the envelope too far either. My 3 and 5
year olds absolutely love it. I like the fact that a lot of the story
lines can be traced back to some of the original stories, like the
latest episode and the ‘Krang-like’ beings.

Of course, there is no place in the mainstream for the original, dark
and violent Turtles, but I think the cartoon and games have definitely
met a happy medium.

In my opinion, as a Turtle fan, I think you should have spent a little
less energy ripping the new stuff early in your article. Like I said, I
was so turned off I was prompted to write this email (which I hardly
ever do) and didn’t even finish the article.

From one Turtle fan to another — Truce?

Sincerely,

Tim Winn

And see folks, that’s opinion. I don’t feel the new cartoon is a “correct” interpretation of the Turtles. I don’t feel there is such a thing. Each bit has its own place in the franchise. Tenchi Muyo! is not automatically better than Tenchi in Tokyo. When a series or story or franchise has multiple interpretations, each one is correct. It just becomes a matter of which you prefer? Me, I like my Turtles funnier than gritty and dark. It’s why I preferred Excalibur to X-Men, or JLI to any other comic ever. I may be spooky in appearance and name, but morbid pisses me off. Life’s too short for antiheros. Give me the funny anyday.

And Tim is still entitled to his opinion and shouldn’t be dissed for it. That’s the point of having opinions after all. To nurture a dialogue and to speak your mind rationally and calmly.

Not like this next total retard, ;-)

im tired of people trashing the new cartoon and the game! if you dont like the new stuff then why are you watching the cartoon or playing the game? obviously it must attract you somehow for you to keep watching it and then write a review about it!! the new cartoon rocks and the new game rocks too! if you dont like it then just watch the old cartoons and if you dont like tmnt then dont even review anything to do with them!

undisputed_champion316@hotmail.com

Wow. Just wow. Not only is grammar and punctuation beyond this kids ability, but he misses the point of a video game website. Games have to be reviewed. Doesn’t mean we’re going to enjoy them. Doesn’t mean we want to. Someone has to review the crap like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. It’s part of the job.

And then of course the guy misses the 7.0 rating and my ‘Go buy this game’ line. Sheesh. Sometimes I wish our demographic didn’t also overlap with the percentages of illiterates or severely mentally handicapped on the web. At least when I did the VC, I just got occult psychos or people who thought I was a vampire. But they could all use spell check and their shift and Caps buttons.

Now let’s look at feedback from my Haunted Mansion review, which surprised all of us here at 411 as a lot of the creators of the game responded to me,

Alex,

After reading your review, I felt compelled to write
you this letter. I am truly pleased that you have
found our game to be as enjoyable as we do. Here at
High Voltage Software, we try very hard to make games
for everyone. A little factoid you may be interested
in is that a lot of the “hidden” goodies came from 3am
crunch sessions and neither Disney or TDK ever knew
about them. Most everyone on the developement team
contributed to at least one “player treat”. Some have
been found and others will surely be soon.

Again, thanks for your thorough review and I hope you
continue to enjoy Haunted Mansion.

Sincerely,

David Pellas
Game Designer

Nice, huh? I was impressed that one of the boys from High Voltage emailed me. I know I’m decently read amongst the industry insiders, and even that the majority of my fan base are not the usual 411 readers, but guys who work and design video games who come to read me and leave. I’m always flattered when they take the time to write me though.

hey,

i just want to give you thanks for recognizing how hard we worked on mansion
-we made it in about 9 months. We knew gamers were going to be expecting a
piece of crap. But those were 9 months of our lives that we weren’t going to
let be wasted. Furthermore, we knew kids and thier parents were going to be
spending their money on this regardless of what we delivered, for trusting a
name brand… but i (and most everyone on the team) just weren’t comfortable
letting crap leave our desks. I’m really proud of what we made, and its really
rewarding to see someone ‘got’ what we were trying to do =)

thanks for making our hard work worthwile.
-jorge Hernandez at High Voltage

Another letter from the guys at High Voltage. And you know, this letter meant a lot. He’s right. Most people were expecting crap with a Disney tag on it. They were expecting a Kiddee game. Or a generic platformer. And High Voltage could have given us that. But instead they went and built something for all gamers. Jorge has every right to be proud of his game.

Like I told both Dave and Jorge, they need to get the Sleepy Hollow License.

And one last ego boosting letter,

Alexander,

Thank you very much for your kind words!

Best regards,

Gabriel Jones
Producer
TDK MEDIACTIVE

So the next time you guys think we’re not a major web site to the companies that are out there, re-read this mailbag. Are we an indy site? Yes. But are our words read and heard by people in the industry? Fuck yes. Sometimes I think the other 411’ers tend to forget that too. But they shouldn’t. We are as good as we like to think we are and I’ve reprinted these letters just to remind everyone of that fact. I normally don’t EVER print letters from the industry that I get, but this was an exception and hopefully the reason why is painfully clear. Okay the reason other than Alexander Lucard = God. That was unintended. ;-)

I haven’t played this game yet, but any game that references the cow bell skit is a definite buy for me. Will Ferrell’s best SNL moment IMHO. Thanks for the review.

Joe

Agreed. None is greater than the Cowbell skit. And that alone is reason to buy Haunted Mansion.

But enough about how great this game is and how anyone who hasn’t played it should be poked with a pointed stick, let’s do some RG letters.

Too late or not, my scariest gaming moment was finding out Sheik was actually the Princess Zelda. Talk about relief as well!
Ash

Okay, I can see why that is scary, but wasn’t that obvious? I mean, Nintendo has never been big in regards to plot swerves. They generally telegraph everything.

I was reading your column, and I saw Gunstar Heroes mentioned. That brings back so many memories. My friend and I played that game ALL THE TIME for like a year.
Something always got me about the Boss whose Special Move is “Love-Love Dancing”

That game kicks all kinds of ass…2 player mode was definitely the most fun…as far as a shooter/action game it really can’t be beat.

Good column as always.

Ryan

This was in regards to my Hallowe’en column. And yes Gunstar Heroes did rule all that was holy. It’d be nice to see that game on the GBA. See LC, some ports would rule!
Random Shining Force point: The hardest battle is the one with the girl at the circus where you have the Sword of Light and need the Sword of Darkness for the Chaos Breaker. I beat the game clean my first two times but after that I began using the egress trick (the healers annoyed me and I didn’t like them being that much more powerful so egress fixed the problem) and even when I was being cheesey the only way I won that battle was the Sword of Light doing way more damage than was at all possible.

Also a Castlevania 3 comment. It’s my favorite Castlevania by far (beat it upwards of 20 times because someone told me I could use Sypha and Grant that way and ditch Richter) but how did you like that so much? The character with your name was horrible. Just atrocious. Grant and Sypha were great, especially Sypha, but Alucard is terribly weak and overmatched. Oh well, just wondering. Thanks for the great read, as usual. Later.

Aaron

Aaron is talking about Mishaela, Dark Sol’s love machine. And that was a tough battle. I always found the toughest battles to be when you had to fight all those Blue Dragons and Chimeras on that little bridge. And I always found Sypha to be the worst character. Grant was by far the most helpful though.

I didn’t send feedback after first reading the VC because I didn’t have time, but I want to say that I thought it was awesome. I thought from the first edition of Retrograding you were an excellent writer who would do well in writing about anything that was of interest, and you proved me right. I never read of the old VC, and only heard of it once or twice in passing, never anyone saying something that would’ve made me go look for it, but I enjoyed every bit of what you put up in the one on 411. The piece on Stull was just as great.

Thank you for all of your writings, it’s just good fun for me to read. Now, to do something to pass the time until 411Black, which I’m convinced is going to be ruled by you.

Brian Roberts

I hope so Bri. I really do. I want 411Black to be a more highbrow/adult/intellectual section of the 411mania instead of just another whiny collection of Gen X-ers trying to be funny and make pop culture references that they don’t really understand. But something tells me, it’s going to be just another branch of ‘Guys that don’t get laid trying to make up for their social inadequacy by writing on the Internet.’ I hope, I really hope this nagging doubt is wrong, because if done right, 411Black will be bigger than any of the other sections. We do have a good set of writers at 411mania. The problem is getting the readers, as well as said journalists, to expand and mature instead of stagnate.

Mr. Lucard,

Thank you again for the NGPC recommendation. While it isn’t going to
replace my GBAsp anytime soon, it is certainly an entertaining diversion
and was centerpiece on a recent road trip. The lack of a backlight is
still a pain, but I am considering tossing an Afterburner in there since
the screen seems very similar Your game recommendations were taken to
heart and several of them should be arriving soon.

That being said, I went and took a second dose of your advice. I picked
up a used Dreamcast (which I never owned) at EB for $30. Now that I have
this cult classic system, do you have any game suggestions for this
system? The clerk kept preaching the wonders of Marvel vs Capcom 2 and
Power Stone 2, so I think I will check out those two games first.

Next, do you know a good place to get Dreamcast games? Ebay, EBgames
stores, and perhaps GameStop locations are options (EB likes to
overprice the used games though), but do you have a preferred method
with this system?

Lastly, I stumbled while game searching onto this link.
http://ebgames.com/ebx/groups/15games50bucks/dreamcast.asp

It doesn’t sound like a bad deal (5 or 10 games for $50 wouldn’t be
bad), but I am having trouble locating even 5 games on that list I think
are worth while. Your thoughts?

Thanks again, Foltz

Well I did recommend enough game for the purchase to be worth while, but also pointed out those weren’t the best DC games on the planet. What about you readers? What 15 would YOU recommend to Foltz?

Ones not on that list I would recommend that are NOT imports include:

Bangai-O
Cannon Spike
Capcom vs SNK
D2
Giga Wing 2
Grandia 2
Gunbird 2
Mars Matrix
Record of Lodoss War
Sega Smash Pack
Skies of Arcadia
Shemue
Typing of The Dead
UFC
Walt Disney Racing

And I can make a list equally long of must have imports for the DC.

And this weeks weird email came in response to my column from July 19th.

He hardly ever jobs the Title as is. He has held more wrestlers down this past year than Hogan has in his career. Triple-H is a Raw-Hog and has to have a belt most of the time to feed his ego. Well, his ego needs to go on a diet.His is an embarassment to RAW and WWE. The only reason he got to were he is, is because of his marrage to Steph. Course his father-in-law isn’t exactly doing Smack Down any favors by having Paul Haymen as the GM.Haymen should have stayed out of WWE and should have gone to TNA, bacause that’s were several of his former stars wrestle.

Kellen

Obviously this is about HHH. But why someone wrote to me about Paul Levesque is beyond me. Besides, talking down to HBK about his fellow Kliq member gets you nowhere. ;-) Except poop in your significant other’s duffel bag and losing your tag titles to the Godwins.

Hey Alex,

Just read retrogaming, and I noticed something that caught my eye:

“I can’t preach over and over again how MOTM was years a head of its time. It’s nearly 5 years after the game was made and it’s STILL light years better than any fighting game that has come out since. The depth of the game, the various modes, a decent story for a fighting game. It’s all here. On one ‘dead’ little system.”

I have MOTM on PS2, and I too think it’s a remarkable game, but I’ve got another lil’ game on PS2 called Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, do you truly think MOTM is the best fighter in the past 5 years?

Justin Parson

Well, one it’s RetroGRADING, not gaming. And as I corrected Justin, SVC: MOTM was only on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. He was thinking of CVS: Millennium Fight. Which was for the DC and PS2. An understandable mistake.

But yes, VF4:E is probably the best 3D fighter out there, but it is still NOTHING compared to the super-deformed goodness that is SNK’s VS. fighter on their handheld. Seriously. If you even CLAIM to like fighting games and you don’t own SVC:MOTM, hold your head down low in shame.

Will a person who absoloutly HATED AND COULDNT STAND final fantasy tactics like Disgea hour of darkness? I like the ordinary 2-4 person party of regular rpgs and the way they work, or the single character kill em all (diablo 2, baldurs gate for the ps2, Legend of legaia 1 and 2 etc).

Thoughts?

John derry nh

Im asking you because your opinions are most objective

And as hard as it was for me to tell John, I said no, he probably wouldn’t if the gameplay was what mattered most. The story of Disgaea is worth buying the game for alone, but if you can’t enjoy Tactics style gameplay, then yeah, it’s not worth the fifty bones. I did recommend Record of Lodoss War and Lost Kingdoms to him though!

And he’s right, I am objective and generally able to separate my emotions from my review. Hence the 6.5 for Shining Soul and Demikids. I’m pretty cold and tough when I talk about a game. But that’s how you know the score is earned. And on those rare occasions where I can’t, well I admit it and let the others review.

Otherwise you’d have seen my FFXI comments such as ‘I was that guy that everyone hated during Beta testing. Yeah. You know the one. Here’s a hint: FUCK ME DUCKY!’

And that’s it for this week. Most of the letters weren’t that amusing to me this fortnight. Just ‘Hey. Good Column.’ No real meat, you know? That doesn’t mean they weren’t nice to get. Or that I didn’t respond. I ALWAYS respond. It’s just another 5 pages of 1-2 line emails wouldn’t make for very good reading and would just make me look pompous.

But that’s it for this week. I’ll see you in the beginning of December with another mailbag. So keep those letters coming!