An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast FistShark Marketing (fistshark.com) and streams video games often on Hitbox (hitbox.tv/ConradZimmerman)
The mere inclusion of Rodney Dangerfield can vastly improve anything. Films, music, toasters, anything. In particular, the force of Rodney Dangerfield could elevate video games to the level in which they are accepted by the mainstream as a true art form, bringing together people of all races, creeds and tax brackets in peace and harmony.
Death By Cartoon follows my exploits as I attempt to watch and provide analysis on every episode of Captain N. It's a dangerous road, with thoughts of the sweet escape of suicide around every corner. Check back every Thursday for a new episode or check out the archive to see previous editions.
Uber-Short Synopsis: Duke is lost in Bayou Land due to the machinations of Mother Brain. Captain N, with the help of Bayou Billy, must learn how to navigate the treacherous swamp to find him.
On Metroid, Mother Brain watches a video of Captain N shortly before being sucked through the Ultimate Warp Zone. How it is that she's able to see this at all is never made explicitly clear, though it could be assumed that just as game players look into their televisions to see Videoland when playing a game, Videoland looks back. I'm sure, somewhere in there, Tifa has some horrible nightmares.
Mother Brain is looking for clues as to how to defeat Kevin and finds a crucial weakness: He sucks at Bayou Billy. We'll ignore for the time being that Captain N was playing Punch-Out when warped to Videoland. Continuity is for suckers anyway.
But, God damn it, you'd think they'd at least make the slightest effort to correctly portray the game they're name-dropping. Bayou Billy is a brawler, and a terrible one, but the animation they drew for it looks like a Pitfall clone. Koreans apparently weren't playing video games yet, or this shit never would have made it past the animation sweatshop.
To lure Captain N to certain death within Bayou Land, Mother Brain turns to Dr. Wily and has him build a remote controlled robo-cat. Wily, a recurring henchman who appears in many episodes of the show, is about as good a representation as you can get. Being a one-dimensional character already, there's not too many ways to screw it up, but I've been surprised before.
Once the robo-cat has been built and appropriately tested by mauling Eggplant Wizard, it is sent to the Palace of Power and we follow along with it.
Meanwhile, Kevin is doing everything in his power to impress Princess Lana. After fiddling with some bizarre piece of equipment that seems to have fallen out of Blade Runner's ass, music begins to play and we're treated to an interesting exchange of dialogue. On it's own, it would be completely innocuous. Taken out of context? Well, have a listen:
Their little tete-a-tete is interrupted swiftly, as the robo-cat bursts through the room with Duke in hot pursuit. Kevin, obviously annoyed that Duke has once again destroyed his hopes of losing his virginity, apologizes to Lana for the terrorizing of her cat. But (gasp!) Lana doesn't have a cat. They catch up to Duke just in time to see him leap through the warp zone to Bayou Land. After bitching that the bayou wasn't exactly the hot, wet, sticky environment he'd hoped to enter today, Kevin pursues his wayward pup.
Back on Metroid, Mother Brain is ecstatic that her lure worked. Unfortunately, she never seems to learn from her mistakes and orders King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard to ensure that Captain N meets his untimely demise. The exchange that Hippo and Eggplant have prior to leaving Metroid is good for some lulz, though not for the reasons intended.
In the Palace of Power, Megaman (in his only appearance this episode) has captured the robo-cat and Lana quickly realizes that something sinister is afoot. Instructing Simon to follow her to Bayou Land, Simon's vanity kicks into gear again. Apparently, you can successfully kill hordes of skeletons and zombies while hunting Dracula down and not muss up your clothes. It's only episode two and this schtick is tired.
Duke, lost in the swamp and surrounded by hungry red eyes, continues to wander in terror. Kevin isn't having much success locating his dog and bemoans that his best friend in the world is lost when he's attacked by a living tree of some kind and falls into a pool of quicksand. Fortunately for him, the sand drains through a hole and into a cavernous room. Unfortunately for him, there's a very large alligator there with him and his power pad has been drained.
Just as things begin to look their worst for our hero, he is saved by Crocodile Dund... Bayou Billy! Just look at those rippling muscles, the open vest with pink fringe and that ten 'o clock shadow on his chin that puts Jay Leno's to shame. He's a man's man and quickly wrestles the gator into submission. Billy is all set to head on his way in his pimp purple hot-rod/tow truck when Kevin asks for his help in finding Duke. Well, if there's a dog that needs to be rescued, apparently Bayou Billy is the man to ask. He's an animal lover, after all, the gator who attacked Kevin is his pet.
Billy sets to teaching Kevin about how to track in the bayou. Important information such as what to look for, how to use a whip and the importance of collecting power items. After completing his training, Billy abandons Kevin, saying that he has some poachers to catch. Obviously, helping train the kid was of far more importance than saving his precious bayou from these evil men.
On Metroid, Mother Brain has Wily working on a little insurance policy, a swamp monster programmed solely to hunt down Captain N. Maybe she's finally learned that she can't rely on Eggy-poo and the fatass Hippo to get her dirty work done. Or, maybe the writers realized that this episode has been going nowhere and needed something to kick it up a notch. I think we both know where my money is on that one.
In the Bayou, Simon Belmont and Lana are trying to track down Kevin. Belmont is following tracks believed to be Dukes when they dead-end at a tree, which he climbs despite Lana's warning that dogs don't climb trees. OMG! It's a jungle cat! In the swamp! This is fucking retarded. I'm not even dignify how stupid the dialogue that follows regarding the genetic relationship of cats and dogs by describing it. You've been spared.
Duke wrestles with a snake and Kevin, with the newfound tracking skills acquired from spending a whole montage with Bayou Billy, immediately knows what happened. As he continues his search, Eggplant and Hippo find a boat to assist in their hunt. Hippo breaks the craft just by hopping in, but this gives Eggplant Wizard the BEST IDEA EVER.
Trying to run Captain N down by this method, Kevin reacts by making a jetski from a gator using the whip Billy gave him and makes his escape. Did they think kids would find this cool? More importantly, were they fucking right? How goddamn stupid were we?
The horrible swamp monster has found Lana and Simon and, despite his programming which we were told about less than five minutes ago, starts chasing them and screaming, "Captain N!!!" Wily is obviously a shitty scientist.
As our heroes flee in terror, they run directly into the waiting arms of Hippo and Eggplant, who tie them up and wait for the swamp monster to devour them. But look! Captain N is on a nearby tree and shoots at the scaly beast with his Zapper, only to hop down and also be bound by Eggplant. How will they ever survive?
Just then, Bayou Billy pulls up in his buggy with Duke in the passeneger seat. Out of car in a flash, he confronts Mother Brains henchmorons while, somehow, the N team members are cut loose. With no explanation at all. That's good storytelling. Kevin makes a move to attack the swamp monster, but the creature splashes swamp water all over him, cligging the Zapper. How can he defeat him?!
Look, people, I'm trying to make this interesting. This ranks among the most boring cartoons I've ever seen.
Billy tells Kevin to use a Crash Star hidden in a rotting tree. Crash Stars are a smart-bomb item in the Bayou Billy game and the first thing in this entire fucking episode that accurately references the world this story takes place in. Leaping across the back of an alligator and swinging from a snake coiled on a tree branch, Kevin reaches the star and throws it at the swamp monster.
The star flies around helter-skelter, killing the swamp monster, some snakes and chasing Hippo and Eggplant Wizard into a warp zone. On the other side, the bumbling duo land directly on top of Mother Brain in Metroid. The Crash Star follows in hot pursuit and blips them all out of existence, with Mother Brain swearing to destroy her cronies on her next resurrection.
With evil defeated, The N Team has a candlelight dinner in the Bayou with Billy. Kevin laments that, while he's grateful to know how to survive in the Bayou, Duke still doesn't know not to chase animals. Just then, the dog follows a frog into another hole and Kevin asks where that warp leads to. But it's not a warp! It's where Billy's pet gator has made it's nest. AHAHAHAHA! That's so clever! The heroes laugh at the dog's misfortune and everything is wonderful again.
WRONG! Everything is not wonderful. This episode is incredibly dull. All of the interesting shit happens in the first ten minutes and leaves us wandering about aimlessly up until the final few. More than half the show is "look at this spooky swamp". Apart from the audio gaffs in the beginning, there is nothing to make fun of, which has made this a very painful experience for me (and probably you as well). They even failed to club us over the head with a contrived moral lesson.
Perhaps Bayou Billy wasn't the best game to use. It makes me wonder how they were chosen. Bayou Billy is a Konami title, Castlevania is a Konami title. How much involvement did Konami have? Did third-parties contribute money in order to get their products screen time on Captain N? If so, are they ashamed? They should be.
THE SLITOMETER: Level 5
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