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. Conrad writes news and produces video content for Destructoid (including Sup, Holmes?, Office Chat and Saturday Morning Hangover) and is a regular host on Podtoid.
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: With Mother Brain in control of Videoland, the N Team must acquire power items from Mt. Icarus to defeat her. But they also must contend with Dr. Wily and his Robot Masters, who are about to conquer Megaland.
Last week, we were left with a cliff-hanger. Mother Brain had stolen the Three Sacred Treasures from Mt. Icarus. Using her newly acquired power, she opened up a "warp zone to oblivion" and sent the N Team tumbling to an uncertain fate.
As we begin the episode (after a brief recap from the narrator) Mother Brain is cackling about her success to her cronies, claiming that our heroes will never escape from the warp zone she dropped them in. Everybody's having a good laugh over all of this, except for me. Not because I give a damn about the N Team, but because I know that the next twenty minutes aren't going to any more entertaining than this one.
Inside the "warp to oblivion", the heroes fall onto what looks like a trilobite with a pair of ass cheeks that would put J-Lo to shame and a bunch of exposed arteries on the underside. In fact, the whole area they're traveling through appears to be some system of blood vessels. It kinda gives me visions of Martin Short flailing around with a microscopic N Team inside him.
Megaman explains that this is the part of Videoland where all warp zones intersect. Lana points out that going into the wrong warp to try and return home could wind them up dead in an infinite variety of ways. My imagination is such a fertile playground in this regard that I've thought of them all.
Kevin is unfazed and reassures the team that he has a plan. Requisitioning some fishing line from Belmont's backpack (he doesn't have any rope... what self-respecting fantasy character fails to have at least fifty feet of rope on hand at all times?), he ties it all together in such a way that all six of them can each extend their own, personal length from the spool at the same time. I was a Boy Scout, but you wouldn't have to be one to know that this shit simply isn't possible.
The plan is simple. They'll each hop into warp after warp until they find the right one. Once someone has found it, they'll tug on the rope to signal the rest to come through. Now, if everyone has all this slack to work with, how will anyone be able to feel the tug? Again, my rational mind dies a little. Everyone does their part, with the exception of Belmont who expects to be able to just wait around until the signal comes. It's a sound plan, right up until three seconds later when he's threatened by a disembodied mouth.
Leaping into the closest warp, Simon emerges in a forest. Pleased that things appear to be pretty safe, the scene zooms out to reveal that he's in a cookpot, surrounded by what might be Moblins (though it probably isn't wise of me to make assumptions in this regard).
Lana warps out of the third base bag in a baseball diamond, steals home and runs back to third and warps out. Kid Icarus, however, finds the correct warp right away and pulls the cord. Everybody assembles and observes that things sure are awfully quite for them only having been gone a few minutes. Megaman checks his watch and finds that, in fact, an entire week has passed. Mother Brain has been able to run amok for all this time and Lana is worried. Worried for no good reason, if you ask me. Mother Brain couldn't capture the Palace of Power in seven years, so how much could she possibly accomplish with only seven days?
Not a whole lot, it seems. The gang observes some guards forcing the poor citizens of Mt. Icarus (now renamed Mt. Mother Brain) to perform manual labor. One of these poor wretches spots the N Team and tells them that King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard are now in control of Mt. Icarus, while Mother Brain has given the Three Sacred Treasures to Dr. Wily so he can use them to take over Megaland. For a slave, he's surprisingly well informed.
Megaman is obviously concerned and wants to warp back home immediately to stop Wily, but Lana fears it may be hopeless to fight against the power of the Three Sacred Treasures. Not so, suggests Kid Icarus, who claims that he can defeat them by obtaining a fire arrow, the sacred bow and the protective crystal. Of course, those are guarded by Medusa but the team is left with little option.
Lana suggests that they split up. Kid Icarus and Simon will venture to the peak of Mt. Icarus and recover the magic items from Medusa while the rest of the group heads to Megaland to try and delay Wily's conquest.
Once in Megaland, we get to see Megaman's creator for the first time. Called by his original name, Dr. Wright, he does answer my question about why Megaman is so goddamn short. The dude's a midget with pointy elf ears who informs Kevin that to reach Dr. Wily, they'll have to face all six Robot Masters. Then, he shows off his latest invention, a fucking SENTINEL called "Garbageman" whose purpose is to "trash" the other robots.
As if to further prove that this is the man who created Megaman, the machine goes haywire the second it's switched on and casually begins to devour all of Dr. Wrights laboratory equipment. I can't help but think that the writers of the show realized how badly they screwed up where the Blue Bomber is concerned and decided to cover their tracks by making Wright an incompetent boob. Deciding that they'd be better off without Garbageman's help, Kevin and the gang head off towards Dr. Wily's stronghold.
As they approach the warp to Cutsman's domain (who Megaman encourages that they deal with first), Kevin suggests perhaps Lana might want to hang back on this one. The Princess, however, has been reading Gloria Steinem books and snatches the zapper from Captain N's holster to demonstrate that she doesn't need a man to protect her. After this raw display of feminist power, Kevin suddenly needs to go play a few rounds of Isolated Warrior with his NES Pantsvantage controller, but time is short and they head into the warp.
They begin climbing the ladders that make up this level of Megaland, Duke included. Yes, the dog climbs ladders on his own with merely a command from his master. As they climb, Kevin takes a hit from one of the beaks (the semi-circular turrets that shoot you in Megaman) and falls to the ground. While relatively unharmed, the munchkin luchadore informs us that with each hit they'll lose power.
Upon reaching the top of all these ladders, everyone is pretty exhausted. Kevin says that all that remains before reaching Cutsman is to get past "Big-Eye". Lana doesn't think that sounds too bad until we see the towering monstrosity bounce in from the distance. Try as they might to defeat the robot, the heroes' shots are bouncing off because, as Megaman says, they don't have the necessary power remaining to hurt it. Eventually, they are crushed beneath Big-Eye's awesome foot and are warped back to the beginning of the level.
Lana's fucking pissed about having to make the long trek back up the building, but Kevin reassures her by saying that it took him fifty tries before making it to Cutsman on his game console back home (Fifty tries? Really? Some fucking Game Master he is). This isn't a game, though. This is life and if they die two more times, it's game over.
Back on Mt. Icarus, Simon and Icarus find King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard chilling in a hot tub. The villains are directly between our protagonists and the warp zone to Medusa's lair, but Simon has a plan. Dressing in togas, King Hippo mistakes them for steam bath repairmen and asks them to crank the heat up. Pulling a wrench out of his backpack, Simon opens the bath's valve completely and they use the distraction of burning eggplant and steam to make their escape through the warp.
In Megaland, Kevin and the others have made it back to the top of the building, where Big-Eye awaits them once more. This time, however, Kevin goads the robot into very slowly chasing him to the edge of the building, where it breaks the ledge and tumbles off. Lana leaps on to Kevin, wrapping her arms around his neck but Megaman totally cock-blocks by reminding them that time is short. What a mega-dick.
And it's montage time. Now, I could be mistaken about who all these enemies are that they're fighting but I'm pretty sure that they're the Robot Masters. Of course, it's hard to say for certain because of how bad the art direction has historically been in the series thus far. Nevertheless, the good guys seem to have very little difficulty dispatching these robotic menaces.
After all this high-octane action, the heroes are finally confronted by Cutsman, who looks like The Noid with purple skin, a pair of golden shears on his head instead of floppy ear-things and a most disproportionately huge body for such a tiny head. Weapons are powerless to stop his awesome might, but Kevin has a plan. Telling Duke that Cutsman is their new gardener, the dog starts running circles around the Robot Master, distracting him long enough to be destroyed by his own boomeranged scissors. If this was in any way the inspiration for Metal Man's greatest weakness in Megaman 2, I'm just gonna shoot myself right now. One robot master down, five to go, according to Kevin who claims that this would be the easiest fight.
Back to the other part of the team, we find Belmont and Icarus creeping into Medusa's lair. The wrecked hall is filled with hideous statues, victims of the mythological beast's power. Knowing that to see her visage would turn them to stone, Kid Icarus rummages through Belmots bag. Producing some black paint and a bucket, he paints over Simon's goggles and tosses the bucket on his head. The plan is simple: The vampire hunter will distract Medusa while Icarus steals the power items they need.
I think we can all predict how this is going to go down. As Kid Icarus stumbles his way towards the power-ups, Medusa approaches Simon with a sultry voice and encourages him to take the goggles off. With the claim that the runt wants to deprive Simon of some good lovin', the moron once again demonstrates that he can't be trusted to handle even the simplest of tasks and is turned to stone.
On his way back with the power items, seemingly deaf as well as blind while within the bucket, Kid Icarus bumps into the newly-made statue of Simon and starts making a break for it. He manages to get about five steps before tripping, turning the bucket upright while he's still inside, legs flailing in the air. Medusa moves in for the kill and picks up the mini-mythical figure, only to find that he's clutching a mirror (which I assume is supposed to be the "protective crystal"). Gazing into her own reflection, she turns to stone and breaks the curse on Simon and the other stone warriors in the hall.
Their mission complete, Belmont rallies the now free soldiers and commands them to reclaim Mt. Icarus from Mother Brain. A warp zone to Megaland opens above them (what's the point of having all the stationary warp zones if ones to the place you want to go just crop up whenever it's convenient?) and they jump upward to join the rest of the N Team.
In Dr. Wily's command center, Kevin and his half of the group arrive. Wily congratulates them for nearly destroying his Robot Masters. Lana is confused, because she's pretty sure they were successful, but Wily reveals that the Three Sacred Treasures (conveniently located in a nearby alcove, connected to some machinery) have given Wily the juice he needs to have the robots revived. Opening a door, we're greeted with all six of the Robot Masters.
And, yes, they're the enemies that were defeated in the action montage, completely destroying any sense of continuity that this episode contains. Let's take a look at them, shall we?
Sweet Jesus. Where to begin? I've already talked about Cutsman, so we'll skip him and just move left to right. Fire Man and Ice Man are about as close as they get to the originals, except the former's face looks like the drummer from Kiss and the latter has dark circles around his eyes that would impress even the most studious individual who's taking amphetamines to cram for finals. Elec Man appears to have down syndrome and wears glasses that are so hideous, that the 80's called and said they didn't want them back. Bomb Man isn't too far off, but the overbite and coloring he's been given makes him look like a lizard with a mohawk. And Guts Man has a duckbill. I don't know how to make that funny.
Wily commands his robots to destroy the N Team. Ice Man traps the gang in a cage of ice, while Elec Man gives Megaman a good zapping. Fire Man's attack misses and melts the cage, raining water down upon their heads which seems to frighten them more than any of the rest of this.
Just then, Simon and Kid Icarus warp into the room. Simon blocks another volley from Fire Man with the mirror while Icky lines up his shot. Never able to hit the target when it really counts, however, teh arrow bounces off of Wily's equipment and ricochets around the room for a bit until Lana deflects directly into the Three Sacred Treasures with her tiara. With their power depleted, the Robot Masters disintegrate.
Wily isn't quite done yet, however. Pressing a button, his chair converts into a rocketship and he moves to ram into the N Team. Kevin has his own buttons to push and hits Pause (actually, and I'm nitpicking here, he's been hitting the Select button the whole series; it's really driving me nuts). Opening the capsule Wily's sitting in, he fiddles with the control and, when the pause runs out, Wily goes careening out of the room, his ship completely out of control.
On Mt. Icarus, the freed warriors toss a defeated King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard into a nearby warp. In her control center on Metroid, Mother Brain is primping in a mirror as all her cronies come tumbling down from the ceiling on to her jar. On the wall, Lana and Kevin mock the defeated villain. All is, apparently, safe once more in Videoland.
Apart from the inherent flaw of this being the show that it is, there's a few problems with this episode. First, the writers tried to cram too much story (hah!) in and everything feels a bit rushed. I'm not advocating the ruination of more video game settings than is absolutely necessary, but there's so much more that could have been done with the nexus of warp zones to only see Belmont and Lana visit new locales.
Really, though, my largest complaint is with the ruination of my beloved Robot Masters. It's not as though art didn't exist to base them on. Their design isn't anything overly complicated either. It's as though Capcom said, "Sure, you can use them as characters, but the only art resources we're going to give you are the drawings made by this programmer's mentally retarded nephew. Good luck!"
-ICUS RATING: 66%
warp-icus, moe-icus, go-icus, home-icus, highn-icus, can-icus, art-icus, Simon-ius (which is good enough for government work), eyes-icus, distract-icus, stop-icus, darn-icus
MEGA RATING: 50%
mega-center, mega-sensors, mega-fast, mega-warp, mega-power, mega-move, mega-retreat