LOCATION: Florida and/or New Jersey
I've been playing games since before I can remember. I was raised on Nintendo systems (all of them but the Virtual Boy), so my "loyalties" still lie with Mario and Co. Every time I try to organize a list of my favorite games I end up forgetting something, or debating between two, so here's a list of my top ten games, in no particular order, with no doubles per series (unless I can't decide between two--I'm very indecisive):
FAVORITE GAMES The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Super Metroid (sometimes I can't decide between this and Zero Mission... If that game were longer, maybe)
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Mega Man 2 or 9 (not sure which)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
You know what, forget this, my self-imposed restrictions have made this way too hard.
Also, you should know, I am a huge Disney fan. Growing up is for losers.
Yesterday, we took a look at how Oswald the Lucky Rabbit changed from his cartoon debut to his post-Disney years. Today, we'll take a similar look at Mickey Mouse himself.
First off is "The Gallopin' Gaucho," released in 1928. It was the second Mickey Mouse cartoon produced, although like "Plane Crazy" before it, it failed to find a wide audience until after "Steamboat Willie" was a hit, at which point it was re-released as a sound cartoon.
Mickey was still developing as a character here. His eyes, for example, seem to change midway through the cartoon. In addition, he is seen smoking and drinking. This makes sense, given the setting, but it was enough to keep the cartoon locked in the Vault for quite sometime.
Next up is 1938's "Brave Little Tailor." This short, which was nominated for an Academy Award, really puts Mickey in the "unwitting hero" role. It is also notable for a couple other reasons. First, you'll notice that Mickey has no tail in this cartoon. In 1938, Disney experimented with a new design for the mouse, sans tail. It wasn't as well-received as they'd hoped, so he eventually did get his tail back. In addition, this was the last Mickey cartoon to feature his original black eyes. After "Brave Little Tailor," Fred Moore redesigned Mickey with the face and eyes that we now associate with the modern Mickey.
Finally, we have "Runaway Brain," released in 1995. One of Disney's first theatrically-released shorts in years, it had a very modern feel to it. While it's become a cult classic, it scared a lot of executives at the time. I guess they thought it was too "edgy." And in a way, it was edgy: Mickey ignores Minnie because he's too engrossed in a Mortal Kombat-type of game featuring the Seven Dwarfs fighting the Hag, the death of the villain is mined for laughs, and Minnie wonders what Mickey will think of her bikini.
One of the great things about this cartoon is the sheer number of inside jokes. A partial listing: Dr. Frankenollie is named for two of Disney's most legendary animators (and frequent collaborators), Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. These two also have a cameo in The Incredible, as the old men noting that "There's no school like the old school." There are the obvious "Steamboat Willie" references, including the song Mickey whistles on the doorstep (which also plays, Hawaiian-style, over the credits). The meanest joke? As Mickey falls down Frankenollie's trap door, a pink slip with the initials "JK" flies by. The previous year, Michael Eisner had fired Walt Disney Pictures Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg. Ouch.
And so concludes my Countdown to Epic Mickey. I hope you all have enjoyed this. I've had a good time putting it together. Come tomorrow, I'm putting on my Mickey Mouse pajamas and sitting on the couch all day, exploring the Wasteland. Who knows? Some of these cartoons might come in handy.
So my plan for a daily Oswald or Mickey cartoon failed when I got busy. But with Epic Mickey two days away, I've decided to go out with a bang. Today? Three Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, to show you how the character changed over time.
First up is 1927's "Trolley Troubles," the very first Oswald cartoon produced. You can see how his design changed even within a a couple cartoons when you compare the image in the header to the Oswald seen in the cartoon.
Next up is 1928's "Oh What a Knight." Oswald looks more familiar in this cartoon. It also includes a pretty funny sword-fighting sequence. I've heard that this cartoon is featured in Epic Mickey somehow, so you'd better watch it before you play.
And finally, 1936's "Beach Combers." This was cartoon, obviously, was made after Walt lost the character, and years after Mickey's rise to fame. You'll notice that Oswald looks a little... different. I think as far as Disney is concerned, any cartoon produced after Disney lost the rights isn't canon.
Well, that was different.
Tomorrow, a similar look at Mickey. Because I can!
To the five of you who are following this series, I apologize for missing yesterday's entry. I feel like I have a good excuse, though, as I was hanging out at Downtown Disney with the one and only Digtastik. But now I'm back, and I'm here to share one of the most iconic Mickey Mouse cartoons of all time: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
This cartoon was, of course, part of Fantasia, the "concert film" that is now viewed as a classic. When it was released in 1940, however, it was not the success Walt Disney hoped for. Walt, ever the visionary, had many unique ideas he wanted to include in the film. He envisioned it as a traveling "roadshow" that would open in cities across the country, play for a weekend, and then move onto the next city, much as concerts did. In addition, he wanted theaters to install "Fantasound," in essence an early version of surround sound. He also wanted theaters to equip the ability to add extra, in-theater effects during the film, as well, such as scents and water effects. Theaters didn't want to go through that expense, and in the end, the only theaters that added Fantasound were ones that Disney paid for itself. Of course, now every theater has surround sound, and you find in-theater effects in the 3D shows in Disney Parks around the world... Walt was nothing if not ahead of his time.
Here's a fun fact: the apprentice was originally planned to be Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but Walt wanted Mickey to star, both to keep Mickey in the public's consciousness and to raise the profile of Fantasia with some real animated star power.
Yen Sid (spell it backwards), the sorcerer in this short, was based on Walt himself. Walt was, in the estimation of just about everyone who worked with him or knew him, a genius, but he was also extremely demanding. In fact, towards the end of the cartoon, you'll see Yen Sid raise one eyebrow in frustration at Mickey. This expression was all too familiar to everyone at the Studio.
Yen Sid, of course, will be playing a major role in Epic Mickey, acting as the creator of what becomes the Wasteland, and acting as something of a representation of Walt within the world of the game (although judging by the Oswald-ified Partners statue in the game, the characters are also aware of Walt's existence, which makes this Disney geek and Walt disciple extremely excited).
After two days with Oswald, it's time to return to the mouse. And along the way, we'll meet an important character from Epic Mickey: The Mad Doctor.
The Mad Doctor only appeared in one cartoon, but he made an impact. Some theaters refused to carry the cartoon, thinking it was too scary for kids. It's fondly remembered as a classic cartoon, though, and was a big change of pace from Mickey's usual fare. And if you're a fan of old-school Mickey games, you've played through this cartoon before: it was the second level of the 16-bit classic Mickey Mania.
I'm just going to be honest here. Probably the main reason that I picked this Oswald cartoon for today was because I wanted to use that image as the header. But I have other reasons, too!
First off, I mentioned this in the "Steamboat Willie" post, but the goat-as-phonograph gag made famous in that cartoon showed up here first, without the aid of sound. Just an interesting note. A lot of cartoons reused gags like that in those days. In fact, they still do.
Second, this cartoon features one of Oswald's many girlfriends. Unlike Mickey, Oswald never had a steady girlfriend. This one, I believe, is Ortensia, who come Epic Mickey's release will be Oswald's canon girlfriend. But for the most part, Oswald is something of a rabbit cassanova. How much of this will carry over into his rebirth remains to be seen, but we do know this: in the game, Oswald has over 400 kids. Poor Ortensia...
Third, that close-up. My goodness, that close-up. One of my favorite bits of any cartoon ever. A little odd, but hey, I have a weird sense of humor. It really showcases how experimental animators were getting at the time.
And now, "Rival Romeos."
Check back tomorrow as we return to the mouse, and meet another character who will play a big role in Epic Mickey.
Well, I screwed up. Yesterday, I decided to make "Steamboat Willie" my cartoon of the day. But thanks to my inability to realize what day it is, I missed the opportunity to use today--the anniversary of that cartoon's release, and Mickey and Minnie's official birthday--as my "Steamboat Willie" day. Oh well. That's what happens when you make stuff up as you go along. So instead of celebrating the Mouse, today we remember the Rabbit. Seeing how jealous Oswald is of Mickey taking "his" fame in Epic Mickey, I like to think he'd appreciate it.
This cartoon, released in 1927, is not necessarily notable for anything special. It just happens to be my favorite Oswald cartoon. A couple friends of mine and I did an Oswald marathon one night (if you are at all interested in animation history, I highly recommend the Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit DVD), and for whatever reason, this cartoon cracked me up. My favorite part (because I'm sure you're dying to know) is when the dog sets his hot dog free. It'll make sense when you watch it, I promise.
One thing you'll notice watching this cartoon (and any number of cartoons from this era) is how strange everything is. Without sound, the visual gag was king, and animation afforded filmmakers the ability to make any sight gag imaginable. That's why you have boats rowing through the air, cash registers that grab the money themselves, and a rabbit spanking a hot dog for trying to escape the grill. It's weird, and in my opinion, quite funny.
Side note: I mentioned that this was my favorite Oswald cartoon. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to play a demo of Epic Mickey at Downtown Disney. Some developers from Junction Point were there to guide people as they played and to answer questions. I asked them if they spent a lot of times watching the cartoons, and they told me that everyone was actually required to watch a ton of them, from Mickey and Oswald to Donald and Goofy. I asked if this particular cartoon made it into the game in any way. While I was excited that they actually knew which cartoon I was talking about, I was disappointed to find out that this particular one isn't really referenced in the game. Oh well.
And now, "All Wet."
But seriously, I want that waving hot dog on a t-shirt.