Blizzard’s Blunder?

Posted by: twain on 07-07-2010 @ 1:28 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized

It seems that one company is putting the old adage: “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” to the test. On July 6th Blizzard Entertainment announced an upcoming change to their official Starcraft and World of Warcraft forums. The announcement stated that upon the release of Starcraft II, and Word of Warcraft: Cataclysm all posts in the new forum system will display the poster’s first and last name, as opposed to their character’s name.

The explanation given for these changes basically says they are doing this to shame the trolls out of the forums. However, many players seem to find this a less then satisfactory answer. In less then 24 hours since the announcement of the upcoming change, there have been over twenty-three thousand posts on their official forum discussing it. The vast majority of these posts are very negative.

It seems many people are concerned about the ramifications of having their full names out on the internet every time they post an opinion. This is a fairly understandable sentiment, as one of the core rules in almost every online forum is: “Do not share your personal information with strangers”, I think one’s full name counts as personal information. While everyone can argue the likelihood of increased harassment or identity theft occurring on these new boards, the fact is the majority of posters seem to be against the change.

I find this announcement interesting, mostly because I am a tad skeptical about the company’s intentions. Forum trolls are common, and Blizzard, with its several million players has a lot of them. However, it seems that there are better ways to deal with Trolls, harsher moderation, limiting people to post under one single user name, are just two of the suggestions being thrown out in the forums now. Also I have to wonder how they expect this change will limit trolling. Just because we know a troll’s name does not mean we can change his behavior. The only way we could do that is if there were the threat of reprisal… and that right there is why I’m a bit disconcerted by this explanation. The idea seems to be that the removal of anonymity will make the trolls vulnerable, but isn’t this an implicit sanction for harassing people outside of the game? What I mean to say is, how is knowing a trolls full name any better then just limiting them to one name and letting him generate a bad reputation with no alts to hid behind?

In the end this whole thing seems bizarre. It’s almost like a delayed April fools day gag, as opposed to a real policy change. It has drawn a huge number of people to protest it on their forums, and frankly I have never seen WoW fans so united…it’s unsettling to say the least.

For all these reasons I have to label this the first ever Worst Video Game Decision Ever.

P.S. For all of you getting tired of me talking about video games tune in later this week for our take on Avatar the Last Airbender.

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Video Game Rants: FF6

Posted by: twain on 06-04-2010 @ 8:00 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized

Today we are going to be talking about video games. Why? Because we here at worst cartoons ever firmly believe that videogames are an animated medium. Think about the animation of modern video games, and how far it has come from the old arcade games of the 80s. The styles as well as the technology have evolved to the point that many of the cut-scenes in modern games can rival the cgi found in films. There is also the pile upon piles of bad video games that just deserve a good kick in the face.

There was a lot of debate about which game should first be featured on our website. Some felt the classic Atari port of E.T. belonged here, others wanted to take on any game featuring aqua man. We finally rested on a game we feel best embodies the problems of a major video game Genre. That game is:

ff6logo2

(Shudder) I can hear the fanboys amassing already. Let me just make my self clear. Final Fantasy 6, or 3 as it was known in the United States, is not a horrible game…by itself. In fact it is probably one of the most beloved SNES RPGs of all time. The reason it’s here on our website is because of the legacy it has left the RPG genre.

The major complaint we all had with this game: Where’s the story? FF6 is a long game, which is really par for the course with most FF titles, but lacks a major narrative drive. If you ask 2 fans to summarize the plot of this game, you are likely to get 2 very divergent answers. The reason is that FF6 has a very weak story. In fact, you can argue that it has practically no real plot, just a premise. That premise? An insane clown/political advisor named Kefka is manipulating a nation to wage war against all the neighboring kingdoms in an attempt to gain access to some item that will let him destroy the world and become a god. Take away the insane clown twist, and you have most RPG villains.

FF6 tries to compensate for this basic plot by having a huge number of characters for the play to use. Including the two bonus characters there are a total of 14 playable characters. That, even by modern standards, is a crap load of characters. The problem with having this many characters is that you can’t really develop them all.

As it stands the development of these characters is almost entirely optional. 12 of the characters are picked up naturally over the story, but outside of an initial motivation for them to join your party, most of these characters don’t have much in terms of their own storylines or even a personality.

The strangest thing about this game is the indecision over who is the main female protagonist. The game begins with the character Terra, an amnesiac mage, who spends most of the game trying to figure out her origins. By the end of the game she isn’t even required to be in your party, and can very easily be forgotten.

The other female lead is one named Celes, one of those 18 year old generals that only seem to exist in video games and anime. She has been experimented on by her government to make her a soldier capable of using magic. From the point of her introduction, to the end of the game she becomes not only the main romantic lead, but the example of how deep and interesting this game and its characters are. The source of this love? Just take a look:

ff6 opera

This scene is considered one of the most dramatic of the FF franchise. There are accounts of people tearing up over this sequence, and frankly I don’t get it.

The major twist of this game is that the bad guy actually wins. At a little past the halfway point Kefka the *snigger* evil clown/jester/cospaly enthusiast…whatever, actually becomes a godlike being, and reshapes the world. You gain control of Celes a couple of years after the point living on a tiny island with her mentor. You try to save your mentor’s life by getting him fish…in perhaps the lamest mini game ever. When your mentor kicks the bucket, or gets better, you leave island and spend the remainder of the game recruiting your old friends. Then you climb a tower and kill the clown…The End.

This game in a lot of ways is the model that most JRPGs follow. The concept of the villain succeeding was fairly new, as was the concept of introducing the main villain early in the story. It also was one of the early RPGs that tried to be more character focused. In this case though, the large number of characters prevented any one cast member from being fully developed.

The game play was fun, but game play alone cannot compensate for a weak story at least in a RPG. FF6 is a sprawling adventure, but lacks a narrative focus or enough attention on any character that they become more then their archetype.

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Top 5 Cartoon Villains

Posted by: twain on 03-21-2010 @ 6:12 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized

The good guy always wins. This is basically the number one rule of children’s programming. The coyote will never catch roadrunner, Skeletor will never defeat He-Man, and Inspector Gadget will always foil Doctor Claw. It’s not a bad rule. In fact its entire purpose is to promote morality in children. If the bad guys won then wouldn’t they be encouraging bad behavior to our youth?

The problem with this rule is that the good characters were often either completely incompetent, total jerks, or just well…bland. As kids become more and more aware of their heroes’ flaws, they start seeing how arbitrary the good guy’s victory is. They might even begin to feel like the villain, with all his plotting, cool weapons, and henchmen might have even deserved the win.

From the moment of that observation kids can sometimes find themselves drawn to the villainous characters. Look around at epic cartoon shows, you’ll find that there is often just as big a fandom for the villains as there are for the heroes, and why not most of the time the are awesome. On that note Worst Cartoons Ever brings you our list of top 5 cartoon Villains.

#5: Beast Wars: Megatron

Megatron can kick your ass in Grape, Orange, and Cherry flavors.

Megatron can kick your ass in Grape, Orange, and Cherry flavors.

 

I know this will probably get me mutilated, but I consider this character the best Megatron in the Transformers franchise. With 3 different forms over the course of the show Megatron went from almost every boy’s favorite dinosaur, the T-Rex, to a freaking Dragon. With a great voice, a hilarious verbal tic, and a talent for double crosses, Megatron exuded evilness. He would match every heroic platitude he encountered with s smirk, a laugh, and a laser blast. He is a character that proves you don’t need to be a gravely voiced violent psycho to be an evil badass and for that he gets spot #5…yessss.

#4: MiB: Alpha

Alpha in one of his more "Kid Friendly" forms.

Alpha in one of his more "Kid Friendly" forms.

One of the few recurring villains from the old cartoon show: Men in Black. Alpha was one of MiB’s oldest and best agents…before he went rogue. When he is first introduced the other agents speak very hesitantly about him. There are few details other then he is a major threat. When we finally get our first glimpse of this legendary bad ass he’s a…..nice old man? Yup Alpha first appears as a very polite, very normal guy. It’s not until he is crossed that we see why he left MiB. The dude is freaking made of nightmares. Using some sort of alien technology he was able to meld his body with all kinds of killer aliens. He has claws, robot arms, giant jaws coming out of his stomach. The dude was like every monster you could imagine compacted into one body. In medium that tends to pull its punches when it comes to truly scary imagery, Alpha was a rare exception and for that he earns a spot on our top five list.

#3: Reboot: Megabyte

The physical embodiment of the Blue Screen of Death

The physical embodiment of the Blue Screen of Death

Megabyte was an evil computer virus who spent his life trying to destroy the city of Mainframe. Voiced by the amazing Tony Jay, Megabyte was one of the most hardcore villains on kid’s show. Spending most of the first season being a fairly harmless villain, Megabyte really broke out by the end of the show’s second season. How you might ask? He basically banished our main hero Bob to the inescapable hell of the Internet (Ha). He then took over half the town, forcing the remaining heroes to retreat. Finally after the disappearance of the hero’s one remaining Guardian, he turned his own sister into a super weapon. By the time our main characters were able to return to Mainframe, Megabyte was the ruler of the city. Megabyte was one of the few villains to actually achieve his goals. Whether he was fighting, scheming, or backstabbing all in sight Megabyte was without a doubt a badass villain.

#2: Avatar the Last Airbender: Azula

Who said softball was boring?

Who said softball was boring?

Azula is perhaps one of the most textbook cases of a sociopath to ever appear in a cartoon. Depicted as a completely emotionless fire bender, Azula was rarely anything but awesome. She conquered an entire nation, defeated a group of elite warriors, could summon lightning at her whim, and still managed to find time to hunt and torment her own brother. Azula also displayed a level of intelligence almost unseen in mainstream villains. She was smart enough to know that when a hero is charging his unbeatable attack, or transforming into his ultimate form…to freaking strike. She practically killed the Avatar by not waiting for him to enter his most powerful state. For that reason alone she earns a sport in the top three. The fact that she was an unrepentant psycho with drive and power earns here spot number two.

#1: Batman the Animated Series: The Joker

Hail to the king baby.

Hail to the king baby.

Honestly, if this is a surprise to anyone I’ll eat my freaking hat. This character is the true legacy of Mark Hamill. Forget Luke Skywalker, the Joker is without a doubt the best thing Hamill has ever done. While Nicholson and Ledger’s portrayals of the character are both great, Hamill is one who truly redefined the character for a generation of Batman fans. His voice combined with the great writing made this character terrifying and hilarious at the same time. Children and adults alike can find themselves disturbed by the menace of the character, but also smile every time he showed up. Joker episodes had a level of violence and fear that other villains could not hope to recreate. The animated Joker is the standard that animated villains should strive for. Popular, scary, and most of all fun as hell the Joker stands the tallest among villains.

If you have any recommendations for Villains, or just feel we were off base, Worst Cartoons Ever invites you to leave your own list on the comments section.

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Spider-Man: Unlimited Suck

Posted by: twain on 03-07-2010 @ 4:56 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized
Making animated Camp cool, over 20 years before Brave and the Bold

Making animated Camp cool, over 20 years before Brave and the Bold

Spider Man is an interesting figure in comics. He is a comic icon, a character whose popularity rivals such figures as Superman and Batman. The character has spawned several different comics, over four television shows and three major motion pictures. Ironically, much like the character himself, the Spider Man franchise is defined more by its failures then it successes.

Ask a comic fan for his thoughts on Spider Man, and you will likely hear a diatribe about either the infamous “One More Day” story, or the “Clone Saga”, or the resurrection of some ancillary character. Mention the film franchise and be prepared for lots of complaints about the use of Venom, or the emo dancing. While these complaints might seem bitchy, the truth is they have a point. Spider Man is an institution with amazing highs and some very awful lows.

The character’s forays into animation are also riddled with success and failure. However, we here at Worst Cartoons Ever, are really only concerned with the failures. The failure we are most interested in debuted in 1999. It was the year that Spider Man the Animated Series had been cancelled. SAS had been the #1 show on Fox. It had managed to adapt the most popular comic stories for younger audiences, while at the same time revamping various characters that had long since become unpopular to comic fans. It did all of this with a low budget and constant conflict with Fox executives. Fox, not wanting to lose their viewers, however, decided to make a new series. This show would become the infamous Spider Man Unlimited.

Spider Man Unlimited arguably should have been popular. It came out the same year SAS ended, limiting the risk of losing an established fan base. It had flashier animation and the ever popular 90s strategy: a darker and edgier plot. However, it only took about 3 episodes for viewers to see what this show really was: a crappy retooling of an already popular franchise.

Spider Man Unlimited basically did everything it could to separate itself from SAS and the Spiderman franchise as a whole. The premise was basically: Spiderman accidentally boards a spaceship to a strange new world called Counter-Earth. There he fights a poor man’s magneto without the magnetism powers, called the High Evolutionary. He is supported by a cast of characters that can only be called rejects from the Island of Doctor Monroe.

What was the main problem with this show, you might ask? Well, it took the character of Spiderman and stripped him of all his supporting cast and his classic setting. Counter Earth is a poor man’s replacement for Manhattan. The new setting is basically a generic sci-fi local with random sections that try to emulate Spidy’s old stomping ground.

The new characters are also poor imitations of the classics. Gone is JJ, Mary Jane, the Osborns, Kingpin, Aunt May, and all the other characters that helped make the Spider Man franchise so great. In their place are two hulked out versions of Venom and Carnage…who for some reason are working together now, despite every other medium presenting them be enemies? The green goblin is now a heroic Hispanic guy who looks like a reject from some bad Disney show. In fact, the show often made use of Bizaro…I mean “Counter-Earth” versions of classic villains. What was their twist? They were heroes on this planet. How ingenious. I mean who doesn’t want to see all their favorite characters changed into completely different characters with blander personalities and limited to only one or two guest spots.

It’s needless to say that these changes were not popular. Every change the creators made seemed only to annoy fans. Even Spiderman’s costume was a flashier, but less interesting version of his classic suit. All these alterations and the lack of interesting new characters quickly drove fans away from the show, proving once again that a gimmick is not enough to keep an audience.

Spiderman Unlimited got cancelled before it even finished its season. Several episodes went unaired. And until recently the show was all but forgotten. Disney’s Jetix block has recently been airing the complete 13 episodes. So if you are curious about how bad this show truly was, you can find out for yourself.

Verdict: Spider-Man Unlimited might not have been so bad if it hadn’t been about Spiderman. If it had been some generic Sci-fi show about humans versus animal men, it might even have become popular. Instead it was seen as an insult to the fans of SAS and Spidy in general. The mere existence of this program is evidence that some networks think the only thing that makes a franchise is the title character. Spider-Man Unlimited is defiantly one of the great failures of the Spider-Man franchise, but thankfully the character is able to keep bouncing back.

 

The true heir to SAS, only took 9 years...yay

The true heir to SAS, only took 9 years...yay

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Jawsome

Posted by: twain on 02-17-2010 @ 3:00 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized

What can you say about a show like Street Sharks? It’s a cartoon built on lame puns, bad animation and bankrupt creativity. Perfect fodder for us here at Worst Cartoons Ever.

Premiering in 1994, Street Sharks was a show built on one simple message: Buy our Toys! A cartoon serving as a shill for a toy company, shocking isn’t it? While this was hardly a unique development, Street Sharks lacked all the charm of some of the most famous cartoons/toy commercials.

While shows like TMNT, GI Joe and Transformers all were corporate whores; they had a certain endearing quality that made them classics. What separates them from pale imitators like Street Sharks is that somehow the classics were able to make us care about their characters. If I had a dollar for every time someone fondly talked about classic age Optimus Prime, or heard a friend sing the infamous TMNT theme I wouldn’t need to work at this website. These shows endured and had lasting legacies beyond their toy lines. Street Sharks, for various reasons, lacks any distinctive qualities. This is probably due to the fact that it is a brazen rip off of more classic shows.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the banality that is Street Sharks. (Sorry for the pun…there will be a lot of them)

Street Sharks is about, and stop me if you’ve heard this plot before, 4 brothers mutated into anthropomorphic animals. When they’re not spewing out catchphrases and shoveling junk food down their oversized mouths, they’re fighting crime. More specifically, they fight a mad scientist and his two incompetent henchmen. Just to add to the drama of this story, our brave heroes must do all this while hiding themselves from the judgmental public. If this premise sounds familiar, then you’ve, oh, I don’t know, seen anything broadcast? for kids ever.

Let’s just admit it. Street Sharks is a rip off of the Turtles. To make it worse it’s not even subtle about it. Look at the cast. They’re all less interesting versions of the TMNT crew but in shark form…yay! You have the 4 brothers: Ripster (the leader), Big Slammu (the tech guy), Streex (the cool but rude one) and Jab (the dumb party guy). The only thing that separates them from the turtles is their lame pun names and the XTREME spelling. After all what makes a character cooler then adding an X in the name right folks?

Seriously, just look at these abominations yourselves.

streetsharks

[Apparently they are only sharks from the waist up. Can you still be furry bait if you have no fur?]

I mean, dear god, it’s like the Turtles borrowed some pills from Barry Bonds.

The villains are no better. The main villain is known as Doctor Paradigm. Why is his name Paradigm? No real answer, just go with it. Paradigm is such a cliché that he even comes with a vague Eastern European accent. Again I must ask why? Did the show feel like it still needed to fight the Cold War in 1994? Or did creators watch some cartoons from the 80s and think all villains needed an accent? Ugh, let’s move on.

Paradigm, around the second episode, is infused with Piranha DNA. This seems to give him no real powers other then to make his face Hulk-out every time he gets pissed. This bizarre power gives him the oh so funny nickname: Piranoid. (God I feel like I’m drowning in pun names.) Oh, and let’s not forget the capper for this cliché storm of a villain. His voice, when changed, goes from European to such a shrill voice even Starscream would find it effeminate.

Paradigm is aided by his hapless, bio-engineered henchmen the SEAviates. (I swear these puns are going to kill me.) The original two, ugh…seaviates, were named Beebop and Rocksteady. Wait…I’m sorry I was thinking of a better show. No, these two are named Slobster and Slash, get it? It’s funny right? RIGHT?

These villains spent their time doing the standard Villain thing. They mostly just tried to mutate the citizens of their city. Other then a small running plot about the Sharks trying to cure themselves while looking for their missing father, there was no real running story. The plot involving their missing father started and really ended with the first episode. Throughout the rest of the show the sharks rarely mentioned their father, and took no real active steps to find him. Instead,the show used their shark’s father to solve any problem they had written themselves into. Basically, the writers just used the guy as a walking Deus ex Machina. By the time the show ended, the father wasn’t even mentioned. So the one chance this show had to make itself interesting…was basically abandoned.

Over the course of the show’s run, there would be numerous other characters introduced. With even worse pun names like Moby Lick, and Rox. These characters never really stayed on the show for more then a few episodes, and seemed only to exist to sell new action figures. However, by the time they were even introduced, the show was already floundering. (Oh god now I’m making puns).

Verdict: This show just sucks. Everything about it is either a cliché or a rip off of more successful shows. The jokes are mostly puns that just make you wince. What makes this show even worse is how it reflects the XTREME culture of the 90s. While TMNT reflected surfer culture and popularized phrases like “Radical” and the infamous “Cowabunga,” Street Sharks tried to be hipper and mimic skater culture. The sharks, when not munching through pavement, enjoy snowboarding, rollerblading, and spouting catchphrases like “Jawsome” and “Kick some Fin”. Sharks just seemed to have tried to update the TMNT franchise for the mid 90s and failed miserably.

Street Sharks was dumb, violent, and a forgettable piece of American pop culture. Without a doubt, this show ranks among the worst ever broadcast. One would be better off just watching old reruns of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of this trash. It’s totally non Jawsome.

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