Tag Archives: animal abuse

FGC #623 Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja

DUDE TIMEThe president has been kidnapped by ninja! Bad Dudes is a cross-country romp for two generally not good fellows who have to beat down an entire army of evil ninja on their way to rescuing President Ronnie. And, while the opening narration notes that ninja crime is on the rise, and not even the White House is safe, it doesn’t answer one important question: who, specifically, kidnapped President Ronnie? The Secret Service is calling in the Bad Dudes as soon as Ronnie is kidnapped, but where were they for the actual event? Who had the wherewithal to sneak into the White House and commit this heinous ninja crime?

Let’s look at the bosses of this evil ninja cartel, and examine who had the gumption to kidnap the eternal President of the 80’s. We will start at the top, with…

Dragon Ninja: The Big Boss

The Big Guy

He Did It: This is the big boss of the ninja organization, and the final boss of the game. By the finale, he has President Ronny in his private helicopter, and he can only be fought after venturing through an entire Ninja Factory that includes zombie versions of every boss that has come before. This is very much the big man in charge, and he has President Ronnie right there. This must be the culprit!

He Didn’t Do It: Yes, Dragon Ninja was ultimately responsible for this kidnapping, but he did not do the deed. Can you see this guy? Wannabe kabuki ass flipping around with an army of dogs at his beck and call? I know security was more lax in the 80s, but there is no way this dude got anywhere near the White House. Bro couldn’t get into a Smithsonian food truck, left alone the most secure building in town. No, Dragon Ninja was handed Ronnie at some point, but he likely never left his Ninja Factory. One of those henchmen has to be the culprit…

Devil Pole

Spin that pole

He Did It: Given his placement as the penultimate boss that guards the cave leading to the Ninja Factory, one would assume that Devil Pole is Dragon Ninja’s second in command. Dragon Pole also fulfills that all important ninja position of being the bald guy with a stick that can absolutely wreck everybody, regardless of opponents with tremendously more lethal weaponry. It worked for Daredevil! So this “Stick” is likely the man for the job whenever Dragon Ninja needs to get down to the dirty work.

He Didn’t Do It: He’s just not ninja enough for the job. Devil Pole is absolutely some manner of martial arts master (have you ever seen a bad dude survive his spin stick?), but he also doesn’t fit the description of “ninja” that is so important in this caper. If Devil Pole was responsible, then the CIA would be putting out an APB on Liu Kang. They know it was a ninja, and Devil Pole doesn’t look like any ninja I’ve ever seen.

Akaikage

Watch the chain

He Did It: This is a ninja’s ninja. He fights bad dudes atop a moving train while wielding what appears to be a kunai on a chain. That scores an obvious ten out of ten “believe it”’s on the Naruto-Boruto Scale. He is also wearing a mask to obscure his face in the event of crimes, and his jumping abilities are beyond the pale. In short, if you are planning on kidnapping a president, Akaikage is probably the first guy you call.

He Didn’t Do It: My rudimentary Japanese and knowledge of 1985 arcade games tells me that “Akai” means “red”, and “Kage” means “shadow”. But this “ninja” is only wearing the tiniest red bandana, and mostly green and black for the rest of his outfit. And don’t claim this is for camouflage purposes, as there ain’t anything green about this moving train. So the obvious conclusion? Akaikage is some kind of wannabe that chose his name because it sounded cool. Couple this concept with the fact that abilities like “jump” and “throw chain” are not exactly rocket science, and it is likely Akaikage isn’t a ninja at all, but just some dork on the train that wanted to help out his “nippon friends”. It is possible Akaikage is the real deal, but it is also very likely that, on and on, he is just another weeb in the wall.

Animal

I know that guy

He Did It: No. Not even entertaining that option.

He Didn’t Do It: Should we just ignore that this is a real person? The official, canon name for this guy is “Animal”, and, oh yeah, he looks an awful lot like a grayer version of the World Wrestling Federation star Joseph Michael Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal. He was pretty popular! Hung out with Road Warrior Hawk! Has nothing to do with the KISS Army or Gwar! And here is this pixelated “Animal” just stopping around the forest like he owns the place. This is blatant copyright infringement at best, and identity theft at worst! This indignity will not stand!

… But, uh, anyway. Joe never kidnapped the president, so we’re going to assume this Warrior didn’t, either.

Kamui the Multiple Ninja

Maddrox?

He Did It: Another extremely likely suspect. Kamui appears to be a traditional ninja, but he has the ability to create “real” duplicates of himself in seemingly infinite quantities. That must be a significant boon for espionage missions, as being able to sneak into, say, the White House as one dude, and then instantly produce an army could solve a lot of problems. And Kamui here seems to be invincible while his duplicates are present, so conquering any kind of security should take about seven seconds. Keep shooting at the shadow clones, dummies, while Kamui sneaks off with Ronnie in tow.

He Didn’t Do It: The only real evidence that Kamui is not Public Enemy #1 is that he is the boss of the sewer level. If one of your top, powerful ninja lieutenants successfully accomplished the most daring kidnapping in history, would you assign him to sewer duty? He may be laying low by literally laying low, but the most likely explanation is that Kamui is not our perpetrator. A proper Ronnie-napper would not smell like a ninja turtle.

Iron the Claw

Don't get tetanus

He Did It: Another ninja’s ninja, Iron is covered in shadow-encouraging purple, and equipped with a metal claw that can grow to twice his size. He is the boss of the convoy stage, so you know he’s got some status in the organization, and his complicated spinning jumps and claw attacks can tear a bad dude to ribbons.

He Didn’t Do it: President Ronnie is like six feet tall and full of burgers. There is no way on Hattori Hanzo’s green Earth that Iron could successfully heft the president up and out. At best, he would need about three other Minis to carry that weight, and, at that point, your stealth rating has dropped to zero. No way Iron is getting out of there alive.

Karnov

THE MAIN MAN

He Did It: Of course he did it. He’s fugging Karnov!

He Didn’t Do It: Nope, he did it. Karnov can breathe fire when fighting a bad dude, but we all know he can also wear all-seeing masks, produce ladders, and even fly if he decided to bring along the right powerups. And, while Karnov looks less like a ninja and more like a chubby Russian guy, you better believe that, in a world where Karnov exists, if he decided to join a ninja gang, it would be national news. When you are the king of a fighting tournament and known for never wearing a shirt, you better believe the paparazzi knows all your affiliations. And who else could get close enough to President Ronnie? Karnov is an international treasure! Anyone would let him in!

Yep, case closed. It was Karnov. Go get ‘em, Bad Dudes.

FGC #623 Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja

  • System: The arcade version was used for this article, and played on an Evercade cartridge. But the NES version is pretty well known, and at least one of these versions is currently available on the Nintendo Switch (maybe both?). Beyond that, you have a lot of random systems from the era, like the Apple II or Commodore 64. Also, the Zeebo had Bad Dudes at some point. Look it up!
  • Number of players: Two is the greatest number of Bad Dudes any one game could support.
  • Great place to fightMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: Bad Dudes is a rudimentary beat ‘em up, and an obvious quarter killer (the final boss can knock out a life inside of two hits!). That said, the arcade version absolutely nails the sensation of digital punching, and every defeated ninja feels like an accomplishment. Much like Smash Bros. years later, Bad Dudes seemingly put all of its R&D budget into perfectly replicating big, meaty hits, and it adds a memorable, visceral quality to the whole adventure.
  • What’s in a name: It is Bad Dudes on the NES, but DragonNinja in Japan and Europe. So, one way or another, it is named after the protagonists or the antagonist. The official arcade title uses both sides, so everybody is happy.
  • Favorite Weapon: None work like nunchucks.
  • Sexual dimorphism is a scourge: Traditional zako ninja are all assumed to be male ninja, because the Kunoici female ninja are very much presenting any and all feminine signifiers. Is there a reason any ninja needs fishnets and a short skirt? Mobility? Maybe?
  • An end: The infamous “let’s go out for burgers” ending only appears in the American version. The Japanese version gets some Masonry Dudes building a statue of the Bad Dudes, and, more importantly, “credits” for the enemies of the game. (Almost) Everybody gets a name! This article would be impossible without that! Or at least more confusing!
  • Did you know: Chelnov, star of Atomic Runner Chelnov, appears in Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja as a spraypainted tag proudly displayed on the train of Level 5.

    Everybody knows him!  RIGHT?!

    Chelnov would later go on to be the final boss of Fighter’s History 3 (Fighter’s History: Mizoguchi Kiki Ippatsu!!), meaning the atomic runner not only appeared in a game with Karnov, but finally got to fight the big galoot a few years later.

  • Would I play again: This is the ideal arcade game in more ways than one. If I ever see a Bad Dudes cabinet again, it is probably getting at least a buck. But if it is only available on a system competing with many, many other games… Well… I will probably play those first.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Food Fight! Keep your fork, there’s pie! Please look forward to it!

Some hot ninja

FGC #158 Family Dog

So innocentFamily Dog is… too real for me.

Family Dog is a Super Nintendo game, but before that, it was an animated series, and even earlier than that, it was an animated “short” showcased on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. The “original” Family Dog of that program was directed by Brad Bird and written by Brad Bird and Tim Burton. I realize that I don’t talk about my movie tastes much on this blog, but let it be said that “animated short by Burton and Bird” is a phrase that makes me more excited than a rabbit injected with Trix. I liked 90% of Tomorrowland, so combine that guy with the man that gave us Beetlejuice, and I’ll be there with bells skulls on.

The original Family Dog “episode” is fun, if not exactly all that interesting. I can see how the novelty of “animation for the whole family” (and not just the kiddies) was something people would notice in the pre-Groening days, but in a post Simpsons universe (and, reminder, Brad Bird worked on that show, too, and even directed Krusty Gets Busted [aka the premiere of the devious Sideshow Bob]), it just comes off as fairly quaint. This was before even the wave of “marginally mature” (aka gross) cartoons like Ren and Stimpy, and, when you’re applying Looney Tunes thinking to your typical sitcom family, you do get something at least remotely remarkable.

The Family Dog TV show was in the works for a number of years, but it finally materialized shortly after The Simpsons became a nationwide phenomena. Unfortunately, my beloved Bird was not involved, but it was a perfectly passable animated sitcom. The titular family dog was prone to a bit more slapstick and lesson learning than in his premiere short, but it was still a generally gentle (again, think early Simpsons era, when Bart was a “bad boy” for speaking ill of cow reproduction), classic sitcom. Here’s the Wikipedia description for episode two of the show:

“When the Binsfords take a trip to the zoo, their pooch tags along and causes plenty of trouble.”

VrooomSee? Typical, dumb sitcom crap. I ate it up as a kid, but I reviewed an episode or two before writing this, and, yeah, I can see why this show only hit eleven episodes (even if the official excuse involves overseas production or some nonsense. Sure, blame all your problems on Asia).

So, because Family Dog, ya know, existed, it received a SNES platformer. It worked for Tim the Tool Man Taylor, so why not use a character that practically already exists in pixels? I actually played this game as a rental back when I was a wee Goggle Bob, because I liked the show, and Super Castlevania 4 was probably already taken that week. I don’t recall getting past the first world, and I know this because I would definitely remember seeing what came next.

Now that I have gotten that far, I’m probably going to remember it until the day I die…

Before we go any further, I want to note that I like animals. As a point of fact, I like most animals more than most people. I’m not a misanthrope (well, completely), I just see animals as a lot more pure than human beings (dogs very rarely want anything more than food and pets), so when one is suffering, my absolute first instinct is boundless sympathy; meanwhile, I see a ten year old with a cough, and I assume it’s because the kid secretly egged my house last year. It’s completely irrational, This is why I live with dustbut I absolutely go out of my way to make sure a dog, cat, or even pig is comfortable before I address the creature’s owner. I also very rarely give my human friends belly rubs.

That said, the first world of Family Dog is mostly around-the-house comic mischief. Billy Binsford, the brat of Dog’s family, attempts to harm Dog, and it’s your job to steer the mutt away from danger. There are other hazards, like naked cats and bouncing balls, but your main goal is to simply make it to the right side of the screen without Billy perforating the pooch. Bounce on couches, collect bones, and avoid the vacuum. That thing sucks.

And, yes, Family Dog is in danger the entire time, but it’s Itchy and Scratchy style danger. It might involve some kind of stylized ferocity, but it’s pretty much the definition of cartoon violence. I’m sure there are some dogs that have been seriously injured by cats, but when I see something Tom & Jerry-esque happening, my first thought isn’t of the real world. But that all changes after the initial areas…

Family Dog has apparently been bad…

So he is asked to go for a ride.

This seems like fun!

Wait a tick…

BY LASSIE’S GOLDEN MANE, WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING HERE!?

Yes, Family Dog is left at a kennel for the crime of attempting to survive a destructive child, and it’s a prison-esque hellscape. Yes, there are still a few cartoony elements, like bulldog footholds and doberman pinschers in guard uniforms, but, by and large, this whole area is made to be far too real. The goofy music of the earlier stages is gone, and now it’s just the drip, drip, drip of leaky pipes and the barking of other inmates. Family Dog, who looks like a random mess of triangles and cylinders, is met by realistic looking dogs with very realistic looking teeth. The only escape is by freeing other captive animals, literal jailbirds, and then plowing past the barbed wire fence that surrounds the building.

I’m not going to lie, even if I didn’t have affection for animals, I would be disturbed by this area. The difference between the opening area of the (mostly) loving home of Family Dog and the Ughchilling penitentiary of the second area is night and day. Maybe I just have more psychological issues than I care to admit, but a fear of abandonment is a universal anxiety, right? You wake up one day, and everything you love is gone, and you’re left alone in an unfamiliar hostile environment… that’s Hell, right? We agree on that? I want to say Dante wrote something about this…

I really don’t think this has a place in whacky 16-bit platformer. I just reviewed a game that featured “Heck”, and that level barely registered as spooky. Here, it’s downright petrifying.

After you finally escape from the pound, the final world is basically just “outside”. It’s supposed to be an unnerving forest or something, but it’s a level very much like the early areas, and its aesthetic seems to be inspired by the similar spooky forest of Amagon. Then you’ve got some random branch hopping straight out of Wizards and Warriors, and… you’re done. Back into the arms of your loving family.

That abandoned you.

And required you to survive trial upon trial just to force your way back into their family unit.

Screw you guys, I’m never looking at this game again.

FGC #158 Family Dog

  • System: Super Nintendo. Genesis kids are probably more well-adjusted as a result.
  • Number of Players: One is the loneliest doggy.
  • No treasure hereSalt in the wound: Family Dog’s only offensive maneuver is a powerful bark that will repel enemies after way too many hits. And you’ve got a limited count that can only be increased through powerup acquisition. Wow, this is a lot like Amagon.
  • More from Brad Bird: We never got an Iron Giant video game, did we? I want to say that could have been really, really cool, and completely against the theme of the movie. I’d be okay with that.
  • Did you know? Scott Menville voiced the homicidal Billy Binsford on Family Dog. Given Billy’s one consistant character trait was his overwhelming disdain for animals, it’s amusing that Menville also played Captain Planet’s Ma-Ti, aka the kid with the monkey. I evidently like Menville facts!
  • Would I play again: Go to hell.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Karaoke Revolution Presents American Idol Encore! That’s a mouthful, which is just great for a mouth glued to a microphone. Please look forward to it!