The Bulletin

Adventure Time

Keep Games Weird

Pac-Man, Sonic, Luigi, and Adventure Time are getting new games. But who cares about that when a new Incredible Machine is in the works?

By Sam Barsanti • May 20, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Team behind The Incredible Machine reunites to build a machine that is incredible
Contraption Maker

When I was in seventh grade, I took a class that involved working at different stations to solve weird technology-related problems. Like, one day you’d be following specific instructions to make a dumb toy robot pick up a box, or you’d be repositioning wires to make a tiny lamp light up. Actually, writing that out now, it sounds like it might have been a weird dream, but the point of the story is that one of these stations involved playing The Incredible Machine, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had “learning.” For anyone unfamiliar with the series (or who didn’t go to a made-up middle school like I might have), it involves you solving puzzles by arranging a predetermined selection of objects into an OK Go video to complete some minor task, like popping a balloon. It might not sound like it, but it was a lot of fun.

Now, the original team behind The Incredible Machine is back with a spiritual successor called Contraption Maker, which updates the original with new parts, HD graphics, and a modern physics engine. Plus, unlike certain other spiritual successors, Contraption Maker isn’t being funded by some kind of possible crowdfunding scam. It’s like a real game! That’s rare these days!

Pac-Man grows up and gets serious

I’m not up on the Pac-Man lore, so maybe this is a well-covered concept in all of the Extended Universe Pac-Novels, but it never occurred to me that he would be a good fit for an antihero role. He’s just a yellow hockey puck that eats ghosts. I wouldn’t think you can do much with that. And yet Namco is at it again, trying to reboot the series into something that the players of today can relate to, with Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures. This time, Namco’s developers went the “dark and gritty” route. Don’t be fooled by all of the bright colors and cheeriness. There’s totally some heavy stuff going on in that trailer. Take a look at the backgrounds. That city is full of ghosts, and they’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just flying around and going about their lives. But here comes Pac-Man, the great “hero,” zipping through their Futurama tubes and eating them. I assume this is a Spec-Ops: The Line sort of message about the horrors of war, only this time the soldiers and napalm have been replaced by colorful ghosts and cherries.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics unleash a crisis on infinite Scribblenauts

Scribblenauts has always been a game about using your imagination to solve puzzles. When it asks you to rescue a cat from a tree, you could summon a ladder to climb up and grab it, or you could use a flamethrower to burn the tree to the ground and then create a rainstorm to put out the fire before the cat is roasted. In fact, as the series went on, the only limiting factor became your inability to use copyrighted properties—other than internet meme cats, of course. Warner Bros., the series’ publisher, finally realized that it owns the rights to a lot of shit—like, specifically, the entire DC Comics universe.

That’s how we get Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, an upcoming release that will combine the existing “type in a noun and watch it appear on screen” design with the Super Friends. We’re not just talking Batman and Wonder Woman, because (as reported by Polygon), the developers claim that Unmasked includes “every character who has ever appeared in a DC comic book.” First: Yeah, right. Second: Holy shit, what if they really mean it? Just looking at that trailer, I see all of the obvious heroes and villains, but also weirder picks like Mogo, the Green Lantern planet, and the purple-gloved “Bat-Man” from his first appearance in Detective Comics 27. How wide did the developers cast their net? Can I create Morpheus from Sandman? Can The A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff make his beloved Detective Chimp? Oh, and if you’re thinking that this game marks the death of imagination, note that Scribblenauts Unmasked will let you create your own superheroes and supervillains. I’m thinking a monkey detective who is the personification of all dreams and also has Commissioner Gordon’s mustache.

Nintendo makes some non-E3 announcements
New Super Luigi U

Recently, Nintendo announced that it would be skipping the traditional E3 press conference in favor of smaller Nintendo Direct videos that let it speak directly to fans without having to waste their time on stuff nobody cares about. Last week, the company made good on the change and held a Nintendo Direct video conference in which it announced a handful of things that probably wouldn’t have brought the house down at E3 but are still cool. First up is New Super Luigi U, an updated version of New Super Mario Bros. U that puts everyone’s second-favorite Mario brother in the starring role. According to Joystiq, if you already own NSMBU, you can purchase New Super Luigi U as a $20 download, but it will also be available on its own in stores for $40. Surely it’s worth 40 bucks for the younger siblings of the world to see a kindred spirit as the hero, right?

Next, Nintendo announced Sonic: Lost World, which will be a Wii U and 3DS exclusive. The only other thing we know about it, as seen in this Polygon post, is that it will be an “action-adventure platformer.” In other words, hold onto your sneakers, it’s another Sonic game. But don’t take my lack of excitement as a dig against the series. I know Sonic fans can be loyal to the point of insanity, and I don’t want them to think I’m disparaging their favorite hedgehog, so I’m just going to stop talking about it before I say something about how terrible the series has been since its Sega Genesis heyday.

Finally, as one last middle finger to the old way of doing things, Nintendo will be setting up playable demos of unreleased games at Best Buy stores during the week of E3, starting on June 9. Joystiq predicts that these will be the same games it shows at the actual conference, so if Nintendo keeps this up, you won’t need traditional video game news reporters for anything. Other than me, of course. You’ll still need me.

Oppressively weird show to get another oppressively weird game
Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don't Know!

At the risk of having to hand in my nerd card, I don’t get Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time cartoon. The show seems to delight in being weird for the sake of weird, which is fine, but Adventure Time has created such a bizarre universe of magic dogs and candy princesses and bacon pancakes that, to me, it’s impenetrable. I think I’m in the minority, however, since the show now getting a second video game adaptation with Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don’t Know!, which is certainly one way to title something. According to IGN, the game whose name I refuse to write out again will be coming to Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC later this fall, which suggests that it will be a smaller downloadable title. Also, you will be able to play as Finn and Jake (who I recognize as the main characters), as well as something called Cinnamon Bun, because that’s just the sort of thing this is. Is this how it feels to be old?

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  • NakedSnake

    Yep.

  • DrFlimFlam

    The Year of Luigi is a good thing.

    The Sonic franchise is a joke.

    That is all.

    • Protowizard

       Counterpoint: the Sonic series has been recovering since the slow motion car crash that lasted from Heroes to Sonic 2006, and Generations very nearly cleared the bar set by Sonic 3&K.

      • DrFlimFlam

         Fair enough. Sonic Generations was pretty all right.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard
    • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

      That was like all the scariest parts of Amnesia: the Dark Descent throw together in a blender with Pac-Man. That is to say, incredible.

  • HobbesMkii

    THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE! We got that in a 5-pack that included Kings Quest V, The Island of Dr. Brain, The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, and some game whose name I can’t remember that was apparently related to Mother Goose in some way.

    • Aurora Boreanaz
      • HobbesMkii

        Possibly, but it must have been one of the later versions. It had a cartoon goose on it, not a photo. I never played it.

      • His_Space_Holiness

        I played that in its original, barely-over-Atari-level-graphics level glory. Fun stuff for a five-year-old.

    • NakedSnake

       TIM was the best. I loved that it was a puzzle game, but that solving the puzzles mostly involved haphazardly throwing scissors, bowling balls, and levers into the mix as you idly wondered “what will this do?” I’ve often thought it would be perfect for the mobile platform and why nobody had done it yet.

      • His_Space_Holiness

        TIM is a stone classic, and it’s great to have a puzzle game that encourages kids to experiment and try new things without any negative consequences. I guess Scribblenauts is a spiritual successor in that way.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        I had the Incredible Toon Machine, which was a slightly sillier, but luckily not very obnoxious, version that slightly emphasized Rube Goldberg-style silliness, and involved a couple of goofy cartoon animals.

        • His_Space_Holiness

          I played that at school (my elementary school computer lab had a surprisingly awesome selection of games), but never found a copy for myself, alas. It was fun as hell.

      • HobbesMkii

        I was a little bit of a sadist while playing that game, as I recall. In the freeplay, I used to like to put lots (like, as many as the game would handle) of the little guys who’d walk in one direction into a walled off space, with the bottom lined with trampolines. I’d jack up the vacuum and lower the gravity. They’d be okay for a few bounces off the trampolines, but then they’d “pass out” (they had little stars around their heads and they’d fall over prone, as if losing cartoon consciousness, but they were obviously dead) and then their corpses would continue the pattern.

        I also liked to do that same thing, but instead I’d spam a bunch of mice and put in one cat, and watch as the cat ate all the mice while bouncing through the air.

        In case you’re all wondering, my childhood was unremarkable, emotionally stable and caring, and I had pretty much everything I could ask for (within reason) provided for me.

        • NakedSnake

          Lil’ dudes be like that.

    • His_Space_Holiness

      Holy hell, that is an amazing five-pack. My childhood was filled with edutainment games like that, and you got some classics in there. Logical Journey of the Zoombinis alone makes it worth it.

      And then there’s King’s Quest to teach children that the world is a terrifying hellscape where you can die at the drop of a hat for making a slight mistake you had no way of anticipating. Good lesson, that.

      • HobbesMkii

        Yeah, I played right up until the moment I went to the wrong island and was promptly drowned by a band of dwarves.

        • His_Space_Holiness

          I like that we have a hobby that makes these kinds of sentences plausible.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    I want to like Adventure Time, but I’m in the same boat…it’s just too weird and with so little explanation of how/why anything happens.

    • Joe Tory

      It’s a little too Monty Python for me as well. Whatever happened to great shows like Seinfeld, Honeymooners, Sister/Sister…

      • HobbesMkii

        I didn’t know there was such a thing as “too Monty Python.”

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          The guy’s pining for Sister/Sister. He’s obviously mad.

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

           It’s an infuriatingly bad satire! Don’t look at it, children!

      • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

        What about Blossom? Or Step By Step? Or, uh, I dunno, Charles in Charge?

      • cookingwithcranston
    • craigward

       short answer:  nuclear apocalypse

    • Fluka

      I’ve been watching it now that it’s on Netflix, but primarily as distraction when I’m on my exercise bike.  My brain is sleepy, and the show distracts from it yelling “STOP MOVING” to the rest of my body, so it’s the perfect charming, bizarre way to start the morning.  (Not sure I’d want to watch it as I’m eating dinner.)

      Mr. Fluka, meanwhile, lasted literally – *literally* literally – 10 seconds before he said “No.”

      • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

        The early episodes of the first season are only so-so, from what I’ve seen (I’ve also been watching them on Netflix here and there). Finn’s voice is too high, and the plots are kind of standard kids’ adventure stuff. Once they started adding their own little idiosyncrasies, the show really took off. Of course, that might be exactly what people are complaining about, but I love the goofy attitude of the show, as well as the imaginative art style. Maybe it takes some immersion to get into it, or maybe you just have to be tuned into its particular frequency.

        • craigward

           it’s certainly not a show I’d recommend starting from the beginning.  I try to introduce people to it through carefully-selected sets of episodes on burned DVDs.

      • Jackbert

        Literally literally literally 10 seconds? Because the literal first 10 seconds of the show is the sequence where they zoom through Ooo and I wonder how he could quit that fast.

        • HobbesMkii

          Whoa there, Literally Hitler

        • Fluka

          Okay, point ceded – post-credits.  He was skeptical during the credits.  And then ten seconds later, it was “Let’s go watch Breaking Bad.”

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I think if I were in high school I would probably love it as much as I did/do Dexter’s Lab or Invader Zim (and likewise, I would probably love My Little Pony the way I did/do Powerpuff Girls), but yeah, I don’t love it. I don’t hate it either – sometimes I’ll put on an episode when I only have 20 minutes to spare and am eating lunch or something – but it doesn’t really feel remarkable. It’s a collection of kind of warm-over “zany cartoon” conceits highlighted by some inventive “Matt Brinkman, for kids” eccentricity, without anything really holding it together.

      There’s still definitely way worse things folks, especially kids, could be watching, though. And it will have the occasional truly inspired moment. Or, like, Maria Bamford’s voice will show up as an emotionally-manipulative witch and make me smile.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         Invader Zim still holds up for me many years later, it may be even funnier now.  It’s weird but not impenetrable.  Ditto for the early episodes of Ren & Stimpy.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          So do Dexter and PPG, totally. But I think part of the appeal to me for them is that they got to me at a time when I hadn’t seen anything really like them before, and I was at an age where they could really influence my sense of humor and so on. Adventure Time doesn’t really fit that bill.

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

      Really? It’s not that weird. It takes standard fantasy tropes (vampires, ghosts, dungeons) and applies them to a character based comedy, while having a uniquely absurdist sense of humour. It’s not the funniest programme on television, but it won me over by being charming, surprisingly deep with its characters (The Ice King’s character takes a very surprising detour in S3, and is probably the best cartoon villian ever), and having great dialogue. It sounds completely natural and musical, even when it really shouldn’t.

      I really wouldn’t recommend Series 1 though, it has its moments but is standard Gumball fare (now, Gumball is a weird show for the sake of being weird). Too bizarre, poorly animated, too manic, and the voice acting is all over the shop. The show really hit its stride around the S2, try some of the stuff from then on.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Okay, perhaps that’s my problem, I’m still in S1.  I’ll watch the rest of it for completionist’s sake, but will revisit my opinion once I’m farther in.

        • cookingwithcranston

          I was the same way at first but AT really takes off from Season 2 on.

      • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

        Was the first episode with Marcelline’s dad in season 1? Because that one is pretty good, and I think there are some others of similar quality around the end of the first season. But yes, it gets even better in season 2 and on into S3. Ice King definitely has become such a bizarrely tragic character rather than just an annoying villain, and there’s a lot of similarly interesting stuff. It’s definitely not just a weirdness-for-weirdness’-sake sort of thing; there’s real depth there.

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          Hunson Abadeer’s first appearance was It Came From The Nightosphere which is the very first episode of S2. I’d mark it and The Eyes (202) as the turning point of Adventure Time.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      GET THE FUCK OUT, ALL OF YOU. Holy damn, i never realized anyone could not love the heck out of Adventure Time. the characters! The art style! The adventures! aigh. It’s probably my favorite show ever. Reminds me of being a kid so hard.

      I don’t get how you could “not get it.”

      • Sam_Barsanti

        I do intend to give it a chance now that it’s on Netflix,  but I stand by what I said.

        Also, I resent Adventure Time for replacing The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack, which was one of my favorite cartoons ever. It was also extremely weird, but took place in a more grounded world…sort of.

        • fieldafar

          I like Adventure Time, but I liked Flapjack even more.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Netflix only has the first season, which is great, but the world building really picks up in later seasons. It’s easy to blow through them too, seeing as how each episode is only 11 minutes.

          I don’t really know how I’d recommend someone go into it. Maybe something like “a DnD campaign played by really smart kids.”

        • TaumpyTearrs

          I love me some Flapjack, but its loss was worth it, as the creators of Adventure Time, Gravity Falls and Regular Show all started there. 3 amazing shows outweighs one amazing show.

      • TaumpyTearrs

        Yeah, I’m shaking my head here. I don’t think its an age thing, because I am 27 years old and I fucking love it. Reposted from when they interviewed Pen Ward:

        Every aspect of Adventure Time feels so unique and interesting, yet it all derives from the same nerd-collective-unconcious that my brain is tapped into. It reminds me of childhood, but it never feels nostalgic or retro, instead it brings back the flexibility and fun (and sometimes the fear and frustration) of childhood thought while incorporating all the influences I have accrued since then. It tickles my itch for a deeper mythology and analysis, but never gets bogged down or limited by it. It can have truly touching or sad moments, but it is also full of joy and laughter. The art is beautiful and wonderfully weird and flexible, the characters are unique and fun. The voice work is delightful. The music and sound design are incredible, and when I rewatch episodes I’ll often turn it up and ignore the dialogue and just listen to how the music and sound effects interact with each other and enhance the visual and emotional aspects.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      The background of the world and characters gets revealed in dribs and drabs over the course of the series. 

      As the show progresses, there is less “random” humour, and more character humour. To enjoy the show, you have to be able to take the craziness for granted, and get invested in the characters. It will pay off. 

  • Brainstrain

    Adventure Time is hard to explain. It appeals to the side of me that finds mysteries so much more compelling than explanations – but that’s not really the point of the show. Weirdness isn’t the point either. It’s just part of the aesthetic. 

    • craigward

      The crazy world feels lived-in.  Finn and Jake will react to an ESPECIALLY weird creature or event, but they take most of the stuff around them for granted.

      • George_Liquor

        Yeah, like hypnotic worms who aren’t allowed on the bed. Despite Ooo being so completely alien to the audience, it still feels like a real place because it’s so mundane to the characters. Adventure Time reminds me of a couple of kids at play, and they’re making up random rules as they go along. It’s Calvinball: The Series.

  • Drew Toal

    Typical Gen X reaction to Adventure Time…

    • George_Liquor

      Get off my lawn!

  • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

    So Scribblenauts is going to include every character that has ever appeared in a DC comic? That doesn’t sound likely. I’ll be watching for screenshots of lion-head Superman, Toxl the World-Killer, Supergirl’s pet horse/boyfriend, and the mutant gang from The Dark Knight Returns. 

    • Sam_Barsanti

      And I think pre-New 52 the Watchmen characters were part of the proper DC multiverse, so can I create a Scribblenaut Dr. Manhattan? 

      • Boonehams

        With uncovered genitals.

        • Sam_Barsanti

          Well, if there’s something like 33 different Batmans, I don’t see why there couldn’t be multiple Dr. Manhattans in various states of undress. 

    • His_Space_Holiness

      I’m looking forward to summoning Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis, myself.

      • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

        Or Prez Rickard, the first teenage President!

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

       Red Bee! Female Krypto! Seventeen different versions of Donna Troy! Fat Waller! Thin Etta Candy! Muhammed Ali! All these and more will not be in it.

      • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

        Arm-Fall-Off Boy! F-Sharp Bell! Rex the Wonder Dog! Fat Lois Lane! Zombie Aquababy! The Mad Mod! John Constantine! Grant Morrison! B’wana Beast! Guy Gardner: Warrior! Klarion the Witch Boy! 

        • Cloks

          Ted Kord! Aha, no seriously, he’s dead for good.

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          @Cloks:disqus Well, that’s okay because Jaime Reyes is the best Blue Beetle and one of the best characters to come out of mid 2000s DC comics! Thank God they didn’t ruin him totally by giving him to Tony Bedard or someone, thank God they didn’t have him hit an abuse victim, thank God that- *hyperventilates*

        • His_Space_Holiness

          Damn it, you joke, but that sounds like the greatest game lineup in history.

    • Roswulf

       I truly do not understand the decision to market the game as containing every DC character. Actually achieving the goal is literally impossible, and so everyone focuses on what the game can’t do. Although I would be shocked if Comet the Superhorse doesn’t make the cut…at least in horse form.

      Why not just state that you’ve programmed an utterly absurd number of DC characters without ANY OF THE LIES?!?!

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

      Earth-9′s Captain Comet!

    • mizerock
  • Citric

    Incredible Machine! It’s like being in elementary school all over again! Except without the awful troll who taught grades 3 and 4! 

  • Sam_Barsanti

    Also, a reminder: Microsoft’s big Xbox reveal is tomorrow. I doubt any other gaming sites will cover it, so you might as well wait until next week’s Bulletin.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I’m waiting with bated breath for Teti’s inevitable breakdown.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       I’m more interested in the street release of the new Daft Punk album (itunes annoys me), but I guess I’ll take a peek at what people are having to say about this too.  So far, everything I’ve heard about next-gens just puts me to sleep.  Given that it has been years since I really invested in PC gaming, it might be time to mine some bargains in that realm.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I know I’m going to regret this, but who the Hell is that purple bunny in the Luigi game?

    • Sam_Barsanti

      I didn’t play NSMBU (or whatever), but I understand that he would pop at Toad Houses or whatever and steal your shit, so you’d have to run through a level and chase him down. In the Luigi game, he’s invincible and can’t use powerups. So one player is Luigi, one player is this crazy rabbit, and the other two are nondescript Toads. Seems like Nintendo fell asleep halfway through that.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Actually, his inclusion seems like a decent idea – because he’s invulnerable, he’s the perfect character for, say, your little brother, or preschool-aged kid to play with without fucking up your game or getting frustrated.

        Now, Nintendo does seem to sleep their way through the design of the NSMB games overall, but that decision actually seems semi-thoughtful.

        • Sam_Barsanti

          Oh, no, I get that. I mean it’s like, one player gets to be Luigi, which is cool, and another person gets to be this rabbit who plays differently, which is cool, and then two people are boring Toads, which is boring.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Sam_Barsanti:disqus Toadally. But I guess it’s consistent with all the other times they made that same stupid design decision.

          I mean it’s not like they have a super-famous, classic entry in the series that featured a cast of four playable characters they could base the character selection off of…

        • Sam_Barsanti

          Mario 2 was just a dream! Princess Peach can’t go on an adventure. That’s nonsense! 

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Sam_Barsanti:disqus : Miyamoto’s excuse was literally “it would have been too hard to animate her skirt.” Ugh.

        • Sam_Barsanti

          Isn’t that the same excuse for why Mario has a mustache and a hat? It was too hard to make hair and a recognizable face? Maybe Miyamoto isn’t actually a brilliant designer, he has just managed to consistently pull Homers throughout his career.

  • ILDC

    That Pac-Man game is based on an upcoming TV show where basically they try to make him into Sonic.

    http://www.41e.tv/en/our_product/5/pac_man_and_the_ghostly_adventures_26_x_22

    I prefer the Wreck-It Ralph version.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       They already had a Pac-Man TV show.  And he and Mrs. Pac-Man had a baby.  I’m still wondering how that worked.  My current guess is that they are amoebas that are conforming to a hetero-normative lifestyle for the sake of society.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Pac Man Jr. had his own game, too. He’s totally canon! Because Pac Man canon MATTERS!!!

        I think that maybe the Pac-Man species mouth is some sort of uber-cloaca, an all-purpose orifice that takes care of all reproductive AND alimentary duties.

      • mizerock

        I’m really hoping that Pac Man reproduction involves a stork.

  • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow

    Really? Guys really? No mention of WayForward developing Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-Bit Land for the 3DS? It was in the same press release as the Adventure Time announcement!

    • craigward

       after about ten or twenty levels, you realize they all follow the same formula

      and all the potentially interesting ideas are pushed aside in favor of repetitive boss bottles.

      but all in all, it’s worth playing after you’re done playing the AT game.

  • zebbart

    I tried watching the first two episodes of Adventure Time with my kids yesterday. I feel the same as Sam – I can’t fathom the love that adults have for it. It did make me smirk a few times by being surprising in its weirdness so I’ll try a few more probably and maybe it will click. It just seems like since maybe Ren and Stimpy the focus of ‘cool’ cartoons (as opposed to blatantly lame kiddie cartoons) has been more on aggressively rebelling against aesthetics values rather than elegantly finessing them. Ren and Stimpy was drawn and colored ugly and tried to get a lot of mileage out of puke jokes, Sponge Bob was also fairly ugly and  super obnoxious, and here Adventure Time, while it’s drawn kind of cool (though still fairly crudely) seems to be rebelling against more abstract aesthetics like rationality. As a contrast I’d compare any of those to Loony Toons, Tiny Toons, or The Simpsons after the first couple seasons, which were abundant in style and in restraint. So yeah, this is what it feels like to get old. But geez I just want nice things that I can enjoy with my kids without feeling like I am teaching them bad behavior or bad taste.

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

       S1 of Adventure Time is bad, it’s S2 where it picks up into being an intelligent cartoon.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Netflix needs to start stocking more than the first season of all the Cartoon Network shows. I went through the first season of Venture Bros. and it confirmed my suspicion that it was just shitty pop-reference humor, but folks have insisted that it, too, picks up in the second season.

        Though from the eps I’ve seen of later seasons, it’s still pretty dependent on “Hey! It’s a Roger Dean landscape!” “Hey! It’s Klaus Nomi!” jokes. And never really did anything to rectify the glaring problem that, out of its only three recurring female characters, one is named “Cocktease” and one is named “Girlfriend,” which is just embarrassingly adolescent and idiotic…

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          I have not seen Venture Bros., but you’ve managed to put me off entirely with that Cocktease comment.

        • HobbesMkii

          In Dr. Girlfriend and Molotov Cocktease’s defense, they are very much parodies of the types of characters they’re supposed to portray. Arch-nemeses generally don’t have girlfriends who are developed beyond the fact that they’re the Girlfriend of the villain (Dr. Girlfriend, however, has had her character and backstory developed quite a lot, she’s actually one of my favorites–her first name is Sheila and she’s had other aliases besides “Dr. Girlfriend”) and Molotov Cocktease is a joke on the James Bond femme fatales’ ridiculous monikers. Given that they at least had a pun on an actual object in the name, it’s about 100x more clever than “Pussy Galore.”

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Which would be fine, if there were, you know, any other major female characters in the show. Or, heaven forbid, a female protagonist. But those kinds of ideas don’t usually get tossed around the dorm room, I guess.

        • Fluka

          As a raging feminist who has also watched and enjoyed The Venture Bros. in the past, the lack of decent female characters is vaguely forgivable.  The universe is meant to be a sad, surreal version of Johnny Quest/superhero/GI Joe/general boys’ adventure cartoons, as they grow up, or rather fail to do so.  It’s often commented that the show is “about failure,” and the show is meant to take place in a state of perpetual sad arrested development.  It’s a world without mothers or girlfriends.  It does a good job of building its own twisted mythology too, and I’m very fond of seasons 2 and 3 for that reason. 

          However, by the end of season 4, they’ve gradually killed off / gotten rid of what few female characters they had, and shifted their focus back to the brothers themselves.  After last season’s finale, I think they actually no longer have any female-voiced regular characters (they’re either Dr. Girlfriend or mute).  That, plus one too many pedophilia jokes, has caused me to drift away from the series recently.  It just no longer feels like it’s for me.

          Plus, I’ve got Archer now.  Now there’s a horribly offensive show with some decent female characters!

        • Fluka

          On the other hand, if you’re also put off by “Hey!  It’s Klaus Nomi!” style jokes, then the show very much may not be your style anyway, heeeeh!

          (On the other other hand, SPHINX.)

          (On the other other other hand…yeeeaah, it’s pretty much all reference humor.)

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Fluka:disqus : Yeah, Archer is great, and genuinely clever. When it does indulge in references, they’re usually pretty deft, or part of a larger joke, but most of the humor comes from other, more satisfying places.
          And elements of sexism or racism are self-aware, pointed out, and ridiculed – whereas the Venture Bros. problems feel like the completely unintentional product of a couple of adolescent high school boy-brains for whom women are just these ridiculous, strange things they might get to have sex with someday.

          I mean, Archer pastiches the thoroughly sexist, often racist genre of James Bond spy thrillers, without perpetuating the same problems. Venture Bros. could totally pastiche boys’ adventure serials just as successfully, but if the caliber of the rest of the humor is any indication, the writers just aren’t smart enough to be up to the task.

          If I want to watch a spoof of Johnny Quest, I’ll watch the far funnier, briefer “Toby Danger” skit from Freakazoid. If I want to enjoy ‘recognizing David Bowie’ I’ll just listen to a genuinely good Bowie album or watch Labyrinth rather than watch a cartoon make a Family Guy-style reference to him.

        • Fluka

          Girard I feel like with gender and The Venture Brothers, it’s a problematic case of having one’s cake and eating it too.  They both try to parody the unbelievably sexist characters of boys’ own adventure fiction, while, yeah, enjoying having female characters with gigantic breasts.  It really gets tiresome after a while.  I think Archer finally got the parody balance right in that respect, balancing Lana out with the fabulous Pam.

          Ironically enough, the show does surprisingly have some of the best male gay characters in animation, specifically the unbelievably camp and badass Shore Leave.  I would watch an entire show with Brock and Shore Leave.

      • Fluka

        @paraclete_pizza:disqus I feel like with gender and The Venture Brothers, it’s a problematic case of having one’s cake and eating it too.  They both try to parody the unbelievably sexist characters of boys’ own adventure fiction, while, yeah, enjoying having female characters with gigantic breasts.  It really gets tiresome after a while.  I think Archer finally got the parody balance right in that respect, balancing Lana out with the fabulous Pam.

        Ironically enough, the show does surprisingly have some of the best male gay characters in animation, specifically the unbelievably camp and badass Shore Leave.  I would watch an entire show with Brock and Shore Leave.

        • TaumpyTearrs

          Boom! Yummy!

  • Cloks

    Every character ever in DC Comics, eh? Does that mean we’ll finally get to see who wins in the climactic battle of SnowFlame (the villain who derives his powers from cocaine) versus Arms Fall Off Boy (his arms fall off)? Don’t make promises you can’t keep Warner Brothers, I’d hate for someone to see you.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      It’ll be the first M-rated installment in the Scribblenauts franchise!

      • Cloks

        The first? Not with the way I play them.

        *Creates hairy, pulsating black sausage.*

      • fieldafar

        ESRB Notice: Game Experience Will Change During Online Play!

    • I HATE DONKEYS

      Dog Welder v Matter Eater Lad MUST happen

    • TaumpyTearrs

      Danny the Street! Hermaphrodite Negative Being! Professor Pyg! Basically any character Morrison has created that is too weird for a kid’s game!

  • TuckerThaTruckr

    Can y’all really not be bothered to watch a Nintendo Direct, let alone the Joystiq article you link to? New Super Luigi U will be $30 at retail, which they announced in their video and is the price that Joystiq lists. Also, it seems like the real test for Nintendo will come with their next Direct, showcasing their tentpole franchises, some of which will be playable at E3 and some Best Buys, which you mentioned.