Klonoa was a game that was a bit after my time. While anthro platformers were a big household staple in the earlier years of my childhood, by the time I was entering my teenage my family trended toward more first person shoot titles. We didn’t get an original PlayStation, and went for an N64 instead. That being said, this remaster that came out last year was a great opportunity to play a classic anthro platformer that I never got a chance to. Was it as good as the niche audience for this strange cabbit character laid it out to be?
The remaster comes with two games, and I have played through both. In short, the first game came as a bit of a surprise to me and had gameplay and story elements that challenged me as a player.
In terms of gameplay, both games have similar mechanics and feel like a mixture of early Kirby three dimension titles mixed with Mario 2 (US) combat where you pick up enemies to throw them at enemies and objects instead of sucking them in.
Playing the second game so quickly after the first caused a bit of a disappointment as it didn’t do things that the first hadn’t already done better. I enjoyed Phantomile more than I did Lunatea’s Veil. If there was a graphical difference in the titles in their original release, this remaster eliminates it and both look good.
I will go into more detail as to why after the header, as it will go into a bit more of the game’s content with some spoilers.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (trailer) is a live-action musical comedy family film released in October 2022, with computer-animated critters mixed into it. It's an adaptation of two children's books by Bernard Waber, The House on East 88th Street (1962), and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965).
In my earlier review of My Father's Dragon, also an adaptation, my biggest complaint was how it borrowed story elements while destroying the spirit of the book. With Lyle, the spirit has definitely been kept. The premise is silly, it doesn't make sense, and has fun with it. It knows exactly what it is!
Hector P. Valenti is a charismatic showman and second-rate stage magician who buys a baby crocodile (Lyle), vainly hoping his new pet will become his ticket to stardom. When it doesn't work out (think One Froggy Evening), Hector leaves to recover his finances, abandoning Lyle in a New York townhouse, where he lives in secret. When the Primm family moves in, Lyle gradually befriends them and brings out their better natures. Until he runs afoul of their conniving basement tenant, Mr. Grumps.
The books had a low word count, so a lot of things had to be added to make a full movie. The Primms were originally bland and generic. Lyle's presence in the house (and how he survived) needed more of an explanation, so all of that received more details. Most (though not all) of the major plot points from the books still exist in some form. The changes make sense from a screenwriting perspective, but whether you think the movie is a respectful adaptation, that's going to vary a lot from person to person. It depends on what people are willing to accept or let go of.
You can poke holes in this movie like crazy, but at heart, it's an entertaining ride without any delusions of grandeur. I don't mean that in a snooty film review way. Like I said, the premise is silly, and it's having fun. I'm going to nit-pick things anyway, but there's lots of good energy!
2023 has started off, but before we get too far in I wanted to take a look back on the short animations that I think are worth your time to look at from 2022. As there are quite a bit of items in the recommended list on the Ursa Major site, I decided to go through and watch them and curate them into 11 items I think do what they do really well and are well worth consideration for nomination.
The videos here are all short, only one of them breaks the 20 minute mark. The reviews will contain spoilers so be sure to watch the embedded feature prior to reading my thoughts on them if you would like to experience them for yourself.
Be sure to take some time and enjoy the hard work these artists put into these works. Also check out the other items in the recommended list if you have time as there are some interesting items that I thought were good, but there are too many to write about extensively.
Before Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, even. How about DreamWorks Animation's new studio bumper? It's a bit ostentatious, even a bit overly pleased with itself. Maybe goes on a little long. But, then again, what studio bumper doesn't, nowadays? But, being a celebration of DreamWorks past triumphs, it's interesting to note what franchises were chosen to be spotlighted.
Right out the gate, the Bad Guys are getting quite a vote of confidence, despite being the new guys with one movie under their belts. So I think it's safe to say we're getting a sequel. Also for furries, the Kung Fu Panda series is featured, and we already know that's got a fourth movie coming. The How To Train Your Dragon series is also represented by Toothless, despite the fact that the last movie came to a very decisive story end. It's one of the more acclaimed franchises of DreamWorks, so it has to show up, and even if there are no more movies, smaller screen spinoffs are still happening. There are also appearances by the Trolls and Boss Baby franchises, but they aren't furry, so who cares?
There are some notable absences, however. Despite featuring four movies, the Madagascar franchise is ignored. Spirit, you know, the one with the horse? That somehow managed two movies, but is apparently not an ongoing concern. And obviously, the Shrek franchise is prominently featured, but the star of the movie we're about to actually start reviewing is not. Maybe he'll show up in the bumper for movies he's not the star of?
WatchDaToast has been developing a furry-themed point-and-click adventure game for a while now, Beyond the Edge of Owlsgard, raising €36,317 from 682 backers on Kickstarter. It's just been released, and VoxelSmash has reviewed it.
You can buy the game on Steam and follow the author on Twitter.
There are two movies that came out this year based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the story of a marionette who gains life and then proceeds to, well, go on adventures. Both for all intents and purposes went straight to streaming services, but were treated on the higher "prestige" end of streaming movies, though we're still, as a culture, not sure if streaming first is on par with theatrical releases or more along the lines of straight to video trash (or are they TV movies?). Both were directed by Best Picture/Best Director Oscar winning directors. I personally found them both not actually very interesting, one being ridiculously over-hated, the other just as ridiculously over-loved.
The first was Robert Zemeckis's Pinocchio, which is less a straight adaptation of Collodi's novel than another one of those "live action Disney remakes" that everyone loves so much, this time of the 1940 version of Pinocchio. It released on Disney+ back in September, so I've been very efficient getting around to it. The second is Gillermo Del Toro's Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio. Normally, I hate when they do that "Director's Name's Whatever" thing to titles, it comes off as pretentious and boastful, but given the circumstances, I'm going to have to allow it this time. It released to Netflix this month.
My Father's Dragon is a 2D animated children's fantasy film, the latest from Cartoon Saloon, directed by Nora Twomey. The studio kept an amazingly tight lid on this 99-minute production, with its trailer only becoming available five weeks before the film was released on Netflix. I'm very glad this project didn't get cancelled, what with partially being made during the Covid pandemic.
The main character is a quick-thinking boy named Elmer. After he shows kindness to Whoopi Goldberg-- I mean, to a talking cat, the magical neko tells him there's an island where he can find a dragon. And if Elmer can bring the dragon back, its novelty will save him and his single mom from financial ruin! So off Elmer goes, equipped only with a bunch of random stuff he happens to have in his bag. The situation on the island is difficult, and Elmer isn't the only one who needs the dragon.
How furry is it? Sssort of. Only in the sense of having animals that can talk; none of them are physically anthropomorphic, aside from a few primate species. A diplomatic gorilla is the closest this film gets to having an antagonist. As for the dragon, he has a very... unique design, because he's based on illustrations from a 1948 children's book that inspired this film. Despite getting top billing, the dragon is not especially interesting.
What this film does well is provide a sense of adventure and danger. Drawn in Cartoon Saloon's signature geometric artstyle with excellent use of color, it continues the common theme of their other films, a child protagonist trying to persevere against a situation that looms over them. Story-wise, it's a little uneven. It's primarily for younger children.
I wouldn't call it a must-see, unless you're a fan of Cartoon Saloon's work; personally I would much more highly recommend Wolfwalkers (exclusively on Apple TV+). My Father's Dragon scores 87% with critics and 77% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm with the audience, although I'd give it a 68% "Enh, maybe". Check it out if you're interested though!
As for being a book adaptation... That's something to rant about. Major spoilers ahead.
It's been six years since Zootopia was released to theaters. In that time, a lot has happened. America has managed the change to two different presidents. Across the pond in the UK, where the movie was known as Zootropolis, they've managed to beat that turnover rate for heads of state with four new prime ministers, plus a new monarch. That's kind of prescient for a movie where the titular city burns through two mayors over the course of its plot.
In all that time, Zootopia has managed to remain popular with furries. It also, perhaps a bit surprisingly, has managed to remain popular with non-furries. It is one of only three Disney Animated Studio movies to break into the billion dollar club (the other two are both Frozen). It also managed critical and industry awards accolades to go along with the commercial success, giving it the hat trick of movie success criteria. So, a lot of people would probably not be averse to a sequel, right?
Well, how about a series of animated shorts released over half a decade later with little fanfare to a streaming service, instead?
As a giraffe detective and his hippo sidekick are called to an island by an old friend to join a party where he wanted to make a grand announcement, they find themselves showing up to the scene of a murder. In Lord Winklebottom it is up to you to search for clues on this island and find out who killed the head of the household, and why.
In it you will find a rogue's gallery of suspects: a feline journalist, an alpaca seer, a pelican actress who is hard of hearing, a walrus priest, a chameleon scientist, a goat maid, a sloth butler, a slug gardener, and a toad lawyer. Yes, this game is very, as Fred Patten would put it, zipperback. These characters could very well be replaced by human counterparts, but where is the fun in that?
In spite of the animal characters, though, I could not actually recommend this as a game. If you do enjoy detective stories this one is kind of forgettable, if you enjoy games this is not much of a game. If you do like quirky animal character adventures, this one is passable but there are better options out there these days. If you like playing a story that has light interactivity then this may actually be your cup of tea. As long as you don’t put the tea in first — or was it don’t put the milk in first? Either way the tea is just okay.
There are strange things that you can collect in the story mode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. VHS tapes, newspapers, maybe even the concept of diaries have since faded in a world where information is stored and shared nearly instantaneously in a digital format. However, it appears the mean reptiles in green have remained a constant when it comes to providing good 2D brawlers. 3D ventures, maybe not so much.
It’s been thirty years since the release of one of my childhood favorites, The Manhattan Project, for the original NES. In those three decades, many things have changed, but the fact that the TMNT franchise lends itself so well to the brawler genre remains consistent.
Then go. Kick butt, rip and tear, boop snoots — or whatever it is you kids say these days. Just find your dad and sister and bring them home.
-- Kao’s Mum
Kao the Kangaroo is a bit of a niche character in the animal platformer genre. If you had played his games back in the day, and were fond of the kangaroo, I’m sure you already played the new one that came out this year and are only reading this review to fulfill your curiosity. If you don’t have nostalgia for this series, then is this a game worth playing?
If you really enjoy 3D platformers, then this one is decent enough. It's fun, colorful, though not really challenging. If you're looking for the cream of the platformer crop, this one may disappoint, as there are some rough edges. It’s no Sonic Boom of a disaster, but there was at least one glitch that caused me to soft lock at the end of a level.
Perlimps (trailer) is a Brazilian 2D animated film, the second from animator and director Alê Abreu. After seeing his earlier film, Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo, 2013), I really wanted to see what his next project would be like. I wasn't expecting to wait nine years!
Abreu's films definitely do not adhere to typical Hollywood narrative structures, veering towards the artsy without being self-indulgent. Boy and the World, for example, has no dialog at all, and conveys things entirely with sounds and visuals. (As well as being an abstract statement about growing up and the poverty that comes from the exploitation of labor.)
Perlimps is way more approachable in comparison. On the surface, judging by its trailer, I thought it was going to be another film about the devastation of the environment by humans. It does some of that, sure, but that's just surface stuff.
The rest of the film's surface is all in the trailer. Claé (an orange wolf) and Bruô (a blue bear) are secret agents from the opposing kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, trying to find the Perlimps, mysterious entities who can help save the forest from the encroachment of man.
Okay, this one may not technically be a “furry game”. If the late Fred Patten were to start this review off, he may have asked something along the lines that if you as a player moves around the world as a cat with a robot companion augmenting their ability to interpret the society around them, is that game actually anthropomorphic? Perhaps it’s more in line with transhumanism, but in this case more transfelinism, where your feline character is augmented by their technological companion.
And like Adam Jensen of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the cat you play certainly didn’t ask for this.
Between the time I went to see DC League of Super-Pets and writing this, things got weird at Warner Bros. Two movies that were reportedly near completion were suddenly shelved. Most mainstream movie press outlets covered this as "What does this mean for this group of comic book superhero movies?". Even Flayrah's Newsbyte on the subject only mentioned Batgirl, despite the fact that Scoob! Holiday Haunt, an actual movie featuring anthropomorphic animals, rather than just one superhero in a pseudo-fursuit, was also cancelled.
And that has some bearing on my thoughts on this movie. Warner Animation Group is looking like it could be in trouble. Even though it appears that the studio will survive in some capacity, people are going to lose jobs in this area. So, it doesn't feel like a good time to take a look at their latest output, shrug, and say, "It was okay, I guess?"
DC League of Super-Pets was directed by Jared Stern and Sam Levine, and stars Dwayne Johnson as Krypto, Superman's superpowered pet dog. When the evil guinea pig Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon) manages to depower Krypto, he must lead a team of newly-empowered shelter pets in order to rescue his kidnapped master.
It was okay, I guess?
The story follows Sam, an extremely unlucky 18-year-old. After years in an orphanage and never being adopted, she moves into her first apartment. When she encounters a black cat, her luck suddenly changes, becoming good - and when it reverts to her previous bad luck, she follows the cat into the magical Land of Luck, the source of all luck in our world (both good and bad).
Most of the film revolves around Sam trying to regain luck - not for herself, but to help a younger girl at the orphanage - while a series of evasions and accidents escalate into circumstances that threaten the Land of Luck itself.
It's an ok film, with a really nice magical world, although the story has tons of holes if you think about it too much. Furry-wise, besides the cat, most of the characters are leprechauns. Here and there are some cartoony bunnies and pigs, plus a couple of other background creatures that you don't often see anthropomorphized (goats and root vegetables). And a large, pink, six-limbed dragoness, in charge of good luck. She's not in too many scenes, but she's definitely one of the highlights!
Interestingly, this film lacks a clear antagonist; most of the conflict is situational in nature. I wouldn't say this movie is a must-see, but it's fine to pass the time with, and I think it shows a lot of potential for what Skydance could make in the future, if they polish up their writing a bit.
(Spoilers and griping under this cut.)