Betty Boop in Halloween Party- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

This 1932 Fleischer Studio animation isn’t really scary but more sweet as Betty Boop invites people over to hers for a Halloween Party, but “Bring Your Own Lunch.” However, a gorilla gatecrashes the party and it’s up to Betty and co. to ensure the evening is not ruined.

This is not a bonafide classic like the others I have shared so far but it is pretty good with a strong voice actress in Bonnie Poe and vaudeville, film and TV actress Mae Questel.

The Skeleton Dance- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Skeleton Dance is the first of Disney’s Silly Symphony shorts, an animated cartoon series where music is integral to the whole piece. In this classic animation, as the clock strikes midnight four skeletons rise from their graves and proceed to have merry fun.

Considering that this was released in 1929 the macabre matter is somewhat surprising, however the animation is top notch and incredibly fluid. Check it out!

Ulysses 31: Vengeance of the Gods- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The 80's were an amazing time for cartoons and one of the finest is Ulysses 31. It tells a story similar to Homer's The Odyssey but set in the 31st century, hence the 31. The 26 part episode series is all great but the pilot episode is pretty scary, what with child kidnapping, child sacrifice and a freakin’ robotic cyclops! The music complements all this beautifully and I have spoken at length about the soundtrack before.

For those who only remember the series from the past check it out now on YouTube… it still holds up well!

Cobweb Hotel- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Cobweb Hotel is a spooky 1936 animation by Fleischer Studios. The cartoon tells the tale of a malevolent spider who runs a hotel where he traps unsuspecting travelling flies, bugs and other creatures in his cobwebby lair. However, the spider’s luck changes when a newly married fly couple come to stay.
The cartoon is beautifully animated and the sound design adds to the creepy atmosphere. The whole thing is a horrifying hellscape of nightmarish imagery which will stay with you long after the cartoon ends.

Mickey Mouse in The Mad Doctor- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

Mickey Mouse is the face of the Disney corporation but compared to the likes of Donald Duck and pretty much any other Disney character Mickey seems to lack any ooomph, well at least in his most modern CGI iterations. However checking out the Mickey shorts from the early years (late 1920s and 30s) reveals a cool character with lots of personality and charisma. Don’t believe me? Check out the beautiful but spooky The Mad Doctor. Hotdog is it good!

Trap Door- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

I was about 6 when I first saw Trap Door on ITV, the great intro music and opening credits had me hooked and the funny but kinda weird dark undercurrent of the show appealed to the stranger/ offbeat part of me.

 The claymation art style appealed to me as a 6 year old kid.

The claymation art style appealed to me as a 6 year old kid.

The claymation art style was all herky-jerky and I think that lent to its otherworldly perculiarness that I fondly recall. I watched an episode today with my 3 1/2 year old daughter and she loved it so it just goes to show, classics will always remain classics!

Now recite after me….

Somewhere in the dark and nasty regions, where nobody goes, stands an ancient castle. Deep within this dank and uninviting place, lives Berk ("Allo!"), overworked servant of "the thing upstairs" ('Berk! Feed Me!') But that's nothing compared to the horrors that lurk beneath the trap door, for there is always something down there, in the dark, waiting to come out....

The following lines of the theme song would then sing out:

Don't you open that trapdoor, You're a fool if you dare!... Stay away from that trapdoor, 'Cos there's something down there...

Rocketeer Trading Cards Set Opened 27 Years Later

The Rocketeer is a 1991 Disney superhero film based on the comic book created by writer Dave Stevens. The Rocketeer is a period piece set in 1938 and tells the story of stunt pilot Cliff Secord who stumbles upon a hidden rocket powered jet pack that he thereafter uses to fly without the need of an aircraft. His heroic deeds soon attract the attention of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes and the FBI, who are hunting for the missing jet pack, as well as the Nazi operatives that stole it from Hughes.

I remember seeing the film in the early 90s and being a bit nonplussed with it and that's how I feel about this trading card set, which I picked up from a comic-con a while back. The packet is shiny cellophane and is brightly coloured with an art deco styled Rocketeer image. However, once the packet was opened it all became a bit 'meh'  with bland coloured stills from the film and a few promotional shots. The cards are matt and don't have a quality feel to them at all. Overall, much like the film from my memories, this is all a bit bland.

Sega Arcade Pop- Up History Book Kickstarted

In the 80's Yu Suzuki changed the arcade scene with releases of some of Sega’s greatest arcade cabinets. These included Hang-On, Space Harrier, Thunder Blade, After Burner, Out Run, and Power Drift. Well, Sega fan and pop-up book aficionado Darren Wall has successfully Kickstarted a campaign to reproduce the stunning arcade cabinets in miniature pop-up book form. The book contains detailed pop-ups of the cabinets but also schematics, artwork and a little historical information on the games.

The original consignment of books are soon to be sent out for backers but a larger print run of the book is promised soon and I look forward to purchasing a copy. Check out the video link below to see how awesome the project looks.

Jean Michel Jarre Announces Equinoxe Infinity

Jean Michel Jarre is a man on a mission. Since his 11 year hiatus after releasing Téo & Téa Jarre has released three new albums and a new compilation album since 2015. This is impressive stuff for a man who is 70 years old! I’ve reviewed his albums (see links below) and for the most part they are a real return to form, especially Oxygene 3 which contains the sublime Oxygene 20. Now, on the same day that he released his compilation album Planet Jarre, the great man announced Equinoxe Infinity. The original Equinoxe was released 40 years ago and in celebration of this anniversary Jarre is releasing a follow up. I am excited and have already pre-ordered my copy, which is due for release on 16th November 2018. Check out the first track below.

Arcade 1Up Brings 'True' Arcade Machines into the Home

Owning a real arcade machine is one of the dreams we've all had right? RIGHT? Well, as you get older life and funds get in the way, after all, an arcade machine is pretty big, heavy and usually quite expensive to buy and maintain. However, Arcade 1Up may have the solution; a 3/4 sized arcade machine that weights just under 30 kg and costs just $400. The whole package contains a 17'' LCD screen and can be assembled like IKEA flatpack furniture using just a screwdriver.

The arcade machines feature all the original artworks and have true control panels and the bonus is that the machines contain between 3 to 4 games including classics such as Defender, Joust, Rampage, Centipede and Street Fighter II.

The arcade machines will be on sale in September and will be available across the world. I won't be buying one anytime soon as space is a premium in my house and my small mancave wouldn't cope with it in, but maybe this could be the arcade dream machine you've always wanted.

New Streets of Rage Game Announced

I am super excited to share the news that a new Streets of Rage game has been announced after a 23 year wait. The original trilogy came out on the Sega Megadrive/ Genesis and were bonafide classics, especially the first two which are considered some of the finest scrolling beat 'em ups of all time. The music by Yuzo Koshiro is fondly remembered and I have discussed all three before with the recent vinyl releases of the soundtracks.

 I have all three Streets of Rage games on vinyl and love them, especially the second one!

I have all three Streets of Rage games on vinyl and love them, especially the second one!

Details are sketchy at the moment but from their official video on YouTube Dotemu have said:

Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games and Dotemu are thrilled to present Streets of Rage 4. Featuring hand-drawn visuals from the team behind 2017’s gorgeous Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake, Streets of Rage 4 builds upon the classic trilogy’s gameplay with new mechanics, a fresh story and a gauntlet of dangerous stages with a serious crime problem.

I hope that the game is as good as the recent Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap remake, which was phenomenal and that they manage to Yuzo Koshiro back on this franchise. Here's hoping that the stars align.

Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame Trading Cards Set Opened 22 Years Later

In 1996 Disney released its 34th animated feature; The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film is based on the 1831 French novel written by Victor Hugo which centers on The plot centres on Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame and his struggle to gain acceptance into society. I remember watching the film at the time and being quite surprised at how dark and gothic the film was, especially as it was a Disney production. The narrative explores such mature themes as lust, damnation and sin... heady for a cartoon from the 90s non?

Well, the Hunchback of Notre Dame Trading Cards set I got from a comic-con I went to was in immaculate unopened condition. Upon opening it I was pleased with the amount of cards and the quality. The cards all had that nice glossy sheen and the print quality was top notch. What really set this trading card set apart was that as well as the usual still images from the film there were other cards that you could turn into a mini standee, puzzle and coins to do tricks with. Disney you gits, you killed it with this set from 1996... I doff my cap 22 years later to this.

PLAY Expo Comes to London

PLAY Expo is a celebration of video games that is packed with hundreds of games, consoles, arcades, traders and exhibitors. The Expo is coming to London on the 11th and 12th August at the Printworks in Canada Water.

PLAY Expo London

I went to a PLAY EXPO Margate 2 years ago and had an amazing time playing the freeplay arcade and pinball machines. It was well worth the time and money to mooch around for a few hours. I can't go to this one in London as I am away on my holidays but if you do go I hope you have a great time!

Castlevania: Season 2 Trailer Drops

Netflix has just dropped the season 2 trailer for their animated show Castlevania. I reviewed Castlevania Season 1 before and stated that it was a great animated show, recalling the best of anime whilst avoiding a lot of the tropes and fan service (read: panty shots of the female characters) which has blighted the medium over the last two decades. The season ended on a cliffhanger and it is with bated breath that I wait for October 26th for the return of the show.

Okami Soundtrack Released on Vinyl

Okami is one of gamings most beautiful examples for the argument of video games as art. The imagery from the game is stunningly presented in a traditional Japanese brushstroke form and the music is a collection of traditional instruments and modern synthesizer sounds, recalling a dreamily imagined Japan that has never truly existed.

Data Discs is releasing a 4 disc pressing of the remastered soundtrack for the game and I for one am intrigued and excited. According to Data Discs:

OKAMI is presented as a quadruple LP boxset, comprising over two hours of newly remastered music and packaged in a spot-varnished hardboard slipcase. It is accompanied by a 40-page artbook and double-sided lithographic print, featuring original illustrations from the CAPCOM archives in Japan. A download code for the album in both lossless and lossy formats is also included. Available in the following editions:
  • 4 x 180g Frosted Clear with “Cherry Blossom Pink” and “Amaterasu White” splatter (LIMITED EDITION)
  • 4 x 180g Frosted Clear

Pre-orders are open for Data Discs customers and I've already placed mine. At a hefty £64.99 it is a high asking price, but for the soundtrack to one of my favourite games (and soundtracks) of all time that seems like a price worth paying. Once I recieve my copy I'll do a review of it right here on this page, just like I have for my other soundtrack reviews (which you can check out below if you like).

For a listen to some of the soundtrack check out the official Data Discs Soundcloud page.

Okami Vinyl

The Mysterious Cities of Gold Soundtrack on Vinyl

I am a huge fan of the animated series Mysterious Cities of Gold, it is my favourite programme of ALL time and was a formative part of my childhood; single handedly igniting my interest in anime, manga, South and Central American cultures and synthesizer music (It's why I love Jarre, Vangelis and Oldfield).

In my mancave I have a MCOG medallion, an original cel, a French book discussing the making of (even though I haven't studied French since my GCSE's 20 years ago) and a model of the golden condor. However no mention of The Mysterious Cities of Gold would be complete without a mention of the mesmerising soundtrack. There have been some amazing soundtracks for TV shows over the years but the synthesizers and futuristic sounds used in the soundtrack gave this series a unique, mesmerising atmosphere all its own.

Wagram have re-released the original French soundtrack, which contains all the key themes and tunes from the series. The track list is:

Track 1 Cités D'or

Track 2 Thème De Zia

Track 3 Thème De Tao

Track 4 Thèmes D'Esteban

Track 5 L'aventure De Tao

Track 6 Le Vol Du Condor

Track 7 Heureux Esteban

Track 8 L'aventure D'Esteban

Track 9 Tristes Cités D'or

Track 10 En Naviguant

Track 11 Les Incas

Track 12 Esteban Dans La Ville

Track 13 La Tempête

Track 14 Les Dieux Des Incas

Track 15 Les Aventures Electroniques

Track 16 Les Cités D'or (Instrumental Version)

The vinyl was re-released on 15th December 2017 but I only got around to getting it recently. I've reviewed the soundtrack before but only on CD. This vinyl has a lot of great tracks but is by no means complete. The most glaring omissions is St. Elmo's Fire (also known on other versions of the soundtrack as La Passage Secret), known to many fans as the Song of Mysterious Awesomeness. The sense of awe and wonder this music piece brought in me at the time was palpable, I would shake with excitement as this track was reserved for only the most special moments of the series. It is used when a new discovery is made or when the characters experienced a grand phenomena. The juddering driving synths mixed with the whoozy flow of the main tune lend the piece an otherworldly air which perfectly suited the air of mystery. I have extremely powerful memories of this track as this music was used on the maiden flight of the golden condor. The point when the machine comes online for the first time and flies is etched in my memory. I've seen this episode more than any other (I watch the series annually) but I still get goosebumps when the music kick in. The link to this moment is below and I would recommend you watch it (it kicks in at 56 seconds).

New Battle Angel Alita Trailer

Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm in Japan) is a masterful piece of work which is an essential sci-fi read. Over 9 graphic novels we follow the adventures of Alita, a young cyborg girl who is discovered broken but with her brain intact by Dr Daisuke Ido. Ido is delighted with his find and takes Alita to his home and repairs her. Over time there develops a father-daughter bond but Alita has amnesia and is unhappy as she wants to find out more about her mysterious past. Over time she learns that she knows the powerful 'Panzer Kurst' fighting technique and enters the Motorball Tournament, a Running Man style gauntlet filled with cyborgs and other mechanical marvels. Over the course of 9 graphic novels Alita learns more about her past and the unfair society she lives in.

I have the collection and they are all first prints.

The original run of Battle Angel Alita is one of my favorite manga ever and so when I saw the latest trailer I am beyond stoked! I hope it is more Sin City and less Ghost in the Shell in terms of live action adaptations. Here's hoping!

Shadow of the Colossus Soundtrack on Vinyl

Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favourite games of all time. This is in no small part due to the phenomenal soundtrack which was created by Kou Ootani, who also soundtracked the wonderful Haibane Renmei (one of my favourite animes). The Ico OST is scarce but perfectly pitched for key events, like the original Prince of Persia game. However the Shadow of the Colossus has an emotive score full of longing but also adventure, it suits the mood perfectly and the soundtrack is a master class in scoring for a game and shows how much the perfect soundtrack can add to the impact of a game.

When iam8bit announced that they were doing a vinyl release of the soundtrack mid-last year I pre-ordered it and lo, a mere 10 months or so later the vinyl has finally arrived and definitely looks the part. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet due to having a busy weekend with the family but I know the album well, as long as it wasn't pressed too hot it should be great. Check out my pics below and my links to other SOTC related articles I've written.

Kaneda's Theme Disco Reprise is Italian Awesomeness

Akira was a seminal film for so many reasons and the soundtrack is a large part of why it blew away so many people. The stirring and haunting soundtrack by the collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a masterpiece, mixing stirring beats with more traditional elements of Japanese music, such as gamalan (check out my review of the vinyl soundtrack here). YouTuber Peter Zimmerman has created an Italian pop mix of the 'Kaneda' track and even though it sounds like a weird mix it works. Check out the track below and let me know what you think.

Crazy Retro Game Prices

The retro gaming scene goes through swings and roundabouts. Often, when a new generation of gaming arrives it spells the end of the previous generation and frequently, this is the best time to pick up some future classics and rare collectables. However, some games go under the radar, are much coveted, have limited editions or have a small print run and fetch a high price for those reasons. But occasionally the retro game prices can make your eyes water and that is what this post is about. I'll start off with these two but will add more as I find them.

Have you ever come across crazy prices in shops for rare games? I know in gaming expos and conventions crazy prices for retro games is the norm but how about in the wild?