Monday, 15 September 2014

The Koopalings in Twenty Years - A Cautionary Tale

The Koopalings, also known occasionally as the Koopa Kids, have been making somewhat of a resurgence lately. Thinking back to Super Mario World, I always thought these guys were cool bosses, since they actually felt like they had distinct personalities. You would assume that in Bowser’s Autumn years one of them would take over the mantle of King Koopa.
So I got to thinking, since Shigeru Miyamoto has explicitly stated that the Koopalings are not Bowser’s children, and that Bowser Jr. is the rightful heir to the throne, where does it leave this gang of merry misfits in, say, 20 years?

Larry Koopa
“Koopa army’s special attack squad leader.”
Larry was seen as the most likely candidate to replace the head honcho should anything befall Bowser’s heir apparent, displaying the aptitude at an early age for command. He graduated from the Koopa military academy with full honours, and would soon rise to the rank of Koopa Commander. He initially proved himself greatly in the mushroom wars, commanding the Koopa army to near total victory. He would ultimately, however, lose face in a personal duel with Mario in which he was badly burned by a fire flower, causing the morale of the Koopa Troops to plummet and sealing the victory for the Mushroom Kingdom. He suffers from long-term PTSD, and several cosmetic surgeries later you can find him collecting coins for the Koopa veteran society in the local mall.

Morton Koopa Jr.
“Unrivalled / invincible tough guy.”
Morton Koopa Jr. was considered the runt of the litter, but perhaps for that very reason he stood out as a real bruiser. After being expelled from Koopa High for constantly getting into brawls, he spent most of his teenage years at the gym, training to become a professional MMA fighter. Before he could really hit his stride, however, he was then expelled from the league for biting off the snout of Birdo in a qualifying match. Out of desperation, he leveraged his notoriety into a job pro wrestling alongside Wario in the deep south under the name ‘Plumber’s Helper.’ Washed up and prematurely aged by steroids, you can still find him on the wrestling autograph circuit in local hick towns.

Wendy O. Koopa
“Overthrow / beat-down princess.”
The only female Koopaling, Wendy was spoiled rotten by Bowser. At sixteen she had a massive party featured on My Super Sweet 16 in which she freaked out that she was given a Koopa Clown Car instead of a Mercedes. She coasted through high school on her good looks, eventually running off with a rugged Koopa Troopa with a motorcycle in her early twenties and quickly becoming pregnant. She was disowned by Bowser, who saw Wendy’s then husband as scum and their child as a ‘misbegotten halfbreed.’ With nowhere else to turn, Wendy got a job as a cashier in a supermarket, and had several more children before leaving her husband and joining the Koopa Church of Latter Day Saints. She’s now married to an aged congregant and files frivolous lawsuits that so far have amounted to nothing.

Iggy Koopa
“Trickster with the black-framed glasses.”
Ever the ‘misunderstood’ Koopaling and picked on by the rest, Iggy spent most of his adolescence with his nose buried in books, obsessively watching and blogging about anime, and playing erotic Japanese dating sims. His early adversity gave him the drive to succeed however, and he graduated from Koopa U. with an MBA in Koopa Finance. He ran the business end of Bowser’s empire for many years, becoming rich and powerful in a very brief time and was better known by his nickname “The Spiny of Wall Street.” His meteoric rise would eventually be succeeded by an equally portentous downfall as he made some poor investments in the Koopa Clown Car industry and spent the rest on Japanese hookers and blow. He now teaches business seminars to Goombas who want to get rich quick.

Roy Koopa
“Out-of-control turtle heavyweight.”
Growing up, Roy was heavily favoured by Bowser, who would often be heard to say that Roy “reminds me of myself at that age.” Although somewhat slow, he was an ace with a Koopa shell, and despite being a real dullard in school, Bowser would always make time to go out for an ice cream with his favourite ‘son.’ However, once Bowser Jr. was born (who the heck is his mother, anyway?), Roy fell into disfavour and developed a deep, brooding resentment towards life. He started hanging out with the goths and writing dark poetry. Crying and alone in his room, he would eat his problems away, adding many layers of fat to his already chunky frame. Still living at home, working at an office supply store and devastatingly overweight, Roy tends to stand alone in the corner during family reunions.

Lemmy Koopa
“There’s one in every group,” is the way that people talk about Lemmy. From a young age, his interests tended to veer towards the chaotic, including torturing the family cat goomba and violently ripping the masks off of shy guys. He developed a penchant for bob-ombs, constantly blowing up his toys behind his house, and decided to study chemistry at Koopa U. Nobody could say they couldn’t see it coming when one day Lemmy snapped and held the entire city hostage with his new variety of bob-omb of mass destruction. His demands: ten-million coins and a gassed up Koopa Clown Car ready to take him to to Yoshi’s Island. Paratroopa SWAT managed to bring him down and disarm the bomb, however, and Lemmy was incarcerated in the Koopa Asylum for the Mentally Insane. Today you can still find him there, somewhat calmed by his regular electroshock therapy, but still collecting oddments from the laundry room and stashing them for who knows what purpose.

Ludwig Von Koopa
“Showoff villain-hero.”
The child genius, Ludwig’s IQ was off the charts from a very young age, and he grew up resenting Bowser’s bumbling efforts to kidnap Princess Peach and conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. After biding his time for several years, Ludwig ran off during the mushroom wars and created his own underground elite Koopa army, “The Ones Who Knock,” recruiting the best and brightest from Bowser’s ranks slowly over the years via sedition. Utilizing the latest in military psychology, tactics, and hardware, Ludwig created a fighting force unlike the world has ever seen. Not one to suffer competition, he took the fight directly to Bowser and his young spawn, tearing the Koopa Kingdom to pieces in the process while the Mushroom Kingdom looked on and laughed. Bowser Jr. and him have faced off directly many times, but to this day no one has come out on top, and the war rages on…
What do you think other loveable Nintendo mascots will be up to in twenty years time? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, 12 September 2014

"Kill Link!" - The Legend of Neil Top 10

This article was originally published on Gamespresso.

The Legend of Neil is the original NES Legend of Zelda parody webseries that nobody realized they needed and too many are still unaware of. Lasting three seasons from 2008-2010, it was directed by Sandeep Parikh of The Guild fame, who also co-wrote the show with Tony Janning, the actor who plays Neil. The premise of this crude, NSFW show has down-on-his-luck Neil getting drunk playing a game of Zelda, and engaging in an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation (while masturbating to the fairy in the game, because she was kind of hot), and that somehow transports him into the game.

The series is a loving and irreverent tribute to Zelda, and in my books the best video game parody ever created. If you live in the USA you can still view the series online on Comedy Central, and the show is available to purchase on DVD at Amazon.

Without further ado, my Legend of Neil Top 10:

10. Money Making Game:
Legend of Neil Money Making Game
To escape from a moblin, Neil stumbles into the shop of an dubious merchant played by Chris Fairbanks. When Neil doesn't have enough money for the blue candle (or the arrows that use rupees, so you just give all your rupees to the merchant and he'll deduct them, based on what he knows), the merchant suggests Neil try his hand at Money Making Game in his illicit gambling den. After all, "this game is so easy, anyone can play it." Unfortunately for Link, the game is a scam and he ends up 400 rupees in the hole. The thieves are about to take his eyes as payment when the game is broken up by the elf cops. They've had their eyes on the operation for a while, "what kind of store sells three random items? Do you think we're assholes?"

9. Princess Zelda! - You're Black?:

Legend of Neil Zelda Black
Neil is quite the reluctant hero, and gets testy that people keep calling him Link. Of course, if there's one thing that can keep him on his quest, it's the thought that there's a beautiful princess to screw at the end of it (she's about a seven, seven and a half...). After taking an epic beating from some Octorocks, Link gets a vision from Zelda, played by Angie Hill, and the first words out his mouth are about the colour of her skin. "Yeah," she replies, "is that a problem?" "Look I'm totally sorry about the black thing, I used to totally watch Cosby, and Different Strokes, you have no idea what I'm... you ever seen Benson?" Stay classy, Neil.

8. Ganon - Fog Equals Power!:

Legend of Neil Gloffice
It's hard being an evil dictator and also trying be liked - but Ganon knows that the secret to appearing powerful is to turn the fog machines on. Played by Scott Chernoff, Link's nemesis Ganon makes some questionable decisions, often pointed out by lackey Wizzrobe, played by Eric Acosta. Sure, he could have lured Link to a harder level when he was still weak. Sure he left a map of the level in the level, what if the bad guys got lost down there? He left one on every level! If there's one thing Ganon can't stand for though, it's insolent logic, which Wizzrobe discovers often as he gets backhanded or choked (Ganon's reach is amazing). "Have I made some mistakes?" Ganon reflects, "Maybe. Maybe... and now I'm going to have to have you killed for even asking that question."

7. The Musical - There's No Restart!:

Legend of Neil The Musical Mentors
The Legend of Zelda has always been a musical franchise with whistles and ocarinas, but this marks the first time there's ever been a full-on sing-along! The captive fairy is encouraged to sing about the things that makes her happy (such as the dirty sanchez and finger cuffs), Neil sings his way through levels 2 and 3 while wishing he had a beer, and the two Old Men sing about how lucky it is that Link has not just one mentor but two! Wizzrobe then consoles Ganon that Link has already completed three levels while Zelda wistfully pines after her hero, and all of the different character's songs come together in an epic conclusion - There's No Restart!

6. The Three Day Training Course:

Legend of Neil Three Day Training Course
When Neil first arrives in Hyrule, he is woefully unprepared for the trials ahead of him. Old Man (It's pronounced OLD MAN!), played by Mike Rose, encourages him to remember his training. "What training!?" "Oh shit, did we not train you? It's a three day course." Neil manages to stumble through for a while and gets sick of Old Man's condescending advice, but realizes in season 3 that he'll need his help in order to defeat Ganon. So begins the three day training course, an epic Rocky style montage of Neil learning to sashay his way around his enemies before he stabs them, and lots of running on the beach with a close up of his and Old Man's junk. It ends with them frolicking in the ocean - I get teary-eyed thinking of it now.

5. Kill Link!:

Legend of Neil Kill Link
After singing his heart out in the musical, Neil really needs to tie one on. Unfortunately the pub he wanders into happens to be occupied by moblins, but a quick disguise later and Neil reluctantly ingratiates himself into their company. Neil gets a bit unnerved when the moblins keep toasting "Kill Link!" and talking about ways that they'd torture him if they ever got their hands on him, but Schlam, Quiff, and Glorm quickly become his fast friends when Neil comes up with the idea that he'd cut out Link's eyes, and his balls, and switch'em! They then engage in an epic party montage in which they play quarters (with rupees) and do lines of fairy dust ("I have more friends because I use drugs!"). Unfortunately it all falls apart when Neil's disguise falls off while doing a keg stand. He appeals to the moblins, saying they're the only friends he's made since he arrived in Hyrule, and is devastated when he later is forced to take them down.

4. Continue or Quit?:
Legend of Neil Continue or Quit
The cliffhanger at the end of season 2 brought Link back into the real world after admitting his cowardice to Zelda and being slain by Ganon, faced with the classic NES Zelda 'Continue or Quit' screen, thinking the entire quest was a dream - until he looks at his arm and sees his heart meter. He had always been the reluctant hero, and is now forced to think hard about his life. Does he really want to be the assistant-manager to his brother at the gas station in Trenton, New Jersey, boyfriend to an unfaithful and shallow woman? We all knew he'd go back, but this cliffhanger encapsulated everything that Parikh and Janning had built up to this point - the internal transformation from zero to hero.

3. The Fairy's Sexual Healing:

Legend of Neil Fairy Motorboat
Played by the always audacious Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, this nymphomaniac fairy finds Neil on the verge of death, and uses her 'special talents' to heal him - after she coaxes an "I love you" from him, that is. After all, Elves keep saying they'll stick around, and then they leave, and come back again six months later, wanting her to do it all over - well, she's NOT GOING TO FALL FOR IT AGAIN! Never afraid to bear her 'twins,' or do 'it' in public (even while under attack), the fairy is a force to be reckoned with. In season 3 she had a litter of Neil's kids, and then sacrificed herself to save Neil in his final battle with Ganon - but we'll always remember that time she motorboated Neil's toes.

2. Old (Oold?) Man's Advice:

Legend of Neil Heart Cookie
Probably the best character on the show, Old Man (and to a lesser extent his brother with tourettes, Old Man) act as Link's mentors, providing him advice and shouting out classic NES Zelda old man lines such as "Easternmost peninsula is the secret!" and "Master using this and you can have it." However, it's Old Man's condescending advice and insults that are the star:
  • "Ooh, this creature's throwing rocks at me, my boobies hurt, I'm a young lady - grow a dick, Link."
  • "Ah, the magical heart shaped cookie. Eat up, you deserve it, after committing murder."
  • "Link, I see you met the moblins! And what a surprise, you ran like a little twat. Perhaps you could queef, make yourself go faster, like a power boost."
  • "I used to be all potions and spells, and I never made time for a morning BJ. Do that for yourself, 20 minutes out of the day."
Old Man may be a bit of a jerk, but he cares about Neil and the quest, crying after Link finishes the three day course. To me he represents the very spirit of this crazy and fun-loving series.

1. The Title Song:

Legend of Neil Asphyxiation
The first time you saw this title sequence, you knew you were in for something special. The lyrics of the song spoke for the series itself: "The last thing that Neil remembered he was drunk playing a game of Zelda, when he whipped out his member and he masturbated to the fairy in the game because she was kind of hot, and that somehow transported him into the game!" It's an amazing premise that spawned three wonderful seasons of a wacky Legend of Zelda project with clever humour and a loving attention to detail. Kudos to Sandeep Parikh and Tony Janning!

Agree with this list? Disagree? Something missing? Let us know in the comments!