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A detailed look at Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain: Mission 2

JHM guest writer Peter Bell returns with an intriguing column about the revamping of this popular Discoveryland attraction. Is DLP’s Mission 2 a sign of better things to come, or a last gasp for this financially troubled resort?

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The recent announcement that EuroDisney SCA – the group that runs Disneyland Resort Paris – has overcome the worst of its immediate financial difficulties and is to receive an injection of ?250 million was hailed as a breakthrough by many. The resort has been circling the drain in ever decreasing circles ever since the opening of its second gate, the Walt Disney Studios Park, in March 2002. In addition, the Disneyland Park has not seen any new attractions in five years, while certain rides that were considered surplus to requirements were shut down indefinitely.

So when André Lacroix, the resort’s new CEO, announced that the bulk of the windfall was to be spent on “thrilling new attractions”, the rumour mill went into overdrive. But what can park goers expect to see first? Indiana Jones Adventure? The long talked-about Parisian version of Splash Mountain? And what about the Studios Park? With only nine attractions to its name and catastrophically low visitor numbers, surely much of the money would go there?

Over the next few weeks I hope to analyse the likelihood of each of these rumours, drawing up a list of what is most likely to appear and in what form. As you will see, there are some very exciting possibilities. I want to start, however, with the one project that has already been confirmed – Space Mountain: Mission 2.

It may strike you as odd that the resort’s first new ride is simply a re-modelling of what is already its most popular attraction. But time has not been kind to the coaster that “saved” Disney’s European venture. The visual effects and integrated music system that made the ride the first of its kind when it opened in 1995 have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of no return. Europe’s most ambitious ride has become nothing more than a large roller-coaster-in-the-dark.

The Mission 2 project (or Super Nova project as it was known during development) is intended to restore Space Mountain to its former glory by modernising the special effects and replacing the sound system. This is to be far more than a simple refurbishment however, as the biggest alteration will be to the ride’s storyline. Guests will no longer find themselves on Jules Verne’s classic voyage to the moon; instead they will be propelled into the far reaches of unexplored space in a move that Lacroix promises will “complete, rather than replace” Verne’s vision. The idea behind the move is that, after ten years of regular “Lunar Excursions”, the technology is tried and tested enough to begin launching the first exploratory expeditions into deep space. As a result, the Columbiad cannon and Victorian era styling will remain, but these will be practically the only elements left untouched.

The interior queue line will reflect this subtle shift in theme. The glass panelled “starway” looking into the ride will be closed in by large spot-lit photographs of comets, nebulae and galaxies. From the concept artwork I’ve seen, these appear to be genuine astronomical photos. (Think of the shots produced by the Hubble telescope and you’ll know what I mean.) The two storey load station will house the most impressive new addition to the ride. An enormous space station will hang from the barrel ceiling. And not just any old space station – a Victorian space station! Again, I’ve been lucky enough to see a few concept shots and it looks magnificent. No doubt this will become one of Mission 2’s defining features.

But what of the ride itself? The new journey has been divided into several distinct sections, the first of which is entitled “Chasing The Comet”. The train will pursue a comet through the first few sweeping curves of the ride, culminating in a side-on collision as the train plunges through the comet’s centre. This last element will presumably replace the “Mother of Meteorites” scene, in which the track leads riders through the molten centre of a giant rock. The comet will boast additional light and explosion effects, as well as a giant streaming tail, which promises to look quite stunning.

Next, guests will soar past a couple of star fields depicting slowly spinning galaxies, achieved thanks to high resolution projections onto the inside wall of the mountain. This brief respite is followed by “The Gauntlet”, a section that appears to reuse the existing asteroid props, with new and improved lighting effects. The train will weave its way between the floating rocks in a high-speed slalom.

Finally we come to the heart of the new ride concept – the Super Nova. Whereas previously the ride’s final destination has been the moon, guests will soon find themselves being winched up the lift hill towards a blazing sun. As they near the lift’s summit, the star will explode in what appears to be another projection effect, although recent news claims that guests will actually feel the heat of the explosion. Either way, it looks as though it’s going to be a huge effect.

All of this will be accompanied by a brand new musical score, written especially for the ride. Quite what the new music will be like remains anyone’s guess though.

So when can you expect to see this grand re-launch? Very soon indeed as it happens. The outside of the mountain has already been repainted in dazzling, brighter hues, and low level maintenance has been taking place inside the dome after hours for several months now. The ride will close in January for a three month period, and Space Mountain: Mission 2 will officially blast off on April 9th 2005.

So there you have it; a new lease of life for Disneyland Resort Paris’s signature attraction. But what about the land in which it sits? Next time I’ll be looking at what the future could hold for this distinctly European take on the Tomorrowland concept. There are some big changes afoot and not all of them are going to be popular…

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“Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion” game coming this summer

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Adventure Time Pirates of the Enchiridion

“C’mon on, grab your friends … ” A new Adventure Time game is coming out across multiple platforms.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

In this open world game, Finn and Jake will be sailing on a raft (Named Jeff) through the flooded land of Ooo to solve the mystery of why water engulfed their home and to help others & get in hijinks along the way. With a ragtag gang of friends (From a vampire, to an Ice King, to a little robot) Finn and Jake will travel from the melting Ice Kingdom to the Fire Kingdom and fight in turn-based combat like an RPG.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

The trailer shows off some absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. I’m particularly enchanted by the gorgeous Candy Kingdom that’s briefly shown in this footage. The art design sticks close to the show, but brings with it a soft, sweet design rarely seen in adventure games. Which is a refreshing thing to bring to the table. Likewise, it’s a joy to see the characters translate to 3D so well. Outright Games has done some fantastic work here with their art design.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

Likewise, the voice cast for the show will be reprising their roles as characters in the land of Ooo. And they’ll have a lot of lines to record. Not only can you control Finn and Jake, but you’ll be able to play as BMO and Marceline as well. You can upgrade these characters to unlock unique abilities for combat and the map holds plenty of fun mysteries too. With side stories and secret locations, this seems like a game that’ll have hours & hours of fun.

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What strikes me particularly about this game is how much it resembles Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is no coincidence. Adventure Time have a history of being direct corollaries to Legend of Zelda games. “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” ‘s gameplay references “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” and “Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom” has the same top down look & combat stylings as “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With this in mind, it’s absolutely delightful to see a Wind Waker homage with a series like this. Wind Waker was a gamechanger for the Legend of Zelda series, and it feels like “Pirates of the Enchiridion” will be a gamechanger for the Adventure Time games.

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‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ will be out July 17th for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. 

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Do you like treasure hunting and/or cooking soup? Then Pokemon Quest is the game for you

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Pokemon Quest

Immediately after the Pokemon press conference on May 29th, the mobile-switch cross platform game Pokemon Quest was available to download on the Nintendo eShop (with the mobile device version debuting later this month). Curious about the ‘Free-to-Start’ game, I snagged a download and started playing.

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Pokemon Quest is a game that feels best letting itself auto-run. You check in several times a day to see what Pokemon have appeared at your camp (The conceit behind this game is that you’re a treasure hunter & Pokemon flock to you to fight their brethren in your honor. They also sometimes just come by because you make really good soup. What can I say?). With the Pokemon at your disposal, you build a small exploration team much in the same style as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game series. And you then set them out to fight other Pokemon in open levels. From these battles, you win power stones (which allow you to upgrade your Pokemon’s health & attack power), and ingredients to lure other Pokemon to your camp.

You may’ve taken notice use of the term ‘Free-to-Start’ earlier in this article. That’s because — like many mobile services — this game offers add-ons for purchase. I don’t see any age limit on the Nintendo Switch version to take away ads for purchases (which many mobile games have chosen to add. See Disney’s own ‘Disney Crossy Road’) but the Pokemon Company may be expecting parents to set their own controls over the switch with the parental controls available on the system.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Still, the game is typical in mobile game fare for trying to wring money out of players. Energy to play the game costs P tickets, which you can earn 50 a day … or you can just buy. The game gives you an amount to start with, shows you how to use them to speed up your game, and then takes you to the shop where you can see an advertisement to buy it — along with Pokemon furniture to help your team.

These packages can go up to $30 and include Pokemon in-game items & exclusive furniture. And while Pokemon Go offered items in bundles like this, it’s still odd to see in a Pokemon game — let alone a Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch (albeit, this is a cross-platform game). The game itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of hard-pay line for gameplay, though. I’m up to the fifth world in my game without making any purchases. And while the game difficulty has dramatically ramped up, likely to encourage purchases, it’s still completely manageable to play without paying.

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In that sense, for a free game, it’s really cute & enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing and colorful. And if you return to camp, you’ll find all the Pokemon you’ve befriended hopping around adorable decorations. Sometimes stacking on top of each other, other times following each other around in what seems like games of tag.

The ‘cooking’ mechanic to encounter a random Pokemon makes encountering them feel less like gambling and more like strategy. By cooking certain recipes from materials you find on missions, you can draw certain types of Pokemon to your camp. Cooking in certain pots (unlocked by playing through the game) can draw higher powered Pokemon at the cost of more materials. And waiting while your energy fills up means running out of ingredients (At the point of the game I’m at, about half-way through) doesn’t seem to be a problem.

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All in all, I’d say, if you have access to this game, check it out and see if it’s for you. There doesn’t seem to be cross platform support for other Pokemon games. But as a standalone, it’s a cute, fun blip of a game. The hard ‘end’ of the levels within surprises me, especially since it seems to end with 150 Pokemon (out of the over eight hundred available). So I’m not sure what there is to get out of it when you get to the end level outside of getting every Pokemon. But it’s still a fun, very casual strategy game. Just keep an eye on purchases if your children decide to play. 

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” & “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” to come to the Nintendo Switch this year

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Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

During a conference in Japan earlier this week, the Pokemon Company revealed three new games : A mobile and Nintendo Switch cross platform game, “Pokemon Quest,” with graphics similar to Crossy Road and some absolutely adorable furniture in a “free to start” format; and for the Nintendo Switch, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !”

Taking inspiration from gameplay styles from the popular “Pokemon Go” for mobile devices, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !’ adopts the thrown Pokeball system. By using one controller with the Switch system, you can make a tossing motion to throw a Pokeball and capture a cute critter for your team.

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Additionally, you can buy the “Pokeball Plus” accessory to act as an additional “Joy-con” controller for your Switch to capture Pokemon. Then load a Pokemon into your pokeball, and take it out on the go.

From there, with the accessory, you’ll be able to interact with the Pokemon you have inside. Although current information doesn’t offer whether we’ll have more options than putting Eevee or Pikachu in the Pokeball Plus, the footage seen in the linked trailer is absolutely adorable.

The game itself seems to be a remake of Pokemon Yellow, a game released twenty years ago for the Game Boy Color. You explore the Kanto Pokemon region, and seem to be limited to the 150 Pokemon available when that game was out (Well, 151, if you were lucky, or good at exploiting glitches). But these games ditch the random encounters of mainline Pokemon games and adopt the overworld encounters of Pokemon Go. What Pokemon you see on the overworld is what you get.

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Additionally, Pokemon can follow you around and you can ride some of them. In footage, we see a trainer riding a giant Onyx (i.e., a giant snake made out of rocks. Who wouldn’t be comfortable riding on that?) and followed by a starting Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Although in these two games, you start instead with the series mascot Pikachu, and the evolution Pokemon Eevee, which can evolve into several different pokemon. You can also put little outfits on them. Which is – frankly — incredible.

Likewise, this seems to have local multiplayer. Hand the left Joy-con to a friend and let them enter your game. Or if you’re feeling really lonely, put the left Joy-con in your hand and pretend you have a friend while controlling the new trainer that arrives. What a fun time!

You and your friend can then team up to capture Pokemon together, or go exploring together- And you can have Pokemon you capture in Pokemon Go (of the original 151 Pokemon) arrive in your game. You can also send “Presents” back to your Pokemon Go game, including a possible new form of Pokemon as the trailer discusses.

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch this November. Likewise, a new Pokemon game will be released in the second Half of 2019. With a Mario movie in development and theme park additions on the way, it’s sure to be a busy year for Nintendo. 

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