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It’s a (Sea) Dog’s Life

JHM guest writer Peter Bell reveals some intriguing rumors about the Adventure Isle section at Disneyland Paris. Could it be that Capt. Jack Sparrow is about to set down roots inside of the Swiss Family treehouse?

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Before I begin this week’s article, I want to take the opportunity to thank the friend of mine who has been keeping me supplied with the latest news from behind the scenes at DLRP. Let’s call him “Junior”. The majority of the information contained in these reports has come directly from him, and he has always been incredibly resourceful and trusting. So, this week’s offering is dedicated to “Junior”, as I know that this particular piece of news is especially close to his heart.

Now for those of you who don’t already know, the French Adventureland is split into several distinct sections, each of which represents a far-flung corner of the globe. For example, the main entrance to the land is situated in the Arabian quarter, with its (now closed) covered market. Turning left, there is a small African area, comprising a few shops and a restaurant. Walking through this, we arrive in the Indian section, which culminates in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril… Backwards! But were we to turn right at the entrance, we would quickly find ourselves in the largest and most popular section of Adventureland; the section known amongst the Cast Members as “Le Côte des Pirates.” (Pirate Coast.)

This section takes up half of Adventureland, stretching as it does from the vast façade of Pirates of the Caribbean, around the waters of Cannonball Cove, where Captain Hook’s galley is moored, and across half of Adventure Isle – the European take on Tom Sawyer Island. Here, guests can explore the network of caves beneath Skull Rock, complete with treasure hordes, grinning skeletons and underground streams.

But there is skulduggery afoot. Following the announcement that EuroDisney SCA is to receive $250 million from the Walt Disney Company and other shareholders, the Imagineers have begun drawing up plans to reinforce the Pirates theme. Details are sketchy, but I have recently discovered that Adventure Isle and the shore of Cannonball Cove are to receive new detailing based on the Pirates movie, “The Curse Of The Black Pearl.” Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is about to drop anchor in the waters of Adventureland. Not only that, he may be setting up a permanent residence.

According to an intriguing rumour (which was relayed to me by a very good source), the whole of Adventure Isle could be given over to Cap’n Jack. Whereas previously guests were left to explore the island in whichever fashion suited them best, they may soon find themselves following a set trail, left by Sparrow. The story goes that, after being caught in a tempest at sea, the quirky pirate found himself stranded on Adventure Isle. Luckily, a casket of booty was washed ashore with him, and he hid it for safe keeping before making his escape. He also left a series of clues as to the treasure’s whereabouts, so that he could find it again when he returned. Now guests, armed with these clues and a note from Jack, must retrace his steps and uncover the resting place of his loot.

It is also possible that this partial re-theme will extend to La Cabanne des Robinson (Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.) Anyone familiar with the resort will already know that this once fascinating attraction has been in an abysmal state of repair for years now; the elaborate water-powered winch system that brought the tree house to life is largely missing, and the state of the furnishings and walkways leaves a lot to be desired. An extensive refurbishment has been in the pipeline for a few years, but a lack of funds has seen it postponed time and time again. Now it seems that the tree house is to receive a complete transformation, as it becomes Jack Sparrow’s very own treetop hideaway. Possibly forming part of the new treasure trail, guests will be able to tour Jack’s fully functioning island residence, which he allegedly built to help him keep watch for ships on the horizon. The various rooms will be re-fitted with pirate paraphernalia, including maps, muskets and Jack’s trademark hat.

There is more news from the other side of Adventureland, where work to adapt the Temple of Peril ride has just finished. Sadly, there were no significant changes made. Instead, the ride has lost its “…Backwards!” tag line and is once again a traditional forward-facing coaster. The trains started running backwards a few years ago in an attempt to attract more guests, but it appears the gimmick failed as wait times have been consistently less than fifteen minutes ever since.

There are slightly more ambitious plans in store, however. It is hoped that come 2006, should there be enough money remaining, the temple around which the ride is built will undergo a major facelift. The idea is to introduce several special effects elements from the new “Raging Spirits” coaster, currently under construction in Tokyo. From the concept artwork released to date, it has to be said that the Japanese ride bears more than a passing resemblance to the Temple of Peril. Should the plans go ahead, riders can expect to find plumes of fire erupting from the ground in the final low-level sections of the ride, as well as clouds of steam and curtains of water obscuring sudden turns. There is no word yet on whether or not there would be any change to the ride layout, but Cast Members are already lobbying for the introduction of a longer track as well as the construction of a “show building”, allowing sections of the ride to take place indoors.

In the meantime, more detailing is to be added to the broad jungle path that leads to the temple. The small African hut that currently serves as a cash point and office for the land’s management team is to become a food kiosk. It will be redecorated in an Indian style and will also receive “exterior ambiance” props, including a brightly painted tuk-tuk (a type of small motor-tricycle) parked outside. Wooden totem poles decorated with Indian carvings may also be erected.

So while Adventureland’s immediate future may lack the dramatic announcements of new rides and shows, we are at least assured of a steady evolution of its core themes. The introduction of a high profile character like Jack Sparrow would only serve to renew the public’s interest in this section of the park, especially with the second and third instalments of the Pirates of the Caribbean films already in pre-production. Considering the inexpensive nature of the modifications being made, Disneyland Resort Paris could well be making a good investment for the future.

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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.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

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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