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Making a Splash in Frontierland

Could everyone’s favorite flume ride finally be on its way to Disneyland Paris? JHM contributor Peter Bell shares some of the stories that he’s heard about what may in the works for Disney’s Parsian theme park.

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Making a Splash in Frontierland
As the weeks pass since the good news that Disneyland Resort Paris has been saved from immediate financial ruin, a more detailed plan for the resort’s future has been emerging. Jeff Speed, Euro Disney’s head of finance, recently announced that, should all go according to plan, we can expect to see one major new addition to the resort every year until 2008. That’s exceptional news, especially for the Imagineers, who may finally have the opportunity to unveil an enormous project that they have been sitting on for years. I am talking, of course, about Splash Mountain.

Plans for Paris’s third Mountain were drawn up as long ago as 1999, but were shelved when the decision to construct the Walt Disney Studios Park was taken. (Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?) Now it appears as though the ride could be making a comeback; rumours have been flying backstage for several years, claiming that management was only waiting for sufficient funds to begin construction. André Lacroix – the resort’s CEO – is known to be a fan of the project, and even went so far as to mention it during a television interview last Christmas.

It can’t be denied that Splash Mountain would have a massive effect on the Disneyland Park. Apart from the obvious boost to morale that the Cast Members so desperately need, the park is without a real “wet” ride – a fact which many guests make a point of underlining during the oppressively humid summer months.

A few problems remain, however. Firstly, the construction of Splash Mountain would be an absolutely mammoth task – bigger even than the construction of Space Mountain – and would necessitate the relocation and demolition of several existing attractions. The site proposed for the ride is at the rear of Frontierland, where both the Critter Coral petting farm and the railroad depot currently stand. The coral would disappear altogether, along with the Pocahontas Village playground, while the depot would be moved several hundred yards up the track towards the border with Adventureland. This in itself presents quite a challenge; taking the whole station apart, brick by brick and beam by beam, then clearing the petting farm (including its backstage area) and reassembling everything on that site. And that’s just to make enough room to begin building the Mountain in the first place.

In fact, very little of the ride would be situated within the park itself – only the queue lines, station and major drop, in fact. The real guts of the mountain would extend across the railroad into the backstage area behind Frontierland, necessitating yet more land clearance, as well as a lengthy period during which the railroad would be out of action.

Needless to say, there would have to be something very special about the finished article to justify such vast amounts of time and money. It comes as something of a surprise then that very little is known about the final form of the French ride, except for one thing – there would be no Song Of The South theme. In a break from tradition, Disneyland Paris would do away with Brer Rabbit, the briar patch, and the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah musical accompaniment. This is simply because Song Of The South and its related characters are not very well known in Europe. Location would also play a part, however. Whereas in the other resorts Splash Mountain occupies its own mini-land in the form of Critter Country, in France it would sit firmly in Frontierland.

A Western theme of some kind seems assured then, although exact details remain something of a mystery. As usual though, there is a shortlist of likely candidates. Chief among them is the Western River Expedition – probably the most famous Disney ride never built. The original concept of a Wild West version of Pirates of the Caribbean would be heavily adapted to fit the different ride system, but the staple themes would remain in place. Neatly following Frontierland’s existing mythology, guests would find themselves sailing through flooded mine workings in search of fresh veins of gold. However, the abandoned mine has been taken over by a gang of desperate, though comical banditos, who are intent on beating you to the treasure. Their attempts to thwart your passage become increasingly extreme, culminating in an enormous explosion as your boat rolls over the summit of the main drop. This version, though purely speculative, is already a firm favourite with Cast Members.

Another proposition (and one which, in my opinion, is far more likely to see the light of day) is to base the ride around existing Disney animated characters. Pocahontas is being touted as a likely custodian for the Mountain, with guests following her in dug-out canoes on a musical adventure to save a sacred woodland from destruction at the hands of British settlers. This rumour has fallen quiet in recent years, although similar ideas featuring both Brother Bear and Home On The Range have cropped up in conversation lately. This last candidate would be especially well suited to the task – after all, the ride would sit on the site formerly occupied by the farm.

As you’ll no doubt agree, the possibility of seeing a project on this scale taking shape after so many hard years at the resort is very exciting indeed. Not only would it transform this neglected backwater of the park – the River Rogue keelboats and canoes that used to ply their trade from the jetty alongside the Pocahontas play area have been out of action for years, along with the Pueblo Trading Post shop that sits between the two – it would send a clear message to the world that good things are finally happening at DLRP. A ride of this size couldn’t help but attract both attention and guests, and while it would constitute an enormous investment, the returns could prove to be more than worth it.

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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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