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The Big Line Up

JHM contributor Peter Bell returns with his take on all the new rides, shows and attractions that were recently announced for the Disneyland Paris Resort.

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After all these months of waiting, theorising and rumour mongering, the facts are finally out in the open. On Tuesday, Jaunary 11th, at a specially prepared “rendez-vous des Cast Members,” official details of the resort’s forthcoming attractions were finally made public. It’s a promising line up, and contains more than a few surprises.

First of all, the Buzz Lightyear ride has been re-named “Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast” and appears to be closer in style to the Japanese version of the ride than its Floridian counterpart. Work has already begun inside the former Visionarium building, and the new attraction will open its doors next year.

The biggest surprise of the day came at the unveiling of the Toon Studios, which confounded nearly all the predictions in my last article. The Parisian branch of Imagineering did a wonderful job of keeping the project under wraps until the last possible moment.

They revealed that, instead of being housed in a purpose-built studio, the new land will be outdoors. Furthermore, rather than re-creating Roger Rabbit’s Toontown, it will instead represent a working studio backlot, populated and run by toons. So instead of Mickey and Minnie’s houses, we have their trailers set up as a meet ‘n’ greet area. Painted flats and life size props depicting famous scenes from various Disney animated classics will litter the new area, allowing for various photo opportunities.

And the attractions? Well the Goofy connection — which seemed like such a sure thing only a few weeks ago — is entirely absent. Instead, the Studios are going one better, with an entirely new dark ride based on Crush, the surfer dude turtle from “Finding Nemo.” Guests will clamber aboard their own sea turtle, which they can spin freely through 360°, before setting off on an undersea quest to recover Nemo. Along the way they will pass through glowing coral reefs, the ruined submarine and a deep-sea chasm, where the angler fish lies in wait. Intriguingly, the new attraction takes the old “Car Toon Spin” ride system and revamps it, adding roller coaster elements such as drops and banking turns.

Toon Studios will also boast a spinning flier based on another Pixar hit. Concept artwork and scale models based on several possible themes have been drawn up by the Imagineers, and they are still undecided as to which they will choose. The most prominent – and the firm favorite with the Cast Members I spoke with – is the “Flik’s Fliers” ride from Disney’s California Adventure. This would sit on the space currently occupied by the lawn between the “Art of Disney Animation” building, and the backstage costuming complex, and would be reached via a gateway in the shape of a giant magnifying glass. The oversized vegetation that would decorate the surrounding area reportedly looks magnificent.

Alternative projects for the site include an “Incredible” re-theme of the same ride, with Symptom’s giant robot acting as the central ride mechanism, and the guests suspended from its many arms. There is also a dodge-ems ride on the drawing board, based on “Cars”, the upcoming Pixar movie.

In addition to this, we can expect to see the park’s first full service restaurant. There are no firm details at present, but word backstage already has that it will be the “Animator’s Palette” restaurant from the Disney Magic cruise ship. If this proves to be true, it would be a real coup for the park.

Speaking of coups, I promised you details of that “monster hit” that André Lacroix (the French Matt Ouimet) spoke about. It may not have come as a surprise, but it was welcome news nevertheless – the “Tower of Terror” will open its doors to European guests in 2008. Situated in the dead center of the park, it is deliberately intended that the”Tower” will become a new, powerful emblem for the Studios. Indeed, it will dwarf the Studio 1 entrance building (which is itself a fair size) and will be visible as guests approach from the car park, some hundreds of yards distant.

The “Tower” itself will be a clone of the Californian version, at least from the outside. The “Twilight Zon”e connection is likely to be dropped and there are reports that the ride’s interior will undergo an extensive transformation. I have seen blue prints for the ride dating from as late as last October (thanks again to my backstage source, Junior), and they reveal the building’s interior to be exactly the same as in DCA. However, rumours persist that the lobby and boiler room sections will be altered to resemble an enormous movie set.

Personally, I take these reports with a pinch of salt. But I — by no means — rule out the possibility of a re-theme. After all, how else would you explain the presence of an old American hotel in the heart of a modern French studio? Lacroix has done a good job of surprising us since he came to the resort in 2003 and I can’t imagine him stopping any time soon. For example, he’s already dropping hints about new attractions to be added to the parks as far ahead as 2012. “Splash Mountain” for the Disneyland park, anyone? Or how about a new Sunset Boulevard for the Studios?

But those rumours are for another time. For now, let’s content ourselves with the fact that this oft-neglected resort is finally receiving some care and attention. To summarise, here are the new additions in the order in which they will be appearing:

2005 (Opening April 9th) – “Space Mountain: Mission 2” (Disneyland Park)
2006 – “Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast” (Disneyland Park)
2007 – “Toon Studios” (Walt Disney Studios Park)
2008 – “Tower Of Terror” (Walt Disney Studios Park)

If all goes according to plan, this year could mark the beginning of the renaissance of the Disneyland Paris Resort. I will be there for the opening of “Space Mountain: Mission 2,” and will give you a full report on my impressions as soon as I return. Maybe I’ll see a few of you there.

In the meantime, have fun and thanks for reading.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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