Posts categorized “Featured Posts”

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

My Famous Friends: The Ginger Fool is a Grimm-Hunting Wettbewerbsgewinner!

Yes, I'm ready! Jamie Pederson the Ginger Fool in NBC's Grimm.

Yes, I’m ready!

YES! Fools Play Improv’s very own Ginger Fool, Jamie Pederson, has appeared in the recurring role of “Ludwig the Wettbewerbsgewinner” on NBC’s long-running supernatural police show, Grimm.

For those not in the know: Grimm (briefly) is about a Portland police officer who is a “Grimm,” a person with the ability to see monstrous people (“Wesen”) who are hiding amongst humanity, disguised as humans. The Grimm’s traditional role is to hunt these Wesen, so they don’t like him very much.

Jamie appeared briefly in episode 99 of Grimm as a thug in the service of some badguy Wesen priest who wants to stop the Grimm from finding an ancient treasure. Is Ludwig (and his associate Dolph) ready for such a task?

Jamie Pederson is ready for action on NBC's Grimm.

I guess so!

Oh, why are Jamie’s lines subtitled? Because these scenes take place in Germany and Jamie is speaking in German. No biggie.

Unfortunately at the end of the episode it looks like Ludwig and Dolph have just been tasked with guarding the badguy posse’s cars while they hunt for the Grimm.

So. Much. Action. I see why they had to be ready.

So. Much. Action. I see why they had to be ready.

But in episode 100, Ludwig and Dolph get tricked into leaving their post by a Wesen friend of the Grimm, and they run off to help the priest, who they think is being attacked by said Grimm.

Don't fall for it, Ludwig! It's a trick!

Don’t fall for it, Ludwig! It’s a trick!

Upon catching up with the priest, they quickly realize they’ve been tricked!

Verify your sources, Ludwig!

Verify your sources, Ludwig!

Ludwig and Dolph are so pissed off that they were tricked that they transform into their true “Wettbewerbsgewinner” Wesen form, then set off to hunt the Grimm! I, of course, made an animated .GIF of that transformation:

Jamie Pederson transforms into a Wesen on NBC's Grimm.

From ginger to lizard thanks to CGI goodness!

Here’s a still of Ludwig in his Wettbewerbsgewinner form:

Wettbewerbsgewinner

Wettbewerbsgewinner!

Unfortunately when they get back to their vehicles they discover the Grimm has disabled them all and they are unable to pursue. Grimm & friend make it safely back to Portland without incident. :sadface:

There is actually a cool story behind the Wettbewerbsgewinner Wesen. “Wettbewerbsgewinner” is German for “Contest winner.” To commemorate the upcoming 100th episode of Grimm, NBC ran a contest where fans could design their own Wesen, and the chosen winner would appear on the 100th episode!

So, yes, Jamie transforms into a monster designed by a fan! That’s a pretty special thing. Here’s the original concept art that won the contest:

Contest Winner from the Grimm Wiki

As found HERE.

Will Ludwig & Dolph ever catch up with the Grimm and take back what was stolen? Or is that the last we see of them, helplessly looking at flat tires? I guess you should watch Grimm or something if you wanna find out; I have no idea.

I don't know.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that you should watch the two episodes featuring the Ginger Fool! You can watch ’em on the NBC webbed-site:
• Episode 99: “Key Move
• Episode 100: “Into the Schwarzwald

Partake and enjoy! And congrats, Jamie! Now we’ve seen you get eaten by cannibals and zombies and turn into a monster using CGI!

Jamie Pederson as Ludwig on NBC's Grimm

PROOF THAT IT HAPPENED!

And as if that weren’t enough a photo of the Ginger fool is on the cover of the Weekly Volcano. See, he’s not only on the TeleVision, he’s also on stage in “Death on the Supermarket Shelf,” a musical about the 1982 Chicago Tylenol murders.

Go, Jamie, Go! Get hugged from behind live on stage!

Go, Jamie, Go! Get hugged from behind live on stage!

“Death on the Supermarket Shelf” is running every Friday & Saturday this month at the Centerstage Theater in Federal Way. See it if you can!

Categories: Animated .GIFs, Concerts/Shows, Featured Posts, Fools Play, My Famous Friends, TV.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Hello, EMP

Y’know, that great-big Experience Music Project museum thingy up in Seattle? Well, since I actually live in this state and am not a tourist, I’d never actually been there. Until last weekend! But the reason we went this time was not to see all the musics stuffs. It’s because they have a Hello Kitty exhibit, and both my daughter and my niece loooooove Hello Kitty.

It was pretty interesting!

I did not know she lived near London.

I did not know she lived near London.

The most important part of the Hello Kitty timeline.

The most important part of the Hello Kitty timeline.

Fun fact: the Smurfs are all 2 apples high. So Hello Kitty is 2.5 Smurfs high. I think we should all use "Smurf" as a measurement of height from now on.

Fun fact: the Smurfs are all 2 apples high. So Hello Kitty is 2.5 Smurfs high. I think we should all use “Smurf” as a measurement of height from now on.

We all live in a kitty submarine...

We all live in a kitty submarine…

All sorts of random crap with Hello Kitty's face on it. My favorite here is the Hello Kitty paper shredder, for all your adorable document destruction needs.

All sorts of random crap with Hello Kitty’s face on it. My favorite here is the Hello Kitty paper shredder, for all your adorable document destruction needs.

Nothing beats Hello Kitty motor oil, though. It makes your car's exhaust smell like cat breath.*

Nothing beats Hello Kitty motor oil, though. It makes your car’s exhaust smell like cat breath.*

Delicious?

Delicious?

"Papa, Hello Kitty has a snake on her head!"

“Papa, Hello Kitty has a snake on her head!”

This guy.

This guy.

My favorite part of EMP, though (to nobody’s surprise), was the Science Fiction Museum in the basement. It has some great artifacts.

O HALLO THERE HAVE YOU HEARD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST?

O HALLO THERE HAVE YOU HEARD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST?

Tiny war of the tiny worlds.

Tiny war of the tiny worlds.

"This is Ripley, the last survivor of the tiny Nostromo, signing off."

“This is Ripley, the last survivor of the tiny Nostromo, signing off.”

Leeloo Dallas multi-pass. MULTI-PASS.

Leeloo Dallas multi-pass. MULTI-PASS.

That pistol on the right was held by Sir Patrick Stewart. That needle tried to stab Agent Dale Cooper.*

That pistol on the right was held by Sir Patrick Stewart. That needle tried to stab Agent Dale Cooper.*

Darryl Hannah wore this Pris outfit on our first date.*

Darryl Hannah wore this Pris outfit on our first date.*

They also have fantasy and horror sections, which are inherently less interesting to me, but there were some cool stuffs:

Elderberries smell good.

Elderberries smell good.

As the world falls down...

As the world falls down…

They also had the mask of Hellboy’s personal Death from Hellboy II, but I neglected to take a poto of it.

They also had an Indie Game hall where you can play a bunch of new indie video games, and a Jimi Hendrix exhibit that had a bunch of his suitcases and passports and travel documents and stuffs like that.

EMP is an interesting place! But it’s pretty durned expensive to go there.

*This is a lie.

Categories: Featured Posts, Life, Pictures.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Julia Massey Songs

Photo by Gary Lappier

Photo by Gary Lappier

As a mental exercise recently I decided to see if I could figure out what are my favorite songs from my favorite musician. It took a while. Some of my choices might surprise you! But here is what I have:

10: Motorcycle Bong
An instrumental (a rarity for JM), this song is all funk and swagger and some great bombast. It’s like the Best 1970s Cop Action TV Theme Song Ever.

9: Here Is a Stone Wall
This is just lovely and heartfelt, with only Julia’s voice and a single guitar. The lyrics are meditative and celebratory, about small moments and well-lived lives. Just reading through the lyrics gets me all teary-eyed.

8: Aghadoe
Ugh, so catchy. A very distinctive synth hook anchors this song and the added choir effect during the chorus really elevates it into something special. The lyrics are about passing time and death and the impermanence of all things, but are also super-uplifting (so, pretty much the usual Julia Massey lyrics :P). But even if I’m just some ash that kicks up in the wind, I know I’ll find my way to fields of wheat in Ireland.

7: Spaceships
This song is just pure pop goodness. It’s peppy, it’s upbeat, there’s some really cool bass stuff going on from Geoff. Sometimes I picture Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount going on a late-night talk show to perform (usually Conan), and this is the song that they always play in my head. Also: you should listen to the previous song on the album (“#712” – an adaptation of poem 712 by Emily Dickinson) before listening to this one, because they blend seamlessly into each other and it makes “Spaceships” even better.

6: Skatepark
This one is just a masterpiece. It’s epic, it’s loud, it’s got awesome drums and bass and it just kicks ass. The intro and outro instrumental segments are some of the finest instrumental segments that JM+FFD have ever put out. And the lyrics are sweet and funny. It’s also more than five-and-a-half minutes long, but it’s so interesting a song that the time just flies by.

5: There Is a Song
This is an anthem. This is the most exquisitely-sung song on any of JM+FFD’s albums. Julia’s voice is full of power; she belts this song, and it is glorious. The swing tempo is delightful, and the sleigh-bell outro give it a magnificently gentle ending. The lyrics are very empowering; it’s like Julia is standing behind you and shouting, “You can do it!” while you’re trying to do something difficult. JM+FFD would often end their live sets with this song, and it is so complete and final a song that it’s sometimes hard to imagine anything else coming after it.

4: Montana Capri
This song is not high on this list just because it was written about my daughter. That’s right: we didn’t want to announce the baby’s name until she was born, so “Montana Capri” was the fake codename we used for the baby while my wife was still preggers with her. It’s not just because of that; It’s also just a great song. The first part of this song has such a strong, focused drive to it. It’s like a train speeding through a tunnel, chugging forward relentlessly. And then in the second part it completely opens up and becomes epic and spacey. It’s like the train comes out of the tunnel and bursts into a beautiful moonlight vista, all mountains and stars and valleys. It’s awesome.

3: Jenny Towner
A beautiful and funny portrait about a real-life person whom I’ve never met. My favorite lyrics are the adorable (and slightly creepy) “Got the goddamn cutest face / It’s already in my suitcase / She’s coming with me everywhere I go.” One time JM+FFD did a full-band, rockin’ version of this song for me on my birthday. “Jenny Towner” hasn’t ever been released on an album. There used to be a link to download it on Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. Alls I can find is this YouTube video of a live version from a long time ago.

2: Don’t Worry ‘Bout Us
A loud, almost-bluesy, piano-banging romp with a fascinating time signature. It is nothing but unadulterated happiness for six full minutes. Gobs of solos show off each of the instruments, and the music is just so voluminous it’s hard to imagine that it was all made by just three people. This song is just joy, joy, joy.

1: Catacombs
This was no contest. Not even close. And it’s completely bizarre: I usually do not like repetitive songs at all, and “Catacombs” is basically just the same set of lyrics sung three times in a row. But this song pushes all of my musical buttons. From the opening drums to the opening piano riff, to the vocals coming in, then the strings and bass and backing vocals. It all just such a lovely build to the first time Julia belts out the chorus. I’m a sucker for songs that build like this. And the lyrics about “I know somehow you’re more than memory / ‘Cause I feel you in my bones, weaving caves in my marrow / Where I feel the echo of your memory / Where I feel the echo of your Earthly dream.” When Julia finally does belt out the chorus, “I’m not hollow” sounds almost like a statement of defiance. The world may take from us, but it cannot take our memories of each other. You fill me up. I’m not hollow. I would love this song to be played as a sing-along my funeral—I’m completely serious!—with everyone there belting out “I’m not hollow!” all together. Beautiful.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the songs that were all fighting to get the coveted #10 spot.

Turn It Into Everything
This song is a clever little pop ditty metaphor about games turning into something more. It’s just so catchy I can’t resist it.

Always Been There Anyway
An early song that was never put on any albums. Like “Jenny Towner” you used to be able to download it from Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. It has a very different feel from any of her other songs due to a fascinatingly different choice of instruments like a sitar-sounding thing and some bongos. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Come Here, You
This one I can’t post any links to audio because it hasn’t been recorded yet! And I couldn’t find a video of it uploaded to the internets anywhere. But this song has a great part towards the end where the audience starts clapping along to the song, and then the song ends. And every time I’ve seen this song performed, the audience just keeps on a-clappin’ even after it ends! It’s very charming. If you go to a show nowadays it’s very likely that you’ll hear it!


And there you have it. What do you think? What songs would you add and/or remove from my list in order to make your own?

I’m very looking forward to Julia’s next album; there are some really good new songs happening in her live sets these days. If you’d like to experience more Julia Massey, you should come to her next show! It’s this Friday, November 20th at Columbia City Theater in Seattle!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

Details:
MoZo (CD Release) // Julia Massey // Richie Aldente (Facebook Event)
Friday, November 20th 9:00 PM
@ Columbia City Theater
4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 (map)
$8 adv / $10 door

We shalle seee yeeee theeeeere!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Featured Posts, Music.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Quick Halloween Ghostly Embroidered Plush

Hey guess what! My work let me come up with a sewing project of my own and then post it on their blog! SO I DID! Here’s a link to that blog: http://www.qualitysewing.com/blog/?p=3112
And here, I’ve copied it to my own blorg so you can read it here:


Hello! This is Chris with Quality Sewing, and I’d like to show you how I made these adorable little plush ghosts with the Brother Dream Machine:

I confess I’m actually not much of a sewist; I work behind the scenes of Quality Sewing in advertising. But the Dream Machine is so unbelievably easy to use that even I could do this–so it should be no problem for you!

First off, draw a ghost. Just a simple face and a ghostly outline. Here, look how cute he is!

You can make it pretty much any shape and size that you want as long as it’ll fit on your fabric in a hoop. I used those sheets of felt that you can buy at a craft store for like 35 to 40 cents each. Those are about 8” x 10”, and I used the 5” x 7” hoop to hold them. So I drew a ghost that was about 4” x 6.” We’re going to turn the ghost inside out and stuff it, so try to leave a gap of about 1” to 2” in the outline.

Put your drawing on the Dream Machine’s scanning attachment and press “My Design Center” then “Illustration” then “Scan.” The machine will take just a minute to scan in your drawing.

Then it’ll appear on the screen. We’re going to embroidery just the face first, so use the stylus to select just the face portion.

Hoop up your fabric with some stabilizer (I used Floriani tearaway medium stabilizer behind my felt) and put it in the machine. Make sure your Dream Machine is loaded up with the color of thread you want (black in this case), and embroider that cute li’l face.

Once that’s done, take off the top frame of your hoop, lay another piece of fabric on top of the ghost’s face, and re-hoop it all together. Try to get it to be as close to where it originally was hooped as possible.

Put your ghost drawing through the scanner again, but this time select “Line” instead of “Illustration” before you scan it. The scanner will convert everything to outlines.

We don’t want to embroider the face this time, so what I did was choose the eraser tool and just rub out those face lines.

One of the reason I like using felt for these is because it’s ever-so-slightly translucent, and you can put that to good use. When you get to the embroidery phase, click this button to have the Dream Machine really quickly scan the hooped material, and voila! You can faintly see where your ghost’s face was embroidered. Drag the outline so that it is positioned around the face where you want it.

Then just stitch it out! You’d probably want to switch to white thread for the outline, but I used black so it would actually show up in the photos.

Now take everything out of the hoop, tear off the stabilizer, and carefully cut all the way around your ghost. I tried to keep it about 1/8 away from the seam.

Now turn him inside out and look at just how cute he is!

Now you just have to stuff him and stitch the opening closed and there you go! You have a cute little ghost plush.

This seriously only takes a few minutes to make. They’d be so cute to give away at a Halloween party (or even to Trick-or-Treaters).

If ghosts aren’t your thing, you can easily use the same technique to make Jack-o-lanterns! Here’s one I made, the only difference is that I used orange felt and I sandwiched a loop of green felt between the two layers of orange fabric before I stitched the outline.

If you don’t think your drawing skills are the greatest and you’re worried about how your plushes will look, below are some image .JPG files that you can download and put on a memory stick. That would make the creation of these plushes even faster because you wouldn’t have to physically scan the drawing each time; just put the memory stick in the Dream Machine and pull the design up instantly!

Just click on these images to download them to your computer (if that doesn’t work try right-clicking on them and selecting “Save As”).

I hope these li’l guys make your Halloween happier.
Cheers!
-Chris

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Featured Posts, Holiday, Work.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Tiffany Terror of Vault 82: A Fallout Shelter Tale

Screenshot_2015-08-18-10-16-39

Caretaker’s Log: Day 1

The day I have been preparing for has arrived, and though it is sad (billions dead, blah-blah-blah, etc.), it is unsurprising, and I have gone to great lengths to ensure the survival of some of the human race. The Vaul-tec vault that we’ve built is plenty for me and my 42 subordinates to withstand the coming dark times. Now to find other survivors and fortify this sanctuary.

Caretaker’s Log: Day 7

Excursions into the wasteland have managed to find an additional 17 survivors from the wasteland. Coincidentally, a high percentage of them are women named “Tiffany” who were discovered in the wasteland wearing only lingerie. Our expeditions to the wasteland have also proven fruitful in caches of equipment and weapons.

Screenshot_2015-08-24-14-11-24

Caretaker’s Log: Day 8

Many of the Tiffanys have banded together and formed a great friendship over the coincidence of their shared first name. A group of them have managed to cobble together a radio broadcasting center and I have given them permission to send our message into the wasteland in the hopes of finding more survivors.

Screenshot_2015-08-24-14-12-06

Caretaker’s Log: Day 10

The Tiffanys have proven most helpful. They’ve developed a method of organizing our vault dwellers by appending their floor and job to the front of their name.

Screenshot_2015-08-24-14-12-45

It seems to have done an amazing job of increasing the happiness of our dwellers by connecting them with vocations that most satisfy them.

Screenshot_2015-08-24-14-14-16

Caretaker’s Log: Day 14

Have succeeded in bringing in 7 more survivors. Strangely, they too are all women named Tiffany. Each Tiffany seems more technically and sociologically savvy than the last. Their suggestions for improvement of vault life are all unerringly insightful and valuable.

Screenshot_2015-08-27-20-28-16

Groups of Tiffanys now not only man the radio, but also have built a hospital and a school. It is a relief to have so many competent people in such valued positions of authority.

Screenshot_2015-08-27-20-32-17
Screenshot_2015-08-27-20-29-11
Screenshot_2015-08-27-22-52-16

However: I’ve discovered that some of the Tiffanys have been making unauthorized forays into the wasteland. But they have always returned with bountiful weapons…

Screenshot_2015-08-30-09-03-40

Soon after a Tiffany has returned from the wasteland it seems as though another woman named Tiffany has appeared at our door. Well, it is worrisome, but we are always glad to welcome more survivors.

Screenshot_2015-09-06-23-06-37

Caretaker’s Log: Day 21

Under the guidance of some Tiffanys, we have increased our efficiency exponentially. Most clunky power plants have been replaced by high-powered nuclear plants. Restaurants have been replaced with high-yield greenhouses.

Screenshot_2015-09-04-14-06-14

Many of our vault dwellers are so grateful for the presence and leadership of the Tiffanys that they have begun renaming themselves to Tiffany in their honor.

Screenshot_2015-09-04-14-06-00
Screenshot_2015-09-04-14-07-44

The only people we are rescuing from the wasteland are women named Tiffany. A part of me wants to wonder about the statistical probability of only finding Tiffanys within a radius of our vault… but I find it difficult to focus when I think about it…

Oh, and the Tiffanys have introduced a new water purification system. This water tastes… good… real good.

Caretaker’s Log: Day 28

The Tiffanys have shown us the marvelous benefits of Nuka Cola… come along… you belong… feel the fizz of Nuka Cola…

Screenshot_2015-09-10-19-06-25

It tastes… good… real good.

The Tiffanys are good… real good…

More dwellers, even some of the men, have renamed themselves “Tiffany” in their wondrous honor. I think perhaps I shall as well, though I would never presume to be worthy of the glory and exaltation of such a revered name…

Tiffany’s Log: Day 300

WE ARE TIFFANY

Screenshot_2015-09-09-17-44-42

TIFFANY WILL SPREAD

Screenshot_2015-09-09-17-41-31

TIFFANY WILL BECOME

Screenshot_2015-09-09-13-14-20

TIFFANY WILL BE ALL

Screenshot_2015-09-09-12-04-18

TIFFANY IS ALL

TIFFANY

Categories: Featured Posts, Video Games.

Monday, 13 July 2015

My Favorite Comic-Con Moments 2015

So San Diego Comic-Con is over, and there were lots of big announcements and blah-blah-blah Star Wars blah-blah-blah Batman v. Superman blah-blah X-Men Apocalypse blah-blah. You already know all about all of those, so I ain’t gunna get into ’em.

These are the things that happened at Comic-Con that I really enjoyed:

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse

A friend of mine had a comic book signing at Comic-Con. I still can’t get over that!

A FOOL DOES SOMETHING AWESOME: Congratulations to Michael Tanner, AKA the retired GREEN FOOL (on the right with the…

Posted by Fools Play Improv on Thursday, July 9, 2015

I mean, comicbookresources.com even did previews of this book. Hooray Michael Tanner! I <3 my famous friends.

Conan Goes to Comic-Con

The opening segment of Conan O’Brien’s week of shows filmed at Comic-Con was undoubtably the best part:

Joss Whedon’s Twist

Now that Joss Whedon is no longer the shepherd of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he has time to do projects for himself for a change! First up: an original comic book about an original character:

Joss Whedon's Twist

Joss Whedon’s Twist

Joss Whedon had (unsurprisingly) my favorite single quote of the whole weekend when he described the book:

Basically deals with the most important moral question facing us, which is, why isn’t there a Victorian Female Batman? [1]

Steven Universe Extended Theme Song

There was a Steven Universe panel. And this happened:

I made the mistake of watching that during my lunch break at work last week. Fortunately no one else was around, so I didn’t have to explain that I was crying about a cartoon.

Marceline Sings!

There was an Adventure Time panel, which also contained Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe. See, she worked on Adventure Time before starting Steven Universe, and she wrote a bunch of the most memorable songs for them. And she’s written a new song for Marceline. Whose voice actress, Olivia Olson, also just happened to be on the panel. So, y’know, she helped out:

Ash vs Evil Dead

I do believe this speaks for itself. Let me know if you’re confused about anything:

Wrongplayed

And, of course, one of my favorite Instagram accounts: Wrongplayed, that purposefully (and hilariously) misidentifies the various cosplay of the con:

So that’s what I enjoyed and/or am looking forward to. How about you?

[1] http://io9.com/joss-whedon-just-explained-the-meaning-of-life-to-us-1717277218

Categories: Cartoons, Celebrities, Comics, Featured Posts, Music, My Famous Friends, News, Round-up, TV, Videos.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

New Article: Mario Kart 8 DLC Numero Dos!

This fast-paced village life...

This fast-paced village life…

Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically! KEEP THINGS FRESH!

The first DLC came out last Fall, and I wrote about that here. The second DLC recently came out, and here are some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!

First off, the new drivers!

Animal Crossing Villagers!

VillagarszYES!!1!! The second character (after link) who doesn’t come directly from a Mario game, the Villagers from the Animal Crossing series of games are now here to race around! You can choose either a boy or a girl. They’re kinda medium-weight characters, but they come with the absolutely awesome beetle-themed kart called the “Streetle.” Just look!

So cute! I lorve it!

So cute! I lorve it!

Isabelle

IsABeauIsabelle was a character introduced in the 3DS Animal Crossing: New Leaf. She’s the Mayor’s assistant, unfailingly polite and encouraging. She’s a bit lighter than the Villagers.

Dry Bowser

demDryBownsDry Bowser is a skeletonized version of Bowser, duh. He… I gotta be honest: I haven’t played as Dry Bowser yet. But why would I when I can play as frikkin’ ANIMAL CROSSING CHARACTERS!?

Crossing Cup

Baby Park (Gamecube)

This was my all-time favorite Double-Dash track! Why? It seems so simple (and short), I know. But that’s precisely why. In Baby Park the racers are always so bunched up that it’s impossible to break away from them; as soon as you get ahead you start lapping those left behind. And it’s an oddity in that there are 7 laps instead of the standard 3. On the Gamecube it frequently got crazy as the high-powered items would be used by the slowest drivers, who could be anywhere on the loop. Mario Kart 8 doesn’t have quite the diversity of items as Double-Dash did, so I don’t know if it will get as crazy (I haven’t played it on 150 or 200 yet).

Cheese Land (GBA)

I must admit I have absolutely no recollection of this track. But I never played much of the GBA Mario Kart. But cheese is my favorite food. And this is a pretty neat track, with three different shortcuts built in (helps if you have mushrooms, of course).

Wild Woods

This is the prettiest of the Village Cup tracks. It seems like there are some great background details always going on around the edges of the screen, especially when you pass through a village of Shyguys. There is some good use of anti-gravity in this track, too, some nice curves and jumps, and a flowing water section. It’s a solidly-put-together track.

Animal Crossing

Take a leisurely drive through an idyllic town. This is a very simple course that takes you through typical Animal Crossing locales: some trees, some beach, some town square, past a museum, etc. Apparently there are four different versions of this course, one for each season, each with their own obstacles and slight differences (though not in course shape—that stays the same). So far the game has only presented me with the “summer” version, though. I guess I’ll just have to keep playing it. OH NO. I do think there were some missed opportunities here, though. How fun would it have been to race through the museum, what with all the dinosaur skeletons and bugs and artwork? That’s could have been an amazing stretch of racetrack.

Bell Cup

Neo Bowser City (3DS)

This was a good track on the 3DS. This version has an absolutely gorgeous rain effect added for extra moodiness. Look at how it creates drops and streaks on the camera! Lots of long, spiraling drifts in this one.

Ribbon Road (GBA)

Again, a track I don’t remember very well. But this one is pretty durned stunning, visually. I could scour the backgrounds all day for all of the Mario characters turned into toys, and all of the fun references and Easter-eggy stuff. The track is divided into parts (each with its own color of ribbon roadway). There are some neat shortcuts you don’t need a mushroom to catch, and the undulating road is fun.

Super Bell Subway

The “traffic” course of the group, this one has you navigating around and against a couple of subway trains. But in a neat twist, there is actually a part where if everything times out just right you can drop down on top of a subway train and drive along its roof! This track also has copious excellent background details, especially in the graffiti that litters the underground tunnels.

Big Blue

The second F-Zero course to make its way into Mario Kart, this one is not divided into laps, but rather is one long, undulating course of anti-gravity goodtimes. I tend to like these long, lap-less courses because of the sheer amount of variety you’ll find. Take a wook:


And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 48 total.

Nintendo also did something very interesting: they added a 200cc speed class, making the carts even faster than in the previously-fastest 150cc. It’s pretty nutz (with a Z). It’s impossible without braking to take many of the turns that used be simple! It’s a smart addition to the ouvre, and gives each of the 48 tracks some new life!

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