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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top 5 Problems With The Wizard

A funny thing happened a few weeks ago. The Wizard was on TV. It's a movie I watched a few times in my youth and is basically a 90 minute advertisement for Nintendo....so how could I not watch the entire thing? However, after rewatching it, a few parts of the movie bothered me a little bit.


Now, sure, some things in this movie are ridiculous. This movie takes place in a world where teenaged kids can hitchhike across America without any of the adult drivers questioning where the hell their parents are, where a trucker father willingly leaves his barely teenaged daughter to fend for herself for weeks a time, where, apparently, one of the most abhorrent professions around is tracking down runaway kids and returning them to their parents, where the person who takes on the job of returning a runaway kid justifies people's negative opinion of him by acting like the kid is $350,000 and he's in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, where there's no shortage of adult businessmen willing to plop down their hard earned money on video game related wagers, where cops arrest a guy based on a teenaged girl's random accusation and never bother to try and get a statement from said girl, where teenaged kids can get hotel rooms with no parental consent, where some grown adults have no idea what an elevator is, where evil truck drivers steal money from teenaged kids, where tow truck drivers take cars to their shop and immediately strip them for $50 in parts, where every place in the world has a TV and are willing to let you hook up your video game system to it and this movie takes place in a world where evil gangs of teenaged video game players roam the landscape, beat up kids and steal their money. But none of that bothers me.

Sure some things that happen in the Wizard may be considered improbable at best and ludicrous to most but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief. However, if your portrayal of video games is less than 100% accurate then you've gone too far! So here are the top 5 issues I have with The Wizard:

Flawless Ninja Gaiden: At one point Haley notes that Jimmy apparently played through the entirety of Ninja Gaiden and was on his second play though without ever getting hit once. Impossible I say...IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Obsession With Points: Everyone was obsessed with points in this game. Which told me this movie was written by 30-to-40 year olds who think all video games are like pinball. The idea that points matter went out of style with the likes of Space Invaders and Asteroids.

By the time Nintendo came around it was all about levels. What level can you get to? How fast can you get to said level? How many lives did it take? Did you "beat" the game? That's what late 80's video gaming was about.

Wrong Double Dragon Version: Jimmy, The Wizard, plays Double Dragon for like 15 seconds and racks up 50,000 points. (Impossible!) However, that doesn't bother me as much as the fact that he's playing an arcade game but, as anyone would know, the version of Double Dragon they're showing is the NES version of Double Dragon NOT the Arcade version of Double Dragon. I don't care about licensing/advertising issues, get it right! (And please note that, thankfully, neither version feature Scott Wolf.)

The Power Glove: Contrary to what this movie would have you believe, the Power Glove was lame.......ultra lame. In fact, the only NES accessory more useless was R.O.B.


Super Mario Brothers 3: OK, let's get this out of the way first. What the hell kind of video game tournament breaks out a game nobody has ever seen or played for their championship round? That's like me saying there's an Olympic Event that's a triathlon. It consists of these three legs: the 50 meter dash, the hammer throw and zarita. What's zarita? Well, you'll find out what it is and what the rules are at the time that leg of the triathlon starts. Who does that?

Beyond that, why is everyone so good at playing this game they've never seen? Nobody can be that good when they've never played it before...and NOBODY can find a warp whistle on their first game.

Finding the warp whistle shouldn't matter anyway. As I noted above, this movie was obsessed with points and the Super Mario Bros. 3 challenge was no different. Getting the warp whistle is cool but it doesn't get you more points. (And that's not even getting into the fact that Jimmy's dad tells him to watch out for the mushroom, which is something you want to get, and the announcer keeps saying they're on a different stage than they really are....but whatever.)

And if all those issues aren't enough for you then you can check out this YouTube clip.

However, despite all these problems, I'll tell you one thing, I watched the whole thing and never once thought about changing the channel....and I'd probably do it again.

10 comments:

  1. i have a vague memory of this movie.
    But your post about it is fantastic! I love how all the other inaccuarices are ok, but the video games have to be 100%!

    Now i really want to play super mario bros 3.

    also, i had never heard of the R.O.B.

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  2. aww i remember this movie! God, even the crap churned out by the 80s was classic gold.

    Have you seen The King of Kong and a Fistful or Qaurters? Watch it, it's awesome. for reals

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  3. Yay! Dr. Bitz is back! And this post is so full of win, I feel bad my pre-scheduled X-Men post bumped it from the top spot.

    It's funny, we must have both been watching this when it was on TV a few weeks ago, cuz I caught a bit of it too and was reminded of how awesome it is.

    acting like the kid is $350,000 and he's in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World

    Best. Reference. Ever.

    this movie takes place in a world where evil gangs of teenaged video game players roam the landscape, beat up kids and steal their money.

    There was a couple of years there where, thanks to this movie, I thoroughly believed that.

    Which told me this movie was written by 30-to-40 year olds who think all video games are like pinball. The idea that points matter went out of style with the likes of Space Invaders and Asteroids.

    Haha! You're so right. I've always noticed the movie's odd obsession with points, even as a kid (when I knew they were a relatively pointless holdover from a bygone age) but I never made the connection that it was because the people writing the movie had no idea kids didn't care about points anymore.

    And please note that, thankfully, neither version feature Scott Wolf

    Thankfully, or sadly?

    ...

    No, you're right. Thankfully.

    In fact, the only NES accessory more useless was R.O.B.

    Oh, man, R.O.B. That's one of those things I've only ever read about as part of video game history but never actually seen (or known anyone who had him).

    But holy hell, was the Power Glove one million times more lame than the way they showed it in the movie. Even as a kid that pissed the hell out of me. I didn't have the glove, but I had a friend who did, and we knew immediately that scene was full of bullshit.

    Also, I love that on the movie poster/video box/whatever, Fred Savage is wearing the glove suggesting both that Fred Savage uses it at some point and that it's important to the film, neither of which are true.

    What's zarita? Well, you'll find out what it is and what the rules are at the time that leg of the triathlon starts. Who does that?

    Don't lie: you'd watch the Olympics more if they worked that way.

    All your points about Super Mario Bros. 3 are spot on, but the fact remains: this movie taught me about the warp whistle and where to find it, something I never would have known about otherwise (at least until Nintendo Power told me, anyways...) and for that I will always be grateful.

    Finally, I just have to say that Haley totally made pre-pubescent Teebore feel kinda funny, like when you climb the rope in gym class, so it had that going for it, too.

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  4. So I watched the YouTube video detailing all the video game inaccuracies, and it reminded me of something else: apparently Jimmy is so good he made it through Ninja Gaiden without ever getting hit, yet in order to create dramatic, come-from-behind tension in the final tournament, Jimmy dies twice in level 1-3 of Mario 3.

    I'm pretty sure a kid who, according to the "logic" of the movie can make it through Ninja Gaiden without getting hit should have no problem not getting killed by a Koopa boomerang.

    Also, how the hell do any of them even know what the warp whistle is? Haley gets all excited when Jimmy gets it like they didn't all just see it for the first time.

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  5. sarah commented while we were watching the video that the Wizard probaly has autism

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  6. @Falen, I have seen King of Kong. I'm always skeptical of documentaries only showing us half the story...but I see no way that Billy Mitchell isn't a douche.

    @Teebore, yeah, if you can pick up Ninja Gaiden and beat it without getting hit you should be able to handle a boomerang brother in SMB3.
    .

    Did you know that, apparently, one of the Power Glove kid's companions is Tobey Maguire? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGNQ_1U5i5Y&feature=related

    @Anne, they definitely made it out like Jimmy's autistic. But I think the movie says he was emotionally traumatized by the death of his twin sister. (Stupid Christian Slater wasn't watching her carefully enough...but don't worry, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game will help close whatever rift Christian Slater's lapse in judgement created between him and his dad.) Anyway, I still have no idea how the Wizard's sister's death made him good at video games.

    Then again, Tommy saw his dad murder a guy and that made him good at pinball...so what do I know?

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  7. Did you know that, apparently, one of the Power Glove kid's companions is Tobey Maguire?

    I did not! That's even better than Billy Zane being one of Biff's cronies in the Back to the Future trilogy.

    Then again, Tommy saw his dad murder a guy and that made him good at pinball...so what do I know?

    Wait, does your family have a dark secret that you witnessed?

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  8. Billy Zane is one of Biff's cronies? How the hell did i not know that?! I mean, i watch that trilogy like every weekend (since it's on TV every weekend) and i never noticed that.

    I mean, i know Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is Needles

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  9. @Falen: Billy Zane is one of Biff's cronies? How the hell did i not know that?! I mean, i watch that trilogy like every weekend (since it's on TV every weekend)

    It really is on seemingly every weekend, which is awesome.

    According to IMDB Billy Zane is Match. I have no idea which crony that is, except that it's not the guy wearing 3D glasses. Once you know to look for him, you can't miss him (especially in the scene in part II where they clonk Marty on the head after he watches the Biff Tannen video).

    Also, Elijah Wood is one of the kids in the diner at the beginning of part II.

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  10. This is really, really funny! Every time you said "impossible!", I heard echoes of Wallace Shawn's "Inconceivable!".

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