Reviewed: Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (2007)

Game Review – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

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I was pretty excited to learn that this game existed. I was also pretty sure that this exclusive-to-PS2 game would never find its way to Australian stores and would therefore never get to play it. So, when I picked it up for a mere $5 at a store called the Reject Shop, I was over the moon. It’s not unusual to get stuff this cheap at a Reject Shop, the place is pretty much a great big bargain bin. This particular fact might might lead you to think that maybe this game is one of two things, unpopular or rubbish. Well, let me tell you.

Overview:

As an Adult Swim game based on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force TV show, it’s no surprise that its premise makes very little sense. Frylock, a sentient box of French Fries, has gained membership to the local public(?) golf course. Upon learning this, a talking milkshake named Master Shake takes up golf. As he plays, various characters such as their neighbour Carl, space-dwellers the Mooninites, and the Frat aliens turn up to give the team a hard time.

Gameplay:

The game features twelve levels (nine holes and three racing levels). Each hole plays out like a standard golf game with the familiar controls.

Unlike most golf games, this one has you hacking and slashing your way across the course between shots and each hole culminates in a boss battle at the green.

During fighting mode, you can alternate between Frylock, who can shoot, and Master Shake, whose skill is close combat. Along the way you’ll find interesting power-ups for the different weapons Master Shake can use, which you may recognise from the show, and are lots of fun.

The racing levels have you driving across the terrain of a previous hole and don’t feel all that different from any standard kart game. The racing, however, is limited to one-on-one and honestly, not that challenging. To keep you engaged, the tracks are littered with pick-ups that allow you to unlock some cool extras.

Look:

All things considered, this game looks pretty good. This might be one of those rare cases where, as a game based on an existing property, it looks better than the original source material. That may not be too much of a stretch though, considering what they have to work with.

As a fan of the show, most of the locations and supporting characters will be familiar to you, and they’re all lovingly recreated in full PS2-quality 3D.

Sound:

The core cast are all present to deliver wonderful new dialogue, and it’s this element that really makes the sound stand out.

The soundtrack features original songs from “favourites” such as Andrew W.K., 9lb Hammer, and Brass Castle (don’t worry, I have no idea who they are either). To begin with, these tracks aren’t so bad, but I can pretty much guarantee that you will want to throw your console through your TV after hearing the same song on loop for the thousandth time with each level.

Unfortunately, like many games of this calibre, what may be a humorous quip on the first time around becomes not so much a mild irritation after you’ve heard it for the thousandth time, but a source of murderous rage (which, on the plus side, comes in handy when relentlessly hacking through clone after clone of the same enemy).

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Overall:

For what it is and what it’s worth (or at least, what I paid for it), this game does what a property-based game should do. It takes the much-loved elements from the original show and expands upon them in a new platform. As an extension of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force world, it’s a fun and new experience.

I have to say, however, that once all the extras have been unlocked, there’s not too much in the way of longevity for this game. But for $5, who’s arguing?

Score:

7/10 (not reflective of comparison to other games)

 

Adult Swim: Keeping it weird since 2001

Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

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For those of you out of the loop (that’s most people, apart from a handful of man-child college students and various other people with mild drug dependencies), Adult Swim started life as a filler programming block on the cable channel, Cartoon Network.

Cartoon Network hosts a vast library of animated shows. Over the years, they’ve featured all sorts: from Warner Bros. classics like Looney Tunes and Batman, ’80s favourites like Transformers and Voltron, and also anime such as Dragonball, Pokemon and Naruto . In 1991, Cartoon Network bought the rights to Hanna-Barbera (Scooby Doo, Flintstones, and many more). An acquisition that would prove key to the development of Adult Swim.

Cartoon Network has produced its own fair share of successful animated shows with a list that includes Ben 10, Powerpuff Girls, and more recently, Adventure Time. It’s an impressive catalogue worth billions.

And then there’s Space Ghost Coast to Coast (SGC2C).

Developed in 1994 by Keith Crofford and Mike Lazzo, this cartoon is a parody of the Letterman-style talk show made on a shoe-string budget with re-used and remixed art and characters, from the long forgotten ’60s show, Space Ghost. Guest interviews were recorded on a single studio camera then cut and edited to appear as if the interviewees were speaking and reacting to their animated counterparts.

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Originally, SGC2C was intended to appeal to a wide audience but as the show progressed(?), and partly due to its ad-lib nature, SGC2C grew more and more risqué. This edgy formula set the tone for what Crofford and Lazzo would do with Adult Swim in 2001. 

Designed for broadcast when Cartoon Network’s core demographic (kids, mostly) were asleep, the Adult Swim block catered to the growing adult-oriented animation and content market that MTV had previously found success with in shows like Beavis & Butthead, Aeon Flux and Liquid Television.

Upon its release, Crofford and Lazzo launched four shows that were either spin-offs or somehow influenced by SGC2C, including Harvey Birdman and Sealab 2021. The block also featured the more mature anime of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Gundam Suit.

By far, the most enduring original content to come out of the block is Aqua Teen Hunger Force (ATHF) with its three main characters: Master Shake (a Styrofoam cup), Frylock (a packet of French fries), and Meatwad (a rolling ball of hamburger meat). Each is anthropomorphised with little more than a face. With minimal animation, characterisation was delivered through the voice actors and their ability to ad-lib on scripts that were written with improvisation in mind, similar to shows like The Office (US) and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

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If the world of ATHF has one consistency, it’s that it is thoroughly inconsistent. Story lines within and between episodes have very little coherence and much of the time lack any real internal logic. A bizarre host of recurring characters include Carl, a balding fat middle-aged Jersey-born rocker, and, Err and Ignignokt the Mooninites. This duo are drawn in the style of early computer game pixel art.

Ignignokt gained notoriety (as did the show) when, to promote the upcoming film, some clever guerilla marketing was mistaken by Boston authorities for an act of terrorism in 2007.

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The 11 seasons that make the series presently represents the longest-running show on Adult Swim, and the shows’ popularity has spawned the aforementioned feature film as well as a PS2 game.

Though it’s perfectly safe to say that not everything Adult Swim has given us is gold, to ignore its cultural significance is just wrong. Fifteen years on and it continues to introduce new audiences to some of the best (and worst) animation and television that no other network would even think of touching. Why does that matter? Because Adult Swim explores new territory and takes a chance on new ideas. That’s pretty special. Right now they’ve got Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show and a new season of Samurai Jack. 

Here’s to another fifteen years.

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