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Gamer Tuesday

June 26, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Wreck-It-Ralph Trailer Analysis

A few weeks ago, after being in the works for years, Disney released the first trailer for their 52nd animated classic: Wreck-It-Ralph! Directed by Rich Moore (best know for his work on The Simpsons and Futurama), the trailer caused an imaginative spark in people due to its potential. In case you missed it, here is the full trailer courtesy of Disney:


The basic premise behind Wreck-It-Ralph is that Ralph (voiced by John C. Reily) is the villain in a video game called Fix-it-Felix Jr., and after doing the same thing for over 30 years without getting any recognition for it he decides to leave his game and visit other video game worlds in hopes of finding his destiny and true calling. What seems so wonderful about this movie is that even though it deals with a very modern topic (video games), the story is classic Disney. Yet, what has really captured people's attention is how the film looks to be one filled to the brim with references to classic video games as well as characters. Since the trailer was loaded with so much cameos, references, and jokes about video games, today's Gamer Tuesday will present to you the meaning behind those jokes and why they left such a deep impact in people, even if the film has yet to premiere.

Let's start with the game that lies at the center of the plot: Fix-It-Felix Jr. The hero/villain dynamic between Ralph and Felix is a loving homage to Nintendo's Mario and Donkey Kong. Ralph's design resembles that of a human Donkey Kong, while Felix has a very bright and cheery disposition, just like Mario. The game can be best described as backwards Rampage (by Midway games). The original Rampage was about destroying buildings while obtaining the highest score possible. Fix-It-Felix Jr. does it differently in that instead of destroying buildings you fix it. You keep climbing up until you reach the top, where you are greeted by the grateful tenants of the building, and Ralph is tossed to the side. The absolute best thing about this game... you can play it! The official site for Wreck-It-Ralph has the whole game, you can play it here!

After the scene at the arcade ends, the trailer cuts to Ralph offering his testimony at a Bad Guy Support Group scene. This scene was one of the first one teased at last year's D23 event, and it is clear to see why it has created a reaction. Rather than just using generic villain characters, Disney was able to obtain the rights to several popular video game characters! While this isn't the first time Disney has used characters from other companies (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Toy Story franchise have that honor), this is the first time they gathered such an eclectic group of video game villains. Best of all, their designs greatly resemble that of their original games, meaning that their design has not been compromised in order for their cameos to happen.

The first character to have a speaking role in this scene is Clyde, the orange ghost from Namco's Pac-Man. He introduces what this group is about: feeling supportive of yourself when you are in a role everyone is supposed to despise. It is a very clever twist as we have always seen these video game villains as being despicable. Yet, the movie reminds us that they are just doing their job. On this scene with Clyde, we also see Dr. Eggman, Sonic's nemesis from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series.

Just because you are 'bad guy,' it doesn't mean you are a bad guy. Pay attention to this line, it may reveal a plot point later on

After Clyde's speech ends, we cut to Zangief from Capcom's Street Fighter franchise, who is sitting right next to Nintendo's Bowser (from the Super Mario series) and Bison, also from Street Fighter. This scene has caused a tiny bit of controversy among gamers due to the fact that the film depicts Zangief as a 'bad guy.' In the Street Fighter series, Zangief is mainly an overly patriotic fighter driven by the love of his country. The manual for Street Fighter II even described him as being 'good natured.' The only instances of Zangief being a 'bad guy' was in the 1994 live action Street Fighter movie and the American animated cartoon inspired by the movie.

Ironically, Street Fighter's real villain, M. Bison, is sitting with the group. In the Street Fighter games, he is the leader of a terrorist group named Shadaloo, whose intentions are to rule over the world. Bison's powers are very vast and infinite, and he is quite egotistical in his pursuits. He was also responsible for the death of Chun-Li's father and taking control of Cammy's mind. So why is Zangief offering the testimony instead of Bison, no one knows. It seems, however, that he will have some sort of speaking role in the final film.

After Zangief's testimony we now focus on the zombie. At first, people thought that he was just a generic zombie character representing what is a very common villain in video games today; the zombie. Yet, very clever gamers took a closer look at his design and it turns out that he isn't just a generic zombie character. He happens to be a Sega character that hails from their zombie shooter game, House of the Dead! The game is an on-rails shooter (a genre of games in which the characters move automatically) where you investigate a mansion that has been infiltrated with zombies and other mutant creatures. This type of zombie wields two axes that he throws to the screen. He has been named Cyril by Sega.

Right next to him is Kano from Warner Interactive's Mortal Kombat series. It isn't known if he will have any lines during this scene, but his inclusion in the movie is surprising as the Mortal Kombat games are some of the most violent ever conceived. When this scene was shown in storyboard form at D23 last year, Kano rips the zombie's heart out, referencing that Kano's most popular fatality is a heart rip. Whether the scene remains in the final film we don't know.

When Cyril is finished with his testimony, Ralph declares that he doesn't want to be a bad guy, which inspires a shocking reaction in the group. Turns out that this scene also features some character related jokes people might miss. Bowser begins to spit fire at the thought of Ralph leaving his game, which happens to be his signature move. Clyde, the orange Pac-Man ghost, turns blue. In Pac-Man, whenever the player obtained a power pellet, the ghosts would turn blue, meaning that they were vulnerable to being eaten.

Afterwards, we cut to scenes involving Game Central Station, the video game world's equivalent of New York's Grand Central Station. In the film, the role of the station is to transport video game characters to their respective video games. In our world, it is actually a connector that powers the arcade cabinets. This scene is poised to have countless of character cameos. In the trailer, when Ralph is eating cherries (which happen to come from Pac-Man), the main character from the arcade game Paperboy makes a very quick 'blink and you'll miss him' cameo. Prior to the release of the trailer, Disney released some promotional artwork depicting this scene. One of them has Ralph sharing his fruit with characters from an arcade game called Q*Bert.

In Q*Bert, you play as a little orange creature with a big nose whose objective is to hit the tiles on the pyramid, avoiding enemies in the process. As the difficulty scales more and more enemies invade the pyramid, making it harder for Q*Bert to navigate through. In the trailer, when Fix-It-Felix realizes that Ralph is gone from the game he goes looking for him. He encounters Q*Bert and asks him where Ralph may be. This scene proves to be brief but very amusing as both characters behind to speak 'in Q*Bert-nese.' The joke here is that whenever Q*Bert was defeated, a speech balloon with random symbols on it would appear. It looked like he was cursing, yet Wreck-It-Ralph explains that it is his native language.

In that promotional image with Q*Bert, one of the characters is holding a sign that says 'Will NPC in FPS for food!' NPC stands for Non Playable Character. In gaming, that's when a character only exists to provide the character with a task or piece of information, but is never playable. FPS stands for First Person Shooter, a game genre in which players in a first person perspective. And speaking of FPSs:

The trailer then focuses away from the game cameos and into its own original video games. When Ralph begins to game jump, he first lands on a game called Hero's Duty. This represents Ralph's first exposure to modern gaming, the kind we are going through right now. Hero's Duty seems to be heavily inspired by Microsoft's two most popular characters: Halo and Gears of War. It is where Ralph meets Sergeant Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch), a tough as nails soldier that fights against an alien invasion. Ralph yields one of the funniest lines in the trailer, simply because it is a truth for many gamers: when did video games become so violent and scary?

Finally, we get a glimpse of a game called Sugar Rush. The best way to describe this game is that Nintendo's Mario Kart meets Candyland. The whole world has been created using sugary confections, and even the character have a 'sweet' disposition to them. Here, Ralph meets Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman). Based on the trailer, their first meeting will not be a pleasant one.

Even with the trailer giving us ALL of this in just a few minutes, there are still many things we don't know about. Who is going to be the film's main antagonist, if there's going to be any? How will Ralph get back home? What other video game characters will make it in? Will Ralph learn to appreciate himself for who he really is? The only way to find out is when Wreck-it-Ralph is released in theaters on November 2, 2012.


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