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CLIFFHANGER and FREEDOM FIGHTER LD games
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Hey guys, great podcast!

I remember the LD game craze quite fondly. CLIFFHANGER is one of my all time favorite arcade games, and it is based upon an animated feature made by Hayao Miyazaki - PRINCESS MONONOKE, SPIRITED AWAY etc - called THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. The film is one of my all time favorite movies, and I recently wrote a review for it on my website - I will post the review below.

Also, another LD game I totally dug was called FREEDOM FIGHTER and it was based on an anime inspired by the work of Matsumoto Leiji - STARBLAZERS, CAPTAIN HARLOCK. FF was a take off on his popular GALAXY EXPRESS 999 anime.

Your show is great, I love the history of video games. You guys are in Oregon right? Have you been to the PCC in Seattle and checked out the HISTORY OF GAMING event going on? It is pretty dang cool, I will post some pictures.

Are you guys going to come up to PAX this month? If so we should hang out, let me know.

Alright, so here is my review for CLIFFHANGER aka THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO:

The Castle of Cagliostro (1980)
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki



Believe it or not, but the first experience I had with Hayao (Spirited Away, Princes Mononoke) Miyazaki’s animation was in a video arcade in the mid-1980’s on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz California. Dragon’s Lair had recently been released, and a plethora of similarly themed laserdisc “cartoon games” flooded the market. In addition to that groundbreaking title, the machine that most often sucked away my quarters, and the game that most vividly sticks out in my mind, was called Cliff Hanger, and it used a highly edited and chopped up version of Miyazaki’s rendition of Monkey Punch’s Lupin III, in the film The Castle of Cagliostro.

Now at the time, I had no idea who Miyazaki was, and I believe this film was made before Studio Ghibli even existed. During this time, Miyazaki was a rising television animation director, and I was a budding appreciator of Asian media, if only for the cartoons. I remember being completely blown away by the animation used in the game, as Lupin and Jigen ran from the cops with bags full of money clutched under their arms, and how they deftly eluded the chasing cop cars in their tiny little super-charged yellow sports car. At the time, I probably wasn’t even aware that this was made in Japan, but I knew it had a striking resemblance to a few of my favorite things: Robotech, Voltron, Space Cruiser Yamato, Starblazers and Macron 1.




Fast forward a few years to 1988-89, and I was in the 7th grade, living in Southern California. I had a friend, Kyle I think his name was, whose father worked for Marvel comics in their animation department. At the time I was really into comic books, and this friend’s dad knew that I also liked cartoons. So one night during a sleep over, Kyle’s father decided to bust out some animation on video and laserdisc that was so mind blowing, and so amazingly awesome that I couldn’t believe it. That night I would take my first real step into Japanese animation, as I was introduced to three films: Akira, Nausicaa and The Castle of Cagliostro. Once Cagliostro began, and I saw the two skinny and scrappy James Bond-like characters running from the casino, and hopping over police barricades, my mind flashed back to the game Cliff Hanger, and I was instantly in heaven, as a new passion was birthed in my life.

The Castle of Cagliostro is quite simply one of the greatest adventure films ever made – animated or not. It is a film that is so utterly engaging and entertaining, and so well constructed, that I often times forget it is merely a series of sequential drawings flashing before my eyes. The film is just brimming with memorable moments, energetic action sequences, complex set pieces and classic characters, and all of these details are perfectly coupled with breathtaking music and beautiful composition. But on top of all of this, the film is just downright fun. The only other film I can think of that captures the same kind of exuberant sense of adventure would be It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and for some reason, I like to think of these two films as being distant cousins to one another.




At its core, Cagliostro is a film about a treasure hunt, and a band of honorable thieves who will stop at nothing to attain this treasure. Although Miyazaki’s characterization of the hero/thief, Lupin, was in fact quite different from the original lecherous, sex-starved and perverted persona, he still perfectly captured the gonzo excitement of the flagship manga title. The Castle of Cagliostro possesses everything a great adventure film should have: exotic locations, multiple chase sequences, damsels in distress, romance, lost cities, giant clock towers, robot-like ninjas, fisticuffs, swordplay, fast cars, beautiful women, a sweeping soundtrack, large sums of money, a giant underground counterfeiting ring, traps, daring escapes and an uplifting ending where the heroes prevail and yet they ride off once again into the sunset for another adventure.

Technically speaking, the animation really isn’t all that great, especially compared to what would come only a few years later during the golden age of the Japanese animation industry. Some of the movement is not very fluid, and some sequences do in fact look quite limited. However, due to the strong narrative, the lurking mystery, the amazing score (written by Yuji Ohno), and the energetic pacing, the film rises above its meager technical offerings to a height greater than most like-minded genre offerings. It would be here that Miyazaki would establish his artistic direction, and here is where he would lay the foundation for the rest of his career. By creating a film that was accessible to people of all ages and cultures, he really did help to secure his future place in the pantheon of great film directors.




The Castle of Cagliostro is simply a joyous film. It has the madcap quirkiness of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the adventure of Indian Jones, the coolness of James Bond, and the aesthetics of Japanese pop-art all mixed up into a most creative and exciting cinematic experience. The music is amazing and it has the ability to instantly transport you back to the first time you watched the film upon subsequent viewings. And, most of all, it is a milestone in the career of one of the all time great directors, a film that helped to shape a career, and an industry.

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I definitely need to start collecting Lupin III... there's a boxed collection of the TV series out, and I need to pick up Cagliostro too. My only exposure to Lupin was under his alias Cliff Hanger, and I've nothing but great things about the series.


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Curator of "The Dot Eaters: Video Game History 101"
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Yeah man, THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO is awesome, as are most of the Lupin films and the series. I do prefer the movies because the narratives are a bit more complex, but some of the television is awesome. Check ebay, you can get some good deals on the HK versions of the DVDs (aka bootlegs....) Smile

Most of the films have been put out in the States on DVD, and they all look quite good.

By the way, dig your username!

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Post Re: CLIFFHANGER and FREEDOM FIGHTER LD games 
D_Davis wrote:
Hey guys, great podcast!

I remember the LD game craze quite fondly. CLIFFHANGER is one of my all time favorite arcade games, and it is based upon an animated feature made by Hayao Miyazaki - PRINCESS MONONOKE, SPIRITED AWAY etc - called THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. The film is one of my all time favorite movies, and I recently wrote a review for it on my website - I will post the review below.


Thanks for the kind words! And I really dug the review. I really liked Cliff Hanger as well. It didn't have the flashy animation like the others, but I really enjoyed the story, and it had some really great comedic parts with good character development (unlike the others).

D_Davis wrote:

Also, another LD game I totally dug was called FREEDOM FIGHTER and it was based on an anime inspired by the work of Matsumoto Leiji - STARBLAZERS, CAPTAIN HARLOCK. FF was a take off on his popular GALAXY EXPRESS 999 anime.


Yup, I enjoyed that one as well, I played it quite a bit at this year's California Extreme, here are some pics. Not sure who is playing the game. But, he was hogging it for like 2 hours...

http://www.twitchasylum.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=calextreme2006&id=IMG_4683
http://www.twitchasylum.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=calextreme2006&id=IMG_4834

D_Davis wrote:

Your show is great, I love the history of video games. You guys are in Oregon right? Have you been to the PCC in Seattle and checked out the HISTORY OF GAMING event going on? It is pretty dang cool, I will post some pictures.


Yeah, we are all in Oregon. I haven't been to the PCC, but that sounds very cool. Do you have any links you could provide about it?

D_Davis wrote:

Are you guys going to come up to PAX this month? If so we should hang out, let me know.


We discussed going to PAX, but haven't decided yet. Regardless, I will probably be attending. I will private message my information, etc. once I figure out our plan. Also, if anyone else here is attending, let us know, it would be cool to get together and hang out.

--Raz.

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Thanks man - it would be totally cool to hook up at PAX. I just scored an interview with the guys at TellTale with their new SAM & MAX games, and I should be talking to THE BEHEMOTH with their ass kicking new game CASTLE CRASHERS - I can't wait to see this - I am an old school 2D junkie, especially shmups and beat'em ups.

I will pm you my info...

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raz0red wrote:
I really enjoyed the story, and it had some really great comedic parts with good character development (unlike the others).


That's true... Dirk from Dragon's Lair just kept bumbling around that castle in the same clumsy manner no matter how many times he died horribly, no character development there! Wink


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Curator of "The Dot Eaters: Video Game History 101"
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Post Re: CLIFFHANGER and FREEDOM FIGHTER LD games 
raz0red wrote:

D_Davis wrote:

Your show is great, I love the history of video games. You guys are in Oregon right? Have you been to the PCC in Seattle and checked out the HISTORY OF GAMING event going on? It is pretty dang cool, I will post some pictures.

Yeah, we are all in Oregon. I haven't been to the PCC, but that sounds very cool. Do you have any links you could provide about it?


I think D_Davis meant "PSC" as in Pacific Science Center? Correct? If so, then he's talking about the Game On exhibit, you'd better hurry as it ends at the end of August: http://gameon.pacsci.org/ I went last weekend and had a blast, I have some photos and I'll see if I can post them somewhere and then post back here.

raz0red wrote:

D_Davis wrote:

Are you guys going to come up to PAX this month? If so we should hang out, let me know.

We discussed going to PAX, but haven't decided yet. Regardless, I will probably be attending. I will private message my information, etc. once I figure out our plan. Also, if anyone else here is attending, let us know, it would be cool to get together and hang out.

Wouldn't miss it, hopefully see you guys there.

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Post Re: CLIFFHANGER and FREEDOM FIGHTER LD games 
zodiacprime wrote:

I think D_Davis meant "PSC" as in Pacific Science Center? Correct? If so, then he's talking about the Game On exhibit, you'd better hurry as it ends at the end of August: http://gameon.pacsci.org/ I went last weekend and had a blast, I have some photos and I'll see if I can post them somewhere and then post back here.


Sweet! That was the info I was looking for. That looks very cool. I am not sure I will be able to make it since I will be spending most of my time at PAX, but I will definitely try.

Just a heads up, I will be at PAX on Saturday. Woody is going to be there too, but not until mid-day. So, if anyone wants to meet up, just message me. We can figure out a time to meet, etc.

Hope to see you guys.

--Raz.

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raz0red wrote:

Sweet! That was the info I was looking for. That looks very cool. I am not sure I will be able to make it since I will be spending most of my time at PAX, but I will definitely try.


Well, if you don't make it, here's some photos to help ease the pain: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17965804@N00/ Although only a fraction of what is at the exhibit - don't want to spoil it if you do go Smile

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