Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two Cool New Kickstarter Projects

Image belongs to Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton's Revengeance

As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of Bill Plympton. His work is creative, well-drawn and funny. From his shorts like Your Face and Guard Dog (both nominated for Academy Awards) to his features like The Tune and Idiots And Angels, he is an example of what you can do in animation when you follow your own path without interference from studio heads. Anyone who knows about him is aware that he usually does mostly everything by himself, animation, writing, designs, you name it. He usually has people to composite the films into computers and doing post-production work, but aside from that, Bill's the man behind it all, and he's done plenty of shorts and seven full-length features with this work method. His reason for not going with any collaborators? He never found anyone who could recreate his twisted imagination.

This time, however, he has himself a partner, an artist/writer who goes by the name of Jim Lujan, making this new project his first feature film to have a creative partner. After seeing some of Lujan's shorts, Bill felt that Jim's work was a perfect fit for his animation. So after calling him up and suggesting they collaborate, Jim sent Bill a script, Bill liked the results, and now, here we are. They set up a Kickstarter to get some extra funding for the project.

Bill will produce, animate and direct, while Jim will write, design, and provide music and voice. They even got some names like Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Vision Quest, The Dark Knight Rises) and Dave Foley (The Kids In The Hall, NewsRadio, A Bug's Life, Monsters University) to provide some of the voices.

The story, as described on the Kickstarter page, goes as thus:

Revengeance tells the story of a low-rent bounty hunter (named Rod Rosse, The One Man Posse) who gets entangled in a web of seedy danger when he takes on a job from an ex-biker/ex-wrestler turned U.S. senator named "Deathface." Rod has to find what was stolen from the senator and find the girl who stole it. Soon, Rosse finds there’s more than meets the eye to this dirty job. Between the ruthless biker gangs, the blood thirsty cults, and the crooked cops - Rod Rosse is a marked man. If the bullets don’t kill him - the California sun just might!

So as you can tell, this is a very adult story, but since I'm an avid supporter of animation being taken seriously as more than just a medium for younger audiences, I think it has its own merits. There's a demand for this kind of animation, and with Bill Plympton's amazing creativity, I'm positive he can turn out a great production. And despite not being familiar with Jim Lujan, I get the feeling he'll work great with Plympton. I mean, if his work is good enough to impress the King of Indie Animation himself to the point where he gets to work with him, there has to be something to admire about Lujan's work.

There's only seven days to go, though, and they haven't quite made the $80,000 mark yet. They're pretty close, though, so I'm hoping that, by spreading the word, they'll be able to make it.

To check the campaign out, go here: Bill Plympton's Revengeance: An Animated Feature Film by Bill Plympton

Image belongs to Playtonic Games


I've been getting back into the gaming mode, (more on that later, since I have a LOT to talk about involving it,) even getting a Nintendo 64 so I can play catch up with some Nintendo classics, most notably Banjo-Kazooie. Created by Rareware, the same guys behind such games as Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 for the N64, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Killer Instinct, Battletoads, and a great many others, Banjo-Kazooie is considered one of the greatest platformers for the N64. I actually remember playing it at a friend's house, and playing it again, I still enjoy it. It plays great, it looks great, it's fun, it's funny, it's just downright brilliant. And so's its sequel, Banjo-Tooie.

Sadly, in the early 2000s, Rareware was purchased by Microsoft, and it's only gone downhill since, eventually culminating in what is considered the ultimate betrayal for Rare fans: Banjo-Kazooie-Nuts & Bolts. Don't believe me? Here's what game reviewer JonTron had to say on it, for those curious:

Thankfully, most of Rare's staff left to create Playtonic Games, and their spiritual successor, Yooka-Laylee (formerly Project Ukulele), is now available to be funded on Kickstarter. It actually managed the incredible feat of being fully funded in 40 minutes, (clearly demonstrating how much demand there is for a game of its kind,) but they still allow donations for it to make it the best game they can possibly make it. Not only do they have the original Banjo-Kazooie designer, Steve Mayles, back on board, but they have David Wise (Donkey Kong Country) and Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie) doing the game's score. These are just a few of the names from Rare we can expect to work on this game. We don't know what the game's about yet. All we know is that our main stars are a chameleon and a bat and that it'll be done in the tradition of classic 3D platformers.

As someone who's sick to death of most modern gaming trends, this is a hopeful return to the good ol' platforming action adventure games that I love with some fresh faces. Forget stuff like Call Of Duty or whatever generic FPS is on the market. The world needs more games like this, that are in the action platformer spirit of Mario, Donkey Kong, Banjo-Kazooie, and even non-Nintendo games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon (two of my childhood favorites). Hopefully, with games like Yooka-Laylee, A Hat In Time (another platformer successfully funded through Kickstarter,) and Armikrog (the spiritual successor to the adventure point-and-click clay animated game The Neverhood,) we can bring back games that are fun, imaginative, creative, and artfully designed to the industry.

Who knows? We may eventually get a real Banjo-Threeie as well. (Hopefully, Nintendo, Playtonic, or someone will be able to buy back that particular IP. Hopefully.)

To check the campaign out, go here: Yooka-Laylee: A 3D Platformer Rare-vival by Playtonic Games

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