The year is 1984.
You’re watching MTV, where music videos are still played, and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” comes on. Bruce is rocking out on stage but… he keeps making eyes at this somewhat androgynous brunette in a sleeveless t-shirt. Then, during The Big Man’s sax solo, The Boss actually pulls her up on stage for a brief, intimate, and somewhat awkward dance. And thus the world was introduced to Courtney Cox; she of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Scream and Friends fame. From those dubious beginnings, a long and fruitful career blossomed.
For two of the N64’s most well-known anthropomorphic platform heroes, the beginning was almost as humble.
There was a time when the turtles were bigger than pro wrestling. As it’s been a number of years since the pinnacle of their success, it’s probably best to specify that I’m referring, of course, to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Undoubtedly, there is a certain generation of people who don’t need that specification; when they hear ‘the turtles’, their minds make that immediate synaptic connection to the Ninja Turtles. But, as time passes, there is bound to be ever more gamers and movie fans who weren’t there to experience Turtle Power first hand.
Consider this your time machine.
Throughout the years, countless storytellers have taken up the legends of Arthur, monster-hunting king of yore, and his heroes of the round table; these storytellers sometimes seemed on a quest against one another to put Camelot’s king and his brothers in continually more romantic and fantastical adventures. While the chivalrous hero of Capcom’s 1991 SNES platformer Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts may not be the same Arthur of circular table-fame, he certainly shares his name, appearance, and general quest; that is, to save a princess from a slew of horrible beasts.
Arthur begins in a classic iron suit of armor, purely utilitarian and consistent with the mythical prehistoric defenders of Britain, but he can uncover several upgrades that become increasingly more ornate and regal. The suit upgrades also magnify the power of whichever weapon Arthur happens to be holding onto; he starts with a lance but other options encountered through the game include speedy daggers, frightful bows, and useless torches. No matter how terrific Arthur appears in his shiny armor, a single hit from an enemy instantly rips our hero from his protective shell, leaving him to carry on in nothing but his skivvies.
But aren’t suits of armor notoriously hard to put on and take off? One wonders if perhaps Arthur expected his quest to the princess to be a rather lackadaisical journey, and designed his suits of armor accordingly, so that when he finally reached his damsel he could more speedily disrobe and make with the obligatory reward sex.