Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Masters of the Universe", 1983.

Before I got distracted by a cyberpunkian tangent, briefly here it was '80s nostalgia power-hour with my posting ads for video games based on Transformers and G.I. Joe, but the series was ... incomplete. Something was missing. Something... mighty and masterful.


THE POWER OF HE-MAN(tm) for Intellivision(r) and Atari(r) 2600. It's the first Masters of the Universe(tm) video game, but it could be the last for He-Man(tm). because even if he survives thirty treacherous miles in his Wind Raider(tm) he still has to battle Skeletor(tm) in the mysterious Castle Grayskull(tm)!

The text doesn't give us much to work with: the Big Boss threat of Skeletor at the end isn't of much concern, since he always crumbles immediately in the cartoon; far more difficult is a protracted test of He-Man's piloting skills. Maybe the forces of Good should have recruited the aerial specialists Stratos or Zoar for this portion, leaving He-Man well-rested to employ his unique talent of cleaning up at the end.

Fortunately, we can always snipe at ad artwork until the cows come home. Staff artist: "What colour is Beast-Man's face? No, you know what -- just forget it." Tri-Clops looks genuinely badass, while a certain breeze is passing over Skeletor's loins. (And his boot, existing purely for aesthetic purposes, showing off his demonic pedicure -- or is it an arch support prosthetic?) Skeletor's sword looks more dangerously effective than He-Man's, but it also looks like he might prefer to take a chomp out of our hero, echoing Greyskull's beckoning maw. I was going to ask "what's with the fins on his forearms?", but a review indicates that this was a quality of his action figure, albeit one not reflected in his animated depictions. (Did they just re-tint Mer-Man arms for all the evil characters?) In some regards this promo art is better than the game's box art, which presents a truer-to-the-playset Castle Grayskull and bafflingly presents the neutral Metron-derivative Zodac as being among Skeletor's cronies. (Box art also makes He-Man's rippling thews look freshly waxed and oiled up, or more likely actually being blown-up balloons. This ad shows a leaner, hungrier Skeletor which I approve of. Are you listening, Mattel?)

I can report that at least one of the screenshots on display here are retouched from the originals, to emphasize outlines only implied by the game itself. And... that's a wrap!

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