Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Literary" History of the Golden Age of Video Games - Golden Age Video Game Books Part 5

Today we finish our look at Kid Stuff records by reviewing their non-Atari video game titles.

Donkey Kong

Full audio:

Unlike the other Kid Stuff records, this one doesn't have a stand-along story. Instead, it incorporates a short story into the intros for the album's five songs. It also has an opening/closing theme.

I have to admit that I didn't actually listen to the songs (which are aimed at kids). I DID listen to the story, however (such as it was).

In it, we learn that Donkey Kong ("the world's biggest gorilla") used to live at the Gamesville zoo, until he was sold to the circus after the zoo was torn down. In this story, Mario is not a carpenter, but a pizza maker and Pauline is his delivery girl (with a little hanky panky on the side???). The zoo is now a construction site and one of the workers calls to order a pizza. At the same time, Donkey Kong has escaped from the circus and is headed for the same construction site. What happens? You'll have to listed to the record (I'm sure the suspense is killing you).

So, is this story filling in details of the Donkey Kong mythos or is it a reboot? Are the Donkey Kong purists up in arms over the changes? Is this stuff part of the Donkey Kong canon?

Pac-Man Titles

The bulk of Kid Stuff's video game books/records featured Pac-Man, with at least 9 different titles featuring the character, beginning in 1982 (while some of them have a 1980 copyright, they weren't created until 1982 - I'm guessing that this was the copyright date for the game, not the records). Speaking of the Pac-Man deal, Sheldon Tirk said "We lucked out with Pac-Man, the Japanese character. We happened to ask to make records of it at the same time the company got a request to do a TV show. The Japanese character was Puck-Man, but we preferred Pac-Man.”

Announcement of Kid Stuff's Pac-Man line from Billboard - July, 1982

Unlike the Atari titles, however, these things are pretty hard to take (at least for me). If the Atari titles are boring, these things are annoying (some are downright unlistenable). They seem to be aimed at much younger kids and the "plots" are often paper thin. They all start with a wavering version of the Pac-Man theme that really grates on my nerves. For the love of God please stop!!!

Even worse, Pac-Man has to be the wussiest sounding character I've ever heard.
Imagine (if you can) a love fest involving Richard Simmons, Mister Rogers, and Snuggles the fabric softener bear. Then take the result of this unholy mating and wussify it even further and it will STILL be more manly than this guy (who at one point proclaims himself "one bad yellow fellow").

If you can get through all of these things, you're a better man than I.

 Pac-Man Picnic

 Full text and audio:

 Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man go on a picnic at Pacville Central Park where the ghosts (disguised as ducks) steal their precious fruit. That's pretty much it

Pac-Man Goes to Playland

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Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man visit Playland - the Pacville amusement park. The ghosts are out of town visiting a friend who got sick after overeating. As it turns out, however, those nefarious ghosts were lying and are have lured Paccy into a trap.

Pac-Man Run For Fun

I don't have any audio for this one and haven't read it, but I'm guessing it involves PAc-Man entering a race where he's chased by ghosts.

Pac-Man and the Ghost Diggers

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This one was actually an audio version of an existing book that was available separately from Golden Books (without the record) so I'll discuss it later.

Baby Pac-Man Goes to Market

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Pac-baby learns to it his veggies - and also finds the missing lettuce for Earth-Man (a giant, talking carrot - though why a carrot is encouraging someone to eat vegetables is beyond me).

The Pac-Man Christmas Story

Full Audio:

Obnoxiously saccharine story in which Pac-Baby was so busy playing with his friends that he forgot to buy Christmas presents for Pac-Mom and Pac-Dad. He goes to buy them one, but gets distracted again by a skating race. So, he decides to make them a gift. The ending of this one will make you puke.
Pac-Man Christmas Album


I didn't make it very far into this one. It seems to consist of sappy Christmas songs ("the magic of Christmas is me and you") that have little to do with Pac-Man. The scant narration by various pac-children features the wimpiest voices of the whole series (I could feel the testosterone draining from my body as I listened).

The Pac-Man Album

Full Audio:
The Amazing Adventures of Pac-Man

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Both of these are credited to Dana Walden and Patrick McBride and I found both pretty hard to take. The former is basically a collection of songs loosely tied together by some narration (it's not really a story - more of a vague description of the game). This one is set in "the magic land of Pac-Man" (what happened to Pacville?)

Amazing Adventures features a story with songs interspersed. The plot involves the ghosts stealing all the fruit in Pacville and Pac-Man's attempts to retrieve them.

On  another note, here are a couple of links I was sent for fundraising projects related to video games (one of them is sort of related to the topic of this post):

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