Recommendations Recap: Pulp Fantasy Adventures

Some games, some anime, some cartoons, all just as Pulpy as those oranges…

So, Realmgard’s been in a bit of a Pulp Fantasy-y place lately, with both Howard R. Morton and Amara spinning Fantasy yarns, and most of my recent recommendations have been inspired in some clear way by classical Pulp Fantasy stories.

Conan the Adventurer — Best Conan Adaptation?

Conan posing in the title sequence of "Conan the Adventurer."
Conan the Adventurer: Hasbro Studios.

Kids really, really shouldn’t have enough familiarity with Conan to be able to recognise that; adults familiar with the Conan stories probably wouldn’t want to watch those stories adapted into a cheesy cartoon.

And yet, here we are.

And the cherry on top of this whole bizarre spectacle is that Conan the Adventurer is CanCon — that’s, uh, that’s short for “Canadian Content“, for those of you who may not be familiar with Canadian Telecommunication regulations.

Record of Lodoss War — So Fantasy-y. Much Dragons. Some Dungeons.

A still from the opening of "Record of Lodoss War."
Record of Lodoss War: Madhouse and Funimation.

Moving on, Lodoss War can be summed up as basically the most Fantasy-y Fantasy anime ever produced.

There’s everything you’d expect from a sprawling, High Fantasy adventure: a party of heroic adventurers led by a virtuous but not very interesting hero, a good king, an evil king, his less-evil but significantly more effective and impressive second-in-command (whose girlfriend is pretty much Evil Deedlit), Dragons, Elves, Dark Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, magic swords, evil gods, epic battle scenes — all the good stuff that makes the Fantasy genre the only genre worth caring about.

Rune SoldierLodoss War‘s Dumb Little Brother

The four main characters of "Rune Soldier."
Rune Soldier: J.C. Staff and ADV Films.

Where Lodoss War was the completely, stone-cold serious story of an epic adventure to save the world, Rune Soldier is the heartwarming story of a constantly-broke all-female group of adventurers attempting to recruit a competent spellcaster into their group — the direct inspiration, as it happens, for my Middlesbrooke group of adventurers.

Unfortunately, the best they can get is the title character, a hero chosen by the gods who literally comes crashing down upon them from the sky. Well, technically, he falls through a roof.

Six of one, really.

John Carter — One of the Biggest Flops of All Time, Deserved Better

The end title card of "John Carter", reading 'John Carter of Mars'.
John Carter: Disney.

Also worth noting is the film’s fairly turbulent production history. There were unsuccessful attempts at an adaptation going back to 30s and Disney’s own designs on the property go back to at least the 90s.

A fuller story is here. It’s a long read, but a good one and the website may require a subscription. You can also get a better sense of some of the issues simply by perusing the Wikipedia article.

Notably, the studio decided to drop “of Mars” from the title, apparently because movies with “Mars” in the title have a less-than-impressive track record at the box office.

Now, that strikes me as burying the lede about eight miles deep. “John Carter of Mars” makes it pretty obvious that it’s a SciFi movie, and perhaps raises the question of “Who’s John Carter? Why’s he on Mars?”.

“John Carter”, on the other hand, sounds like a movie about some dude.

Dragon’s Crown — Pulp Fantasy: The Game

Official art from "Dragon's Crown." The six playable characters at a table.
Dragon’s Crown: Vanillaware and Atlus

Now, Dragon’s Crown doesn’t really capture the gameplay experience of tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, but not even the official Dungeons & Dragons games do that, given the realities of adapting the source material to an entirely different mode of play.

However, Dragon’s Crown does a very, very good job of capturing the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, Dragon’s Crown is pretty much an updated version of the Dungeons & Dragons arcade games from the 90s.

Given how how Dragon’s Crown cleaves to the conventions of the genre, it’s hardly surprising that all of the playable characters are themselves Fantasy archetypes: Fighter is boring but effective and hard to kill, Amazon prioritises dealing damage over defence, Dwarf is slow but strong, Elf is fast and shooty, Sorceress is hot uses magic to help allies and hinder enemies, and Wizard is also hot fragile but uses his magic to hit like the Death Star.

FYI, the rest of my recommendations, Pulpy or otherwise, are here.

And this week’s chapter is here:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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