Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Robot Unicorn Attack: or Why I Stopped Worrying and Love Lisa Frank

Unicorns and Rainbows. Symbols long synonymous with little girls. Here's a little secret. Most won't admit it, but it's a fact. Little boys were secretly jealous of girls toys. Let's face it, there's something deep down that draws us to the cute and cuddly. We're suppose to fight. It's suppose to make us lesser men. We would bet money that 90% of boys who grew up in the 80's had a Cabbage Patch Doll, the scarier made up statistic is We're willing to bet 60% owned at least one change of clothes for said Cabbage Patch Doll. The God's honest truth is boys liked to vary their "Dolls" cloths. Now one outfit might have been Fatigues and the other a baseball uniform. None the less... Cabbage Patch Dolls are bad examples because they like Care Bears and Pound Puppies they were admittedly unisex. They were marketed and it was in fact socially acceptable to own one. A better example would be Rainbow Brite. Now off the bat owning and playing with Ms. Brite herself would be crossing the line. But there wasn't a boy alive that didn't secretly want a stuffed "Twink."

This secret extends beyond toys though. Lisa Frank. Many of you may recall Lisa Frank's work. She's an artist that specialized in creating work landscapes mainly of Unicorns and Rainbows mostly using Primary and Secondary colors. She built an industry around her work in the early 90's licensing it out to be put on pretty much anything. The ubiquitous Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper was a mainstay of 8-12 year old girls' school supplies of the early 90's. Most boy hated them, or so they said, sure it was "girl stuff," it was pink and pretty, but the reality is they wanted on too. Perhaps a little less pink, with a few less cuddly koalas, the idea of an awesome fantasy world with Unicorns and Rainbows wasn't as off putting as they let on. This probably goes both ways though. If I had to guess girls were probably Jealous of boys' sheer Trapper Keeper Variety. Every cartoon under the sun was licensed out to mead, and most were boy oriented. Girls pretty much only had Lisa Frank and Jem. Perhaps there is another take on this and boys were really just interested in Trapper Keeper domination. That's a subject for another time.

With that prefaced, we have the new Adult Swim Flash/iOS game Robot Unicorn Attack. It's not exactly new. The flash version made the rounds of Internet about six months ago, but an iOS version was released on June 8th. Adult Swim has had it's problems over the years creatively, but have on occasion hit something right. It's obvious the game was conceived and designed by a secret Lisa Frank admirer. Who was also chagrin to the fact that it just wasn't butch enough to be enjoyed in the open. You play as a Unicorn. A rainbow trails you where ever you go. You get points by collecting fairies, and Erasure's "Always" plays in infinite loop. Alternatively, the Unicorn is a Robot, and you also have to smash Stars to get points, and when you die your decapitated unicorn head sheds tears of sorrow for your failure. It's the prefect mix of 1988 fantasy with death destruction and robots to even it all out. It also helps that the game is hopelessly addicting, Doodle Jump addicting. It's a forced side scroller, so you either jump and make it or die. Points are assigned by as said before and also progressing further along the course. The Course is essentially infinite, it speeds up every 5000 points. In short it's essentially Sonic with no D-pad control. I highly recommend it as a time killer.