Monday, October 13, 2008

Snake Mountain

Following up on Friday's reminiscences of Castle Grayskull, here's a little story about Skeletor's hideout in Snake Mountain. Never did any evil warrior have a more crappy lair. It's a classic case of putting everything on the outside, but having nothing much once you get in. Apparently, as long as it looked scary, it didn't really have to do much.

Let's assume that He-Man wants to storm Snake Mountain and put some serious hurt on Skeletor and company. So he starts climbing up the path to the bridge. First thing he sees is his old pal Sy-Klone chained up for Skeletor's delight. He stops to think about how much effort it would have taken to attach those shackles to the 'fist-flinging tornado' and then realizes that they're just snapped on! Whatever perverted business Sy-Klone has got going on here, it's best left alone! Moving on, then..

Just past the chains is a giant talking head. This was the only thing that made Snake Mountain worth playing with. There was a built-in echo microphone, which distorted your voice and made a creepy monster-type effect, while you moved the mouth of the giant head to talk to He-Man and scare him away. It was also used for some of our first experiments in feedback, which was equally creepy. The only thing I never figured out was this -- was the creepy voice supposed to be Skeletor's way to communicate with the outside world, or was the mountain itself talking, like in the commercial? Either way, watch out for this kid using the mic. You know he was warped by playing too hard with this playset!

Next, he faces Tri-Klops on the bridge, but he's a pushover. Literally. No action figure could ever stand up that long on the bridge, and you were lucky if it would even hold up a figure's weight before buckling in the middle. And then, of course, the railing only comes up to Tri-Klops' knees! If he'd had any sense, he would have taken the high ground, waited for He-man to get onto the bridge, and then pushed him off, but now he's the one falling to his doom! Even with all those eyes, I'll bet he didn't see that one coming!

So up the last flight of stairs to the wolf-gate to take on Skeletor once and for all. But Skeletor has ducked inside with one last surprise. The big green snake-head swings blindly at He-Man, and as he's trying to dodge that, he suddenly realizes that he's standing on a trapdoor! It drops open, and suddenly He-man falls into the net waiting below.

Now, this was a clever move on Skeletor's part. Castle Grayskull had a trapdoor, but it opened right over the entranceway, so anyone who fell through went clattering into the rack of weapons just inside the door. Way to go, bonehead! Now your enemy is mad, and you've just dropped him next to the weapons chest! At least Skeletor planned for there to be a net to catch his prey.

He-Man struggles wildly in the net, and then realizes that there's nothing else in Snake Mountain. Apparently, Skeletor and his cronies sit around on milk crates while they hatch up their evil schemes. Or else he's in the giant hammock that they all curl up in. Honestly! Inside Snake Mountain, all there is to see is the reverse impressions of the creepy faces in the outer wall.

Looks like in the tradition of university students everywhere, Skeletor sunk all his money into a kick-ass sound system, with echo microphone, and now doesn't have any money for any kind of furniture. But he's got plans, though. He's gonna get himself some of those cheap Salvador Dali prints to go up on the wall and make him look cultured. Ooh, and a flag for a curtain! That would be awesome! Maybe he can even start saving up all his empty beer bottles to make a big display on the wall. That'd be cool.

He-Man gets up in disgust, and then he realizes that Skeletor has snuck out through the hole down in the lower left corner. He asks himself 'WTF?! Why didn't I just crawl in through there in the first place?' This is why Skeletor can never win. He's got this big menacing fortress, but he never remembers to board up the hole in the basement! Looks like He-Man is going to have to find a tougher enemy! [Don't worry--he will...]

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