The final episode of "101 Dalmatians: the Series" that was aired before our show was pulled from Toon Disney's broadcast lineup (painful memory, I know), "Virtual Lucky" also ranks as one of the best episodes of the series. 'Virtual Lucky'--When Roger shows Cruella a new game that he making, a glitch sucks Cruella and Lucky (and soon, Rolly and Cadpig) inside the game and they must play it to escape. Roger finishes thinking up a way to finally beat his new video game upon seeing Nanny using a catapult and the 'glitch' starts to show. I liked the start, we all get frustrated with our computers sometimes. I also liked the little throwback to "Chow About That?" (catapulting into the Chow Tower must have been leftover material). This episode helps us see that while we can hear the pups talking, the humans in the series can't (all they hear is barking). This soon changes, once Lucky and Cruella are sucked inside the game and Cruella hears Lucky speak for the first time. The throwback to Dodie Smith I also liked; Dodie Smith based "101 Dalmatians" upon her pet dalmatian and Roger based his game on Lucky to make his game hero, "Barkio". I also liked seeing Roger's interpretation of Cruella as Medusa; this is obviously a revenge tactic for her past crimes. Being an artist, I got a big kick out of the M. C. Escher-inspired video game version of Cruella's mansion.
This episode got quite suspenseful towards the end; Cruella sounding like a true video game-type villain and Spot had to do everything in her power to keep Roger from shutting down the power in his computer or face losing her friends and Cruella forever. And of course, Cruella and the pups escape, with Cruella hiding her feeling about the game.
If there were any flaws that I saw, one of which would be Spot trying to keep having the same impact with her "Game Over" lines. Sorry, but it's not going to have that level of power after the third time. In addition, I liked the different aspects of Roger's video game, but I have my doubts that it would be a "Player's Choice"-type of game. Video games have come a long way from the days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong (games were the object is to delay your own death); a game needs to be a jack of all trades nowadays (an advancing plot, identifiable characters, a mix of different genres...almost like an interactive movie). I understand that this series was likely in production in 1995-1996, when 16-bit systems like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were becoming obsolete in favor of 32-bit systems like the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, not to mention Nintendo's N64. Video games weren't meant to be very long in the 16-bit era (and this is only a 22-minute episode) so we can say Roger is in charge of a handful of levels for his game in the future. "Virtual Lucky" is a solid entry into the series, it earns my recommendation as one of the "Best" episodes and I am sure 101 Dalmatians fans who like video games will get an enormous kick out of it (being a video gamer, I loved it). I will end by saying I strongly recommend "Virtual Lucky". "I am Barkio! Enter my world, if you dare!" --It's a-me, Mario!, "Virtual Lucky"