1984 was a good year. Imagined things of the future were becoming realized. Ridley Scott launched his famous "1984" commercial announcing the Macintosh computer. George Orwell's 1984 and dystopian view of the future was nowhere to be seen...yet. And best of all, (for me anyway) there was "Dexter"...I mean "Ace", I mean, "Space Ace".
Former Disney animation chief and maverick, Don Bluth released (as a followup to the laserdisc video game and arcade blockbuster, "Dragon's Lair") "Space Ace in 1984, showcasing some of the best hand drawn animation you could interact with for a quarter.
The Hollywood pitch for "Space Ace" most likely would have been " Jerry Lewis' Nutty Professor meets Star Trek". With a more coherent narrative and more dynamic game play than "Dragon's Lair", "Space Ace" was a hit.
Now that I think about it, 1984 wasn't really a good year for everyone. Some were not too happy with President Reagan's economics. The Cold War was still in full effect. (As seen in Rocky IV) Walt Disney Pictures was slated to release "The Black Cauldron" only a year later and there was some uncertainty as to what direction that film was supposed to be in....as well as the studio itself.
Bluth however, (along with animation partners, Gary Golman, and John Pomeroy) was on track and were smoking hot. "The Secret of NIMH" (1982) was already made a huge impact, "Dragon's Lair" was making waves, just as "Space Ace" and his Steven Spielberg, Amblin Animation collaboration, "An American Tail" was just around the corner.
Don Bluth remains one of my most admired animation directors. Not just for his "style" (the draftsmanship and timing in his films without a doubt have a certain"look") but for his courage to branch out on his own and do his own thing. The "Bluth/ Disney" rift is almost legendary. There's no denying his departure from Disney did affect production and leave a bad taste in the mouths of many affiliated with them. I'll never forget hearing about how the ABC Network (under Disney of course) refused to air any commercial material that could have promoted Bluth's animated version of "Anastasia".
Whoa. I've really digressed here. Back to Dexter...I mean, Space Ace. This certainly old news, but "Space Ace" now available as game playable as an app for the iPhone. Some say five bucks is a steep for an app, but considering how much money I spent as a kid playing this game, five bucks is worth it. But it's not the gameplay that I'm interested in. Space Ace has great animation (for a video game) that has withstood the test of time in its measure of being entertaining.