Take a trip down memory lane and relive your youth on the big comfy couch with these 5 classic cartoons.
Back in the day, Nintendo ruled the world. Super Mario and Zelda were on everything: drinking glasses, plates, school supplies, stickers, even Kraft Cheese & Macaroni. Kids used to rush home after school to watch the newest episode of a video game-based cartoon (well, cartoons in general). Or they would wake up early on Saturday morning still wearing Super Mario PJs. Cartoons and video games go hand-in-hand, like chocolate and peanut butter. Ah, those were the days.
Well, kiddies are back in school and are rushing home to… um… World of Warcraft or Gears of War 2. Guess I can’t blame ’em; there aren’t any good cartoons anymore.
We enjoyed these cartoons back then. Watching them now, most of them are full of cheese crackers. They’re campy. But they’re still fun to watch. To celebrate the return of school, the once-sacred art of rushing home to watch cartoons and waking up at 6 AM on Saturdays to enjoy are piece of animated heaven, here are 5 video game cartoons that are just totally badass.
1. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show
This is one I remember fondly, mainly because I read about it in an issue of Nintendo Power magazine (can’t remember the issue number, but it had Mega Man 2 on the cover).
The show had two parts: a live action skit that bookends the cartoon starring wrestling legend Capt. Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi. The brothers would get into some sitcom hijinks and had the occasional guest star… like Rowdy Roddy Piper (why he and the Capt. didn’t duke it out like they would in the WWF is beyond me).
Then there was the cartoon. Monday thru Thursday was Super Mario Bros. cartoon. Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool (yea, you read right: Toadstool. That’s what we called her back then) travelled across the weird and wacky areas of the Mushroom Kingdom in order to stop King Koopa and his minions from doing… um… evil stuff. They seem to mush together Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2 in this, though more an emphasis on 2 since a lot of the villains are from that game (like Mouser, Shy Guy and Bob-ombs). There was no real continuity, so you could jump into the series anytime. They were all goofy scenarios; imitating popular movies and other shows from time to time. The thing that stood out the most was that about halfway through the cartoon, a classic song (ya know, from the 70’s, 80’s) would play in the background. I have no idea why, as kids our age wouldn’t really appreciate it… they were catchy, but… meh.
On Fridays, it was the Legend of Zelda. It was based around the first Zelda… kinda. Zelda’s not kidnapped, and Link lives in Hyrule Castle. They’re trying to protect the Triforce of Wisdom while figuring out how to get the Triforce of Power back from Ganon. It wasn’t as goofy as Mario, but it still had its share. And then there’s that line… Link’s catch phrase that the Internet Kids love. And no, I’m not gonna say it.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog
He can really move. He’s got an attitude. He’s the fastest thing alive.
Not to be outdone by his nemesis, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog sped his way into our TV sets every Saturday morning with his own adventures.
In the far future, Dr. Robotnik seizes control of the world Mobious and its capital Mobotropolis, turning poor animals into robots, and being an overall douche. Sonic, Tales, and a few others who managed to escape the attack fled to a small village and form a group called the Freedom Fighters, dedicated to ending Robotnik’s reign of tyranny and turning everything back to normal.
This wasn’t as whimsical/silly as the Super Mario Bros. Super Show; hell, it’s completely different from the other Sonic cartoon that was airing at the time. It was more like a cartoon drama than anything else… though it’s hard picturing a drama starring a blue, talking hedgehog with a thing for chilidogs.
There were only 2 seasons, with a third that was supposedly in the works but never happened. Even though there is a plethora of Sonic cartoons out there now, this is the one that’s near and dear to my heart.
3. Captain N: The Game Master
This takes being sucked into a game of a whole new level.
Okay… so Valley kid Kevin and his dog Duke get sucked into the TV while Kevin was playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!, and gets transported to Video Land (… just go with it). Princess Lana (no, she’s not from any game) explains to Kevin that the magic Power Glove (pfffft…) sent him there to help stop Mother Brain from taking over. He’s given a Zapper to use as a Weapon and a Power Pad (NES Controller) to help him get out of sticky situations. He can stop time (Pause!), use it to jump high, warp around… there were a lot of things it can do, but he could only use it set amount of times before it runs out of juice.
Kevin isn’t going to do this alone. Along with Lana, he gets help from Mega Man, Simon Belmont from Castlevania, Game Boy (yes… a handheld is an actual chara… oh, just roll with it) and Pit… er… Kid Icarus from Kid Icarus. Guess they figured kids wouldn’t know him as Pit.
And they each have… character quirks: Simon is a narcissistic man-pansy, Mega Man says “Mega” at the beginning of every single sentence and sounds like he’s been smoking all his life, and Pit (yes, I’m calling him Pit) says “-icus” at the end of every sentence. Mother Brain has this “Big Momma” thing going on, and her minions – King Hippo from Punch Out! and Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus – are every bit the blumblers you’d expect them to be. What a crew.
All the “Worlds” in this universe are based off games, so you have the World of “Castlevania”, World of “Faxanadu”, etc. It’s fun to see all our favourite games in some bizarre cartoon world form (they made a world out of Tetris. TETRIS!).
My favourite episodes are the ones where the N-Team (not to be confused with the A-Team) team up with Link and Zelda (voiced by the same actors as the Super Show. Hooray for continuity!). Those were 10 shades of awesome.
Overall, this is was full of camp and Cheezy Poofs… and by God, it was great.
4. Earthworm Jim
There was funny… there was weird… and then there was Earthworm Jim. Though I was in my teens when this came out, I still felt compelled to wake up early Saturday morning to watch. Because it was just that awesome. I wish I had a pet worm that turned into a worm/man humanoid when donning a super suit that makes him really super strong. Or had a puppy that turns into a homicidal maniac whenever he gets hurt. Or have a Doctor named Professor Monkey-for-a-Head. Or could name my kitty Evil the Cat.
This cartoon cranked the wacky metre to 10 billion and managed to keep it there while scarfing down frozen yogurt and suffering the wrath of the most insidious brain freeze ever created. I remember most (if not all) of the characters making an appearance. It made me laugh so hard milk came out my nostrils, so Mission Accomplished there. Watch out for that cow.
5. Dragon Warrior
This. This is the reason I crawled out of bed on Saturdays when I was much younger. It was an AMAZING show. And rightfully so: it’s Anime. Anime didn’t treat kids as stupid twits who didn’t know anything of anything, and they rock because of it.
Anyhoo… loosely based on Dragon Quest III (or Dragon Warrior III, as it was known here in North America), a young man named Abel travels the world in order to rescue his childhood friend Tialah, who was kidnapped by evil Baramos because of the Red Stone she received as a gift. The stone’s the key to waking up the Great Dragon, and Baramos wants to wake him up to get eternal life.
Abel isn’t alone on his quest, as his village chum Moko comes along to lend a hand. He was the strong Barbarian-type… and I remember him being more of a bumbling comedic relief than anything else… and he really likes food. They eventually meet up with a pervy drunkard wizard named Yanack, and Daisy, a warrior who really, REALLY loves jewels.
This was one of the best cartoons ever that had everything we could ask for in a show… and it was cancelled after 13 episodes.
Story goes that the English version didn’t mention famed manga artist (and character designer for all Dragon Quests games) Akira Toriyama in the credits. This resulted in a lawsuit that eventually took the show off the air. WTF.
Why wouldn’t they give him any credit? I would think that that would make sense. He designed the characters, so his name should be up there. What’s up with that? And because of that, we only got 13 out of the 46 episodes of the series? BULLCRAP! Way to ruin things for us, guys! *facepalm*
*Ahem* So there you have it. There were lots of video game cartoons back then, but these were the five that I love most. Luckily all these series are out on DVD, so we can enjoy them all over again.
Hmmm… I should rephrase that a bit. As far as I know, Dragon Warrior is out on DVD… in Japanese. The handful of English episodes are unavailable (though you can stream them online easily).
Taking trips down memory lane like this is fun 😛 I hope you’ll take this trip with me again. Wearing Super Mario PJs and eating a bowl of Nintendo Cereal.
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Did you watch any these shows as a kid? If not, what video game-related cartoons did you used to watch? Let me know in the Comments Section!