The 8 Ball: Top 8 Game-Based Cartoons
Posted by Marc Morrison on 08.05.2014
From Pokemon and Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego to Street Fighter, Mega Man, and more, 411's Marc Morrison ranks his Top 8 Cartoons Based On Video Games!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I wanted to tackle cartons that were made from/based on video games. There used to be a glut of these shows in the late 80's to mid 90's, but this trend seems to have fallen off some. Partially it's because a lot of games these days don't lend themselves well to a weekly animated show, and partially because kids standards have changed and expanded, so there isn't as big an impact as any singular show anymore. Still, it was a fun, nostalgic topic to look at. Enjoy:
On the face of it, Pokemon was, and still partially is, an immensely popular franchise, buoyed by this long (and still) running cartoon series. The show was, and still is, pretty formulaic: Ash and friends wander into a town, meet someone new, fight a new Pokemon, Ash loses, Ash then foils Team Rocket's plans (along with new friend), Ash then fights the new friend against the new Pokemon and wins. Rinse & repeat. The show took a noticeable dip in quality once "The Pokemon Company" took over from 4Kids dubbing it, but to be fair, this is the only series on this list that is still going on, and that counts for something.
7. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
The first of two Sonic shows on this list (you can probably guess the other), ASH was a lot closer to the actual game series, featuring the Grounder robot and Coconuts on occasion, that doesn't make it a particularly great series. It was pretty juvenile, even back in the day, featuring more Three Stooges-esque villainy than anything legitimate. Robotnik is never really a threat, even though he is voiced by "the Man", Long John Baldry. It was acceptable in the early to mid 90's, at the height of Sonic's popularity, but would be laughed at by today's standards. Even back then, it was eclipsed by the other Sonic show at the time.
6. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
This might actually be the shortest series on this list, clocking in at only 13 episodes. Most notable thing about it? Luke Perry voices Sub Zero. DONE! Actually, this series did boast a decent cast: Cree Summer, Olivia d'Abo, Ron Perlman and Clancy Brown. The animation style was fairly cheap, and it showed. Still, while mature violence was stripped out of the show, it actually was fairly accurate to the MK story at the time, just made for younger kids.
5. Street Fighter
Street Fighter was a weird mishmash of both the movie continuity and taking elements from the games. The basic premise was essentially the movie, it focused on Guile, Chun Li was a reporter, Ken/Ryu were both portrayed as somewhat conmen, etc. However, it did feature bits from the games the later it went on, Cammy being a double agent, Akuma showing up, and tons of cameos (HAGGAR!) by other misc. Capcom/Street Fighter characters. The animation was also a bit cheap, but compared to Mortal Kombat, was a lot better.
4. Captain N: The Game Master
What's better than having a show about a singular video game? How about having a show about many different video games, instead. Captain N did just this by bringing in Mega Man, Simon Belmont, Kid Icarus and an anthropomorphized Gameboy. They fought the villains you might expect, Mother Brain, Eggplant Wizard, Doctor Wily and so on. However, the series would also go to other games, notably Legend of Zelda, and Bayou Billy (a much more famous game than Zelda ever was). The series is very hokey by today's standards (most of these series are, actually), but was so cool back in the day. Every kid wanted a Zapper to do what it did in the show. Same for the Power Pad, for that matter.
3. Mega Man
I have some fond memories of this show as a kid. In fact, the first time I saw DBZ (years later), Goku opened his mouth, started talking and I said "That's Mega Man." The show itself played on the typical "Mad Doctor is trying to rule the world with inane plots", but that's actually pretty fine. The idea of Mega Man blasting apart the named bad robots (Guts Man, Cut Man, Snake Man), etc. and copying their powers was fairly spot on with the games. The show did kind of distort the Protoman character a bit (turning him into a moody lackey as opposed to mysterious helper), but by and large the show was solid. Plus, it did a great Mega Man X crossover episode that I still can remember to this day.
2. Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego
This is probably the oddest choice for this list, but that's fine. The Carmen Sandiego cartoon is only loosely based on the games, but was just a really good show, all around. The cartoon had Carmen steal something with ACME agents Ivy and Zack trying to stop her. Later on, the show added time travel (harkening to Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego) with trying to right history. The neat things about the show were two-fold: 1. It was actually educational, but in a fun setting. It fooled kids into learning, because the shows were interesting. And 2. The show's premise is actually that of Reboot. The "show" takes place all in a computer, where Ivy and Zack directly talk to "Player" to C5 (transport) them somewhere to hopefully catch Carmen.
1. Sonic Underground
I said there was another Sonic series on this list. Derp!
1. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic SatAM)
Yeah, how could it not be? Goddamn, this show was, and still is so good. It's only due to ABC's interference that doomed it (same with Reboot). The show itself had not a lot in common with the game series (compared to ASH anyway). The only big elements were Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik. Even rings worked different, missing in ASH, but seemingly providing a power boost in SatAM. What the show lacked in game continuity, it made up for in actual interesting characters, good/dramatic storylines, and an extremely dark world for kids to bear witness to. Everything wasn't alright in Sonic's world, and while he did have wins, he did have loses (Uncle Chuck). The first season is still a great (if slightly kitsch) bit of television, while the second season is where ABC got into the show, and it took a took a turn for the worst. Fun fact: Jaleel White (Urkel from Family Matters) voiced Sonic in both cartoons, as well as on Sonic Underground and a fan made Sonic short film in 2013.
I'd say the big series people might get outraged isn't on my list is The Super Mario Bros Super Show, with Captain Lou. The reason isn't not on my list is simple: I've never watched it. It came out when I was extremely young and I literally cannot remember if I ever watched it. The only Mario show I remember watching is "Super Mario World", and the only episode I remember is the one where Koopa invents fast food where Luigi and Yoshi get addicted to it. God, the early 90's had some weird cartoons. The other shows I considered were: Sonic X, Kirby, Darkstalkers, Earthworm Jim, and (somewhat) Reboot – even if it's not based on any one game in particular. Note: Yu Gi Oh doesn't count, since the manga came first, which spawned the game series.
The General Roundup
There weren't a lot of comments at all from last week, so I can pretty much address all the ones that are there: I think Wolfenstein not having multiplayer was a good choice. Honestly, MP has been done to death already, and nothing would have been gained if they had tried it. They focused on the single player, and the game was much better off for it. I also didn't delete that one person's comment. Frankly, I don't have that type of authority with Disquis. I guess to me, Destiny just looks like "Hellgate: London 2", but with a Halo feel. I may play it later, but considering how multiplayer focused it is, and how I don't want to do that, the game offers nothing for me. It'd be nice if Activision or EA actually gave a damn about the single player stuff in a CoD or Battlefield, but they don't. That doesn't sell those games. Lastly, while WWE 2K15 is on next generation systems, 2K is still using the same broke-ass developer (Yuke's) to make it, and that needs to stop. Plus, I am ONLY interested in that game if the Sting pre-order stuff has the bit where Robocop rescued Sting from the Four Horsemen. There is literally no better bit in wrestling than that.