For better or worse, we’ve all seen video game cartoons– at least those of us on staff. And while getting ready for this issue, we had to ask ourselves: of all the possibilities, which cartoon character did we love the most? Did we identify with the Lou Albano-voiced Mario? The cocky and sardonic Link? The “boy from the valley” Captain N? Or did we idolize a villain or sidekick, maybe even in a different cartoon altogether? We tell you our secret role models below.
I absolutely loved the Super Mario Super Show. I would literally have it on, rerun or not, every day possible. When they combined The Legend of Zelda with Super Mario Bros., that was probably the best day of my little child life. That was my favorite video game cartoon and still is to this day. It may be cheesy, and Link may sound like an immature teenager, but all of the ideas like Link flying on his shield I still want implemented in a game today.
I told my parents one year that I wanted to be Link for Halloween and my mom and dad actually stayed up all night the night before making me a shield and outfit. All that was needed was for them to buy me a sword and voila, I was Link! The only problem with video games, their characters and cartoons back then was that nobody knew who or what they were. As I went around house to house, all of the adults and seniors all said, “Wow, look at Robbin Hood!” Oh, and believe me, I really did look like Link, not Robin Hood.
Unfortunately, my comrades here have a few years on me so I wasn’t quite cognizant of my own existence during the late eighties when to old Nintendo shows were around. I do have some very vague memories of watching Super Mario Super Show reruns but really can’t remember my opinion of them, though I imagine I enjoyed them at the time. By the time my memory kicks in I don’t even think there were many video game cartoons to watch. However, thanks to the power of the Internets, I can watch all of these old shows and have discovered that they are unbearable to more developed minds; they might have been mind numbing enough for kids but I really can’t appreciate them now.
What I did enjoy as a child was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so did my brother and pretty much all my friends. Of course, being the nerd that I was and still am, Donatello was my favorite. I always thought it was cool how the brains of the group could fight alongside the rest of them and kick just as much butt, even when he was equipped with the least hazardous weapon.
I’ll go with Sonic. He’s had more cartoon appearances than practically any other game character, save perhaps Pikachu. He’s ranged a number of universes and genres, from action/adventure to comedy to sci-fi. Plus, since the ‘hog didn’t have a huge supporting cast during the 16-bit era, the writers were forced to come up with a lot of original content to put into the shows. Depending on who you ask (like, say… me), some of the TV shows had better characterization than the newer games.
You can kind of tie Sonic’s cartoon appearances to the relative successes and failures of SEGA as a whole. Sonic had two whole TV series running at the height of his popularity, then had the relatively unknown Sonic Underground during the confusing Saturn years, dwindling to nothing by the end of the Dreamcast. Sonic X represented a newer generation’s first look at the blue blur, and has kind of heralded his success as a third-party mascot, staying on the air in America years after production had ceased. They really ought to go back to calling him “Dr. Robotnik,” though.
I loved me some Captain N, just like Tidman. What’s cooler than a NES controller belt that actually allows you to pause your surroundings or perform a super jump over foes? I tried my best during my younger years to create a crude belt similar to Captain N’s, but I resorted to just holding it to my buckle with one hand. On the other hand, I had no problem gripping the NES Zapper and destroying everything in site (at least in my imagination).
As much I treasure Captain N, though, there’s also a place in my heart for Link. The Legend of Zelda franchise is one of my favorite game series, so of course I was awed by a cartoon version. Link cracked me up with his whiny demeanor, especially the one-liner, “EXCUSE ME, PRINCESS!” And let’s not forget the sweet skills he showcased on the show, such as acrobatic flips over moblins while firing his magical sword.
For me, the original Sonic the Hedgehog series is the greatest of a video game character turned cartoon. It had a really catchy theme, a cocky Sonic, and the most awesome sounding Dr. Robotnik that you could possibly ask for. Then there were all the great side characters like Princess Sally and Bunnie. The series was dark, and pretty much what you would expect the games to be like.
However, while this great Sonic show was airing, another one planned to ruin Sonic altogether. Another Sonic cartoon aired later the same month as the original, and was focused on chili dogs, and an egg-shaped Robotnik. The Sonic universe was alot less serious, and nowhere near as cool. Trust me, the first was what Sonic was all about. If you don’t believe me, YouTube the theme from the first series. Then you will understand.
What about you, readers? Tell us your favorite cartoon hero in the comments below.