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Author Topic: 100 Days Of Nintendo Shows  (Read 9518 times)
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JonLeung
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« on: April 25, 2011, 02:51:47 PM »

Previously, I wrote about "100 Days Of Transformers" (a recap of the original Transformers cartoon) and "80 More Days Of Transformers" (a recap of Beast Wars: Transformers and Beast Machines: Transformers, as well as the first two Transformers films).  (I guess I never got around to writing "90 Days Of P90X", which I did last year.)  At the start of this year, I began watching another set of episodes for my other fan target, Nintendo, so here is "100 Days Of Nintendo Shows".

Each day from January 1 to April 10, the first 100 days of the year, I watched something Nintendo-related.  For the first thirteen weeks, I watched The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! on weekdays, and the first two seasons of Captain N: The Game Master on the weekend days.  Then on the fourteenth week I watched the seven-episode Season 3 of Captain N, followed by the lost episode, "When Mother Brain Ruled", and then I topped it off on the 100th day with Super Mario Bros., the 1993 live-action film.  65 episodes of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, 33+1 episodes of Captain N, and one movie perfectly totalled 100 (keeping this in line with past multiple-of-10 daily themed marathons).

THE SUPER MARIO BROS. SUPER SHOW!


[The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! featured live-action sitcom and animated segments.]

In 1989, the Super Mario Bros. were certainly the kings of the video game world.  Anyone who played video games at the time must have played the first two Super Mario Bros. games multiple times over.  But until the inevitable Super Mario Bros. 3, what could Nintendo fans do to get their Mario fix?  Well, Nintendo didn't shy away from merchandise.  There were toys, games, and even cereal based on the Mario Bros. along with other big Nintendo properties like The Legend Of Zelda.  It came as no surprise that DiC animation would create a show based on Nintendo's biggest names.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is a mix of live-action with animation segments.  Each episode would be bookended by a live-action sitcom featuring the Mario Bros. back in their pre-hero days as plumbers in Brooklyn.  Then the middle portion of the show would be a cartoon; on Mondays to Thursdays, there would be a Super Mario Bros. cartoon, and on Fridays, it would be The Legend Of Zelda cartoon.  The Monday to Thursday episodes also featured a preview of that Friday's Zelda episode, hyping it up as some epic school-week/work-week finisher.  I will recap each of these three portions.


["Captain" Lou Albano and Danny Wells play Mario and Luigi. '80s celebrities guest starred, including pop star Cyndi Lauper, and wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano - but as himself. Also, Inspector Gadget makes an appearance.]

The Mario Bros. Plumbing sitcom stars wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi.  In almost every episode, they are joined by a guest star, who were sometimes popular television stars or athletes.  These included Nicole Eggert, Ernie Hudson, Magic Johnson, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Cyndi Lauper, Vanna White (though not as herself), among others.  Even one of DiC's most popular cartoon characters, Inspector Gadget, makes an appearance in human form played by Maurice LaMarche.  Other real-life personalities were featured but played by actors, including the Queen, Cher and Gorbachev.  Other than the Mario Bros., no characters from the video games made an appearance in the sitcom portions, but their home includes a talking cuckoo bird and scarecrow, and a strange creature called "the ratagator".  In true sitcom fashion, some (but not all) episodes featured a laugh track.

Naturally, given the short time alloted, the scenarios were never very complex.  It would cut to the cartoon at a cliffhanger, or at least after presenting or teasing the episode's main dilemma.  After the cartoon, the sitcom continued, and there would be the opportunity to tease the Friday's Zelda episode.  Then there was a humourous, or often just ridiculous resolution.  In one of the last episodes, and the most "epic" as far as these storylines are concerned, pop star Cyndi Lauper heads a worldwide search for her missing friend, "Captain" Lou Albano himself, who returns at the end of the episode on his own (conveniently when Mario - also played by Albano - is not present).  The reason for his disappearance was that he left for "Good Fried Chicken", which alarms Lauper when she finds only part of his note that reads that he's "left for good".  Ridiculous?  Definitely.  It's geared for kids, for sure, but I felt that they could still have put in a bit more effort in writing some of these sitcoms.


[The middle segment was a cartoon, on Mondays to Thursdays, it featured the Super Mario Bros., and on Fridays, it was The Legend Of Zelda.]

The Super Mario Bros. cartoon followed a formula.  Mario would begin with his "Plumber's Log", explaining that the Mario Bros., Toad, and Princess Toadstool were now in some other "-land", usually to find somebody or something, but not far behind is King Koopa, often with his minions, the "Koopa Pack".  King Koopa would often be dressed thematically to the land they were in, or change his name to suit it (such as being referred to as "Al Koopone" in the episode "The Unzappables").  The Mario Bros. would save the day, and King Koopa would be on the run.  More often than not, it would close with Mario making a comment about food, especially pasta.


[The Super Mario Bros. get sucked down the drain, and find themselves in the many lands of the Mushroom Kingdom, including the oddly-named "Crime Land" featured in "The Unzappables".]

Unlike the sitcom, the characters were pulled directly from the games, Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (most from the latter; you'd rarely see Goombas).  But for the most part, the "-lands" were not.  Fire Flowers and Starmen, items from the first game, would often be what turns the situation in the heroes' favour.  These would turn Mario into Super Mario (though sometimes the other characters got to be "Super" too).  This is a curious confusion, as the power-ups in the Super Mario Bros. games are the most-recognized video game items ever, and yet their effects are so scrambled here.  Also seen in the opening sequence, Mario touches a Starman and turns into Fiery Mario, yet is always referred to as "Super Mario".  Maybe it didn't make sense for Mario to grow in the cartoon, but it seems odd that they couldn't have called him "Fiery Mario", or if they were so insistent on "Super", why he couldn't have found Super Mushrooms, ever.  Sure, I'm getting nitpicky here, but you'd think such basic details wouldn't've been so butchered.


["The Toad Warrior" and "Star Koopa" are two of several episodes that are movie parodies.]

Some of the more memorable episodes were movie parodies (like "The Toad Warrior" and "Star Koopa").  There were also a couple episodes that were slightly less formulaic, and more "epic" (if I may use that term again).  In "Brooklyn Bound" and "Flatbush Koopa", the opportunity to return to Brooklyn presents itself, though I hardly need to say what happens.  Still, for a few moments, you feel at least a little dramatic tension that isn't present in the cookie-cutter episodes.


[In The Legend Of Zelda, characters include Link, Zelda, Sprite, and the King. The evil wizard Ganon commanded countless Moblins, who were never a match for Link's magical laser-shooting sword.]

Then there's The Legend Of Zelda cartoon on Fridays.  In each episode, Ganon attempts to steal the Triforce Of Wisdom from Hyrule Castle, and with the Triforce Of Power which he already has, he will be able to rule Hyrule forever.  Or so the opening sequence - and every weekday preview - tells us, though it's never clear how obtaining both Triforces (the Triforce Of Courage is not present here) would help one do anything.  Nevertheless, Ganon usually has some wicked scheme to try.

Of course he's thwarted every time by Link and Princess Zelda.  Link is Hyrule's hero, though Zelda rarely plays the "damsel-in-distress" role and can be kicking Moblin butt alongside Link in several episodes.  Sprite, a fairy/faerie (a precursor to Ocarina Of Time's Navi?) and Zelda's father, the King (who had not yet appeared in the game series) were the only other recurring characters; other than these "good guys" and the evil Ganon, anyone else who showed up would do so for a single episode.


[Ganon would always get defeated, and Link would never get a kiss from Zelda. Even in the rare cases she actually meant to, it seemed an impossibility. Link's catch phrase was "Excuuuuuse me, Princess!"]

The series didn't have a lot of variety for locales, they all took place in and around Hyrule (rarely far from the castle) and its underworld, a contrast to how the Super Mario Bros. cartoon had the heroes travelling to a new place every episode.  Though this shortcoming of The Legend Of Zelda is certainly less noticeable when it only airs once a week.  Though when a couple minutes of the show are shown on each of the Mondays to Thursday previews, by the time you get to Zelda on the Friday, you've already seen half of the episode from all the preview footage alone.  Sure, the scenes are now complete, in order, and in context, but still, there was little that was surprising when Friday rolled around.

I'd recommend The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! only to die-hard Nintendo fans, especially those that were around then that would appreciate the nostalgia.  If you haven't seen this show before reading this review, it's harder for me to say it's worth the time.  It's far from the worst show ever made, but it certainly feels like there was some potential that was lost.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 04:05:22 PM by JonLeung » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2011, 02:52:24 PM »

CAPTAIN N: THE GAME MASTER


[Captain N: The Game Master featured heroes from different games...and one hero was a Game Boy, too.]

Another Nintendo-based, DiC-produced animated show at this time was Captain N: The Game Master.  The title character is Kevin Keene, an avid NES gamer brought to Videoland via the "Ultimate Warp Zone".  As seen in the first episode as well as the opening sequence, he appears in a short live-action segment where he is in his room playing Punch-Out!! before he and his dog Duke are sucked into the television set and into the Palace Of Power.  Equipped with his Power Pad and Zapper, he and his friends fight Mother Brain and other villains that threaten Videoland, a universe comprised of worlds that are NES games in the real world.


["The Ultimate Warp Zone" reaches into the "real" world and interrupts Kevin's Punch-Out!! game.]

Main characters besides Captain N/Kevin Keene and his dog Duke include Princess Lana, Simon Belmont (from the first couple Castlevania games), Mega Man (from Mega Man and its sequels), Kid Icarus (from Kid Icarus, never referred to by his proper name, Pit), and in later episodes, Game Boy (a giant, sentient Game Boy based on the then-new Nintendo handheld).  The "N-Team" would sometimes be joined by the hero(es) of whatever game they were in, including Link and Zelda (from The Legend Of Zelda games), who, while looking different from their Super Mario Bros. Super Show! versions, were still voiced by the same actors.

Villains include Mother Brain (from Metroid) and her minions, Eggplant Wizard (from Kid Icarus), and King Hippo (from Punch-Out!!), as well as the more capable Dr. Wily (from Mega Man).  Occasionally there were other one-shot villains too (including Ganon), but Mother Brain actually only appears in one episode in the third and final season.  Donkey Kong (from Donkey Kong) frequently appears in the series, as well, though sometimes not necessarily a hero nor villain, but a dangerous, independent force with no loyalties.


[The Palace Of Power, one of many locations in Videoland. Many of the locations are named directly after the game they are supposed to be from.]

Each episode usually takes place in a different NES game.  Often the games are directly referenced as the names of distinct places (Faxanadu, Final Fantasy, Punch-Out!!, etc.), unless the name of the game is also the name of a character, then the location's name is changed to avoid confusion (Dragon's Den instead of "Dragon Warrior", Kongoland instead of "Donkey Kong", Megaland instead of "Mega Man", Mt. Icarus instead of "Kid Icarus").  Though even so, it's still odd that Mother Brain's space fortress is called "Metroid", as anyone who has played the series knows that it should properly refer to a species of alien parasite.


[Kevin's Power Pad was a NES controller on his belt. He would usually press anywhere on the D-pad to quickly slide out of danger, or the Select or Start buttons to pause the game and everyone in it except himself. Oddly, he used the Select button to pause more often than the Start button, and I don't recall him using the B and A buttons. His Zapper was more straight-forward though, it's now a lethal laser gun in Videoland, not just for ducks.]

It doesn't take long to see that DiC's writers based the characters/locations/scenarios very, very loosely on the games they are supposed to reference.  You would think that there would be plenty of opportunities to present video game tips, at least by demonstrating them in the show - though I think it could have been neat if the live-action Kevin character explained such tips with actual game footage.  But perhaps there would have been various rights and licensing issues, especially for the latter, though you wonder if such legalities were actual concerns and prevented the stories to be closer to the in-game stories.  That said, Season 3 (with shorter episodes and lower-quality animation) had a surprisingly good episode, "A Tale Of Two Dogs" based on Mega Man III, closely matching the game's story, as well as strongly implying the use of the Hard Knuckle against Top Man and more explicitly, the Shadow Blade against the "turtle machine" boss in Dr. Wily's castle, which are good tips for the actual game.


[Regular villains for the first two seasons included Mother Brain, Eggplant Wizard, King Hippo and Dr. Wily.]

But just about any episode is just like you would expect from any other kid's cartoon...you have a mix of different characters who, with an uncanny knack of finding trouble, use their unique skills and teamwork to thwart a villain's evil plan of conquest and world domination, which is easy as it's usually left to bumbling idiotic minions.  The only thing is that it uses the worlds of NES games as the backdrop.


[Characters specific to a game would also appear. Here we see the Robot Masters from the first Mega Man game, different yet recognizeable, and Link and Zelda appeared a couple times too, with the same voice actors as in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!]

I watched this show this year on Saturdays and Sundays, and the first two seasons took thirteen weeks, just as many as it took to watch The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! in its entirety.  For the fourteenth week, I watched the seven-episode Season 3, which was quite different.  Besides the season, the episodes were also half as long as usual because this "season" was actually shown with the Super Mario World cartoon (which is not covered in these "100 Days Of Nintendo Shows").  With less time, the stories are usually less epic (though as noted above, the episode "A Tale Of Two Dogs" featuring Mega Man III was actually a good one).  But perhaps it's not so bad that they're short, because the worst thing is actually that the animation is of a much lower quality.  Kid Icarus doesn't have sandals, Simon Belmont doesn't have goggles, and besides such details, everyone just looks different.  Mother Brain (in her one-episode appearance) looks downright bizarre.  The reduced detail in Season 3 is a cost-cutting measure, but nothing is as bad as the "lost episode"...


[The ugly Mother Brain somehow manages to look way worse in Season 3 when the animation took a sharp downward turn.]

Titled "When Mother Brain Rules", the "lost episode" is supposed to be at the end of Season 2.  If you want to see it, you'll have to find it on YouTube just as I did as there doesn't seem to be a DVD release of it.  What it is is a straight-up clips show, featuring clips from previous episodes - mostly from the first episode, explaining how Kevin came to Videoland.  There is no new animation at all, the recap seems unnecessary, and not very well-written as it's not very chronological or even coherent.

As a Nintendo fan, I can see the appeal of the premise of Captain N and understand why it's frequently referenced among other Nintendo fans.  However, when you get right down to it, it's only the Nintendo references (which are certainly not as numerous as they could have been) that make this recommendable - and only barely - to the most die-hard Nintendo fans; everyone else could probably find better ways to spend their time.  It's probably slightly more recommendable than The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, if only because there's more variety in Captain N, and who wouldn't want to be a Game Master?
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 04:06:52 PM by JonLeung » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2011, 02:53:01 PM »

SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993)


[The first live-action film based on a video game might not actually be something worth high-fiving.]

The first movie directly based on a popular video game is 1993's Super Mario Bros.  Bob Hoskins signed on to play Mario without knowing that Super Mario Bros. was originally a video game, only learning so after he'd already begun work on it when his son showed him the game.  Later, Hoskins would say that this film was the worst thing he ever did.  Let's take a look...

Instead of being a simple story of two plumber brothers who save a princess from a lizard king by traversing many lands full of blocks and primary colours - like most Mario video games - we've got a story of two plumber brothers who save a princess from an eyebrowless Dennis Hopper in an alternate world full of people who descended from dinosaurs.  Say what?

Much like in the Double Dragon film, the dystopian world just screams '80s/'90s.  It's an urban dystopia full of neon lights contrasted against a lot of grey and grime.  Vehicles are armored and sketchy people are everywhere.  The setting is like a cheap-punk version of Blade Runner with a dash of retro.  Clearly, the film writers and producers sought to do away with the game's smiling clouds and hills in favour of something more edgy for the Mushroom Kingdom (though horribly cliché).

This alternate world, which branched off from "our" world when the meteor that killed (most of) the dinosaurs struck the Earth, is populated by people who look quite human, but are evolutionary descendants of the surviving dinosaurs.  It is ruled by Koopa (Dennis Hopper), who seeks to take over our world by finding Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis) and a fragment of the universe-splitting meteor, which were both brought to our world twenty years earlier.


[Toad as a Goomba, Princess Daisy, and Yoshi. Koopa is only a lizard, briefly, during an attack with devolving guns.]

In present-day Brooklyn, Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) are plumbers struggling to find business, often losing out to the Scapelli Construction Company.  Luigi meets Daisy, an NYU student, and after a date, she shows him a dig site under the Brooklyn Bridge where dinosaur bones are found.  Scapelli wants the land, so his men open up the water pipes to sabotage the site, so Luigi and Daisy return with Mario, and the brothers put their plumbing expertise to work.  While they're at it, Koopa's cousins/henchmen capture Daisy and take her to the alternate world full of dinosaur people.  The Mario Brothers follow, and embark on a princess-saving adventure.

Eventually they change into red/green outfits (for no really clear reason other than to match their game counterparts), and get equipped with boots that allow them to jump several times their own height (like how the Mario Bros. can do - naturally - in their games).  And, uh, devolving guns - which are clearly modified Super Scopes (you know, the bazooka for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System).  SPOILER WARNING: After a bunch of oddly-placed Mario game references, the Mario Bros. save the day by pointing their devolving guns on Koopa, who briefly turns into something like a T-Rex before they devolve him into primordial slime.  I guess the T-Rex moment was their way of still having Koopa be a big lizard, but that - and the butchering of the evolution theory, applying it to individuals rather than generations - is just ridiculous.

It seemed like the producers were trying to put a bunch of elements from Super Mario Bros. into a live-action movie, but wanted to mix them up.  Iggy is indeed the name of a Koopaling who first appeared in the Super Mario Bros. 3 game.  Big Bertha, a large woman at a club, could be a reference to the name given to the large Cheep-Cheeps in Super Mario Bros. 3.  Neon signs in the city say "Thwomp" and "Bullet Bill's".  Yoshi is a small dinosaur, and though more creepy-looking than cute, he still has a long tongue.  A character named Toad appears, but he is arrested and then devolved into a mindless Goomba...WTF?  Though you have to wonder if the scene where Toad is holding some vegetables is a Super Mario Bros. 2 reference, but given the context of the scene (Daisy said she didn't want to eat meat), it was probably a coincidence, we can't really give the writers that much credit.  And as mentioned, the hydraulic boots give the Mario Bros. jumping abilities closer to their game counterparts, but the Super Scope devolving guns are just sneaky product placements.  There's also a Bob-Omb wearing Reebok shoes...

The movie set a bad first example for video games on film.  It's just not very good.  Would I recommend it?  I would say no.  Like The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and Captain N: The Game Master, would I maybe recommend it to die-hard Nintendo fans?  Well, that depends.  If you're the kind of fan that has to enjoy anything that has a Nintendo character in it, then you would love it - you'd probably love the CD-i Zelda games, too.  But if you're the kind of fan that likes the actually good stuff, and have to be critical of the not-as-good or downright bad stuff, then you probably already know that you'll hate this.


[The devolving guns are modified Super Scopes. This movie really bombed...]

Conclusion: Was this a good way to spend 100 days?  Well, as a Nintendo fan, it did feel like a sort of quest finally completed to ensure that I've seen every Captain N: The Game Master and Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode.  However, if you're looking to actually be entertained, you could easily do better.  If you want a NES adventure, then dust off your NES and actually play video games.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 05:10:25 PM by JonLeung » Logged
xcalibur201
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 11:51:07 AM »

glorious works of art. I have most of the super mario super show episodes.
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2011, 05:32:09 PM »

I didn't care for the Super Mario Brothers cartoon portion. I mean yeah it was okay, but it was more of a parody and only had literally a few episodes that stuck to the main plot. That's what I love about Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World cartoons. Still goofy, but they kept the story closer to the games (especially with "Mama Luigi" from SMW, bridging the gap between SMB3 and SMW, made for a decent series ender).
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