Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-A: From Games to Toons Pt.1

Welcome to another Cartoon Historian. I'm your instructor,Stefan and this is my assistant,Mina. Because you voted for it,This episode is gonna be all about Video Game-based Cartoons

Mina: In this special multi-part episode we're gonna be talking about the many different cartoons that were based on Video Games. It's From Games to Toons on The Cartoon Historian.

[Cartoon Historian Theme Plays]

Thanks again for joining us,everyone. Today we'll be covering the various Video Games that got their own Cartoon adaptions.

Mina: And since we're gonna be covering these in Chronological order,we're gonna start with Saturday Supercade.

Saturday Supercade was a series produced for Saturday mornings by Ruby-Spears Productions.

Mina: Yup,you read right. It seems that Mega Man wasn't the Only Game-based Cartoon that Ruby-Spears created.

Can I continue?

Mina: Hey,I was just pionting out a fact.

Anyway,The series ran for two seasons on CBS beginning in 1983. Each episode was composed of several shorter segments featuring video game characters from the Golden age of video arcade games.

Saturday Supercade is presumably under the ownership of Warner Bros. Entertainment (through Turner Entertainment Co., who acquired the Ruby-Spears library in 1991).

However, in the 1980s, MCA TV,a company owned by Universal,held the international distribution rights to the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior segments. This was part of the settlement with Nintendo over the King Kong plagiarism issue. It's unknown if those rights have reverted to WB/Turner or are now owned by MCA's successor, NBC Universal.

A Minisode version of the Q*bert episode "Thanksgiving for the Memories" has appeared on the Minisode Network, suggesting that the Q*bert segments might be owned by Sony Pictures Television.

Presumably due to this divided ownership and/or licensing issues with the various companies that licensed their games for the show, Saturday Supercade has never been officially released on VHS, DVD,or Blu-Ray.

Mina: The shows featured characters include: Frogger (from Frogger),Donkey Kong (from Donkey Kong),Donkey Kong Jr. (from Donkey Kong Jr. aka Donkey Kong 2),Q*bert(from Q*Bert),and Pitfall Harry (from Pitfall).

Mina: Each character got their own segments. While the other three segments always aired weekly,Pitfall and Q-Bert rotated.

Mina: During the second season, Q-Bert (now weekly) and Donkey Kong remained while the Frogger, Donkey Kong Jr. and Pitfall Harry segments were replaced by Space Ace and Kangaroo,a non-video game show.

On an interesting note,Pac-Man was not a part of Saturday Supercade. Hanna-Barbera already had a separate cartoon devoted to Pac-Man entitled Pac-Man: The Animated Series on CBS's rival network,ABC.

Now,lets look at the various segments that were part of this show. Let's start with Frogger.

Frogger is an ace reporter of the swamp who works at the Swamp Gazette. He and his friends Shellshock Turtle and Fanny Frog go out in search of crazy stories (sometimes about human behavior) to publish in the swamp's newspapers. Frogger also has to deal with his gruff J.Jonah Jameson-esque boss Tex Toadwalker. As in the game, he often gets flattened or has an encounter with an alligator.

Mina: Lame!

Well what do you expect,you can't make a cool Cartoon out of Frogger's Story. especially since the game Had no story to begin with.

Mina: Good point.

Moving on to Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong has escaped from the circus and is on the run. Mario and Pauline chase the ape,in hopes of bringing him back to the Circus. As with the original game,Donkey Kong will often grab Pauline and Mario has to save her.

It must be noted that Pauline's portrayal as Mario's niece is an original Ruby-Spears concept (don't ask me why they did this).In the games,however,Pauline is Mario's girlfriend.

Mina: The Story is also different from the games. In the games Donkey Kong was Mario's Pet Gorrilla that felt neglected by his owner. So DK busts out of his cage and captures Pauline. It's also worth noting that Mario was voiced my the Legendary,Peter Cullen. Yup,Optimus Prime Voiced Mario..Cool huh? Anyway,Q*Bert is next.

In a 1950s inspired world set in the town of Q*Berg,a teenage fur-covered creature named Q*Bert,his girlfriend Q*Tee,and his friends Q*Ball,Q*Val,and Q*Mongus must deal with the resident bullies Coily, Ugg, Wrong Way (all three voiced by Frank Welker,btw),and Viper.

This segment features both "block-hopping" scenes, "swearing" bubbles and occasional flying disc,all from the original game. New to the cartoon was Q*Bert's use of "slippy-doos", a black ball projectile which he loaded and fired through his nose, producing an oil slick wherever the balls splattered. Slick and Sam are also featured.

Mina: Again,the story is lame because the Q*Bert game Had no story to begin with. Same goes for the rest of the segments. Next up,Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr. (voiced by Frank Welker,another legendary VA) is sad to find that his father is running from the circus and Mario,and that he may never see him again.

Jr. befriends a greaser nicknamed "Bones" who has a motorcycle and offers to help Junior by finding his dad together. Donkey Kong Jr's usual saying is "Monkey muscle!",which he tells to himself and Bones to inspire self-confidence. Bones often serves as the voice of reason when Donkey Kong Jr. bites off more than he can chew.

Mina: In Pitfall! Pitfall Harry,his niece Rhonda,and their cowardly pet Quick Claw the Mountain Lion explore jungles for hidden treasures,having many different adventures along the way.

Mina: And Finally we have Space Ace. Space Ace/Dexter and his sister Kimberly work for Space Marshall Vaugh to keep the peace in the universe. They fight the evil alien commander Borf and keep him from invading Earth.

Mina: Again, as with Donkey Kong, Ruby Spears took artistic license with the relationship with Kimberly and Dexter. In the Don Bluth film and in the game,Kimberly is Ace's girlfriend.

Mina: Also, in the video game, Dexter had certain chances to revert to Ace, his full-grown self, whereas in the cartoon the Ace/Dexter phases seemed to happen on their own and at often inconvenient times for the hero.

Ruby-Spears planned a 3rd season for the Saturday Supercade. However,the CBS executives decided to can the series,so that they could make room for their newer Saturday Morning shows. Because of this,the 3rd season of Saturday Supercade never made it past the planning stages.

Had the Saturday Supercade continued,we would've seen 3 new cartoon segments: Space Invaders,Mario Bros.and Centipede [i think it was supposed to be could've been Joust,though? or maybe it was adventure?].

Anyway,that's it for Saturday Supercade. Next up,the Cartoon that capitalized on Pac-Man fever. It's Pac-Man:the Animated Series.

1 comment:

Stefan said...

The Saturday Supercade was the first in as long line of VG Cartoons. Great Work!