Saturday, March 30, 2013

Toon Ninja Reviews: Episode 2 - Captain N: The Game Master (guest starring Sonic the Hedgehog)

Hi there. Dragonranger here. And welcome to a new episode of Toon Ninja reviews. Sorry for the long delay. I was a busy bee, not just with my movie making, but also with real life stuff, especially to this one sad note. Recently, a friend of mine told me that Cartoon Network has cancelled not only Green Lantern: The Animated Series, but also Young Justice. I like Young Justice, especially the one character I am growing accustom to, Miss Martian. Whether she has long hair, or as a tomboy, M'Gaann is one awesome martian. Nobody says "HELLO, MEGAN!" better than see does. I just recently sent a protest letter to Turner Broadcasting, stating that I will not watch CN no more until Snyder resigns and/or bring back both Green Lantern and Young Justice. Here in the American Cartoon Federation, we vow to fight the evils of all media and preserve all animation in all its forms, whether its with petitions or letter writing campaigns. Our voices will be heard. And those who say our cause is pointless and useless and tell us to move on, they should SIT ON IT! Anyway, let's get on with the review.

Although I am a fan of animation, I am also a fan of video games. Whether is retro or modern, I am a gamer through and through. But, imagine if you are in a world were video games are real, and fight alongside your favorite gaming heroes against dark, evil forces. Which is the case of the cartoon I am going to review. To do so, I am going have a lot of help. Not only our good friend, TOM-Z;

TOM-Z: How's it going?

But also one video game character I have invited to help out, too. He is Sega's famed mascot after Alex Kidd and he is fast on his own two feet, literally. Please, give a nice Toon Ninja Reviews welcome to the one and only, Sonic The Hedghog!

(It Doesn't Matter - Sonic's theme plays; applause; Sonic enters in a blue flash, poses)
Welcome to the show, Sonic! It is an honor to be with a famed icon of gaming like you.

Sonic: Thanks, Jason. It is an honor to be in the presence of one heck of a firebrand who isn't afraid to speak his mind and fight for what he believes in.

Um...Thanks. Anyway, how you been Sonic?

Sonic: Taking a long deserve vacation. After Sonic Generations, I needed to take a break. With all the stress I endured so much from the voice acting war to bad games, it's a bit too much for me. This gaming hero business has its limits, even for yours truly.


Sonic: So, I heard you are doing crossovers about me. What is it about?

Trust me on this one, you don't want to know. It's a good one, but due to negative criticisms, I put it in the back of my mind for now.

Sonic: I understand. Getting bashed over something you like to do is a serious no-no. Never let that bother you. You got a lot of potential. Don't throw that away.

Thanks, Sonic.

TOM-Z: Um...excuse me, guys. I hate to break up Geekfest 2013, but we got a review to get to.

Right. Sorry, TOM. You ready for this, Sonic.

Sonic: I'm always ready, Jay! Just like I am against Dr. Robotnik.

Right on, Sonic! (clears throat) Anyway, after the success of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, DIC Entertainment decided to do another video game based cartoon around that time. And that is Captain N: The Game Master.

(Captain N: The Game Master season 1 intro plays)

Released on September 9th, 1989 and ended on October 26th, 1991, Captain N: The Game Master is a video game based cartoon that has most of our favorite video games from the good old days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. How did this idea came to be? If you happen to look up an article on Nintendo Power magazine, they have a story on the adventures of Captain Nintendo. Written by Nintendo staff member and magazine editor, Randy Studdard, the original version pits a Nintendo employee fight against Mother Brain, using God-like powers, similar to Kevin Flynn from Tron, by bringing video game characters and power ups to life to save the video game world. There was room for a sequel, but that never happened. What do you think the "N" in Captain N stands for, huh? Anyway, and to this day, after the cartoon's release, Randy Studdard has never got any compensation for his ideas. But, that's another story. Speaking of which, you take over, TOM.

TOM-Z: Thanks, Jason. After the disapearance of King Charles, Videoland was fallen under attack by the evil forces of Mother Brain. The king's daughter, Princess Lana, felt powerless to stop her, as well as the gaming heroes from their respective worlds. Lana's only hope was a prophecy that a champion from another world will come and save Videoland. And that champion was Captain N: The Game Master. Using the magic of the Power Glove (Yes, THAT Power Glove), it opened the Ultimate Warp Zone, which lead to the real world that is Northridge, CA and into the home of hardcore gamer, Kevin Keene. Kevin was playing Punch-Out!! until he saw the image of Princess Lana and the others. And suddenly, he got sucked into the t.v. and into Videoland, along with his dog, Duke. At first, he was reluctant to help, thinking this world was insane. But in time, the adjusted to the new world that he is in. After defeating Mother Brain, Lana gave him a chance to go back to the real world. But Kevin decided to stay and vow to fight the evils of Mother Brain and save Videoland. That's right, folks, Captain N was here to stay. After all, like he says, he IS hooked.

Yep, when it comes to gaming, we are always hooked, just like Captain N.

TOM-Z, confused: Yeah, something like that. At least not in a bad way, know what I mean?

Gotcha. Anyway, Sonic, since you are one of the most popular gaming heroes, you talk about the characters.

Sonic: Certainly, Jay.

Captain N/Kevin Keene: The main hero of the show. Before becoming the Game Master, Kevin was a high school student from Northridge, CA. Kevin was summoned to Videoland via the Ultimate Warp Zone, to combat Mother Brain's evil forces. Armed with a Zapper light gun, and equiped with a Power Pad belt that enables him to move fast, jump real high and freeze everything by pressing the Pause button, Kevin is ready and able to take on whatever Mother Brain throws at him. His only flaw is, although he is a Game Master, he is not always knowledgable about video games, which we will talk about later. Kevin is voiced by Matt Hill, who also voiced Ed from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, Keroberos from Cardcaptors (the poorly done english dub of Cardcaptor Sakura), Jab from Street Sharks, Booma from Super Duper Sumos, Metal Head from G.I. Joe: Extreme, Laocorn Gaudeamus from Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture and last, but certainly not least, Ryo of the Wildfire from Ronin Warriors. Ryo is awesome, always has, always will be.

He certainly does.

Sonic, clears throat: Anyway, where was I.

Duke: Kevin's loyal dog companion. Although brave towards his master, he is a coward at heart.

Princess Lana: The daughter of King Charles, the ruler of Videoland, the world of video games. When Charles disappeared, Lana was left in charge, protecting not just Videoland itself, but also the central hub of Videoland itself, the Palace of Power. Although beautiful, Lana isn't afraid to give her life to help those in need. She is voiced by Venus Terzo, who did voice work in animes like Ranma 1/2, voiced Jinx in G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom, and for those who are fans of Transformers, she is the voice of Black Arachnia from both Beast Wars and Beast Machines.

Sonic: Now, the following characters I will mention have the same names as their gaming counterparts. But, I must warn you, their designs are a bit different that we know them today, but we will mention them the bad aspects of this review. Shall we begin, then?

Kid Icarus: The winged hero of Mt. Icarus. He has his bow and an unlimited supply of arrows. His hair covers half his face, he sounds a little emo and when he speaks, he ends his sentences with the word, "acus." For example, "Talk about being down in the dump-acus!" or "Have you lost your mind-acus!" I could go on but you get my drift. Ikky is voiced by Alessandro Juliani, who did voice work in animation like X-Men: Evolution, G.I. Joe: Spytroops and the anime Death Note. But he was best known for his role as Felix Gaeta on remake of Battlestar Galatica. WHAT THE FRAG!?! Anyway...

Megaman: The robot hero from Megaland. He is small, green, super strong, has small cannons on his wrists and when he speaks, not only it sounds like Popeye on steroids, he often says "Mega" inbetween his sentences. Talk about a "Mega" confusing character trait. Megaman is voiced by Doug Parker, who did voice work not only in the original Ocean Group dub of Dragon Ball Z, but also in Beast Wars, not only as the voice of the Predacon, Terrorsaur, but doing his best Chris Latta impression as Starscream in the episode, "Possession."

Simon Belmont: The so-called vampire hunter from the world of Castlevania (more on that later). This version is portrayed as an egotistical goof ball who loves himself, runs from a fight and always trying to win Princess Lana's affection, with no avail. And when he fights, either he uses his whip, which acts like it has a mind of its own, or he takes out stuff from his backpack, but most of the stuff he takes out are useless. And the way he is dressed, he is like a cross between Jay Leno, Cid Highwind from Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts, and Launchpad McQuack from both Ducktales and Darkwing Duck. Simon here is voiced by Andrew Kavadas, who did voiced in other cartoons like King Arthur and the Knights of Justice and Underworld: Evolution and animes like Zoids, InuYasha, Gundam SEED and Death Note. Man, this Death Note sounds scary. (shudders) Anyway...

Gameboy: First appearing in the first episode of season 2. Gameboy is a sentient computer, sent by King Charles, who was programmed to play games. Although programmed to play games, Gameboy helps the N-Team from analyzing substances, to tracking things and to perfect on the team's target practicing by bringing sprites to life from his screen. I can't tell that either his face or his screen. Go search me, man, I don't got all the answers. Gameboy is voiced by, who else, Frank Welker. Frankie, please stop voicing Scooby-Doo and Freddy, man. Don't you realize you are being typecast here. You will always be Megatron to all of us. So, to quote the man, er, bot, himself....

Sonic, as Megatron: DO AS I COMMAND!! (Clears throat) Anyway, now for the villains.

Mother Brain: The main villain of the show. The ruler of the dark world of Metroid. Mother Brain commands her army of gaming villains to enslave Videoland and become its ruler. When neccessary, she uses her brain power and her tendrils to smite her foes into utter submission. But, she does have her funny side, including watching herself in the mirror, like the evil queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. MB is voiced by the late Levi Stubbs from the Motown music group known as the Four Tops. Besides Mother Brain, Levi also voiced the big, green talking Venus Fly Trap, Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, the movie based on the musical based on the Roger Corman flick. Say that ten times fast, I know I will.

Speaking of which, did you know that the music done for Little Shop of Horrors was done by the same people who did music for The Little Mermaid?

Sonic: Yes, I do. Alan Menken and the late, great Howard Ashman. Those guys are awesome.

Yeah, they were great. Anyway, you got more villains to talk about.

Sonic: Good point. Let's continue before I geek out again.

Eggplant Wizard: Archenemy of Kid Icarus. Although he is known for casting powerful magic, he is mostly a coward, especially when fruits and veggies spawn out of him, gross. Eggy is voiced by, believe it or not, Michael Donovan, who also voice not only Billy Lee from Double Dragon, but also Conan from Conan the Adventurer, Ace Cooper from The Magician and of course, Sage of the Halo and Cye of the Torrent from Ronin Warriors.

King Hippo: The brutish hippo-like boxer from the Hippo Islands from the Punch-Out world. Where Eggplant Wizard is the brains, King Hippo is the brawn. Although he is the same as his gaming counterpart, the only difference is he is blue, more hippo-like and does not have a bandange on his stomach, which is his weak spot. Hippo is voiced by Garry Chalk, who did voice work in for anime and other cartoons, like Bad Rap from Extreme Dinosaurs, Lt. Stone from G.I. Joe: Extreme, Gutsman from the Megaman cartoon, and last, but certainly not least, he is mostly famous as the voice of Optimus Primal from Beast Wars and Beast Machines. Well that's just Prime.

Dr. Wily: Megaman's arch enemy. Although in league with Mother Brain, he doesn't appear much in the show like Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo does. And when he talks, he often wheezes, even when he laughs. Wily is voiced by Ian James Corrlett, who not only voiced Cheetor from Beast Wars and Beast Machines, but he was the voice of Megaman in the cartoon of the same name. Wow, he voiced Wily in one cartoon, but voiced the Blue Bomber in the next. Talk about pulling a 180.

Sonic: Even though they're other characters in them like Donkey Kong (who is as tall as King Kong), Dragon Lord, The Count (everyone knows it's Dracula) and the characters from The Legend of Zelda series, which we will talk about later, its the main characters that needed to be covered. For now, let's talk about both the animation and music, TOM-Z, take it away.

TOM-Z: Thanks, Sonic. Cool your jets, for once.

Sonic: I don't slow down much, but when it comes to taking turns in this review, I will make an exception.

TOM-Z: Very well.

The animation for the first 2 seasons were awesome at best. It could be either American animation, Japanese anime or a combination of both. What do you expect in 90s cartoons? We always expect the possibilities. However, by the time the 3rd season came, when paired with Super Mario World, the animation was anything but awesome. Let's just say due to budget cuts, NBC and DIC decided to use a different animation studio and result was downright terrible. Bottom line, the animation of the first 2 seasons are awesome, but the animation of the 3rd season is as terrible as they come.

As for the music, the music from the first season was done by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, who did music in other cartoons in the 80s and early 90s like The Littles, Heathcliff, Dennis the Menace, MASK, Inspector Gadget, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and the list goes on. If you hear the familiar jungle music in the first episode where Kevin and the N-Team were in Kongoland, it is the same one you hear from either Dennis the Menace or Inspector Gadget. Both Saban and Levy eventually co-produced Power Rangers and every other shows based on japanese action shows. As for the music for the later seasons, it was done by Michael Tavera, who did music for Fantasic Max, the Back to the Future cartoon, EXO Squad and the last two Mario cartoons.

Whether its the first season or the next, you will hear familiar tunes from your favorite Nintendo games, whether its from Kid Icarus, Metroid, or Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, it is all there, including the Game Start/Password theme from Simon's Quest, the Brinstar theme from Metroid and the title intro from Kid Icarus.

And just like Mario Super Show, it has same music from the show itself and just like Mario, it had songs from our favorite artists when the show first premiered, including Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, Thriller by Michael Jackson (God rest his soul) and Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival. However, in the later broadcasting and eventually on DVD, the songs were removed due to copyright fears and they were replaced with the instrumental version of Mega Move.

Bottom line, the animation from both seasons one and two are awesome, but the animation of season 3 sucks badly. As for the music, whether its done by Saban and Levy or done by Mike Tavera, they are all cool and frosty at the same time, and I mean it in a good way. And if you want to hear those songs, my advice to you is to watch the original version of the show on websites like YouTube, as long as you stay clear of copyright mongers who deemed Fair Use as "illegal."

Thanks for the heads-up, TOM. Even though it's a decent cartoon to watch, but no cartoon isn't perfect, and Captain N is no exception. For starters, some of the episodes had some animation errors, including one episode, How's Bayou. In the original version of the episode, some of the scenes were not complete, which explains we see just the character and not the completed background. But, in the later airings, they added the backgrounds. This reminds me of the 90s X-Men cartoon when it first came out, the backgrounds were terrible but they were fixed in the final version. Although animation errors are easily overlooked, but this is a minor bad aspect, well, except for the animation of season 3, which is all bad altogether. Now, here are two bad aspects that are big in nature. For starters, with the expection of King Hippo, Eggplant Wizard and Dr. Wily, most of the characters of Captain N are not like their gaming counterparts, not just physical-wise, but personality-wise. Let's start with Kid Icarus. In the cartoon, although fearless, Icky mostly acts like an emo, questioning himself and his shortcomings, no pun intended. And above all, in the game, he wasn't called Kid Icaurs, his true name is Pit, and why they didn't use his true name in this show is beyond me. I wish the Kid Icarus in the cartoon was more like this...

A fearless winged archer who doubles his bow as a two-bladed weapon, which is how he is now since Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Next, we got Megaman. As we all know in the games, he is a robot who looks and talks like a 13-year old kid, is colored blue and has one cannon, the Mega Buster. But in the cartoon, he looks more like Quint from the Megaman 2 Gameboy game, minus the jackhammer he rides on.

Now, we get to Simon Belmont. For starters, in the games, like the other Belmonts that came before him, Simon is a fearless vampire hunter who isn't afraid to slam his whip to the ground when fighting the evil forces of Dracula.

This is the Simon we know today. Special Thanks to Ayami Kojima for this wonderful artwork of Simon and all his vampire hunting glory. Now, the Captain N version of Simon, he is nothing like his gaming counterpart. He is a selfish, self-absorbed egomaniac, who only cares about himself. And he is a coward when it comes to battle and his backpack has worthless junk inside. I mean, look at him...

He looks like a bad blend of Jay Leno, Cid Highwind, and Launchpad McQuack. He is nothing like the Simon we know today. This reminds me of a scene from Toy Story 2, where we can't tell which Buzz Lightyear is the real one.

*Plays "Who's the real Buzz?" clip from Toy Story 2

As for Mother Brain, although she is similar like her gaming counterpart, she is mostly different. In the games, she's just a brain in the jar and has one eye. In the cartoon, she has two eyes and has tentacles. If she was more menacing, she would end up with a body just like in Super Metroid. And since she was voiced by Levi Stubbs, and thinking that she might have her body hidden until needed, this would remind me of the original musical number from Little Shop of Horrors, Mean Green Mother from Outer Space. Overall, most the characters in Captain N are nothing like their gaming counterparts. At least DIC didn't mess up your design in your cartoons. You are as they say, "True Blue".

Sonic: Thanks, Jay. The DIC people learned their lesson the hard way. Never mess with the gaming heroes. Speaking of which.

Yeah, one other bad aspect is this cartoon is the Robot Masters from the episode, Mega Trouble in Megaland. Some of them are the same as their gaming counterparts, while some are different in nature. For example, Iceman looks a bit like the DC comics supervillain, Captain Cold. Gutsman, who suppose to be the strongest Robot Master, got his butt, no pun attended, handed to him by Captain N. As for Cutman, don't get me started on him. Contrary to what he knows as a Game Master, Kevin is not a true game master when he said that it took him 50 times to beat Cutman. This version of Cutman is nothing like the original version, who is orange and white and looks cute in nature despite having his Rolling Cutter as his weapon. This Cutman has Gutsman's design, gave him Jack Nicholson's face, dyed it purple and gave him scissors to resemble his weapon. Cutman suppose to be the weakest Robot Master, but they made look like the hardest one ever, what a gip.

Sonic: Wow, my brain hurts.

Don't worry, Sonic. Despite the design and personallity flaws from the characters, I don't hate the show. There are certain things I like about the show. But since I am so modest, you go first, Sonic. What is your favorite moment in Captain N?

Sonic: Wombatman!

What?! (confused face)

Sonic: It is not everyday I meet a fellow anthropormorphic like myself, even if he wears a mask. Besides, this character was made during the time the 1989 Batman movie as popular, even paroding the Bruce Wayne/Vicki Vale scene in one episode. Anyway, what about you, TOM? What is your favorite Captain N moment?

TOM-Z: The songs from the episodes, before the later airings and the DVD release that removed them and replaced them with Mega Move. My favorite was the Bonanza theme from the episode, Nightmare on Mother Brain's Street, where Captain N and friends fight against some local goblins like a western.
Nightmare on Mother Brain's Street? Isn't that the episode where the N-Team ended up having nightmares after eating a cursed apple.

TOM-Z: Yep, even the one with Simon Belmont losing his muscle mass, his teeth and his hair. If that's a nightmare, then I don't know what is. What about you, Jay? What is your favorite Captain N moment?
That's easy, the episodes featuring the characters from The Legend of Zelda, hands down. Starting with the episode, The Potion of Power, Captain N and friends meet the heroes of Hyrule, Link and Princess Zelda. Kevin idolizes Link because there is no secret that Link is one of the greatest gaming heroes of all time, next to Mario, and even you, Sonic.

Sonic: Awww, that is so sweet.

Thanks, Sonic. Moving on. The main villain, Ganon, made his first and only appearance in this episode. After drinking the potion, which Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo stole, Ganon wants to not only conquer Hyrule, but all of Videoland. In short, Ganon didn't need any help from Mother Brain. "No honor among thieves," as they say. Anyway, unlike the cartoon from the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Link is not the same character who says the line, "Well, EXCUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSE ME, Princess!" This Link is a serious and courageous as he should be, just like in Ocarina of Time. As for Zelda, she is the same as she was in the cartoon, but she...has...extreme...makeover....all...over...her.

(Jason goes ga-ga over Zelda's sexy look, including around her midriff)

Sonic: Ummm...Earth to Jason. I hate to break up your fantasy. But you got a review to finish.

Sooooooo....SNAP OUT OF IT!!

(Sonic hits Jason on the head with Jay's keyblade, Oathkeeper; Jason shakes it off)

Sorry. I'm must gone to La-La Land, if there is such a place. Anyway, to make it more unique, Link, Zelda and Ganon, were voiced by the same people who voiced them in the Zelda cartoon, Jonathan Potts, Cynthia Preston and Len Carson.

Sonic: Wow, talk about doing double duty!

Tell me about it.

Sonic: Say, Jay. Before we sign off, I got a question to ask.

Fire away, Blue-Dude!

Sonic: Weren't they more shows based on Captain N.

Glad you ask, Sonic. There was a cartoon called The Power Team, which use to be a cartoon short on the video game themed show, Video Power. It was later showed as a half hour show, but it was shown at Thanksgiving time back then on a holiday cartoon block called Kids' Day Off (which has been taken off the air when the FCC starts removing cartoon blocks on regular tv). Unlike Captain N, the video game heroes and villains are in the real world. But that is a review for another time. And there was a show called Level Up. But, although has the same formula like Captain N and The Power Team, it is not a cartoon, just another attempt by Stuart Snyder to make Cartoon Network more live action oriented. We don't know if that show was cancelled or not, although they are showing that new show called Incredible Crew, which I forsee that it will be cancelled after its first season.

Bottom Line, despite some animation errors and some of the characters not being true to their gaming counterparts. Overall, if you are fan of Nintendo, video games, 90s cartoons or a combination of both, Captain N is an enjoyable action cartoon that will make you a instant gamer like myself. If you want to know more about Captain N, go check out Stefan's fanfic page. His fanfic version of Captain N is completely different from the cartoon, including some of the characters. I'm sure you will enjoy it. Well, I like to thank Sonic the Hedgehog and TOM-Z for backing me up in this review.

Sonic: Your quite welcome, Jay!

TOM-Z: Likewise. Happy to help.

Until then, see you next time. And remember, Stay Gold and Godspeed.

(Captain N season 1 end credits play)

*Fade Out

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