It’s no secret that video games haven’t made the jump to film in quite the way many filmmakers were hoping. From the classic ‘Super Mario Bros.’ live-action flop to ‘Assassin’s Creed’, it seems like nobody can really capture the feeling we get when playing the games they’re based on based on. But why is this; could it be the runtime? I mean most films are around two hours, it makes sense that they couldn’t squeeze all of the plot and lore of a 50 hour video game into a tight little package; that would make sense for something like, well, a TV show. Well unfortunately, as we’ll see here today, that argument doesn’t exactly hold up. So today, we’ll be taking a look at the worst animated shows based off of video games.
Tak and the Power of Juju Amongst the tie-in games related to Spongebob and Rugrats released in 2003, Nickelodeon released an original title called Tak and the Power of Juju for the Playstation 2 and Gamecube, with a side-scroller version for the Game Boy Advance. The game was well-received, and spawned two direct sequels, Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams and Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, with the former being regarded as the best in the series. In 2007, Nickelodeon released a CGI series based on the video game. It… wasn’t received as well.
The show was your standard two eleven-minute stories in one half-hour block, and was Nickelodeon’s first complete-CGI series to be made in-house. Despite having the same name and a few of the same characters, the show was very different from the games, and confused a lot of fans to whether or not they are even in the same continuity For example, Tak is recognized as the hero of his tribe after the first game, but isn’t seen as this in the series. So I guess this takes place before the first game? Despite this, the villain Tlaloc appears in the show, hinting at a past rivalry between him and Tak, even though the two didn’t meet until the first game. Many fans were disappointed to see that the fun and mysterious vibe was absent from the show, instead having a more ‘weird and zany’ vibe.
It was cancelled after one season. The show might not be remembered so negatively if the original game series were allowed to continue, but unfortunately it’s very unlikely we’ll ever see another entry in the franchise. The show spawned its own two tie-in games, titled Tak and the Guardians of Gross and Tak: Mojo Mistake that did away with the overarching story from the original series, instead focusing on characters and humor from the show.
These games were not created by the original developers, Avalanche Software, instead being handled by Blitz Games and Altron, leading to many bugs and gameplay changes that didn’t jive well with fans. The negative reception to both the recent games and show has left the future of the Tak franchise uncertain. Rabbids Invasion Up until recently, the Rabbids were not looked highly upon. And by not looked highly upon, I mean downright despised. Often called the ‘Minions’ of video games, the Rabbids garnered a negative reception due to their constant screaming and toilet humor. In addition, the fuzzy bastards are blamed for the decline of the Rayman franchise, of which they originally spun off from.
With the outstanding reception to the recently released Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the hatred for the Rabbids has died down a bit. But the past is not forgotten, as the Rabbids have left their mark on the past decade of video games. This includes poorly made video game TV shows as well, with their Nicktoon Rabbids Invasion. The show debuted in 2013 on Nickelodeon, with it eventually moving to the Nicktoons Network. The plot is… well, there is no plot. It’s just the Rabbids dicking around and getting into trouble.
The show features the slapstick humor that the series is known for, albeit toned down a bit for the younger viewers. The show was met with mixed reviews, mostly leaning on the negative side, with one review calling the show ‘rude, crude and minimally taxing on the viewer’s sense of comprehension’. Despite the reception, the show was renewed for two more seasons, ending this past summer on June 23, 2017. While the first few Rabbids games were met with positive reviews, the franchise has had more blunders than successes, aside from Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Rabbids Invasion received a tie-in game, which unfortunately fell into the ‘blunder’ category.
‘Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show’ was released for Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and required use of the Playstation Camera or the Kinect. One last interesting tidbit about Rabbids Invasion is that Aardman, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit, were originally signed on to help produce the series alongside Ubisoft. However, in 2011 Ubisoft announced that it would handle the production of the series alone. It is unknown why Aardman dropped out of the project, but it would have certainly been interesting to see if the show would have taken on their unique claymation style. Fire Emblem Many of us had their first exposure to the massively popular Fire Emblem Series in Super Smash Bros. Melee, due to the fighting game including “Marth” and “Roy” as playable characters.
Up until then the game series had remained Japan-exclusive, with the seventh entry, Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, being the first to release worldwide. While it’s True that Smash Bros, was the first worldwide video game appearance of Marth, the character actually made his first international appearance years before in the anime adaptation of Fire Emblem, which was oddly dubbed and released in America despite the game series being non-existent there at that point. Released in America by ADV Films, they incorrectly translated many of the character names, such as Marth being named ‘Mars’ and Caeda (kay-da) being named ‘Shiida’. The anime adaptation is only two episodes, as is customary with most OVA, or original video animation. The plot is based on the original game Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, with Marth being exiled to a neighboring kingdom after an enemy kingdom takes over HIS kingdom.
Lots of kingdom talk. The problem with Fire Emblem isn’t so much the anime itself; it’s animated fine enough, and the dub isn’t too bad… aside from Marth’s pathetic scream in this clip: The real failure comes from the decision to release it in America in the first place, only serving as a lackluster preview for a franchise nobody knew anything about. While in Japan, people have come to know and love the characters from the series, the anime barely develops any of them into interesting characters, or even portrays the plot in any interesting ways. Fire Emblem barely does enough with its runtime to warrant its existence, and then right when the plot gets going, the series ends with no continuation. It would have been a bit better had the game’s been released in America at this point, but as it stood at the time of its release it was just a mediocre anime that your friend told you was based on some Nintendo game you’ve never heard of. Apparently the Japanese audience didn’t care much for it either, as no more episodes were ever produced after the initial two.
Since then, the series has become massively popular all over the world. Maybe someday we’ll see another crack at an anime adaptation? Perhaps this time with a little more time and care. Donkey Kong Country Pretty much anyone who has been around the internet a few times can tell you about the Super Mario Bros. Super Show or The Legend of Zelda cartoon. But when someone brings up the 1998 CGI Donkey Kong Country cartoon, most people scratch their heads, wondering if that really happened or not.
Well, it’s real. Airing on Fox Family from 1998 to 2000, Donkey Kong Country follows DK and Diddy Kong as they try to protect something called the Crystal Coconut from the evil King K. Rool. What’s the Crystal Coconut, you ask? It’s the shows Macguffin, that’s what. It can do pretty much anything the characters need it to do at any given time. It’s essentially God incarnate in the form of a coconut.
And it predicts that Donkey Kong will be the next ruler of Kongo Bongo Island. So it’s up to Donkey Kong to protect it. Except he’s kind of a fucking idiot and screws it up in every single episode.
Despite the Crystal Coconut having the power to grant wishes, it’s pretty much never used, not even by King K. Rool when he manages to get his hands on it. Maybe everyone on Kongo Bongo Island is just really stupid. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; the CGI. It would be easy to make fun of how creepy and unsettling it looks… and don’t get me wrong, it does! But for the time this show came out, it was a huge advancement for CGI in television.
After all, this was the first show to be entirely animated using motion capture technology. That’s actually pretty darn impressive. Another thing the show needs to be commended for is its dedication to music. Every single episode features a song. They’re not always good, per se, but they always seem to have at least a little bit of effort put into them.
The songs where Donkey Kong sings are always a highlight, even if the lyrics are terrible. Richard Yearwood, the voice of DK, absolutely kills it in these performances, and gives way more effort than a mediocre Donkey Kong cartoon deserves. The theme song is also kind of catchy, with a nice jungle beat and blurting out Donkey Kong’s catchphrase “Banana Slamma”. It’s dumb, but it’s the fun kind of dumb. All in all, this show is pretty bad. But it falls into the ‘so bad it’s kind of funny’ category.
If you’re a DK fan, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show Mario’s first venture into film wasn’t exactly as successful as it could have been, and unfortunately the same can be said for his first show, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. It debuted in 1989 and eventually spun off into two other shows both named and based on Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. The opening and closing featured live-action skits with the Mario Bros. at their Brooklyn plumbing company, with Mario and Luigi being portrayed by Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells respectively.
Many notable guest stars appeared, including Magic Johnson, Elvira and even Inspector Gadget. It was then followed up with a cartoon portion with the Mario Bros, Princess Peach and Toad going on wacky adventures and thwarting the plans of King Koopa, often in a pop-culture or movie parody setting. Before the series was conceived, the CEO of DiC Entertainment spent a year attempting to convince Nintendo to allow them to license the characters for a show.
Eventually they allowed the show to be developed, with the then director of advertising and public relations for Nintendo stating that the purpose of the cartoon was to “boost awareness of the characters”. Nowadays, everybody and their grandmother knows who Mario is, but it makes sense for the time to attempt and get the word of Mario out there. Sadly the show did more harm to Mario than good, with it alongside the live-action film causing Nintendo to become wary of allowing Mario to appear in television and film in the future.
Upon the series premiere, USA Today described the series as a “surprising disappointment” and saying that it has “little of the wit and spark of the games, and relies to heavily on slapstick”. Furthermore, IGN called it “the biggest offender among Nintendo’s many embarrassing moments”. While the show definitely wasn’t the hit they were looking for, it seems as though Nintendo is starting to soften up again, stating that they are willing to try once more to bring Mario to film and TV.
If there’s anything we can take away from this show, it’s that. Oh, and the memes. Lots and lots of memes.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Despite being the first major video game mascot, as well as being one of the most successful game franchises of all time, Pac-Man hasn’t really had too much experience in the TV world when compared to his rivals, Sonic and Mario. Given the barebones premise of the original game, you know… the one most people are familiar with, it actually makes sense that there haven’t been too many attempts to give the yellow hockey puck some personality. So far, all we’ve gotten is the 1982 Hanna-Barbera cartoon and the 2013 CGI cartoon Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.
Developed by Avi Arad of Marvel fame, the show follows a teenage Pac-Man, usually just called Pac, as him and his friends fight off ghosts that have invaded the city, all thanks to Pac-Man accidentally unleashing them. Only Pac-Man can eat the ghosts because it’s apparently his destiny or something, since he’s a descendent of the legendary Yellow One. So yeah, the show is a lot like Danny Phantom, just minus the ghost transformation part and with a lot of ‘butt’ humor. It’s rather strange in the context of the show that Pac-Man is named Pac-Man at all, given that A.) he is not a man, and B.)
lives in a world called Pac-World where all the people are called Pac-People. It’s like being named Human-Man. The show was met with mediocre reviews, as the concept is rather uninspired and the humor and dialogue is just… awkward. The show is just uncomfortable moment after uncomfortable moment, for a good three seasons. The show still did well enough to continue for a few years and warrant a large amount of merchandise, plus two tie-in games. Since the release of the series, the Ghostly Adventures look has become the official appearance of Pac-Man.
While Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is certainly a strange and awkward show, it definitely has its fans, and has become something of a cult classic. The animation is pretty well done, at least. If only the writing were on the same level.
Bubsy What could possibly go wrong? yeah yeah, a lot apparently. For anybody who doesn’t know Bubsy, consider yourselves lucky. I’m about to tell you anyways. Bubsy the Bobcat was developer Accolades attempt at creating their own mascot, akin to someone like Sonic the Hedgehog. The 90s were riddled with failed mascot attempts, from Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel to Gex the Gecko.
However, Bubsy remains the most well-known due to his meme status. There have been four games in the Bubsy series so far, with the absolute trainwreck known as Bubsy 3D effectively killing the franchise in 1996. If things had gone differently, though, we could have been cursed with a lot more Bubsy than we currently have. In 1993 a pilot episode for a potential Bubsy animated series was made by Calico Creations.
A plethora of well known voice actors lent their voices to the pilot, with Rob Paulsen as Bubsy himself, and various other characters being voiced by Tress MacNeille and Jim Cummings. The pilot begins with Bubsy doing a bunch of ‘cool’ and ‘radical’ random stuff, like brushing his teeth with a floor waxer, all while spurting out his iconic catchphrase ‘what could possibly go wrong’. We then meet his armadillo sidekick, who appears to be held captive by Bubsy, evidenced by his absolute terror of the titular bobcat. The pilot is 22 minutes of Bubsy being an unlikable asshole and hammering his catchphrase into your head at every opportunity. It’s pretty damn obvious why this pilot was never picked up, as it struggles to even find enough content for one episode, instead just throwing you so much random shit while delivering very little plot.
Thankfully, the show was never picked up and the game series is now dead in the water, it seems like Bubsy is gone for good. Except not, because it appears Accolade caught on to all the memes at Bubsy’s expense and thought it would be a good idea to ‘ironically’ bring him back in ‘Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back’, which came out on Halloween of 2017. The announcement was not well received by critics and gamers alike.
Accolade seems to be embracing the hate for the character, taking a page out of Sonic the Hedgehogs Twitter page and creating their own account for the bobcat full of self-deprecating humor and self-aware humor at the expense of the franchise’s past. Looks like we’ll be hearing ‘what could possibly go wrong’ for just a little longer… Sonic Underground Sonic the Hedgehog has gone through quite a few animated adaptations. From the pretty lackluster (The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog) to the average (Sonic X) to the downright awesome (Sonic SatAM), there’s something for everyone.
However, there’s one show in Sonic’s history that’s for nobody. Nobody except masochists. Sonic Underground is considered the worst Sonic cartoon by many, and for good reason. Instead of characters like Tails or Sally Acorn appearing in the series, we get Sonics long lost siblings Sonia and Manic. The voice of Sonic from the previously mentioned The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, returns to play the blue blur himself In a completely normal casting choice, he additionally voices both Sonia and Manic as well.
It sounds… well… I’ll let you be the judge of that. The plot of the show has very little to do with the Sonic series, instead creating its own line of continuity where Sonic and his siblings are the children of the long-lost Queen of Mobius. She separated and hid the children when they were babies after Doctor Robotnik took over the kingdom, leaving behind a prophecy that.. leaving behind a prophecy that they would grow up and overthrow Robotnik through the power of family.
Oh yeah, and by playing kick-ass rock music. Yeah, each sibling has their own magic medallion that can turn into an instrument; Sonic gets an electric guitar, Sonia gets a keyboard and Manic gets a drumset. When they’re not fighting off Robotniks forces, they play in their underground rock band, Sonic Underground. The show was not very popular, and was cancelled after a single season. Sonic has had his fair share of blunders in his long history. From the weird game-breaking beastiality of Sonic 06 to the somehow even more broken Sonic Boom, it seems like the hedgehog just can’t catch a break.
It’s easy to feel bad for the guy, but remember; he did this to himself. This is the cartoon where Sonics catchphrases were “way past cool” and “it’s juice and jam time”. This is righteous punishment. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm When you think of Mortal Kombat, what comes to mind? Probably over-the-top violence and gore, right? How about one-liners and kids shows?
No? Well, that’s what we’re talking about here. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm sought to take one of the most violent and bloody game out there about beheading your opponents and turning it into a Saturday morning cartoon.
To quote Bubsy “what could possibly go wrong?”. Well, for starters, nobody kills each other anymore. You know, one of the biggest selling points of the game? Yeah, with it being a kids show they weren’t allowed to show any of the blood and gore, so instead they just punch each other and then everyone lives until the next episode where they do it all again. Not only does the lack of violence actively work against it, but other kids cartoon tropes weigh it down as well, such as cute animal companions, every character having one personality trait, and one-liner after one-liner after one-liner. Interestingly enough, the show doesn’t seem to exist on its own separate continuity plane.
It actually serves as a sequel of sorts to the original live-action movie. Unfortunately the Mortal Kombat films are pretty awful too, so combining them with this cartoon doesn’t really do much for it. Needless to say, the show wasn’t well received, and lasted only 13 episodes. Since then, it’s been brought up in many lists citing it as one of the worst cartoons based on a video game ever made, and is considered one of the worst failures produced by the Mortal Kombat series. There were a few VHS releases in America, but other than that the series has never received any DVD or Blu-Ray release.
Most of the episodes can be found on Youtube, though, so if Sub-Zero and Sonya Blade doing public service announcements sounds good to you, then go nuts. The Legend of Zelda Don’t act like you didn’t see it coming. Perhaps the most infamous of all video game cartoons, The Legend of Zelda misses almost every single mark that made the video game series it’s based upon so great. This is evident from the very beginning of the first episode; Link talks.
The silent hero that is meant to be the literal link between the player and game speaks. Now, this is a TV show, and it wouldn’t be very interesting to have the main character completely silent the whole time, so the expected response to a special scenario like this would be to examine the options and ways to develop such a character and still have them retain that stoic yet whimsical nature we’ve come to love. Oh. I guess they just made him an annoying asshole. Yeah, Link is incredibly irritating in the show.
He’s constantly whining and bitching about every single little thing, and how he can’t get a kiss from Zelda. This past year, Nintendo themselves tried their hand at bringing voice acting to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. How did they handle Link speaking?
They didn’t. They learned from past mistakes and had him keep his damn mouth shut. Zelda, much like the audience, doesn’t put up with Links bullshit and constantly calls him out on it, which leads us to Links oh-so-memorable catchphrase: Despite there only being 13 episodes in the series, Link utters this phrase a total of 29 times. That’s roughly two times per episode, which is two times too many. So, when our main character is incredibly unlikable, it doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the series.
Honestly, what else can be said about The Legend of Zelda cartoon that hasn’t already been said? The show is so far from the actual games that there is an episode where the King of Hyrule is building a water park, and another where a Moblin, one of the stupidest monsters in the games, manages to outsmart Ganon, the KING OF EVIL, and trap him in a bubble. Like the CDI games, The Legend of Zelda cartoon was not handled by Nintendo, or even had any real involvement from them.
It’s pretty obvious that the series cannot survive without their leadership, which is why they haven’t given permission for any other studio to use the Zelda IP since. A notable example of a pitch being shot down is when Imagi Entertainment pitched a 37-second Zelda CGI film to Nintendo which, of course, never made it past that initial meeting. However, just like with Mario, Nintendo seems to be opening up to the idea a bit more in recent years, so perhaps we’ll see another Zelda series sometime in the future? Let’s just hope it handles the Hero of Time with a bit more… respect.