Captain N: The Game Master

Captain N The Game Master Cover

Captain N: The Game Master was a animated television series that aired for three seasons in the late 80's and early 90's. It was set in an imagined Nintendo universe, where most of the major Nintendo games along with a few games from third-parties come together to fight evil. While they made over 30 episodes, four from the first season were available for instant streaming over Netflix so I took the opportunity to check them out. If the rest of the series is anything like the four I watched (Kevin in Videoland, Mr. and Mrs. Mother Brain, Videolympics, Mega Trouble for Megaland), then I don't think I'll be continuing on. It's an interesting premise though, and the following is simply some random thoughts about the episodes I watched.

Kevin in Videoland

Kevin Keene is just a normal, video game loving teenager with a dog and a nagging mother, when one day he's playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out and is SUCKED INTO THE GAME through the television! His dog jumps in right after Kevin and together they travel through the Ultimate Warp Zone into Videoland. Kevin has a destiny, though unknown to him, to become the Game Master and protect Videoland from Mother Brain and her evil cohorts. Kevin if reluctant to help at first, instead more interested in returning to his undoubtedly crappy high school life, but he soon discovers that the world he is in now is very much like all the video games he's been devoting his life to, and has a change of heart. Of course, he gets to shoot an NES Zapper like it's a real gun too.

The Good Guys

Kevin joins Princess Lana, the princess of Videoland and a beautiful, young, and single woman. Unfortunately, she's not from any particular video game and is one of the only original characters in the series. It would have been nice to feature Princess Peach or Zelda instead, but Lana holds her own when the going gets tough. Her main job is to protect Videoland from evil outside influences while looking pretty in her two piece bikini outfit.

The gang is rounded out by Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series, Kid Icarus, and Mega Man. All three are bumbling, shallow representations of their video game counterparts, and are mostly just there for comic relief. Simon Belmont is a chauvinistic narcissist more interested in his own looks than fighting the enemy, and even when he does try battling he mostly just messes things up. At least he wields Belmont's whip, but he's still more interested in giving Princess Lana some of his whip than a dangerous skeleton. Mega Man and Kid Icarus are essentially the same character, both worthless and more or less pointless to the series. Kid Icarus ends every sentence with "-icus", as in, "Your Highnicus!" It's horribly obnoxious. Mega Man just says "mega" a lot, and honestly doesn't look anything like the Mega Man we know and love now.

Captain N Kevin Princess Lana Mega Man

The Bad Guys

Mother Brain from the Metroid series leads her nasty band of mini and final bosses against Videoland and Princess Lana's throne. Mother Brain herself is stuck inside her giant glass tube, relying on her minions to do her hard work. The bumbling bad guys are made up of King Hippo from Punch-Out (the super fat guy that most punches would just roll off of), Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus (what?), and Dr. Wily, the mad scientist from Mega Man.

This is seriously the oddest bunch of bad guys I've ever seen assembled. Who is Eggplant Wizard? I never even heard of this guy before, but supposedly he's a boss or something from Kid Icarus. And King Hippo? Should have gone with Mike Tyson, that would have been even more awesome at the time and more insane of a decision today. I guess I can understand Dr. Wily, at least he's well known... But this collection of bad guys is like writing a Metal Gear Solid movie and having all the antagonists made up of Vulcan Raven, Fatman, and The Fury (basically the most worthless bosses ever).

Third Party Participation

So even though we get a rather lackluster and random cast of characters, it's interesting that they came from more than just Nintendo's bank. Mega Man and Dr. Wily come from the classic Capcom series, and Simon Belmont courtesy of Konami. Those were Nintendo's two big third parties at the time and it's a nice glance back into history, especially considering that the Castlevania and Mega Man series are still quite popular. I can't imagine seeing a mash-up like this ever again, though Nintendo's character repository is so strong now, they wouldn't need anyone else. Heck, Konami and Capcom could also host their own shows with their huge character backlogs.

Captain N Mother Brain King Hippo Eggplant Wizard

Gaming in the Zone

Probably the best part of the four episodes I saw was the finale of the first episode, where our heroes travel around Videoland in a montage of jumping and running on platforms. It reminded me of being "in the zone" while playing a game like Super Mario World where you jump from platform to platform, avoiding all the enemies, and making it to the end of the level faster than you thought ever possible. The N-team felt like they were perfectly in sync with all the moving platforms they jumped on, it was pretty awesome. Below is a video of the scene, plus all the other weird stuff this show has to offer.

Cliche Cartoon Storylines

So Belmont gets struck by a love arrow and falls in love with Mother Brain, the bad guys stage some "friendly" games but they're actually just tricking the bad guys into letting their guard down, and of course, the princess gets captured a few hundred times. It was just so painful to watch, maybe it was awesome 20 years ago when I was a kid and was able to see some of the characters larger than 10 pixels on my television... but now, I just wanted the episodes to end. I can't really recommend this show. All the characters have changed so much, they're mostly unrecognizable. Honestly, I don't even feel like writing about it anymore! Bah, watch instantly on Netflix if you're really interested, but don't bother renting or let alone buying.

If you really must know how bad this cartoon was without watching, check out Destructoid's Death by Cartoon. Very funny.

Here's some absolutely great art by Andrew Dobson. It really captures the characters from the show, including their awfully chosen color palettes. Used with permission.

Captain N Andrew Dobson Art