Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

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The world of Captain N is here

I just recently bought the DVD boxed set for Captain N: The Game Master, a cartoon that I remembered fondly from my childhood (or early adolescence, anyway). I'm going to offer up my review of the very first episode, "Kevin in Videoland."


The head writer for the first season was Jeffrey Scott, a guy who wrote a shitload of cartoon episodes, and is somewhat infamous for putting a Scientology reference into an episode of Muppet Babies. Captain N seems to be Xenu-free, at least as far as I can tell, but it does occasionally show that Scott wasn't always that familiar with the Nintendo games that were supposed to be the backbone of the show. But hey, he was probably working on eight other Saturday morning cartoons at the same time.

Anyway, early on in the show, we meet the main villain, Mother Brain from Metroid. Kind of an odd choice, perhaps, since she doesn't really do anything in the game. The cartoon gives her a face, a personality, tentacles capable of generating electricity, and the voice of Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops (who also voiced Audrey II in the musical version of Little Shop of Horrors). She's assisted by King Hippo from Punch-Out!, who's blue for some reason (although I actually think he looks less disturbing that way); and the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus (there are several in the game, but only one in the show), who can do just about anything with vegetables, and serves as the requisite bad punster. Dr. Wily also shows up on occasion, but not in this episode. The good guys, led by the scantily-clad Princess Lana, start out as being the poorly organized team of Simon Belmont, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus (whose name is actually Pit, but they never use it in the show). People have complained about Simon's portrayal as a blond-haired egomaniac, but it's not like it's easy to tell what hair color people had in early video games. I mean, wasn't Princess Peach a brunette and a redhead before they finally settled on making her a blonde? And I don't see any reason why he couldn't be a narcissist. It is a little messed up that he's always hitting on the Princess, when I think she's supposed to be a teenager, but maybe that kind of thing flies in late seventeenth century Romania...um, I mean "Castlevania." Mega Man's design, however, is pretty bad. His appearance is largely consistent from one game to another, so why in Capcom's name does he look nothing like that on the show?

According to the dramatic narration, Mother Brain's army has been laying siege to the Palace of Power for seven years. I remember seeing another review where someone asked how you can lay siege to a building containing instant transportation portals, which is a very good question. There doesn't seem to be anyone in the palace other than Lana, Simon, Kid Icarus, and Mega Man. Wouldn't a major seat of government (one that rules over several planets, in this case) usually have a staff of some kind? Has everyone else been killed? Have they deserted the palace? We never really find out. Nonetheless, Lana is worried that the end has come, even though Mother Brain's army doesn't appear to have breached their defenses. But a mysterious voice tells them not to give up hope, and opens the Ultimate Warp Zone, bringing in Kevin Keene from California and his dog Duke. They're live action before being sucked into the TV set, but then turn into cartoon characters. And, for some reason, a weird green creature briefly pops its head out of Kevin's TV, and no explanation for this is forthcoming.

Kevin instantly recognizes the video game characters, even though only Kid Icarus looks much like he does in the actual game. I can only assume that what he's seeing isn't exactly what we're seeing. After all, this isn't Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where the cartoon characters KNOW they're cartoon characters. After ogling the scantily clad Princess, Kevin is told that he's come through the Ultimate Warp Zone, and he asks, "Like Warp Zone Four in Super Mario Bros."? Okay, what's "Warp Zone Four"? The warp to World 4? One of the warps in World 4-2? He's also told that the Warp Zone gave him a Super Power Pad and Zapper, but what it actually gave him was a controller, and not a Power Pad at all. The Power Pad is the thing you run on (or, more likely, just hit with your hands). Come on, Nintendo, they're giving you all this advertising, and you couldn't even bother fact-checking it? Actually, Nintendo seems to be pretty embarrassed by these video-game-based cartoons nowadays, and refuses to contribute anything to the DVD sets.

Getting back the show, Mother Brain discovers that the warp zone has drained the Palace's defenses, so she sends her goons there to capture the Princess. (Hey, they're video game villains. What did you expect?) There's a showdown between Kevin and Eggplant Wizard, which originally used the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but that music had to be jettisoned along with all of the other copyrighted songs originally played on the cartoon. In the end, the villains get away with Lana, and Kevin and Simon argue about the best warp to take to Metroid to get her back. Kevin argues that he knows the best one because he's played the game a lot at home. Um, what game? The only one I can even think might fit the bill would be Metroid itself, but it doesn't have any warp zones. They take Simon's choice of warp, which unsurprisingly turns out to be the wrong one, taking them to Donkey Kong's home world of Kongoland. Donkey Kong is enormous on this show, but I guess that's somewhat excusable, since the Donkey Kong Country games hadn't come out yet. It's hard to tell exactly how big a character is in the older games, and Donkey Kong WAS inspired by King Kong. I do have to wonder why Donkey Kong has his own world, though. Shouldn't he be on the same one as Mario and Luigi, who never show up in this cartoon due to have their own? Anyway, Kevin leads everyone up the side of a volcano, claiming to know what he's doing because he's played Donkey Kong a lot. Except, um, the original Donkey Kong doesn't have any volcanoes, so who knows what he's talking about? It still works, though, and the whole team rides rocks to Metroid, where Lana is being kept in a tower by a jailer who's presumably supposed to be Kraid. If he is Kraid, though, he goes down way too easily. The N Team gets together to stop Mother Brain, but after sending her spinning out of control, Kevin insists it's too dangerous to finish her off. I think he just realizes that, in both cartoons and video games, you have to let the villain survive. Kevin has a chance to return home, but decides to stay because it means not having to do chores. We never find out how his mother and other people who know him react to his going missing, but I guess he'd eventually be declared legally dead. Unless Videoland is like Narnia, and time flows differently there. Oh, and remember that army that had been attacking the palace for seven years? If so, you have one up on the writers, because they've disappeared with no explanation.


So that's my review. I'm sure I could write more of them, but I doubt anyone is interested. Let me know if you are, though.
Tags: television, video games
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