The 8 Ball: Top 8 Cartoons Based on Games – Pokemon, Street Fighter, More
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball!
This week, I’m looking at cartoon adaptations of video games. Frankly, cartoons have a much easier time when being based on a video game than a live action series or movie. Fans will endlessly complain about differences in a live action thing, from the color of a headband to sometimes necessary costume changes for practicality’s sake. The downside of cartoons is that some of them can be goofy, have nothing to do with the source material, or are straight up so bad, you can’t believe it. I’m looking at you, Sonic Underground, for all three of these sins. So, here is a list of the best cartoons based on games, at least in my opinion. Enjoy:
On its face, Pokemon isn’t bad, it’s just really bland. You can break down an episode formula as “Ash & friends go to new area, meet new friend and/or Pokemon, Team Rocket tries to interfere, Ash stops them, Ash and new friend and/or Pokemon develop friendship”. That’s about 90% of the episodes. There are episodes that break the formula, like when one of his friends leaves or when he is in an actual competition but there’s little actual forward momentum for his story arc. Ash has never won a league championship in the history of the show. Eh, maybe in the next 1,000 episodes he can win one?
#7: Street Fighter 2 V
For an anime based on Street Fighter 2, this one is a tad weird. Every character is just a tad too young, with Ryu/Ken being about 17 and Chun-Li being around 15. Still, the series follows the game series, at least loosely. Names are changed, as are some motivations but it plays it relatively straight. Or, at least better than the USA cartoon series, back in the day. The best Street Fighter 2 thing is probably still the animated movie, but this series is OK in my book.
#6: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
Hey kids, what if there was a Pokemon-like show, only it had some narrative going on it it? Well, welcome to Yu-Gi-Oh! I’m being a bit sarcastic here but it’s not entirely unfounded. Yu-Gi-Oh! does follow a lot of the same elements as a typical Pokemon episode, Yugi and friends come upon someone, battle them, and (often) make friends of them by the time the episode is done. However, Yu-Gi-Oh! has some different elements to make it better. Generally, the show is more serialized so some fights take multiple episodes to actually complete which helps the viewer to become invested. Also, there is usually more at stake for Yugi to win, usually his friends are in trouble or something of that nature. Lastly, Yugi actually wins on occasion, so that’s pretty nice.
#5: Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Earth was a pretty good counter-point to the PBS Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” gameshow. The gameshow was basically kids Jeopardy with a good theme song but no plot. The cartoon, on the other hand, had a fair amount of plot (for its day) and was well-made. Rita Moreno was a great pick for Carmen Sandiego’s voice actor as she has a recognizably sultry voice that is still unique. Also, the show completely broke the fourth wall, Zack, Ivy and The Chief basically know they are in a computer game, asking the player to “C5” (teleport) them somewhere in a pretty cool little CGI sequence. Most episodes are formulaic but a few do break the pattern, especially in the later seasons.
#4: Mega Man
It’s corny but the Mega Man cartoon is still great. Every episode was basically “Dr. Wily comes up with dumb plot, sends evil robots, Mega Man copies power of one evil robot to stop the plot”, but if you think about it, that’s really the plot of the games as well. The show had some stellar voice acting with Ian James Corlett as Mega Man and Scott Menville as Dr. Wily/Proto Man, and if you know who these two guys are, you know how talented they can be. There was some interesting animation on the show as well, it’s very anime-esque but it doesn’t breach the wall of being impractical or outlandish. Plus, one episode had Mega Man meeting X, which was great.
#3: Persona 4 The Animation
I’m currently knee deep in the Persona 5: The Animation and while I can’t comment on the overall quality of it (other than it being good), I can say what I think of P4: The Animation. Man, it really lives up to the game. It is abridged in spots and if you didn’t play Persona 4 you likely won’t give a fug about the series but fans are the game owe it to themselves to track this down and watch it. It distils down the essence of the 80+ hour game into a 26 episode long series.
#2: Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM)
Since Sonic has been around there has been five different cartoons based on him. Adventures, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Sonic Underground, Sonic X and last & least, Sonic Boom. Only one of them has been remotely good, that being Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). Ok, ok, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is passable but only because of how goofy it is. Sonic the Hedgehog has almost nothing to do with the source game series, it frankly takes most of its inspiration from the Archie comic series but it still works. The series was incredibly dark for a kids show with the saga of Uncle Chuck being pretty sad. The show kept its somber tone up until the end of the series, ending on a pretty weird cliffhanger. It’s pretty tame by today’s standards but it still is the best Sonic property out there.
Who could have thought a cartoon based on Castlevania be good? It’s not only good but probably one of the best video game adaptations to date. Based somewhat on Castlevania 3, Castlevania follows Trevor Belmont as he is in a country overrun with Dracula’s monsters. Dracula himself is humanized to a large degree and you can understand his motivations for wanting revenge against the simple folk. The animation is superb, the violence is handled well and it has some good voice acting driving it. The biggest problem was its length, only having 4 episodes, but the new season will have an expanded 8 episode second season so that should be nice for fans of the show.
For comments, list your favorite cartoon adaptations and why.