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Top 10 worst cartoons based on videogames

GD Library Error: imagecreatetruecolor does not exist - please contact your webhost and ask them to install the GD library Top 10 worst cartoons based on videogames

Movie adaptations of videogames have frequently been awful. They exist as a way for a studio to get name recognition for a genre film and allow a fledgling Director to get their first shot at a feature. Most often they alienate the fanbase of the game by omitting the aspects the players loved while making additions and changes that damage the reputation of the franchise. Would children’s cartoons based on games be even worse? Imagine what happens then when you take beloved, classic games and translate them to poor quality animations while compromising the content to appeal to children. Here’s a list of ten such abominations for your consideration.

10. Street Fighter
There exists a Japanese animated version of Street Fighter so good it almost erases the memory of the horrible live action versions. We’re not here to discuss that masterpiece though, we’re here to talk about an abomination instead. This is delicious:

*Make sure to check out more excellent videos like this one from The Switcher*

9. Double Dragon
One of the first and most innovative of the side scrolling beat em ups, Double Dragon is a bona fide classic. It contains all the ingredients for a violent adventure story: sibling rivalry, gang warfare and girls being punched in the stomach by punks. How can such a seedy, violent b-movie plotline be applied to a children’s cartoon? Well, they could ignore the story, give them magic swords and masks and say “Dragon” a lot in the theme tune.

8. Captain N: The Game Master
Children’s cartoons have been glorified advertisements for toy ranges since He-Man came along, but Captain N took this to new levels. I mean really, can they do this? Is this not wrong? I’m not the guy who demands that cartoons be educational. As long as kids learn that dropped anvils will flatten you into a concertina, explosions cover you in black soot and Acme is a poor supplier of goods and services then I’m fine. Surely a half hour program of targeted marketing aimed directly at their receptive little minds will brainwash them though. Won’t they grow up to buy Nintendo consoles and Mario games regardless of the fact that the company they loved has abandoned the hardcore fans who made them a success to pander to the casual gamers? Oh, wait…..

7. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
While other entries on this list may have had some limited potential to succeed as a children’s cartoon, this entry was doomed from conception. What’s the very first thing you think about when someone mentions Mortal Kombat? The very first thing. Honestly. Is it violence? Blood? It’s either one of those or, more likely, fatalities. You know, those things where you pull out someone’s spine or burn off their skin or melt their face or pull their arms off and beat them to death with them. Imagine a Mortal Kombat with no violence and no fatalities (only Friendships). Never has anything missed the point of the original source material as much as the Mortal Kombat animated kids cartoon.

6. The Adventures of Super Mario Brothers 3
Unlike everything else here, Mario makes a lot of sense as a cartoon character. He appeals to children, saves Princesses and has a bunch of loyal, bumbling sidekicks (what exactly is a Birdo?) and a range of inept, incompetent antagonists (who birthed the Koopa Troopers?). The problem with this cartoon is that while it is clearly just a cartoon about Mario, it is marketed and branded prominently as “The Adventures of Super Mario Brothers 3”. The opening sequence has a huge image of the game cover on the front of a book; an act of marketing not so much subliminal as beating-you-about-the-face.

5. Pac-Man
The problem with converting a character invented to circumvent the graphical limitations of ancient gaming hardware to a world of children’s entertainment is the number of questions it raises. Is Pacman a drug addict? What is this strange world of mazes he lives in? What were the ghosts when they were alive? Is that really a Pac-Baby? How was that conceived? Who is this strange Sith Lord included in the cartoon but never mentioned in the game? What the fuck is going on!?!

4. Wing Commander Academy
Wing Commander was one of the first game franchises to be badly burned by an awful movie adaptation. As if they couldn’t just leave well alone, they had to make an unsuccessful cartoon as well. Despite featuring some major vocal talent (Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell) the damage was already done.

3. Sonic the Hedgehog
Much of Sonic’s woes (and whoa, have there been a lot of woes) started when he added an expanded cast to his adventures. Things got worse when he started to talk. When an animated series about a talking Sonic and his crazy crew of friends and enemies came along it was always doomed to failure. Not as bad as some entries on the list, it’s nonetheless sad to see Sonic in any medium these days. It’s been so very, very long since he did anything right. It seems like someone needs to just turn off the life-support machine and let him die peacefully. Beep….Beep….Beep…Beep…Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…….

2. Dungeons and Dragons
Ok, so this one’s a cheat because it’s based on a traditional RPG rather than a videogame. I’ve included it here because they never finished the series….a series about a bunch of teenagers trapped in a fantasy world that can’t get home. That means they’re still trapped there. Forever.

They had chances to get home, but they always missed out to save a unicorn. Or help a friend. Or a doorway closed on them at the last minute. At least each time they learned a lesson…then the show got cancelled. And now they’re trapped forever. The lesson? Fuck helping people, when you get a chance to escape a nightmare world of dragons and mind worms you should curb-stomp any unicorn or cut the balls off any Dungeon Master who gets in your way!

1. Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
I’ll admit, I’ve thrown you a curve ball with this one. This cartoon is actually pretty good. Intended for kids but with a few jokes thrown in for adults, the developers of the game had some say in the development of the anime. Didn’t see that coming did you!

So that about wraps up this list. I hope you enjoyed it, the last entry shows that good children’s cartoons can be made out of videogames. The question is though, why bother? There are so many great games out there for kids. Take my advice, put on some Katamari Damacy or Mario Galaxy and forget about all this nonsense. Educate your offspring on great games and if you need to show them a cartoon, pick one with an original story and a great theme tune.



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  1. 04/26/2012, 1:08 PM

    Very good info right here. Heading to bookmark it!

  2. Neil Dunsmore says
    10/01/2011, 1:11 AM

    Wait, wait, wait, if you like the Kirby anime, then why is it number 1 on a worst cartoons based on video games list? You never explained this. Seriously, it boggles the mind…

  3. dndrequiem says
    07/23/2011, 7:30 AM

    Was surprised to see D&D:tAS here; everyone who commented on that already echoed my feelings. The animation (imo) was crisp and smart-thanks to Toei-that’s right Marvel contracted Toei (whose works include Puss in Boots [1969], Galaxy Express, and Saint Seiya)- the voice acting was convincing, and the layouts often looked like Frank Frazetta worked on them. Everyone can feel the way they want, but D&D:tAS never should make a ‘worst of’ list.

  4. Claude says
    05/27/2011, 10:35 AM

    When I saw Street Fighter at the the top of the list, I thought I was in for something good. A lot of people have been picking on the old animated series lately, but it’s not without reason. When I saw the small snippet that was supposedly lampooning it completely devoid of wit, I shook my head.

    When it got down to Captain N, I realized we were reading the deranged rantings of a butthurt manbaby throwing a tantrum about casual games. Instead of, you know, pointing out that Captain N has a GREEN Megaman or douchebag pilot Simon Belmont.

    The inclusion of Mario 3 and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and not, like, the worst cartoon incarnations both of these franchises suffered made me realize that you’ve probably never watched any of these shows so you have no business calling them out.

    By the time I got down to Kirby and saw it proposed as a “good” show, I already completed the blueprints to my time machine so I could go back and break your keyboard before you ever typed the first letter.

    It’s a good thig I’ve actually seen most of the shows on this list, because all I could take away from content here is that the shows are bad because the intros say dragon a lot or it’s dastardly marketing at work. Nothing about the actual content of the cartoons. Not very entertaining.

    But that doesn’t really matter. In a short while, the time machine will be complete and no one will remember this article once it’s wiped from the annals of time.

  5. Anonymous says
    03/31/2011, 12:26 PM
  6. Ravechimp says
    02/22/2011, 4:27 PM

    How dare you write an article for the purpose of attracting attention! You edgy bastard Tom!
    Christ, this is why you shouldn’t read the lower half of the internet ;-)

  7. Aqua says
    02/22/2011, 11:53 AM

    That “woosh” sound, Tom, is the point apparently sailing well over your head.

    That you criticized cartoons based on video games was, from most of the comments here, not the issue. That you did it in what appears to be a slap-dash manner that looks like yet another internet butthead (a group from which I don’t exclude myself, for the record) crying out “this sucks!” for the purpose of attracting attention or seeming “edgy” is the issue.

    Not writing a doctoral thesis for each cartoon is completely understandable, given that this blog is ultimately something done for recreation, not a paid job or an academic career. But something a leeeetle more than vague, “hand wave” comments about how “this is terrible” without giving indication you did more than glance at the cartoons in question would be nice.

  8. Profile photo of Tom
    Tom says
    02/21/2011, 5:20 PM

    Of all the posts on the site, the one that has gotten me the most hate mail is the one on cartoons based on videogames. The article on religious games where I outlined a racer called Super Buddha Kart and imagined a game where you played as a warrior version of Muhammad got reasoned debate and intelligent discussion. Meanwhile if you criticize the Wing Commander cartoon you get a Jihad declared on you.

    I applaud the passion in the comments, but remember this is just my opinion, and there as many opinions on the internet as cats. Well, almost.

  9. Aqua says
    02/21/2011, 4:46 PM

    As much as the list made me /facepalm, I do have to give Tom props for trolling people with it and getting others to pay attention to yet another “Dig me!” (to borrow from Carlin) blog site with half-baked posts purporting to be serious discussions of weighty issues.

    Heck, with a little more effort he could have even gotten some truly abominable “angrish”-filled replies that look like they were typed by an ADHD-suffering 5yr old crack baby on a Jolt Cola rush.

  10. Tastrick says
    02/20/2011, 8:39 PM

    Wing Commander Academy–bad? While it is all a matter of opinion, this is one of the best productions of a game/cartoon that exists–well developed, well written, good voice acting, intellegent, and keeps to the game story line.
    It is blatantly obvious that this person never watched many of these cartoons, and his list of ‘the worst’ is simply a way to get attention.
    Some basic advice on a re-write:
    1-watch 3 or 4 shows of each cartoon–all the way through.
    2-Think about the intended audience for each cartoon
    3-Listen to some of the examples of the other commenters (watch their suggestions as well)
    4-Rewrite a “Best-of and Worst-of” article.
    5-Shy away from the ‘extremist’ approach–leave that to the unintelligent.

    I’d very much like to see your improved work.

  11. criticalmass says
    02/20/2011, 8:15 AM

    Can I have another bucket of fail please? This one’s too far gone.

    The list looks arbitrary, rushed, with neither logic (the glaringly obvious D&D has been mentioned before as not based on a video game) nor research (the Sonic and Mario franchises are quite successful and high-quality, while the Wing Commander series has a lot of detailed background to make it “fit” into the complicated game universe). Not completing the list and ending with positive examples reeks of laziness.

    In other words: Fail.

  12. Kitty Tanaka says
    02/09/2011, 6:55 AM

    3:36 of the Street Fighter video, after Sakura flips Guile his head has seemingly vanished.

  13. Ravechimp says
    02/08/2011, 12:02 PM

    Feel their wrath! Are you feeling it yet?

  14. Brad says
    02/07/2011, 5:42 PM

    Oh, you better not be badmouthing Sonic SatAM… That was based on the comic books more than anything.

    Anyway, another one you missed was the Darkstalkers cartoon.

  15. wRR says
    02/07/2011, 7:48 AM

    You include Dungeons and Dragons and Kirby, which really don’t fit in the list, and then you leave out garbage like Megaman and Legend of Zelda? Fail.

    And thanks for reminding me of that Double Dragon cartoon… I almost blocked it from my memory.

  16. Gosh says
    02/07/2011, 5:04 AM

    This list was pretty pathetic. Nice job having your #1 worst pick NOT be bad by your own admission. Fail.

  17. Ninjinister says
    02/07/2011, 2:15 AM

    Seriously? The top two “worst” on your list don’t even qualify and you readily admit that? Are you just too lazy to think of 10 bad ones? This list is so horrible that your registrar should suspend your domain for fraud.

  18. Zanoh says
    02/07/2011, 2:00 AM

    @ #3: Sonic The Hedgehog Comic series by Archie, Sonic Satam, Sonic the Hedgehog 4, and Recently Sonic Colors prove the author’s comment on “Sonic Franchise should just die” rather immature and, dare I say, irrelevant. I agree with The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog being a worst adaptation.

  19. DVD Player says
    02/07/2011, 12:46 AM

    This list is pretty bad, for reasons others have stated, but also that you didn’t even throw in a “WELL EXCUUUUUUUUUUUSE ME PRINCESS”

    Seriously, that line is ICONIC for bad video-game cartoons. Why did you forget that one line from the Zelda cartoon?!

    Or for crying out loud, if you want something done you have to do it yourself.

  20. Sift says
    02/06/2011, 11:39 PM

    This list is fucking awful.
    The sonic inclusion is when it went really downhill as Sonics next cartoon series SONIC AM was fucking brilliant, dark, gritty, and amazing. TAS was mediocre and for the time hilarious, it doesn’t deserve to be on this list. As many have said Underground deserves that spot. EVERY CHARACTER IS URKEL AND THEY FIGHT WITH GUITARS AND BAD HAIRCUTS. Seriously what the hell! Why isn’t this the one you chose?

    Also Kirby gets a resounding top spot even though you said it was good? What the hell is this? Delete this list dude it’s awful

  21. Deadman says
    02/06/2011, 11:02 PM

    You didn’t mention the Donkey Kong cartoon, the most vile, annoying, horrendous thing ever to curse television

  22. Benjo says
    02/06/2011, 10:57 PM

    Did you leave any video game cartoons out? They all stink.

  23. 02/06/2011, 10:21 PM

    […] •Top 10 Worst Cartoons Based on Video Games [Calm Down Tom] Dungeons & Dragons, in addition to not being really a video game cartoon, was actually pretty good. Everything else here is spot-on advertooning, though he did miss the godawful CBS Saturday Supercade. […]

  24. C4Sqared says
    02/04/2011, 6:34 AM

    You started off with a great list, but as I continued to read I became more frustrated with your choices in this list.

    The Super Mario World cartoon was the worst of the worst for the Mario cartoons. Adventures of Mario Bros. 3 was bad, but not Mario World bad.

    I also think the Sonic one was just thrown in there because you hate seeing the character still around. Have you seriously watched any of it? Adventures Sonic was certianly strange and silly, but it wasn’t bad. Now, Sonic Underground? That’s the bad one.
    Also, have you even bothered to check in on the Sonic franchise? Last I checked, Sonic 4 and Sonic Colors where getting good ratings. There’s no point in killing him off when they’re finally finding footing. Also, it’s his 20th.

    Lastly, adding Kirby to the end of this list is an insult. You YOURSELF even said it was good. Than for what reason is it number 1 on a list about the top 10 BAD cartoons? Heck, Kirby’s not even a cartoon! It’s an Anime! :P

  25. EvilChan says
    02/02/2011, 10:43 PM

    I can’t believe you fagmos haven’t mentioned BattleToads.

  26. Fugit says
    02/02/2011, 8:48 PM

    I quite liked the D&D cartoon. Yes, it was depressing as all hell that they never escaped (and made me fear roller coasters) but the storylines were really interesting for Sat morning TV, even my older sister was hooked.

  27. JUICE says
    02/02/2011, 8:38 PM

    How about giving credit to theswitcher for the two Stupidity videos you linked? He has more videos.

  28. Swartz says
    02/02/2011, 8:20 PM

    Dungeons & Dragons was not based on a video game.
    It was based on a pencil and paper game.

    May I suggest Saturday Supercade’s Frogger Donkey Kong, Q*bert, Space Ace, Kangaroo, & Pitfall! as replacements?

  29. 02/02/2011, 7:09 PM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike D™ and Liam Lahey, Thomas Welsh. Thomas Welsh said: Site update! http://calmdowntom.com/2011/02/top-10-worst-cartoons-based-on-videogames/ […]

  30. HugeNerd says
    02/02/2011, 7:08 PM

    No mention of “Saturday Supercade”?

  31. The GD Duck says
    02/02/2011, 6:19 PM

    Okay, seriously, what the hell?

    Your top “worst cartoon” was actually a decent flick. You included the D&D cartoon, which, yes, lacked an ending, but was neither truly bad nor a video game `toon.

    Let’s analyze some of these, shall we?

    I shan’t argue with most of your picks. The Mario 3 cartoon was far inferior to the (still quite bad) Super Mario Brothers Super Show. Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat belong on this list rather pointedly; Street Fighter, on the other hand, was stupid, but watchable. I would personally swap it out for the absolutely horrendous Darkstalkers series that aired in the same era.

    Likewise, the Sonic cartoon wasn’t bad – just kind of cheesy. Swap it out for the later, canon-defiling Sonic Underground, and you’re got a match, though.

    Pac-Man was weird, but it was better than the Smurfs – so you’re already beating out the non-videogame competition in the same timeslot of the era. Trade this one for the American dub of the Monster Rancher series, and you’ve got a perfect entry on this list. Or even worse, the Saturday Supercade, which had (I kid you not) a Q*Bert cartoon.

    Q*Bert. Just think about that a minute.

    Hurting your head yet?

    Not a bad list by far, my good man – but do your research next time.

  32. Taylor says
    02/02/2011, 6:06 PM

    No mention of the Mega Man series?

  33. Anon Mos says
    02/02/2011, 5:26 PM

    Internet commenter: List fails without Legend of Zelda cartoon.
    Blog author: Well excuuuuuuuuse me, princess.

  34. Matthew says
    02/02/2011, 4:54 PM

    There was a kids show based on Mortal Kombat? Huh. What’s Captain N doing on there? Cap N was freaking awesome! Sure It was just one big advertisement but it was so much stupid fun.

  35. Profile photo of Tom
    Tom says
    02/02/2011, 1:35 PM

    Yeah, but they’re trapped in D&D world forever! Duckula was good, but it was no Gummi Bears :)

  36. Eresin says
    02/02/2011, 12:41 PM

    I loved the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon! That and Count Duckula were my favourites as kid.

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