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RETRO REPLAY ► Best of Video Games to Cartoons – Super Mario, Sonic, Pokemon & More!

The Gadget Helpline: RETRO REPLAY feature will bring you a weekly throwback to the days of old school gaming and will present a little history on the new wave of classic titles currently getting a revival on our modern gaming gadgets.

However. With the eggciting announcement that popular mobile game Angry Birds will be adapted as a 52 episode animated series for television, the Gadget Helpline thought we’d take a bit of a different direction with our RETRO REPLAY this time around and instead of covering the games themselves we’ll be reminding you veterans – and introducing you young ‘uns – to some of the characters who have crossed over into cartoon form over the ages!

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show (1989 – 1991)

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show was largely based in the Brooklyn home of the famous Nintendo plumbing duo and would usually begin with a live-action skit featuring Mario played by legendary pro-wrestling Manager Captain Lou Albano and Luigi played by Danny Wells. These “human” segments would start and finish the show and often feature a star guest including popular American television star of the era. A cartoon based on the first two Super Mario NES games would be played as the mid show segment and would feature the colourful world of the Mushroom Kingdom, in which familiar characters such as the Bros themselves, Princess Toadstool and sidekick Toad faced off against the fearsome foe King Koopa (Bowser).

The Super Mario Bros animated portion regularly aired on the daily Super Show from Monday to Thursday, but on Friday it would be switched for a cartoon based on The Legend of Zelda, featuring green garbed hero Link and his quests for the Tri-Force as seen in the now iconic game series.


The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993 – 1996)

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was based on themes played out in the SEGA sequel Sonic 2 and expanded on the universe seen in the popular game which was previously confined to the side-scrolling series. The fast paced animated action was set on the Planet Mobius and gave voices to characters including Sonic and his two-tailed flying fox buddy Miles “Tails” Prower as well as the evil Dr. Robotnik (Eggman) and his pair of chrome cronies, Scratch and Grounder. There were even cameo appearances from never-before-seen characters – including, bizarrely, Robotnik’s mother. These characters and some outlandish plots could often deviate a little too far from the source material, but as a kid who was to care!

Each show ended with a Sonic Sez/Says segment where the SEGA mascot would impart some wisdom to his young fans regarding staying safe and turning down the allure of drugs and alcohol – although these segments were cut out of the UK version, which in hindsight could explain a lot!

As a trivial footnote, The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was produced and distributed by the amusingly named French/American animation studio DIC – pronounced “Deeek” as nostalgics will remember from the closing ident from many a favourite ‘toon!


Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994)

Bringing new depth and back story to popular Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II characters, this Animated Movie was released in the UK in 1994 through Manga Entertainment and to us is one of the best stand-alone anime features of the era. Following several key characters from Capcom’s classic, in particular Ryu and Ken, paths of famous fighters cross as an investigation is being made into a criminal organisation run by video game baddie M.Bison and his stable by army arse-kicker Guile and Interpol agent Chun-Li. The movie presented rich interconnecting storylines, beautiful location backdrops and fluent combat sequences choreographed by K1 kickboxing federation pros.

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie brings into focus the troubled past of the veteran game characters Ryu and Ken, and we finally get to see where the competitive streak and parallels in their supernatural martial arts abilities originate from. And of course, the pair kick it off in the movie, only to reunite in the crucial closing moments. We’d highly recommend finding this one in honour of the 25th Anniversary of the Street Fighter games this year. And with any hope a celebratory re-release on Blu-Ray will be on its way!     


Earthworm Jim (1995 – 1996)

Based on the surrealism of the Earthworm Jim game for SEGA consoles, this was in our opinion one of the best video game to cartoon adaptations of all time – simply because anything goes! With characters seen on screen, such as the main hero – a worm with a robotic astronaut suit, accompanied by cute-to-psycho sidekick Peter Puppy and Princess What’s-Her-Name, as well as their antagonists Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, Evil the Cat and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head always causing random troubles for the heroes – like stealing a valuable egg-beater!

Just like in the gameplay the villain would always get their comeuppance – with at least one villain per show being crushed by a cow which would fall spontaneously from the sky!  


Pokemon (1997 – Present Day)

Without question the name that stands out above all other video game to animated series is Pokemon. Starting as a Japanese card battling game in the mid-nineties – akin to the classic Top Trumps with a fantasy twist – the idea soon became a gaming phenomenon on the Nintendo Game Boy and soon took over subsequent consoles. An animated series soon was necessary to further cash-in on the world domination of the adventures of human characters Ash, Brock, Misty and their battling and transforming critters such as the iconic Pikachu, matching up pocket monsters against the dastardly tactics of Team Rocket.

Pokemon has survived the test of time longer than any other game based cartoon and has now been ongoing for 14 seasons including the original series into Advanced Generations, Battle Frontier and Diamond & Pearl series, which have seen new heroes and locations included in the vast Pokemon universe. And let’s not forget the 15 spin-off movies! 

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