games / Columns

The Hall of Shame 11.12.08: Top 5 Most Shameful Video Game Cartoons

November 12, 2008 | Posted by Vincent Chiucchi

One of the first things that happens when a video game series gets popular is that they get their own animated show, usually shown on Saturday morning and meant for younger audiences. In the 80’s, gaming first icons such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong hit the small screen. By the 90’s Saturday mornings was full of video game cartoons like Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, and all the fighting game cartoons on USA network. By the millennium most of the animated shows came from Japan as the success of Pokémon encouraged networks to start importing more shows. While these cartoons are meant for kids, the good ones can also be enjoyed by adults.

These cartoons, however, are impossible for adults to enjoy considering they’re used to seeing much better and they start to notice all the crap we looked over as kids. Some are so bad that perhaps even kids who see them today probably wouldn’t enjoy them either. This week in the Hall of Shame, I list what I believe are the 5 Most Shameful Video Game Cartoons, and yes it includes Animé.

5: Medabots

An interesting series that reaches Yu-Gi-Oh levels of convoluted stupidity.

I never realized this was actually based on a video game until I saw it listed on Wikipedia. I just assumed this was one of those trying to capture the popularity of Pokémon (espeically when one of the characters looks like a human Pikachu), and maybe it was, I’m not sure. What I am sure is that this show was bad.

Some people would likely be turned off immediately by the crude animation this show has. Personally I think it was okay because it made itself look different then all the other shows. The plot was that kids have robots and use them to fight each other. The robots has medals that basically act as their CPU, and the main character as a robot with a rare medal. The series was pretty much Pokémon with robots and wasn’t so bad until towards the end when the characters compete in a worldwide tournament.

You know how in Yu-Gi-Oh everyone assumes Duel Monsters is just a regular card game until it’s discovered that it’s based on monsters from thousands of years ago and some cards contain actual souls? It’s kind of the same deal in Medabots. It turns out that Medabots were a race of people thousands of years ago who attached metal parts to their bodies and raged war against each other. Because the wars almost wiped everybody out, so they stopped fighting each other and encoded their memories into the medals. So what starts off as a Pokémon style show turns into a convoluted series like Yu-Gi-Oh, and it just absolutely kills all the enjoyment.

Okay, not all of the enjoyment was killed at that moment. Some of it was killed in the final episode when a doctor long thought to be dead from a house fire and was a driving force for a lone Medabot named Rokusho (the doctor was his owner) turned out to be alive. Where was he all this time? Hanging out in outer space with his alien friend.

Words can not probably described the WTF factor in finding out a character’s death never happened because he was actually in OUTER FUCKING SPACE the whole time!

Then for some reason, they created a sequel to the series that was entirely pointless to watch.

4: Sonic Underground

It has nothing to do with the game and involves singing. Can’t get much worse than that.

Sonic has had multiple animated shows since he debuted in 1991. In the early 90’s he had two cartoons running at the same time. The first was called “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”, and focused on slapstick comedy and those end of show morals they jammed into kids shows. Most episodes involved Robotnik coming up with some crazy scheme to take over Mobius or destroy Sonic, but would always in failure, usually no thanks to Robotnik’s incompetent henchmen Scratch and Grounder. Even though it has a comedic tone, it was a good show. The second show was simply called Sonic the Hedgehog, but has been referred to as “Sonic SatAM” to differentiate it from the other show. This had a more darker tone as Sonic and his friends (the freedom fighters) stopped Robotnik and his evil empire from expanding. Sonic really hates Robotnik because he grandfather was turned into a robot. Even though it was canceled after two seasons, the series continued in comic book form by Archie, and is still in publication to this day.

After these two series ended, Sonic didn’t come back until Sonic Underground debuted in 1999, as Sega wanted a new cartoon along with finally releasing a real 3D Sonic game. The show would have the dark tones mixed with the SatAM show and the light tones of the Adventures show by including singing and music videos. Sonic was paired up with a brother and sister and the siblings were the children of the queen of Mobius, Aleena, until Robotnik overtook her empire and had to give them up. Years later Sonic and his siblings reunite to overthrow Robotnik and find their mother, who’s actually secretly helping them along the way.

This show is considered the worst of the Sonic cartoons. Why? Two reasons. 1: There’s the singing and music videos. I don’t know about you, but I really can’t stand the singing of the early 90’s cartoons, not even in Super Mario World (and I LOVE all the Super Mario cartoons). Because the hedgehogs use musical instruments as weapons, this becomes a key part of the show. 2: It has barely anything to do with the Sonic we all know and love. The only other video game character to make an appearance is Knuckles, and he only shows up in a handful of episodes. Instead of getting familiar characters, we’re given three new hedgehogs and the story of Sonic being royalty.

The show only ran for 40 episodes and was quickly taken off the air, emerging from time to time in syndicated reruns. After this disaster Sonic would re-emerge in Sonic X, an animé based on the Sonic Adventure series. I thought that show was okay, because it at least followed the games and was nowhere as horrible as Sonic Underground.

3: Monster Rancher

Worst payoff to a series long buildup ever.

Like Medabots, this was one of those shows that came to America because Pokémon was becoming very popular and American networks imported whatever monster catching related show they can find. Also, like Medabots, it ends in the stupidest possible way, only MUCH worse than Medabots.

A majority of the series focuses on Genki, a kid transported to the world of Monster Rancher, traveling with a girl named Molly and a bunch of monsters to search for the legendary Phoenix that will defeat Muu and bring the world to peace. Eventually they find out where the Phoenix’s body is but need it’s soul. After finding out that the monsters Genki has been traveling with all along were part of Phoenix’s soul. At this point the monsters know they have to sacrifice themselves for a greater good, and it gets touching to see Genki have to say goodbye to the one monster (Mochi) that traveled with him since the very beginning, basically being the Pikachu in their relationship. So once the monsters merge with the Phoenix’s body, the Phoenix comes back to life, and has it’s epic battle against Muu. So we are, reaching the end of the series, and the two most powerful monsters are going to fight each other for the fate of the world.

Muu says that they are fated to battle for eternity, so instead they explode in a big ball of light, the world gets covered in rain reviving all the dead monsters and turning bad ones into good ones, and then Genki suddenly wakes up back in his own world.

What? What?! WHAAAAAT?!

That’s the payoff?! Suddenly they explode in a big ball of light and Genki suddenly returns to his home world? So was it all a dream? Did the Phoenix really defeat Muu or what? Is Molly’s father, whose body was taken over by Muu, dead? I felt like the battle was suddenly cut short and they rushed right to the end.

Aside from the ending being crap, the series was treated horribly in America. Two key episodes in the series didn’t air when they were originally supposed to, and both of them involved Genki and his friends fighting Muu’s generals called the Big Bad Four. So two major fights were never shown, and the final fight was over as soon as it began. Three strikes and you’re out Monster Rancher!

Apparently because it was so popular, a third season was created where Genki goes back to the Monster Rancher world and all his friends are back apparently. I don’t know why or how considering the season never came to America, but frankly I don’t care.

2: Street Fighter USA

Starring everyone’s favorite Street Fighter character, Guile!

Remember the Street Fighter movie that nobody really liked because nobody understood what the hell Jean Claude Van Damme was saying and most of the fight scenes were horrible and the video game they made based upon it was really horrible? Someone apparently thought the opposite because soon after the movie we got an animated series mostly based on the movie, only this time it would be more like the video game series by the having characters perform their signature attacks. While the cartoon was definitely better then the movie, it’s still horrible.

The animation in this series is DREADFUL! I mean, check out this image of DeeJay:

DeeJay somehow shrinks in size as he’s running closer to the guard that’s supposed to be real close to him. Another horrible animation moment is when Ryu and Ken disguise themselves in the Final Fight episode. Somehow they’re shoulders got a lot bigger then their supposed to, like they were taking steroids. The fighting in this series is awful. There have also been many moments where the characters just seem to stand still and get their asses handed to them. In one episode Blanka knocks over several soldiers who go from firing at him to suddenly standing like bowling pins to be knocked down. The terrible animation really shows when the characters are performing their special moves. In one episode Ken fights Akuma and beats him using the Flaming Dragon Punch, which looked like two lame as hell glowing hands, and all he did was jab Akuma a couple times. All the fights basically boil down to a couple punches and kicks thrown and a few signature moves all done with horrible, limited movement.

The dialog in this series is equally dreadful. Here are just some of the great moments in dialog:

Ryu [laying in hospital bed]: I am the world’s greatest pillow fighter!
The voice acting makes Ryu look like a homosexual in this one.

M.Bison [after successfully framing the Street Fighters]: THIS is DELICIOUS!
Sounds really weird.

Jessica [from the Final Fight episode]: Elevators are too dangerous in a fire. Everybody to the roof!
Really? You think a roof is more safe then elevators?

Reporter [talking about Blanka]: We’re witnessing an attack by a…I’m not sure what it is! But seeing Arabs and Isrealies unite to fight it could be a first ladies and gentlemen!
Dude! This is a kids show! What the hell are you bringing up the middle eastern war for?!

Chun-Li: You killed my…
M.Bison: Yes yes, I killed your father. What is it with you women and your fathers anyway? I killed my father too and you don’t hear me whining about it!


If you want to see a true Street Fighter cartoon, the ones from Japan (several movies and a short series) are a LOT better then the America version. Just how much better? See this handy comparison video:

1: Darkstalkers USA

The horror…the horror…

Take everything that was horrible about Street Fighter, multiply it by a thousand, add in main characters that weren’t from the video games, and you have the abomination known as Darkstalkers. If you’ve never heard of the American cartoon, I don’t blame you. The show only ran for one season in 1997, 13 episodes, and then was immediately canceled. I don’t even think they showed reruns of the series. I believe it was canceled because, besides obviously being bad, Darkstalkers wasn’t as popular as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.

The show is about Pyron, who has his own freaking spaceship, deciding to take over the world and having an “Arrangement”, with him at the top, his minions in the middle, and all the humans at the bottom to serve him. Several times other people point out he’s better off just wiping out the human race. He recruits Demitri as his general and several other Darkstalker characters, including Morrigan (who never gets along with Demitri), Anakaris, and Lord Raptor. Those that don’t get recruited such as Feleicia, Sasquatch, and Donovan either join together as the good guy team or don’t take sides.

Everything about this cartoon is horrible. The plot is stupid, the animation is complete garbage, and the dialog is atrocious.

The plot is bad enough with Pyron deciding to enslave people rather than destroy them, but it gets worse. In this series they throw in a kid who is the descendant of a powerful magician the Darkstalkers knew hundreds of years ago, and Felicia finds the kid and decides to teach him how to use magic in order to fight Pyron and his army. So we have an evil villain who doesn’t act as evil as he should, and one of the main characters is someone the animators completely made up. Terrific.

The dialog and voice acting is almost enough to make your ears bleed. For some reason they have a running joke with Rikuo the merman who everyone says is strangely attractive for a fish man. Yes, EVERYONE including the male characters say that. Anakaris is also a joke as all his dialog is random crap, like “All hail the emperor’s pudding!” He’s basically Homsar with bandages around his body. The lip synching is horrible, and the voices are all inappropriately wrong. WHY does Morrigan with a Scottish accent? Did I miss something here?

The animation looks like different groups of people were working on it during different times. The characters look much different than their video game counterparts, nothing looks right, and the characters change looks multiple times during the series. Morrigan and Demitri look awful, and Donovan has black lipstick (at least in one clip). Characters and objects in the background will look bigger or out of place compared to those in the foreground. Every fight scene in this series is bad. Street Fighter had a couple decent ones, but Darkstalkers? All of them are candidates for worst sequence of animation in cartoon history.

By having a horrible EVERYTHING, Darkstalkers truly is the worst video game cartoon in history.


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Vincent Chiucchi
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