games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 TV Shows Based on Games

November 29, 2016 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about TV shows based on games. The conceit here is that the shows have to be based on a specific game or franchise. Captain N is cool and all, but it has about 6 or 7 characters from different franchises, at least. My only criteria for this list is that the show has to be of a good quality, or else have something to do with the franchise. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Darkstalkers

I only barely remember watching the Darkstalkers cartoon back in the day due to it only having one season. The show took some weird liberties with the material, like Morrigan being evil, or I think the young kid in the show somehow adopting Felicia. That’s…strange, assuming I’m remembering right. The show did have a good look to it though, but having an TV show about Darkstalkers, which has never been super popular, was probably a dicey proposition.

#7: Street Fighter

Equally strange was the Street Fighter cartoon in the mid 90’s. It was basically a quasi-sequel of the real life movie mixed with GI Joe. The animation was bad, the humor was worse, and the show was barely connected to Street Fighter, as a whole. It did have an episode that had Mike Haggar in it, so it’s not all bad, but the cheese factor is high with this particular series.

#6: Pokemon

I watched a lot more Pokemon than I care to admit back in the day. Most of that was because it was the only cartoon on at the time. This was before Cartoon Network was really a thing, and Nickelodeon’s cartoon lineup was fizzling. Kids’ WB lineup was still strong though with this series, and another a further down the list. I was never into Pokemon, I’ve barely played the games, but the show was never overly complicated. It basically boiled down to “Ash moves to new area where he meets someone, they fight, Ash gets his ass kicked, learns a lesson, foils Team Rocket’s plan (possibly with the person he met), Ash then has a rematch with that person and wins, and all the while the repressed sexual tension between Ash and Brock continues to grow with every episode.” Considering the show is episodic and there is barely any connective tissue between any episode, I guess that’s enough. This show was instrumental though in helping to create the Pokemon juggernaut that is still going to this day.

#5: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

This show was definitely of a time, but I watched it then, so I have fond memories. The series was a kids game show about chasing Carmen though various world locales. Kids would be given clues then asked to figure out what state, or country the clues were about. It was basically a kiddie version of Jeopardy, but it worked for two reasons: The first was Lynne Thigpen. She played the ACME Chief and had a good gravitas to her performance. The second reason was Rockapella. They sung the theme song and it’s as catchy today as the day it was recorded.

#4: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Yu-Gi-Oh! was riding the coattails of the Pokemon show, but I think was a bit better than it. The animation wasn’t quite as goofy or hyper-stylized, which helped. It was also a tad more serialized, as a show, as certain episodes tied into later story arcs, or character relationships did change. It also wasn’t quite as goofy as Pokemon was, it could be silly sure (and later seasons did cross that line some), but the core of the show was always decently grounded, for what it was.

#3: Mega Man

I have a lot of good memories about the old Mega Man cartoon from the early 90’s. The first memory is that Ian James Corlett did the voice of Mega, and his voice was instantly recognizable when he did Goku for the first Dragon Ball Z dub. The show didn’t mirror Mega Man one to one, Roll had a lot more to do here than in any game, but it did keep most stuff intact, like the Rush Jet, or Mega Man essentially “copying” powers from evil named robots and using their abilities. There was also a great episode where Spark Mandrill and Vile come back from Mega Man X’s timeline, fight Mega Man, kick his ass completely, until X comes back in time as well and both Mega Men team up. I have zero faith the upcoming Mega Man cartoon will reach any of the heights of quality as this show did.

#2: Persona 4: The Animation

I’m actually watching this show as I type this article out, if that says anything. I’m only on like episode 11 out of 26, but I am devouring it non-stop. The show moves at a pretty brisk pace which is nice, since it helps establish the main characters quickly then follows their investigation. It doesn’t have all the little moments the game has, and there is practically no “filler” battle at all, but I view that as a positive since it doesn’t get bogged down. The animation is also just gorgeous and really is evocative of the game, and it goes into some decent backstory for certain characters. The only negative is the replacement Chie voice actress, but that’s just me.

#1: Sonic The Hedgehog

For as junky as most of the Sonic games have been in the past 15 years, at least one Sonic cartoon was “ok” (Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog), and another was superb which was Sonic the Hedgehog, or “Sonic SatAM”, due to it being on Saturday mornings. The show draws its inspiration from the Archie comics, like all the side characters, SWAT Bots, etc, but it works. Rings worked differently here, they provided a speed boost, rather than an extra life, but it would be silly if dozens of rings came out of Sonic if he got hit. The show ended on a cliffhanger which is a drag to the fans who enjoyed it.

For comments, list which TV shows based on games you’ve enjoyed.

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Top 8 TV Shows About Video Games

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison