games / Columns

Top 8 TV Shows Based on Video Games – Mega Man, Persona 4, More

July 16, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Mega Man TV show

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! Last week I talked about shows about video games, so here is a list of TV shows based on video games. That is an important distinction, as almost all of the games on this list have games, or seriously feature a lot of named-characters from popular games. This is becoming a bigger trend now with a Cuphead cartoon getting announced, alongside a Final Fantasy 14 show, and the posters of The Witcher show driving up interest. Also, for this column, I tried to pick shows that have some official American releases. There’s probably a lot of great shows in Japan but if they are hard to acquire, then forget it. Let’s begin:

#8: Pokemon

If you add up all the various leagues and game sequels, Pokemon is the longest running show based on a game, by quite a lot. The series premiered in 1997 and has yet to really stop, passing the 1,000 episode mark last year. I think my problem with the show, in general, is that it is almost entirely formulaic. Ash and friends go somewhere new, meet a new Pokemon and/or new person that deals with Pokemon, there is some lame plot with Team Rocket, Ash and new friend/Pokemon break it up, and part as friends. There are occasional different episodes, like during championships or what not, but at least 85% episodes follow this pattern. So…because of this, the series is fairly stagnant, at least in my view.

#7: Street Fighter II V

Street Fighter II V is a decent enough adaptation of Street Fighter. However, there are some character oddities. Chun-Li is probably the biggest change, going from a detective in the game cannon, to a slightly ditsy tour guide who then becomes a fighter. Ryu and Ken are younger than they are in the game, and much more brawler-like, than usual. Still, if you can ignore some character changes (Balrog working for Interpol), then the show is perfectly passable as a Street Fighter thing, and much better than the USA Network show.

#6: Captain N: The Game Master

Captain N isn’t based on any one video game but mashes a lot of them together. There is Captain N (obviously), his dog and Princess Lana. These are the created characters for the show. The video game characters include a chain-smoking Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and a vain/shallow version of Simon Belmont. Belmont is the most annoying character but is fine enough. This motley crew travels between various game lands and is trying to stop Mother Brain and her troops from taking over all the lands. It’s goofy but it was imaginative enough when it came out.

#5: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Honestly, I have no attachment to this property, from a game perspective. I did watch the show a fair amount. It has a lot of similar elements to Pokemon but it has way more in terms of serialization and character progression. Yugi doesn’t grow with every episode or anything but over the course of the show he does grow and change, as do his friends. Also, I generally liked the look of this show a tad more than Pokemon, it was more detailed and interesting.

#4: Mega Man

On the whole, this was a fairly, if childlike, adaptation of the Mega Man games. Mega Man goes out and stops the schemes of Dr. Wily, who is trying to take over the city/world. Wily usually has Guts Man and Cut Man with him, along with Proto Man usually calling him an idiot, as well as one or two more unique robot masters. There’s a lot of “kiddie” stuff in the movie, like Roll, or the fact that Rush is basically a robot Scooby-Doo, but the show is a decent representation of the games.

#3: Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM)

Sonic the Hedgehog has almost nothing in common with the Sonic games but the quality of the show makes that immaterial. In this show, Robotnik (the Eggman name is so dumb) has all-but won and turned everyone into loyal robots. There are a few rebel groups around and one of them is headed up by Sonic, alongside Tails, Princess Sally and other characters. For a Saturday morning kids show, it was a surprisingly dark series, with Sonic’s Uncle Chuck being turned into a robot and characters occasionally getting killed off. Of the 5 or 6 Sonic cartoon shows, this is clearly the best one.

#2: Persona 4: The Animation

I simply like this show. They got (most) of the voice cast back, and just set every episode to be a segment of the game, which follows almost 100% of the plot. The animation is top notch, the music is even better, and it’s just an exceedingly done adaptation. There is a Persona 5 anime floating around but I want to wait for it to get on blu-ray before I bother watching it. If you can afford the Persona 4 one, which is really expensive now, it is well worth seeing, even if you know nothing about the game.

#1: Castlevania

Who would have thought a show based on Castlevania would actually be good? Well, here we are. Taking its cues from Castlevania 3, the show’s primary hero is Trevor Belmont as he and Alucard are trying to stop the machinations of Dracula. The thing with this show though, is that it really tries to humanize Dracula’s character. He’s not just some mustache-twirling baddie, no he has a clear rational/reason for hating people and wanting the world to suffer. Also, the show has some dark and bloody animation, with some superb fighting scenes. The only problem is there aren’t a ton of episodes, even now. Hopefully by season 4, they have like 30 episodes per season.

For comments, list your favorite TV shows based on video games and why.

Next Issue
Top 8 Video Games Which Deserve an Adaptation

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison