Power Team, Captain N, Super Mario, Zelda, etc..

There's a part of me that believes that Xennials and Millennials are the most passionate "fanpeople" to be "inclusive" - around. And one of the most insane things we were like this about - was Nintendo. And let's just face it, for the most part, most of us were "Fanboys" - I'm not being sexist, I'm just telling the truth of how it was between 1987-1995 - when I was in the age group to be into this stuff.

So how do I explain this? Au contraire!

You woke up in Your Nintendo Pajamas, brushed your teeth with a Super Mario Toothbrush, took a shower/bath with Super Mario Shampoo, went and ate Nintendo Cerial System for breakfast, picked up your Super Mario Bros/Zelda/MegaMan/Castlevania lunch box and thermos, went to school, wrote your notes in a Nintendo-related Trapper Keeper or at least some kind of notebook with the picture on it, bought Nintendo hint guides at the School Book Fair, got Dinner with a McDonald's happy meal with cheap Nintendo figures in it, and went home to write an Essay on Nintendo crap that would make your teacher either think you're hyper-creative, or obsessed, and then play some actual Nintendo before re-donning the Nintendo Pajamas once again so you can live your happy Nintendo Childhood all over again the next day!

Yep, maybe a little exaggerated, but this was an actual thing back then! You could exchange Nintendo with anything - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe, Barbie - but man oh man, Nintendo really managed to sink their teeth in with the marketing crud back in the 80's, and we kids ate it up like an all-you-can-eat-buffet full of nothing but candy!

But one thing that always comes back to me however, is the marketing did not end with inserting the media of obsession into your daily life - oh no - turn on the TV and you had NINTENDO CARTOONS! That's right.

Super Mario Bros. Super Show (1988) - The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was a Live Action/Cartoon combined TV show starring Captain Lou Albino (the guy who played Cyndi's dad in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video) as Mario, and Danny Wells as Luigi. They also did the voice acting.

The structure of every episode was this: some celebrity would show up at Mario Bros. plumbing in Brooklyn NY with some kind of strange problem, plumbing related or not, and then that would lead to a Sitcom-like scenario (sometimes with a laugh track) that Mario and Luigi would have to work through in between sections of the 30 minute Cartoon.

Entwined in between the live-action sequences was a 15 minute cartoon show that took IP from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA Version - aka reskinned Doki Doki Panic), and basically told some sort of "Mario-ified" retelling of some famous story from a movie, classic literature, nursery rhymes, or folk tales - with the characters stylized to fit the story, such as Shakespeare, Robin Hood, or Mad Max. Trope included Mario's appetite for Pasta, using Plungers in place of weapons, and Toad getting treated like a kid.

Some of the celebrity guests included Rob Stone (Kevin from Mr. Belvedere) as a rocker guy in the Brian Adams vein, Sgt. Slaughter as himself, Ernie Hudson (Ghost Busters), Nicole Eggert, Vanna White, Cyndi Lauper, and Magic Johnson - just to name most of them.

Probably the show is best remembered for it's theme song that tries to turn the main theme music into a cheesy rap-spreschzahng thing, only to reprise at the end with Captain Lou Albino singing a seemingly improvised song about "do the mario" - which sounds more like someone's cheeky, gravely voiced, physical therapist trying to teach them how to walk again (swing your arms, from side to side....take one step, and then the the let's walk to the corner bodega and buy a bootleg Famiclone console!).

But the cartoons themselves are not exclusive to the show, though they originally were. Later they would be re-used in various other local and syndicated Mario-type shows. Such as Club Mario shown later down in the list.

So let's talk episodes a little bit......

Probably the first one that comes to my mind is the Dr. Suess Like episode where everyone's favorite LGTBQA+ flightless-bird loses her glasses and mistakes Toad as a her baby "Cheepee"..."Cheapie"...."Cheepie"....however you spell it, it's a combination of the words "Cheap" and "pee" - anyway - the whole thing basically ends in the Mario Bros and Princess Toadstool (c'mon Nintendo, brind that name back - the irony and oddness of naming a pretty lady "Toadstool" is just too hilarious and imaginative to forget) - going on a mountain climbing adventure (they shoulda' called Billy Squier - he did the Himilayas) - to find Toad in a house with a maniac birdo/Ostro that makes Tom Petty's Mad hatter "Dontcha' Come ARound Here No More" Music video castle look like something out of Better homes and Gardens Magazine!

Another "charming" moment is "The King of Kramalot" - their own Camelot parody - where Koopa takes over Kramalot and sits on his throne talking to one of his turtle henchment (Troopa...sigh) with the basic gist of : "You're new leader is sitting in this chair!" "Well, maybe you better get offa' im'!"

Overall, it was actually a pretty good series TBH. The quality was, for the most part, there, and the humor was on-point and that same kind of sarcastic, self-depricating, and overall sarcastic a bit. It was a quality product, even if all it was was a cash-in on the Mario brand. And to me, the voices of Mario and Luigi will always be Captain Lou Albino and Danny Wells - and they will always be PLUMBERS from BROOKLYN - not Italy! Take your "IT's-a-go" crap and KRamalot it elsewhere! That's my headcanon and I'm sticking to it.

The Legend of Zelda (1988) - Every Friday the syndicate would play a different show - The Legend of Zelda, based on the NES game of the same name obviously. Basically, in every episode, Link, Zelda, or Hyrule as a whole, woudl get into some kind of mess, and Link would save the day, all the while trying to score a kiss from the Princess - leading to the high mileage trope and meme-fodder of "Excuuuuuuuuse Meeeee Princess!".

Possibly the biggest memory of this one, is that I don't remember it. For some reason, despite being advertised, it was never played on the station I watched the Super Show on on Friday. It was like this weird promise - and possibly one reason I don't trust Corporations to this day - of a show that never aired. But apparently, it did exist, because other people sure do remember it. I remember Link and Zelda more for their cameos as late-teens in Captain N: The Game Master.

About the only thing I do remember is Link and Zelda looked younger. It seems to me this shows variation is Link during the obsessed high school freshman age, while Captain N's version was Link and Zelda after she wore down and started dating his immature ass, and now she's the straight woman in a circus of crazies.

Video Power - Now here's a weird one for you. While Nintendo/DiC were trying to get attention with their IP, Acclaim decided to do the same with their own Licenses - namely some Basketball Guy, Kuros, the guy from Wizards and Warriors - and probably the biggest reason I remember the series, Bigfoot. But what's even crazier is this show was TWO types of show.....

One show was an actual game show called "Video Power" where live contestants in a TV studio would face off on various Video Games for an opportunity to enter some maze full of Video Games with Velcro Tape on the boxes that they would stick to a velcro suit! The entire thing had some guy with a Stratocaster and a Keyboard with some name like "The Edge" but not "The Edge", and of course, the host was Johnny Arcade (sigh (rolls eyes in embarassment of even remembering that shitty stage name)), some late 80's tweener stereotype that could "relate" to the "kids" in the audience.

The other show was when Kuros from Wizards and Warriors, some Red Ball Guy, a Basketball Dude, and a Mr. Twister-ified Version of Bigfoot #4 (remember Mr. Twister, a movie about a computerized monster truck with Sentient A.I. that could talk to people, around 1986 or so - well, I guess ol' Bob Chandler got in touch with whoever wired up Mr. Twister in this goofed up Multiverse.....maybe Bigfoot #4 and Jim Kramer shoulda' joined Pole Position). And basically, they rode around in Bigfoot on whatever screwed up adventure they were on this time, mostly following around the very creatively named Mr. Big who would use game cartridges from the NES to zap the characters back to their home worlds or somesuch craziness.

The episodes were not that memorable, but I do remember one episode where Bigfoot got a TON of screen time. At the time I thought it was awesome being a big Monster Truck fan as a kid, but as an adult, I just have to ask why? Why, if you are going to anthropomorphize a monster truck, why does it ALWAYS have to be a country bumpkin suthun' accent? Bigfoot's from ST. Louis for cryin' out loud! He should have a YANKEE accent - think Bob Chandler and how he talks. If anything, Mr. Foot would be the smartest one of the lot (and often was as I recall). Kuros being the other smart one. Kwirk, I think the red ball guy's name was, and Basketball guy seemed to be cut-ups sometimes.

Club Mario (1989) - Another one nobody really remembers that well, if at all. Seems sometime between Super Mario Bros. Super Show and Super Mario Bros. 3, we got this. Basically it was like every kid's dream basement filled with "rad teens of the 80's types" to talk about various stuff to take up space around the same cartoons that filled SMBSS. It had a big New Wave-ish intro music with a metal-esque guitar riff in it.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989) - This was written before there would be a Captain N: Revisited section on this site. But anyway - here's the ORIGINAL writing for this page...

Hoo boy, this is kinda' the show I made this page for really. So Captain N: The Game Master was a cartoon about Kevin Keene, a Northridge CA valley dude who got sucked into his Television while playing Punch Out (and take the family dog, Duke with him while you're at it), and sent to "Videoland" - which sounds more like a small local VHS rental store from the late 80's than a place where Nintendo Characters come to life. There was also a Valiant comimc book of the while thing with a slightly different cast, but the one most people remember, is this show. These 30 minute episodes mostly revovled around the N-Team fighting Motherbrain (from Metroid) in some goofball scheme, usually centered down the latest IP from Nintendo or one of it's third parties (Konami, Capcom, Acclaim, etc...).

So what is the "N-Team" - well, for the cartoon, it consisted of Captain N Himself - aka Kevin Keene, aka 15 year old inadvertant runaway, his dog Duke, the pretty Princess Lana who kinda' looks like the chick from Dance Aerobics (remember that NES title?), a bastardization of Simon Belmont who is now a chauvanistic, vain, primadonna dressed like a WWII fighter pilot, what's supposed to be PIT, now named Kid Icarus who puts "icus" at the end of every friggin sentence ad nauseum, a little-guy named Mega Man who looks more like the Hamburglar and Robocop had a baby and peed on it and it developed a pack a day habit, and later we even got a sentient "Game Boy" sent from a world beyond the mirror by Lana's dad, which talked in a monochromatic voice and could do wacky shit with his screen.

And then there's the villans, which included Eggplant Wizard - probably the most accurate representation in the whole shindig, King Hippo after drinking a lot of Quicksilver - probably a dare from one of his Gym bros, and Motherbrain herself voiced by Levi Stubbs, famously known for his work in The 4 Tops - a soul band from the 60's, but even more famous for his role as Audry II in Little Shop of Horrors with Rick Moranis in 1984.

Then there's a whole gaggle of recurring side characters, all of them hail from various worlds, most NES game related, the rest not.

For NES related worlds we have Castlevania, Mega Land, California World, Planet Tetris, Metroid (aka Planet Zebes), Hyrule (remember that Link/Zelda cameo I talked about?), Dragon's Den (Dragon Warrior - seriously, it's called ALEFGARD!), Hoop-de-doo-dah-land (Basketball world), Mt. Olympicus (Kid Icarus), Bayou Land (Bayou Billy), Kongo Land (Donkey Kong)....just to name SOME of them...I think Faxanadu was another one.

Then there's the Mirror World where everything is an evil mirror image on the other side, including the entire N-Team, some world that's a Carnival, and maybe one or two areas that were just made up for the series.

And basically, every episode is the same deal as well: one of the main, sometimes one of the less common antagonists - usually related to whatever the latest Nintendo game that was released is - causes some kind of issue in Videoland, and of course, the N-Team gets called in like the combination Police/IT Support/Fire Team that they are to fix the problem. Some examples include multiple times Princess Lana is kidnapped by Motherbrain, getting tricked into going to California World and then Kevin's high school buddies getting transported via some fucked up Wiley invention to play a life and death game of Football, Princess Lana's brother Lyle suffering from low self-esteem while motherbrain's minions wreak havoc all over Tetris Land (with the most ear-grating Frankie Valley approximation I've ever heard, and Frankie Valley is as like putting a Dremel in my ear with a wire brush on it!), Kevin gets a Video Virus (HE GOT'S DA' RONA!) and the N-Team shrinks down Innerspace style to fight the virus.....just to name a few.

The show started off originally to be a Paperboy cartoon, and a Nintendo Power short story called "Captain Nintendo", but because of the up and coming act against Advertising to Kids - spawned from all the TMNT/GI Joe/Barbie/Cabbage Patch Kids/Gummi Bears stuff from the 80's - basically extended toy advertisements, signed into legislature in 1992, it was reduced to "Captain N: The GAme Master" without a single mention of "Nintendo" anywhere in the show to get around the law. Valiant Comics did another version where Simon and MegaMan were replaced with some other characters, most notably Samus Aran from Metroid, used as a secondary love interest for Kevin.

The series ran for 3 seasons, starting off in September 1989, and ending in 1991. All three seasons had a different art house, with the original one being Korean and very detailed, the second season being a Japanese art house (and my favorite art style of the series), and third going to a cheaper Korean studio who basically ruined the look of all the characters. The second season introduced Game Boy, and the third season reduced episodes to 15 minutes. The first and second seasons also had soundtracks originally of big name performers such as Kenny Loggins, Bob Seger, Billy Idol, and Creedence Clearwater REvival - but some parody tunes thrown in as well in season two. All of these later, would become replaced with a Karaoke version of the song "Mega Move" (more like Mega Bowel Move-ment! The guitar riff has a good hook though) due to licensing difficulties.

The series was later released as a 2 DVD set of the first two seasons from Shout Factory sometime in teh 2000's. Later Season 3 and Mario 3 came out together IIRC.

As a kid, I loved this series, and honestly, Lana was hot, but other than pretty chicks and Nintendo, it sorta fell by the wayside as I got older. Watching it as an adult though is like having my own episode of MST3K....seriously, some of this stuff is so cringe I can see Mr. B-Natural ducking behind the Music Staff for the Mega Move song, lol! There's so many puns in the damn series it's almost in the "so bad it's good" category, like a Troma Film!

And I guess we'll talk episodes a bit here too...

The first infamous episode is the Bayou Land episode, because when it was first released, it was unfinished, with generic placeholder music, the original creedence Clearwater Revival version of "Born on a Bayou", and most notably, backgrouns missing, especially the scene with teh Aligator. Then DiC must have scraped it up and did their dilligence to fix it, next we had a non-CCR cover of "Born on the Bayou", backgrounds in all the scenes, and all the missing dialogue and placeholder music redone with the standard fare. Then Shout Factory got the unfinished version, replaced CCR with "Mega Move" (I guess Vance or is it John Fogerty are embarassed of the song's use in what is basically an extended Nintendo commercial).

Probably the worst episode was the final episode before the "non-existent" clipshow episode - which I'll inquire/talk about later - which is one where Larry Bird and Bo Jackson or somesuch mess go to a land where some nerd boy with a robot and something such on a holiday called (cringes....cringes again)....(sigh) Hoop-de-doo-dah-day (falls out of chair laughing, ROFLMAO!!!!!!), causes some chaos or something, it was either that or there was one called Battle of the Baseball Know It Alls was the last one, I can't remember. Either way, that basketball episode was enough to put me off the show finally. Seriously, all the needed was an episode with M.C. Hammer and Lana in a hood rat outfit and I would have been outta' there like it's a house on fire! It was soooo terrible I hardly eremember it, but I remember the robot being another super-cringey mess of a character, almost like a mini-me of Killerwatt from The Real Ghostbusters.

The first two episodes I ever saw, was "The Big Game" from the second season - which was the "California World" episode where Dr. Wiley creates a "Warp Zone Shifter" to suck Kevin's high school into California World for a life-or-death game of Football. Meanwhile, Lana gets jealous of Stacey, a cheerleader who is warped over, and is it just me, or the star Quarterback dude looks like and is voiced by the basketball dude from Video Power. Then came "Germ Wars" which was an episode where Kevin gets sick with a "video Virus" (jeezuz, just stand six feet apart and wear a mask whydontcha'), so Lana, Kid Icarus, and Simon are shrunk down like in Innerspace, and then they roam the inside of Kevin's Body for the whole show, unrelated entirely to a video game of any kind. Sort of like a Medical Drama meets Video Game satire I guess?

But by far the best is one I have on the Shout Factor DVDs and I have not, for the life of me, ever seen this one before on TV. It almost seems like the management was away at DIC and everyone sorta tore into this weird Voo Doo Queen story that involves Lana shooting lasers from her eyes while possessed by some kind of Spirit, IIRC Simon or Kevin cusses at least once in the episode (a big deal for 1990) - all the while everyone is in Kongoland otherwise up to their usual Shennanigans.

Now let's address the oddest one in the bunch - the episode DIC has no record of, and that Shout Factory says "does not Exist" though YouTube claims otherwise - it's called "When Motherbrain Rules" and it's a clip show made up of old episodes. Apparently there's two versions: one early version with a generic narrator, weird music, and some differences, and a later one with the baritone narrator we were all used to, and the regular music (probably Mega Move). IT appears it came from a NBC Chicago station or something. I don't think I ever saw this one either. It almost seems like maybe DiC and co dropped the ball in 1992 on the series, and some station took itinto their own hands possibly? Then DiC made a one-off of it with the right voice actors? Crazy huh.

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990) - You know it had to happen, they had to make a new special cartoon for Super Mario Bros. 3, only the biggest video game of all time, outselling The Beatles entire catalog!

Gone is Captain Lou and Danny Wells, now we get the interrim Mario Voices before the princess-peach-itailian-plumber-its-a-go-mario-time voice we got later. Mario now has a lighter gravely voice, and Luigi got that drill-up-the-butt vibrato thing goin' on, WTH? I guess this is when Nintendo truly was trying to turn him into a tall "Fraidy Cat" character. What gives?

No longer is it live action - instead - 30 straight minutes of cartoon, consistantly in the Mushroom World, based around the actual game. As far as cohesiveness to the source material, this series did it the best. You had Mario, Luigi, Toadstool, Toad, Koopa, the Koopa Kids complete with their own bratty behaviors, and all the usual enemies, in the regular Mushroom Kingdom/Mushroom World - If there was a "how to write nintendo cartoons 101" manual, Super mario Bros. 3 would be the case-study of how to respect the source material properly.

That's not to say there was not some external meddling. We had an episode with those's hacks Milli Vanilli, we had an episode with a family from Witchita Kansas on a road trip who end up in the Mushroom Kingdom somehow, and there's a few other crazy moments. There's still some intelligent humor here, like an entire episode dedicated to King Koopa lying to get a seat in the Mushroom Kingdom Government - seriously, maybe that's where the orange scourage got his tricks from.

Super Mario Bros. 3 only got a handful of episodes and I think one season before we move to the next installment, and the last of the DiC Nintendo cartoons....

Super Mario World (1992) - The only DiC production to manage to get SNES title tied to it. Super Mario World now talks of the crew's adventures in "Dinosaur Land" with Toad oddly absent and replaced by Yoshi. Again we get the same voice actors from the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, but with Captain N: Season 3's hackneyed Korean art studio.

Now we have TWO fraidy cats in the crew. Luigi, who seems to have been taking vibrato lessons from a singing instructor, or a TC Electronics Vibe-o-Matic guitar pedal, and Yoshi talking in baby talk the entire episode "Yoshi no like, it scarweeeee!" (cries). Back is more lunacy in the form of various cavemen, including an entire episode full of overuse and abuse of the word "Rutabega" "Whaddayatattarutabega" "Youneedarutabega!" "Youtubootrutabega!".....seriously, someone get these guys some Rutabagas so they shut up!

The end of the episodes, and the end of gaming for me as a "new" gamer - Nintendo Mania started to fizzle out as we neared 1993-1994. The SNES was out, nobody cared about the NES, Captain N would need a REAL big reboot to keep working (ie SNES characters, Rap Music, maybe a new villan, possibly someone to proceed Kevin, like a short haired New York street kid named Jamal, and music by Snoop Dog, Nirvana, Collective Soul, and Ace of Base), Mario World would have de-evolved into Yoshi turning into Yoshis and bringing him to Jar Jar Binks levels of annoying, and honestly, the gaming world, it was a changin'. Since Nintendo failed the SNES CD, and Sony took it to make the PlayStation, and as Pogs, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tamagatchi, and Magic The Gathering took off - the 8-bit digital age of the 80's faded into the dust.

And just in time too because I sure as hell was a-changin' as I went from kid to teenager real quick. 2 Years before, I Was watching Mega Man and Mega Girl riding a Tilt-A-Whirl listening to Shake It Up, now I was learning guitar parts watching Ric Ocasek and Elliot Easton with a bunch of models riding around in a Pink Buick to Shake It Up. I had no interest in the new games at the time - GUITAR was my focus, and video games were just a way to twiddle my hands when I was not mastering the fretboard, and I was sort of like the guy in the corner, watching GEN X talk about the Atari 2600, and the cartoons THEY had (Pitfall, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man - you know, Saturday Supercade - from when I was too young to comprehend English yet!).