Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday Morning Cartoons - When Video Games Ruled the Airwaves Part 3

Our stack of quarters is running low, and the cereal box is nearly empty, but we've got enough left to get through two more video game-inspired Saturday morning cartoons. And then home gaming systems and home computers will radically improve, and society in general will just sort of shift, and arcades will become unpopular and less and less profitable, and Saturday morning cartoons will fall by the wayside, and none of this will have any relevance anymore. [shudders] Yeah.

But we'll make it all relevant. Just one more time. Here on the Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch:

Everybody knows who Mario is. But do you remember a simpler time in the digital plumber's life? A time before he started traipsing through rows of magic mushrooms, skipping over turtles, and grasping at gold hanging just above reach in the sky? Before his brother Luigi started tagging along? Before the spinoff go-cart races? When he wasn't even the one on the branding?

Remember when it was all about love?

There was once a game called Donkey Kong, where Mario was focussed on one thing, and one thing only: rescuing his girlfriend from the clutches of an over-sized, demented ape holed-up in a construction site.

That game inspired a Saturday morning cartoon. A cartoon which was not remotely about love. Instead, it followed the simple, tried-and-true Saturday morning formula of pursuit and the evasion of capture. Donkey Kong the cartoon followed the adventures of Mario and his coworker/girlfriend Pauline as they chased the giant titular gorilla across the country, trying to recapture him after his escape from a circus. Once in a while, the big guy would grab the girl, but Mario would always manage to free her, and Donkey Kong would always manage to get away. (full episode)

When Raiders of the Lost Ark whipped audiences into a diselpunk pre-War action frenzy in the early 80s, it wasn't too long before various copycats did their best on TV and in the movies to pick up where Indy left off. The realm of video games was no exception. Atari brought us the vine-swinging, crocodile-dodging thrills of Pitfall, and so when cartoons started using video games as inspiration, it was a given that this one would make the cut. Pitfall! was about the adventures of Harry, a treasure hunter, who would journey around the world to, you know, hunt for treasure. He was joined by his niece and his pet cougar. Hijinks ensued. (intro)

And that wraps-up our series on video game-inspired cartoons. Join us next week for other (hopefully better) animated adventures. But that doesn't mean you have to stay away for a full week. You can always come to the blog more often to read other stuff. In fact, I hope you would! Though, admittedly, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. Sigh. Excuse me while I drown my sorrows in another bowl of cereal...

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