Despite the fact that it looks like a match made in heaven, it is a surprisingly rare occurrence for a television show based on a video game to actually be worth the thirty minutes you spent watching it. All too often, such shows fail to capture the essence of what made the game so great, perhaps demonstrating that not all games are suitable for the episodic format of TV.
However, every so often a show comes along that manages to do complete justice to its source material, remaining in the memories of fans for years to come. Here are five such great television shows based on videogames.
The Super Mario Bros Super Show
Wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano brought Mario to the small screen with this adaptation of the Mario mythology – at least what little of it there was in the 1980s – that combined live action with cartoon segments. It featured celebrity cameos and followed the adventures of Mario and chums as he tried to prevent King Koopa’s nefarious plans. Yes, this show was around by Bowser was even called Bowser in the States.
Any 90s gamer will remember the surreal phenomenon that was Earthworm Jim, who was a worm granted superpowers by a special suit. The games were absolutely crazy, featuring some of the most memorable moments of the era. The TV series tried to replicate that craziness, usually successfully, making it perfect for those who enjoyed to strange humour of the games. Unfortunately, if didn’t last all that long so we never really got to see the show evolve.
Street Fighter: The Animated Series
Right around the time that Hollywood was churning out a terrible live-action Street Fighter series that didn’t even attempt to replicate the plot and featured Jean Claude Van Damme in the role of Guile, an American who apparently developed a Belgian accent in his transition to real life, the animated series was showing us how it should really be done. A coproduction between Japan and America, the series was far truer to the canon of the games, even though it loosely followed the events of the film.
The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog
For a brief period in the early 1990s, Sonic was one of the most recognisable characters around. It was only natural that he would have a TV show following the massive success of the Sonic games. In fact, Sonic has had a few over the years that have followed, but it is still Adventure that trumps the lot in terms of quality. Featuring a great cast of recognisable characters and perfectly personifying Sonic as a speed demon with an attitude, this is required viewing for SEGA fans.
It is simply impossible to have a list like this without mentioning the television series that puts all others to shame. For a time, the Pokemon television show easily matched the games in terms of popularity, spawning hundreds of episodes and almost a dozen movies over the years. It’s easy to see why as well, because it is an easy watch with characters who are recognisable from the games, plus it allowed kids – and maybe the odd adult or two – to enjoy watching the world of Pokemon brought to life back in the days when the series was exclusive to the Gameboy.
Lee Price is a freelance writer and general miscreant who enjoys video games, movies and making dreary situations better by adding copious amounts of alcohol. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Lee2112 to read his random musings.