Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nostalgia Theater: Captain N: The Game Master Explores the Nintendo Universe!

I've periodically looked at the pervasive influence the Nintendo Entertainment System had over kids in the late-'80s and early-'90s, having previously discussed the Super Mario Bros. cartoon show and the Nintendo Cereal System, and this week's entry is another part of that very specific subgenre of turn-of-the-decade kidvid: Captain N: The Game Master. Beginning life as a comic feature in Nintendo Power magazine (remember Nintendo Power magazine??) entitled "Captain Nintendo," created by editor Randy Studdard, the concept was licensed to and tweaked by the folks at our favorite crap factory, DiC, who shortened the name to "Captain N," tacked on "The Game Master," and premiered the result on September 9, 1989 on NBC:

The "Captain N" in question is a teenager named Kevin Keene, who gets sucked into his videogame Tron-style, with only his Nintendo controller and light gun to get him out of fixes. Teaming with videogame characters Simon Belmont (from the Castlevania games), Kid Icarus, and Mega Man, along with a Princess named Lana, and an anthropomorphic Gameboy ("Blatant product placement? Us?"), Captain N and his team travel the various realms of Videoland, winding up in various Nintendo products every week as they strive to defeat the evil Mother Brain (from the Metroid games). Pretty generic, as far as these things go -- (in fact, the premise isn't all that different from this year's The Lego Movie) -- but it managed to arrive just as the tide of Nintendo Mania was cresting, and actually managed to do alright for itself, lasting three seasons and thirty-four eps.

These episodes were lated added to a package that included the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. and Zelda cartoons and sold into syndication as Captain N and the Video Game Masters. It's worth pointing out that I missed this show almost completely during its run, and given that I didn't own a Nintendo, what I saw didn't make much sense. It was only much later that I glommed onto all the characters, inside jokes, etc. Surprisingly, while the show did okay relative to its contemporaries, there wasn't much produced in the way of tie-in merch, except for a short-lived comic from Valiant. While the complete series did hit home vid about seven years ago, it's now fallen out-of-print and is going for prices that seem a little steep to me, but hey, if this show is your thing, then, by all means, game on!

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