Sometimes, TV adaptations manage to take famous characters and give the public a brand new way to enjoy them. Other times, particularly when those shows are adapted from videogames, producers shove a money-shaped funnel into something beloved and suck the joy out of its lifeless husk. This Dorklyst explores the 8 worst TV shows that came from amazing videogames.
8. Sonic Underground
It might be difficult to recall after a decade of Sonic turning into a werewolf, starring in Arthurian RPGs, and ritually disemboweling your childhood, but there was a time when Sonic was a generally well-regarded franchise. The year was 1999, and the addition of a true 3D platformer to the series' winning formula was keeping hedgehogs lodged firmly in the public eye. DiC Entertainment had made two Sonic cartoons before, and wanted a fresh one for the Dreamcast generation. The new show would have all the classic aspects that Sonic fans had come to love about the series: royal siblings, a lizard priest, and enchanted shape-shifting instrument-weapons.
DiC carved out their own little Sonic universe where Sonic was a prince with a royal brother and sister. Together they formed an illegal rock group called "The Sonic Underground." And since everyone knows absolute monarchy beats despotism, the plot revolved around finding their mother, the Queen, so their family could overthrow Robotnik. Notably, they also had amulets that became instruments. Jamming together in 'harmony' would weaponize their songs.
To top everything off, veteran Sonic actor Jaleel White portrayed all three protagonists. For most of the show, it's just Steve Urkel with a microphone, pretending to be three musical hedgehogs of mixed gender. Inexplicably, reception was chilly, and Sonic lent his incredible speed to the rate at which the show was canceled: after one season.
Hey, remember that game from the 1990s starring a bunch of green anthropomorphic lake-dwellers that had the minds of ten year olds and beat up bad guys for fun? No, not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The other one. Battletoads.
A wildly successful video game, these totally-not-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles tried their luck at a TV show. From a doo-wop inspired theme song to the corny catchphrase, "Let's get warty!" Battletoads was the embodiment of everything middle-aged marketing executives thought kids liked about cartoons.
It starred three clichÃ©s of high school outcasts the nerd, the punk, and the fat kid who are so utterly uncool that they are literally sent to the principal's office for being losers. Later, they're randomly offered the ability to become legendary intergalactic warriors by a talking goose professor. The trio accepts without any remote hint of hesitation and are given the alter egos of the valiant heroes of yore. In other words, they're turned into talking toads.
DiC was so embarrassed by the fact that the phrase "I'm a psychoranic skull crushing supertoad, man!" was ever uttered that the show never went beyond a single episode.
6. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
Rarely is it that a game is so revolutionarily violent, so innovatively brutal, and so sheerly sadistic that it spurs the creation of a content rating system specifically designed to warn the general public of its capacity for bloodshed. Mortal Kombat went and did just that spawning both the ESRB rating system and the nightmares of thousands of small children. Some will argue that Mortal Kombat achieved such great success because it was legitimately fun and entertaining; others will point to the fact that you can turn into a dragon and literally eat your enemy's torso.
But that's why Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm was so shocking shocking in the way that it wasn't shocking at all. Mortal Kombat is a game where you can yank your opponents' arms clear off their body, and then stand and flex your bulging muscles while blood spurts wildly out of the other player's dismembered stumps. In contrast, this Saturday morning cartoon had no serious violence. Sure, there were fights, but a battle without a couple of exposed spleens is not the Mortal Kombat we know and love.
The Mortal Kombat franchise practically uses blood as currency, so the lack of violence is what probably led to this show's ultimate demise after a sole season.
5. Captain N: The Game Master
During the 90's, Mario couldn't have been in higher demand if his game cartridges were everlasting syringes full of wish-granting heroin, and so his show was appropriately successful. Nintendo loved TV money, but feared that their other properties lacked individual draw. Their solution? Captain N!
Because artistic integrity aint nothin but a thing, the show took place in the cut and paste setting of Videoland. It was composed of entire worlds excised from video games like tumors and stapled together into a pulsating, horrible pastiche. Not content to feed the nightmare with their own franchises, Nintendo obtained the rights to use Mega Man and Castlevania as additional fodder.
Our young hero (Kevin Keene) was sucked into his television one day, and found himself at the beck and call of Princess Lana, Videoland's ruler. He and his fellow product placements, including a giant anthropomorphized Game Boy, spent two seasons on schizophrenic adventures through bastardized settings. Mother Brain, the primary antagonist, was given massive red lips and human features, and Mega Man was eventually reduced to a chubby, human boy in a green costume.
The budget was severely cut in the third season, leading to adventures in public domain settings like Robin Hood. The show's rapid failure ultimately proves that "The Expendables but with video games" isn't a viable premise for a TV show.