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.
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.