Western Animation: Captain N: The Game Master
Captain N: The Game Master
is an Animated Series
based on the popular Nintendo
games that weren't Super Mario Bros.
It is about the story of Kevin Keene, a teenager who loves playing video games, so much that one day he and his dog, Duke, are sucked into the TV
and they enter a strange dimension called Videoland.
Once there, Kevin learns that he is to fulfill a prophecy as "Captain N", a savior sent to save Videoland from the forces of evil, led by the Audrey II
Mother Brain (the main villain from Metroid
). Joining him are Videoland's sovereign Princess Lana, Mega Man
, Kid Icarus
(who should have been named Pit
), Simon Belmont from Castlevania
, and later Game Boy
. Kevin/Captain N and the gang would defend Videoland from Mother Brain and her henchmen, who included King Hippo from Punch-Out!!!
and The Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus
. Other frequently occurring villains were Dr. Wily of Mega Man
fame (who was probably the only semi-competent villain in the entire series), a Large Ham
version of Dracula from Castlevania
, and a King Kong
-like Donkey Kong
Many of the characters were nothing like their original counterparts
. It was also notable for adding Link and Zelda from the The Legend of Zelda
cartoon series as supporting cast members following the cancellation of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show
. It lasted for three seasons and was Screwed by the Network
due to NBC's departure from the Saturday Morning Cartoon
genre, and its time slot was replaced by local news after the Saturday morning block was shut down.
For an unofficial pseudo-sequel, see the sprite comics Captain SNES
. See also the live action web series The New Adventures of Captain S
, which pastiches the original with a Sega Genesis theme (and has a Goth Nintendo fan for an antagonist).
This series features examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Simon Belmont gained a few of these for comedic effect. In the episode "I Wish I Was a Wombatman", a short, blonde haired and blue eyed octopus with an hourglass figure fell in love with him the moment he expressed an interest in acting. She gave him a hug, a wink and chased after him so she could kiss him. A heavy set female gorilla also fell for Simon and wanted to smooch in the episode "Queen of the Apes."
- Adaptation Distillation: The comics released by Valiant Comics were altogether better written and spent quite some time exploring the relationships between the characters instead of the show's simplistic "game world of the week" plotlines. They couldn't use half the N-team due to legal issues, but this was a blessing in disguise, as it was the far more annoying and less true-to-source-material half. And they actually remembered that Metroid has a heroine, and other characters besides Mother Brain.
- Adaptational Villainy: Simon's not the only Castlevania character to get the shit end of the stick. Here, Alucard starts out on the heroes' side but proves to be a villain, which a complete 180 from his characterization in the games.
- Adaptational Wimp: Simon, to an embarrassing extent.
- Affectionate Parody: See the Captain SNES page.
- Agony of the Feet: Simon rips off Donkey Kong's toenail in one episode.
- Animation Bump: The first episode is much better animated than the rest of the series.
- Aroused by Their Voice: In the episode "Mega Trouble for Megaland", Medusa seduces Simon with her sexy voice alone to the point where he is ready to kiss her sight unseen. Once he does see how ugly she is, Simon turns to stone. Medusa effectively pulls off a subversion of Audio Erotica, a "Siren Switch."
- Art Evolution: Inverted. Character models became vastly simplified and and the animation became poorer in season three. Compare: Season 1 & 2 Mother Brain◊ to Season 3 Mother Brain.◊
- Bare Your Midriff: Princess Lana, and also the redesigned Princess Zelda in the second season.
- Benevolent Genie: Pretty much a critique of the newly-developed patch devicesnote ; Kevin wishes for enhanced skills, and quickly realizes Victory Is Boring. Mega Man wishes for enhanced strength, and nearly knocks down the palace. Princess Lana immediately wishes that "no one had made any wishes", returning things to normal for the moment so they can get on with the plot.
- Betty and Veronica: In the show, Kevin is the Betty to Simon's Veronica and Lana's Archie while in the comics, Lana is the Betty to Samus's Veronica to Kevin's Archie.
- Kevin in the very final episode. Also has elements of Brainwashed and Crazy about it as although he never directly attacks the heroes, he very well could have at the end and he did act a bit violently when "training" some of the villain's warriors.
- Simon also has this happen to him twice, one time via Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo.
- Another episode revolved around a hypnotic ink Mother Brain devised, that did this to anyone who read the words printed with it.
- Black Sheep: Lana's introverted brother, Prince Lyle, is a boxy kind of guy who lives in the Tetris portion of Videoland. He shows up in one episode, then briefly again in the third season to provide a Deus ex Machina.
- Body Horror: In one episode Simon has a nightmare where his mighty muscular physique turns to flab, all his pearly white teeth fall out when he tries to smile and then to add insult to injury all his hair falls out, leaving him completely bald. He is quite terrified over this.
- Broken Pedestal: In one episode, Kid Icarus gets to meet Wombatman, the star of his favorite show. His disillusionment when he realizes Wombatman is just an actor is painful.
- Butt Monkey:
- Simon is subject to numerous pratfalls and humiliation on a regular basis.
- Additionally, King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard suffer indignity after indignity, thanks to their own ineptitude, and Mother Brain's treatment of them.
- Camp Straight: Hoo boy, Simon.
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard kidnap Princess Lana by rolling her into a rug
- Clip Show: "When Mother Brain Rules", which is missing from the DVD sets. A clip show in the purest sense of the term, this episode has no new footage whatsoever, and no framing story to justify the clips. Even stranger, all the voices were missing in the clips, so it was half an hour of voiceless recycled animation with background music (and very occasional out-of-nowhere narration from Simon.) Needless to say, little kids watching it in 1991 were pretty damn confused.
- Comic Book Adaptation: By Valiant Comics, as part of the Nintendo Comics System.
- Context-Sensitive Button : The pause button on Kevin's Power Pad would freeze different people and things depending on the needs of the moment.
- Continuity Nod: In "Having a Ball", Mega Man can be seen dancing with Mega Girl in the background of one scene.
- Contrived Coincidence: In "The Most Dangerous Game Master", Dr. Wily's android looked identical to Mike Vincent from the neck down before they even knew about him.
- Crossover: Link and Zelda made four appearances in Season 2, bringing back their respective voice actors.
- Dances and Balls: Lana's unexplained desire to have one is the background of the episode titled, fittingly, "Having a Ball." Which ends up being kind of weird since that only ends up giving King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard the chance to sneak in and steal the Triforce while nobody's around.
- Demoted to Dragon: Averted in "The Quest for the Potion of Power." Mother Brain resurrects Ganon so that he will serve her, but he doesn't submit.
- Demoted to Extra: All the Robot Masters from Mega Man 1 - Cut Man is the only one to have dialogue or extended screen time (for some reason). Ice Man is also mentioned briefly in "Nightmare on Mother Brain's Street."
- Development Gag: A planned cartoon that eventually became Captain N (a Paperboy adaptation called "Buddy Boy") had a newspaper delivery boy wearing a red hat as the protagonist. In the episode based on Paperboy, a kid named Julio appears with a very similar design.
- Disappeared Dad: Lana's father, King Charles, is apparently trapped in some kind of alternate dimension. He shows up in one episode.
- Disintegrator Ray: Kevin's Zapper, in the comics. In the cartoon, anything from a tactical nuke to a mosquito bite.
- The Dog Bites Back: King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard are prone to do this if Mother Brain slaps them around too much, by turning on her with whatever MacGuffin they were sent to retrieve. Of course, this never sticks, yet for some reason, she continues to keep them around...
- The Drag-Along: Simon F'ing Belmont. Quite a turnaround from the guy that risked his life against the legions of darkness by himself, eh?
- Everybody Do the Endless Loop: Kevin and Lana.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Lana is running Videoland in the absence of her father, King Charles, mostly to provide a convenient love interest for Kevin.
- Evil Former Friend: Mike Vincent in "The Most Dangerous Game Master". The villains didn't know they used to be friends when they created an evil android based on Kevin's memories of him, so Kevin is able to make him do a Heel-Face Turn by reminding him of when they were friends.
- Fake Crossover: The episode "Misadventures in Robin Hood Woods" is clearly based on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (which had a tie-in NES game), even though it isn't officially related to that movie.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: "Germ Wars".
- Fisher King: Zelda is shown to be a reverse one of these in the episode "Having A Ball," when the theft of the Triforce causes both herself and Hyrule to begin dying.
- Forgot About Their Powers: Most of the characters from video games, regardless of what happened to their personalities, still had most of the abilities from their sources. Eggplant Wizard (whose reason for existing in Kid Icarus was to turn you into an eggplant) only ever turns someone into an eggplant once, and he has to call on a genie to do it. (He uses magic based around all other forms of fruits and vegetables throughout the series, but for some reason, none of those are ever eggplants.)
- Genre Savvy:
- One of Kevin's greatest advantages was that he had played all of these games and knew all of the shortcuts, enemy weaknesses and strategies. Even if it's something he couldn't possibly know from playing Nintendo games, like where warp zones between disparate games are.
- Kevin even seems to know everything about games released after he entered Video Land. This article discusses the changes in-depth (mostly for the featured Mega Man characters) and suggests that the creators had poor reference material. Still...
- One of Mother Brain's early plans was to research the real world Kevin and find a game he wasn't good at, thus removing Captain N's Genre Savvy. She finds that Kevin can't beat The Adventures of Bayou Billy, and sends him to its Videoland counterpart, Bayou Land. It almost worked, until Bayou Billy showed up.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the first episode where King Hippo and the Eggplant Wizard kidnap Princess Lana in her room, Hippo (poorly) impersonates her as Kevin knocks on her door, saying that "she's not decent", with the Wizard responding with "You can say that again". Considering the size of Hippo's boobs and nipples...
- Gun Twirling: A maddening example for viewers, due to the real Zapper's lack of trigger guard.
- Have a Gay Old Time:
- Ganon: "Ahhh, you brought your friends for my coming out party!"
- One Episode had King Hippo threatening to "toss" Eggplant Wizard's "salad".
- I Choose to Stay: In the first episode, Kevin is a allowed to go home, but stays after realizing he would go back to a boring life with a nagging mother.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Kevin says things to this effect a lot. With varying degrees of accuracy.
- Informed Ability: The King sends GameBoy to join the team because he believes he will one day be Videoland's greatest hero, but GameBoy never does anything to make you think the King could be right.
- In Name Only:
- Almost none of the characters bear any resemblance to their video game counterparts. There are also a lot of glaring inaccuracies about the games in question.
- Let's put it this way, the people making this comic were faced with challenges like coming up with a way to turn Tetris into a setting for the characters to interact with in any meaningful way.
- Jerkass: Link tended to be portrayed this way. As this was the same general team who had worked on the other Zelda cartoon that portrayed him this way, despite being different versions of the character and not an actual crossover, this is no surprise. In his defense, a lot of his Jerkass tendencies were prompted by jealousy. Once he knew Kevin wasn't a serious rival for Zelda's affections, he calmed down a lot.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In the comics Samus Aran almost goes ahead with some pretty questionable stuff to win Captain N's affections. In one issue where she and Princess Lana are in jail, she almost leaves Lana there when escaping. In another she ends up in the Bad Future and rejoices that Lana is gone and she can have Kevin all to herself, despite the fact that, you know, the bad guys have taken over every world except the garbage planet where Kevin now lives, and by not going back in time and changing one thing she's screwing over everyone in Videoland. She does go back in the end.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Kid Icarus.
- Large Ham: Mother Brain, who was even given a face to facilitate this, and Dracula from Castlevania.
- Larynx Dissonance:
- Mother Brain's voice actor is Levi Stubbs, a man.
- Mega Man has a very raspy voice that sounds more like it belongs to a lifetime chain smoker rather than a child. It's probably meant to be reminiscent of early speech synthesizers, but it's really not.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Lana explains at the end of "The Big Game" that when Kevin's friends were sent back to Earth they'd have no memory of Videoland, unfortunately the same applies to Kevin if he ever leaves Videoland.
- Love Triangle: Kevin and Simon are both interested in Lana. In the comic both Lana and Samus are after Kevin.
- Magic Countdown: Mega Man and Kid Icarus have 30 seconds to shoot Simon with the antidote to the love arrow; it takes them 77 seconds to do so.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Almost every game made or licensed by Nintendo.
- Somehow, Captain N and the N-Team always seemed to end up in the world of the hot new game that Nintendo or one of its licensees was trying to promote. Which is probably the only reason stuff like Bayou Billy ever made it on the show.
- And of course, the Power Glove. (It's so bad!)
- This was likely the main reason, if not the only reason, for Game Boy being shoehorned into the team.
- Messianic Archetype: Kevin/Captain N is supposed to be this.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: When Link and Zelda arrive at the palace in "Having a Ball", they're announced as "Her Royal Highness the Princess Zelda of Hyrule and... uh... Link." Somewhat justified since Link doesn't have an official title.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: In one episode, the Eggplant Wizard (disguised as a TV repairman) even used a mushroom to transform into a giant escape pod so he and King Hippo (also disguised) can escape from the Palace of Power after figuring out Kevin's greatest fear.
- Nintendo Hard: Referenced on the show, as even though Kevin is the ultimate gamer and he knows every secret and strategy to nearly every NES game ever made, even he can't get very far in The Adventures of Bayou Billy.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Duke the dog and later Game Boy.
- Off Model: Not that the series' animation quality was good per say, but there are plenty of notable examples. Including the entirety of "How's Bayou" and the aforementioned change in art style in season three.
- Original Generation: Lana isn't from any game. Also, Mega Man was given a female counterpart — not Roll as you might expect, but the pink-sporting Mega Girl.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: Mega Man in the episode "Happy Birthday, Megaman", since his third birthday (or "turned-on" day) reminds him that he's different from humans. By the end of the episode, he actually becomes alive, and it's revealed that Mega Girl also passed the test to access the Warp of Life. This is never mentioned again.
- Planar Champion: Kevin.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown: At pretty much any point Kevin could shoot and kill Mother Brain and thus end her reign of terror, expect his blaster or his controller to break down and render him helpless. It didn't happen that often, but the plot reasons are transparent.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Lana's outfit.
- Princesses Rule: Princess Lana is the only ruler in Videoland. Her father is still alive, he's just trapped in another dimension.
- Product Placement: The entire freaking show is this. The Power Glove and the Game Boy being the most blatant and shameless. And any of the games. Although actually, the NES itself is the most shameless.
- Redemption Equals Death: The Mike Vincent android at the end of "The Most Dangerous Game Master".
- Refusal of the Call: Well, Kevin tries, anyway, but The Call cuts him off pretty fast. Especially when returning home means taking out the garbage, horror of horrors!
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- The Rival:
- Link, as he was perhaps the only video game character who could be considered an equal to Kevin, although he and Kevin always worked together towards a common goal.
- Mike Vincent is this to Kevin in the real world, though Mother Brain mistakes him for an enemy when she makes an android based on Kevin's memories of him. Kevin eventually convinces the Mike-bot that they're really just rivals, and used to even be friends, which leads to the Mike-bot making a Heel-Face Turn.
- RPG Episode:
- One of the last episodes involves the team visiting the world of Final Fantasy, where they fight Astos.
- In an earlier episode they travel to the world of Dragon Warrior.
- Rule of Funny: While certain characters such as Simon Belmont could have been depicted a bit more seriously and accurately (considering on how the Castlevanias were pretty tame at the time). However, the show like many other animated shows at the time was a very light-hearted comedic series and DiC wrote certain characters such as Simon Belmont as they did just for the sake of comedy.
- Running Gag: Mother Brain's reflection blowing her a raspberry. In later episodes, doubles as a Continuity Nod.
- Samus is a Girl: When the N Team first meets Samus in the comic, they're surprised when she takes off her helmet (including Lana, who you might expect would know better). And Kevin, who if he's so great at games, would know "he" is a she, but she is definitely not a changeling. Although it's possible he was reacting instead to how hot she is in person.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: The show is basically a goofy remake of TRON with Nintendo characters. Mother Brain is essentially a comedically goofy version of the Master Control Program, which is what you would expect from a villain that's a giant face inside of a computer world.
- Shout-Out: Among others in the series, there's a subtle one to Raiders of the Lost Ark in "Quest for the Potion of Power" during the "Can You Feel the Heat?" montage. The heroes face a Goriya who twirls his boomerang in his hands, and Kevin shoots both it and him with his Zapper.
- Show Within a Show: Wombatman, a send-up of the Batman TV Show. As we find out in a later episode, Wombatman is played by a furry version of Adam West.
- Story-Breaker Power: Kevin can stop time and gains super speed with his Power Pad. Of course he tends to forget about his powers most of the time.
- Subverted Suspicion Aesop: A very abrupt one (due to the short run time) in "Return to Castlevania." Alucard is the Count's son, wait he's saving Kevin and Simon from the Count, oh wait never mind he's not. Keep in mind this happens over the span of two scenes.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Mother Brain's "Metroid Mirror" apparently allows her to see anything the writers needed her to.
- Team Prima Donna: Simon
- Terrible Trio: King Hippo and the Eggplant Wizard, with Mother Brain as the "boss" figure.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After a lot of bickering and problems from their own show, Link finally gets a kiss from Zelda. He and Zelda also seem to be on much warmer terms.
- Title Drop:
- Oddly enough, the episode title in question, "Nightmare on Mother Brain's Street", is used in a line spoken by Kevin in an earlier episode.
- "Happy Birthday, Megaman" has this spoken by the N-Team at the beginning of the episode, and ends with the Warp of Life saying it as well.
- Totally Radical: Kevin's dialogue is embarrassingly littered with words like this. Also, Kevin and Lana trying to dance in '80s dance moves is particularly bad since they just look like they're having muscle spasms. In spades and parodied (to an extent) in a later episode.
Game Boy: "Mondonose does not compute, please re-enter data"
Mega Man: "Looks like Kevin will have to teach you Californish, Game Boy".
- Trapped in TV Land: Well, Videoland. Actually, Kevin is free to go home any time he wants, except he'd lose all his memories of Videoland in the process. As no time will have passed in the real world once he returns, he chooses to stay until the Big Bad is defeated. Narnia for gamers!
- Training Montage: In (where else?) Videolympics. Even ends with them running up a big staircase.
- Trick Arrow: Kid Icarus had an arrow for everything.
- "That's my cow arrow."
- "Darn-icus, I've been trying to invent a pepperoni pizza arrow all day!"...
- Though he didn't have an antidote to the love arrows right away (which you think he would have had)
- Verbal Tic: Mega Man and Kid Icarus. Mega adds mega- to the beginning of a lot of words, while Kid Icarus adds -icus to the ends of words.
- Weapon Twirling: Kevin does it practically twice an episode.
- Whole Plot Reference: Naturally, this being the kind of show that it is, some episodes will reference the plot of a single game wholesale; for example "Mega Trouble in Mega-Land" largely references the plot of Mega Man 1, "Quest For The Potion of Power" references Zelda II The Adventure Of Link, etc (other episodes, while taking place in the world of a particular game, don't necessarily have much to do with the plot of the game in question).
- You Don't Look Like You:
- A frequent complaint for Mega Man, Kid Icarus and especially Simon (who currently takes up the page image). One-shot characters (like Pero from "Once Upon a Time Machine") can also fall into this.
- Speaking of Mega Man, the Robot Masters get hit with this hard when they appear, especially Cut Man and the Robot Masters from Mega Man 2.
- One of the most drastic examples is the series' version of Kraid who looks like this◊. He hardly bears any resemblance to even his original NES appearance, let alone his later, more iconic appearance from Super Metroid.