Captain N: The Game Master. What can you say about it?
Well, quite a bit, since I'm going to be reviewing it. Or rather, part of it.
Most people (or at least many) have heard of the TV show, and quite a few have watched it. But far fewer know of its comic book form, so I'm here to enlighten you. Or something. Feel free to read along with me.
A History Lesson
The abridged history of Captain NNote goes all the way back to the 70s, when Nolan Bushnell's Atari helped give birth to the Atari 2600, the most successful cartridge-based game console of its era in the US. Then Nolan sold his company to Time Warner, who tried to milk the thing too hard, leading to a collapse of the 2600 so powerful that it destroyed the entire US console game industry for 2 years.
Enter Nintendo. They were steamrolling the Japanese console market with some Family Computer thing, and they decided to see if they could shock some life into the US market too. The release of the NES started relatively slow, thanks to the market having been killed, but grew radically as Japanese companies ported their greatest hits across the seas.
By the late 80s/early 90s, Nintendo was God to the 7-14 year old male demographic. Mario was Priest Prime of the Fayth, with Link and Samus as his Bishops. But Nintendo only dominated the time when these boys and teens were playing games; how to extend their dominance into more aspects of their lives?
By whoring out their properties, of course! Oh, Nintendo was not unfamiliar with this, but now they were going it alone. The Super Mario Bros Super Show gave children a direct link to their Priest Prime, and even brought us a live-action version in the form of Captain Lou Albano. That went well. Though at least it did give us Friday afternoon Zelda, a flawed but interesting show that actually had something not entirely unlike effort behind it. It gave us the first appearance of Zelda actually doing something of value, which we wouldn't see in an real Zelda game until Ocarina of Time.*
But Nintendo had more properties they could milk. There was no Super Metroid at the time to really create interest in Metroid as a property, so that was out. So they figured that if they couldn't build a show around one game or character, why not all of them? It'd be like The Avengers of videogaming; a crisis-crossover-style team-up of epic proportions, facing a equally epic team-up of villians from across dozens of games!
Obviously such a team would be led by Mario, the true face of... oh wait, he'd already been whored out to the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. And Mario doesn't pull a train for anyone. So that duty would fall to Link, the... oh right, also on the same show. Shit.
That leaves one option: a Mary Sue!
Thus, Captain N was born. A human pulled into the world of videogaming, the idea was that, being a loser who plays videogames all day, his encyclopedic knowledge of these game worlds would allow him inside info on how to defeat the villains. Yeah, that didn't work out very well, as he comes off as a personality-less dweeb who spouts 80's-isms at the audience.
But on the plus side, having a Mary Sue around meant looking at the actual videogame heroes less. And yes, for this work, that was a plus side. While Link and Zelda were ported straight from their SMBSS incarnation (after it went off the air), and thus were more-or-less not-terrible, the others... oh boy.
First, there's Kid Icarus, because they didn't bother to read the back of the box to find out his name was Pit. Or to be fair, maybe because they wanted to sell copies of Kid Icarus and needed audiences to know what game he was from. God knows I wouldn't have known otherwise. So good job on that; they got me to rent that piece of shit and then send it right back to the videostore on the same day.
Then, there was Megaman, who was green. For... some reason. We can't even blame the infamous Megaman 1 box-art for this, since even that got his color right. I'm guessing it was to stop him from clashing with the blue on the next character. Even though the next character should be wearing brown because he's...
Simon Belmont. Oh, Simon, how far ye have fallen. Dressed like a WW 1-era aviator pilot and carrying a backpack of hold-anything-that-isn't-useful, Simon was the dedicated asshole of the group. At all times, he was a preening, egotistical jackass. And while that technically makes him better than Captain N (who barely has a character), Simon Belmont was a preening, egotistical jackass.
Of course, we have to give our Mary Sue a love interest. Enter Princess Lana. Like our Mary Sue, Lana has little if any personality, but she makes up for this by being almost entirely useless. To top it all off, despite having many games' worth of damsels in distress to choose from, she's not actually from any game. Thus, she belongs entirely to Captain N.
He can have her.
The villains of the show were the epic team-up of Mother Brain, lord of planet Metroid (*grrr*); King Hippo; and the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. I found that last choice rather odd, since I thought Medusa was the main badguy of that game.
Until I played it. Now I know why they picked that motherfucker.
See, they only had the license to Nintendo's properties. So we wouldn't be able to see if they could give Mega Man a dye-job or give Simon a personality transplant. Instead, they had to work with what Nintendo owned.
So... Pit then. And Samus Aran, who makes a number of appearances, though is never formally a member of the team. So that's it.
Yeah, not exactly the Justice League of videogaming, is it?