An hourlong Animated Anthology of shorts, produced by Ruby-Spears for CBS, based on games from the The Golden Age of Video Games. As might be expected with the limited amount of plot in the games of that era, the stories diverged wildly from the games out of sheer necessity. The following games were featured:
This series was unusual in that it collected characters from different video game companies. The character most obviously lacking, of course, was Pac-Man, who had premiered the previous year in his own competing show on ABC.
Each game appeared to exist in its own universe, with the exception of the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior stories, which shared one (though they didn't overlap).
Each episode consisted of four segments. The first season had five games, with one segment each of Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Donkey Kong Jr (in that order), and alternating episodes of Q*bert and Pitfall between the DK and DK Jr segments. The second season's lineup was Kangaroo, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and Space Ace, with Frogger, DK Jr, and Pitfall being removed. No single episode of the show featured all seven games.
- Adaptation Expansion:
- Q*bert was set in a 1950s-themed High-School A.U., with Q*bert as the letterman hero and Coily as his greaser Sitcom Arch-Nemesis. Both Q*bert and Coily had girlfriends in this version as well. They also gave everyone arms, even the snakes.
- Frogger became an Intrepid Reporter for the Swamp Gazette who investigates mysteries and fights crime, braving various dangers along the way.
- Probably the most notable example was the Pitfall segment giving Harry a couple of sidekicks, who actually appeared in later games.
- Adaptational Heroism:
- In Q*bert (the video game) Sam and Slick are enemy characters, undoing Q*bert's work by changing the blocks back to their original colors. In the cartoon, they're good guys.
- Also for Donkey Kong's title character, at least upgrading him to Anti-Villain status: he had no animosity toward anyone, least of all his owners Mario and Pauline, and was actually quite friendly and playful. He just didn't want to be stuck in a circus.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Mario in the Donkey Kong segments straddled the line between this and Adaptational Villainy, since his personality hadn't been fully established yet in the games. He's not evil, but he's presented as a closed-minded short-tempered antagonist rather than the unambiguously heroic figure he is now. Because of that, he's also likely to be the episode's Butt-Monkey.
- Adaptational Ugliness: Downplayed with Kimberly in Space Ace. She's not the overly-busty lady she was in the game, but she is still quite cute.
- Bound and Gagged: In the Donkey Kong Jr. episode titled "Double or Nothing", Bones' cousin Lucy Belle is kidnapped by being put inside a Bag of Kidnapping. Junior and Bones later find her tied up and gagged on a chair inside a shed, before Junior frees her from her bindings.
- Boxing Kangaroo: In Season 2, K.O. Katie, the title character from Kangaroo. In her Kangaroo Pouch Space she can hold lots of things, including her all-powerful boxing gloves. (In one lead-in bumper to Donkey Kong, Katie pulled out Donkey Kong, who himself was wearing boxing gloves, while looking for the gloves.)
- Bratty Half-Pint: Donkey Kong Jr. is basically Scrappy-Doo turned into a powerful monkey.DK Jr.: "Monkey Muscle!"
- Canon Immigrant: The new characters from the Pitfall! cartoon were then used in the game's first sequel, Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns, and even showed up in some later games.
- Cartoon Physics: Frogger is flattened in every episode, and then reinflated, usually with a bicycle pump.
- A Day in the Limelight: Stanley the Bugman from Donkey Kong 3 appears in the "Greenhouse Gorilla" episode of the Donkey Kong segment.
- Early Adaptation Weirdness: The Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior segments barely resemble either the Mario or DK universe we know today. (To be fair, the games they were inspired from also barely resemble the modern Mario or DK universes)
- Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Colonel Culpepper in the Donkey Kong cartoon "Mississippi Madness", who plots a jewel heist and tries to trick the big ape into helping him.
- HA HA HANo: In the opening of "Gorilla My Dreams", there's this exchange between Pauline and Donkey Kong as she and Mario chase after the ape:Pauline: Don't you ever get tired of being chased?
Donkey Kong: (laughs goofily) Nope.
- Hypno Fool: Donkey Kong in "New Wave Ape" becomes this when Harry Tweed uses a banana to hypnotize him to do his bidding. Mario and Pauline un-hypnotize the ape the same way.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Between Donkey Kong and Miss Persimmon in "Gorilla My Dreams", after she loses her glasses. Averted in the end, however, when she ends up falling for the ship's captain.
- DK also has a major crush on Pauline.
- Named by the Adaptation: Several examples:
- All the characters from the Kangaroo game are given names. The mother (who was just "Mother Kangaroo" in the games) is given the name K.O. Katie, her son is named Joey, and the monkeys are named Bingo, Bango, Bongo, and Fred.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: The same three crocodiles harassed Pitfall Harry in every episode; He claimed they followed him everywhere.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the Q*bert segments, Julie McWhirter revived her Mae West impression for Coily's girlfriend, Viper.
- Odd Name Out: The Monkey Biz Gang in "Kangaroo" consisted of four monkeys named Bingo, Bango, Bongo, and Fred.
- Once per Episode: In the Donkey Kong segments, the titular character grabs Pauline, and it is up to Mario to save her. However, in some episodes, Pauline is captured by the Villain of the Week, meaning that it's up to Donkey Kong to save Pauline.
- Removable Shell: Shellshock from the Frogger segments sometimes falls out of his shell and lands in his underwear.
- So Once Again, the Day Is Saved:Mario: "It's not easy when you're dealing with..."
DK: "DONKEY KOOOOOONG!!"
- Squashed Flat: Running Gag with Frogger is him being squished, usually by a car, then inflated back to normal.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Donkey Kong's appetite for bananas made its first appearance here.