Ranking the 10 best video game TV shows of all time

9:46 PM, Jul 13, 2011   |    comments
Video game television shows.
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Shortly after the first video games came out in the arcade,  there were television shows based on them in Saturday morning cartoon lineups everywhere.  Since that time, more than 100 different shows have hit the small screen with formats ranging from anime to Western-style cartoons to even live action (and a few a mix of the bunch).  The Game Guys have hopped into their nostalgia machine and came up with a list of ten of these shows which they consider to be the best of the bunch.

10. Sonic X (2003-2004) - One of a small assortment of cartoon series that featured SEGA's blue hedgehog protagonist Sonic and his friends, Sonic X is a show still seen on television today thanks to re-runs of its 78 episodes.  The show was created with Team Sonic and Sonic Project and features a number of fan-favorite characters ranging from the usual Sonic and Tails through to more obscure ones like Cream the Rabbit, Rogue the Bat, and Shadow the Hedgehog.

9. Captain N: The Game Master (1989-1991) - One of a number of video game-based TV shows from DiC Entertainment, Captain N: The Game Master lasted three seasons with all 34 of its episodes airing during NBC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup.  The show features the N Team (Kevin Keen aka Captain N and his dog Duke, Princess Lana, Simon Belmont, Pit, Mega Man, and Game Boy) defending Videoland from a weekly group of video game villains led by the boisterous Mother Brain.

8. Final Fantasy: Unlimited (2001-2002) - An anime based on Square-Enix's Final Fantasy line of video games, Final Fantasy: Unlimited presents viewers with a mix of 2D and 3D animation styles.  It also presented gaming-oriented viewers with a small assortment of easter eggs throughout the series.  The show's soundtrack was released on CD in 2003 and features music from legendary video game composer Nobuo Uematsu.

7. Mortal Kombat: Conquest (1998-1999) - Mortal Kombat: Conquest was a live-action martial arts television show based on Midway's Mortal Kombat video games.  While the series only lasted for 22 episodes, the show has garnished a cult following.  Because TNT, the channel the show aired on, canned the series at the completion of its first and only season, the final episode ends with a a cliffhanger ending, which was to be summed-up in the season two premier.

6. Code Monkeys (2007-2008) - While not actually a show based on a video game, Code Monkeys is a satirical look at the early years of the video game industry.  The show takes place at a fiction game development company based in 1980's Sunnyvale, California.  Featuring 8-bit inspired animation, Code Monkeys was a mild hit with gamers in their late 20's and early 30's and most of its content was aimed at that audience.  Though it had a good couple of years on the cable channel G4, the network did not renew the show for a third season.

5. Earthworm Jim (1995-1996) - Ask any gamer between the ages of 25 and 30, and chances are that they remember watching the Earthworm Jim cartoon series.  Based on the oddball video games of the same name, the Earthworm Jim cartoon followed the adventures of Jim and his friend Peter Puppy as they defend the universe from being frozen/stolen/knocked-over/destroyed/etc.  The show continues the absurd and surreal humor of the game, which made for a rather memorable show that both gamers and non-gamers alike enjoyed.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series (1993-1994) - In 1993, DiC Entertainment put out a Saturday morning cartoon based on SEGA's popular Sonic: the Hedgehog property.  The show only lasted one year, having been cancelled in December of 1994 after just 26 episodes, but continued to run as re-runs until May due to its extreme popularity.  Still popular to this day, its staple characters of Sonic, Tails, and Dr. Robotnik, along with series-specific characters Sally Acorn and Bunnie Rabbot are still quite popular 18 years after the show's original broadcasts.

3. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (1991-1995) - Airing on PBS, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego had the fortune of running at a time slot that would catch school-going children right as they returned home from school.  Rather than hitting the books right away, many kids opted to catch an episode of the live-action TV game show, not realizing that they were learning about geography and history all the while.  By the time all was said and done, Carmen Sandiego became the second-longest running children's game show of all time behind Nickelodeon's Double Dare.

2. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (1989-1991) - Based upon The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was a children's show that was part live-action and part animated.  The live-action portions of the show featured Danny Wells as Luigi and the late Lou Albano living as plumbers in Brooklyn, New York, where celebrities of the time would often times drop in for a visit.  The cartoon segment of the show featured Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool defending the Mushroom Kingdom against King Koopa and his Koopa Troopas.  The cartoon also has the destiction of listing the Birdo character as a female, ending confusion caused by the instructional booklet from Super Mario Bros. 2, which asserted that Birdo was a boy who thought he was a girl.  Apparently distributor DiC Entertainment didn't take kindly to traps.

1. Pokémon (1997-present) - Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the Pokémon is the king of the video game TV shows.  The series is on its 14th season as a cartoon and also has another 14 motion pictures based upon it.  Just short of a cultural phenomenon, the Pokémon characters (specifically its Pikachu character) are amongst the most easily recognizable pop culture icons in both the East and the West.  Pika pika?  Yes, please.

That's our list. What are your favorites?

- Game Guy Barry White bcwhite@news10.net


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