Licensed games can be hit or miss, but these ones were hits! Big time! Here are 4 video game based on cartoons that are ten shades of awesome.
And I know a lot of you do, too! They’ve been an integral part of my childhood, and continue to be important to me to this day. There were some truly great shows back then, and provided hours upon hours of entertainment.
Now as we all know, when a show or movie becomes mad popular, you can be sure a slew of products based on that license. And, as we also know, games based on licensed properties are a bit… hit or miss (to put it nicely). Sometimes, they just click and come together nicely; a match made in heaven. Most of the time, however, your time would be best served prepping your taxes.
The games on this list came together nicely, like peanut butter and Nutella Hazelnut spread. So, let us jump down the Nostalgia Warp zone pipe and look at 4 video games based on cartoons that kick booty.
1. Bucky O’Hare
Release Date: 1992
This show was so awesome, yet, much like the comic book series, was short-lived. Taking place in the alternate universe called the Aniverse, the titular hero Bucky O’Hare, along with his crew aboard the space craft the Righteous Indignation, fight tooth and nail against the growing threat of the Toad Empire. Pre-teen genius Willy DuWitt builds a photon accelerator (a photon… okay, sure), is sucked into the Aniverse and, when he is accidentally trapped there, becomes a part of Bucky’s crew.
There were only 13 episodes in syndication, but that didn’t stop the coming of action figures (which I sooooo wanted), and video games. The fine folks of Konami created a side scrolling game for the arcades, but they also made a game for the Game Boy, and the NES. And the NES game was beyond the greatest thing ever. Like ever.
The Toad Air Marshall kidnapped the crew of the Righteous and placed them each on different planets. Bucky manages to escape, and he sets off to rescue his crew.
It’s action platforming at its finest, and reminds me very much of the Mega Man series. You choose which planet you want to go to, fight your way through to the end, beat the boss, and you’ll get your crew member back.
What’s neat is that you can switch between characters on the fly, and each character has a different ability at their disposal, which can be activated by pressing and holding down the B button. For example, Bucky can jump to high spots, Blinky can hover around using his jet pack, DeadEye can cling onto walls and climb, that sort of thing. You can only charge for a short time at first, though you can get power-ups that extend your Power Metre (and your Life Metre, too, for that matter).
Once you’ve freed all your crew, you all get captured by the Toad Mother Ship, and have to fight your way to safety. I must say, the second half of the game is hard as hell.
In addition to the typical menace of the Toad Air Marshal’s men, there are lots of stage hazards that you need to avoid that you’ve probably experienced in other games, like spikes on the floor/ceiling, beams of doom that will chase you down, and large snakes that you have to walk on. Sweaty palms will certainly ensue. And the final stage is one of the more dramatic final stages on the NES (insanity!).
Everything was spot on visually, from the character designs (main cast looks great in 8-bit!), to the imaginative stage backgrounds. The music will have you tapping your toes as you take it to the Toads (again, the music for the final stage is awesome).
Bucky O’Hare is definitely one of the shiny lil’ gems on the NES. Check it out, especially if you’re a fan of the show or action platformers in general.
2. Disney Games
Release Date(s): Various points in the 1990s
Okay, okay, I’m cheating with this one big time by making more of a general choice. But it’s hard to pick one game specifically because they were so damn good!
Back in the day, Capcom were at the top of their game (ha, ha!), especially with their Action games. Before Disney decided to have their own game dev studio, and several years before they gave Square Enix the okay to use their various IPs for the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Capcom had their blessing to make a slew of games based on their most beloved franchises. And, as expected from Capcom, they were works of art.
The games were a tad bit on the easier side, as they are meant to be enjoyed by really young kids who love Disney movies and shows, but that didn’t diminish their enjoyment one bit.
Each of the Capcom Disney games captured the spirit of the show or movie quite well, I think. Darkwing Duck has you going after villains from the show (no Nega Duck unfortunately, but I can’t remember if he was in the show around the time the game came out). Ducktales had Scrooge McDuck going around the world (and the Moon!) to gather the rarest treasures to increase his fortunes and become the richest duck in the world. The Little Mermaid (one of my childhood favourites) was loosely based on the movie, retaining the objective of stopping the evil sea witch, Ursula, with some liberties. For example, having Ariel try to free her friends from Ursula’s mind control… oh, and somehow finding a way to change back to her mermaid form from her human form all on her own…
Because Capcom artists were truly one with their pixel tools, the visuals had this awesome amount of polish and care. And don’t get me started on the soundtracks for these games.
If ya have a soft spot in your heart for the house that Mickey Mouse built, put on your Mouseketeer Ears and get back in touch with your inner Disney freak.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Release Date: August 1992
I loved all the TMNT games from back in the day (yea, even the first one). I could’ve picked any one of them (… maybe not the first one so much, since there weren’t as many recognizable things). The only reason why I picked TMNT IV: Turtles in Time for the list is because there were more appearances from the cartoon in this one.
Stealing the Statue of Liberty is a new low, even for Shredder and Krang. Our heroes in a half shell go off in search of the dastardly duo; chasing them down to the Technodrome. But Shredder, being a swore loser, sends the Turtles back in time, forcing them to fight their way back to the present.
Despite their different weapons, the Turtles do play the same, I find, with the exception of their unique special moves that do more damage, but drain your energy.
The gameplay overall is satisfying as far as beat ’em ups are concerned. You have lots of regular attacks at your disposal, be them throws, holds, or running attacks. Heck you can even do ninja flips if ya wanted to (they don’t do any damage, but they’re fun nonetheless).
The bosses are a who’s who of the TMNT universe at the time and will be recognizable to fans of the show… and of the movies, too, as Tokka, Rahzar, and Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze make an appearance. You’ll also see a lot of other familiar faces making their pixelated appearance, like General Traag, Roadkill Rodney, Mousers, Pizza Monsters (those adorable pizza-eating powder puffs), and every variety of Foot Solider under the sun.
All the characters are large and colourful, and the Turtles’ expressions when they get his are funny as hell, and well-animated. The stages are varied, and very bright, which helps give the game a cartoon feel. The music is just as lively, and the use of the keyboard synthesizer… genius.
If you’ve never tried Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV before, go find it. NAO (well, maybe not now… how ’bout after you’re done here 😀 ).
4. Pirates of Dark Water
Release Date: May 1994
… I LOVED this cartoon! I loved it so much! Sadly, like Bucky O’Hare, the cartoon was short-lived (only 21 episodes), but again, that didn’t stop Sunsoft from making a game based on the cartoon.
Taking place on the planet of Mer, Prince Ren of the fallen kingdom of Octopon and his crew — the rogue pirate Ioz, the mysterious Tula, and the monkey-bird Needler — are trying to get a hold of the 13 Treasures of Rule. These Treasures will help them get rid of the deadly Dark Water that is destroying the world. But the evil pirate, Bloth, is also looking for the Treasures, and will stop at nothing to get the Treasures and rule all of Mer. Because the series ended suddenly, only about half the Treasures were found, so the fate of Mer remains unknown to this day.
SunSoft released two games for the Pirates of Dark Water: one for Super Nintendo, and one for Genesis. I haven’t played the Genesis version, but I’ve heard positive things about it. As for the Super NES version, it’s the bee’s knees.
The Super NES game is a beat ’em up in the vain of Final Fight. You can choose between Ren, Ioz, and Tula, and just like the Final Fight formula, they each have different stats: Ren is average, Ioz is strong but slow, and Tula is fast but weak. They each have their special “Get Off ME!” move, but that drains your energy mighty quick.
Like the show, you go around to various parts of Mer to find the Treasures of Rule. Of course, you’ll have to fend off Bloth and his hoard of pirates, as well as a slew of obstacles like pools of Dark Water, retractable spikes, and randomly falling boulders, to name a few things. All the stages are your standard side scrolling, so the stage hazards give that added bit of variety.
Speaking of the stages, they all look great, but I give the prize to the final stage, the Maelstrom. Bloth’s ship is probably the most epic, dramatic final stage I’ve ever experienced in a beat ’em up: loads of goons; bosses returning as mid-bosses; rain pouring; stage hazards popping up in the form of the deadly snake creatures known as the Constrictus; Molotov cocktails being tossed around creating fires; all with the awesomest music ever, and leading to the final confrontation with Bloth.
Oh, and there’s a time limit. And that limit barely gives you enough time to get through the final stage, so you really have to be on point.
So there you have it. Great visuals, great music (oh, that MUSIC!), and a pretty fun beat-’em-up. If you’re itchin’ to get your fight on, check this game out (and check out the series, too, while you’re at it).
Traipsing about memory lane is always fun, dont’cha think? These are just some of the games that floated to the top of my head, and again, if you haven’t tried any of these games, please go forth and play them!
In the meantime, I turn things over to you, dear reader. Let me know in the Comments Section which video games based on cartoons you enjoyed back in the day 🙂