Well, with the recent news that Sonic the Hedgehog would be getting a new animated series in the form of Sonic Boom, a CG cartoon set to air on Cartoon Network in 2014 (with the only promo pic so far being the above image, consisting of cast silhouettes; more details in the link as well), we should now realize that between Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney XD, we’re going to have three major cartoons based on video games on the airwaves, with the latter two having Rabbids Invasion (from Rayman Raving Rabbids) and Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, respectively (not to mention long runner Pok?mon and the little Angry Birds cartoon shorts).
I must admit that as a child of the ’90s, I’m a tad excited for Sonic Boom (albeit slightly cautious). But the other two…well, I admit to not having seen them yet myself (though I’ve heard mostly “meh” reviews), but come on, were the Rabbids and Pac-Man really the best we could do for gaming-related cartoon fodder? Given how much this generation of gaming has tried to focus on story and creativity (though not always succeeding), you think we’d be able to come up with some games that are at least a little deeper that would make for some truly great animated shows. So on that note, you can pretty much guess what’s coming next: A smattering of ideas for other video games that deserve to have cartoons alongside Sonic and the rest as well. Given that one time I obsessed over creating a Captain N reboot (which I have to retool now, thanks, new console generation) and that lesser-known and less well-received time I came up with an ’80s-style adaptation of Spec Ops: The Line (complete with Orko-style sidekick in the form of Spunkles, the wacky bumbling white phosphorous cloud!), I figured I was qualified for the job of picking the best. So let’s just get right to it…
Oh, although before we start, I should mention that in a perfect world, all of these hypothetical cartoons would be in 2D animation. Because a man can dream…
10. Ratchet & Clank
I might as well start off by mentioning to no surprise that the entire Sony Platformer Trinity wound up on this list, starting with Ratchet & Clank. Mind you, the only reason they wound up on the bottom is because with a CG movie planned for 2015, the odds of them getting their own animated series feel slightly better than the others here (hence why I also didn’t include Skylanders, you just know that already, somebody somewhere is planning a cartoon for it). The games themselves are already built upon loads and loads of action and humor, complete with mounds and mounds of appropriately cartoonish weapons, and the sheer volume of games and comics released in previous years have shown that there’s no shortage of stories to tell for our space-hopping duo. So what better way to tell those stories (besides, um, more games) than in animated format? Come on, you know you want to see the RYNO V blow away entire animated armies…
9. Dillon’s Rolling Western
If there’s one thing I’ve criticized Nintendo for over the years, it’s their tendency to ignore any new IPs they end up making. Such is the case of Dillon’s Rolling Western, a series of downloadable 3DS games released recently. Not exactly up to the standards of Nintendo’s greatest, but it has a ton of potential in the premise and characters and the Big N should be giving it more love. And what better way to do so than by making a few cartoons for it? After all, when you have an Eastwood-style armadillo defending a town of anthropomorphic critters from unruly rock monsters, the Bravestarr-style badassery practically writes itself (or Rango, I suppose, if you want to stay current). It might seem like a bit of a dark horse, I know, but you can’t deny that the potential’s there. All it needs is one shot to catch on with the young’uns in a big way and we could have Nintendo’d next big franchise, and an animated series would be one mighty fine way to deliver it, dammit.
8. Jak and Daxter
And moving on to the next member of the Sony Platformer Trinity, Jak and Daxter deserves a revival after Naughty Dog spent their recent days working on Uncharted and The Last of Us. But since odds are they’re going to spend their days on the PS4 working on another new IP (as is seemingly the tradition), maybe it’s time to move this classic duo to the cable box to let them shine somewhere else and bring them back in style. And hey, if The Last Frontier proved that there’s still room for plenty more stories in the Jak universe, why not take advantage of it? Why not let the adventures of a maturing hero and his wisecracking ottsel buddy shine on Saturday morning? Hell, Sony already released a film for the series consisting entirely of scenes from the game, so we know it could work. It’s just one of those perfect mixes of action, adventure, fantasy and sci-fi that would make for a perfect companion with a Ratchet and Clank cartoon. Or any cartoon, for that matter. Or just on its own. You get the idea. So let’s just make it happen, okay?
7. Rayman Origins
First off, yes, I am aware we already had a Rayman cartoon before. But one, it was based on the series’ older games; two, only four episodes were made; three, it never aired on this side of the pond anyway; and four, shut up, it’s my list. Besides, it’s hard to deny that given that given the vibrant, cartoony and fun style of the Origins games, it’s arguably a better fit for an animated show (more so than the damn Rabbids, at least). Oh yeah, did I mention how gorgeous and really damn cute it is? Come on, look at the above and tell me these games wouldn’t at least make for some great three-minute filler toons in between programming (a la the previously mentioned Angry Birds). But given the huge following the Rayman games have and the large amount of potential the Origins universe has, I say go for the big time. Much like the games themselves, it’d be a welcome burst of sheer joy that can only be achieved by seeing a limbless man beat the shit out of countless poachers.
6. The Mario RPGs
So why exactly have we not tried giving Mario a new animated series in the past twenty years? Well, the fact that the titular lead has been drained of all personality in those past twenty years doesn’t help, but there’s also fact that recent games haven’t felt all that creative. The exception, of course, is in the various Mario RPGs, where we get epic journeys to lands filled with pro wrestling tournaments, cloud people weddings, and pixilated, 8-bit nerdy chameleons, amongst other things – and a cast of amazing and colorful characters (except for Sticker Star, that was quite a letdown). And while one wonders why the hell the main platformers never tend to feature this kind of creativity, it sounds like a wide variety of worlds and adventures perfect for another Saturday morning cartoon, giving Mario a chance to make like the current Mickey Mouse shorts and allow to go back from mascot to character. Or we could always just make Luigi the main character instead. Actually, that’s not a bad idea…
Look…one way or another, we need a Psychonauts sequel. Hell, the game pretty much sets it up at the end. And I don’t care what medium it happens in, as long as it happens. But an animated series seems like it would be a perfect fit, since it sounds like it would allow things to swap seamlessly between stories of Psychic Summer Camp shenanigans at Whispering Rock to those of Psychonaut field missions, journeys into various mental worlds that allow for some extreme therapy, looks back at old-school Psychonauts adventures and comics hinted throughout the game, and much more. And the game already has its own cast of literally colorful characters set up, along with the sharp humor for each one and an Invader Zim-esque visual style that’d look terrific in animation. Given how much of a huge cult audience the game has built up over the years (shame that audience wasn’t around when the game actually came out), there are definitely a ton of people out there who’d love to see this happen. So come on: Whispering Rock and its pyrocougars aren’t going to revisit themselves, people…
I don’t exactly know at what point in the last ten years the gaming hive mind suddenly decided that the Shantae games would become a new cult classic of sorts, but thank god they did. WayForward’s charming adventures about a ridiculously cute half-genie guardian have made for some terrific games, but the series definitely needs more recognition…so is an animated show the next logical step? Well, given how the upcoming Shantae: Half-Genie Hero planned to have full voice acting and TV-quality animated cutscenes, why the hell not? And given how we didn’t get said voice acting and cutscenes because we didn’t reach those Kickstarter stretch goals, I’d say this is a damn good way to start making up. Hell, judging by the Kickstarter’s bonus chapters alone, WayForward clearly has a ton of stories planned for Shantae and the motley residents of Scuttle Town that would make for great episodes, so let’s get on it!
…By the way, you can still donate money to Half-Genie Hero‘s funding via PayPal here. *cocks shotgun* Get on that too, people.
Given how the developers of Awesomenauts pretty much admit that the game is a straight-up tribute to ’80s Saturday morning cartoons, this one kind of seems like a no-brainer. Heck, even the plot seems like a no-brainer: In the year 3587, robot armies hire groups of various mercenaries to duke it out in order to get them to victory. See? Even the plot is straight-up Saturday morning. Of course, what helps it stand out is the insanely colorful cast that makes up these mercenaries, including Cold War monkeys, space vikings, alien surfers and sea creatures turned ’20s gangsters. And seriously, how could you not want to see those guys duking it out on a weekly basis? Heck, making an animated series would allow the Awesomenauts to expand even a little further outside the MOBA arena. While there are a few aspects that may have to be toned down slightly to get it to the airwaves (notably, this is the only game on the list to be rated T for Teen), I say this is one trip into ’80s cartoon tributes worth taking. Speaking of video games that are tributes to cartoons, though…
2. Sly Cooper
The Shorter Pitch:
*cocks shotgun, aims it at bound and gagged executive’s head* MAKE IT. F***ING. HAPPEN. NOW.
The Longer Pitch:
And so we come to the last member of the Sony Platformer Trinity, and yes, I deliberately ranked this one much higher than the others. But not because of blind fanboyism, mind you (though that did help), but rather because much like Awesomenauts, the Sly Cooper series is a gigantic tribute to the Saturday morning cartoons of our youth. In the case of the Sly Cooper games, however, the inspiration leans a little closer to the Disney Afternoon works of the late ’80s and early ’90s, complete with countless anthropomorphic critters and a vibrant cel-shaded style that does everything possible to replicate the feel of those toons. And you can’t tell me that the globe-trotting adventures of a master raccoon thief and his childhood friends and crew wouldn’t make for great cartoon fodder on its own. Between the animated promo cartoon for Thieves in Time seen above and the promo comics released for the second and third games, we’ve already shown that the series has the chops to move into other worlds beyond the games, so why are we stalling on this?
…Well, there is the fact that since Thieves in Time ends on a teaser, we’d probably have to make another game to get things tied up first and oh golly gosh, you mean we’d have to make another game as well? Yeah, totally didn’t plan that out. Time to persuade some people…*cocks shotgun*
1. Mega Man…Done Right
In 1994, legions of loyal Blue Bomber fans were granted the gift of a Mega Man cartoon. But while we had hoped for something that was as true to the series as possible, as originally planned by this…
…in true Trojan Horse fashion, this is what we actually got…
Flash forward nearly twenty years later. Capcom’s reputation is going down the crapper and needs improving, the Mega Man franchise is getting ignored, Keiji Inafune’s successor Mighty No. 9 just showed that the series has a ton of devoted fans, and the ’94 series still remains a huge joke among most. So why not throw the fans a bone and give Mega Man a new cartoon already (not counting the Battle Network-inspired anime)? Come on, it has a simple plot that still allows room for a ton of expanded adventures, story, and mythology, a huge cast of characters including enough Robot Masters and villains to last at least three seasons, a perfect hero and role models for kids, and a sweet-looking 2D cartoon style. And don’t say that you can’t make something like this work, because Archie Comics’ current Mega Man series has been telling smart, kid-friendly and action-packed tales almost perfectly on a regular basis. Just adapting those comics would be enough, but going above and beyond to give one of the most legendary video game characters the animated treatment he deserves would just bring smile to entire generations of gamers everywhere.
And if Capcom’s too lazy to do that, then I say we just help make a Mighty No. 9 animated series. Your loss, dicks.
Well, that’s all for my ramblings on certain video games that need cartoons. Granted, I stuck mostly to more kid-friendly material here, so if you know of any games that would make for good adult cartoons, or just any good potential game-to-cartoon ideas in general, or maybe just any initial thoughts on Sonic Boom or the other two game cartoons, why not let your opinion be known in the comments? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go repair this shotgun…seems its been over-cocked…
Previously by Kyle LeClair:
Ten Other Disney Video Games That Deserve Modern Upgrades
The 10 Most Kickass and Kid-Friendly Modern Downloadable Video Games
The Ten Best Non-Star Wars LucasArts Games
The Ten Best Games From PAX 2013