Recently a new animated series for Netflix inspired by Cuphead was announced and it reminded us that, while video games have not always been well treated when taken to the big screen, animated series inspired by them have left us good memories.
Here are ten of the most interesting animated series that were inspired by video games. These are not the best or the most prevalent, but a very good sample that represents both the efforts of several decades and the most current exponents of this trend.
It’s hard for a TV series inspired by a video game to achieve what Pokémon did, so there’s no doubt that it could be the most relevant in this list. From the opening song to the Pokérap, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with many elements of the series that chronicled Ash Ketchum’s adventures in his quest to be the best Pokémon trainer in the world.
To date, Pokémon’s anime has more than 1,000 episodes and we’re sure there are many who knew the anime series before the video games it’s inspired by. Another interesting fact is that this is one of the Japanese animation series with the best reception in the West.
THE SUPER MARIO BROS. SHOW (1989)
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mario was moving from his place in video games to an icon of popular culture, as evidenced by his animated TV show inspired by his first two video games. If we look at it today, characters like Peach and Bowser look very different from their contemporary appearances, so this animated series is a good document of the changes that were suffered by the characters of the Mushroom Kingdom over the years.
Maybe you have good memories despite the fact that the series has aged very badly, even if you don’t think it’s the best adaptation of Mario, you’ll agree with us that at least the animation didn’t treat the franchise as badly as the live-action movie of the time.
EARTHWORM JIM (1995)
Critics agree that one of the best adaptations of a video game to an animated series is that of Earthworm Jim. The series had two seasons and a total of 23 episodes, which was enough for some of its original characters to be taken to games such as Eartworm Jim 3D and Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy. There were also other products such as toys and comics inspired by what the series showed.
You may remember the way the characters broke the fourth wall or the countless times Jim or another character was crushed by a cow.
MEGA MAN (1994)
One of Capcom’s most important icons, Mega Man, has been on TV several times with adaptations of his adventures to animated series. In this occasion we will refer to the 1994 show that at the time had a good reception and acceptance among the public.
The American-Japanese series had 2 seasons and 27 episodes, a third season was planned but ended up being cancelled for budget reasons. Their story told the origin of Mega Man, as well as the rivalries between Dr. Light and Dr. Willy; in the episodes, we usually saw Mega Man and Rush disrupting Dr. Willy’s plans.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (1993)
Sonic has been present for a long time on television and has not always done well. This time we go back to the second adaptation of Sega’s blue hedgehog adventures to the small screen, one of three series produced by DiC. This Italian-American series had 2 seasons and a total of 26 episodes. We follow Sonic’s adventures on the planet of Mobius and the city of Mobostropolis; after a scientist was hired to create war machines, things get out of control, the king is captured, and the scientist who names himself Dr. Robotnik, becoming the city’s dictator.
Throughout the episodes Sonic faced a machine that turned citizens into machines and insisted on thwarting Dr. Robotnik’s plans with his skills.
PERSONA 4 THE ANIMATION (2011)
Persona franchise games get along well with their animated adaptations, such as Persona 4: The Animation, a series inspired by the Atlus game for PlayStation 2. This series follows the story of Yu Narukami as he moves to the small town of Inaba and encounters a series of strange murders as he discovers the world behind the Midnight Channel and the ability to use the power known as Persona.
This animated series originally aired in 2011 and featured 25 episodes, a condensed version in movie format was taken to theatres and there was also a second adaptation based on the version of the game that premiered on PS Vita. The general reception of the animated series was very good.
KIRBY RIGHT BACK AT YA (2001)
We’re still in the field of Japanese animation with this adaptation of one of Nintendo’s most colourful games: Kirby. This series had 100 episodes that were well received by fans, especially for the introduction of some memorable characters like Escargoon.
The series followed Kirby’s adventures when he arrived on the planet Popstar, where he met Tiff, Tuff and their friends Fololo and Falala. Together they face King Dedede and his assistant Escargoon.
Although Konami has not revived its franchises for a long time with new deliveries, we can be thankful that, at least, other products have left a good taste in our mouths. We are referring to the North American Castlevania series distributed by Netflix, a product that left very positive general impressions among critics and fans.
This series of 2 seasons and 12 episodes was originally planned to be a movie. Both seasons are inspired by the 1989 game, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and follow the story of Trevor Belmont as he defends Wallachia from the threats of Dracula and his army of abominations.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY (1997)
Your memories with the Donkey Kong Country series may be good or bad, but it’s an interesting product because, just as the pre-rendered graphics of Rare’s game stood out in its time, this French-Canadian animated series stood out for being one of the first on the market to have been fully computer animated.
The series included 2 seasons and a total of 40 episodes showing Donkey Kong’s adventures after finding the Crystal Coconut, a magical object capable of granting wishes and answering questions. Throughout the series, the evil King K. Rool was looking for a way to snatch the Crystal Coconut from Donkey Kong and his allies.
SKYLANDERS ACADEMY (2016)
We are going to more recent times with this production by Activision Blizzard Studios. This American-French-Canadian series may have come a little after Activision’s fever of living toys, that may have been the reason Netflix decided to cancel it on April 30th, after 3 seasons and 38 episodes.
Although not very popular, he faithfully portrayed the personalities of emblematic characters of the video game such as Spyro, Stealth Elf and Eruptor, while learning from Master Eon what was needed to become Skylanders. Throughout the episodes we saw the protagonists confronting Chaos and other villains from the game universe. It had cameos of other characters of the brand as Crash Bandicoot.