Friday, October 15, 2010

Capcom Cartoons (CapToons?) Raise the Bar for Mediocracy

From left: Dr. Light, Megaman, Roll 
Since the days of Ducktails, Megaman and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers, I've been enamoured with all things Capcom. In 1992, the SNES version of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior came along and exploded that passion into a near obsession, and by the time I was entering the fifth grade, Chun-Li, Ryu, Guile and the Red Cyclone himself, Zangief, had become my eternal heroes.

The other kids in my class were starting to gain an appreciation for rolemodels like Anne Frank, Ben Franklin and probably some other people who's names escape me right now, but may or may not have "Frank" in their name; I like those historic heroes too, but it would be a massive lie to say that their attitudes and values affected my development as a human being more than Street Fighter's perky pugilists. Before you close out the window and never visit this blog again, consider this: While they're not exactly three dimensional characters on their own, the core values of Street Fighter's good guys are actually an excellent guide for living one's life in a moral, fulfilling way. Ryu represents discipline, power and persistence without overindulgence; Dhalsim is full of love for his family; Guile proves that revenge is all-consuming and letting go of hate will settle your soul; and Zangief loves vodka. Also, I'd like to see Ben Franklin wrestle a grizzly bear, shoot fireballs or flip upside down and show everyone his underwear. He can't. Therefore the Street Fighters are better.

It's a dream match of mine.
I think I went temporarily insane when I noticed that my Capcom heroes had started appearing on television one Saturday morning at 7:30 when the oversized feet of none other than Megaman went jogging across my screen - WITHOUT the NES powered up! I say "I think" I went crazy because other than the show itself, I remember nothing of the next seven hours. I woke up in my neighbor's tree house with only Megaman 1, 3 and 6 covering my wet, naked body.

Here's the show's into, ripped from the Megaman DVDs I bought years later. And in case you didn't know, here's a quick description of the plot: Built by Dr. Light, Rock and his sister Roll are soon recruited into the war against the evil Dr. Wily. Rock is transformed into a super fighting robot known as Megaman! Roll... was given a vacuum attachment! Fight! Mega Man! For everlasting peace!

Truth be told, the Megaman TV show isn't exactly Shakespeare meets Terminator like I would have hoped for, but it was a decent way to spend a Saturday morning while chowing down on last night's leftover pizza. There are only a few glaring continuity errors, like Protoman being evil and Gustman and Cutman having a starring role; everyone knows those two sucked horribly at life, even in the game. If Dr. Wily had taken the time to build new henchmen instead of just reconstructing the old ones when they inevitably got their cans kicked by the Blue Bomber, he just might have been able to take down Dr. Light's lapdog and rule the world.

Oh well. C'est la vie.

The Capcom cartoons didn't end with Megaman; soon, Street Fighter received its own animated makeover, ignoring far more things in the game's established cannon than the Megaman show ever did.

Based on the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia film of the same name, Street Fighter is the action-packed tale of Lt. William Guile's battle to take down the evil Shadowloo/Shadowlaw terrorists lead by the dastardly M. Bison. If you're an astute gamer, you know what's wrong with that last statement: It's based on the 1994 Street Fighter movie. That means that Guile is the main character instead of Ryu and all the good guys work together like some sort of  fireballing, face-punching basketball team. Still, the Street Fighter cartoon was an okay waste of a half hour and I got to see my heroes battle it out in full animated glory.

Now the Darkstalkers cartoon... that's where things started going very, very wrong.

Darkstalkers is the messed up tale of a little boy who hangs out with a super hot catwoman named Felicia. Boy and cat battle the evil alien Pyron for control of the planet Earth, with the aid of "good guys" like wolfman Jon Talbot and huge, stupid Frankenstein monster Victor, all while Felicia is so hot that steam pours off of her all the time.

Darkstalkers was a relatively unknown Capcom property at the time it took the cartoon plunge, so I'm not really sure what the reasoning was behind the move. The Darkstalkers show is a re-imagining of the arcade original, toning down the mature themes and sexualized atmosphere that made the game so appealing in the first place. Felicia is the focus of this mess, but she's also picked up some little boy along the way who has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the established Darkstalker mythos. Also Felicia is wearing more clothing than in the game, which wasn't too hard to pull off but was still very annoying to me when I was 12. Felicia and the stupid kid run around trying to stop the "bad" Darkstalkers, which is basically everyone else. Honestly, I wouldn't have watched this cartoon if it didn't have "Darkstalkers" stamped on it, but at least it was entertaining to see peppy animated versions of my favorite Night Warriors.

Overall, the CapToons provided a decent, if occasionally mentally challenged supplement to my daily gaming, despite their reckless abandonment of sacred cannon and disregard for, uh, actual quality.

Take THAT, Ben Franklin!

You gonna cry now, Kite Boy?

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