Smallscreen Reviews

DVD Review: Captain N The Game Master - The Complete Series

By Ben Rhudy Feb 12, 2007, 5:35 GMT

DVD Review: Captain N The Game Master - The Complete Series

Kevin Keene, a teenager from Northridge, California, is brought to another universe known as Videoland, along with his dog, Duke, to defeat the evil villainess, Mother Brain. Mother Brain is trying to conquer Videoland. Kevin has been brought to defeat her, as foretold in an Ancient Prophecy. Kevin is given the title "Captain N: The Game Master". He and Duke join the N Team, which consists of Princess Lana (the ...more

“Behold, the ultimate warpzone!”

Captain N: The Game Master, the American cartoon which premiered in the late '80's and featured a world filled with characters from Nintendo video games, has arrived on DVD in a 4 disc set. The show was based on a comic published in Nintendo Power magazine a couple of years before the show came out, and made extensive use of the Nintendo licenses to create an interesting show for gamers.

The Forces of Chaos, led by the sinister Mother Brain (Metroid), are threatening to conquer the otherwise peaceful universe of Videoland. In a final attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy, the N-Team – consisting of Princess Lana, Simon Belmont (Castlevania), Kid Icarus and Mega Man – recruits California teenager Kevin Keene to don the mantle of Captain N: The Game Master! But only as a team can they fend off their rivals successfully, keeping Videoland safe for another day.

Season One:
Disc 1
Kevin in Videoland
How's Bayou?
The Most Dangerous Game Master
Videolympics
Mega Trouble For Megaland
Wishful Thinking
Three Men & A Dragon
Bonus Features:
Exploring Videoland: The Palace Of Power, Castlevania and Bayouland
The N-Team: Kevin Keene, Simon Belmont
Disc 2
Mr. & Mrs. Mother Brain
Nightmare On Mother Brain's Street
Simon The Ape-Man
In Search Of The King
Metroid Sweet Metroid
Happy Birthday, Megaman

Season Two:
Disc 3
Gameboy
Queen Of The Apes
Quest For The Potion Of Power
The Trouble With Tetris
The Big Game
The Lost City Of Kongoland
Once Upon A Time Machine
Disc 4
The Feud Of Faxanadu
Having A Ball
The Trojan Dragon
I Wish I Was A Wombatman
The Invasion Of The Paper Pedalers
Germ Wars

In the late '80s, Nintendo was the reigning king of the video game world. If you stopped and asked any average Joe on the street about electronic entertainment (heck, even just entertainment) the Japanese game publishers name was almost guaranteed to come up. The hugely popular Nintendo Entertainment System was eating up the precious hours of gamers' time that had previously been spent chucking quarters into arcade machines.


 
Part of the reason that Nintendo games were such a huge success is that they featured highly developed characters with backgrounds and personality, something that had been missing in older games. In order to cash in on the devotion Nintendo fans had for the games and their characters, DiC Entertainment created Captain N: The Game Master.

Each episode in the series features its own plot separate from the others, but all are tied together under a singular theme: The N Team's struggle to protect Videoland from Mother Brain and her evil minions. Most of humor is derived from comic pratfalls and physical laws of the Videoland world. The animation is pretty rough and the quick editing cuts don't help much.
 
One of my biggest complaints about the series is its blatant disregard for Nintendo canon. Several characters, Mega Man and Simon Belmont in particular, look, act and sound nothing like their gaming counterparts. If DiC really wanted to entertain video game fans, they should have sculpted the plots around the original characters instead of the other way around.
 
Plot-wise, this is honestly one of the most schizophrenic shows I've ever seen. Characters jump to so many different locations and visit so many different characters and locations episode to episode that it's hard to form and semblance of attachment to anything. While it is a bit disarming, the varied plots actually add to the charm of the show. I was never really sure what to expect with each episode, and it made the viewing experience a bit more fun.
 
Video quality is only a couple of notches above awful, mostly thanks to the design of the original show. Colors often suffer from bleeding and fading, with no signs of restoration. The whole thing is a flickery, grainy mess that progresses from decent to terrible through to the end of season two. Animation is jerky and inconsistent.
 
After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the original soundtrack for the show featured popular music from the airing time period. It's a shame that syndication stripped certain episodes of classic songs like Bob Seger's “Shakedown” and “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Instead, we get cheesy, looped instrumental music from other episodes. Voices and Nintendo inspired bleeps and bloops are clear and actually pretty entertaining. The voice acting is actually much better than many other cartoons from the era.
 
Special features are few and lame. “Exploring Videoland” is a boring collection of short vignettes accompanied by background music that show slides of concept drawings. Another short featurette is included that tells the origin story of the series and its roots in Nintendo Power magazine. Several animated character bios are included in the set and feature samples of concept art and facts that flesh out the main characters of the show.

Although Captain N: The Game Master is a fun nostalgia trip to a time when Nintendo ruled the universe, glaring canonical problems, mediocre video/audio, a meager amount of extras and the exclusion of the third season keep this set from being anything than a blatantly commercial Nintendo-gasm. The show is an interesting look back at '80 entertainment, but that's just about all it is.

Captain N The Game Master - The Complete Series is now available for pre-order at Amazon for a Feb. 27th release. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD database for more information.



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Captain N The Game Master - The Complete Series

Kevin Keene, a teenager from Northridge, California, is brought to another universe known as Videoland, along with his dog, Duke, to defeat the evil villainess, Mother Brain. Mother Brain is ...more

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