When gamers aren't - well - gaming, they are usually looking for other game-related activities to fill up their lives. Outside of video game music, related comics and gaming news, kids could always look forward to quality programming on the television. Whether you stayed home from school because you were ill or you raced home early in time to flip on the TV, your youth was probably peppered with the following shows.
Since games in the early '90s didn't always take too long to complete, we had to extend the lifetime of the characters we loved so much through syndicated television. If you haven't heard of any of these game shows, cartoons or sitcoms, be sure to try and find them on YouTube or through another - completely legal - venue. Prepare yourself, though, the clothes, phrases and general idea of what was "cool" and "acceptable" is totally warped, just like the '90s. I love that decade, but a duck is still a duck.
Captain N: The Game Master
What do you get when you stuff Simon Belmont, Pit, Link, and Mega Man into a show together? Honestly, I still don't really know what happened during Captain N: The Game Master. It was a beautiful half-hour mess, populated with every well-known video game character at the time. The team fought Mother Brain, King Hippo, the Eggplant Wizard, Doctor Wily and more, with each show featuring new cartoon versions of our favorite games.
Super Mario Bros. Super Show
Hey, Paisanos! The Super Mario Bros. Super Show epitomized the late '80s. The live-action segments that acted as bumpers at the beginning and end of each episode were absolutely hilarious. This was also our first introduction to the Legend of Zelda TV series and the phrase "Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Princess!" It's safe to say that this half-hour program changed each of our lives.
This was - hands-down - my favorite TV show growing up. Video Power started off as a game-tip show, but evolved into a game show where kids would play games against each other, answer questions for points, and climaxed in a race through a "game store." The winner wore a velcro suit and had one minute to stick as many video games to themselves as they could. Anything they made it out with they could keep. It was any kid's dream come true. You can still find episodes of the show on YouTube. If you feel so inclined, do a search and enjoy the Battletoads action.
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
When anyone brings up a Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, clarification has to occur to determine whether everyone is talking about the right version of the cartoon. If you back anything other than the animated version that aired from 1993-1994, you are wrong. Coming home from school, dropping onto the couch, and putting on Sonic the Hedgehog was a staple for most children born in the '80s.
Start singing the Pokemon theme song and I guarantee you will find people around you singing along. Still airing today, this show made waves as large as the video game series it was based on. Every kid wanted to be Ash with their own Pikachu to follow them around. With new versions that coincide with each new Pokemon title released, the franchise has become a money-making machine.
As one of the most popular and well-known Nickelodeon TV shows of the '90s, Nick Arcade made waves of kids wish they could be inside a video game. With a combination of Nick original titles and classic arcade favorites, contestants on the show ran the gauntlet under the watchful eye of Phil Moore. Whatever team ended up with the most points advanced to the "Video Zone" to battle the chosen "Video Game Wizard" of the day. The battle in front of the green screen was harrowing, truly a sight to behold. This is another gem that can be found on YouTube with a quick search.
If I consider Nick Arcade and Video Power to be video game TV shows, then Code Monkeys definitely deserves to be on this list. Instead of spawning from a game that already existed, Code Monkeys created their own universe using the whole gaming industry as an influence. The show only ran for two seasons but featured quite a few famous game developers pitching their ideas to the group. So very meta, so very fantastic.
Street Fighter: The Animated Series
Watching the Japanese Street Fighter II movie taught me that M. Bison was actually supposed to be the character North America knows as Balrog - the whole point being he is a satirical representation of Mike Tyson. Blew my mind. Unfortunately, no massive revelations were made with the Japanese/American Street Fighter cartoon that acted as a loose sequel to the movie title starring Raul Julia and Jean Claude Gosh Darn. Surprisingly, this series isn't the one with the million iterations, like it's video game counterpart.
Although this series was only loosely based on the video game, the information contained within bears repeating. Anything initially created by Ron Gilbert that was then adapted into a show for mass consumption is completely worth your time - not to mention the show was written by Eugene Levy. How can you get any better than this? Maniac Mansion (the show) has its merits but doesn't tie in terribly well with the game itself.
Mortal Kombat: Konquest
Coming in with only 22 episodes, Mortal Kombat: Konquest, the live-action TV show based on the popular fighter, aired from 1998-1999. The show featured a lot of martial arts and even more horrible acting. It was like a kung-fu version of the WWF, except it had some Mortal Kombat lore thrown in. With hilariously terrible plot lines, each hour-long episode featured at least two involved fights between the various MK characters.