Promotional art for some video game related cartoons has just been unearthed, and it looks like they would have have drastically different than the source material had they been produced.
If you grew up in the 80s or early 90s, chances are that you have fond memories of the cavalcade of cartoons available to watch in the wee hours of the morning. This was also around the same time that video games were just beginning to take off in popularity, and everyone was scrambling for a way to profit off the success of companies like Nintendo. This led to the creation of some questionable cartoon series based off some very popular video game franchises.
DIC Entertainment was a major animation studio at the time, and were responsible for several video games being turned into animated series. You may remember DIC for such series as The Super Mario Bro. Super Show, Captain N: The Game Master, Pole Position, and Sonic The Hedgehog (which means they're also responsible for that theme song, so all is forgiven). It would be generous to say that most of these shows were not very good, but they did give us some iconic moments.
After all, who can forget the time when Mario and Princess Toadstool met Milli Vanilli?
DIC unfortunately doesn't make a lot of video game cartoons nowadays, but it looks like there were plans for far more gaming programs that never got past the conceptual stage. An estate sale for a former DIC employee uncovered some never before seen promo art that shows that there were plans for at least four other animated shows based on classic gaming franchises.
There's no real information on what these shows were going to be, other than a label in the corner marking each piece of concept art as part of the Super Mario Bros. Power Hour. This may have been an attempt at extending the half hour of video game related content into a full hour in the morning. Considering the quality of some of these cartoons, it's probably a blessing in disguise that that didn't happen.
Perhaps the most surprising pitch is one for a Metroid cartoon series. The biggest takeaway from this picture is that Samus was going to be a dude in the show. Unfortunately this cartoon would have been produced around the time where the mindset in the boardroom of ad executives was likely "a woman?! In space?! Fighting aliens?! Without rainbows or ponies?! It'll never work!" Thankfully this perspective does appear to fading away thanks to movies like Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel.
Besides that though, it actually doesn't look too bad, and even seems somewhat faithful to the Metroid series. It's got Samus (or perhaps Samuel in this case) blasting a Space Pirate out of an air lock, and everything looks sort of like the designs from the game, except for the weird green slime font, and Sam's face smiling gleefully while murdering someone.
Metroid wasn't the only series planned:
California Games looks like it was planned to become a show about a bunch of California beach bums hanging out in the sun. The word "cowabunga" probably would have been uttered at least once per episode.
This Double Dragon concept art actually looks rad, with muscley dudes karate fighting in back alleys. DIC actually would make a Double Dragon cartoon, but it would be way, way less cool then this.
And then there's this one for Castlevania, which is....It's just awful. But at least Medusa seems to know she's in a bad cartoon and looks suitably nonplussed about it.
Who knows how history may have changed if any of these shows had gotten off the ground. Maybe Nintendo would have changed course, and Samus would be "Sammy" to this very day. Or maybe Castlevania would have turned into a series about teenagers hanging out with their creepy Uncle Dracula.
We'll never know for sure if any of these shows would have been a success. On the bright side, at least we're come a long way in regards to video game cartoons, with shows like Netflix's Castlevania being more faithful to the games than a laughing, buck toothed mummy. And with games like Devil May Cry and Dragon's Dogma also looking to become Netflix original series as well, this era of video game cartoons may be the best of all time.
Still haven't figured out video game movies though. Definitely have not figured them out.