Retronauts Pocket Episode 2: Captain N: The Game Master

Retronauts Pocket 2
If you were born between 1975 and 1985, there’s no doubt Captain N: The Game Master once stood as the foundation of your Saturday morning cartoon and cereal orgy. Coming into creation at the end of a very long and dark period for television animation, this cheaply animated, glorified Nintendo commercial kept a nation of kids glued to their sets, if only for the chance to see their favorite characters as more than just fuzzy blobs of pixels. On this installment — which echoes some of our Movie Month episodes of the past — we sat down to talk about Captain N’s first episode, “Kevin in Videoland,” which is only a quick Google search away. But since you’re nice, I’ll embed it below:

We’ve talked about Captain N before on Retronauts, but only in the superficial way that everyone does — because it’s not as if this show merits serious analysis in any way. But I wanted to examine Captain N as both an artifact of animation history, and a marketing tool for Nintendo, all while avoiding the same jokes that have been circulating for 20 years (okay, we make about three of them). Anyhow, I’d love to use my mini-episodes to take a look at more media like this, so please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Libsyn (39:43 | MP3 | 27.4 MB) | SoundCloud | YouTube (coming soon)

This episode’s breakdown:

Supplemental content:

I’ve also noticed we’ve recently received a ton of a reviews on iTunes, which bumped us up into the “New and Notable” section of Games & Hobbies podcasts — thanks to anyone who contributed. If you haven’t, please consider taking a few minutes to leave your own review. We’d really love for more people to hear about the show, and this is the best way to do it outside of buying a Retronauts blimp.

18 thoughts on “Retronauts Pocket Episode 2: Captain N: The Game Master

  1. We talked about this on Animation Aficionados (shameless plug) and soon to be covered on Pixels In The Animation (shameless plug again). The general consensus is that this is the best of the DiC video game cartoons. That’s not exactly a prestigious honor, as the bar is set woefully low.

    I remember being acutely aware that the show was a licensing juggernaut, because of all of the video game franchises it incorporated, because of how Nintendo dominated the market at the time. Konami and Capcom games were considered “Nintendo games” by the average consumer. It would take a few years before this stigma would disappear.

    I’m rather surprised that the original concept was to have the main character from Paper Boy. Not only is it not a Nintendo brand game, but I’m relatively certain that Paper Boy on NES was part of the Tengen library, who by then were not on good terms with Nintendo. So that was something else it had going against it.

    • I’m pretty sure that Tengen developed the NES port of Paperboy, but that it was one of Tengen’s games like Gauntlet II and Road Blasters where it received a licensed release via Mindscape as the publisher. In any case, it was an Atari Games/Tengen-owned property, so in wake of the lockout chip and Tetris lawsuits, developing a show for Nintendo of America based around one of their properties would have been an insane idea.

      (They still made a Paperboy episode anyway! As it turns out, Paperboy is illiterate!)

  2. Pingback: Retronauts Pocket Episode 2: Captain N | Animation Aficionados

  3. I was a huge fan of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, but I didn’t hear about Captain N until my parents showed it to me. I hated the first episode I saw. All the villains were gross, especially Mother Brain. I ignored the first season.

    Later they merged it with the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon, so I put up with it. I got used to it, and it was neat that they brought back the voice actors from the Zelda cartoons for a few episodes. I put up with the bad Robot Master designs because I loved Mega Man, and the Paperboy episode was scary to a young me.

  4. I loved this show as a kid even if I knew at the time that it was inaccurate and ridiculous. That was a part of the charm to me. I was rabid, little Nintendo sponge and needed to soak up every last drop of it. I never viewed it as advertisement because I was already sold on Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami well before this show aired.

    Does it hold up today? Of course not, but I still have warm, nostalgic spot in my soul for this and other shows of this era.

    By the way Bob, I too watched far too much Saved by the Bell as a kid. That female cast were the first females I took notice of.

  5. Wheezy Dr. Wily was the best villain of the first season, and they went to “Dragon’s Den”, their own version of the Dragon Warrior world to fight the Dragon Lord twice.
    The Dragon Warrior episodes were terrible, but nowhere near as bad as the 3rd season Final Fantasy.
    Another great episode, even if Captain N was mostly awful.

  6. During this podcast you all talked about whether Captain N got you interested in any particular games. Even as an impressionable kid I wasn’t manipulated by this series except for one game – freakin’ Bayou Billy. The magazine ads did not sway me, the Bayou Billy comic book did not sway me, but young Kevin Keene jumping through the swamp with Bayou Billy while Bob Seger played in the background swayed me. Damn you, Dic. Damn you to hell. I wouldn’t be shocked if Konami demanded a Billy appearance in return for letting them feature Simon.

  7. Let’s get an MST3K-style riffing on the first episode on Retronauts’ twitch.tv!!! Petition starts now, sign below!!

    If we get 10,000 signatures they have* to respond.

    *: I think I read somewhere

  8. This show was just horrible. I mean its possible I had aged out of the show by the time it aired as I was in high school already, and possibly alot of things we thought were good when young really werent. But the few times I saw this I thought it was the most ridiculous thing on TV for kids. A least with the Mario show I could laugh at the live action Capt. Lou Albano stuff. First of all by this the games had already established their own backstorys and worlds the characthers inhabited that this show just shredded. I mean look at Mega Man. Here is a game that while being somewhat cute, had serious themes and drama and and a story line in the game that was kind of established. We get some wise cracking brooklyn accent with a ridiculous voice? It was a complete mockery of games and I guess for a 14 year old, a complete sell out of a show. Compared to say (The Real)Ghostbusters that actually referenced the mythology and plot of the movies and had fairly good writing and a few story arcs, this show was a cash grubbing sellout made by people who had no clue about games. And if you were really a gamer then this show was just an insult. If you were a small child then I guess no one can blame you for likeing this show. Im sure some of the shows I liked when young would get ragged on too. The thing is they just tried to Americanize it so much that it was really unrecognizable from its Japanese roots. I really wish you didnt have to have a show about it, not because I didnt enjoy you talking about it which I did, but because it really was unworthy of any kind of recognition worthy of being a topic on this show. Or I could just be old and jaded, if I insulted anyone stomping on one of their beloved childhood shows I apologize. But man it was really bad, and not in a so bad its good bad way eigther.

  9. So glad y’all are back!!!!!!!!! The new theme is awesome, AND psyched to hear Kat Bailey on the show….KAT PLS DO ANOTHER RPG-CENTRIC PODCAST PLS I’ve listened to every show you’ve done <3

  10. Hey guys, I was wondering where you got your information about Haim Saban? I don’t think he scored Dragon Ball z, at all. Most of that music was composed in Texas by Funimation’s in-house staff. There were those initial syndicated episodes in the mid 90s that Saban distributed for broadcast, but the music for those was done by Saban’s partner in crime Shuki Levy.

    • Looks like I might have gotten him confused with Shuki Levy — who did the pre-Funimation Dragon Ball Z music dubs (released by Saban Entertainment). Still, the wall-to-wall style of composition is evident in both Captain N and DBZ.

  11. I remember running around my cousins’ ranch in eastern Oregon with my grey Zapper lashed to my belt pretending I was in videoland.

    This cartoon killed not only souls, but innocent pack in light guns as well.

  12. Another fun episode. I forgot how mega-bad this show was. I was so excited about this show when it first came on, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was not going to get any better.

    You guys should do a pocket episode on the Worlds of Power (hopefully I got that right) tie-in books. I read them all hiding in the back of a Waldenbooks in the mall for a whole day. Who knew you could avoid electrocution by eating rations to raise your body temperature.

    I second the suggestion for another Kat RPG show.

  13. I personally loved Captain N as a kid, and I have the box sets for the show now. I realize it’s terrible, but still find it fun to watch! Well, except for season 3, which is really, really bad.

    If anyone’s interested in seeing how much a drop in quality the animation suffered on season 3, I wrote up a short blog post about it a while back, with a picture of Mother Brain from season 1 followed by a shot of her in season 3. It is truly remarkable how bad they made everything look! You can find the comparison pics here.

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