Waking up on a Saturday morning in the 80’s was like clockwork to me. In fact, I didn’t even need an alarm clock. While everyone slept at 6AM, I snuck downstairs, poured a bowl of Rice Krispies and added about five huge scoops of sugar, and turned on the tv to watch the coolest cartoons. Now, I will mention that yes Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo and even He-Man and the Smurfs were awesome, but I am also talking about a small group of rotating cartoons that were a big part of my video gaming life.
Video games were becoming a big thing in the early 80’s and it seems like everyone wanted to get in on the hype. As a part of the rotating Saturday morning lineup, every week for about a year for the lifespan of the cartoons, the Supercade series ran for thirty minutes. Sometimes, there were two different games featured in the half hour mark.
But the lineup was true retro gaming. Q-Bert, Kangaroo, Donkey Kong Jr, Frogger, Space Ace, Pole Position, Dragon’s Lair, Pac-Man and Super Mario Brothers featuring Captain Lou Albano.
Nintendo wanted to get in on the hype and released Captain N: The Game Master. The series was about a real life person Kevin Keene and his dog who get sucked into the tv while he is playing video games and each episode would represent different Nintendo classics such as Metroid, Donkey Kong, Bayou Billy, Castlevania and even Mega Man. The main baddie was the Mother Brain from Metroid. It was extremely weird, yet entertaining. But some of the other shows that became part of the lineup included Pitfall and even the Legend of Zelda, which had an annoying Link character that kept using the lame phrase “Excuse Me!” (Only mastered by Steve Martin). These shows did not last long at all. But it was a great excuse to watch the cartoons in the morning.
Later in the 90’s, Sega jumped on the bandwagon to present the Sonic the Hedgehog series starring the voice of none other than Jaleel White. Remember that name? Here’s a hint. “Did I do that?” Yup, he was Urkel in the tv show Family Matters. Hard to not envision that when watching it now.
However, there are certain games that were re-booted for the younger generation. Today, you can see the Pac-Man series back with Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures which is all computer animated now.
There are several other shows that I know I didn’t talk about from the 80’s that were really awesome. I will never forget Dungeons and Dragons. But this article was about the video games. And yes, there were others such as Donkey Kong Country from the 90s and Kirby from 2000’s. And I know I am forgetting one of the popular ones……oh yeah Pokemon. One of the biggest series that evolved to several spinoffs and even full length movies. So, I guess that one can be considered retro too since, well the GameBoy helped launch that into the game world outside of the card game.
Unfortunately, most all of the classic cartoons are off the air and can now be seen only on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and Cartoon Network. You can even purchase dvd sets that also have the classic shows represented. I guess we should be thankful that the internet was created to let us go back in time without using a Delorean.