||Captain N, The Game Master:
Joins Link & Zelda For A Little Moblin Action in Hyrule!
Crossovers and special team-ups have long been a media staple causing much gush and overwhelming joy to the couch potato, soda swiggin' public at large. When everyone in the Marvel Universe bandwagoned to end Thanos' tyrannical, god-like reign of statue-creatin,' Nebula-mishapin' madness, I was floored. When Bea Arthur stepped onto the stage at some long forgotten awards ceremony to 'do the Urkel' with an also long forgotten Jaheel White, I was floored. When Billy Corgan jumped on New Order's bandwagon to ensure some actual, honest-to-goodness touring this summer, I was floored. Team-ups like these have floored me more times than the big kids in high school who didn't like my Chewbacca lapel pin set, but....when Zelda called upon Captain N to help her boyfriend retrieve some fucked up red potion bottle, I was more than floored. I was beached.
Captain N, for those who remember, was one of Nintendo's many entries into the children's programming market. Of all of them, it was probably the most successful, something I attribute mainly to the inclusion of cyclops purple royalty and the fact that this show didn't make you watch Cap'n Lou Albano make an ass of himself for ten minutes before getting to see a cartoon. For a while it was actually one of the better shows on Saturday morning television, if memory serves going up against 16 different Alf cartoons and the last few adventures of those dirty Smurfs, but like all cartoons based on video games with limited shelf lives, these days Captain N and his faithfully oblivious Game Boy pal are just more memories and fodder for this particular flashback site.
The idea was simple: Kevin Keene, like most of the free world at that time, really liked playing Nintendo. Something goes wrong, and he ends up in animated form as part of the video game world, destined to fight the baddies with his trusty NES Zapper gun (the endless stream of not-so-subliminal commercials in this thing was amazing) and his crazy dog, who not only turns into a cartoon, but switches from a retriever to a beagle. I'm not asking any questions, the rest of the stuff is weird enough on it's own. He usually lends a helping hand to Princess Lana, the ruler of Videogame Land and the first cartoon chick I've ever seen wearing a belly shirt. Their adventures usually pitted them against the evil Mother Brain, who stopped messing exclusively with Samus in a hostile takeover attempt. MB had a small army of other no-gooders from various carts, some of whom we'll meet in a little bit. Captain N and Lana weren't alone on their missions either, getting help from Kid Icarus, a sorry excuse for Mega Man, and Simon from the Castlevania series.
Today was a little different, though. Today was the quest for the Potion of Power! It's difficult for me to call any Captain N cartoon 'important' with a straight face, but you can't see my face, so let's go with that. Of all the episodes, this one's got the most bang for NES history buffs, as it features Link and Zelda, hot off the cancellation of their own series, here once more to do some plugging for the sequel to The Legend of Zelda. And guess what - we've got the download for it! That's right, you can relive your old Saturday morning ritual with a little dose of RealPlayer and a few spare megabytes. Try not to kick yourself too hard once you see how inane it all really was. First, the review...
It's a bad era in Hyrule. As if Link and Zelda didn't have enough of a hard time dealing with the enemies when the only help they got came in the form of old men who spoke in riddles and the occasional witch who forced cave betting on 'em, now they had to deal with a whole new generation of freaky monsters. See, we're in the Adventures of Link stage of the cartoon - it's no longer as simple as chucking a boomerang at a Hershey's Kiss to claim victory...now they had to beat real knights and horse-headed adversaries who screamed a lot. Making matters worse? Rumor has it that the bad guys are trying to resurrect Gannon - porcine prince of evil, and an all-around menace to the usually abandoned land of Hyrule. If Link and Zelda want to nip this one in the bud, they're going to need a little more help than a grumbling goblin traitor and a few silver arrows. They're gonna need Captain N!
Heading back to Videogame Land, and Jesus Christ what have they done to Simon Belmont?! A far cry from the grungy, chain-snapping unlikely hero we had to feed roast turkey found hidden in the brick walls of Castlevania, Simon comes off here more like an egocentric Swedish massage artist who tests fashion's very limits by perpetually wearing a pilot suit. I know, Simon's not supposed to be flying. Then again, Mega Man's not supposed to be a chubby troll in a lime green suit, and King Hippo isn't supposed to have hypothermia. Creative liberties a'plenty. We won't have to deal with those characters too much in this episode though, they're clearly pushed to the backburner. This one's all about Captain N and Link. Brothers from different mothers.
Zelda calls Lana and relays the message: 'Help! Hyrule's full of bad guys!' That's all it takes, and Captain N gladly accepts her invitation to come help her and Link out a bit. After all, all this pretty much was like playing a video game for Kevin, and there's only so many times you can feel triumphant beating King Hippo. He's up for a new challenge. He also looks *exactly* like Jason Bateman did when he reprised the role of Teen Wolf. I doubt it was on purpose, everyone looked like that in the 80s. Even Reagan.
Captain N transports himself over to Hyrule, and he and Link share some past experiences and a quiet giggle over being exactly the same height. Zelda, who assumes a leadership role because she's the one wearing the damn tiara, tells the boys to stop complimenting each other. Truly, there's more important business to attend to. If they don't find that potion of power, Gannon might once again rear his ugly head to start stealing orange triangles. By the way, I'm assuming the brunt of this cartoon was meant to sell viewers on buying the Zelda sequel, and let's face it, the game needed all the help it could get. I know there were a lot of expert gamers that probably beat the game with no problems whatsoever, but my friends and I? We couldn't do shit with it. I got so frustrated with the thing that I'd eliminate the plot whatsoever and only play the game when I felt like hearing what stupid things the townspeople could come up with next....
I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the game, but soon that...uh...static...turned to fear as I realized my pedestrian skills were no match for a game that required real patience. The first Zelda game was indeed long, but everything was laid out for you. You didn't need a degree to figure out that fairies restored your hearts or that walking into fireballs was bad. This game had you wandering all over the place, fighting enemies that actually had the power of sight on their toolbelt. I'm sure it had it's share of fans, but I'll stick to Mario. The cartoon we're reviewing today was a way to get the word out there and show people all the hot new tricks up Link's sleeve. Getting back on track, Captain N joins Hyrule's best on a mission to keep Gannon DEAD and BURIED. But there's a kink in those plans...
Mother Brain isn't going to waste valuable air time letting her main adversary hang out in Hyrule. I can best describe MB as a messed up version of that giant Venus fly trap from Little Shop of Horrors. Just replace the green vines with biochemical brain juice, and Rick Moranis with King Hippo and the Eggplant Wizard. I don't know much about the eggplant guy other than that he's from Kid Icarus and has the power to turn almost anything into a tomato. King Hippo is the guy with the weak navel from Punch-Out!!, only this time his skin is blue. Mother Brain orders the two goons to go to Hyrule and seek out the potion of power, because if raising Gannon from the dead is gonna cause trouble, she's definitely up for it. Course, she's a brain in aesthetics only, because her plan dictates that Gannon will be so enamored with appreciation over the gesture that he'll swear allegiance right then and there. But like we all know, Gannon don't play that second fiddle game. His outfit is way too royal purple for that.
Our heroes embark on their mission, and it doesn't take long for Hyrule's top villains to attack...
Oh yeah, Captain N decided to bring a little help of his own, in the form of the living embodiment of the Game Boy system. Game Boy was, by far, the best character on the series. I couldn't believe what I was watching...the thing would just waddle onto the screen and mutter totally incomprehensible things until Captain N finally took pity and pretended to understand what it was saying. He's like Lassie for the '80s. Game Boy was an incredibly hot commodity back then, the first 'true' portable system on the market, which by today's standards the games were pretty basic, but back then? My God, I cried my eyes out for this thing. The Christmas that it came out, I asked repeatedly for it, but got a bike instead. I acted like my parents just gave me a bag of donkey pubic hairs. In the end, the bike got stolen, but I've still got my Game Boy. I guess the lesson to be learned here is to just get your kids the damn video games.
Game Boy's special powers on the show allowed it to form baseball bats and other hard-hitting weapons on it's green screen. He lent a helping hand in defeating this round of Hyrulian goblins, who of course don't die outright, but blink out of existence just like in the games. Oddly, whenever they do that, the sound of Mario finding a coin is played in the background. Don't overestimate the heroes' skills just yet though...these goblins were the Zelda equivalent of those mushroom goombas from Super Mario Brothers. They looked a little more menacing, but you could defeat them just by flicking pennies in their general direction. The big guns are still to come.
Plot Twist! Link's getting a little miffed at Captain N for kicking so much ass on his home turf. See, Link had this idea in his head that he'd be saving Kevin's ass the whole 22 minutes, sending him back to Videogame Land with tales about how Link was the ultimate GOD of pixelated warfare. Not so. In actuality, it's Link making all the mistakes, and Captain N who's saving the day. Link handles his frustration the same way any of us would - by being incredibly bitchy and luring his friends into standing still just so he can storm off in a huff. Zelda comments that she's 'never seen Link act like this', which makes me wonder just how jubilantly happy the guy could really be having to shoot arrows at hobgoblins and skeletons 24 hours a day.
For the moment, the three put everything aside. There's more important fish to fry...or in this case, horse-headed demons from Hell.
I was a little unsure over which Zelda game this was based on until we met Horsehead. I distinctly remember fighting this beast no less than 42,000 times in the sequel game, and if I remember correctly, he's directly responsible for me putting the game way up on a shelf in my bedroom, never to be played again. Our heroes share that sentiment, as they're immediately handed their asses by the guy, who looks a lot like Billy Idol. He's important to the plot though, because he's just too powerful for either Kevin or Link to battle on their own, forcing them to work together and ultimately realize that, as a team, they're pretty unstoppable. Link admits that he was a little hard on Kevin, prompting a circle of truth that gets Game Boy to admit that Game Gear was more powerful, and Zelda to admit that she slept with that rolling Goron. Kevin does them all one better by admitting that the 'N' in his hero name doesn't stand for 'Nintendo,' but rather 'Needa', his favorite Imperial captain from Empire Strikes Back. The four of them make a solemn pact to never speak of their shared secrets again, and head off to complete their ridiculous potion-finding mission of doom.
Bit by the truth bug, Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo admit that they're only in this series to provide comic relief. While the heroes are battling the bad guys, these two are never far behind - remember, their job is to seize the potion and bring it back to Mother Brain. Kevin and Link have no idea they're even on Hyrule, which is amazing since Game Boy has been able to detect everything else so far that falls in a sixty-mile radius. Maybe Game Boy's a secret associate of Team Brain, or maybe this is just a plot oversight in a cartoon meant for people who are certainly too young to realize it or care otherwise. Personally, at my age, and with my quota of having to find at least seven things to nitpick about a day, I'll take whatever I can find.
Link and Kevin finally come upon the potion of power, but make the cardinal hero mistake of staring at it and discussing it's bold red qualities for so long that Hippo and the stupid Eggplant waltz right up and steal it from under their noses. I'm exaggerating a bit, as they had their attention otherwise diverted by another one of the myriad mutant horse/knight/demon/goblin creatures found in every crevice of Hyrule. You know, if it was that easy for Captain N to teleport into this place, I'm surprised Zelda and Link never put much consideration into moving elsewhere. Truly, this is not the type of place that regular people should want to live. All the locals are paranoid freaks because every time they step foot out of their house, there's some monster waiting to blow them up with bombs. Why doesn't Link and Zelda just move to Videogame Land, where the biggest threat is an obese azzura ex-boxer and a guy who's primary offense is throwing vegetables at you? Oh...that's right...there's no video game based on that!
Believe it or not, that sorry ass pig is Gannon in his non-powerful pathetic form. Is it any wonder Gannon kept such a stranglehold on his mystic villain wizardry? It's not just the fate of the world at stake - if Gannon doesn't maintain his beast-like exterior, someone can nail him in the head a few times with a boomerang and turn him into that. Mother Brain, in her eternal wisdom, orders the Eggplant Wizard to hand him the potion. Gannon reiterates the point in what can best be described as a 'quiet hooting while pointing at the potion.' MB would do the deed herself, but she ain't got no hands, see.
FUCK. Wanna know the price I pay for doing this? It's all Gannon's fault. In the middle of writing this, I got a call from a relative that's having a party tomorrow, who needed a favor to me. Buy a watermelon. Why I of all people was chosen to play 1-day host to the world's largest fruit, I'm really not sure. They should've known the inevitable outcome. They should've known I'd be in such a rush to finish reviewing a stupid Captain N cartoon that I'd run out to the store and back here so lightning quick that something far more heinous that a Gannon revival would take place.
Yes, I ran back here with the stupid thing so quick that I stumbled and dropped the watermelon onto the floor with such an impossible force and velocity that it exploded into two large continents with sporadic watermelon islands spread across the tiled horizon. As a plus side, I've now seen the dynamic of Eurasia and the separation of the Earth's continents with the power of a fruit visual aid, but at the price of holding this article back an extra half hour, and the added expense of having to buy another watermelon later today. Had this post been about anything other than King Hippo, it'd almost seem worth it. As it stands now, I feel pretty cheated. Back to Captain N...
Gannon drinks the potion and returns to full-form. He immediately thrashes Mother Brain for even considering that he'd be her lackey, which provides the viewers with an amazing scene of Mother Brain, in all her jarred glory, rolling around the floor huffing the cartoon version of curse words under her breath. Gannon seizes the opportunity to grow to 100' tall, which of course worries Link and Kevin. Fortunately, this time around, Gannon's defense system is a whole lot weaker. See, last time he was doing all his villainous shit, Hyrule's landscape didn't have bottles of 'magic' laying all over the floor. This time, it's a whole new ballgame.
Earlier in the show, Game Boy used his sonic detectors to locate a magic bottle, and now, it's time to put it to the test. Kevin, in his psychic wisdom, pours the magic all over Link's shield, which by the way is also magic. Everything in Hyrule is magic. Gannon charges up, shoots some red lightning out, and immediately, the shield deflects it, sending him to kingdom come. Wow, killing Gannon was a lot easier the second time around. No invisibility powers, no silver arrows, no having to bomb your way into Level 9, no weird magic hands that take you back to the beginning of the stage...just a little juice on the shield!
With Gannon defeated, and Mother Brain out of commission, all the heroes chat away, complimenting each other and apologizing for any past problems. Link, who's impressed with Kevin's Zapper, prompts him to mention that they're available at Toys'R'Us stores everywhere. Zelda chimes in and asks where she can buy one of those neat 'N' varsity jackets. Kevin isn't sure, so suggests she gets a subscription to Nintendo Power. Game Boy asks how he can become a real man, and the rest of 'em unanimously answer in obvious fashion: buy three copies of Marble Madness. The good guys then walk into the sunset, sharing personal reviews of the greatest movie ever made, Fred Savage's The Wizard.
I'm making it sound a little more like a commercial than it actually was - yeah, they were trying to sell NES products, but it was still a pretty good show. I know videos were made available, but the chances of you finding those in stores now are right up there with the chances of anyone understanding the marketing decision of making King Hippo blue. So, check out your local online auctioneer. Or download it here! For everyone who's saddened with not having Memorial Day plans, we've got you covered. Watch this episode in all it's original glory! Count the number of times they repeat goblin-animation for yourself! Make your own drinking game! Do it for Nintendo!
To Download Captain N: Potion Of Power, click here. .RM format, 5.5 MB. Enjoy!
Poor Little Troll.