Captain N: The Game Master is an animated television series that aired on U.S. television from 1989 to 1991 as part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup on NBC. The show incorporated elements from many of the most popular Nintendo games of the time. There was also a comic book version by Valiant Comics, albeit only featuring characters from Nintendo-produced games.
The premise of Captain N first appeared in Nintendo Power magazine, created by a Nintendo staff member and magazine editor named Randy Studdard. The original concept involved Captain N (originally known as "Captain Nintendo") as a Nintendo employee and the Mother Brain as a Nintendo main computer that went rogue, and Captain Nintendo had the power to temporarily give life to characters and items from Nintendo games. The story left a door open for a sequel (Mother Brain is temporarily defeated but her return was said to be inevitable, and Captain Nintendo vows to stop her when the time comes.) Nintendo later decided to create a cartoon series, opting neither to credit nor to compensate its creator. DiC was shopped as the animation studio, and very little of the original concept remained.
At the outset of the first episode, the hero
of the series, Kevin Keene, a teenager from Northridge, California
, and his dog, Duke, are summoned to another universe known as Videoland by being sucked into a vortex that formed in his television, called the Ultimate Warp Zone. In order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Kevin is destined to become the hero "Captain N: The Game Master" and save Videoland from evil forces, which are led by Mother Brain from the floating world/fortress called Metroid. By the time Kevin arrives on the scene, Mother Brain has almost succeeded in capturing the Palace of Power and conquering all Videoland. Kevin (who in Videoland is armed with a Zapper
and a belt buckle shaped like an NES
controller) and Duke appear suddenly on the other side of the Ultimate Warp Zone before the N Team, which consists of Princess Lana (the acting ruler of Videoland; a later episode explains the absence of her father the King), Simon Belmont
, Mega Man
, and Pit (Kid Icarus)
, none of whom show any confidence in Kevin's ability in the beginning. After Lana is kidnapped by the enemy shortly after Kevin's arrival, the reluctant group puts their differences aside to go on a rescue mission where Kevin eventually gains the others' confidence.
In most episodes, the N Team's enemy is a group of video game villains usually led by the boisterous and loud Mother Brain who is accompanied by her minions: the sheepish Eggplant Wizard, the thuggish King Hippo, and the scheming Dr. Wily. A 'villain of the week' is featured in some episodes when a particular video game becomes the setting (such as Malkil of Wizards & Warriors). Donkey Kong also makes an appearance as a territorial, belligerent, Godzilla-sized gorilla in some episodes, but usually serves as a dangerous neutral character posing a hazard to friend and foe alike.
Further recurring characters make an appearance as either friend and foe. The Count (Castlevania) makes multiple appearances, along with Dr. Light (Dr. Wright), Link and Princess Zelda, and, from season two onward, Game Boy joins the N Team.
The focus of the show is mostly action-adventure sourced from the video games they parody, with comedic relief forming in the characters' interactions with one another and the environment. Sometimes, humor also stems from the comparatively loose interpretations of the laws of reality that apply in Videoland.
The N Team
- Kevin Keene - The leader, protagonist and main character of the series initially plays the role of reluctant hero and is often found at odds with the rest of the N-Team. When he comes to Videoland, he is equipped with a belt and holster that has a Power Pad (a NES controller-shaped device which can stop time or give Kevin super speed over short distances) and a NES Zapper-like gun which dispatches or "dematerializes" enemies. The Zapper can also shoot ice shaped like Tetris blocks. His expert use of these tools combined with his overall friendly, if competitive, demeanor eventually earns the trust of the others. In many episodes, he tries to foster a big-brotherly role to characters suffering from a particular plight. He is most often referred to as Captain N by the other cast members, except Princess Lana who regularly addresses him by his first name. He wears light denim jeans, a yellow shirt and a red Letterman jacket with white sleeves. The Varsity letter "N" on his jacket is for swimming. Kevin is voiced by Matt Hill while Dorian Barag plays him in the "live action" part of the intro.
- Princess Lana - The current regent of Videoland (her father, King Charles, was banished to another dimension by Mother Brain), she rules over all the lands in Videoland from the Palace of Power. Though she reflects a kind character typified by a princess role, she is able to keep up with the rest of the N-team through their adventures and is not afraid of conflict, having been trained to defend herself from a young age. Though she is good friends with the members of the N-Team, Lana shows loneliness for her own family. She often acts as a mediator between the members of the N-team when their competitive natures lead them to infighting. Both Kevin and Simon compete for Lana's affections, but she seems to prefer Kevin over Simon and kisses him on several occasions (including the last episode). Her appearance and dress consists of wearing boots, a two-piece dress outfit, a tiara, and a necklace with three green gems. Production art showed her holding a large staff.
- Duke - Kevin's dog jumped into the Ultimate Warp Zone immediately after Kevin was sucked in and ended up in Videoland as well. Although he acts intelligently, he still seems to exhibit typical dog behavior uncontrollably, like the chase reflex. Duke is usually with Kevin through all the action in a given episode and sometimes sees his own action, but is mostly a comic relief character. Duke wears a bandanna around his neck.
- Simon Belmont (Castlevania) - Until Captain N's arrival, Simon, a vampire hunter, regarded himself as Princess Lana's highest ranking servant. He displays extreme arrogance and vanity, often prefacing declarations of his character or capabilities by referring to himself in the 3rd person. He enjoys courting and complimenting Princess Lana, openly declaring his romantic interest in her (which she rebuffs but sometimes is flattered), but he enjoys tending to his appearance and physique even more. In his own distorted way, however, he does show regard for other members of the N-team, even if it outwardly seems back-handed. He is very competitive and he regards Captain N as a major rival for Princess Lana's attention. He wears a blue fabric outfit, pilot goggles, boots and large gloves, and carries around a backpack with a seemingly endless capacity of miscellaneous things he takes out and uses. He brandishes a whip, which occasionally has a mind of its own, but like Captain N's zapper, it can also dematerialize foes. Simon Belmont's look was at least partially based upon his voice actor, Andrew Kavadas.
- Kid Icarus (Kid Icarus) - The diminutive Kid Icarus is very loyal to and protective of Princess Lana and while he shows childish behavior, he is not short on courage. He is not very physically effective in the action situations, and often bemoans his small stature, but is the only N Team member who can fly, and usually is a very accurate archer. His quiver holds regular arrows which can dematerialize foes, but also has various specialized gadget arrows. He has light feathery wings, long bangs that always cover one eye, and wears a one-shoulder toga with sandals. He comes from the world of Mount Icarus. His appearance in season 3 resembles his sprite and box art from the Kid Icarus sequel for Game Boy.
- Mega Man (Mega Man) - As diminutive as Kid Icarus, Mega Man is a robot constructed by Dr. Light. He too is protective of Princess Lana. Despite his size, he is incredibly strong, physically durable, and extremely agile. His body is clad in multi-tone green armor and he wears a visor. He has two forearm-mounted energy blasters which function like Captain N's zapper. His home world, along with Dr. Wright, is Megaland. In the episode "Happy Birthday Megaman", when he is upset with the fact he is a nonliving robot he is transformed from a robot into a living man, although later in the series he is still shown to possess his robotic abilities.
- Game Boy - Debuting in the first episode of the second season, Game boy is a human-sized supercomputer shaped like the Nintendo product of the same name. When the portal to the Mirror World opened, King Charles sent him in his place to help Captain N. He announces himself as being "programmed to play games," but when action arises, he is usually capable of meeting the challenge. His body exhibits elasticity when stretches out arms and hands from his casing. Game Boy also uses his display to materialize many things, including objects and monsters, mainly for the team's target practice. He also has an onboard computer which can analyze substances and track enemies.
- Mother Brain (Metroid) - The primary villain of the show, Mother Brain is a trash talking, abusive, power-hungry brain in a giant bottle. In the pilot episode, her troops are marching at the door of the Palace of Power, and she had already captured and banished the King of Videoland to the Mirror World. Though proud of her form and presence, she is not above any subterfuge if it gets her goal accomplished. She also displays great vanity—almost as much as Simon Belmont. She spends most of her time stationary in a control room on her floating world, Metroid, where she uses a special "mirror" to spy on the members of the N Team as she looks for weaknesses to exploit. She also has retractable prehensile tentacles she uses to lash or electrically shock her usually incompetent minions to encourage them to do better.
- King Hippo (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!) - The monstrous, pear shaped King Hippo is the "heavyweight" who is short on brains and big on muscle. He is cruel, indulgent, and sharp tongued, but most of his ire is usually directed to his counterpart the Eggplant Wizard. His home world is called Punch-Out!!, a name inspired by the game of the same name.
- Eggplant Wizard (Kid Icarus) - A cycloptic human-sized vegetable, Eggplant Wizard is a main foe for Kid Icarus, but mostly serves as a target of abuse for Mother Brain due to his incompetence. He is also the chief foil for King Hippo as the two usually featured at the same time. He also has the ability to conjure various vegetable-themed gadgets to aid in mischief. Unlike King Hippo, Eggplant Wizard has shown some signs of taking the initiative to come up with his own schemes and is not above turning against Mother Brain on rare occasions.
- Dr. Wily (Mega Man) - The least seen of the main villains, Dr. Wily is a short, beady-eyed, and slightly grizzled old man loyal to Mother Brain and arguably the most competent of the group. He is a stereotypical mad scientist who uses his genius to build wild gadgets or develop complicated schemes to defeat the N-Team. One notable episode had him using a mind reading device to find out the greatest fears of the team members, then constructing a robot in the likeness of a school bully, Kevin's greatest fear. He speaks with a German accent, and is constantly wheezing in his speech. Dr. Wily is voiced by Ian James Corlett.
The following characters appear in at least 2 episodes:
- Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong) - A gigantic gorilla, Donkey Kong resides on Kongoland. Mostly a solitary character, he is quick to anger and not happy to see visitors in what he considers his jungle. He has no loyalties and is equally dangerous to all the other characters, with the exception of the Videolympics episode where he joins Mother Brain's team.
- The Count (Castlevania) - A pasty, lanky vampire in a gauche yellow suit, he is the representation of Dracula from Castlevania, but is never referred to as Dracula. He demonstrates the ability to control the undead and transform into a bat in order to threaten the countryside of Castlevania, but rarely teams up with any other character for his goals. In his single Season 3 appearance he's wearing a dark blue suit.
- Charles, the King of Videoland - The original monarch of Videoland, and father of both Lana and Lyle, was captured by Mother Brain and banished to the Mirror World before the start of the show and has remained trapped there since. He is a kind and compassionate ruler who places his judgment of others above his own well being. He has an impressive white beard and moustache, and wears ornate multicolor clothing.
- Princess Zelda (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) - A beautiful, young woman, she rules Hyrule and protects the Triforce from evil as well as providing help to the N Team. She is a close friend to Princess Lana since before Mother Brain waged war on Videoland, and the two regard each other highly. She wields a bow occasionally to deal with foes.
- Link (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) - A young warrior who serves Zelda, Link is a heroic figure who is brave, friendly (if somewhat competitive), and resourceful. He also fights to defend the Triforce and Hyrule from enemies and wields a double-edged sword. He is Kevin's idol and favorite video game character.
- Ganon (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) - A warthog/pig wizard. He is Link's main enemy. He is a powerful wizard who wields strong magic, but link has always overcome him. After Link had defeated him, he drank the potion of power and regained all his strength and power.
- Dragonlord (Dragon Warrior) - A huge red dragon of near-Donkey Kong size, the Dragonlord makes multiple attempts to rule Dragon's Den, the world of Dragon Warrior. Intelligent, if somewhat gullible, he uses both his size and his magical powers to further his goal of conquering his world and ruling over all its citizens.
- Prince Lyle - Brother to Princess Lana, Lyle left home at an undisclosed time after feeling out of place. Despite his lineage, he displays few leadership skills or heroic athletics, and generally regards himself as clumsy in spite of his good intentions. Thinking it for the best, he left home and took up residence on the world of Tetris where he guards the Sacred Square. Lana and the other team members convince him that nobody will have any confidence in him as a leader until after he believes in himself.
- Wombatman - A television hero parody of Batman, Wombatman is a squat and cynical actor who portrays his character of the same name. Kid Icarus idolizes him and identifies with his various gadgets he uses, as he comes up with similar gadget arrows in his quiver. He appears to be a parody of Adam West, though a brief scene in "The Most Dangerous Game Master" is inspired by the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film. The character is referred to as "Bruce" by a Vicki Vale type character and Wombatman speaks in a style similar to that of Michael Keaton. The show even acknowledges the character is a parody, as Kevin actually mentions "Batman and Robin" by name in "Simon The Ape-Man".
- Mayor Squaresly - The mayor of Tetris. He is mostly fond of holidays and declares a new one when he gets the chance. He also escapes a villain who is turning Tetris' citizens into Tetris blocks to contact the N-Team for help.
- Bayou Billy (The Adventures of Bayou Billy) - Bayou Billy is the main character from the video game that Kevin could not beat. He has an alligator for a pet and rides around in a buggy-like vehicle. He helps Captain N find his lost dog by training him in the ways of bayou tracking.
- Prince Plenty - The monarch that reigns over Kongoland, except when Donkey Kong is involved, Prince Plenty is blue-skinned like all the humanoid inhabitants of Kongoland. He is a very soft spoken and friendly ruler who manages to keep tranquility in Kongoland, even with Donkey Kong on the loose, as he has invented a machine that feeds Donkey Kong fruit and keeps him away from the city in Kongoland.
- Dr. Wright (Mega Man) - The genius scientist who built Mega Man and Mega Girl, he teams up with the N Team to fight off Dr. Wily and Mother Brain. He also serves as a father figure to Mega Man.
- Mega Girl (Mega Man) - A girl robot with very similar construction to Mega Man, except her armor is pink and white. She wants to be friends with him very much, but is turned away initially as she reminds him that he is not human.
- Gary Chalk: Narrator, King Hippo, Donkey Kong, Count Dracula, Bayou Billy, Malkil, Mayor Squaresly, Additional Voices
- Ian James Corlett: Dr. Wily
- Mike Donovan: Eggplant Wizard
- Matt Hill: Kevin Keene (Captain N)
- Alessandro Juliani: Kid Icarus
- Andrew Kavadas: Simon Belmont
- Doug Parker: Mega Man, Kraid (Season 1)
- Levi Stubbs: Mother Brain
- Venus Terzo: Narrator (opening credits season 2), Princess Lana, Medusa (Season 1), Kevin's Mom (voice over only)
- Tomm Wright: Duke
- Frank Welker: Gameboy (Season 2, 3)
- Jonathan Potts: Link (Season 2)
- Cynthia Preston: Princess Zelda (Season 2)
- Long John Baldry: King Charles, Little John (Season 3), Clockman (Season 3), The Poltergeist King (Season 3), The Puzzle Wizard (Season 3)
The comic book
The Captain N
comic book was published by Valiant Comics as part of the Nintendo Comics System
in 1990. Despite being based on the television cartoon of the same name, it was actually quite different from the show. The comics were more serious than the cartoon. Additionally, all third-party characters (Simon Belmont, Mega Man, Dr. Wright, the Count, and Dr. Wily) were excluded, apparently due to licensing limitations. Samus Aran
, who never appeared in the cartoon(because the creator of the show said they had "never heard of her"), was a frequenter of the stories, fell in love with Kevin, and became Lana's rival for his affections, and Mother Brain's second-in-command became Uranos
, the demigod of the sky based on a regular enemy from Kid Icarus
. Pit's toga was changed from white to yellow and, in most of the stories, Lana's dress was purple. However, in the comics, Lana has a weapon - a scepter she had in concept art, but only had a very brief appearance on one episode of the show.
In the last printed issue of the comic book, a letter column promised that Mega Man would make an appearance but the comic was aborted abruptly and this never came into existence.
The first issue was to be included as a digital reprint on the DVD set, but couldn't since the rights to the comic are in limbo.
Featured video games
Because Captain N
took place in a universe where video games existed as reality, a multitude of video games were used in the thirty-four episodes of the series. In some cases only areas and elements from the game were used, but the protagonist was absent; some examples include Wizards & Warriors
, Dragon Warrior
, and Metroid
. The following video games were portrayed at least once during the series' run:
- The Adventures of Bayou Billy
- Bo Jackson Baseball
- California Games
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Junior (Simon Belmont thought he was Donkey Kong Junior when he had amnesia in one episode)
- Dragon Warrior (now referred to as Dragon Quest)
- Final Fantasy
- Kid Icarus
- Marble Madness
- In the episode "I Wish I Was a Wombatman", the studio world of Marblopolis is structurally inspired by Marble Madness, right down to a giant black marble weapon with which Mother Brain attacks the N-Team. Also, in the earlier episode "The Trojan Dragon", the theme from the first level of Marble Madness can be heard several times.
- Mega Man
- Mega Man 2
- Mega Man 3
- Puss 'n Boots: Pero's Great Adventure
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- Super Mario Bros. (In the first episode, Kevin briefly compares the Ultimate Warp Zone to this game. Many of the sound effects came from this game, such as jumping. The music for both the underground and fortress stages also is featured.)
- Wizards & Warriors
- In "Nightmare On Mother Brain's Street", the N Team traveled to the world of Wizards & Warriors and battled the resident villain, the wizard Malkil, who also appeared on a few times on The Power Team opposite his enemy, the knight Kuros.
- The Legend of Zelda
- Zelda II - The Adventure of Link
Although nearly every major Nintendo franchise at the time was represented at some point or another in the show (as well as a few obscure ones, such as Puss 'n Boots), the Super Mario games were noticeably absent, although a line mentioning the game is included in the pilot episode, comparing the Ultimate Warp Zone that brings Captain N to Videoland to the warp zones in Super Mario Bros. This is because The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was airing in the same time period, which featured the characters and world of the Mario games.
While the premise was supposedly derived from The Chronicles of Narnia
, Captain N also made many other references to other sources, from the names of episodes ("Kevin in Videoland
" to Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland
, for example), movies, (a movie within the show called "Donkey Kong Jones and the Last Banana
") and other media (Simon Belmont watches a show called "General Morgue" - a reference to General Hospital
). The series also shared many similarities to the movie Tron
, including a human being drawn into a "game" world to save it, and the large supercomputer program with a face serving as the chief antagonist.
Syndication and changes
Captain N was syndicated on The Family Channel
in 1992, on the USA Network
at some point, and on local affiliates (such as WLVI
in Boston at 4:30PM) weekdays in the Fall of 1992 as Captain N & The Video Game Masters
, a package which included Captain N
, The Legend of Zelda
, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3
, and Super Mario World
''. This compilation package is commonly referred to as "VGM" for short in the Captain N fandom.
VGM had its own theme song, followed by a commercial break, followed by the theme song of whichever series was being shown on that day. The lyrics consisted of "The world of Captain N is here" sung four times.
Like The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, original airings of the first season's episodes typically featured current popular music of the day, such as Bob Seger's "Shakedown" in "Kevin in Videoland" and "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins in "Mega Trouble for Megaland". But when Captain N episodes were aired in the VGM package, these songs were removed and replaced by an instrumental version of the "Mega Move" song from Season 2's "The Feud of Faxanadu" which is also used for the syndicated runs of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. In "The Most Dangerous Game Master", this music, which replaced a cover of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", is very noticeably repeatedly looped to fill the required amount of time.
When "The Feud of Faxanadu" was aired in the VGM package, it used the opening theme song of the third season.
The Zelda episodes were cut for time when aired in the VGM package, and two episodes were shown in each half-hour block. Also, at least once, the episode "Doppelganger" oddly aired with the title "Underworld Connections", which is a completely different episode.
In at least the Family Channel and VGM airings, the second season's opening theme song had the Mario segments cut out.
It is generally regarded that there are thirty-four unique episodes of the series. However, alternative versions of many episodes exist (mostly as a result of editing in the third season and later syndication). Provided is a list of episodes with alternate versions:
- "How's Bayou": The original version of this episode that aired on September 16, 1989 differed from the version that aired on all later airings. This version featured some dialogue changes/rearrangements/etc., an alternate piece of instrumental music in the Kevin/Lana dancing scene, and several other small changes here and there. The Shout Factory DVD release contains this episode (albeit with the cover of Born on the Bayou replaced with the generic Mega Move instrumental.)
- Some of the episodes were remade to 15 minutes long for airing in season 3.
- "When Mother Brain Rules": This "clip show" episode has at least two different versions. There are many scenes with dialog but no music, and vice versa. In alternative versions of the episodes, many of these sequences are changed around.
Many episodes also received minor changes when they were released in syndication as part of the "Captain N & The Video Game Masters" package. The only major change was removing the "popular" music and replacing it with the instrumental music from the "Mega Move" song in "The Feud of Faxanadu".
DVD releases and changes
was released on DVD in North America on February 27, 2007 by Shout! Factory
. Though the set is called "The Complete Series", there are some omissions.
- Season 3 is not included. This is because Season 3 is considered to be part of a different series, due to sharing a half-hour block with the Super Mario World cartoon on NBC in the fall of 1991, and the copy holders required that the Captain N and Super Mario World episodes be released together. Captain N & The New Super Mario World has since been released on DVD in a separate two-disc set.
- Episode 27, "When Mother Brain Rules", which was a clip show episode, was not included on the master tapes that DiC sent to Shout! Factory, so this episode is not included on the DVD set.
- Contrary to what many sites said prior to the release of the set, the primitive, first version of "How's Bayou" is included in this set. However, it is the only version on the set. The better known, second version is not featured in this package.
- The tapes that DiC lent Shout! Factory to make the DVD set are clones of NBC broadcast masters, which apparently do not lose quality from copy to copy. It is unknown why DiC did not provide its own master tapes.
- The opening "teasers" are not included on the DVD set, as these were not a part of Shout! Factory's deal with DiC. The only teaser on the disc is the one for "Kevin in Videoland", featured as a bonus feature on disc one.
- A scene about two minutes long from the episode "Queen of the Apes" is oddly absent from the DVD, making the episode 19-20 minutes as opposed to its original running time of 21:39. Missing from the DVD is the entire "underwater piranha battle" scene involving Kevin and Simon, and some of the "hoisting Mother Brain's body up a cliff" scene with Kid Icarus and Mega Man. Brian Ward of Shout! Factory has stated that this was an authoring error and a replacement disc program is being initiated.
- The popular remade songs from season one are not included, and have been replaced by an instrumental version of the "Mega Move" song from "The Feud of Faxanadu", even though Shout! Factory promised "similar sounding music." This is obviously due to rights issues involving the songs. The songs in Season 2's episodes were not actual popular songs, but songs done exclusively for the series, so they are kept intact.
The DVD set is packaged in two double-disc thin packs. The booklet planned for the set was omitted due to time constraints, as no further delays were wanted.
||Additional Information |
| Captain N: The Game Master - The Complete Series
|| February 27, 2007
- Map of Videoland-style menus
- Character Video Bios, including narration taken directly from the text of the Captain N bible
- Exploring Videoland: Concept art for the worlds and locations of Captain N: The Game Master
- "Captain Nintendo" - the original Nintendo Power short story. However, it is missing several paragraphs on the DVD and has several typos.
Regional DVD releases
Every episode of Season 3 is available on Australian DVD alongside the entire series of the "Super Mario World" cartoon.
Three of the episodes of Season 3 are available on a South Korean DVD.