It’s Supercade Time! Fun Fun Fun!
Shockingly, it has now been 29 years since CBS introduced Saturday Supercade, a multiple-title Saturday morning cartoon that featured many of the top video game properties of the day.
The series only lasted for two seasons, vanishing into thin air when the Great Video Game Crash of the mid-1980s made anything related to gaming go up in smoke for a couple of years. Due to licensing and rights issues between the different companies involved in the series, it may never see the light of day again in any sort of complete form.
Funniest thing about the series are the liberties that were taken on the story for each game title. Plots in video games were not a common thing back in the those days, so the people behind Saturday Supercade made their own.
In the first season, this cartoon series turned Frogger into a newspaper reporter. Yes, a newspaper reporter. He worked at the Swampy Gazette with his friends Shelly and Fanny. I guess the plot of the original game wasn’t about a giant frog trying to get home by crossing an impossible river current and unorganized traffic… the poor guy was trying to make his deadline.
Donkey Kong was pretty close to the plot of the original game, and also featured a young and skinny Mario, voiced by Peter Cullen of Optimus Prime fame. DK was an escaped circus gorilla, pursued by Mario as well as Pauline, who joined the pursuit in that highly impractical dress of hers.
Donkey Kong Junior had his own cartoon segment as well, searching for papa. Joining him was a fellow named Bones Bailey, who was more than happy to take the sidecar or bitch seat when Junior jumped on the motorcycle to continue his search.
Q*bert was seen along with his own kind, and for some reason the entire cast was turned into 1950’s style greasers, even though the names of the bands seen at the record stores were based on modern musical acts (modern at the time anyway).
Pitfall Harry was also in on the fun, going on wild adventures with a pet cat and his niece. I’ve never been sure why all the cartoon uncles are so irresponsible, putting their nieces and nephews in constant danger.
The second season sent Harry on a permanent adventure in the middle of nowhere, suspended Junior’s motorcycle license and edited Frogger out of a job. In their place were two new video games.
Space Ace had a plot in the arcade that was translated directly to the cartoon. The follow-up to Dragon’s Lair was expected to be a big hit but as it turned out more people probably saw the cartoon version than the arcade version.
Kangaroo had a short. Yes, THAT Kangaroo… the bomb created by Sun and licensed to Atari. The coin-op version sold under 2,000 units, yet it had a cartoon featuring little Joey, his mother and the evil “Monkey Business Gang”.
It all seems so corny now, but nonetheless is a shining example of the impact the video game industry as a whole had on pop culture in the early 80s. After the cancellation of the show and other video game TV properties, it would be years before such shows returned to the air in the form of Super Mario and Captain N.
Some Saturday Supercade material is out on YouTube for the morbidly curious.