Back in the 80s, there were a LOT of cartoons on Saturday mornings and weekdays that, really, were nothing but 30-minute toy commercials. "He-Man/She-Ra", "Jem & the Holograms", "GI Joe: A Real American Hero", "Transformers", "M.A.S.K", etc. come to mind. They structured, scripted, and written to make sure that the newest toys were the big point of the episode, and make sure that they're on EVERY kid's wish-list by the start of the holiday season, and if not, the shows were cancelled, or just got MORE product-placey (for lack of a better term).
Well, since the NES was the biggest thing since the Rubik's Cube in the 80s, Nintendo decided to cash in on what Mattel and Hasbro had been doing. So in 1989, they showed who could be the biggest whore of them all. In addition to the (crappy) movie "The Wizard" (promoting various NES games, and ultimately, Super Mario 3), they hired DiC Entertainment to create shows based off of Zelda, Mario, and one for other popular NES games. "The "Super Mario Bros. Super Show" (with a weekly "Zelda" cartoon on Fridays) came on afterschool on Fox/WGN, and "Captain N: The Game Master" was played on NBC's Saturday morning lineup between "Camp Candy" and "The Karate Kid".
Teen Nintendo whiz Kevin Keene is sucked into his Nintendo console into the realm of Videoland, the land of video games. Apparently, an ancient prophecy states that during Videoland's darkest hour, a hero shall come from another dimension and become "Captain N", and lead them to victory. Together with his band of heroes the "N-Team", made up of the ruler of Videoland Princess Lana, Simon Belmont, Megaman, and Kid Icarus, they fight to free Video-land from the evil Forces of Chaos, led by Mother Brain and her two flunkies the Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo.
Or, characters that vaguely resemble their video game counterparts. Megaman is now a green midget, Simon is the Situation's long lost twin, Kid Icarus looks accurate, MotherBrain is now a giant brain with hooker lips pasted on, Eggplant Wizard looks OK, and King Hippo is now blue instead of tan. It seems Kid Icarus characters got the most accurate appearances, for some weird reason. Strangely enough, Kevin is able to instantly recognize these characters, yet they look pretty different from how they look in the games.
The characters also have random personalities as well. Simon went from a fearless vampire hunter seeking to kill Dracula to a douchey, vain, egotistical jackass. Megaman sounded like a chainsmoker and added "mega-" to certain words. Kid Icarus sounded like he had bad asthma, and added "-icus" to the end of random words. It was just weird. I could go on and on about these weird designs, but I don't really feel like it, since I really don't know. I'll just guess it was to avoid paying any royalties.
The writing quality of the show varied from OK to Good. You had episodes that kinda dragged and had alot of pointless filler, and you had well done episodes that were pretty memorable. It really depended on the episode, to be truly honest.
Captain N was cancelled halfway through its 3rd season since NBC decided to kill their Saturday morning block in July 1992.
It's sister show, "Super Mario World", was able to have a complete season, and for the last half of "Super Mario World", they edited some episodes down to 10 minutes to fill the time.
This show was last seen on US TV in early/mid '94 on the USA Network, and faded into obscurity with the exception of some VHS releases and offhand mentions on some internet forums and message boards for well over a decade. Finally, in 2007, Shout! Factory released it on DVD, which I might write a review on if I get good feedback from this article.
I first saw this show when I was 3 or 4, since one of my brothers had recorded some episodes off TV a few years before, and I remembered little snippets of it, like Simon attempting to shoot a frog with a bazooka, or Lana uncovering a trap set by Dr. Wily, etc. Just little scenes that really wouldn't make any sense unless you saw the actual episode.
I LIKE this show. Sure it had cheesy writing, iffy animation at times, poorly designed characters, etc., but that's just part of the charm. I wouldn't go so as to say I love it, but I like it. It's not horribly exciting or funny, but it's OK. It had an interesting concept that could have been handled MUCH better, but it could have been MUCH worse.