Shows based on games are nothing new and by many people's accounts they're nothing special. Most shows based on games don't last very long and eventually get forgotten. However, you do get a few gems in there like the popular Sonic the Hedgehog shows and the longest running show based on a game: "Pokémon."

However, there are shows based on characters that don't seem to be all that open to getting a show because there was no story. What would you say though, if you were to hear of a show that featured arcade game characters from the golden age of Atari? This show, the Saturday Supercade on CBS was aired from 1982 to 1985 with short segments for these characters. Of course, there were other shows based on games that aren't that well known and I'll name a few. Here are the Top 10 Obscure Shows Based on Video Games!

Game Plot:
A boy comes home and finds he's alone. Taking advantage he gorges on junk food and plays video games until the power goes out in a storm. He then goes to bed and has nightmares about various places kids are afraid of.

Cartoon Plot:
Ned looks exactly the same as he does in the game but his nightmares are very different than the game. Usually something happens to Ned that humiliates him such as he's tricked into eating dog food or walking into the girl's bathroom. Typically, this was done by a pair of bullies that think it's the funniest thing ever picking on him. He then dreams about the event having a stronger effect on him like he turns into a dog or a girl. Eventually, he gets his revenge on the bullies in his dreams.

Unlike the game Ned where he has a yo-yo as a weapon in the show he has no way of defending himself in his dreams. Most of the villains were someone he knew such as the bullies or his obnoxious cousins. In the game they were shadows which Ned has to reveal as being this kind of character but this is only revealed through the gameplay.

Overall, the show seems to be more of an extension of the game and could just have easily come first, but it's been confirmed that the game was first. Both are pretty well unknown and the show only lasted 12 episodes.

Game Plot:
Dirk the Daring must fight through a castle to save the princess Daphne from a dragon.

Cartoon Plot:
True to the game Dirk is a knight and he's in love with the princess but she is not married to him like she is in the sequel game so this takes place between games.

This show was somewhat innovative in that it tried to keep with the game's playing device in that before a commercial Dirk would get into some kind of trouble and the narrator would give three choices of what Dirk should do. When the commercial ends he asks what you chose and shows you the failures of Dirk if the wrong choices were made then the show would go on with what should have been done.

Although the dragon Singe is the primary villain of the show, there is also a knight Sir Blunt who is a rival of Dirks who always ends up getting him into more trouble trying to prove himself the better knight. Singe is also much less of a trouble than he was in the original story as he tends to try to get others to do his work for him or focuses on trashing Dirk's reputation.

New characters were added to the show, Dirk has a horse, Bertram, who does occasionally speak and a squire Timothy. Like most sidekick characters they more often get in the way than help out but they prove themselves valuable enough to be kept around. Dirk also has Daphne come with him on many of his adventures but she rarely helps out in solving most of the problems Dirk runs into.

The real charm of the show is that is shows more of Dirk's roots and back-story. The name of the kingdom he hails from is revealed and Daphne's father King Ethelred is too.

Game Plot:
Pac-Man has to navigate a maze eating pellets while avoiding a group of ghosts that chase him.

Cartoon Plot:
Pac-Man lives in a suburban area where everyone is like him: a huge yellow ball with arms and legs. Pac-Man lives with his family consisting of Mrs. Pac-Man (named Pepper), his daughter Baby Pac, their pets Chomp-Chomp the dog, Sour Puss the cat, and is occasionally visited by Super Pac. The Pac family is of course caught up troubles with the ghosts but there is no single plotline. All sorts of things happen in the show.

Pac-Man gets caught up with the acting bug and the ghosts take over for the actors playing the ghosts, or the ghosts find a magic lamp and release a genie who grants the "I wish for a million wishes" wish, etc. The cartoon was all over the place with the troubles, though it was always defeating the ghosts that was the main ordeal.

There is no actual mention of what the pellets were in the game but power pellets make their appearance and apparently grow on trees. After the ghosts have spoiled everything for everyone Pac-Man (or another character in the show) gulps one down and the ghosts turn blue and are eaten leaving only their eyes. Again, there is no mention of how they return to normal but it was revealed in one episode that the ghost's bodies are like clothing and can be removed.

This show did spawn a new image of Pac-Man that is seen in games like Baten Kaitos and Pac-Mania.

Game Plot:
Donkey Kong Jr. has to climb a number of structures while avoiding obstacles sent down by Mario so he can save his father.

Cartoon Plot:
From here on the shows are from the Saturday Supercade and this one is the only one that ties in with another. Donkey Kong Jr. is sad that his father is on the run and attempts to find him. At least that's what the opening leads the viewer to believe. After discovering that his father is gone Jr. finds a friend named Bones Bailey and they take off on their own journey.

While there are occasional mentions of Donkey Kong the show really revolves over the duo running into various criminals and stopping them. The criminals were always after something like an inheritance or a shepherd's herd. They'd almost be caught at some point but Bones would mess things up and they'd only be captured at the end of the show.

Donkey Kong Jr. himself is a bit of a spoof on Scrappy Doo as he tends to shout out a catchphrase "Monkey Muscles" (based on Scrappy's "Puppy Power") before he goes and does something. In actuality the character is quite strong and is capable of holding two men at once in spite of being smaller than either of them. He's also shown to be the more intelligent member of the duo as he usually comes up with the plans and points out weak points in his partner's ideas. Strangely, he's also shown as being the driver in the motorcycle that they ride.

Bones is mostly there to provide comedy relief as he's always the one who gets caught or causes trouble for Donkey Kong Jr. In spite of the show's premise, they never do find Donkey Kong.

Game Plot:
Dexter, hero of the galaxy has been hit by the infanto ray that turns him young and he has to fight the space tyrant Borf who did this to him.

Cartoon Plot: The show works as a direct sequel to the game. Dexter hero of Space Ace is still under the effects of the infanto ray albeit with transformations happening less frequently. Borf on the other hand seems to have recovered from his ordeal at the end of the game and is once again wreaking havoc on the galaxy.

Ace never tells anyone about his condition and even his girlfriend Kimberly doesn't intend for him to do so either. Their main reason is that they're afraid that he'll be put on suspension until a cure can be found. However, this proves to be quite a mistake in that Ace is constantly getting into trouble when he turns young. Often, enemies escape, he is captured, or he gets humiliated in some other way. Even the commander of Ace's organization is under the impression he's actually Kimberly's younger brother.

Borf turns out to be the main villain of the show just as he was in the game. His missions are to perfect the infanto ray which is not as effective on humans as he would want, and to (what else?) take over the galaxy. These always end up with him being at odds with Ace and Kimberly though not always intentionally. His main Hench people are the cat like groots.

With no new main characters added and keeping up the main plot of the game its base material than any other show on the Supercade.

Game Plot:
Pitfall Harry goes through the jungle seeking riches while avoiding the many perils of the jungle.

Cartoon Plot:
It turns out that Pitfall Harry has more than just his son who shows up in "Pitfall! The Mayan Adventure." He also has a niece named Rhonda so he probably has a brother or sister around somewhere too but they are unseen. He also has a one-eyed pet mountain lion named Quick Claw who, like many other cartoon cats at the time, is a coward.

The show would basically revolve around the trio going to some exotic location like the jungles of India while either looking for or transporting some kind of valuable object. The object was either stolen or looked for by a guest villain who was of some notoriety where he came from. Rhonda and Pitfall would confidently take on the villains while Quick Claw tended to get into trouble due to his greed and cowardice and this would eventually lead to his friends getting caught as well. After getting captured Pitfall would find a way out of trouble then round up the loot and the criminal who were then both turned over to the government.

In addition to the guest villains there were crocodiles that would always show up and look to eat the main characters. They were more of a nuisance than anything else and typically would end up getting taken care of within a minute's time.

Although he wasn't a character in the game, Quick Claw actually got the most screen time of any of the characters.

Game Plot:
A mother kangaroo has to climb a number of structures while avoiding monkeys that have kidnapped her joey.

Cartoon Plot:
Based on a game that's pretty much unknown these days, Kangaroo actually featured her son Joey (the most uncreative name for a baby kangaroo) more than it did Katie, who's the title character of the game. The show also featured the monkeys that are the main villains of the game but they aren't always the focus problem.

Unlike the game, Katie and Joey live in a zoo and are perfectly content to live there. The monkeys are the ones that don't enjoy zoo life and tend to come up with plans to get out. Usually, these plans put them at odds with Joey who then gets into trouble until Katie comes to bail him out. Even in episodes where the monkeys were not the main villains and you have a guest troublemaker fruit is always thrown at the heroes of the show and Katie dawns her boxing gloves to punch them away.

There were a number of quirks with this show in that many of the animals can talk and even the humans can understand them but then there are those that don't speak at all. Also, Joey wears a shirt and a hat while most of the animals wear little to no clothes.

Game Plot:
A frog attempts to cross a road and a river to get to the other side.

Cartoon Plot:
How do you make a game that requires you to get a frog from one side of a road to the next into a TV show? You put in George Costanza desperate to keep his high score on the arcade game trying to cross the road with the console!

Ah-heh, after that bit of dry humor, what was done was that you had the frog made into an "ace" reporter who has a turtle for a photographer. The show didn't have anything to do with crossing a road but was more of a Scooby-Doo rip-off. The group was always looking for a story and would come across a criminal in a costume. They'd attempt to catch the criminal in a trap that would inevitably fail and they were even called "those meddling frogs." The show would always end with the villain unmasked and the motive explained.

Unlike the other shows in which people didn't think anything of talking animals this one did have human characters who thought it was the weirdest thing ever. The animals wore clothes but not pants like a lot of other characters in cartoons.

Frogger would occasionally get smashed in the show and would have to be pumped up with a bicycle pump before he could get back into action.

#2: Q*bert

Game Plot:
Q*Bert bounces around a pyramid of colored blocks in an attempt to change them all to a specific color while avoiding enemies.

Cartoon Plot:
Q*Bert actually has arms and talks. The show is entirely different from the game in that Q*Bert doesn't do anything with a pyramid of blocks and instead goes through misadventures usually caused by the enemies of the game.

The way that it works is that Q*Bert is part of a group of friends that look like multicolored versions of him that are interested in doing the things that were interesting to teenagers in the 80's such as drag racing. Each of these members wear college or high school jackets while the enemies of the game are part of a rival gang that wear black leather jackets.

While the disk makes an appearance in the show, it is used mainly as a general purpose form of personal transportation (though cars are seen in the show) rather than an escape. Furthermore, Q*Bert occasionally forces some green goop known as Slippy Dos into his nose to shoot at the enemies. This is said by some to be part of the original idea for the game that had been removed due to censorship.

Game Plot:
Mario has to climb up several structures while avoiding barrels dropped by Donkey Kong to save his friend Pauline.

Cartoon Plot:
The big ape and Mario made their on screen debuts in this show long before the days of the "Super Mario Brothers Super Show!" The plot was really different in the show than it was on the game. Donkey Kong is from the circus and is being chased by Mario and Pauline who are determined to get him back.

The roles of the characters are reversed in that Donkey Kong is the hero of the show and Mario is actually the villain. Mario is typically slipping on banana peels dropped by Donkey Kong and groaning about his constant failure to stop him. Donkey Kong, who doesn't actually throw barrels in the show, tends to run into misadventures where he gets recruited into things such as marriage and biking gangs. He eventually helps out people who are in trouble and then makes his escape from Mario.

In another reversal, Pauline is with Mario trying to catch Donkey Kong instead of him trying to catch her. While the ape does have feelings for her, he saves her rather than gets her into trouble, though there were occasions in which the original kind of plot did come in and Mario has to save Pauline.

Well there you have it. These shows were some of the most obscure ones out there and they didn't last long. Some of them only lasted a single season before being removed. Oh there are still ways to watch them every now and then but for the most part they are gone from the public. I know that there are many more shows and if you'd like to share them with everyone go ahead, I'd love to hear about others. And just to get things straight, I couldn't find out how long each show lasted so that's why I don't post it for all the shows.

List by Xoneris (05/01/2013)

Discuss this list and others on the Top 10 Lists board.


Would you recommend this Top 10? Yes No You must register to leave a comment.
Submit Recommendation