Over the years, Shout! Factory has dug into the Nintendo vaults and released some absolutely classic cartoons on DVD. While some may disagree about all of these cartoons being “classics” (especially after seeing them again for the first time since their childhood), one thing’s for sure: there was a wealth of Nintendo animation to be released. With video games being hotter than ever and nostalgia being something that the DVD market has always been good at tapping into, Shout! Factory’s releases have definitely struck a chord with the video game and DVD markets, warranting the continuation of releases, all the way up to this DVD set which collects the final adventures of Captain N and Super Mario.
Originally debuting in 1991 on NBC, Captain N and the New Super Mario World was a half-hour block each week that alternated between the two properties, creating ten new episodes of each show in the process. Captain N, taking more of a broad approach to the Nintendo world, often tackling video game universes that weren’t directly inspired by Nintendo games, was particularly interesting to watch, if only because it wasn’t held down by a certain universe. Super Mario World was a ton of fun to watch as well, with the inclusion of sound effects and music taken straight from the video game.
I’ve never been a huge fan of revisiting animation from the eighties and early nineties, if only because of the quirks that come with them. Sometimes sketchy voice acting, animation errors out of the wazoo and writing this about as distinct as the sheets in a roll of toilet paper; these older animation collections are often released only because of nostalgia, rarely do they offer much of substance. While Super Mario World is above average in terms of writing, simply because it’s Mario, Captain N rarely offers much in terms of things we haven’t seen in other shows—only his connection to Nintendo is what makes it interesting. Why Larry Bird randomly shows up in an episode to help shoot hoops is anyone’s guess, but that’s just the type of show it is—random from week to week and not offering much substance along the way.
I’ll no doubt anger people by having said that, but there are honestly few things that can be found in these older television shows that are of any real worth. The animation is often so horrible that it ruins the enjoyment from just watching it attempt to provide some sort of fluidity to it all. I know budget constraints were there and at the time it looked good, but certain things just don’t hold up. Having said that, there is some enjoyment to be had from the series, if only from a cheese standpoint; the horrendous dialogue and Yoshi’s fantastically annoying (and grating) voice in Super Mario World brings back memories from the show that no other voice or animation trigger could do. My memories of watching these shows are faint, but Yoshi’s voice remains distinct—the little dinosaur never talked in the games, so why he needed to talk here, I don’t know. Nor do I completely understand the desire to place Super Mario World in a time zone that looks like something from The Flintstones.
Still, I’m sure there are things that fans of Nintendo will find enjoyable. I myself found the excessive use of sound effects and music from the video games to be particularly enjoyable; it certainly made the show feel more like the content it was based off of. I’m afraid Captain N didn’t impress me too much; despite his online cult following and live-action fan videos, his animated series is really just entirely too strange for me to swallow. Strange worlds, characters, plots and some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen come together to form a show that I won’t be rushing to watch again anytime soon.
In the end this series can only be recommended if you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you loved the show as a kid or own the previous releases, then this one comes Recommended. However, for those who have never before experienced the magic of DiC animation, give this one a Rental.
Arriving in a slip case and two thin-paks, Captain N and the New Super Mario World is colorfully packaged and presented, both in the art used in the thin pak and on the disc art, but also the menus. The disc intro is slightly annoying, as seems to be nothing more than the intros to both shows with some redundant flipping animation that attempts to make the menu look fancier than it really is. You are able to choose whether to play all episodes or simply play either Captain N or Super Mario World.
Video and audio quality is on par with past Shout! releases; video looks to be stripped directly from a VHS tape, with a heavy amount of grain and overall soft look to the video. There is the occasional wavy lines you’ll see pass through the video in the brighter scenes, but it’s nothing that’s too distracting. Chances are if you’re buying this set you’ve been watching this series on old VHS copies or bootlegs, and this set definitely trounces both of those.
As for the extras, don’t look for too much here. A “Storyboard-to-Screen” is included on the first disc and covers the opening title sequence for both shows. The second disc houses an “Original Concept Art: Yoshi” featurette, which is made up of black and white drawings with some clips from the show interspersed. It’s interesting to see the many Yoshi designs, simply because the final one looks like some kind of horribly drawn rendition of the Yoshi from the video games. It matches his voice, though, which now that I think about it reminds me entirely too much of Jar Jar Binks.
Overall this release garners the same ratings as the series itself—there’s certainly something here for fans of the genre or for those that grew up with the series, but for new comers that think there might be something of substance…you’ll want to look away or give it a Rental.
Captain N and the New Super Mario World is now available on DVD.