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"Captain N and the New Super Mario World": Game Over For This Series

by on January 8, 2008

Over the years, Shout! Factory has dug into the Nintendo vaults and released some absolutely “classic” cartoons on DVD. With video games being hotter than ever, and nostalgia being something the DVD market has always been good at tapping into, Shout! Factory’s releases have definitely struck a chord with video game and DVD buyers. And so now they’ve brought us 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, which took a broader approach to the video game worlds, was particularly interesting to watch, if only because it wasn’t held down to a certain universe and sometimes explored worlds not directly inspired by Nintendo games. Super Mario World was a ton of fun to watch as well, given that it included 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; writing about as distinct as the sheets in a roll of toilet paper—these older animation collections are often released only because of nostalgia, and rarely do they offer much of substance. Super Mario World does feature above average writing, but Captain N rarely offers much we haven’t seen in other shows. Only his connection to Nintendo 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. I know there were budget constraints, and at the time these shows looked pretty 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 the “cheese” standpoint; the horrendous dialogue and Yoshi’s fantastically annoying (and grating) voice in Super Mario World brings back memories 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 era that looks like something from The Flintstones.

Still, I’m sure there are things that fans of Nintendo will find enjoyable. I myself particularly enjoyed the excessive use of sound effects and music from the video games; 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. Odd worlds, characters, plots and some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen came 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. The disc intro is slightly annoying, as it seems to be nothing more than the intros to both shows with some redundant flipping animation to make the menu look fancier than it really is. You are able to choose whether to play all episodes or either Captain N or Super Mario World.

Video and audio quality is on par with past Shout! releases: the 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. 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 who grew up with the series, but for newcomers who think there might be something of substance here, you’ll want to look away or give it a Rental.

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