At some point in everyone’s life, and I don’t care who you are, we watch cartoons. Whether we kept our eyes glued to the television 24/7 or we just caught the occasional episode of Tiny Toons, we have all at some point watched. As we grew older, we began to split into two separate groups: those who viewed cartoons as children’s programming, and those who continued to watch while never outgrowing the enjoyment of animation. I am firmly in the latter group and while I can be found, at any point, watching football or X-Files reruns, I can be found just as often watching Phineas and Ferb or Ninja Turtles.
As a fan of video games and cartoons alike, it’s only natural that I enjoy combining my passions whenever I can. I have played several cartoon themed video games throughout my life and while I have enjoyed some of them, many have been cheap, cash-grab tie-ins. Famous animated properties like Transformers have found a glorious video game rebirthing from High Moon Studios and I believe that there are other properties that could benefit from the same treatment if they could only make their way into the right developmental hands. That being said, here are just a few that I would love to see.
Scooby-Doo – Scooby-Doo is one of the most beloved cartoon creations of all time and also happens to be one of my very favorite. I’ve played most of the Scooby-Doo games that I could get my hands on and I’ve enjoyed them all in varying degrees. As a fan of the original series, I’ve certainly enjoyed the games in which specific episodes were the subject of levels but there’s one game in particular that has always stood out to me: Acclaim’s Scooby-Doo Mystery for the Sega Genesis. This game actually appeared on the SNES as well but it was more of a traditional platformer and nowhere near as fun or smart. The Sega version had everything that I loved about the cartoon series which was simple but interesting stories, creepy set pieces, and best of all, a bit of detective work. The game was more of a traditional adventure game and the Scooby-Doo franchise fit perfectly into this genre. Exploring the environments with a fixed camera angle stole so much of my time and I loved the sense of immersion and using my mind to piece together clues that I came across in the environment. This is the reason that I think that Scooby-Doo is a perfect franchise to be rebooted in the adventure genre. Most Scooby-Doo games are generic platformers and this take on the series completely ignores what make the show so interesting. I would love to see a developer like Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Studios take a crack at a real Scooby-Doo adventure game. Scooby is still as popular as he always was so it’s a certainty that it would sell. The adventure genre seems to be on the rise again so I will be keeping my fingers crossed. As with everything in this article, it’s most certainly a pipe dream but it’s one that I enjoy having.
Spongebob Squarepants – This is the most recent cartoon on the list and probably the strangest. The fact of the matter here is, and I’m not ashamed of this fact, I love Spongebob. I watch it just as often as my kids do, much of the time when they are not even in the house. It’s probably my admiration for the series that makes me so disenchanted with nearly every video game entry he has had. Most of Spongebob’s games, at least on the major consoles, have been 3D platformers. There’s nothing wrong with this in and of itself but it seems that developers haven’t known what to do with the world they’re developing a game around. I’ll be the first to admit that there is an extreme level of insanity when it comes to the world of Spongebob but it’s an insanity that strangely makes sense. The video games that have come out of that universe haven’t been able to harness the magic of what makes the show special and they have, for the most part, devolved into generic 3D platformers that any character could headline. The back of one of the game boxes that I purchased proudly claimed that the player could “Explore Bikini Bottom like you’ve never seen it!” Well, guess what: I don’t want Bikini Bottom like I’ve never seen it; I want it as I know and love it. This has been the downfall of most Spongebob games: They have been crazy, over the top worlds with absolutely no heart whatsoever. I’d love it if a developer could get a hold of this license and do it justice. Maybe even a traditional 2D platformer is the way to go. Whichever avenue the developer takes I would hope that they would try to retain the same magic and special brand of madness that makes Spongebob so appealing and not just be content to unload more generic shovelware.
He-Man – This one may date me but I don’t care, He-Man is freaking awesome. Any number of my 80’s cartoon heroes could have filled this slot, like Thundercats or Silverhawks, but there is just something particularly awesome about He-Man and I think the very nature of the franchise should translate perfectly to video games. Unfortunately, the potential has never been fully tapped. There have been a handful of He-Man to come down the pike, one as recently as 2005 for the PS2 but it was largely ignored and the franchise as a whole has been ever since. It’s too bad because the He-Man universe is just ripe for a sweet video game experience. Every character in the franchise would be fun to play as beause every character is so strange and different. Can you imagine the power-ups and special attacks that we could unleash in this game? It makes my trigger fingers itch just thinking about it. I think that XBLA and PSN are the perfect avenues for a He-Man reboot to show up. A top down dungeon crawler in the vein of Baulder’s Gate would fit the franchise perfectly. A game like that coming out on XBLA or PSN with a cheaper price point would be fantastic and I think that there are enough fans out there that the game would be successful.
Anything by Disney with a duck in it – I don’t really care which duck they use, any of them would be awesome. Remember Ducktales or Darkwing Duck for the NES? Remember Quack Shot for the SNES? All awesome games. These platformers are highly revered classics for a reason. Unfortunately for us, like so many others, Disney cartoon games have sadly gone the generic 3D route and they are worse for it. The new Epic Mickey 2 for the 3DS looks promising but the jury is still out. Either way, the duck-centric Disney games that came out for systems like NES, SNES and Sega Genesis were undeniably fun and I wish someone would realize that there is still an audience for games like this. You might think that characters like Scrooge McDuck and Darkwing Duck are passed their prime and can no longer hold an audience but they have found a resurgence of popularity in the world of comic books so it’s clear that there is still an audience for these characters. Games like Rayman Origins, Shadow Complex and Braid have clearly shown that the talent needed to make engaging 2D platformers is alive as it ever was and the addition of beloved characters like Donald, Launchpad McQuack, Gyro Screwloose or Hewey, Dewey and Louie could be just the icing on the cake. It may be nostalgia talking but these classic games were fantastic when they first came out and a recent playthrough is all you need to assure you that they still are. Now we just need someone to give us a round 2.
That’s just a small sample of some of my opinions. I’m sure that there are some severe disagreements amongst you but that’s what makes opinions wonderful: We can all have our own. There are a number of other cartoon franchises I could have included but these are a good start. How about you? Any classic cartoons you’d like to spend some more time with in your gameplay sessions?
Oh, and Camp Candy! Can’t forget about Camp Candy!