Episode Review

Kevin in Videoland

Friday, September 28, 2001, 1:01 PM - Tuesday, October 2, 2001, 1:01 PM

This is it: the very beginning of the Captain N saga. Boy, oh, boy, where to begin? I know! How about at the beginning?! Yeah!

The basic premise of the episode is set for us in the first few seconds: "It was a dark day in Videoland. For seven years, Mother Brain's minions have laid seige on the Palace of Power." An interesting note: The voice of the narrator is done by Matt Hill (Kevin), so his is the first voice we hear in the series. However, the first N Team member that we'll hear is Princess Lana.

The name Videoland is interesting - and a bit misleading. Why do the people call it Videoland? Are they aware that they're video game characters? Here's what Jeffrey Scott told me: "The series was originally titled 'Captain Nintendo: The Game Master', but apparently this was a problem for the network, so they shortened it to Captain N. I wasn't aware of it, but I presume they did the same thing to the pilot." (Mr. Scott gave the pilot episode the title "KEVIN IN NINTENDOLAND".) Also, why "land'"? Wouldn't "Nintendo Universe" or "Video Universe" be more appropriate?

We see a large army of Mother Brain's soldiers marching towards the Palace, chanting (which I'm sure is ripped off from somewhere) eerily. If this army has been laying siege on the Palace for seven years, just how good are the Palace's defenses that the good guys could hold out for so long? Let's move on.

In the next scene, we see Mother Brain and her two minions, King Hippo and the Eggplant Wizard, watching the siege on a viewscreen. Um, what the heck? King Hippo is blue. He's supposed to be yellow, like in Punch-Out!! The Eggplant Wizard seems to look like he does in Kid Icarus. But Mother Brain?! She looks nothing like the villain in Metroid! The Mother Brain in the game doesn't have a face and, for all we know, can't talk. This Mother Brain is vain and egotistical. She also likes to pick up one or both of her minions and drop them to the floor. She'll do this often throughout the series. For some odd reason, vegetables pop out of the Eggplant Wizard when he tries to run away - not when King Hippo falls on him, but before that. Mother Brain (who's voiced by Levi Stubbs, Jr., of The Four Tops, who also voiced Audrey II in the 1986 version of "Little Shop of Horrors) also wastes a lot of screen time laughing throughout the series.

Next, we see Mother Brain's asteroid-like spacecraft fly past the Palace. That is Mother Brain's base? How big of a threat can it pose? If the Palace has such fantastic defenses that it can keep an army back for seven years, can't it shoot down the asteroid?

We then see the Throne room in the Palace. Princess Lana is with three people. She's filled with despair, for she knows that they can't hold out much longer. Then she thanks each of them for their efforts. What in Hades' name is up with this?!

Brief side note: Shortly before 2:00 PM, a salesman from the Kirby vacuum cleaner company stopped by our house and demonstrated a vacuum cleaner that costs almost $2,000. My mom didn't buy it. It's now 2:25 PM. Back to the show.

Kid Icarus has orange hair. He has brown hair in Kid Icarus. His name isn't really even Kid Icarus. It's Pit. He also doesn't fly everywhere in the games. He usually walks.

Mega Man?! He's supposed to be blue, not green! And what is up with that mask on his face? He's so short, too! I assume they drew him short because he looks short in the game compared to the background. But so does Simon in the CastleVania games, but he's not drawn short.

And speaking of Simon: look at him! He looks nothing like he does in the games. Okay, granted, he's not that detailed in the games, and the color of his outfit changes from game to game, but they could've gone off of the box art when designing his look for the show! Simon looks nothing like a vmpire hunter. He looks like a World War I pilot, wearing pants, boots, a blue fur coat, gloves, and goggles. His hair is also spiked, and he's unusually tan.

Next, the voices. Kid Icarus has an annoying speech impediment: putting the suffix "-icus" after a lot of words. Mega Man sounds like a chain-smoker and adds the prefix "mega-" before a lot of words. Simon doesn't have a Romanian accent.

Then there's Simon's personality. He's completely vain and egotistical. It's ridiculous. They made him the comic relief. More on that later.

Jeffrey Scott told me: "The reason the characters changed is because when you develop a series there are certain criteria to make the stories work. When video game characters are created they are developed to make the game work. These don't always jibe. That's why the characters have to be changed." I don't see why the characters had to be changed at all. They could've made a perfectly good series based on the characters as they appear in the games.

Speaking of characters as they appear in the games, where the heck is Samus Aran? She's the hero of Metroid. Shouldn't she be infiltrating Mother Brain's base to kill her? Also, she was created by Nintendo, so it would be easier (licensing-wise) to use her, rather than Simon Belmont and Mega Man. But no, she's nowhere to be seen.

Dumb line: Lana: "I'm afraid we can't hold out much longer." Gee, ya think? Nowhere do we see guards and soldiers protecting the Palace. As far as we can tell, Simon, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus are the only three people fighting Mother Brain's army. No wonder the Palace is such an easy target. Shouldn't they be launching the Palace's arsenal (which they must have if they were able to hold out for seven years) at Mother Brain's army, rather than standing around in the Throne room?

Then, suddenly, the lights go out, and we hear the narrator tell them, "Do not give up hope yet, Princess." This causes Simon to hug Lana in fear. And this guy is supposed to be a hero?! Then he grins at Lana, and she has to push him away.

Anyway, the voice continues, "The Legend of Videoland fortells of a young warrior - from another land - and shall warp into our world and lead you to victory. He is Captain N: The Game Master. Behold - the Ultimate Warp Zone!"

A few problems here. What is this Legend of Videoland, and how come the Princess has never heard of it? (If she has, she wouldn't be so worried.) The voice says "and shall" instead of "who shall". Bad grammar. It also creates a run-on sentence. Why does Simon lick his glove and slick back his hair during this mysterious event?

The warp opens, and then we see Kevin playing Punch-Out!! with his NES Advantage. Duke is standing beside him. This scene is live-action, which presents a problem that I'll get into shortly. Suddenly, static fills Kevin's screen, then he sees Lana et al. standing in the Throne room.

A huge blast of (animated) energy comes out of the TV set and pulls Kevin in, screaming. Then a digital creature of some sort comes out of the TV. I don't know what the heck this is. It's never explained. One theory I heard is that it's Kevin trying to get back out. I don't think so. If it was, Kevin would be falling backward through the Ultimate Warp Zone, but, as we'll soon see, he falls forward. My guess is that it's some kind of hologram that was sent out to scare anyone else from going through the warp after Kevin. But that doesn't stop Duke from jumping into the TV after Kevin. Why'd Duke have to come along? He's useless.

So, anyway, Kevin and Duke fall through the Ultimate Warp Zone and end up in the Throne room, animated.

Dumb line: Kevin: "How did we get here? Simon Belmont? Kid Icarus? Mega Man?" Um, first of all, I think Kevin should know how they got there! Second, how does Kevin recognize these guys if they don't look like they do in the games? Perhaps Kevin's games are different. I feel sorry for Kevin. He has to play CastleVania with a sprite of that goofy-looking Simon. Third, why does Kevin not make any mention of him being animated? Doesn't it come as a surprise to him? Perhaps there isn't a difference in the story? No, because we learn in a later episode that there is a difference between the way things look on Earth and the way they look in Videoland. I'll have to ask Jeffrey about this.

Dumb line: Kevin: "You guys aren't real. You're just so many computer sprites in my game cartridges!" (touches Simon) "Whoa! They're real!" What was he expecting? For his hand to pass through Simon? What conclusion would he draw from that?

Dumb line: Kevin: "I'm in love. Um, I mean I'm Kevin." Geez, the kid is 15 years old (according to Nintendo Power). Does he really have so little self-control when he sees a cute girl? Plus, he had looked at her just a few seconds earlier yet seemed to really notice her only on the second look.

I'm confused when Kevin asks, "You mean like warp zone 4 in Super Mario Bros.?" What's warp zone 4? Is it the warp to World -1?

Lana replies, "Something like that." What? Does Lana know what Super Mario Bros. is? If so, how? So, she knows she's a video game character? How does she feel about that?

Lana says, "That's why it gave you that Super Power Pad and Zapper." Okay, first of all, it's a standard NES controller, not a Power Pad. Second, the word "Super" is used in only this one episode and then dropped.

Kevin believes that his Zapper is a toy and fires a blast at the ceiling, causing some kind of...ceiling ornament to fall down, angering Simon.

Dumb line: Kid Icarus: (in response to Kevin saying, "This can't be happening to me.") "It sure is, Kevinicus. It's happening to all of us." Um, so Lana, Simon, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus are also being pulled into Videoland at that moment?

Kevin says, "Hey, you've got the wrong guy. I'm goin' home." Hey, if I just heard that I may be Videoland's only hope, I'd at least stick around for a bit to learn more and see how thing go.

At this point, Simon tries to comfort Lana and says that he'll save Videoland. Yeah, right. He just wants her to love him.

Lana goes up to her room and talks to a picture of her father, the King of Videoland (who, as we'll learn in a later episode, is named Charles), "Oh, father, the Legend has failed us!" Why is Lana so upset over a legend that she supposedly just heard of? We also learn that her father is missing and that she thinks of herself as a failure as a leader.

Back on Mother Brain's base, Mother Brain decides "to strike a fatal blow at the heart of Videoland". We learn that Eggplant Wizard kisses up to Mother Brain.

Dumb line: Eggy: "No fair! It's my turn! He got to do your last evil deed!" To emphasize that, Eggy lies down on the floor and punches it repeatedly. What a baby!

Mother Brain sends King Hippo (with Eggy) to the Palace to "punch-out their defenses". Clever line! But what is there for King Hippo to destroy that an army couldn't? Mother Brain calls the worlds of Videoland "video worlds". I guess they do realize that they're video game characters.

After a scene showing more of Simon's ego (this time in regard to who could cheer up Lana) and a scene where Kevin decides to go talk with Lana about going home, Hippo and Eggy arrive at the Palace. Since the Palace was low on power, why didn't Mother Brain just send in her army?

After Hippo ties Simon up in a bag and throws him through a warp (showing that Simon can be captured easily), we get a:

Dumb line: Hippo: (to Eggy after the warp burps) "Excuse yourself, you pig!" Not very bright, is he?

They go into Lana's bedroom and lock the door. Kevin arrives, and Hippo tries to imitate Lana. Good lines:

Hippo: "Go away! I'm not decent!"
Eggy: "You can say that again."

We get the first raspberry of the series from Eggy. It's only then that Kevin realizes "Something funny is going on". He zaps a hole in the double doors and runs into the room. Lana's rolled up in a rug and kicking. Hehee, cute. =) The only useful (though not really) thing that Duke does is pull on Hippo's shoelace, causing him to fall on Eggy.

Eggy then throws a giant tomato at Kevin, who gets out of the way with the Super Power Pad (his first use of it). After that, there's a Western-style showdown between Eggy and Kevin. This is made ever cheesier by playing a redone version of the theme from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". The real theme is kind of scary. This version isn't. Kevin gets trapped in a giant banana peel, and Duke lets him out. Hippo and Eggy have made off with Lana. How?

Kevin and Duke go to find Mega Man and Kid Icarus. They're stacking furniture against a door. Yeah, that'll help keep an invading army from breaking down the door. Simon then drops out of the warp (where was he so long?) and gets out of the bag. Kevin tells them that Lana's been kidnapped, and they have to rescue her. Kid Icarus declares, "We'll start searching immediately!"

Dumb lines: Simon: "Not so fast. As the highest-ranking officer of Her Highness' Court, not to mention her dearest friend, I shall give the orders. Mega Man, shine my boots. Kid Icarus, I could use a little trim. Not too much off the top, however." What the heck? The Ruler of Videoland has just been kidnapped, and her highest-ranking officer is concerned with his looks?!

It's 10:27 PM. I can't go on right now. I'll finish this tomorrow.

Okay, it's not tomorrow. It's Monday. I didn't feel like writing this the past few days. It's 12:11 PM. Let's continue.

So, after a few moments of slapstick fighting by Mega Man and Kid Icarus against Simon, and yelling from all three of them, Kevin pauses them with his Super Power Pad. Now, in video games, whenever you pause the game, the player character is paused, too. He or she can't move around or do anything. But for the pause function to make any sense on Captain N, Kevin has to be able to move around (and thus cheat). He is able to move and talk just fine in this scene, and so is Duke, for some reason. However, Simon, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus are completely frozen, not even able to talk. Perhaps the pause doesn't affect anyone no native to Videoland? No, there will be inconsistencies in the pause function later in this episode.

Another thing about the pause. Kevin presses the Select button to do it, not the Start button. I know that in some games it's Select, but in most games it's Start. Oh, well.

Dumb line: Kevin: "No wonder Videoland is losing the war. These guys are just fighting themselves." Brilliant, Kevin. This is the first instance in the series of Kevin stating the obvious. Well, okay, maybe the very first time was "Whoa, they're real!" I'll add to that something that Kevin overlooked: There's no one else! Simon, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus are the only three people defending the Palace! I'm sorry, but none of them could take on more than a few enemies at a time in their own games.

Kevin says, "We've got to rescue the Princess." I assume he's talking to them, so that means that the paused characters are aware of what's going on while they're paused. They must be, because they stop fighting when Kevin unpauses them. Kevin tells Simon to get him a map of Videoland. Simon absolutely refuses to take orders from Kevin and "comes up" with the idea to take a map out of his backpack. In the series, Simon's backpack seems to be magical and has a seemingly infinite storage capacity. He probably got the backpack on CastleVania, since he's shown wearing it there on the theme song (presumably before he was chosen to be on the team). Um, since when has the Belmont family used magical items, not counting religious items?

Incidentally, this is the only time in the entire series that Kevin uses unpause.

Kevin says, "Look, I've played this game a hundred times." What game would that be? I never knew that Nintendo made a game where Simon Belmont, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus go to rescue Princess Lana from Mother Brain. Oh, they didn't? Well, then, I guess the game is exclusive to Kevin's Earth.

Princess Lana isn't in any video game that I've aware of. She was most likely made up for the show. I heard a rumor that she's from an obscure game called Chesterfield, but that rumor was proven false.

Kevin and Simon argue about which is the correct warp to Metroid, so Simon flips a coin, calling heads for himself. The coin (a gold coin, supposedly created by Lana, with Simon's head and the words "MY HERO" above it) lands on heads, but Kevin discovers that it's a two-headed coin.

They all sneak past some monsters, Mega Man removes a lid, and they all jump into the warp. Notice that they were tip-toeing to the warp, but then Mega Man just throws the lid, and it lands with a loud noise. Kevin says, "I know, Duke, but we've got no choice." Why not? Kevin could simply forget about these guys, go his own way, and rescue Lana.

They come out of a giant showerhead connected to a giant bathtub in the jungle. It turns out they're in Kongoland, the home of Donkey Kong. Clever name, referring to both Donkey Kong and the Congo in Africa, but Donkey Kong was never in the jungle in an NES game. He wouldn't be until Donkey Kong Country came out for the Super NES, and then it wasn't the original Donkey Kong but his son, Donkey Kong, Jr. And what's a neon sign doing on a jungle world?

They happen to have landed on Donkey Kong's head - on his shower cap, really. Why is Donkey Kong wearing a shower cap? The hair on his head is no different than the hair on the rest of his body. Oh, wait. Humor, right? Anyway, they avoid being hit by his backbrush and land on a giant bar of soap.

At this point, I must comment on Donkey Kong's size. He's too freakin' big. In the first game, Mario looked like his was as tall as Dk's leg, and DK wasn't even twice as tall as Pauline. Yeah, it was obviously a King Kong joke, but still...

They ride out of the tub on the bar of soap. Donkey Kong gets out of the tub and puts on a towel. Why? Apes walk around naked all the time, and so does DK later on. Again, the senseless humor.

Donkey Kong slips on his own soap and falls down. Kid Icarus uses an arrow to knock some coconuts down from a tree, which land on Dk's head and just makes him angrier. He catches Kid Icarus. Simon tries to rescue him and lands on DK, who sends him flying into a tree. Kevin gets out of the way with his Power Pad (by pressing the Select or Start button, not the Cross pad). Mega Man picks up a flattened Simon (I sense impossibility), shakes him, and unflattens him. Kevin arrives and materializes from a yellow ball of light. Huh? We'll never see that again.

DK climbs up a tree with Kid Icarus. Kevin uses his Power Pad (I'm gonna stop typing "Super"; there's no point) to jump really high (and yells "Jump!" while doing it - the only time in the series), gets Kid Icarus, and jumps back down to the ground. Kevin tells them to get into a warp, but a man-eating plant comes out and blocks it. With DK closing in on them, Kevin points to a volcano and declares that it's their way off this world.

Meanwhile, on Mother Brain's base, Lana is talking with Mother Brain. We learn that warriors had apparently tried to rescue her father and failed. Mother Brain opens a chute, which sucks Lana up. A trap door in a tower opens, Lana is thrown out, and the trap door closes, trapping her in the tower.

Back in Kongoland, Kevin, Simon, Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and Duke climb / fly up to the top of the volcano. Kevin says, "Look, I've played Donkey Kong enough times to know what I'm doing. Trust me." Care to share how you got to the secret level with the volcano, Kev?

Great line: Simon: "'Trust me,' he says. Ha! I'd sooner trust a vampire to give me a shave."

Kevin presses his Pause button and tells everyone to get on the boulders that are coming out of the volcano. Everyone except Simon does. He doesn't trust Kevin. During this pause, everyone can move, but it's unknown if they're able to talk. The pause runs out, and the boulders take off into the sky. Simon notices that DK has reached the top of the volcano, so he wraps his whip around a boulder and goes after the others.

They arrive on the asteroid-ship, and Kevin presses his Pause button again. The boulders stop, and everyone gets off. Simon can talk. The pause wears off. They see Lana in the tower. Simon wants to get to her before Kevin does, so he jumps into a warp and lands in water with a splash.

It's 12:25 AM on the 2nd. I'll finish this later today.

Okay, it's 9:58 AM. Let's get back to this.

Mega Man throws Kevin into the air, and he falls through a hole in the roof of the tower (how convenient). He lands on the guard, which blips out of existence. Um, in the game, you get hurt when you touch an enemy. After a nice moment where Kevin and Lana hug and apologize to each other, Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and Duke come in through a door. Sure, Kevin knew about it, but I guess he wanted to make a more heroic entrance or something.

The door closes and locks, and a hologram of Mother Brain appears. This is Kevin's first look at her (while in Videoland), and he's angry. She laughs at him and says, "We'll see just how good you are when you try to survive...the corridors of Metroid." Metroid? That's the name of her base? There's no place called Metroid in the game Metroid.

The trap door previously mentioned opens, and Kevin, Lana, and Duke fall through it. They land somewhere deep within the ship. Shouldn't they have been sent to Mother Brain's lair? Or did Mother Brain somehow direct them through a different chute? They land kind of apart from each other, so they must've fallen through a wider chute.

Here, the episode's featured song begins. Most episodes have a song. In Season 1, they were all real songs. The song in this episode is "Shakedown" by Bob Seger (from "Beverly Hills Cop 2"), but it's not performed by him. None of the songs are performed by the real artists. I wonder why. "Kidd Video" used the real songs. I guess on Captain N, they wanted to cut costs by not paying royalties to the artists.

Anyway, Kevin, Lana, and Duke run and dodge enemies. Kevin shoots some of them. Here's a problem. In this episode, whenever Kevin fired his Zapper or used his Power Pad, one unit of energy was used up. Kevin has a total of 8 units of energy, as shown by the energy meter on the Power Pad. This means that the Zapper uses the Power Pad's power. Kevin had 1 unit of energy left after the last pause, so he should've been able to fire only one shot, but he's able to fire 5 (4 at enemies and 1 at the door to Mother Brain's lair). Then he runs out of power. Well, at least they took some care in this episode regarding the Power Pad and Zapper. We won't see that later on.

Then Simon swings down and joins Kevin, Lana, and Duke. Where'd he come from? He says, "Maybe not alone, Mother Brain, but we can defeat you as a team!" He finally realizes that?! Mega Man punches a hole in a wall, and he and Kid Icarus join them, too. The Captain N theme music plays during this, supposedly to make it seem like they're a team united against evil and ready to defend Videoland - and to make them look cool. I guess that's needed, since none of them were of much help throughout this episode.

Simon tries to whip King Hippo, who grabs the end whip. Hippo asks, "Whatcha gonna do now, dude?" Simon replies, "I'm not going to do anything, but my whip is going to whoop you." The whip circles around Hippo and Eggy, and they fall over. Oh, so the whip is alive? Gee, I wouldn't be able to tell from playing CastleVania!

Kid Icarus shoots an arrow at levers near Mother Brain. The levers move, and Mother Brain starts spinning around in a circle really fast. Why does Mother Brain have something that can do this? Why would she ever want to do this? Electricity comes out of her, and Kevin tells everyone to go into the warp zone, because it's too dangerous to finish her off. Mother Brain (speaking like a Chipmunk) threatens to be stronger than ever next time. Lana vows the same.

In the next scene, they're at the Palace of Power. The sky is brighter outside. Huh? I think the animators took this "dark day" thing too literally. Where did Mother Brain's army go? They suddenly stopped fighting and left just as the team returned to the Palace?

Simon tries to take credit for rescuing Lana. She claps her hand over his mouth and thanks him. She tells Kevin and the others, "We're indebted to you - and to the rest of you as well." (after Duke barks) "You, too, Duke." Who is "we"? Is Lana simply using a majestic plural?

Lan asks Kevin to stay, but he apologizes and says that he has to get back to his world. The Ultimate Warp Zone opens again, and Kevin is about to step through, but he hears his mother telling him he has homework to do and trash to take out. Um, how long has Kevin been in Videoland? A few hours at least (to climb the volcano). His mother hadn't checked on him that entire time?

This changes Kevin's mind, and he agrees to stay. Lana is happy and kisses him on the cheek, much to Simon's horror. Kevin says, "Let's face it, I'm hooked" and fires his Zapper at the screen.

So ends the first episode of "Captain N: The Game Master". It was okay, but it could've been a lot better. They could have made the characters appear and act as they do in the games. They could have improved the voices of the game characters. The Kongoland scenes were completely unnecessary. I suppose they were included as filler and perhaps to show how Simon's ego can put the team in danger. The first scene was 2:19. The second scene was 1:06. Removing them would've freed 3:25 for more character development, backstory on the war, or a more relevant fight scene. Perhaps all three. At the end of every review, I'm going to rate the usefulness of the various team members in the episode, giving 1 point for each time they do something useful. I'm going to exclude failed attempts at helping out. Here are the usefulness ratings for the team members in this episode:

Kevin: 3 (saving Kid Icarus, finding the way off of Kongoland, shooting enemies in the corridors of Metroid)
Lana: 1 (warning Kevin of Eggy's tomato)
Simon: 1 (his whip wrapping around Hippo and Eggy)
Mega Man: 1 (throwing Kevin up to the roof of the tower)
Kid Icarus: 1 (causing Mother Brain to start spinning around)
Duke: 2 (keeping Hippo and Eggy busy for a few seconds, so Lana could warn Kevin, and freeing Kevin from the banana peel)

There, I'm done. This review was long because I pointed out the flaws in the characters and the premise of the entire series. The reviews of episodes 2-34 probably won't be as long. I'm gonna go watch my new Escaflowne DVD now. Until next time!

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