Characters weren’t exactly the strong suit of games in the golden age of the arcade. For a time, Pac-Man, Frogger, and Donkey Kong were the most recognizable videogame characters around. With this shortage of actual human beings, television show creators basically took the name of a game and slapped it on whatever cartoon they created. Enter Pole Position.
Pole Position, the game about simply driving a race car, became Pole Position, the cartoon about a secret crime fighting force with a talking transformable car, anthropomorphic animal buddies, and the most awesomely bad theme song ever. Clearly, the license is integral to the onscreen product.
Pole Position was abysmal. It featured nearly every single 80’s cartoon cliche imaginable. From super computers to the crime fighting team’s monkey/cat sidekick Kuma, Pole Position encapsulated everything that sucked about cartoons in the early 80’s. If you can stomach it, you can even watch most of the series itself at http://www.jaroo.com/watch/pole-position.
The show was produced by Dic entertainment. Actually, the company created a number of popular 1980’s cartoons, but is perhaps best remembered for making a generation of ten-year-old boys giggle with their post-show title card and its accompanying soundbyte of a young girl saying “Dic.”
In the mid-1990's USA (the cable network, not the country) decided to challenge network domination of Saturday morning cartoons, and the network’s existing block of Hanna-Barbara and Ninja Turtles reruns weren’t cutting it. At the time, video games were making their first strides into popular culture since the early 1980's. With that in mind, the network did the sensible thing: they took a game starring a succubus—a lusty “female” demon who seduces and kills men in their sleep—and turned it into a cartoon. Succubi and the occult were just the kind of family-friendly fare that was lacking in the hedonistic world of 90’s Saturday morning television.
Darkstalkers was preceded by the Street Fighter cartoon, a terrible abomination that would have made our list if Darkstalkers hadn’t knocked it off.
Above: The cast of the Street Fighter cartoon is happy because we found a show that was actually dumber than theirs
Darkstalkers the cartoon takes the characters that fighting gamers know and love and throws them out the window. In their place, USA inserted the most idiotic band of video game character doppelgangers that you could imagine. The comedy character Sasquatch became “Bigfoot,” and lived in a village with others of his kind capable of vomiting snow at will to protect themselves
The occult loving rock star and all-around bad dude, Lord Raptor, became an idiotic rapping rip-off in the vein of Ninja Turtle Michelangelo- only his appearance and faux Australian accent remained.
USA toned down the sexual nature of the aforementioned Succubus, Morrigan Aensland, and gave her a look more appropriate for the wicked witch of the west then a sexy, soul-sucking, battle-loving demon. Better for kids? Maybe, maybe not. But definitely defiantly different from the source material.
Above: (Left) Old and creepy cartoon Morrigan, (right) Sexy Morrigan
The show capped it all off with addition of a character the show’s kiddie audience could “relate to”: Harry Grimore, a whiny, bespectacled, nerdy young boy. The decision probably came about when some brilliant employee at USA thought to himself, “You know, I’m not sure that our target audience is going to relate to our cast of soul-sucking sex demons and snow-vomiting Sasquatches.”
Thankfully, USA quickly saw the error of its ways and cancelled the show after one season … in favor of another awful fighting game cartoon. Which brings us to…