Games To Toons

E3 is where the world of videogames takes center stage; and over its 9 year run, the expo has seen many a mascot and game character hoping to launch the next hit series. Few game characters have been able to achieve such prominence or longevity as Mario or Pacman, but when they do, there’s a chance they’ll expand out of their own realm onto television or film. Stepping outside the box has always been risky for our digital friends, but at E303, two videogame veterans showed they got what it takes to not only launch new titles on multiple gaming platforms this year, but that they can make a comeback on T.V.!

MegaMan and Sonic the Hedgehog are headed back to Saturday mornings in the U.S. “MegaMan NT Warrior” took off only two days after a special screening at E303. Exciting, fresh and action packed, the show offers kids and teens an interesting view of a futuristic world rife with new technology and cyber-terrorism.

MegaMan the NetNavi

In the year 200X, all the rage from kids to adults is a suped-up handheld device called a P.E.T., or personal terminal. Complete with a unique “NetNavi”, or net navigator AI program, citizens of DenTech City can plug into a central computer system where they can interact with the system and each other. Especially popular are virtual battles where kids set their NetNavis against each other a-la Street Fighter.

Maylu, Dex, and Lan (L-R)
Fifth-grader Lan starts our adventure when his dad—who’s away on a business project—mails him a new NetNavi that he’s been eagerly anticipating. After knocking the program’s snail mail delivery method as slow and archaic, Lan must wait a bit longer to interact with his new Navi when his P.E.T. blanks out right after the install. Lan decides to go to sleep with a huff but is soon awaked by his new Navi, MegaMan! Once Lan gets over the initial disappointment over MegaMan’s puny size compared to his friend’s Navi, soon he discovers that his dad probably created the best and strongest NaviNavi around!

MegaMan in Action
Dr. Wily, known now as “Mr. Wily”, is back with a new set of henchmen, each with his own deadly NetNavi. Set on taking over the world through cyber terrorism, Wily stealthily implants viruses and sends his henchmen’s NetNavis into computer infrastructures where they can literally wreak havoc on
TorchMan attacks in cyberspace
any device or piece of machinery connected to a central computer network. MegaMan -with some help from Lan and his digital battle cards—is the only one who can step in and stop these new unconventional attacks! Other Navis like GutsMan, who’s owned by Lan’s best friend Dex, lend a hand when they can. It’s always cool to see Lan’s friends’ Navis in action with MegaMan, but once in a while you may feel that Lan needs to get a clue and say “thanks, but no thanks.” Skullman and his owner for instance, the cold fortune teller Miyu, are on the creepy side and seem to be hiding hidden agendas.

At E3, MegaMan creator Kenji Inafune seemed very happy with MegaMan’s newest move onto T.V. And how couldn’t he be? Not only does the show stand on its own, but the series nicely compliments the “MegaMan Battle Network” games and is sure to do a good job of ushering in the third installment of Capcom’s Game Boy Advance incarnation of MegaMan, as well as the upcoming MegaMan X7 for the PS2.

Sonic doesn’t like cat food.
Secretive SEGA launched big plans for Saturday mornings after E3 too, but this time without the now Disney owned DiC Entertainment. Sonic’s animated adventures have spanned three T.V. series and one STV anime, giving the blue one several distinct looks. Looking back at the games, the Japanese produced anime seemed best in tune with the look and feel of Sonic CD—the only game which integrated traditional animation into the storyline. The new show, “Sonic X”, is being produced by award-winning Japanese animation studio, TMS Entertainment Ltd.

Chris introduces his new friends to his scientist grandfather.

Visually, Sonic X is the best transcription Sonic has seen. Sonic gets his pre-Sonic Adventure looks back and almost all the classic characters are regulars on the show. Plus we get a chance to see more of Sonic’s newest friends “Cream” the rabbit and “Cheese” the chao.

"Cheese" and "Cream"

Drawing heavily from the storyline of Sonic’s first Dreamcast title, Sonic finds himself on a futuristic earth after Dr. Robotnik gets a hold of a chaos emerald and the machine he built to utilize the gem’s energy explodes, throwing the whole Sonic cast out of their world. Now finding himself lying in the middle of a busy intersection after the chaos emerald blast, dubbed “chaos control”, Sonic is a bit dazed and is attracting a crowd of gawking humans who are stopped in their tracks. Police quickly come to the scene to clear up the traffic jam and attempt to capture Sonic like any other lost animal, but Sonic won’t be caught and goes on the run.

Sonic, Cream, and Cheese get a little air support from Tails.
After a speedy evening chase, Sonic escapes only to find he’s really in trouble when he unexpectedly falls into a pool and is sure to drown. A young boy hears a splash coming from his family’s pool and wakes up to rescue the blue hero. Thus begins the great friendship between Chris and Sonic, where Sonic finds a temporary home at the palatial estate of a famous movie actress, and Chris get a new buddy. The morning after Sonic hit the water, it’s realized that his friends are also lost in this strange new city (which greatly resembles Los Angeles). Eventually everyone finds each other and Robotnik quickly decides to set his sights on taking over the new world and finding the now missing emerald.
"The President"

It so happens that Robotnik’s evil laboratory and menacing robots were transported with him during the chaos control and are sitting on a small island off the coast. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the rest are there to stop his attacks on the city, but Robotnik has someone else to contend with. The government, headed by a president who amazingly resembles Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has classified Robotnik as a terrorist and is just as determined as Sonic to stop him.

Tails and his friends play a game of baseball, but Robotnik–as usual–can’t play fair.

Sonic X looks great, but the writing is nothing to thumb your nose at either. Balancing out face time pretty equally among the core character cast, things can get serious, funny, or action packed, which make for a well rounded experience. Both MegaMan’s and Sonic’s new T.V. shows offer adventure and fun without going overboard like many current cartoons that go off on bizarre tangents and/or utilize crude humor to trudge along a nothing plot line. Best of all though is that both shows stay true to their videogame roots, carrying over the best of what makes gaming fun.

Visit "MegaMan NT Warrior" at Kids WB HERE

Visit the "Sonic X" Homepage at SEGA HERE