What better way to relive some of the most beautiful cartoons in history than by re-rendering them with crude polygons and sprites? Take a new look at your favorite cartoon intros on the PlayStation 1 and other ancient video game platforms.
I can’t believe I have to be nostalgic for video games starring my favorite cartoon stars. In my defense, however, I grew up playing DuckTales and Tiny Toons game with zero sense of buyer’s remorse. Sure, almost all games based our favorite animated TV shows are (and always were) uninspired licensed garbage, but at least they weren’t confined exclusively to mobile phones, where tacked-on cooldown timers and cutesy in-game currency prey upon your wee ones to milk them (or more likely, YOU) out of several times what even the shittiest PlayStation game would’ve cost.
If now were then
No: these are not great games by any stretch of the imagination. But damn it, going back in time and looking at gaming’s crude attempts at bringing our favorite cartoons to consoles actually brings a smile to this withered face of mine. Purely as a historical footnote, once the original PlayStation popularized the CD format, we could finally hear our favorite cartoon stars brought to life with original music and dialog from the original voice cast, beyond just a couple of granulated phrases. But rather than put ourselves through the ordeal of actually playing these slapdash polygonal relics, we wanted to look and see which ones bothered to recreate the actual opening of their respective shows. What better way to see how far cartoons and video gaming have come than seeing your favorite animated intros remastered in glorious 240p as digital origami?!
Ready for another entry that’s more depressing than it is revelatory? If you’ve seen our Tiny Toons game retrospective, you know that the Steven Spielberg-produced series extended its relevance via the field of video games for almost a decade after its final episode wrapped. Animaniacs was not so lucky, as one of its final hurrahs was in Animaniacs: Ten Pin Alley, a fucking bowling game for the PS1 released shortly after the airing of the show’s last episode. Watch as two decaying franchises unite to cling to life in 1998!
Thankfully, the voices of Yakko, Wakko, Dot and even Pinky and the Brain do reprise their iconic roles, albeit, in a game no one wanted. I’m not gonna do a lot of extra research on this, but at least I can pretty much guarantee this is probably the second or third best Animaniacs game ever made. Yay?
A previous attempt at recapturing the Warner Siblings’ intro in their PC game, Animaniacs: A Gigantic Adventure
Social media lost its mind when it was announced that Netflix was streaming Animaniacs, and I don’t blame them. The show looks better than most mid 90s television deserved, and it appealed to children while lobbing jokes so far above their heads that adults in their 60s didn’t mind sitting in to catch them. As with Tiny Toons, the show recaptured the manic comedy of the original Looney Tunes and yes, it still holds up remarkably well. So, if you ever wanted to see more from the Animaniacs following their original 99 episodes, this game is kind of all you have left (other than maybe the straight-to-video movie, Wakko’s Wish.)
Wakko, seen here in his 90s Wolverine variant costume
The game does its best to uphold a “beloved” franchise while authentically celebrating the Animaniacs, but there’s only so much to be done with either property. At the end of the day it’s a bowling games with some horribly paced jokes that are sooo close to working. Want clips from the show like in the PC game seen above? Sorry, but the game did have one special feature that stars neither the Warner brothers nor sister, but is so hypnotically of-the-era, equal parts cringe and charming, and most of all, completely out of place in a video game we uploaded it to YouTube. Seriously, you unlock this in an Animaniacs game.:
Oh, and like several other Animaniacs games, Tin Pin Alley seemingly refused to shell out for the official theme song, nor more of their huge roster of characters, so A:TPA recreated only a small portion of the show’s classic intro. No Bill Clinton playing the sax, but on the bright side, this entry was going to be Wacky Races so count your goddamned blessings.
6. The Simpsons
Okay, so this was cheating a bit, but hey, this is a site with a chronological breakdown of every Simpsons episode ever so it doesn’t hurt out integrity one bit to include it here. So even though almost all of our other video game intros hail exclusively from a PS1, this one comes to us courtesy of a PlayStation 3. For a brief period (likely due to a mutually beneficial agreement between original developer Konami and EA to promote 2007 Simpsons game) The Simpsons Arcade Game was available for the first time in fifteen years on Xbox 360 and PS3. Or ever, if you weren’t a chain-smoking arcade cabinet distributor in the early 90s, or a kid who didn’t have enough quarters and wanted to play it on a console.
The first and quite possibly still the best Simpsons game ever made is also the very first game I can remember to bother to accurately recreate a TV show’s opening, and if you were alive to witness it in 1991, that attract screen was one helluva sight to behold. I was there, man! This is a gaming milestone made all the more remarkable by the fact that we’re talking about an arcade game based on show that’s still on the air today, however, as we’ve explored in numerous live streams, it’s been all downhill for Simpsons video games ever since. Judging by just the four Super Nintendo Simpsons games below, I would’ve personally canceled the show twenty years ago.
5. The Wild Thornberrys
Look, millennials: By the time this show hit the airwaves I was legally buying cigarettes to try and impress girls at college freshman mixers. Obviously that didn’t work, but neither will pretending I have any affection for (or know dick about) The Wild Thornberrys.
There’s only room for one Klasky Csupo kids show in my life and it’s on the next page. (It should go without saying, this does not include the wonderful and adult-focused Duckman.) So while I can confirm that Eliza’s voice over in the above video from The Wild Thornberrys: Animal Adventure for PlayStation 1 is accurate to the show, since Nickelodeon has been so ridiculously vigilant in scrubbing any frame of their programming from YouTube, I can’t compare it to the actual intro and am running off the fumes of vague memories. Correct me if I’m wrong, but once again, my primary goal here was to get to seven entries and keep Hanna-Barbera off this list. Fuck you Wacky Races, and fuck you Hanna-Barbera.