ByNicholas Montegriffo, writer at
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Nicholas Montegriffo

Skylanders Academy, a new animated series adaptation of the popular toys-to-life video game franchise Skylanders, premieres on Netflix this October 28. Activision Blizzard Studios has tapped France’s TeamTO for animation and enlisted some top notch voice acting talent to flesh out characters like Spyro (Justin Long), Stealth Elf (Ashley Tisdale), Eruptor (Jonathan Banks), Jet-Vac (Ellis Greg) and Pop Fizz (Bobcat Goldthwait).

Additional confirmed voice talent includes Susan Sarandon, Daniel Wu, Parker Posey and even Metallica's James Hetfield.

Yeah! ... Yeah?
Yeah! ... Yeah?

From what we can see so far, it looks like the talent is being put to good use, giving the visually appealing characters much more personality and expression than what was allowed for in the games.

Check out the Trailer below:

This is something of a milestone for Spyro the Dragon, who started his career as a video game character back in 1998. Spyro may be 18 years old but he's remained a perpetual child in character, retaining his youthful enthusiasm, curiosity and headstrong confidence in all incarnations.

But Spyro follows a long pedigree of video game characters trying to break into TV-Land. Everybody knows the Pokémon anime, but there were many other video game cartoons that failed to secure pocket monster mega-success. Here are some of our favorite video game cartoon adaptations from back in the day.

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1996)

Yes, somehow some TV execs decided it would be a great idea to bring the world of blood n'guts beat-'em-up Mortal Kombat to the realm of Saturday morning kid's cartoons.

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm dodges the gore by having the heroes mainly battle MK3-style cyber-ninjas. Some oil is spilled and motherboards bashed in, but there's nary a spine-rip to be seen. Having said that, even with it's kid-friendly, low-budget animation, the cartoon actually tells the most serious and coherent version of the Mortal Kombat storyline out of any of the adaptations (See the live action Mortal Kombat: Conquest for a masterclass in Doing It Wrong).

Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)

Sonic's actually starred in quite a few cartoon adaptations, including Sonic X, Sonic Underground, and Sonic Adventures. But the only one of any quality was the title bearer. Sonic the Hedgehog struck a good balance between comedy and drama, provided a real sense of stakes for the story, and featured a fantastic turn from voice actor Jim Cummings as the sadistic Dr. Robotnik.

Donkey Kong Country (1996)

An early attempt at a CGI kid's cartoon, Donkey Kong Country looks pretty goofy now but it was very bold for its time. The show featured plenty of slapstick comedy and a silly plot revolving around a maguffin called the Crystal Coconut. Aside from the primitive 3D graphics, another weird element of the show was its signature musical numbers. These were a staple of the show, and while generally well done, led to some awkward breaks in the narrative when the characters stopped to show off their moves.

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)

This Mario vehicle is awkwardly named but was actually a pretty good adaptation of the games, drawing its storyline from in-game plot and basing its soundtrack on in-game music. Special mention also goes to the live-action Super Mario Bros. Super Show, although that was more of a variety act than an adaptation of the game world.

Mega Man (1994)

Ruby-Spears Entertainment created a pretty good Saturday morning cartoon version of Mega Man in 1994, with plenty of action, decent quality animation, cheesy one-liners and featuring from all the essential Robot Masters from the first five games. Once again the villain voice actor is the standout star, with Scott McNeil providing a teutonic-sounding Dr. Wiley.

Dragon's Lair (1984)

One of the earliest video game to cartoon adaptations, Dragon's Lair doesn't quite live up to the stellar animation quality of the original game but does cleave pretty close to the story and spirit of its inspiration.

Its best feature was managing to tell a continuous story while featuring one of the key elements of the adventure game - the protagonist's hilarious deaths. Every episode would end with hero Dirk the Daring in some perilous situation, with the next episode showing what would have happened if he failed to escape and met his end, before continuing the 'real' story of Dirk's adventures.

Earthworm Jim (1996)

Earthworm Jim, based on the side scrolling action game of the same name, tells the story of an ordinary earthworm transformed into a superhero after crawling into a spacesuit that falls from the sky. The quality writing and characters really make this adaptation stand out among the crowd.

Snarky, wise-cracking and often referencing his unusual anatomy, Jim's an unconventional hero. With his sidekick Peter Puppy (who hulks out into monster form under stress, but can be calmed down to puppy form by tickles) and the beautiful Princess What's-Her-Name (also a pretty kick-ass strong female character for the time), this team of misfits battled an even more bizarre ensemble of villains, with plenty of post-modern weirdness and zany humor throughout.

We miss any of your favorites? Let us know below!


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