–Yes, I decided to write about video games and animated series. Don’t fret. Your music will return soon.
If you’re near my age, you most likely grew up on some of the older video game systems, including the various older Nintendo systems. And, if you’re my age, you might recall some of the licensed TV shows that spawned out of some of Nintendo’s games. They weren’t the greatest but I’ll admit that when some of them popped up on Netflix/Hulu over the last five years, it was a lot of fun to invent drinking games to go along with them. Now, with the new Star Fox game out, two new animated incarnations of the world’s favorite space vulpine have emerged; one an official Nintendo promotional cartoon of sorts and the other a crowd-funded project that goes in a very different direction.
So which one should you watch and which one deserves to actually continue on as a series?
Perhaps both, in my opinion, and here’s why.
Let’s look at Nintendo’s “The Battle Begins” incarnation. You can tell at first glance that there’s a distinct lack of cheesiness here. This isn’t the Super Mario Brothers Super Show (but my God that was a good time); there’s an actual budget here, a greater production value and it followed the game and Nintendo Power story lines rather faithfully, which kind of surprised me. Maybe I’m too much of a cynic but I was kind of glad I wasn’t seeing another “excuse me, princess.”
The style here is anime, a very shiny kid friendly anime that seems to avoid most of the stereotypes kid-anime suffers from (cheap effects, run of the mill production, lackluster voice acting, etc…) and they make it more cinematic. The writing at times could have been better but really, it’s not bad. It at least tries to not patronize its audience, regardless of their age. Will I watch it? Maybe out of curiousity and the fact that I kind of wish that something of this quality would have been around when I was young. Will it actually get to be an ongoing series? No idea. As far as I know, it’s merely a promotional episode but a lot of fans young and old would like to see it happen.
Now let’s examine “A Fox in Space,” the fan made episode.
This is a grittier, darker, more mature version, and by that, I don’t mean it’s a furry’s wet dream but rather, it’s a more Adult Swim styled show, full of well-crafted dialogue, 80s sci-fi style choices, jazzy-Cowboy Bebop-esque hints, and it comes off feeling like a cross between a noir anime, Home Movies Heavy Metal and Star Fox. With gritty voice acting, stylized animation, thought-out soundtrack, and decent writing, I feel like I could get into this. It references the Nintendo Power comic a lot more than “The Battle Begins” and I even would argue that the characters are a lot more believable in their personalities. And yet, they boldly take the story in a different direction rather than sticking solely to the plot line of the previous games. Seeing Fox in a sit down meeting between Wolf and Andros in a dingy bar with a nice mixture of humor and tension is not something I expected to see but found that I actually really enjoyed.
So, in a word, yes, I’d like to see more of this rather than Nintendo’s version simply because it’s not watered down and it feels like it was directed to older fans who were looking for something different. And so long as Nintendo doesn’t pull its usual bullshit and try to tear it down over copyright claims, I hope to see more episodes soon. In all honesty, Nintendo should be flattered there are quality fan-made projects like this that aren’t yiffy, for a change.
And here’s hoping it doesn’t turn out that way if it goes on…
Watch Nintendo’s “THE BATTLE BEGINS” here.
Watch “A FOX IN SPACE” here.
My final thought is Nintendo should pursue making a Star Fox animated series IF and only if they put as much effort into it as they did with this promo episode. It would certainly bring in more fans to the Star Fox franchise and give some of the current fans something cool to go along with the game. But, just don’t turn it into a carbon copy of the games; be adventurous. Go into new directions in that universe while still being cannon. Show people something new. Hell, maybe even go so far as to make a game down the line based on the series itself.