As a reminder, all images on this portion of the site -- other than game screen captures and those otherwise noted -- are courtesy of Spazzoid's NES Stuff (thanks, Spaz).
"The Wizard" was released onto the big screen in
1990, in conjunction with the first Nintendo World Championship, held a bit
earlier that year at various sites around the country.
To synopsize, this film centers around Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards), a traumatized young man (who could be anywhere between 9 and 12 years of age -- I'm not sure), whose mother thinks him somehow mentally deficient because he seldom speaks, and then tends to repeat the same word over and over again ("California" is one of his favorites.) Jimmy's mother wants to put him in a mental hospital, for reasons that don't seem exclusively related to the boy's best interest -- rather her own. The officials at said institution seem willing, and nobody of any authority seems to have any objections. The only person opposed to Jimmy's incarceration is Corey (Fred Savage), his step-brother.
At this point, it seems necessary to offer a little background information regarding the Woods family. A few years prior to the time of the movie, Jimmy's (twin?) sister, Jennifer, drowned in a river. This had a universally traumatic effect on the entire family. Jimmy went into his proverbial shell, and his parents divorced. Jimmy's mother retained custody of him, and his father (Beau Bridges) received very little other than custody of his two children (Corey and Nick (Christian Slater)) from a previous marriage, and a bowl of petrified Fruit Loops. Only Corey maintained any nature of contact with Jimmy, as his mother washed her hands of the boy when she couldn't evoke any reaction.
Anyway, frustrated by his father and older brother's indifference, and aware that nobody is going to listen to him, Corey decides to run off with Jimmy. After throwing a dart at a map, -- which lands, to Jimmy's delight, on California -- Corey elects to take Jimmy there. The two then run off, as stow-aways in the back of a truck filled with Hostess Snack Cakes.
Needless to say, neither parent is very pleased with this new development. Jimmy's mother hires a universally unkind P.I. to find her son, and sets off to find him herself once the S.O.B. develops a few leads on his location. Meanwhile, Sam (Bridges) and Nick set off to find the boys on their own.
Corey and Jimmy don't make it very far in the truck, and soon find themselves at a bus station which contains (happy coincidence) a "Play-Choice 10" machine. Bereft of cash with which to buy tickets, Corey makes an impassioned plea to the ticket seller, leaving Jimmy to play Double Dragon. After the ticket salesman refuses Corey's request, the two boys get set to leave, at which time Corey expresses his sheer amazement that Jimmy "got 50,000 on Double Dragon!" At this moment, Jimmy's prodigious talent at all things NES -- the focus of the movie -- is unbridled. It is also around this time that the two make the acquaintence of Haley (I've forgotten who played her), an audacious girl of about Corey's age. After a bit of a scuffle, Haley joins the two wayward sojourners on their trek to California.
After hearing their complete story, Haley comes to the conclusion that the easiest way to prevent Jimmy's placement in a home is to publicize his extreme aptitude at NES games -- that is, through his entry into and winning of a national video game tournament in Los Angeles. The three then begin their quest across the nation, with the help and sympathy of only a teamster whose name I've forgotten, all the while fending off the pursuing investigator, and being subjected to the taunts of Lucas Bartin (Jason Hervey, who played Savage's jackass of a brother on "The Wonder Years"), who is one of Jimmy's few peers in terms of NES skill, and has quite an affinity for the nonfunctional Power Glove. The three, naturally, stop often to season Jimmy's talent with the system (an act that includes telephoning Nintendo's game play assistance hotline), before reaching the culmination of their journey: Video Armageddon. Incidentally, Sam and Nick also often have run-ins with the glorious console, which include playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at 3 AM in a distinctly unsanitary motel room.
Needless to say, Jimmy wins the tournament, his divorced parents exude signs of an impending reconciliation, the boastful Lucas is silenced, and Corey and Haley redeem their appreciation of life (okay, maybe that's spreading it a little thick). And to think, it is all due to the marvelous console of videogaming entertainment to which this site devotes itself... Well, I like to think so.
Very special thanks to Andre Bennett for the following elucidation and quite a few more regarding the other four programs:
* The classic "Super Mario Bros. 3" received its first massive exposure in "The Wizard"; in fact, the film coincided with the release of thr game, or just barely preceded it (if memory serves me correctly).
-"The Super Mario Bros. Super Show"-
To be succint, as the "Wizard" synopsis took up a
good bit more space than I had anticipated, this show appeared in syndication
around 1989. It contained, in essence, two parts -- the animated, and the
non-animated. The animated was simply a cartoon, starring Mario, Luigi, Toad,
and Princess Toadstool, in which the fab four (pardon the allusion) had some
squabble with "King Koopa" in any of quite a few different settings (pirate
cove, metropolitan area, etc.) Also, every Friday, the cartoon would diverge,
and center around the Legend of Zelda. The show's "Zelda" storylines are very
renowned among preservationists, and each, regardless of its individual content,
contained some reference to Link's unifying modus operandi: to at some point
provoke Zelda into kissing him. Anyway, the non-animated portion of the show
featured Mario and Luigi in their New York apartment, where they would have any
number of very brief, sitcom-esque problems befall them. Mario was played by
washed-up professional wrestler Captain Lou Albano. I don't remember who played
Luigi, but, as would be expected, he was the physical inverse of the rotund
Albano -- tall and thin.
Also of some entertainment value was the "Mario Song", simply a lyricized version of the overworld song from Super Mario Bros., and its accompanying dance. I believe the song went something like this:
"Swing your arms (pause) from side to side
jump up and down (something else)
Do the Mario!"
There was more, but, as you can see, I don't remember the song very well.
My thanks to Loogaroo for both the following information, and some more regarding Video Power.
"- Danny Lewis played the role of Luigi in the SMB Super Show.
- Also worth mentioning was the number of cameos made during the live-action segments of said show, including Little Richard, Inspector Gadget (unsurprising, considering that DIC had the rights for both shows), Two members from Ghostbusters (I forget their names, but they weren't Dan Aykroyd or Bill Murray), and last but certainly not least, game show host Jim Lange.
- In the second season of the SMBSS, the live-action segments were dropped for two teenager-dudes supposedly living on top of a skyscraper. (This might have just been local, for the animated segments were always reruns)
- Another thing that was definitely local was the show that aired after the SMBSS around here: "King Koopa's Krazy Kartoons." Obviously, it was a low-budget show with someone dressed up (quite badly, I may add) as Bowser as he introduced old, unheard-of cartoons to kids in a studio audience. Probably the most memorable thing about the show was how the kids would shout "Koopa... Koopa..." at the show's start."
Lumaga (aka Big Icarus) submitted the following information about the "two teenager-dudes supposedly living on top of a skyscraper."
I remember that show about the two guys on the roof of an apt. building. They hosted the show "Club Mario" for a year or two. I remember part of the theme song.
"Grab your board,
"Hold onto your head,
"We're goin' down to Marioland.
"Down at the club (music arpegioes),
"Down at the club (same arpegioes and then a few power chords from a guitar),
"Club Mario. (I think he says this one more time, but I'm not sure. If not, then it stops at the second "Down at the club...").
Andre Bennett, who has quickly become this section's preeminent contributor, submitted the following info. Thanks, Andre.
* The other two Ghostbusters who guest-starred on the Super Mario Bros. Super Show were Ernie Hudson (in a Luigi-gets-possessed story) and Harold Ramis. Nicole Eggert also guest-starred.
* In the Club Mario theme it's...
"Grab your board
Hold on to your hats
Satellite surfing is where it's at"
(The hosts used to satellite/channel-surf quite a bit.)
*The Club Mario hosts were Tommy Treehugger and Kool MC something.
* Every Friday on Club Mario, in addition to a Zelda episode, would see an appearance from Evil Eric, Kool MC's twin brother. Eric would try to steal Tommy's remote control and take over the show.
-"Captain N: The Game
Image provided by The Unofficial Captain N Homepage.
Simply put, this animated program
unified the worlds of many different video games into a single, somewhat unusual
universe known as Videoland. It dealt with a young fellow named Kevin, who was
sucked into a television while playing his NES, and emerged in the
Circumstances being what they were, the Palace of Power -- Videoland's capital and basic stronghold of goodness -- was in turmoil, for the evil Mother Brain and her minions had enacted a scheme to gain control of the Palace, and thereby all reaches of Videoland. As it was explained to him, Kevin had been summoned by Princess Lana to help repel the forces of Mother Brain. It seemed the princess chose Kevin due to his superior skill at all NES games. Lana's favor of Kevin, however, begot some resentment among a few other members of her resistance, particularly Simon Belmont.
Anyway, the pool of main characters, consisting of Kevin, Lana, "Kid Icarus", Mega Man, and Belmont, endured a variety of adventures during the animated show's run, most of which entailed journeying to the worlds of other NES games, and encountering familiar villains. Meanwhile, Mother Brain, her two immediate servants, -- King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard -- and hordes of other more common NES enemies would inevitably try to get a hand in matters, usually in the effort to kill Kevin and company.
As one might have expected, this show aired weekly on Saturday mornings. Unlike many other NES related shows, however, "Captain N" was broadcast exclusively by NBC. Most others of its kind were syndicated. I'm fairly certain that this show first aired in 1989, but I ceased watching it before its final broadcast. Thus, I can't say with any certainty that I know when it left the airwaves.
Though "Captain N" was quite an entertaining program, it contained a few less-than-minor inaccuracies that irritated some. From time to time, I fear to say, I was one of those people. The most blatant of these problems would clearly be the fact that the main character of Nintendo's Kid Icarus -- a regular on the show -- was thought to be named "Kid Icarus", whereas the cherub's true name was "Pit". Nevertheless, characterization and inauthenticity alike are forever fortified in the memories of many, if not all, NES devotees, for "Captain N" is likely the quintessential show of its kind.
I am endebted to Andre Bennett for the following:
* An N-Team/Zelda crossover took place later in Captain N's run, as Captain N and company ventured into Hyrule to aid Link and Zelda against Ganon. Link, however, was jealous of Kevin/Captain N.
-"Super Mario Bros. 3"-
This mediocre dramatization showed up
not long after the release of its NES counterpart. In essence, "SMB3" can be
described as the induction of the "Koopa Kids" into the situation of the "SMB
Super Show". The resultant product was about as unoriginal as it sounds, and the
seven Koopalings did not add to the show the comedic element they potentially
could have. This was the case because, though each one of them had his or her
own gimmick, most of said gimmicks were quite boring. "Big Mouth", the
derivation of Morton Koopa, Jr. (World 2 boss), as his name implies, never
stopped talking, and Wendy was portrayed as a spoiled heiress who griped and
complained about virtually everything. The rest of the pint-sized lizards were,
on the whole, pretty forgettable, and I have done just that -- forgotten them
and their respective gimmicks.
If anything redeemed this show, it was the Koopa honcho himself -- Bowser. He was portrayed as a dominant patriarch, but one who was simultaneously beholden to the wills of his children, and knew that their existence squelched any possibility for his own serenity. I suppose an apt description of him would be the animated, reptilian equivalent of Bill Cosby -- and I am quite the Cosby fanatic.
The principal problem with this show was that it made no improvements on the "Super Show." Most of the characters from the original looked identical to their "SMBSS" selves, and the episodes themselves were all by and large the same scenario. Whatever transpired between the two, this show lacked the creativity of its syndicated predecessor -- or maybe the novelty had just worn off....
Andre Bennett is the benefactor from whom I received the following extrapolation (yeah, I know it's quaintly worded, but I'm trying to come up with different ways of articulating the same basic concept. Sue me.):
* Super Mario Bros. 3 ran one season alongside Captain N. The next season, NBC aired a Super Mario World series, taking place in the game's prehistoric setting, and featuring Koopa and his children as villains again.
This is likely the most obscure of all
NES-related television shows, and probably the least successful as well. For
whatever reason, -- its unusual time of broadcast, lack of advertisement, or
failure to cover more recognized games in its first season -- it failed to
accrue a decent following. However, the story of "Video Power" is an interesting
one, if only for the alteration it so quickly incurred.
During its first season, "Video Power" was, like the "SMB Super Show", a daily-broadcasted combination of a non-animated portion and a video game-based cartoon. The non-animated segment of this show was a basic informative session, -- dealing with hints, upcoming titles, and spotlighted games -- hosted by "Johnny Arcade," who, despite his Kirk Cameron-esque charm, never became the teen idol the show's producers clearly had in mind. The cartoon, entitled "The Power Team," was basically a rip-off of "Captain N." The Power Team, as the show's corps were called, consisted of the heroes of four B-list games, who would have some nature of encounter with their respective archenemies. The necessity behind the inclusion of Tyrone from Arch Rivals and Bigfoot the talking monster truck remains an enigma to me. Yet, these characters possessed a certain rapport that afforded "The Power Team" a somewhat entertaining element. It never caught on, though.
"Video Power" fared quite poorly in its first season, and its producers clearly would not go gently into that good night, to invoke Dylan Thomas' endlessly popular line of prose. The next year, "VP" returned in an entirely different format -- that of a game show. Every day, the show would begin with a question-and-answer period, wherein members of the studio audience would be called upon to ask Johnny a random video game-based trivia question. If they were able to stump him, the audience member would be given a prize of some sort from the cornucopia available in the set's "mall". However, there was one facet of this period that rather irritated me -- this being that the player would receive no compensation if Mr. Arcade answered the question incorrectly, which he did with some frequency.
Anyway, the four people selected during the Q&A period would become that day's four contestants. They would each go to a respective console, and play the game highlighted that week. After a few minutes of play, the show's judges would determine which two of the four would move on to compete in the next round. But between the first and second rounds of play, the two survivors would engage in a session of trivia that had no ramifications outside of itself. Another round of play would then ensue, and its winner would be permitted to run frantically around the set's makeshift shopping center, grabbing whatever games he/she desired.
Every Friday, the week's four previous winners would compete in a "Tournament of Champions" of sorts. I believe there was also a competition among those champions at the end of the season to determine who was the superlative "Video Power" contestant.
The fate that befell this show, segregating it from any form of success, was relatively simple; it debuted at too late a time. The NES was fading into obscurity just as this show began to catch on, and the videogaming public became addicted to the SNES, to which "Video Power" refused to devote itself. As the NES gradually fell from the public eye, so too did this ill-fated program.
Thanks to Lumaga@concentric.net for informing me that "VP" was, in fact, broadcast outside of the Chicago area.
Loogaroo, whose enthatuation with game shows probably has more than a little to do with his acute memory of VP's scoring system, receives my thanks for the following information.
"- All characters in Video Power's animated cartoon originated from Acclaim-designed games. (Ack! Lame!)
- Before I describe the scoring system to VP's second season, a note on time limits:
The first thirteen weeks, the limit for the first round was 61 seconds (or 1:01 - ha ha!) The second thirteen weeks, the limit for round one was 101 seconds. The second round's limit for both eras was 122 seconds (2:02 - clever)
Anyway, in games that had their own scoring systems (SMB3, Tetris, etc.) Highest scores advanced. In games that didn't, or in sports games, the person(s) who got farthest advanced."
Some more info from (guess who) Andre Bennett:
* The full "Power Team" roster was Max Force (NARC), Kwirk (Kwirk), Bigfoot (Bigfoot), Kuros (Ironsword), and Tyrone (Arch-Rivals). The villain was Mr. Big (NARC).
* Power Team (sans Video Power) reruns are aired occasionally in syndication, once or twice a year, in obscure time slots.
Return to the main page - The NES
Return to the general media page - NES Media