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Five 80s Cartoon That Would Make Good MMOs

Jon Wood Posted:
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Anyone who grew up in the 1980s grew up watching many of the same, 30 minute toy commercials known as Saturday morning cartoons. Those same children, in all likelihood, grew up in households where video games had become more a part of daily life. Consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis together with the emergence of more games for the personal computer which was becoming more and more popular in homes made gamers of many of them. It seems only natural then that these two childhood memories, cartoons and video games, come together in this list of 80s cartoon IPs that, should a development studio CEO get nostalgic, would make for interesting MMORPGs.

#5 The Carebears

The Carebears, as a televison series, ran from 1985 until 1988. Different colored bears (and later other animals as well) with symbols on their stomachs go on missions of caring, fighting the forces of creatively named villains like No Heart and Professor Coldheart.

The list begins with an entry for the children's MMO category. The jokes that would come along with a Carebears MMO write themselves, but the actual concept behind the show might lend itself to a robust virtual world for young children. The conflict and ensuing combat within the original cartoon were both entertaining and sanitized enough to provide kids with hours of fun and designers a strong starting point for some core mechanics. Character creation would also be both simple and diverse; core creatures with an added color template and one of many distinctive tummy symbols and names that could be easily chosen from a list.

Argument for the Game's Creation: Proposed Carebear character names: Ganker Bear, Pwnage Bear, Carebear Bear

#4 He-Man / She Ra

The original cartoons ran from 1983 - 1985 and 1985-1986 respectively. The twin brother and sister combo of heroes existed in a universe that was a bizarre mix of sword and shield fantasy with an edge of sci fi and lasers. He-Man came from a land called Eternia, defending the secrets of Castle Greyskull from Villains like Skeletor and Beastman with help from friends like Man At Arms and Man-E-Faces (because he had many faces). She-Ra, in similar fashion protects a world called Etheria from the (try to keep the WoW jokes to a minimum) evil Horde.

The sci fi / fantasy combination for the universe that these characters inhabited would make an interesting setting for an MMORPG. The stories of both series allows for adventures beyond those of the principle characters and would even give potential game designers options in terms of allowing cross realm play (good guys or bad guys). Sure, the main characters would have to play a part, but there was a lot to this fictional universe that went unexplored in the relatively short run of the series.

Argument for the Game's Creation: Debate: Which would win in a fight? He-Man's Sword of Power or The Sword of a Thousand Truths?

#3 Robotech

When its three year run in North America began in 1985, Robotech was the most "grown up" of the potential games listed here, having been adapted to more closely resemble the depth and complexity of the original Japanese version. Robotech was set in a world where mankind had discovered a crashed alien starship and used its technology to develop giant robots that are capable of becoming a man-like robot, a jet, or a hybrid of the two.

Robotech is one of those names that gets constantly thrown around as a possible setting for an MMORPG. The show's mythology (which is actually three unrelated Japanese made shows mashed together with a new plot), would certainly allow for numerous Mech pilots to battle in three different "Robotech Wars," each against a distinct villain. A truly crafty development team could make good use of the three wars concept to give players an option as to which timeframe they would like to participate in. Still, it's giant transforming robot mechs. No matter which way you slice it, make a halfway decent game and you've got a built in audience.

Argument for the Game's Creation: Giant mechs that turn into robots, jets, or jets with arms and legs!

#2 G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe originally ran from 1985-1987 and depicted the struggle between the good guys, in the form of the flag waving G.I. Joes and the bad guys in the form of the terrorist organization, COBRA. Each individual Joe (and their COBRA counterpart) had a unique and often fairly specific skillset that set them apart from their cohorts.

G.I. Joe is going to seem like an odd choice to players outside of North America, given the program's "Real American Hero" approach, but the theme of fighting a ruthless terrorist organization for the betterment of mankind is a more universal concept than the show's name implies, especially in today's political climate, should resonate beyond the confines of the Red, White and Blue.

G.I. Joe, the MMO, opens itself up to be an interesting skill-based game, focusing not just on intense combat (which would certainly have to play a role), but also on the diverse array of abilities that are showcased in the seemingly infinite number of G.I. Joe characters.

Argument for the Game's Creation: We just don't have enough MMOs that let players dress up in silly costumes and try to shoot each other in the head.

#1 Transformers

The original Transformers ran from 1984-1992. Two warring factions of robots who can transform themselves from robots into familiar machines like planes and cars, battle over energy on 1980s Earth.

The battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons is one that MMO players have been asking game developers to let them get involved in for quite some time. The two clearly delineated sides of the conflict would provide an excellent springboard for an RvR style of game, and the appeal of playing a giant robot that could become a car, a jet or a giant gun at any moment holds real sway for many gamers. Yes, the argument can be made that the series characters are "too iconic" to allow for thousands of new Autobots (or Decepticons), but Earth (to say nothing of Cybertron) is a big place.

Argument for the Game's Creation: Guilds could form up and create giant robots. The game practically sells itself.

So, that's the MMORPG.com list. What 80s cartoons, if any, would make great virtual worlds? We considered, but decided that Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others, were not the best fit. Now it's your turn. Let us know in the comment thread below.


Jon Wood