Nintendo's TV And Movie Ventures Recapped
June 05, 2020
Depending on which generation's members you ask you would think that Nintendo's only forays into the world of movies and television shows were either 1993's Super Mario Bros.: The Movie which is notorious for being... let's just say something else, or of course the juggernaut that is Pokémon. The company has licensed several other of its properties to film and animation studios over the years, and rather than let those slip through the cracks, Matt Paprocki writing for Polygon has put together a detailed recap of all of those productions spanning The Super Mario Bros. Super Show in 1989 up through 2019's Pokémon Detective Pikachu with stops at Donkey Kong Country, Kirby, and F-Zero along the way. Here's a piece of the article detailing an early problem facing the Super Show producers:
Work on Super Show ran into an early problem. Nintendo was new to this, but DIC’s team sought to closely mirror the in-game content — things like the sounds of Mario grabbing a coin or sliding down a pipe — to capture the authentic Mushroom Kingdom aesthetic. The issue?
Super Show creators couldn’t use the game’s direct audio because Nintendo provided it in a digital form meant for the NES. “[The sound effects] were not compatible with any other format, so we couldn’t play them,” says John Grusd, a producer at DIC Entertainment.
The Super Show team went on to tape some sound effects while playing the games, and cleaned them up afterward. Others came from musical instruments or techniques such as foley, in an effort to best match the distinctive 8-bit tones; either way, it required more work for DIC.
Based on Nintendo's working relationship with the animation studio DIC as showcased in this article, it's a wonder the producers were able to accomplish anything considering how Nintendo wanted to be hands-off and yet exert some control. I wonder how many questions and concerns were lost in translation along the way. Today I'd imagine that the studio would be able to use digital files or, failing that, would call their counterparts at Nintendo to ask for the sounds in another format. This history makes it sound like Nintendo sent a box to the studio filled with limited elements to use in making the show and then that was the last of the cooperation. I'm glad that Nintendo has taken more of an interest in adapting their properties today and is more interested in what they and their partners can accomplish by working together.