I’m 31 years old. I was born in the 80’s but did most of my “growing up” in the 90’s. The 80’s and 90’s were both very interesting decades for pop culture. Music saw some major changes with the rise of Rap and Hip Hop, the resurgence of Punk, and my favorite, the explosion of Thrash and NuMetal.
While music and fashion is what most people remember from the 80’s and 90’s I fondly remember the killer cartoons and the beginning of mainstream video games. I vividly remember watching countless hours of Power Rangers, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Batman TAS and tons more. I was a fiend for these shows and all the toys that came with them. I remember Christmas morning when I was a kid and opening the full sized MegaZord that apparently my mom drove an insane amount trying to find. This made me a very happy kid. (Update: My mom read the article and said she drove 200km to find it in one day :/)
Video games were also pretty big for me as a kid. I owned the original NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and PS1. So many fun nights playing the old classics.
This brings me to the nostalgia. We all have it, and we all glorify it. I tried to watch Power Rangers (the original) on Netflix a few months ago in preparation for the new movie. Don’t. It’s awful. All I could think was “how did I like this?”. Was it just because I was a kid? Were my 8 year old standards really low? I think I just remember having fun as a kid and not the show itself. It was really bad.
So I set out on a challenge for myself. Try and remember my favorite shows and games and try them again. After Power Rangers being a bust I moved on. Batman The Animated Series staring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker is still amazing. That’s a win. If you haven’t seen it, fix that issue now. Mark Hamill’s Joker is the best version of the character ever. Shows like Transformers and GI Joe were fun but the animation and voice acting was really dated. Very hard to watch. The original TMNT was in the same vein as other cartoons from the 80’s and early 90’s. Bad animation. All over the place. Seemed like it was rushed. As most of these shows were made to sell toys it wouldn’t surprise me if they were rushed.
Games were basically the same. Most of the older games I remember were tough to play again. I had use emulators for most of them as I don’t own the old systems anymore. Mario still holds up, and so do other side scrolling platformers. But those games relied on mechanics that don’t change much as the technology gets better. Mario is the same year over year with a fresh coat of paint. 3D games from the mid 90’s on the other hand look so bad. One of the biggest games from the PS1 era is Final Fantasy 7. I played that game to death. Nostalgia has messed up my memory though. I remember that game vividly. This is the main character, Cloud. That’s how I remember him. He actually looked like this. Seriously…
Okay, so maybe I remember things the way I want, not the way they actually were. That’s okay though. It’s like the cartoon version of the fisherman’s story.
On the bright side though. There are a ton of new shows coming out that are worth your time to scratch that itch for a show from your childhood. The Ninja Turtles have a show on right now that is fantastic. For you guys going way back, there is a new VOLTRON series on Netflix that is amazing.
Maybe keep the fond memories of your childhood cartoons as memories. Stick to the modern. Except Power Rangers, that show still sucks. The movie wasn’t bad though.
I have a very long list of cartoons that are worth watching now. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you can’t watch good cartoons. Maybe I will do a “what to watch” list later on.
What were some of your best childhood memories around cartoons? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know. Or maybe ask for a recommendation on what to watch now.