That Time Space Ghost Narrated A Cartoon Network-Themed Smash Bros Clone

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This next sentence might make you feel very old and I’m sorry: Earlier this week, Cartoon Network’s first original show, Space Ghost Coast To Coast, turned 30 years old. And while many have spent the week celebrating the strange series, its best bits, and funniest episodes, I want to take a moment to remember a lesser-known piece of Space Ghost Coast To Coast history. I want to talk about that time he hosted a Smash Bros clone starring Cartoon Network characters.

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For those who might be too young to remember (or who didn’t watch the series back in the day) Space Ghost Coast To Coast was, in theory, a cartoon talk show hosted by Space Ghost—a then somewhat obscure 1960s cartoon superhero. However, in reality, the show was more of an experimental and surreal animated journey that often involved celebrities and strange diversions. The kind of show where Busta Rhymes, Space Ghost, and his sidekicks can stage a murder mystery before getting high off natural gas and ending up in a spaceship crash that ends in a grocery store visit.

Space Ghost Coast To Coast wasn’t necessarily kid-friendly, hence why it aired at midnight. But plenty of kids, myself included, watched the show. And Space Ghost—along with his sidekicks Zorak, Moltar, and even Brak—became popular and mainstream enough to appear outside of their midnight slot and even got a spin-off for kids, Cartoon Planet. So there is some history of Space Ghost and his strange, adult talk show universe bleeding into media for kids. Still, it’s really weird hearing George Lowe—the voice actor for Space Ghost—narrating a Smash Bros clone starring characters from Ben Ten, Dexter’s Lab, and other hit Cartoon Network shows.

Cartoon Network: Punchtime Explosion launched in 2011 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and 3DS. While it has some fans, it’s not a great game, mostly functioning as yet another arena fighter directly inspired by Nintendo’s Smash Bro franchise. The main story of the game’s campaign is various Cartoon Network characters crossing over due to a nefarious plot by an unseen villain. And narrating all of this is Space Ghost, who was just trying to relax on his day off but ended up having to voice a big video game adventure instead.

“Greetings citizens and welcome to—Hey, wait a minute! I’ve been hosting so much I’m actually intro-ing on my day off! I finally got some me-time to put on my casual tights, snuggle up and watch my favorite shows. Let’s see what’s on Cartoon Network,” says the narrator of Punchtime in the game’s opening cutscene.

It should be noted that technically the game never expressly identifies the narrator as Space Ghost. Some fans assume this is due to licensing and Punchtime’s low budget, while others think the publisher and developer were worried that Space Ghost’s inclusion might affect the ESRB rating. I think it’s also possible that the developers didn’t want to alienate kids who had no idea who Space Ghost was and just downplayed it, letting him slip in references and jokes throughout the campaign, but never directly confirming it. However, parents and teens watching or playing would catch on.

The game ends with Captain Planet showing up as Space Ghost laments, “Oh don’t tell me that shiny dude is in here? Yup...he is.” It honestly feels like a bit from Coast To Coast. At the very end, the narrator wonders if he can find a lava man to help change his channels, the most direct reference to Coast To Coast in the entire game.

So, if you’ve seen every episode of Coast To Coast multiple times and want some new Space Ghost comedy in your life, check out Cartoon Network: Punctime Explosion. I mean, probably don’t play it, but watch the cutscenes on YouTube. Or watch that recent episode of Jellystone featuring Spacie and his “friends.” Or take a nap. All of those are better than playing Punctime Explosion.

Oh and while I have you here, if you want a neat look at how Space Ghost Coast To Coast was made back in the ‘90s, check out this local news report about the show’s production.

And if you want to watch some episodes of the show, you can check out this live stream happening now in honor of the show’s 30th anniversary.

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