Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
The game was developed by Don Bluth
and Advanced Microcomputer Systems (later RDI Video Systems)
and was similar to Dragon’s Lair. It
allowed a player to play through an adventure story with feature film-quality
animation. At certain points, the player would have to move the joystick in a
certain direction or press a particular button in order to continue advancing
through the story. A few upgrades were made from the Dragon’s Lair game with the addition of difficulty settings,
multiple choices and paths for player actions, and the ability to shift between
the handsome hero and his smaller, younger self.
Promotional poster for the game.
Ace followed the adventures of dashing hero Ace (Jeff Etter)
as he endeavored to stop the sinister Borf (Bluth) from conquering the Earth.
He planned to do so by using an “Infanto Ray” to turn everyone into helpless
infants. Ace was hit by the beam and changed into his younger self, Dexter (Will Finn),
and his sidekick, Kimberly (Lorna
was taken captive by Borf. Using a specialized wrist gadget to “ENERGIZE,”
Dexter was able to turn back into Ace for a period of time and take the fight
to his enemies. Like with Dragon’s Lair, the
production costs were kept low by foregoing professional actors in favor of
members of Bluth’s studio voicing the characters. The only exception was Michael Rye,
who was hired to handle the game’s narration as he had done with the previous
Ace was adapted into cartoon form by Ruby-Spears Productions
for the second season of their umbrella program Saturday Supercade. Ruby-Spears had also produced a Dragon’s Lair cartoon that aired at the
same time on rival network ABC.
Some liberties were taken with the source material. Ace (Jim Piper) and
Kimberly (Nancy Cartwright) were members of Space Command working under Space
Marshall Vaughn (Peter Renaday). They continually fought against the evil alien
commander Borf (Arthur Burghardt) and his plans to try and conquer the Earth.
Unfortunately, being hit by the Infanto Ray caused Ace to constantly revert
into Dexter (Sparky Marcus) at inopportune times. Ace and Kimberly attempted to
keep Ace’s “wimping out” a secret by claiming Dexter as Kimberly’s little
brother until the effects wore off. Borf’s primary minions included the
cat-like Groots, amongst a variety of humanoid agents.
Promotional flier for the Space Ace cartoon.
Ace debuted on CBS
on September 8, 1984, with William
Woodson providing the opening narration for the segments. Plots generally
centered around Borf’s latest plans to conquer Earth and destroy Space Command,
and typically involved the Infanto Ray modified for some specific purpose. As
with the Dragon’s Lair series, the
character designs were made to closely resemble their game counterparts, but
lacked Bluth’s distinctive styling and the fluidity found in the game. Also,
Kimberly was less of a damsel in distress and more on equal footing with Ace
during their adventures; more so whenever his transformation hit.
Ace and Kimberly in the show.
Although Space Ace ran its course with the cancellation of the Supercade, it would soon make a return
in rerun form after Turner
Entertainment purchased the Hanna-Barbera
library, which by then also included the Ruby-Spears library. Space Ace was shown on Cartoon Network
late nights in the 1990s and as filler between shows on its sister station, Boomerang.
As for the game, despite an impressive marketing campaign headed by Bluth that
was usually reserved for film promotion (press books, press
posters), it didn’t perform as well as Lair did when it hit arcades. It had a few things going against it:
firstly, that initially the game was offered as a new cabinet before later
being offered as a conversion kit for existing Lair cabinets; secondly, the increased difficulty level was cited
as a problem; and thirdly it was released during the 1983-84
videogame crash when consumers weren’t as interested in
games. Also, owners and players were more eagerly anticipating a sequel to Lair, rather than a similar game.
Regardless, Ace ended up ported to various home consoles
like Lair with varying degrees of
success. In the early 2000s, Ace again
followed Lair and was adapted into
comic form in two series by CrossGen
Entertainment and Arcana Studios.
Groots” (9/8/84) – Borf modifies the Infanto Ray to turn his Groots into cute
kittens, which the then tricks Ace and Kimberly into letting into the moon
Camp Catastrophe” (9/15/84) – Vaughn assigns Ace and Kimberly to accompany his
nephew’s class on a camping trip that gets interrupted by Borf.
Decoy” (9/22/84) – Borf sets his sights on the young winner of a science fair
for her video dematerializer device.
Missile Madness” (9/29/84) – Ace and Kimberly infiltrate a space cycle gang in
order to prevent them from stealing a missile a missile for Borf.
Partners” (10/6/84) – Commander Parch steals Earth’s water in order to power
his weaponry and conquer the universe, which Borf can’t allow to happen.
in Fear” (10/13/84) – Dexter accidentally flies too close to warm meteors,
thawing out a frozen prehistoric creature just as Borf plans to use various
creatures to attack Earth.
Ray Riot” (10/20/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
Dexter!” (10/27/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
Shuttle” (11/3/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
Sports” (11/10/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
Kimmie” (11/17/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
Rampage” (11/24/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.