Tragically Underrated ’90s Cartoon Is Finally Getting the Video Game It Deserves

Ever wanted to play as a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength in a video game? You soon can.

Toxic Crusaders Game
Photo: Retroware

In the early days of home console and arcade gaming, many studios developed titles based on movies and TV shows. Actually, they tried to develop titles based on pretty much any movie and TV show s they could find. While this trend eventually faded away, Retroware is trying to rekindle the licensed game boom with an unlikely hero.

Recently, Retroware announced it is bringing back the underrated Toxic Crusaders cartoon as a beat ’em-up title. Never heard of Retroware? Well, the company published the Angry Video Game Nerd games, which should probably tell you all you need to know about the organization and its style.

But back to the Toxic Crusaders. Going by the trailer, the Toxic Crusaders game will play similarly to the recent (and bodacious) retro beat ’em-up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. And that is a huge compliment. The Toxic CrusadersSteam page promises seven playable characters ripped from the cartoon, all brought to life by noxiously neon (in a good way) pixel art, as well as four-player co-op action and voice acting. However, instead of recruiting the original cartoon’s cast, the developers hired the voices of TeamFourStar (as in the actors behind Dragon Ball Abridged and the best voice options in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2).

For those who never heard of Toxic Crusaders, it was a 13-episode cartoon based on the black comedy superhero film The Toxic Avenger. This source material is an R-rated splatter film classic produced by Troma Entertainment that stars nerdy janitor, Melvin. At least, he is a nerdy janitor until he falls into a vat of chemicals thanks to a bunch of bullies. These chemicals mutate Melvin into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength. Most of the film’s narrative revolves around Melvin killing gang members, drug dealers, and the aforementioned bullies in a gruesome fashion. If Melvin weren’t the hero of the film, his rampage would make for a nice slasher villain’s resume. The Toxic Avenger is crass, gorey, and completely unapologetic, which is probably why so many people love the movie. 

Ad – content continues below

Given The Toxic Avenger’s R-rated nature, some of you are probably wondering why anyone thought the film would make for great kid’s entertainment. Well, it’s because that was the style at the time. Plenty of studios were transforming R-rated movies into cartoons back then; other prominent examples included Robocop, Rambo, and Police Academy. Each of these cartoons featured toned-down content more suitable for children, Toxic Crusaders included. Moreover, that show introduces new heroes (hence the “Crusaders” in the name) and villains, and the overall result is intentionally tongue-in-cheek and stupid. While Melvin is still the hideously deformed star of superhuman size and strength in Toxic Crusaders, he is joined by several other mutated heroes in a quest to save the last non-polluted town in New Jersey, Tromaville, from evil aliens. The show is nowhere near as violent as its movie source material, but it tries to channel the same style of comedy. 

Since Retroware just announced the Toxic Crusaders game, we have no idea when it will launch. The Steam page promises a 2023 release date, so to pass the time, you might want to catch up on the Toxic Crusaders. The entire show is currently available on YouTube, and if enough watch the show, maybe it finally receive the appreciation it deserves.