The idea of the video game mascot has been around since the early days of gaming, with names like Pac-Man and Mario becoming synonymous with the medium. Video game mascots are often created with the intention to not only be cute cartoon characters, but also a representation of the brand.
The 1990s saw the video game market flooded with over-the-top mascots that attempted to cash in on the success of edgy Saturday morning cartoon characters such as Ren & Stimpy. While some of these mascots turned out to be great, the majority quickly disappeared. Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable video game mascots that struggled stay relevant and are likely better off forgotten.
First appearance: Bubsy (1993)
Mascot for: Accolade
Drawing inspiration from the Super Mario Bros. and Sonic The Hedgehog franchises, the 1993 release of Bubsy introduced gamers to the titular anthropomorphic bobcat created by Accolade. Bubsy would go on to star in a series of games released for the Super NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Jaguar, PC, and PlayStation in the 1990s. In addition to the games, a pilot was created for a Bubsy cartoon based on the video game series, but it failed to be picked up and never saw the light of day.
In 2015, a compilation of the first two games was released for PC through Steam by Retroism, the video game software subsidiary of Tommo. Unfortunately, the games weren’t very good and the Bubsy character never really made the impression that Accolade was hoping for.
First appearance: Fantasy Zone (1985)
Mascot for: Sega
Opa-Opa is a sentient spacecraft from the Fantasy Zone series and acted as an early mascot for Japanese developer Sega in its early days. Fantasy Zone was released for the arcade in 1985 and later ported to a number of consoles, including the Sega Master System. Opa-Opa fights all kinds of ridiculous invader enemies in the Fantasy Zone and due to the non-traditional pastel colors and light tone, it is sometimes referred to as a “cute ’em up”.
After the success of the original game, Opa-Opa would go on to star in Fantasy Zone 2: The Tears of Opa-Opa. Alongside his brother Upa-Upa who is the leader of the Fantasy Zone defense squad, and O-Papa, his father, Opa-Opa is certainly one of the strangest mascots on this list.
First appearance: Gex (1994)
Mascot for: Crystal Dynamics
Gex is a wisecracking, television-loving, bipedal lizard created by developer Crystal Dynamics and appeared in several games across multiple platforms. The first game in the series, Gex, is a 1995 platformer that was originally released for the Panasonic 3DO and later ported to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Microsoft Windows. Gex was a pack-in game for Panasonic models of the 3DO later in the console’s life and the character was positioned as a mascot for the 3DO platform.
Gex was voiced by comedian Dana Gould and the character ventured through the “Media Dimension” in order to confront and defeat Rez, the overlord of the dimension who wants to make Gex into his new network mascot. Gex went on to appear in a multitude of games across many different platforms and genres in the 1990s, making his final appearance in Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko in 1999.
12. Captain Blasto
First appearance: Blasto (1998)
Mascot for: Sony PlayStation
The Captain Blasto character is notable for being voiced by beloved actor Phil Hartman in his last project before his untimely death in 1998. Blasto was created by Sony Interactive and starred in the 1998 PlayStation game of the same name. A third-person shooter with platforming elements starring the bombastic, dimwitted superhero, Blasto follows alien overlord Bosc, who has conquered Uranus, kidnapped Space Babes and now wants Earth. You guessed it, it’s up to Blasto to stop him.
Gamers responded warmly to the game and character, and although it was not well-received critically, reviews at the time mentioned that the game was worth playing for Phil Hartman’s voice acting alone. That being said, it’s hard to see Blasto being a great mascot in 2018, even if Hartman were still around.
11. Captain Commando
First appearance: Captain Commando (1991)
Mascot for: Capcom
Captain Commando is Capcom’s original mascot, as well as a main character in the 1991 arcade beat ’em up of the same name. As the leader of the Commando Team, the Captain uses his naturally powerful mind and body, as well as his “Energy Gloves,” capable of shooting mighty bolts of fire and electricity, to defeat his enemies. The origin of Captain Commando as a character actually predates his appearance in his self-titled game.
Captain Commando was originally conceived as a spokesperson for Capcom. He was featured in the packaging and manuals of many of Capcom’s earlier titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America released between 1986 and 1989. The developed abandoned Captain Commando in the 90s in favor of stronger mascots like Mega Man and the Street Fighter cast.
First appearance: Blinx: The Time Sweeper (2002)
Mascot for: Microsoft Xbox
Created by Microsoft Game Studios in 2002, Blinx: The Time Sweeper features an elaborate setup in which players assume the role of Blinx, an anthropomorphic cat who works as a Time Sweeper at the Time Factory. The Time Factory is located outside of time itself and is dedicated to the creation, distribution, and maintenance of the flow of time throughout countless dimensions and the universe as a whole. Still following?
Creator Naoto Oshima’s inspiration for Blinx came from the fairy tale character Puss in Boots. The game received mixed reviews and although the graphics were generally praised, Blinx’s execution, notably the control method, was considered to have resulted in the game being too difficult and inaccessible. Microsoft never bothered making a sequel.
First appearance: Glover (1998)
Mascot for: Interactive Studios
The protagonist and namesake of the N64/PS1 game Glover, the character was created from a magical explosion by his creator, a wizard. Glover was being worn by the wizard and flew off out of the castle and given life. The other glove was also blown off and created an evil version of Glover, Cross-Stitch. The four-fingered magical glove enters a quest to restore the Crystal Kingdom, overcome Cross-Stitch and return his creator to the world.
Despite positive reviews for the Nintendo 64 version, the PlayStation version was heavily panned by critics. Matt Whine of IGN gave the PlayStation version a “Terrible” 2.6. Glover 2 began development, but was eventually canceled by the developer. Will Glover ever return?
8. Chuck Rock
First appearance: Chuck Rock (1991)
Mascot for: Core Design
Before developer Core Design introduced Lara Croft as their mascot in 1996, the company created the character Chuck Rock, who would appear in two games on a variety of consoles in the early 90s. When Chuck’s beautiful wife Ophelia is kidnapped by his rival Gary Gritter, he sets off on a quest through five stages to rescue Ophelia and put Gary in his place.
Chuck the caveman must save his wife by beating down enemies with his stomach and by hurling rocks in this side-scrolling action game. The game received decent reviews and spawned several sequels, and the character of Chuck Rock and his family was even featured in some UK comic books of the 1990s.
7. Rocky Rodent
First appearance: Rocky Rodent (1993)
Mascot for: Irem America
A combination of Sonic The Hedgehog and the Tazmanian Devil, Rocky Rodent is yet another 90s mascot with attitude. Rocky’s only appearance was made in 1993 platformer, Rocky Rodent, for the Super Nintendo. The game had a comic book aesthetic that included speech bubbles for character dialog between gameplay elements.
Admittedly the game features an interesting premise. Rocky begins eating at Pie Face Balboa’s restaurant, but unintentionally eats an envelope with Balboa’s protection money and as a result, mobsters take Balboa’s daughter. Balboa asks Rocky to rescue his daughter, promising him an All-You-Can-Eat buffet for her return. Unfortunately, not even a mob kidnapping storyline and cute nods to a certain beloved fictional boxer could keep this game from getting average reviews and the character and series quickly became an afterthought.
6. Awesome Possum
First appearance: Awesome Possum (1993)
Mascot for: Tengen
Created by Richard Seaborne in 1992 for game developer Tengen, Awesome Possum’s first and only appearance in a video game was made in 1993’s Awesome Possum… Kicks Dr. Machino’s Butt on the Sega Genesis. The game’s story revolves around a mad scientist named Dr. Machino, who has sent his robots to pollute the earth and endanger the wildlife. It’s up to Awesome Possum, with the aid of his buddies Killer Bee and Rad Rhino, to destroy the robots, put a stop to the mad scientist, and save the world.
Awesome Possum is a prime example of cute concept, underwhelming implementation. The game received mixed reviews and was subject of a lawsuit in 1997 when Time Warner Interactive was charged with copyright infringement by Paul A. Roginski, who claimed that the game copied his comic book concept and character name for his manuscript.
5. Voodoo Vince
First appearance: Voodoo Vince (2003)
Mascot for: Microsoft Xbox
Voodoo Vince is a character created by Microsoft Game Studios for the 2003 video game of the same name. Vince is a Voodoo doll who uses special abilities along with more traditional moves such as jump, punch, and a spin attack in order to navigate through the game’s enemies and levels. Throughout the game, Vince will find special Voodoo icons and when his power meter is full, the player can use a voodoo to destroy every enemy nearby.
While it’s an interesting concept and gameplay mechanic, the character didn’t resonate with gamers and the franchise was scrapped after the first game failed to sell well. Voodoo Vince did however receive a remaster in 2017 for the PC and Xbox One.
4. James Pond
First appearance: James Pond: Underwater Agent (1990)
Mascot for: Electronic Arts
I’m sure you all know James Bond, but how many of you remember James Pond? The intelligent mutated anthropomorphic fish appeared in a series of games on the Sega Genesis in the 1990s. The character is given the name after the legendary spy and is hired by the British Secret Service to protect the seas and take out the bad guys in underwater areas.
The franchises story revolves around a nefarious supervillain named “Doctor Maybe” (a play on Dr. No) who has overtaken the ruthless mega-corporation Acme Oil Company, and is not only filling the oceans with radiation and toxic waste, but threatening all the world from his underwater lair. The games were mostly well received but unmemorable and eventually, the franchise and character faded into obscurity.
3. Aero The Acro-Bat
First appearance: Aero the Acro-Bat (1993)
Mascot for: Iguana Entertainment / Sunsoft
Aero the Acro-Bat is a red anthropomorphic bat featured in the 1993 video game of the same name. The character’s backstory features a spoiled, rich kid named Edgar Ektor who was a regular attendant at The World of Amusement Circus and fun park, but was banned after a failed prank that almost killed a lion. Two decades later, Edgar returns as a powerful and evil industrialist. Aided by Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel and his Psycho Circus gang, Edgar sabotages the fun park and kidnaps all the circus performers.
Aero the Acro-Bat is the circus’ greatest star and the only hope for rescuing the performers (including his girlfriend Aeriel) and putting a stop to Edgar’s evil schemes. The game was a modest success, but it would be the last time we would hear from the character until the game’s re-release on the Wii Virtual Console in 2010.
First appearance: Dizzy The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure (1986)
Mascot for: Codemasters
Dizzy is a character first appeared in the late 1980s in a series of computer games, published by Codemasters. The Dizzy series was one of the most successful European computer game brands towards the end of the decade. Rather than jumping in the conventional platform-game way, the sentient egg would somersault and roll around the landscape; hence the name “Dizzy”.
Most of the games in the series were platformers, with an emphasis on puzzle solving. Dizzy would roam around various fairytale-like locations, collecting objects, interacting with other characters, and solving logical puzzles. Dizzy was created by the Oliver Twins, who later formed Interactive Studios and were responsible for Glover on the Ps1 and N64.
First appearance: Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure (1994)
Mascot for: Interplay
In Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure, you play as eccentric millionaire Snotty Ragsdale, whose alter ego is the mighty Boogerman. Boogerman is a superhero who saves the day through the sheer force of his disgusting lack of hygiene. The character burps, farts, and hurls boogers at his enemies as he navigates through Dimension X-Crement (so many bad puns).
The game received mixed reviews and the protagonist of Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure was awarded Grossest Character of 1994 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. Boogerman’s debut adventure was also his last, as the novelty of the disgusting moves quickly grew old and gamers were left with just another average side-scroller.