When it comes to making video games, there is nothing more reliable than a mascot that everyone loves. If done correctly, a mascot character can carry a company and propel them to dizzying highs that can stand for decades.
There is no surprise that everyone is looking for a golden goose, but as far as these 10 mascots go, the majority of them ended up being a rotten egg. Some we miss, others we’re happy they’re gone. These are the 10 forgotten video game mascots.
10 Upa Upa
It should come as no surprise that Sega had plenty of trouble finding a marketable mascot when one takes a glance at Upa Upa. The cutesy space ship was featured in the Fantasy Zone games for the 8-bit Sega Master System, but wasn’t popular or recognizable enough to survive this forgotten era of Sega consoles. As a matter of fact, many gamers of the time didn’t think Upa Upa was the face of Sega. There was another forgettable face that led the charge in the pre-Sonic days.
9 Alex Kidd
In response to the rousing success of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., Sega tried once again to get the mascot character right with a game heavily inspired by the Nintendo classic and marketed directly to children. Alex Kidd was another cutesy character who appeared in six games across the Master System and Genesis, with none of his games being particularly memorable or selling well.
Kidd’s frequency made him the de facto face of Sega, and based off of this horrible box art, it’s probably for the best that Sega settled with Sonic.
Argonaut Studios was banking on the success of Star Fox to transition them as a go-to developer for future Nintendo titles, but they soon found their sky-high aspirations in a tailspin when their initial idea of a standalone Yoshi game was canned. Undeterred, the game would be reworked into the PS1 platformer Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, which probably would have been called Yoshi: Legend of the Goombas had Nintendo ran with it. Croc and Croc 2 weren’t groundbreaking by any means, but the games were released to critical and commercial success before being put to rest.
An underappreciated classic that came from the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog, Ristar was a one-and-done entry for the Genesis that never got its just due. A colorful platformer with a great soundtrack and interesting level design, Ristar’s titular character had to use his expanding arms to grab enemies or reach platforms in a title that featured some of the best graphics for the Genesis. A favorite to many who remember playing it, Ristar would be a staple for Genesis compilations and would reappear as a cameo in future games including Shenmue and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
6 Ecco the Dolphin
Though Sonic was in full swing by the time the first Ecco the Dolphin game hit shelves, Sega created another memorable character in a game that helped define the capabilities of the Genesis. Known for weird plots involving a dolphin traveling through time and battling aliens, all of the games featuring the titular dolphin and his kin would become a mainstay of the Genesis era and would even survive for one game after Sega fell from grace.
Though the rights to the character have been tied up in litigation for years, the time-traveling dolphin is swimming to the Nintendo Switch for a future comeback.
The loveable, big-headed caveman starred in a series of games for the NEC TurboGrafx16, Game Boy and Super Nintendo throughout the '90s. While the original Bonk was a good game, the sequels that rounded out the original trilogy on the TurboGrafx and its fourth game on the SNES were rehashes of the original with little redeeming content. After the TurboGrafx 16 inevitably failed, it ended the chances of this quirky character being in another major title. The Bonk character would return in a mobile game in 2006, but once Konami purchased Hudson Soft and Bonk’s rights, the caveman went into hibernation from which he may never return.
It is criminal that there has not been another Gex game since 1999’s Deep Cover Gecko. A satirical take on pop culture and video games, Gex was a wise-cracking Gecko that took on the dreaded Rez in the Media Dimension. Another character who debuted on an obscure console, Gex first hit store shelves for the Panasonic 3DO and would be ported to the Sony Playstation for all future entries. If any character was ahead of its time, it was Gex, and a return after a 20-year absence to critique the oversaturation of the media could be a welcomed one.
3 Aero the Acrobat
Sunsoft was known for their licensed titles based off of Warner Bros. properties, but they did their best to try to make a character that could stand out on their own. That was Aero the Acrobat, a platformer that spawned a sequel and a spin-off on the SNES. The two Aero games were supposed to be part of something bigger as an animated TV show was pitched to networks around the time of the second game.
Unlike it’s winged gymnast, the idea never left the ground and the franchise died with Sunsoft’s bankruptcy in the mid-90s.
2 Jersey Devil
By the time Jersey Devil was released, the Sony Playstation already had Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon leading the charge as the recognizable characters of the console. This uninspired title didn’t have the class, charm or refined presentation of the aforementioned titles, instead offered rudimentary platforming featuring hostile vegetables as villains. Outside of a decent soundtrack, there wasn’t much to like from this bargain bin quality game. A flop out of the gates, Jersey Devil wasn’t a memorable enough character to stand out as a premier Playstation title.
Perhaps no other mascot character is regarded with such disdain as the notorious Bubsy. There are no decent games in the Bubsy series, with Bubsy 3D considered by many to be one of the worst games ever made. Accolade thought they had a character for all times in the talkative cat and thought that the game would be popular enough to spawn an animated series, but with each underwhelming release, it was obvious that Bubsy was not going to make it in the video game world. Surprisingly, there are still Bubsy games coming out as recent as 2017, which still stick to the franchises’ reputation of bad controls, sloppy platforming, and an annoying protagonist.