When you think of Nintendo what pops in your mind? Most likely the name Mario will your answer. How about when you think of Sega? I’m going to take a wild guess and say the name Sonic is your answer. A good foundation for a console is having a popular and recognizable mascot. You can show almost anyone in the world a picture of Sonic or Mario and chances are they’ll know what they see. But what about those mascots who didn’t quite pan out? Let’s take a look at some of the mascots that didn’t fair so well when introduced.
Blinx The Time Sweeper
There’s no denying that Master Chief was the shining star for Microsoft’s Xbox. Halo quickly gained popularity and became one of the gaming industry’s premier franchises. The problem with Master Chief was his target audience was the more mature crowd and didn’t have the family friendly appeal of a Mario, Sonic, or Mega Man. Enter Blinx The Time Sweeper, a furry little feline capable of controlling time with his TS-1000 Vacuum Cleaner. Although he had a friendly, cuddly appearance the game was average at best. A sequel was released two years later but Blinx never made it to the mainstream.
When the first Bubsy game was released on the Super Nintendo & Sega Genesis he was considered to have potential to be put in the ranks of the Mario’s and Sonic’s. Unfortunately that all crashed and burned with the release of Bubsy 3D on the Playstation. If you look at any Top 10 Worst Games Ever list Bubsy 3D will definitely be in the top 5. It was almost as if the game was half finished upon release, with extremely poor visuals and controls. Ultimately this was the end of the Bubsy hype train.
Unless you were big into Sega Genesis back in the day, chances are the name Sparkster doesn’t ring a bell. Sparkster, an Opossum donning knight armor was the hero of a game entitled Rocket Knight Adventures. The game was a solid side scrolling platformer, similar to Sonic The Hedgehog, just with a slower pace. While Rocket Knight Adventures had a few sequels and spinoffs, it was never able to propel Sparkster into stardom like Sonic.
Ristar the Shooting Star was another forgotten character for the Sega Genesis. While the game was received very positively by critics, for some reason it never resulted in a sequel. Ristar has been re-released on several different consoles but it is very unlikely that we will see the little shooting star appear in another game.
Remember that guy in high school that tried WAY too hard to be cool? Well Gex the Gecko is the video game equivalent to that guy. Back in the 90’s many gamers thought Gex was hilarious and witty, but looking back at it you’d probably realize how cheesy he was. Gex’s humor relied heavily on pop culture references and the act was spread pretty thin over the three game franchise. Despite his brief popularity, there was never a Gex title released in the new millennium, which in hindsight is probably for the best.
It just goes to show you how hard it can be for a video game character to break into the mainstream. Sometimes a solid game behind the character is still not enough, as you can see from some of the names you just read about. In an industry that is dominated by characters such as Mario, Link, Master Chief, and Nathan Drake, you definitely have to be something special to make it in this market.