Remember the 1990s? It was a deeply strange decade full of sitcoms about people with impossibly large apartments, a craze for baby animal toys filled with beans, and video games featuring sassy anthropomorphic mascots who would be all but forgotten within a decade. This month marks the 20th anniversary of Gex: Enter the Gecko, which starred one of the most memorable of these video game mascots: Gex, the wisecracking gecko voiced by Dana Gould. But not every video game mascot is as memorable as Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, or even Gex, for that matter. So on today’s episode of The Dan Cave, we’re running down some of the weirdest video game mascots that time forgot.
What if we took everything that people loved about Sonic the Hedgehog and made it at least 75% worse? Well, then you’d have Awesome Possum! This ill-conceived cash-in didn’t collect gold rings; rather he collected cans and bottles to recycle them, which sounds good in theory but is frankly soul-crushing as a game mechanic. In Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino’s Butt, you get to control this moronic marsupial as he hops, skips, and jumps around different levels trying to save the environment, spouting voice lines that sound like they were recorded by a New York City subway conductor with a broken microphone, and answering weird animal trivia in between levels. Okay, that last bit is actually kind of fun, but this game should have been melted down and turned into literally anything else besides a video game.
Imager: Hasbro Interactive
Perhaps a distant cousin of the Hamburger Helper, Glover was a sentient glove who rolled around a magical ball. The real question, though, isn’t, "Why there is a race of sentient gloves?" but rather, "What happened to Glover’s fifth finger?" We know a wizard created him and an evil glove named Cross-Stitch, but why only four fingers? Did he lose it in an industrial accident? Is he not supposed to be a human hand? If so, why is he a glove? Who is this wizard, anyway? I have so many questions that honestly I hope I never get answers to.
Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel
Everyone loves a good redemption story, right? That has to be the only explanation behind Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, a weird spin-off of Aero the Acro-Bat starring the eponymous shuriken-tossing squirrel, who was the evil sidekick of a murderous clown in previous games. Now Zero has left his life of villainy behind and must stop an evil lumberjack who kidnapped Zero’s girlfriend from cutting down every tree in the forest to turn into paper with which to counterfeit money. You know, the perfect crime. The real crime here though is the fact that Zero has been relegated to the annals of history instead of coming back when we need him most.
Can lightning strike twice? That was the question that Sonic Team asked themselves in the mid-1990s. In order to capture Sonic's star power for a new character, they took things a bit literally with Ristar, a cartoon star with arms and legs who could Stretch Armstrong his arms to move around and fight enemies. While it was well received critically, the game came out just a few months before the launch of the Sega Saturn, which eclipsed it, preventing Ristar's star from rising—holy smokes is that what his name is supposed to be a portmanteau of? Oh my god. Anyway, good game, bad luck, starry not starry.
Image: Fox Interactive
No, it wasn’t a sad, porous shoe worn by chefs, moms, and probably murderers. Croc was an anthropomorphic crocodile who had to rescue little critters called Gobbos, which looked like brunette versions of the soot sprites from Studio Ghibli movies. Honestly, of all the characters on this list, Croc deserved better. He was sweet, his game was fun, and he didn’t annoy the ever-loving hell out of you with sloppily written one-liners making poorly conceived sexual innuendos like 90 percent of the other characters from this era.
Image: Virgin Games
Long before Orlando Jones commanded America to "Make 7-Up Yours," the fizzy soft drink brand tried to conquer the video gaming world with Cool Spot in which you play as what looks like a sweet-ass pepperoni with sunglasses, but is actually the red dot—or the cool spot—from the 7-Up logo. Anyway, this red doofus used soda bubbles to attack his enemies and somehow managed to get a sequel where he got sucked through a movie projector into various films but seemingly lost his 7-Up sponsorship along the way. Long story short, they should have just made a game about a chill-ass pepperoni wearing sunglasses in the first place instead of trying to turn an innocuous red circle into a relatable character.
Image: Megatoon Studios
He is vengeance. He is the night. He is a bat, man. In Jersey Devil, you play as a superheroic yet slightly demonic version of the mythical winged kangaroo-goat-monster that stalks the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. This low-rent superhero battles the nefarious Dr. Knarf and his army of mutated plants as they try to take over nearby Jersey City. Unfortunately, the game developers spent too much time making their character look like a cartoony Batman instead of making it a game you’d actually want to play. And so, our weird purple-suited challenger to Crash Bandicoot was forced to sink back into the forests of New Jersey until he would one day reemerge in the form of Chris Christie.
Image: Whoopee Camp
While he isn’t an anthropomorphic animal, Tomba is as animalistic as any other critter on this list. This pink-haired, scantily clad feral child was on a quest to retrieve his grandfather's old bracelet from a gang of evil pigs. Does he ever wear a shirt? No. Should he be trusted with such a wide array of deadly weapons? No. Did he spend a lot of his time eating psychedelic mushrooms to give him wild mood swings? Actually, yes, yes he did. But we love him anyway. Sadly, Whoopee Camp, the developer behind Tomba and its sequel, went out of business so a return to the limelight is about as likely a Tomba not tripping on mushrooms. In other words, impossible.
And those are some of the weirdest video game mascots that time forgot. Which is your favorite? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Hasbro Interactive
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