5 Forgotten Video Game Mascots
You’d be forgiven if cartoony video game mascots weren’t really something you considered important in this day and age. Indeed, since the dawn of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation in the mid-2000s, the modern idea of a gaming mascot is much different than the 90s video game characters mascots.
Nowadays, it’s all buff, wisecracking male protagonists, each packing more heat than a dozen nuclear bombs. But, much like the video game mascots on this list, it’s safe to assume that one day, those types of characters will disappear into gaming heaven, only to be replaced by another genre trope.
And when that time comes, you can bet your house that we’ll be here to make a list of the most irrelevant modern gaming mascots. For now though, here’s a rundown of some of gaming’s most popular video game mascots from a time gone by, a mystical era that some of us call… the 90s.
1998’s Glover has you playing as a… glove. 90s video game mascot games weren’t renowned for their creative character titling, and this was no exception.
Glover differs from most of the titles on this list in that it isn’t a jumping, bashing-crates type platformer. Instead, players will be trying to control a ball and shift it around the level, dodging obstacles and heading toward the final hole – not unlike a game of golf.
And perhaps it was this barebones gameplay loop that sealed Glover’s fate, with a sequel scheduled for 1999 before being cancelled due to unknown reasons. The idea of guiding a ball toward a hole wasn’t wholly original, even for the 90s, and Glover lacked some of that creative spark that made other platformers more dominant at the time.
As the name would suggest, ‘Croc’ is an anthropomorphic crocodile, an old-school PS1 video game mascot that featured platforming gameplay that’s not a million miles away from Spyro and Crash Bandicoot.
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos released in 1997 on the PlayStation 1, Sega Saturn, PC and Gameboy Color. Despite its cross-platform release, it was most commonly associated with the PS1, becoming one of the earliest examples of a signature video game mascot platformer that helped make that console such a success.
But what happened to Croc? A sequel was released in 1999, and several mobile games came and went, but besides this, it’s all been quiet on the crocodile front. There are some signs, though. Perhaps it was ultimately related to the fact that the series was a blatant rip-off of Super Mario Bros.
Everything from the ‘Yahoo!’ sound made by Croc, to the ‘disappearing into the ground via cylindrical structures’ mechanic, Croc had Nintendo’s flagship series written all over it. This theory is reinforced when you learn that Croc was initially meant to be a Mario spinoff starring none other than… Yoshi!
Out of all the forgotten video game mascots on this list, it’s safe to assume that Earthworm Jim is the most popular. That’s because the original Earthworm Jim received a PSN/Xbox Live remaster in 2010, making this the only mascot on the list to have a modern HD title on the market.
The very first Earthworm Jim game is a whopping 22 years old, having debuted in the summer of 1994. This 90s video game character was inspired by the success of other character video game mascot fare, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mario.
Earthworm Jim was crazy, wacky and wild, evidenced by the fact that the titular Earthworm was an anthropomorphic, muscle-bound soldier. Earthworm Jim cleverly poked fun at genre tropes and other, similar franchises, due to the creators growing tired of working on licensed games for many years.
Earthworm Jim actually found quite a lot of success, with its meta stylings making it stand out from the rest in an extremely packed market. Earthworm Jim spawned no less than three sequels, and a fourth was announced in 2008. It’s since disappeared off the face of the Earth, but hey, we can still hope, right?
In the end, Earthworm Jim succumbed to the epidemic that so many other mascot platformers fall prey to; a changing market. It’s a fantastic series that has been swamped by the dominance of the mighty shooters and RPGs of the modern age.
ToeJam & Earl
It’s quite hard to describe ToeJam & Earl to someone who hasn’t played it before. The two titular characters can’t really be classified as a particular species, and they’re decked out with gold medallions and sunglasses. That’s normal, no?
The gameplay in ToeJam & Earl itself resembles a combination of top-down action and dungeon-crawling, which made it quite the hit when the original ToeJam & Earl game launched in 1991 for the MegaDrive and Genesis. ToeJam & Earl was also one of the earliest examples of a co-op mode, and arguably pioneered the split-screen effect that physically splits the screen when the players drift apart.
Thankfully, modern gamers aren’t left in the dark here. Like Earthworm Jim, ToeJam & Earl was released on the PSN/Xbox Live, along with the Wii Virtual Console in 2006. This acted as a testing bed of sorts, to see if the franchise still resonated – and boy, was it successful.
A brand new ToeJam & Earl game is currently in development using funding secured via Kickstarter, which promises to capture the spirit of the original ToeJam & Earl game in a brand new adventure. It was one of the most successful video game Kickstarter campaigns on the platform, ending with $508,637 when it finished. Not too shabby, eh?
Ah, Bubsy. Bubsy the bobcat. We all know that you were practically a re-skinned Super Mario Bros, but did that stop us from loving you? Absolutely not.
For the uninitiated, the video game mascot Bubsy the bobcat was the star of his very own side-scrolling adventures, which dominated the mid-90s with a flurry of bad cat puns. Bubsy In Claws Encounters Of The Furred Kind, Bubsy 2, Bubsy In Fractured Furry Tales and Bubsy 3D were all released to general critical acclaim and audience success.
In the first Bubsy game, released in 1993, Bubsy must jump on enemy creatures called ‘Woolies,’ in order to collect his precious yarn balls. The player would do all this over the course of 16 levels, with 9 total lives. Besides being a fine example of how to use cat tropes in popular media, Bubsy was widely hailed as the next big video game mascot, following in the rather large footsteps of Sonic and Mario before him.
Bubsy is also a fine example of how time and perspective can swiftly kill momentum. In the years following the last Bubsy game, the series has drawn criticism for being a blatant Sonic/Mario imitator and its monotonous gameplay. It’s currently unknown if there’s any more Bubsy in development, but all signs point to a huge, resounding no.
And that’s our list on some of the forgotten video game mascots of the past! Hopefully, we managed to jog your memory a little bit. For more awesome content on some more recent platforming titles, check out our rundown of what makes games like Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter so damn appealing. You’re welcome!