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.