Mascots offer instant brand recognition, and in an industry where competitors are desperate to mark themselves out, most major studios and publishers have a mascot with the 1980s and 90s being the peak of this brand design and character creation with notable faces being Pacman, Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog.
Sometimes, though, due to oversaturation of the market, poor game design or simply not catching on, some of these mascots drifted into obscurity. Here we take a look at some of our old favorites and ask why they haven't been given another shot at stardom.
Still popping up in occasional Mario ensemble games, Wario was an intriguing character as he was never the out and out archetypal bad guy that kidnapped princesses (ergo. Bowser) but he was a greedy, money hungry, vainglorious thug and as such was a bit of an anti-Mario.
The charm of his games was that they had the Mario mechanics but let you be a bit of a villain within those limits. Wario Ware and Wario World are where he really shined, but it has been some time since he has had any of his own action to share in.
2. Earthworm Jim
A zany concept from start to finish, this Earthworm that travelled through space with a super suit and ray gun had a caustic and irreverent humor to it that made him a bizarre, yet brilliant hero that saw him get two games of his own and then was on TV, in comic books and even making cameos in other franchises.
Why he hasn't been carried forward, we will never know but the ungallant hero saving Princess What-Her-Name? from villains like Professor Monkey-For-A-Head is ripe for a revival in a generation of jaded, cynical millennials who adore all things nostalgic.
Bomberman was iconic as he was simplistic, a man who was also a bomber, he would run through mazes, planting high explosives trying to blow new paths and avoid the blast radius of his own detonations. He hasn't, strictly speaking disappeared but nothing original from him has come to us since 2009 (or at least, nothing decent outside of Japan).
He was once the pinnacle of multiplayer gaming, and now he is just a shadow of his former, destructive, self. Perhaps the zeitgeist means that now is not the right time for him given that he's a man in a balaclava blowing things up.
4. Alex Kidd
If you ask almost anybody who Sega's original mascot they'd mostly say Sonic The Hedgehog but before the super fast blue rodent stole onto the stage and stole our hearts, Alex Kidd was the figurehead of Sega, with his dodgy haircut and ability to enlarge his fists to smash through obstacles.
As the 90s rolled around, though, attitudes altered and Sega wanted an edgier mascot to rival Nintendo's Mario, and so the design of Mr. Needlemouse (latterly to be renamed Sonic) was conceived, and Alex fell by the wayside but perhaps it is about time he got a revival since Sonic has lacked much decent quality in recent times and retro gaming is all the rage at the moment.
A bizarre video game character that started out on NEC’s Turbografx-16 console. A cave man with a massive dome, he would eat almost anything, and games would mostly revolve around him headbutting various things. It was an insane and pretty quirky universe he lived in, and when NEC consoles were no more, he moved to the Super Nintendo.
Alas, his original publisher Hudson Soft was absorbed by Konami in 2012 and so were his rights so it seems unlikely we will ever see him again but that would be a massive shame if so.
6. Captain Commando
The mascot of Capcom, Captain Commando, or Cap Com for short (see what they did there?), used to appear at the start of every one of their games and congratulate you for buying it. He still pops up in their 'Vs' series of games, but he only got one outing of his own which featured him and a team of other characters in an over the top sci-fi setting.
It was ridiculous, and kitsch yet legitimately amusing and the hokey nature of it would be perfect for a tongue in cheek remake.
Gex, the gecko, was definitely a product of his time that saw the television obsessed little lizard warped into TV world where the pop-culture references would come at you thick and fast as Gex fought to, ironically, avoid becoming the mascot of this Media dimension.
Granted, the sense of humor and satire is now very dated, but it would not be too hard to reboot Gex and take an amusing look at today's media.
Alongside Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon was practically synonymous with Sony's original PlayStation console and was the prime example of an original and fun platformer where the concept of fighting the fire-breathing dragon was flipped on its head. The original trilogy was near perfect, but after that, the games dramatically dropped in quality almost damaging the property beyond repair.
Now, through the Skylander's toys, Spyro has a second life in gaming, but another game of his own of the same quality would be something all 90s children will absolutely long for.
A bio-engineered robot-man with a canon for an arm, Mega-man was the first game to make gaming really hard. If you are under-par on Mega-man, you will know about it, and it was the first in gaming trends to really test gamers to their limits, something that is still sadly lacking in the industry. This robotic icon was characterized by his bright blue suit and infuriating enemies that could hold you in one spot for hours.
The oversaturation of Mega-Man games and decent clones meant that he has taken a back seat in recent years and now just pops up in crossovers or other franchises but there is a massive desire for his own game to be revitalized.
Conker started out as another generic anthropomorphic animal mascot with an average game aimed at kids, but its middling success saw plans for him to shelved. However, developers Rare then played with the idea of making him a foul-mouthed, alcoholic who was bitter at not being a bigger success and suddenly a legend was born.
Aimed at adult gamers, Conker's Bad Fur day became an instantly classic as it lampooned the very mascot culture of video gaming but outside of cameos and remakes, we've not seen him again. However, Microsoft, who bought Rare, have toyed with the idea but nothing has come to fruition just yet.