The 1990's were known for plenty of things. The fall of the Soviet Union. The dot-com bubble. Yikes! pencils. But it was also the golden decade for Mario and Sonic, the two most successful mascots in the history of videogames. And just like real royalty, there was no shortage of inbred wannabes squabbling for their throne. Here are the lamest videogame mascots in history.
OK, calm down. I'm not saying Crash Bandicoot is a bad game. Let's just set that issue aside for a minute and examine Mr. Bandicoot as a character. Crash didn't come around until '96, years after the attitude-plus-species naming convention went out of style. Even still, Crash was an exercise in pandering. Sony wanted their own flagship character to compete with Mario, but didn't have a mascot. So they bought a field guide of Tasmanian mammals and thumbed through it, briefly toying with "Willie the Wombat," before settling on a "bandicoot." Now that's an animal that sounds like it can skateboard!
Honestly, they could have picked anything because Crash is based on design constraints, not anything that exists in real life. He's orange because that color shows up well on TVs. He doesn't have a neck because the Playstation couldn't handle necks. What we ended up with is a character that looks how Bobcat Goldthwait sounds. Luckily, Crash barely talks. That, along with good gameplay and fun levels, saved Crash from competing with Bubsy 3D for most annoying platformer of 1996.
Zero was introduced as the sidekick of the ultra-evil clown boss in Aero the Acro-Bat before he got his own starring role. This was most likely a response to the gaming community's unbridled yearning to see the Aero the Acro-Bat story explored from both sides of the conflict. That or the developers wanted to milk every smartass anthropomorphic character on the off chance that they might stumble on another Sonic The Hedgehog.
The game opens with Zero quitting his job as evil sidekick (with attitude) after he finds out that French lumberjack Jacques Le Sheets is destroying his native forest to make paper. Also, he's using the paper to make counterfeit money. Oh, and he's kidnapped Zero's girlfriend. Rumor has it that the game's working title was Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel: IS DEFINITELY A GOOD GUY NOW DON'T QUESTION IT. Moral ambiguity was never the attitude era's strong point.
Hudson got a head start on the lame mascot pack by launching Adventure Island in 1986, after managing to identify the one thing holding Mario back: pants. Enter the star of their series, Master Higgins: all the schlubby charisma of Mario in a liberating grass skirt. He completed the package with a standard-issue radical skateboard & a white ballcap, which he wore whenever he wasn't just straight-up borrowing Mario's hat.
It's awkward to talk about what a weird mascot Master Higgins is, largely because he's based on a real guy: Takahashi Meijin, a former Hudson executive. Takahashi is sort of the official spokesman for Hudson, and a bonafide gaming celebrity in his prime the man could press a button 16 times per second, and in a world where buttons control everything, worlds we gamers deal with on a somewhat regular basis, that makes you king.
But Hudson already had a great mascot: Bomberman. He's cute, he packs heat, and he even co-starred in a game with Wario, which is closer to the Nintendo pantheon than most mascots get. And this is the thanks he gets?