Blasto is for gamers who thought Duke Nukem was light on the boob jokes. Hard to believe after Futurama, Doctor Horrible and half a dozen other killer works of sci-fi satire, but writers once had trouble finding the ironies in men flying around the galaxy wearing spandex. Mid-'90s space mascots like Duke and Blasto relied less on their unique genre for laughs, and more on bellowing annoying one-liners that sound like tag lines from Mountain Dew commercials.
Captain Blasto, a heroic space captain from Uranus (it sounds like Your Anus!), may look like Mr. Incredible but he acts like Joey from Blossom. He flirts with big-breasted "space babes" and shouts rejected catch-phrases like, "Honey! I'm home!" It's a shame, really. There are some clever traces of Flash Gordon and retro sci-fi in Blasto (at its best the game looks like the "Space Madness" episode of Ren & Stimpy), and nobody could have delivered some Zap Branniganisms better than the voice of Blasto, Phil Hartman.
90's platformers were never too concerned with plot or motivation, but at the very least, they had the main character freeing woodland creatures or doing something similarly noble. Not Bug!. You star as Bug, a quick-witted, insect movie star filming a movie that will be his "biggest break yet." Apparently, you can have more than one big break.
While most 90's attitude-fueled mascots had the good sense to avoid direct comparisons to Sonic The Hedgehog, Bug! not only features Sonic, but has a level that pits you against him in a race. So how does an awkward, waddling bug with a giant ass keep up with the fastest thing alive? Sonic makes frequent unexplained stops and never gets up to more than a light jog. It's almost like he feels bad for Bug. The poor guy probably has no idea how many awful games he's about to make.
There's a fine line between being a hip mascot for Gen-Y and being an instantly-dated relic of the 1990s. This line is irrelevant to Gex, the totally in-your-faceâ?¢ gecko who is so far over this line that even his soulmate the SoBe Lizard couldn't clear it on his snowboard.
The original Gex, released in 1994, was a hit for developer Crystal Dynamics, but this success came at the expense of making its protagonist one of the era's most aggressively transparent attempts to tap into youth culture. (Mind you this was MTV's heyday, when, trust me, there was no shortage of transparent attempts to tap into youth culture.) Turn the treble on Gex up high enough and you can actually hear the game being focus-grouped to death by execs with grey ponytails and no kids. Should he be a surfer, or should he love pizza? Maybe he should wear sunglasses, or live in Maui. You're right, fuck itall four.
If you combined Puck from The Real World, a Teen Choice Award winner and a pookah-shell necklace, the result might be "real" enough to kick-it with the freshest green mascot with attitude since the last green mascot with attitude got old. The sad thing is that, buried deep down in Gex's plot of television run amok, there's a critique of media that's actually pretty smart. But yo, Gex is too cool to be smart, dawg.
Even as other companies fell over one another trying to create a mascot as cool as Sonic, Sega was never satisfied with the hedgehog's success alone. Unfortunately, their attempts to build on the winning formula would only rock the boat that had so graciously delivered them to the shores of Money Island.
At first, fans cheered this expanding cast: what's not to love about a mutant fox and an echidna with hair-based gliding powers? Sega had stumbled upon a formula for success: take a weird animal, make it weirder, then give it shoes and a smirk that would make any DreamWorks character designer weep with joy. It wasn't until the release of the 32X game Knuckles Chaotix that this strategy started to backfire.
Knuckles' debut solo endeavor added not one but FOUR new characters, Vector the Crocodile , Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, and Charmy the Bee as part of his "Chaotix" team. They went on to star in the increasingly character-saturated Sega game, "Sonic Heroes" and, according to the series lore, later formed a detective agency. Unfortunately, the Chaotix were never able to crack the case of "How the fuck Sega still makes money," and soon faded into obscurity, only to be seen again in every Sonic fan fiction ever.