When you think of video game mascots, what's the first image that comes to mind? Mario, right? Maybe Sonic the Hedgehog. Be it beast or man, mascots can quickly form a go-to visual identity for publishers and developers alike, especially when they have attitude. Maybe that's why there are so many truly pathetic mascots out there.
This somewhat loose definition of mascot reveals a putrid underbelly of the games industry, one that produced quite the recognizable stench in the '90s. A lot of this can be attributed to that grail-like quest for the perfect combination of rude 'tudes 'n radical dudes. You know, guys and gals any soda-slammin' kid would just love to hang out with. Keep in mind, though, that even a decent game can have a holy eye-roller of a lead character.
Ideally these mascots/characters will lead to many a lucrative sequel, though the majority of them aren't quite as fortunate as the Bandicoots and, uh, Bobcats of the world. But as lame as something like Bubsy is, and despite how silly a transparently marketed title like Capcom's Yo! Noid—a Domino's Pizza-dripped modification of Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru—can be, they ain't got nothin' on the following list of pathetic mascots and crusty characters. Even Boogerman himself would both pick AND flick these guys right outta the park.
All told, Bug! wasn't a terrible game, nor was its imaginatively-titled sequel, Bug Too! But something has to be said about its lewd, nude mascot, a Hollywood star bug looking for its big break. The game, which takes place on the set of Bug's film, was novel for its 2.5-D style, yet instantly forgettable despite the hypnotic shake of Bug's massive booty. Just look at that thing. No imagination. No shame; eyebrows raised with the thinly-veiled knowledge of this fact.
9) Awesome Possum
Here we have the opposite of truth in advertising. Nothing about "Awesome Possum" is awesome at all, and the subtitle for this Sega Genesis/Mega Drive title is about as '90s cringeworthy as it gets. Awesome Possum "…Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt!" Let it sink in for a moment, along with the wild comic word bubble spewing out of Awesome's mouth on the cover, which proclaims, "I'm gonna clean up this world yet!"
But the only thing more boring than an activist possum with attitude is the following screenshot:
Tempo came out for Sega's instantly doomed 32X add-on. That's pretty much all one needs to know about how lame the character is, and regardless of the game's quality, the following intro video is the very reason lists like this one are created.
What, you've never heard of Skunny? This squirrel started his life in 1993 on DOS, and somehow made his way through SEVEN games. As compelling as his battle against "King Toad" may have been, he looks like he wants to sell me drugs.
Our Euro readers are gonna hate me for this one, but Dizzy is pathetic for a variety of reasons, despite clinging desperately to heroism with a tenuous grip in the accompanying image. Codemasters' series of platformer/puzzle games were fairly successful in Europe, but it doesn't change the fact that you're playing as an egg. For a point of reference, this is the object greater mascots (such as Super Mario's dino pal Yoshi) literally slurp up and crap out.
Dizzy spin-off games continued the series' sterling legacy with rousing titles like Dizzy Down the Rapids and Kwik Snax. How EGG-CITING!
Rascal—a joint effort between developer Traveller's Tales, Jim Henson's Creature Shop and Psygnosis—might have been better off going by its Japanese title, Bubblegun Kid (pictured below). At least the lack of creativity is equally advertised in both names. It's not that parents didn't want their kids to turn out like protagonist "Callum Clockwise" because of his bodacious attitude; any parent would be ashamed of being seen with a kid dressed like he's cosplaying Mighty Max.
The game really stinks, too, so don't feel bad for this mad bubbler. It's kind of amazing that this came out at the tail end of the '90s rather than the beginning.
4) Wally Bear
Skateboarding! Chucks! Sideways caps! Wally Bear has it all, so it's no surprise that Wally Bear and the NO! Gang served as an educational title on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite its good intentions—including cooperation from the American Medical Association and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information—poor Wally remained unlicensed by Nintendo.
Perhaps the Big N saw more dangerous signs of potential drug abuse caused by experiencing Wally's rancid gameplay, which makes riding a skateboard look about as appealing as shooting up with local derelicts under a nearby bridge.
If titles can be proof alone of scraping the bottom of a long-dry barrel, then let Impossamole be your beacon. The pictured TurboGrafx-16 version was just one of a few ports, but no matter the console, Monty Mole's adventures are bound to leave you shrugging with disinterest just like that gnarly tree on the cover.
2) Wonder Dog
In a world where the game following this one didn't exist, Wonder Dog would surely take the cake, no contest. After being jettisoned to earth in his bone-shaped spacecraft, Wonder Dog performs a bevy of forgettable feats, starting the Sega CD's life off, ironically, by making a very strong argument AGAINST the merits of full-motion video in games.
1) Lester the Unlikely
Much like Rascal, Lester is one of the few human characters to grace this list. However, he is undoubtedly the lamest. If the image on the game's box isn't bad enough, just watch the video below for the most damning evidence of all. Has there ever been a character so cumbersome, so… WIMPY… that he clumsily runs away from any threat that crosses his path? Is this the closest we've come to a legit controllable SUPER NERD? See for yourself!
Since no list is ever definitive, let us know what YOU think gaming's most pathetic mascot/character of all time is. Don't be afraid to "name names." Crash Bandicoot? Totally acceptable answer, so fire away!