The Mascots That Time Forgot- 5 Platforming Rivals for Mario and Sonic
Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog are even to this day the most iconic characters in gaming. Since their 16 bit hey-day they've been shifting consoles, games and other merchandise. They've spawned cartoon series, spin-offs even (less successfully) a movie in Mario's case. It's little wonder that other gaming companies have sought a piece of this tasty pie. Most obviously in the 1990's developers tried to strike gold and make a character that would be as popular for them as Mario was for Nintendo, or Sonic was for Sega. Some had more success than others. Today we're taking a look at Five of the most memorable wannabe 'Mario-killers' that tried to take on the big boys, and came off worse for wear. See a glaring omission from the list? Let me know in the comments and one day you might see a sequel list!
Long before they took over the Tomb Raider franchise, Crystal Dynamics brought us this reptilian reprobate. Gex was a smart-mouth anthropomorphic gecko from Hawaii. Originally it was hoped Gex would be the Mario equivalent of the ill-fated 3DO console, but after that consoles failure he appeared on the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. It was actually popular enough to spin off two 3D sequels, but in the platforming pantheon Gex is a barely remembered footnote.
Star of Zool: Ninja of the Nth dimension and it's sequel Zool 2, he was actually quite popular in his day. Wrongly often assumed to be an ant, Zool is actually an alien ninja...thing and it boasted fast-moving game-play not a million miles away from Sonic. First appearing on the Commodore Amiga home computer, it eventually graced just about every system available at the time, including the Super Nintendo and Game Boy. The second game did not fare quite so well, and unfortunately for Zool, that was where his gaming career came to an end.
Appearing first on Amiga and Atari ST before making his way to consoles, the plucky fish first appeared in James Pond: underwater agent. A blend of fishy puns and spy spoofery that featured puzzle-based game-play, unlike many games on the list it actually did something other than just ape Mario or Sonic. Later games in the series shook things up, giving him in a robotic suit in James Pond 2: codename Robocod, and taking him to space in James Pond 3. Although no threat to the popularity of everyone's favourite plumber, James Pond has endured longer than most on this list, with Robocod in particular appearing on virtually every system released since , right up to Playstation 3 (via PSN).
Bubsy the Bobcat.
Thanks to the massive success of Sonic the 90's gaming scene was awash with animals 'with attitude'. Of the many characters attempting to out-Sonic Sonic, there were few as egregious as Bubsy. His début Bubsy the Bobcat In close Encounters of the Furred Kind saw him saving his beloved yarn balls from aliens named Woolies. Bubsy continued to terrorise the gaming world with horrible feline based puns for four games until the horribly reviewed Bubsy 3D: Furbitten Planet killed off the series once and for all.
Created by Hudson Soft, Bonk was a diminutive caveman with a giant bald head. The prehistoric setting gave the series a unique flavour, as Bonk took on dinosaurs and prehistoric beasties with his trademark head-butt. Originally appearing on the Turbo Gfx-16 (known as PC Engine in Japan) Bonk actually achieved mascot status for Hudson for a short time. Dwindling popularity for his home console meant he would later appear on other systems. Unfortunately on the other systems it had to compete directly with platforming giants- when compared with Super Mario World, Super Bonk just couldn't compete.