In this article I am going to look at a few Console Mascots throughout the ages and a few which I feel should have been Mascots.
Console Mascots were thought of as essential in years gone by, for example the Sonic (SEGA) and Mario (Nintendo) arguments from 1991 to 2001 till SEGA ceased production of its existing home consoles, leading the way for Mario to rampage freely through the market. But until the Dreamcast ceased to be produced, Sonic & Mario were rivals and not just in the various Olympics, the world was divided; Sonic fan boys vs Mario fan boys. Yes I know the PC and PlayStation were around but it was mainly SEGA & Nintendo, Sonic & Mario.
Here is a list and a few details on a few mascots, some famous, some left at the side of the Video Game highway.
Full Name: Mario Mario (Jump Man)
Year of Conception: 1981
First Game: Donkey Kong
Creator(s): Shigeru Miyamoto
Mario was created in an attempt to create a best-selling game as other Nintendo titles of this era were not as successful as hoped. Firstly Mario was created as a character for the game Donkey Kong (1981), although he went by the name of Jump Man. Jump Man changed to Mario after a heated argument with Nintendo’s rented warehouse landlord, Mario Segale over unpaid rent. The original name was to be Mr.Video, Miyamoto admitted that if Mr.Video’s name was not changed he would have disappeared. Mario’s initial occupation was a Carpenter but was changed to a Plumber to fit in with the story of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario is the most successful of the Mascots, Sonic was the only one who gave Mario a run for his money. He is known all over the world. Mario’s games as a whole have sold over 210 million units. He has been in TV series, movies, comics and released licensed merchandise. Mario is the benchmark for new and old mascots ‘It’s a me, Mario!’
Full Name: Sonic The Hedgehog (Mr.Needlemouse)
Year of Conception: 1991
First Game: Rad Mobile
Creator(s): Yuji Naka & Naoto Oshima
Sonic was created to replace Alex The Kidd as a mascot and to rival Nintendo’s Mario, and for a while it worked. SEGA had a flagship like Nintendo, a character that was cool and entertaining that could advertise all things SEGA. Sonic was designed to be blue to match SEGA’s logo and was one of a few designs, the others were; Mighty the Armadillo, Ristar, a dog and a Theodore Roosevelt lookalike in pyjamas (Better known now as Robotnik). Sonic’s original name was Mr.Needlemouse. Sonic was created to be unable to swim due to one of the creators believing that hedgehogs could not swim. Sonic represented SEGA consoles through 1991 to 2001 (Dreamcast was the last SEGA console – all SEGA home consoles productions were ceased in 2001) and provided competition to Mario & Nintendo, although now ironically he is whoring himself out to various Sony & Nintendo consoles.
Although Sonic is now a homeless character he is still doing well but is no longer a flagship or rival to Mario & Nintendo (Except in the Olympic games). He has a history of success, Sonic The Hedgehog has sold over 80 million units worldwide in his glorious 10 year fight for supremacy, he even had TV series, comics, movies and even sponsored JEF United Ichihara Chiba football team, during the 1993 Grand Prix SEGA sponsored the Wiliams Grand Prix Team and Sonic featured in the helmets of the drivers. Sonic is only the third Video Game character to be inducted into the ‘Walk Of Game’, alongside Mario & Link (Both Nintendo). Not bad for a hedgehog!
Alex the Kidd
Full Name: Alex The Kidd
Year of Conception: 1986
First Game: Alex The Kidd In Miracle World
Creator(s): Kotaro Hayashida
Poor, poor Alex. Discarded on the side of the Video Game highway after loyal service to SEGA from 1986 to 1991. This simian like humanoid dressed in a red and yellow jumpsuit was SEGA’s ‘unofficial’ mascot. Alex was born and raised on the planet Aries (Miracle World), an orphan who lived on Mount Eternal. He was trained in the ‘Shellcore technique’ which is the ability to enlarge your fists through sheer willpower and smash boulders and enemies.
Alex was discarded by SEGA for Sonic The Hedgehog as SEGA believed that Sonic would be more versatile and would better represent SEGA all round. After the swap Alex’s popularity faded and he disappeared BUT he has made a few cameo appearances in games such as Sega Superstars Tennis, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Loyalty hey?
In this next section I am going to look at the mascot that Sony should have, and who is counted as the unofficial mascot.
Full Name: Crash Bandicoot
Year of Conception: 1996
First Game: Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot was designed to introduce a 3D platformer solely for the PlayStation. The game was codenamed ‘Sonic’s Ass Game’ as you constantly staring at the protagonists backside. Crash is a mutant Bandicoot wearing 3/4 shorts, sneakers and fingerless gloves (I don’t know…) created my his Nemesis Dr. Neo-Cortex, a giant headed, small in stature yellow bloke with a massive capital ‘N’ tattooed on his forehead (Different isn’t it). Cortex was constructing a mutant army to take over the world. Cortex discarded Crash as a failure but kept his ‘adequate’ girlfriend Tawna. The aim of the games is to collect various crystals and gems working your way up to Cortex to rescue your girlfriend and foil his plans of world domination.
Crash Bandicoot was a huge success for PlayStation and many thought he was the natural choice for Sony’s mascot. But, for some unknown reason Sony never actually chose a mascot at all. Crash soon went multi-platforms and has sold over 40 million units worldwide.
I believe Crash should have been a purely Sony release and been upped to mascot status. He was cool, versatile and for all ages. But something’s were not meant to be. R.I.P Crash…wherever you may be.
Most Likely To Be Mascot
Full Name: Sackboy
Year of Conception: 2008
First Game: Little Big Planet
Developer(s): Media Molecule, SCE Cambridge Studio, Tarsier Studios, Double Eleven, XDev & United Front Games
Sackboy is the lovable playable character from the amazing Little Big Planet series. As his name suggests he is a small sack doll. He is very customisable, you can dress him as your favorite video game characters such as Sonic The Hedgehog, Cloud Strife (FFVII), etc – the list goes on and on. LBP is predominantly gameplay driven rather than the usual story driven. You travel the vast and beautifully detailed world of LBP and search for customisable items whilst also getting to the end of each level with the beat score possible. What makes LBP even more cool is the fact that Stephen Fry narrates your adventures and advises you through the game. Sackboy is actually mute himself, more so than Link!
Sackboy and LBP are well-loved and have been huge hits since 2008. There are multiple games on the PS3 and PSP / PSP VITA.
Sackboy would make a brilliant mascot as he is highly versatile and simplistic in design. He is what you make him! Sony would miss out massively if he were allowed to move to other consoles.
So there we have it, Microsoft don’t really have a main representative the only one that comes close is Master Chief but he is just a character from their most popular series. All in all the mascots are no longer essential as Sony and Microsoft have shown, I mean Nintendo have even released a console without a Mario launch title…what the f*ck?! Although I must say its a little ironic that Sonic is going to save the Nintendo Wii U.