Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Master Chief have endured over the years to become synonymous with the companies that birthed them, but not all characters are so lucky. Video game history is littered with dead franchises that were meant to put developers and publishers on the map with charismatic and memorable characters such as Rocky Rodent, Boomer, and the Cheetahmen. 1UP has taken a look back at some of the more successful mascots who have gone missing in the past decade or two and ponders how they went wrong. Some of my favorite characters including Bubsy the Bobcat and Aero the Acro-Bat are included in this feature.
To all would-be mascots of the game industry, Bubsy is a warning: know your limits. The bobcat hero had credible beginnings, as he was devised by author and text-adventure designer Michael Berlyn. Prepped as Accolade's answer to Sonic the Hedgehog, Bubsy landed behind-the-scenes features in GamePro as well as the cover of Electronic Gaming Monthly. His first game was a rudimentary side-scroller with the irksome subtitle of Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, and it would also be the best of the Bubsy series.
Berlyn and Accolade parted company after the original Bubsy, but this didn't stop Accolade from making a sequel. As Berlyn mentioned in a 2006 interview with Sega-16, Bubsy II "was given to someone who hated the character, and you can see the result." The relentless marketing push behind Bubsy also resulted in one of the strangest relics of the 1990s mascot-character craze: a Bubsy TV show. Assembled by Calico Creations, the lone episode of the Bubsy cartoon aired alongside the Battletoads pilot and made it look like a classic from Disney's Golden Age by comparison. Armed with the obnoxious slogan of "What could possibly go wrong?" Bubsy exudes an insipid, calculated irreverence that rapidly grows unwatchable.
I still light a candle and hope that Aero returns to us someday in a new adventure. Rare's Battletoads are also included on 1UP's list, and despite my semi-happy memories of their breakout Nintendo Entertainment System game (damn you, Ventilation Shaft!), I think I'm alright with that series staying in the past. As for Bubsy... while I enjoyed his original game, if you thought he was annoying before, just imagine if he came back now on gaming hardware that would allow him to speak even more than the old 16-bit cartridges! You want to know what could possibly go wrong? Bubsy could talk truly nonstop thanks to all of today's modern storage space, that's what.