Originally published at Kombo.com, this look back at Aero the Acro-Bat is now presented here at Press The Buttons with additional material cut from the original version.
It seems as if every console generation produces a single break-out character that other developers and publishers chase with me-too clones. The Nintendo Entertainment System years produced one of gaming's biggest stars — Super Mario himself — that led to a glut of friendly, happy mascot-based action platformers. Sega's take on the format for the Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog, added radical attitude traits to the formula, and suddenly every publisher had to have a mascot cartoon character with attitude. The 16-bit years gave us plenty of forgotten and also-ran characters in that style such as Bubsy the Bobcat, Awesome Possum, and Rocky Rodent, but the one character who stood out from the pack — and, strangely enough, one character who was never intended to run with that pack in the first place — was Sunsoft's Aero the Acro-Bat. Aero's journey brought him some success across multiple platforms and eventual re-releases with sequels and spin-off adventures. When stacked against the competition chasing Sonic's speedy shoes, Aero managed to creatively succeed in an otherwise overcrowded marketplace.