Top 10 favorite 'tudey platform mascots from the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis era

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Thank You Mario But Our 'Tude Is In Another Mascot-

While the 'tude era to me can be defined by many things, perhaps one of the most tangible ways of looking at it is by observing the glut of rebellious mascot characters from the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis generation. Whether it be a kick ass pair of shades or some Air Jordan-looking sneakers, platform mascots of this generation were constantly trying to out 'tude each other all vying for your hard-earned time (and dollars) to be spent exclusively on them. Whoever asked for all these titles anyways? Obviously game companies were trying to ride Sega's coattails after the success of Sonic the Hedgehog but attempting to recreate that (especially for a non first-party title) seemed like an exercise in futility in my opinion.

The basic recipe works like this - Take a name and combine it with an animal and... *WALAA* you've got yourself a video game mascot . Add a mohawk, biker gloves or other various signs of outwardly expression to increase their attitude differential. Also, be sure to design the gameplay around jumping and moving your character through stages while collecting 100 pieces of... something in order to obtain an extra life. Am I missing anything? OH YEAH - the main protagonist has to get really annoyed when you leave him idle for too long and... well you get the picture. Even though this is a generalization, it's certainly how I (and I'm sure many others) viewed these kinds of games which probably prompted me to avoid them more times than not when making crucial rental and purchase decisions.

Well now that the dread of being "stuck" with a poor gaming choice is mostly a thing of the past, I went back and played through a bunch of these old jumpers and runners and was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed many of these titles while simultaneously researching whose main protagonist brought it the most in the angst department! Though I wasn't totally wrong about the cheesy cut and paste characters when I was a kid, there are definitely some that stand out to me more from the 'tude era and the quality of the release your featured in certainly doesn't hurt. Who knew video game mascots besides the obvious could actually star in a decent-to-fun game? Damn my pessimistic younger self... quick Doc, let's jump in the DeLorean and convince adolescent 'Tude Dude to try some of these games before he rents Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball and loses all hope... *guns it to 88* !!!

The following is a list of The 'Tude Dude's 10 most 'tudey platform mascots from the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis era.


Honorable Mentions

-Sparkster (Rocket Knight Adventures), Chuck Rock, Radical Rex, Mohawk & Headphone Jack, Air Zonk, Vectorman, Cool Spot, Plok!, Aero the Acro-Bat, Alfred Chicken, Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong Country series), Jazz Jackrabbit, b.o.b., Zool, Chuck D. Head (Decap Attack), Jim Power (Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D), Yoshi, Normy (Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama), Bonk, James Pond, Mick & Mack (M.C. Kids series), Boogerman, Havoc (High Seas Havoc), Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, Headdy (Dynamite Headdy) and... *sigh*... Spanky the Monkey... really??? (Spanky's Quest).

Thanks for reading! Question or comment? Feel free to leave below.

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List items

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Rocking a cool outfit and a pg-13 name, Mr. Nutz certainly has a place in the 'tude era among the many platform mascots and attacks his foes with what else... NUTS!!!

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -With the already cool distinction of being a comic book character, Bucky O'Hare showcases even more slickness during his NES adventure as he darts across planets in order to rescue his 4 captured crew members.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -One of the strangest "fourth-wall" mascots to be turned into a video game, The Noid was basically a nuisance for would-be pizza delivery drivers trying to reach their destination in a timely matter and the very fact that he made it into 2 video games with this lame premise is pretty darn 'tudey in its own right.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -Representing the Hudson bee like a loyal bloodhound, Master Higgins chucks stone axes at giant snails and skateboards like a pro all while eating enough fruit within the allotted time to keep himself alive.

  • Extra Honorable Mention

    -A complete beach bum who loves nothing more than to surf the gnarliest waves he can find, Greendog may not have an aggro-filled attitude but he's totally goofy and slides in nicely to this generation with a care-free approach.

  • #10

    -One of the more memorable off-shoot mascot characters in the 'tude era, Bubsy the bobcat got tons of push in the advertising world during the 90's and always carried a somewhat bloviated attitude with him no matter where he went. Why was he publicized so much anyways? Clearly, he was nothing more than a blatant rip-off of exclusive powerhouse mascots like Mario and Sonic but lacking a console to fully call his own which lessened his effectiveness in the already crowded platforming genre (at least against the big dogs). Not to mention, his games sucked (6 released in total for the Bubsy franchise) and were especially forgettable, furthering the mystery of this bobcat's popularity overall. Still, this stubborn stray continued to rock his exclamation point t-shirt like a boss and persevere in the world of video games despite numerous logical odds against him which definitely garners respect from yours truly.

  • #9

    -Collecting cans and cleaning the environment, Awesome Possum brings his brand of 'tude to the video game world by aggressively defending the Earth from pollution spreading robots in Awesome Possum... Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt. The irony here is that by creating yet another lackluster and boring platformer, game developers actually increased the world's toxicity level instead of decreasing it which was the initial intention (the best battles are the ones that aren't fought). It should also be noted too that none of this by itself truly attributes to Awesome Possum's 'tude (other than perhaps the usage of "awesome" in his rhyming moniker) rather, he supplies it all himself with a no-frills demeanor and pissed-off approach to planetary awareness which is actually more kick-ass than this cheesy game deserves. One thing's for sure, this possum isn't playing dead for anybody especially when there's a ridiculous amount of garbage laying around!

  • #8

    -Basically a bizarro version of Mario, Wario has a WAY worse attitude than his good-guy plumbing counterpart and seems to only exist for the sole purpose of foiling the mustached maestro no matter if he's rubbing tires in Mario Kart or swapping haymakers in Smash Bros. though he's also the star of a couple of interesting franchises in his own right (most notably the ridiculously awesome mini-game montage, the WarioWare series). Starting out his career of villainous tomfoolery as the main antagonist in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (first time I can remember Bowser not being the final boss in a Mario game), Wario sort of "evolved" his character from being the focal point of contention into something more akin to Newman from Seinfeld- not exactly a direct enemy to the Mushroom Kingdom's best leak-stopper but more a long-term rival who basks in the failures of his red-shirted nemesis while maintaining his own independent agenda that doesn't necessarily have to interfere with Mario's. This approach to long-winded malevolence (coupled with his own successes in a starring role) has helped to cloak Wario in a 'tudey anti-hero status which is not exactly par for the course when we're talking about a company that replaced the original Mortal Kombat's blood with "sweat" and expected us not to care. BRAVO Nintendo... maybe your not such a dorky manufacturer after all! "I'MMA gonna win!!!"

  • #7

    -Running and jumping around in a Hollywood themed world, Oscar supplies the 'tude like a real movie star by driving Ferrari's, wearing rad outfits and bringing the cool no matter what role he's playing. So... what's Oscar's purpose for existing you ask? Well, to collect movie Oscar's of course (WOW didn't see that coming), placed randomly throughout hideously abstract platforming levels that can only be described as "eye barf". Besides his purpose though, I think a better question might be... what is he? I mean, is he a squirrel? A chipmunk? A visual manifestation of a Disney nightmare come to life? In the end, who cares since we don't really have a choice anyways at this point but to share space with this rebellious stage and screen-inspired anomaly with an extremely obscure starring role in a bad game. OSCAR, YOUR NEEDED ON SET!

  • #6

    -Never seen without his bodacious sunglasses and killer sneakers, Chester Cheetah has always been a 'tudey character whether hocking cheesy snacks or starring in unlikely 16-bit iterations. I mean seriously, who really expected to see this gnarly dude with an unhealthy obsession for processed puffs be the hero in a video game anyways (let alone 2)? He only existed before in the subliminal advertising universe but somehow found a way to inseminate his relentlessly "too cool for school" soul into the gaming realm which actually kind of sounds pretty badass when you think about it! It's like he'll stop at nothing (the Terminator of advertising characters if you will) to peddle his guilty pleasure product including traversing the very fabric of physics to star in some mediocre platforming affairs which is equal parts dedicated and insane. His games may not have been very good, but I still applaud the efforts of this upright-walking cheetah for coating logic in powdered cheese and crunching it down with one bite by transforming his consciousness into the world of bits and pixels all for the sake of maintaining relevance in the minds of consumers across the globe. ...Go figure, it worked. Now I'm hungry!

  • #5

    -Even though Jim started his life out as an ordinary earthworm, he became a 'tude filled action-hero after he crawled into the "Super Suit" that fell to Earth, transforming him into the head whipping, machine gun shooting, errr... cow launching badass known as Earthworm Jim (who comes up with this stuff anyways?). Besides his backstory though, Jim's sprite animations in both of his 16-bit incarnations are excellent and they definitely contribute to his persona a lot, making him more closely resemble a wacky cartoon character than your typical pixelated protagonist. That "persona" is made up mainly of a worm who's completely and utterly done with his current situation (displaying a bored and annoyed disposition throughout his quest to rescue Princess What's-Her-Name), despite the fact that he could be dangling off of a fishing lure in a random lake somewhere instead of bouncing around in a beautifully rendered 2-d world blasting everything in sight. Now that's my kind of irrational rebelliousness!

  • #4

    -Rocky Rodent fits the era nicely as your typical derelict side-scrolling mascot however this "rodent" (I guess he's unclassified?) cranks it up even further by sporting a bunch of sweet mohawks to battle mobsters in a quest to satisfy his unwavering hunger. Couple that with a reckless disposition and you've got a recipe for maximum 'tudage though I'm not exactly clear as to why he's so wild and unhinged. I mean, are we entirely sure that its food he's after? Quite frankly, he looks like a tweeker coming off of an all-night binder with his tongue hanging limp out of his mouth and eyes bulging out of his head which is definitely... different to say the least, especially when compared to many of his contemporaries during this time. My theory is that the entire plot of this game is actually happening inside of a drug-induced coma while in reality, Rocky lies quivering in a back alley somewhere clinging to a hopeless existence while riding out the last of his stash. Not the brightest of outcomes I know, however neither was this less-than-stellar Sonic rip-off.

  • #3

    -Hailing from the planet Funkotron, Toejam & Earl bring an otherworldly 'tude to the Genesis that stands out as much as anyone during this "rad mascot" era. Even though Toejam sort of resembles Laffy Taffy come to life while Earl looks like a potato with feet, their sprites are coated with an appropriate hip-hop edge (rocking sneakers, sunglasses, backwards hat, etc.) and the in-game soundtrack forces your head to bob to its funky refrain, adding spice to any Genesis library. I swear, when I was younger I would see these guys everywhere in print-ads and more as they seemed to strike a cord down the center of both kid-friendly accessibility and cool rebelliousness, aiding Sega in its publicity endeavors a bit while at the same time providing a pretty unique fetch-quest experience. The "crash landing" story is still a little odd to me though. I mean, since they're alien rappers or whatever, wouldn't it make more sense to have them come to Earth in an attempt to either admire or assimilate our culture's hip hop? Not to mention, it's beyond convenient that Earl happened to crash here on our lovely planet instead of like Venus for example where their ship would have presumably melted. Oh well, I guess luck really does beat talent!

  • #2

    -Sportin' kick ass shades, a black leather jacket, sneakers and a skateboard, Kid Chameleon is as close to a literal manifestation of 'tude that can be found during this time. When the boss of a local virtual reality video game figures out a way to abduct players, Kid Chameleon (aka Casey) straps up with a "too tough to beat" demeanor as he dives in to save the day. So, your telling me I get to control a kid draped in a Marty McFly meets the Fonz motif, who also rocks at video games? Sounds pretty great until you realize that underneath the edgy coating lies just another run-of-the-mill platform game where you collect power-ups and jump on the heads of uninspired enemies. As a kid, I can remember this being one of the first examples of being totally hooked by the gimmick and then a little disappointed by the premise (still a good game, just not my favorite), showcasing for me the importance of hype and its place among our critical sensibilities. Similar to Toejam & Earl, Kid Chameleon was pushed hard during Sega's run of 'tudey propaganda in the 90's, appearing constantly in various advertisements to remind everyone of just how "cool" both he and the Genesis were especially when compared to Nintendo's fluffy roster of kid-friendly characters. It worked too cause I wanted this game bad and would have pursued it had I owned a Genesis at the time but did not (though I got it years later). Regardless of the game's quality though, Kid Chameleon always stood out to me as a more "reality-based" mascot character among his cartoon-like associates essentially representing the direct demographic that Sega was aiming its products at while rebelliously challenging the concepts of who/what a platform character could be. Of course, leave it to Sega's in-house mascot team to lead the charge in video game coolness showing up in the top spots here, which takes us to...

  • #1

    -The unquestioned godfather of 'tude, Sonic the Hedgehog ushered in a new era of righteousness by running fast and saving the day, all while maintaining a complete "could care less" demeanor that helped blaze a rebellious trail and set the tone for the young upstart Genesis. Today, it's extremely difficult to ascertain the world without Sonic in it as he has certainly dashed his way to icon status and achieved a plateau that few others have ever reached though he wasn't Sega's first main mascot character. That distinction actually goes to the monkey-boy Alex Kidd who obviously couldn't hang leading into the 90's with his "way too soft" approach (I mean he plays rock, paper, scissors with level bosses instead of killing them for Pete's sake!) necessitating the arrival of the "blue blur" to spearhead Sega's campaign of coolness. Coupled with the Genesis's new "blast processing" advertising slogan, Sonic charged through all in his path on the way to long-standing video game relevance which he's still enjoying today. With the adrenaline propensity of a professional stuntman mixed with a face that screams "get out of my way", Sonic the Hedgehog best represents the qualities that make up a 'tudey platform mascot character, plain and simple.