Failed Attempts To Make Video Game Mascots As Iconic As Mario

There is little doubt that Mario is the most popular and recognizable video game character to date. Nintendo's mustachioed plumber has starred in dozens of best-selling games, in genres ranging from platformers to RPGs to even golf. Given Nintendo's success with its mushroom-eating hero, it's no surprise that other video game developers attempted to create their own original mascots. Some of these, like Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, found success. Yet the road to fame is littered with the corpses of mascots who failed to gain traction with gamers. Here are some notable would-be Mario's that didn't make the cut.

Aero the Acro-bat

The titular Aero was the star of two games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis back in the 16-bit era of the early '90s. The creator, Iguana Entertainment, thought that a game featuring an anthropomorphic bat with attitude, in a circus setting, would be a rousing success. They were partly correct—Enough confused parents bought it for their kids' birthdays that year to warrant a sequel, Aero the Acro-bat 2, in 1994. The general consensus from reviews of that era is that the Aero games are like RC Cola—not bad, but you'll wonder why you aren't drinking Coke instead. Aero is now living in a retirement community for circus performers in Gibsonton, Florida.


The Bonk series is like Prom for retro video gamers—everyone remembers it fondly, but details are hazy and it probably ended with someone suffering a concussion. Bonk, developed by Hudson Soft, was the head-butting caveman mascot for the ill-fated Turbo Grafx-16 console. Hudson Soft made three Bonk games for the Turbo Grafx-16 and one for the Super Nintendo. Perhaps if Bonk had appeared more on the Super Nintendo, or made it to the Genesis, then he would be a more popular character. His fate, unfortunately, was tied to the Turbo. Konami now owns the rights to the character, so maybe we will see our favorite caveman in the next Silent Hill game.


Boogerman was the star of Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure for the Genesis and Super Nintendo. In the game, you control Boogerman as he wanders about a lush island, solves puzzles, and explores alien worlds. Just kidding—it's a sidescroller where you throw boogers and fart on your enemies. Why didn't Boogerman become a household name? Probably because you could play Boogerman in real life just as easily at school. Hey, those boogers don't flick themselves.


Bubsy the Bobcat starred in four games published by Accolade in the '90s. The first three games are fairly generic sidescrollers. The annoyance factor is high, however, given that Bubsy constantly makes unfunny pop culture references. The third game, Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales, had the misfortune of being released exclusively to the Atari Jaguar. So unless your parents really hated you and gave you a Jaguar for Christmas one year, you probably never played it. Bubsy 3D is a special kind of horror. The game regularly appears on "worst games of all time" lists, as its clunky controls, horrible graphics, annoying voice acting, and wonky camera collectively make it almost a masterpiece of bad design. After this fourth outing, Accolade tearfully drove Bubsy to the vet and had him put down. It was the kindest thing to do.

Captain Novolin

Captain Novolin was a superhero with type 1 diabetes who starred in his own Super Nintendo game in 1992. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Captain Novolin was an "edutainment" title meant to call attention to diabetes. In the game, our hero fights evil doughnuts, candy, and milkshakes—unless contradictory evidence appears, we're going to assume that the developers were on drugs. Captain Novolin is widely considered to be one of the worst—and definitely strangest—games in Super Nintendo history. Teaching children about diabetes is a noble cause, but we're not sure that a video game was the right forum. Kids play games to escape from reality, not to be reminded of disease. That being said, we'd probably still be playing a game that starred Wilford Brimley fighting the 'beetus.

Clockwork Knight

Clockwork Knight was Sega's attempt to ape the success of Nintendo's popular Donkey Kong Country franchise, as both games featured a combination of character sprites and 3D backgrounds. So why didn't Clockwork Knight catch on? Perhaps it was because the protagonist was a toy knight named Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III. That really rolls off the tongue, right? More likely though, it was because the gameplay was incredibly generic. Also, Sega released both Clockwork Knight and its sequel on the largely unpopular Saturn video game console, which is about as useful to a game's future as not releasing it at all.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger

The thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, was a wolf-like marsupial that became extinct in the early 20th century due to human causes. Sounds like a great premise for a series of games aimed at kids, right? Krome Studios thought so when it created Ty the Tasmanian Tiger in 2002 for the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube. The game, and its next two sequels, were 3D platformers, and much like many of the games on this list, critics neither praised nor lambasted them. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger found some modest success but never became huge, making it the Thor movie franchise of video games. The series is still going though, as Steam released Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4—a 2D, retro platformer—in 2015.

Wild Woody

From the "what were they thinking?" department came Wild Woody for the Sega CD in 1995. You play as Woody—not a lovable cowboy, but rather a sentient pencil who can draw items like bombs, and use his eraser to defeat enemies. This sounds like a decent premise for a game, but two things doomed Wild Woody from the start. First, no one cared about the Sega CD in 1995. Second, no parent would willingly walk up to a Toys "R" Us counter, look the clerk in the eye, and say they want to buy Wild Woody for their kids.

Crash Bandicoot

Before developer Naughty Dog was known for the Uncharted series and The Last of Us, they made a name for themselves with Crash Bandicoot. The Crash series was actually quite successful, with over a dozen games being published for various systems. Yet, there hasn't been a new Crash Bandicoot game since the late 2000s. The last main series entry, Crash: Mind Over Mutant, appeared on the Playstation 2, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii in 2008, and it received mixed reviews from critics. Crash is proof that no mascot, no matter how successful, is likely to ever have Mario's staying power. On a side note, could Naughty Dog have chosen a more obscure animal than a bandicoot? Was "Oscar the Okapi" copyrighted?