No other game company is ever going to come close to Nintendo’s vast, impressive stock of popular characters. While other companies have to struggle to produce even one creation that sticks with the gaming public, Nintendo has scores of characters that it can continue to exploit in weird spinoffs and sports titles, and the list is still growing. I imagine I’ll be able to play as Dr. Kawashima’s Blocky Head in Wii Smash Bros, and shoot lasers from my eyes at Fawful. (Fawful better be there...)
Not every concept Nintendo has tried has succeeded, though. There are plenty of characters the company has brought out that never caught on and were swept under the rug. It's time to rank the big N's top ten most forgotten potential mascots!
The selection rules that created this list went as follows: each character had to be as forgotten as possible, and he/she had to be the main character that you controlled. For instance, Pit is not in this list because only Nintendo has forgotten about Pit. Starfi doesn’t count because he’s still getting games in Japan. And Mr. Game and Watch doesn’t qualify because he had a big spot in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Who DID make the cut? Read on.....
|#10: Mike Jones
Mike Jones starred in the 1990 NES cart “StarTropics,” which was kind of like Zelda 1’s dungeons mixed with Zelda II’s overworld mixed with a lot of fat ugly people. He defended the island against an alien invasion led by the evil Zoda (Nintendo recycled this name for the F-Zero series) and his main weapon was a yo-yo, something Ness would have beat him to if NES EarthBound had been released. Just when everyone thought Mike was gone forever, he reappeared in a surprise sequel, “Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II.” That came out in February of 1994, when everyone had either moved on to the next gen or was saving up to do so. THEN Mike was gone forever.
#9: The Uniracers
Donkey Kong Country got massive attention for its groundbreaking computer-generated worlds that required no expensive add-ons at all (and boy, did Sega pay for going the opposite direction). There was a second game Nintendo released that fall, though, that also used CGI models--and it was about a bunch of riderless unicycles racing each other on long tubular tracks. “It’s faster than any hedgehog!” said Nintendo Power, revealing the motive behind making such a thing.
A lot came out that fall, and nobody had time or money for the lamer concepts. This proves computers weren’t the only factor required to make a game “hot” back then. The Uniracers soon slipped into obscurity, along with......
Nintendo’s second and last game for their SuperScope light-gun accessory came out the same fall as Uniracers. The big N harbored a lot of motherlike nervousness about toy guns for children back then. The Zapper looked like a gun, true dat, but they weren’t going to make that mistake twice. The SuperScope was a huge, gigantic, uncomfortable version of a light-gun. It was so big, Nintendo expected no parents to suspect it of ever being a shooting tool, for they wouldn’t even be able to tell what it WAS. Brilliant!
As for Tin-Star, you were a dimwitted robot sheriff. This softened the shooting concept three-fold: you were in the Wild West where guns’d be expected, you were shooting at robots, and the whole thing was a comedy. ....Well, comedy by definition only. We never got Super Duck Hunt.
|#7: Digger D. Mole
Digger D. Mole’s only game was Mole Mania, released in Game Boy’s Pocket years. Digger’s goal was to rescue his family from the evil clutches of farmer Jinbe by solving rooms full of puzzles one at a time. The game was very similar to the NES Lolo series, and it helped the Pocket fight the oncoming, terrifying battle against the Game.com, which it would surely not have won without Digger.
The original arcade Donkey Kong had two sequels: Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3. It’s 3 we want to discuss here, as it had a main character who has never been seen again outside of his Smash Bros. Melee trophy: Stanley the Exterminator. Playing as Stanley, you squirted bugs and avoided the irate Kong. It was one-fifth as fun as the original game, and the arcade has yet to see a Donkey Kong 4.
|#5: The Marvelous Bunch
Late in the Super NES’s lifecycle (1996 late), Nintendo came out with a game by the less-than-modest name of “Marvelous.” The game starred three treasure-seeking children: Max, Dino and Jack. Dino wore a fedora and could activate far-away switches with his baseball. Jack had the inventor’s touch and could make many useful items for the party if given the right tools. Max was a portly kid with no intellectual skills, but plenty of strength.
The gameplay was as offbeat as possible: how does a text adventure game combined with a point-and-click game and sprinkles of Zelda-esque exploration and puzzle-solving sound? “Marvelous” remained in Japan due to the cooling Super NES market elsewhere, and the fact that the average American player might go insane if he were to come across such originality.
In “Mario and Wario,” a Super NES game released only in Japan that used the SNES Mouse, you controlled Wanda, a fairy character. If you ever wondered why Mario had a bucket on his head in Pokemon’s Super NES game in Celadon City, this is the game it was referencing. And this is why you had to control a fairy—Mario was blinded by that bucket and couldn’t get around by himself. Wanda wasn’t seen again until she married Cosmo and moved into Timmy Turner’s house.
In the text-based, Japan-only, super-ultra-obscure “Famicom Detective Club” series, the main character was you. You weren’t given defining characteristics other than where you lived in the game and what your age was supposed to be, and who your friends were. A character from this series, “Ayumi Tachibana,” got a Melee trophy, which puts her out of the running. You didn’t get one.
|#2: Miyu and Fay
These two come from a game that was never even released: StarFox II. Miyu was a lynx and Fay was a dog. Not much else is known about ‘em. That's all I can say without making things up....
The only Nintendo characters that top Miyu and Fay in terms of obscurity are SO obscure, you’ve probably never even heard of the game they were to come from…..
#1: The "Sound Fantasy" bugs
In 1992 Nintendo had planned to release a game for the Super NES called “Sound Fantasy” that according to a Nintendo Power blurb “combines puzzle action with creating sounds and music.” The only screenshots released showed a few nameless bug characters.
Three years later, Nintendo announced “Buggie-Boogie” for the N64. This time, they meant “bugs” as in round cars. This wasn’t what became “Beetle Adventure Racing”--this was a different game entirely. It never saw completion either, and became vapor.
Nintendo characters don’t get more obscure than “Nameless Bugs.”
Just as Nintendo continues to experiment, they will create more characters that sell games on their brand recognition alone….and they will also abandon many more characters that don’t catch on. Some good bets for future competitors in this list include Alexandra Roivas, the Geist Ghost, and Ashley the Trace Memory girl (do you know anybody that bought the games they starred in?)
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