Video game mascots: perhaps one of the greatest elements of the gaming industry to manifest during the 80s and 90s. Originally created as a marketing technique to attract newcomers to the then-small gaming community, video game mascots seem to have transcended to something far greater… they have become legends. These mascots can represent the worlds we want to visit in games, whether that be whimsical or gritty. They have earned the love of gamers everywhere, and it is well deserved. With that being said, here are ten of those mascots who truly deserve to be called “iconic”.
10. Ryu (Street Fighter)
When you think of fighting games, you think of Street Fighter. When you think of Street Fighter, you think of Ryu. This headband-wearing warrior has become synonymous with arcade fighters since the inception of the first game of the franchise. Rightfully so, since Capcom did an amazing job in both simplistic design and balanced gameplay that attracts both novices and veterans to fighting games. There’s a reason why Ryu has had few changes made to him throughout the years when compared to his fellow fighters. Sometimes simplicity is all it takes to make an iconic mascot.
9. Mega Man (Mega Man)
Mega Man has truly become a fan favorite among gamers. While not performing as well as a few other platformers at the time, the Mega Man franchise managed to make a reputable name for itself. Since then, the blue bomber himself rose through the ranks of mascots in not just video games, but in other mediums like comics and cartoons. Sadly Capcom has kept him under the radar for quite a while, leaving fans to wonder what Mega Man’s fate was in the future. Thankfully, with the announcement of Mega Man 11 coming this fall, it seems that this little android still has some fight in him.
8. Spyro the Dragon (Spyro)
The Spyro franchise has definitely seen its ups and downs. After the first three games of the series, the Spyro name has been passed along to many studios who, frankly, weren’t sure what to do with it. This unfortunately caused the franchise to lose its identity in the process. Regardless, fans of the purple dragon stuck by him through the worst of it. This paid off in the form of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy announcement, which plans on bringing Spyro back to his roots. You really have to be an amazing mascot to have such an outcry from fans. Hopefully the new take on Spyro’s original trilogy will be everything fans love and remember about the loveable dragon.
7. Crash Bandicoot (Crash Bandicoot)
Crash was in a similar situation to Spyro. Both were very recognizable faces of the original PlayStation, but fell out of grace due to lack of a coherent vision from various studios. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t any Crash fans left – far from it actually. The Crash Bandicoot franchise managed to keep a cult following through the years of inconsistent game quality. People just loved Crash, even without the knowledge of what a bandicoot actually was. Then came what fans thought was only a dream until now – the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. This remake caused fans to come in drove to play the unique platformer staring the crazy, spinning marsupial. If that doesn’t scream “iconic video game mascot”, then nothing does.
6. Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong)
The original Donkey Kong arcade game is arguably the game that helped start Nintendo as a video game company. Since then, the banana-loving ape would take the back seat to his co-star Mario. Regardless, Donkey Kong had his own franchise that became an instant hit to platforming fans everywhere. He may not contend with Mario in terms of popularity, but Donkey Kong is an icon in his own right. Some would even argue that he is the superior when it comes to platformers. Combine that with his familiarity within the Mario franchise as well, and you have one of Nintendo’s most beloved and classic Mascots of all time.
5. Pac-Man (Pac-Man)
Pac-Man may be one of the oldest mascots out there, but that doesn’t mean he was forgotten over the years. The Pac-Man arcade machine debatably initiated the popularity of gaming. The franchise may have stayed basically the same from there on out, but the ghost-gobbler sure didn’t. Pac-Man’s design changed throughout the years in order to accommodate the many platforms he’s appeared on, such as cartoons and other video games. The fact that he even made it into the Super Smash Bros. franchise just shows how important he is. This guy really is a legendary mascot.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Sonic the Hedgehog was the golden boy of the 90’s. His cool demeanor and rebellious attitude made him SEGA’s perfect contender against Nintendo’s Mario during the original console wars. Fast forward to today, and Sonic hasn’t had much luck. Fans of the hedgehog these days tend to be more of a fan of him than the actual games he stars in. This resulted from both Sonic’s appearances in other media and the mixed performance of many of his recent installments. Even so, the blue blur continues to be relevant to the gaming industry as the mascot of his franchise and his company. With the rise of Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, Sonic really is the definition of the underdog that manages to continue to prove everyone that he is still loved by his adoring fans.
3. Pikachu (Pokémon)
Pikachu is literally the first thing that 99% of the world thinks of when they hear the word “Pokémon”. He’s the face of the franchise. Sure, there may be other famous Pokémon out there that could beat Pikachu to the punch, such as Eevee, but this little electric mouse always manages to be front and center. Game Freak, even after over 20 years, still shows us time and time again that Pikachu will always be prominent. Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! are prime examples. It makes sense too, since Pikachu is just the perfect combination of cute and cool that appeals to all audiences. Anyone can love Pikachu, and almost everyone does.
2. Link (The Legend of Zelda)
Link is one of the most identifiable heroes in the world of video games. It’s kind of ironic too, since the whole purpose for the creation of Link was so that the player could instill their own personality into the original game through a blank slate of a character. Still, the hero of Hyrule has made a name for himself. Some gamers would even consider him to be the original fantasy world character. Link has had successful game after successful game, whether it be Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, or even Breath of the Wild, with each being enough to sell consoles to fans who wanted to roam the world of Hyrule as the Hero of Time. This just show how much people love this classic protagonist.
1. Mario (Super Mario)
Mario is the mascot king, there’s really no arguing it. The Italian plumber is the face Nintendo, and perhaps even the face of gaming overall. Rightfully so, since so many of Mario’s adventures have created milestones in gaming. The original Super Mario Bros. put Nintendo at the top of the gaming empire and began the Mario craze, Super Mario 64 basically invented the 3D platformer, and Super Mario Odyssey sold extremely well while bringing in new fans in the process. Mario has won the respect and adoration of gamers all over the world, making him the most iconic mascot of all time.
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