The Monday 'Joe: Dizzy and the Mascots

The Monday 'Joe

Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.

Codemasters has announced that Dizzy, the titular character from the popular Dizzy series of games for the ZX Spectrum and other various late-80’s computers, was going to be making a comeback. Judging from the quizzical looks I’m sure are on the faces of everyone reading this, everything I’ve mentioned was huge in the United Kingdom, and this is surely a bigger deal there than here. Ignoring the irony of a bastion of classic PC gameplay is being brought back by a company that currently employs online passes and massively upsells DLC, it got me thinking of what other popular characters from years gone by we’d like to see have their own game.

This week’s question:

What popular mascot character from your youth would you like to see get a new game? Please try to keep it to someone who hasn’t had a game in ten years.

Crystal Steltenpohl: Wouldn’t it be boss if all the old Budweiser mascots came together for their own game? I mean, Budweiser hasn’t had a game since Tapper in 1983. Think about it: Spuds Mackenzie, the penguin, the alligator, the frogs. Just as long as they didn’t do it like Yo! Noid. Think about it: You’re Spuds Mackenzie, and the other mascots have stolen all the Buds. Louie and Frankie have been enlisted as henchchameleons and the ferret is at their bidding, much like Team Rocket would be if they were a) competent and b) could control Meowth. Your job is to get it back so you could have a massive party at your place. Spuds always gets the ladies.

Why do I remember all this? I don’t even like Budweiser.

Joshua Moore: I’d like to see another Gex game. The last we got was back in 2000, and I don’t really see many good platformers outside Mario anymore… Crash Bandicoot was a good series, too, but I feel he hasn’t received good treatment since Naughty Dog stopped being the developer. I don’t have many other good choices; the industry has a habit of milking old IP but also tends to do it poorly. The last I want to see is a new but terrible game featuring a beloved character from my childhood.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon: Does anyone remember Spot? You know, the 7-Up Mascot in the early 90’s?

Well, it turns out he had two pretty good platformers: Cool Spot and Spot Goes to Hollywood.

It’s really insane, being one of the few games based on an advertisement that wasn’t a complete piece of shit. (The only other one I can think of was Pepsiman! for the PS1.) The first game is a side scrolling platformer and the second was an isometric platformer. I don’t know why I found myself playing these games, but in general, I’m a big fanboy for Pepsi and 7-Up. I had to try them at least, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I really really like it when a game based on a movie/TV series/whatever turns out well (Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Transformers: War for Cybertron) because there are so many properties I want to see in video game form, but I’m afraid of the shittiness that most licensed games turn out to be.

Brandon Mietzner: I know it’s a little unorthodox because this character isn’t really a true mascot, what about Garfield? Sure, there are many web-based games, but there are none that have tried to really bring him into the mainstream. I know it would be difficult to try and make a game about an obese cat saving the world, but I have seen and even played worse ideas. There is literally tons of material to start with, like Liz, John’s girlfriend and Garfield’s vet, giving the cat a shot for his weight, and then BOOM—some sort of super power. Unfortunately, this is the inalienable problem with these kinds of characters: trying to find a logical reason why they would merit being in a video game, rather than just trying to make something fun and letting the story be the canvas.

Christopher Bowen: This is going to sound very strange, but my own question is sort of a trick question. See, I think the whole idea of a “mascot game” is laughable, something conjured up by glorified whores working in marketing departments who care less about the games themselves and more about their wet dreams relating to sales of T-shirts and cereal boxes and everything else totally unrelated to video games.

Dizzy has become a mascot for a company that doesn’t have a mascot (unless Codemasters wants to make an angry consumer their mascot). But Dizzy is only a “mascot” in the same way that Mario is a “mascot”: he was in some pretty awesome games (or at least, I think he was; as I’m not British, I’m not “in” on the whole Dizzy fad), and because of that, the character—both of them, in this case—ended up as a mascot. Of course, this industry is nothing if not shameless, so characters started to be created with the sole purpose of franchising them as “mascots”. From Sonic and Crash Bandicoot to Bubsy, Ristar, and Gex, the characters were the main focus; the fact that some of them had good games was secondary.

If I had to pick one character I’d like to see come back, I’d pick Alex Kidd, if only because that dude could do it all. He went from punching blocks to winning Rock/Paper/Scissors to being fucking Shinobi, and his games are underappreciated in 2011 mainly because of a lack of exposure; Sega wasn’t getting third party support for the Master System while Nintendo was bullying everyone with third party contracts. But really, I think the whole concept of a “mascot” game is a charade, one that should probably be retired at this point. Otherwise, Josh’s words come to fruition; marketers bring back a character because of name recognition, make a substandard game that pisses on everyones’ memories, and then move onto the next exploitation.

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Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.