10 Forgotten Retro Heroes
Mario. Link. Samus. Snake. Video game heroes whose legend continues throughout the years. Heroes who appear in game after game after game, appeasing a public eternally hungry for their adventures. But for every renowned hero, there are scores of forgotten champions of video games past whose exploits have faded away into the digital annals. Let’s take a moment to honor these characters who, perhaps through poor marketing, poor business practice, or lack of mustaches, never made it to the top.
Last known appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Loosely based on the classic Chinese tale, Journey to the West, SonSon is the tale of a monkey boy (or his granddaughter, in MvC2), and his best friend, a pig, fighting evil animals to rescue a statue of Buddha. SonSon was a great co-op game in an age where simultaneous cooperative gameplay was rare, but the title just never seemed to gain popularity stateside.
Last known appearance: Kirby Super Star
It’s not clear what, exactly, Lolo is, but what we do know is that he’s a blue little dude with a passion for puzzles and rescuing his pink pal Lala. Lolo went on to star in two sequels, the cleverly-named Adventures of Lolo II and Adventures of Lolo III, as well as a Game Boy game, but spent the 16-bit era relegated to guest star status. Seeing how Lolo is a creation of HAL Laboratory, and knowing their close relationship with the Smash Bros series, perhaps we’ll see a blue dude resurgence in the next iteration of Smash.
Last known appearance: Hot Shots Golf 2
Gex’s biggest crime is being too edgy. He’s a ’90s character designed to be edginess personified — he’s snarky, he’s quippy, he makes references to shows and movies you know. He’s also tiresome, and the platforming in his games, while serviceable, has been done better elsewhere.
Last known appearance: Wreck-It Ralph
The hot dogs will never stop coming … and all he wants to do is make hamburgers for the happy public, but to do so, he must fight. BurgerTime is kind of a surreal game, featuring foes such as Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg, and gameplay that requires you to traverse a maze of ladders and buns, trying to make hamburgers and score points for them. Peter Pepper is one chef who was eliminated too early from stardom.
Last known appearance: Captain N, the Game Master
Before Antonio Banderas came in with his swagger and beautiful accent, Pero was known as the Puss ‘n Boots, and he was quite the badass. He used guns, bombs, and boomerangs, and was a master of vehicular combat. He traveled the world, and history, to face off against the nefarious Count Gruemon and the equally nefarious Dr. Gari-gari. The game itself was ahead of its time, with destructible environments. Yep, you could blow crap up, and blow it up real good. But, despite the explosive fun, something about Pero’s adventures never clicked with the public, and now he’s left relegated to a purely 8-bit universe.
Last known appearance: New Zealand Story Revolution
Known as NewZealand Story in Japan, (yes, all crammed together like that), Kiwi Kraze tasks you, the player, with guiding Tiki safely through a level, along the way fighting whales from the inside, battling cool dudes with shades and hover-segues, and escaping the devil himself. Yeah, if the game sounds weird, it’s because it is. While Kiwi Kraze is a well-put together, fun little game, it was also a bit too bizarre for late ’80s, early ’90s America.
Last known appearance: Bubsy 3D: Furbitten Planet
While many game heroes made the transition from 2D to 3D graphics smoothly, Bubsy didn’t. Sure, his platforming adventures flourished in the 16-bit era, but once things made a move into 3D he just wasn’t the same. He became a crummy clone of Mario, doing the same things Mario was doing in Mario 64, but doing them oh-so-badly.
Last known appearance: Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
Capcom was all set to have this guy as their mascot — so set, in fact, that they built their company logo into his name. Captain Commando. Get it? And his beat ‘em up was fun, too. Kind of. No, scratch that, very weird, but that added to its charm, and, unlike most of the forgotten retro heroes on this list, Captain Commando came with sidekicks. He had an entire team to support him in his quest to walk to the right and beat up all the baddies: Ginzu the ninja, Mack the knife (who, FYI, isn’t a knife, but a mummy armed with knives), and Baby, a genius infant with a self-made robot suit. Before his game came out, Captain Commando appeared in many instruction booklets for other Capcom games, always with words of encouragement for the player.
Last known appearance: Rocket Knight Adventures
He cuts! He flies! He’s got an appropriate amount of attitude to appeal to a ’90s youth market! He’s Sparkster! The two Sparkster games were high-flying, rocket-powered blasts, but, like so many other heroes, as technology progressed, Konami seemed unsure of what to do with him. So, rather than clumsily adapt him to 3D like Bubsy, they let him hang back in 2D land. Though eventually they gave him a nice 2.5D remake of the original Sparkster.
Last known appearance: Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed
The story of Ristar is a sad one. His game is outstanding — incredible music, beautiful graphics, fun and original gameplay, and a memorable protagonist who would’ve fit right in alongside other gaming legends. Unfortunately, Ristar came out late in the Sega Genesis’ lifespan, when they’d been forced to release games in little cardboard boxes rather than the quality plastic boxes they’d been using. Sega was already well into marketing the new Sega Saturn, so, despite the game being so freaking good, Ristar shot in at the wrong time to be anything other than a nostalgic what-could-have-been.