Late last month, we all gave the side-eye to Bubsy the Bobcat's return. Nobody wanted the hell-cat to crawl his way back up from Sheol, but he arrived anyway.
Bubsy's return got us thinking a bit about mascot characters and animals, though. So here's a wide-reaching Community Question: Who's your favorite game or game series mascot?
The answer can be about a single character, a species, or just about anything that brings to mind a certain game, series, or company. Just answer with all your heart.
Why is every Community Question so hard? Yoshi? I always pick Yoshi in everything Mario related. Wait?! Unless Waluigi is there. Waluigi is probably my favorite Mario character and Mario is at the top of the mascot pyramid, so obviously that's my choice, right? Mega Man in all his various incarnations is up there too.
I'll go with Captain Commando. Have you ever seen Captain Commando? This was a character originally developed to be a fictional spokesperson for Capcom USA during the Nintendo Entertainment System launch in North America. Capcom manuals would include the character, whose design was quite different from the character we know today. His early version was a faux Captain Harlock with big Mr. T-style medals, while the second version was a generic 80s space hero.
As one of the many CPS arcade games of the early 90s, Capcom redesigned the character, gave him a squad of colorful friends, and made a beat-em-up. I have no idea what went into the hairstyle that would later pop up on Phoenix Wright, the massive shoulder pads, or the Bravestarr-esque future cop look. Akiman (the alias of Akira Yasuda) did what Akiman does.
Regardless, Captain Commando was the best nonsense. That Capcom doesn't have him at the front and center of everything should be added to the long list of missteps by the publisher.
I can think of a hundred thousand entries for this particular Community Question, but I'm going to give a specific shout-out to Chocobos. Chocobos are cute but deadly, tame but wild. They're also instantly recognizable, and that's important for a mascot. If you took Big Bird from Sesame Street and taped a few knives to his toes, you'd have yourself a PBS-endorsed version of a Chocobo.
Chocobos are as good for combat as they are for cuddling. They're a decent early-level summon, and they look downright intimidating when they're fully armored. In Final Fantasy XII, running afoul of a pissed-off Chocobo can ruin your day; you'll wind up full of holes if you cross one. In Final Fantasy XV, you can dye them all sorts of crazy-ass colors. In Final Fantasy VII, you can inbreed them until you finally hatch one that glows like Jesus and crosses oceans twice as quickly. Whether they say "wark" or "kweh," Chocobos rule.
Nintendo totally owns the memorable mascot beat. Mario. Kirby. K.K. Slider. Just looking at my desk, I have two Pikachu plushies (one dressed as Charizard, the other as a Tokyo Station employee), a small figure of Ditto disguised as Pikachu, and a Pikachu amiibo. Judging from all that, it'd probably be safe to say that Pikachu is my favorite mascot.
But no, I'm going to go with a totally different option.
I love, love, love Monokuma, the murderous teddy bear from the Danganronpa series. As to not spoil anything from the dense series, Monokuma is a being with mysterious origins. He's the headmaster of Danganronpa's Killing Game, which pins unsuspecting talented students one another in a fight to the death. But unlike Battle Royale-types, it's not an all-out bloodbath. Instead, Monokuma carefully manipulates orderly murders, by positioning motives and other situations to inject a thirst for blood into the students; and afterwards, Monokuma serves as judge on a trial, where only he knows the true culprit.
From someone who's never played the series before though, Monokuma looks like an average, run-of-the-mill cute mascot from Japan, even with half of his face sneering into a sinister teethy grin. I like Monokuma because he bends our expectations of gaming mascots: and he's still the type that has merchandise of him printed everywhere. Monokuma's not only a great, mysterious villain, but he's cuddly and cute too. For games, sometimes that's what we deserve.
I think it's hard for me to differentiate what is a mascot character is versus an iconic video game character. For example, Microsoft considers Master Chief a mascot for the Xbox, but frankly I've always thought that was weird. Especially since Master Chief comes nowhere close to representing an entire company of consoles. Not like Mario, who's my pick for favorite game mascot.
Is Mario a boring and predictable answer? Yes. But is he also the one of the few characters who deserves the title of mascot? Absolutely.
With Mario there is no confusion about whether or not he's a mascot or just famous-videogame-character.jpg. He's both, and that unambiguity makes him my favorite mascot character in gaming. With Mario, I'm not sitting around wondering if he really deserves to represent a company like Nintendo.
I just realized that this question is asking for a game series mascot, which is a bit different I realize. But I've already written out this whole thing so just pretend that I alone was asked about my favorite company mascot.