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Top Ten Mascots in Video Game Culture

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April 28, 2015 | Written By: Ryan Willcox


Tags: Top Ten list, Master Chief, Lara Croft, Link, Legend of Zelda, Halo, Tomb Raider, Mario, Super Mario Bros, Mega Man, Pac Man, Pikachu, Pokemon, Ryu, Street Fighter, Snake, Metal Gear Solid, Sonic, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mascots,

Elite Lists Top Ten Mascots

Before the countdown begins, it is obviously extremely dangerous to hand pick only ten characters within the thousands of games that present majestic personalities that bring franchises to life. That being said, there is a small exclusive group of video game mascots that have pushed beyond the boundaries that their developers imagined they would reach. From an overload of sequels that expand the story of a sword swinging protagonist, to an intergalactic military chief influencing a game’s sales numbers, a character’s persona is everything when it forms a fan base, but also has the potential to carry a console’s brand for decades. Now that the gaming industry is touching down on a new era, thanks to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U, our list has been modernized to give spotlight to new characters who have recently broke ground in gaming.However, we must also identify the faces that built the industry that we know and love today.

Lara Croft

Packing heat in the name of archeology.

Number 10: Lara Croft

There will forever and always be a top ten spot for the first character that put female empowerment on a pedestal in video games, as archaeologist Ms. Lara Croft has done just that with the Tomb Raider franchise. Debuting in October of 1996, Croft’s badass feminine swagger and immense wisdom formed the original Tomb Raider to be the ‘Indiana Jones-like’ adventure game the industry needed. The game that details Croft’s first major battle versus the Shadow League and their mythical creatures notched over seven million copies in sales, while becoming a major contributor in Sony’s achievement of selling over 100 million PlayStation units.

Although Lara Croft is the video game industry’s leading heroine, there has been criticism for her ‘unrealistic’ appearances; but in the creation of the protagonist, Lead Artist of Tomb Raider Toby Gard has stated that his main objective was to defeat “bimbo stereotypes,” giving her a strong combination of brains and beauty. Speaking of appearances, Gard originally wanted Croft to be from South America, under the name of Laura Cruz. Although, European developer Edios Interactive urged Gard to give her an English origin so she becomes “UK friendly” to the local fan base that Edios had already established.

After the release of Tomb Raider, the franchise continued to thrive as its next successor, Tomb Raider II, sold an overwhelming eight million copies worldwide. Due to its wild successes and record breaking sales on PlayStation, Paramount Pictures placed Angelina Jolie on the throne to hone the role of Lara Croft on the big screen in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, bringing worldwide recognition to Croft outside the gaming industry. The recognition fueled the movie to gross over $274 million in the box office worldwide, even though the movie’s reception was extremely poor with the Washington Post calling the movie “empty, frenzied, plasticized, flavorless, drab, violent in a bloodless way and sexy in a sexless way.” Unfortunately, the franchise’s video game status also took a hit with the next four installments taking a gradual drop in sales and reception to the point where Eidos’ last Tomb Raider title, Tomb Raider: Underworld, sold a dispirited $2.5 million copies.

The series was quickly put back onto its feet when Square Enix decided to acquire Eidos in April of 2009, looking to reboot the Tomb Raider to its natural and best form. Gracefully, with Crystal Dynamics developing the title, Square Enix’s reboot soared in sales with over 7 million copies sold after its 2013 release. With Camilla Luddington voicing Croft, the franchise masterfully received stellar reviews and automatically earned an upcoming sequel that was snatched by Microsoft as a timed-exclusive due to its high value from previous sales. Going into the next few years, it would be slander if someone stated that Croft’s time is coming to an end; rather, she now has a whole new generation to continue a legacy that looks to be getting stronger each year.

Solid Snake

Hideo Kojima's most revered hero.

Number 9: Solid Snake

As a dominant mascot to the PlayStation family (despite appearances on other consoles) on the list, Metal Gear’s Solid Snake tackles the number nine spot, as the Cold War mercenary’s cold bravado and brilliant war tactics matches that of an action movie stud. That being said, the character’s origin and appearances from game to game were based off of actual movie stars. Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima has stated that actors like Mel Gibson, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Kurt Russell have influenced the fighting style and facial designs of Snake throughout the series.

Although the Metal Gear Solid series has seen over 30 successors, only eleven games are considered actual plot stories to the series. Developer Kojima Productions has lifted Snake’s reputation with multiple Metal Gear Solid games that have received perfect scores from ten’s of highly renown entertainment sites, including Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (both titles that received nearly flawless ratings on Metacritic). Since the launch of Metal Gear in July of 1987, Snake’s rebellious lone-wolf attitude justifies that action games can be more than just gameplay-centric IPs.

So wildly beloved, Snake even made an appearance in Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros. Brawl, although he hasn’t been featured in a Nintendo title in more than decade. Even though Kojima’s plot for Metal Gear is more science fiction than realistic, Solid Snake is a strong symbol of a true war soldier as he battles PTSD and the losses of close military members. As fans eagerly await Snake’s next courageous adventure, Kojima Productions is coming close to releasing what fans are looking for with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Unlike Guns of the Patriots, which was a PlayStation exclusive, The Phantom Pain will be launching on a whooping number of five individual consoles. Meaning that the upcoming game has the potential of reaching record breaking sales numbers in the franchise. Although, for his memorable exclusives, Solid Snake will always remain a PlayStation darling, and maybe its most successful mascot to date.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Hedgehog's got attitude and chilli dogs.

Number 8: Sonic the Hedgehog

For Sonic, the gaming industry has been a roller coaster for him. Characteristically, the hedgehog’s bubbly and witty personality is the best of any other mascot; but being in the video game industry, spotlight can only be given through honorably developed titles. His debut displayed a strong start for the speedy animal, as Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis became the Mario Bros. of the 16-bit generation. A game that became the ship captain of the console and also was a major highlight in arcades globally. At the end of the Genesis’s life, Sonic the Hedgehog totaled over 15 million copies sold, raising Sonic to a brand new pedestal.

As the years went on, the Hedgehog starred in over five animated television series. One, being Sonic X, lasted 73 episodes and became one of the best rated children shows in 2005. Sonic’s fame even pushed him to be more recognizable than Disney’s Mickey Mouse, according to 1UP. Meanwhile in video games, Sonic the Hedgehog’s successors slowly dipped in sales, with Sonic the Hedgehog II selling a measly six million copies and the recent Sonic Lost World selling a dead 2.5 million units.

With Sonic’s future seeming dimmer with Wii U’s Sonic Boom getting hit with bad reviews and weak financial profits, his major roles in this HD generation are mostly highlighted with his cameo in the Super Smash Bros. series, as well as teaming up with Mario in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. That meaning, the beloved 16-bit blue hero may be transitioning into a supporting character. Going into 2015, Sega is searching for a new fan base in the mobile market, with Sonic Runners, a traditional arcade Sonic game, heading to iOS and Android.

 

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Author: Ryan Willcox

Ryan's natural habitat is in Charlotte, North Carolina. His attachment to gaming all began with his love of Pokemon FireRed and Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance several years ago. When he is not struggling to find a game to play next on his consoles, you can find Ryan writing about video games, playing basketball or reading anything in front of him.

 




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