There was a time, largely in the mid-Nineties
, when the world of video games was overrun with a certain type of character. The Mascot with Attitude is a snarky Funny Animal
powers, improbable jumping abilities
, and usually some form of girlfriend or world to save (or something)
. Generally, the Mascot with Attitude can be defined by the presence of three or more the following traits:
- Is a Funny Animal, usually with a Species Surname. (i.e., Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro the Dragon)
- Comes from a Platform Game.
- Is Totally Radical. This can be as mild as using totally bogus outdated slang, or as egregious as giving the character a love of "extreme" sports, fast food, or anything else with supposed "youth appeal."
- Is quippy, snarky, and prone to making lots of really bad jokes. Bonus points if one of them is a Take That against Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Is competent and violent, but not to child-unfriendly levels. He's also not allowed to swear, but will do his best to anyway.
- A supporting cast which reinforces his status as coolest character in the universe. Look out for an older uncool antagonist, a sidekick with a case of hero-worship, a helplessly devoted and/or snarky love interest, or a rival that's almost (but not quite) as cool as the mascot.
- Advertisements for his games put a lot of emphasis on said game's "intensity," especially twitch-action and "speed".
During their heyday in the 90s, almost all Mascots With Attitude were created in order to capitalize on the success of
one Sonic the Hedgehog.
Nowadays, this trope is all but discredited
, except in parodies, with the deconstructive Conker's Bad Fur Day
providing the final blow. However, as some of the examples below show, there are still those who play this trope terrifyingly straight. See also: Snarky Non-Human Sidekick
, a webcomic trope.
Compare Dreamworks Face
, in which in character makes that type of smirk, but don't have this personality.
Compare Nineties Anti-Hero
, who hails from the same era with many of the same characteristics.
Parodies And Deconstructions
- Sonic the Hedgehog is, of course, the Trope Maker. Later on, however, the "attitude"-aspect was dialed back quite a few notches during the 2000's, and Sonic became more of a laid-back idealist who fits the trope far less than he did back in the 90's.
- Aero The Acro Bat to an extent, though his games are fairly well-remembered.
- Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel, a spin-off of this game.
- Sparkster. Subverted in that he is actually much more down-to-earth and acts much like what you would expect from a cartoony animal.
- The ill-fated Bubsy the Bobcat is a particularly infamous example of this trope. Bubsy was played straight in his own games, but in his cartoon pilot he became a surreal extreme version of himself , quoting his newly-acquired Catchphrase (which was a throwaway remark of Bubsy's in the first game, but must have tickled one of the writers' (or more likely executives') a bit more than it should) way way too often . (It's even sort of deconstructed within the pilot itself eventually when Arnold suddenly turns on Bubsy, yelling "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" after his jinxed catchphrase causes them to lose the universe-altering helmet at the very last minute.) In most cartoon openings, they have some kind of montage of what the main characters do. In the Bubsy pilot, he gets out of bed, brushes his teeth with a car buffer, eats some cereal, breakdances and does some air guitar. Cartoon Bubsy just drips attitude, y'know? He wasn't even that much like this in his original outing, being more along the lines of a Looney Tunes inspired Butt Monkey. Maybe things would have gone better if they stuck to that.
- Donkey Kong eventually became this in the Donkey Kong Country series.
- Banjo and Kazooie, although there is plenty of sarcasm and breaking the fourth wall in this one.
- Crash Bandicoot is one of the few who have managed to fare better than the rest, at least in his early days. Naughty Dog then went on to make the excellent 3D platformer on the PS2: Jak and Daxter (later, Jak 2 & 3) with a subversion of the mascot as the sidekick.
- Spyro the Dragon is similar to Crash (they've even crossed over once or twice), but has undergone a Darker and Edgier reboot.
- Again, Insomniac went on to make the highly regarded shooter/platformer Ratchet & Clank, mixing up the formula with firepower. Crossed over with Crash equivalent Jak and Daxter twice
- This trope backfired in the first game where Ratchet's attitude makes him an unlikable jerkass who cares more about getting back at the villain's Dragon Qwark than assisting Clank in saving the galaxy from the Big Bad. Thankfully he got some character development as the series went on.
- Similarly, Ratchet & Clank went side-by-side with Jak and Daxter. Notable for still expanding to this day with sequels that don't suck.
- Scaler is a somewhat obscure modern example. Although his Totally Radical quippiness is especially grating, his game ain't half bad, say a few critics.
- Similarly, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. The trailers for his first game showed him beating up Sonic, Spyro and Crash with boomerangs, for one thing.
- What do you get when you combine a mediocre Sonic the Hedgehog clone with a Green Aesop? Probably something like the Sega Genesis game Awesome Possum.
- Rocky Rodent was Sonic with super hair powers.
- Wally Bear And The No Gang, a moralising but otherwise generic platformer, has a hip skateboarding bear, who wears sunglasses and spends all his time beating up Aggressive Drug Dealers and going to parties (Straight Edge parties, you understand).
- Punky Skunk for the PS1. Granted, it's fun to wander around as a skunk and spray baddies to apparent death, but the packaging did invoke this explicitly.
- Blinx the Time Sweeper 's titular character averts this. He may be an anthropomorphic cat, but he doesn't have the personality traits to make him a Mascot with Attitude. Rumor has it that Microsoft was poised to make Blinx the mascot of the Xbox before the game bombed, though the sequel is generally agreed to be a vastly better game.
- High Seas Havoc on the SEGA Genesis, though this one was actually pretty good, if Nintendo Hard.
- Another one from the Genesis, the titular Socket is a duck with… an electric plug coming from his butt? Seriously?
- The duck from the Drunk Duck comics site comes complete with smug expression and crossed arms indicative of his 'tude.
- Bug, the titular protagonist from the Sega game Bug!! And how- he spouts cheesy, annoying one-liners almost every time he kills an enemy or when he takes damage!
- Chester Cheetah, the painfully Totally Radical mascot for Cheetos, starred in a couple of licensed Platform Games at the time of the trend. Ironically, though the cheetah is supposed to be the fastest creature on land, in the first level Too Cool to Fool Chester literally moves slower than a turtle.
- Mr Nutz, if only on the box art, where this little squirrel was holding sunglasses at his hip, sporting a cocky expression, had a skinned elbow, and was perhaps throwing out a gang sign. The SNES game itself took place deep in the Sugar Bowl, and the in-game character was almost too cute.
- The title character of the mercifully forgotten Sega CD platformer Wild Woody. He's an extreme pencil. We don't even know.
- Cool Spot is a borderline example. He's more laid-back, doesn't speak (which eliminates the possibility of quips) and the game was more focused on exploration than speed and intensity. On the other hand, he oozes Totally Radical, much more than most on this list.
- Super Meat Boy is an affectionate homage to this type. He is relentless in trying to get back bandage girl through his platform game, and because he has no skin he has the power to slide slowly down walls. Great game though.
- The video game adaptation Avoid The Noid.
- Felix the Cat became this in the '90s series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.
- Mohawk and Headphone Jack, though the title characters are protean Cartoon Creatures, largely keeps with the trend. This game was apparently made for players who thought Sonic the Hedgehog didn't have enough spinning things.
- Rockin' Kats, a Platform Game by Atlus for the NES. Its main inspiration seems to be Saturday-morning cartoons, which probably accounts for the spring-loaded boxing glove gun.
- Skunny Squirrel from a series of 90s Shareware games, that ripped off whatever franchise seemed to be peaking at any individual moment. Watch Skunny eat Super-Nuts to reach super-speed and roll over enemies! Watch him bounce on enemies and collect coins, to rescue his Trademark Favorite Food pizzas from a barely-copyright-uninfringing Italian! See him take on "Sadman Insane" in inexplicably rail-shooter combat! See him race go-karts with his squad of animal friends, none of whom had ever been seen before or since, mere days before Wacky Wheels was released! Not surprising that the company who made him was called Copysoft.
- The self-titled protagonist of Bonk is one of these.