Seven Corporate Mascots Who You Never Thought Would Get Their Own Game
It's fairly common to see video games based on popular movies and comic licenses, but occasionally a manufacturer or retailer also tries to dip into the gaming world and make a game based on its products. These games are often ridiculously obvious marketing ploys, but sometimes they're also fun. Here's a quick roundup or some of the most outlandish video games based on corporate mascots.
While most kings have to worry about invading nations and starving inhabitants, the Burger King prefers to hide out inside garbage cans and surprise people with lunch. In 2006, Blitz Games designed three Burger King-based games for the Xbox and the Xbox 360: Pocketbike Racer, Big Bumpin', and Sneak King. With a name like Pocketbike Racer, Blitz Games was forced to make it a racing game. Big Bumpin' was a series of bumper car-inspired mini-games. Finally, Sneak King had players sneaking around, delivering Burger King meals to hungry people. The marketing company behind the games won several awards and Burger King was showered in money. While money won’t get you clean, it will buy you clean shirts.
Since the stereotypical gamer in the ‘90s ate nothing but Cheetos, Mountain Dew, and shame, it made sense that those companies would want to appeal to their core clientele. Cheetos wanted to get their orange-tinged fingerprints on the game's industry, so it teamed up with a defunct Japanese developer named Kaneko to publish two Chester Cheetah games: Too Cool to Fool and Wild Wild Quest, both of which were 16-bit platformers. The first game had Chester jumping through a psychedelic world and collecting Cheetos Paws. The sequel had Chester exploring the less-trippy environments of the U.S.A. Chester Cheetah may be one chill cat, but don’t try to fool him; he’s too cool for that.
Doom was a fun first-person shooter, but everyone who played it thought, “geez, this game would be better if it had a strong marketing tie to a popular cereal brand.” Digital Café’s Chex Quest was so innovative that it took Doom’s exact gameplay and throwing a Chex cereal theme on top. Set in the distant future, the game follows an alien from the planet Bazoik as he battles an army of green slimes while wearing a giant piece of Chex cereal as armor. Chex Quest is notable for being the first video game to be included in cereal boxes. After the game released, the U.S. army began testing Chex armor in tactical hostage and rescue operations.
Cool Spot is one of the laziest mascots in mascot history. He's not an anthropomorphic animal, robot, or alien. He's just a dot with California Raisin arms. Some marketing executive said, "Hey look, our logo has a red circle. What if that was our mascot?" In spite of this, Cool Spot managed to star in a challenging but fun SNES-era platformer. This Virgin Interactive game had players collecting 7-Up fizz and rescuing Cool Spot’s friends. A sequel, called Spot Goes To Hollywood, came out a few years later, but I’ve already spent more time talking about it than I need to.
Since parents generally frown on letting their kids eat sugar by the spoonful, kids have figured out a clever way to sneak the substance into their body through a beverage called Kool-Aid. This beverage will also help treat anyone who succumbs to the disease Kool. This Atari 2600 and Intellivision game from Mattel might have been an obvious marketing stunt, but at least it could be obtained for free by mailing in proof of purchase points. The game tasks Kool-Aid Man with quenching the thirst of a group of “Thirsties.” While Mattel clearly spent a lot of money coming up with names for the characters, the general concept didn’t make a lot of sense. These Thirsties hang out around a pool of water and occasionally try to drink from it using straws; Kool-Aid Man must save them by giving them Kool-Aid instead. Everyone knows Thirsties don’t know how to use straws.
While many of the mascots on this list might give you diabetes, Captain Novolin wants to help you deal with it. In the early ‘90s, Raya Systems started developing a series of educational games for the SNES. Novo Nordisk, makers of the Novolin brand of insulin, helped sponsor the development of Captain Novolin in order to teach kids how to deal with type 1 diabetes. Of course, the greatest threat to those with diabetes is aliens, and Captain Novolin spends the majority of the game fighting intergalactic menexes disguised as bouncing cookies and doughnuts on his quest to rescue the diabetic mayor of Pineville. Players could earn bonus points by correctly answering diabetes questions. We're just glad that someone finally explained the truth behind diabetes; that whole autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas sounded a little hard to believe.
Making a corporate mascot is easy – you just throw sunglasses or a skateboard on a cute animal and have them talk with a gravely or high-pitched voice. Even with these time-tested rules, Domino’s still managed to make one of the worst mascots of all time with the Noid. A big pig with a mohawk who threw pizza frisbees would have been cooler than this guy. In Domino’s ads, the Noid would always destroy pizza, but in Capcom NES platformer, he was a hero who raced through levels fighting his evil doppelganger. The game was first released in Japan as Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru, and given the Noid treatment when it hit the states, which helps explain some of the inconsistencies.
For more crazy video game mascot antics check out our replay of Cool Spot.