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Should Your Favorite Video Game Animals Be Dead?

by Tim Turi on Dec 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Video game characters and their respective series only have one true lifeblood: monetary success. As long as they keep making money, they'll stay alive. But what if video game franchises and their beloved mascots adhered to the laws of nature? We've done some serious scientific research to find out the real-world lifespans of your favorite video game animals.

[Editor's note: My serious scientific research includes taking the first hit on Google as the gospel/truth.]

Crash Bandicoot - 3-Year Lifespan

Bandicoots only last about three years, which is just about the amount of time Crash stayed with its parent developer, Naughty Dog (if you don't count strapping a wild animal into a go-kart and calling it Crash Team Racing). After Naughty Dog abandoned their once-beloved mascot, the critter's quality of life slowly yet surely began to erode.  

Snake - 8-Year Lifespan

Whether you're referring to Solid, Liquid, or Liquid Snake, there's no doubt Hideo Kojima's slithery stealth masters have far outlived their real-life namesakes. The series has been around for 27 years, and dedicated fans who manage to wade through the convoluted yet entertaining story have perhaps come to realize that comparing the franchise's lifespan to an actual snake is folly. It appears that Metal Gear is eternal, and perhaps more comparable to the mythological Ouroboros – the serpent eating its own tail.

Epona - 30 years

Link's loyal steed has only been part of the franchise since Ocarina of Time's debut in 1998, but in the intervening 15 years she's become a legend. Thankfully, should Link decide to continue calling on her she's got about another 15 years' worth left in her tank. Hopefully, riding her too roughly during the Lon Lon Ranch races hasn't shaved too many years off of her.

PaRappa the Rapper - 15-Year Lifespan

Let's assume that PaRappa's floppy ears and middling build puts him somewhere in the beagle family of dogs. If that's the case, then the little rhyming hound must have been twiddling his paws for the rest of his life following the flash-in-the pan late '90s success. And that's only assuming PaRappa didn't become yet another victim of the canine gang violence of the era.

Ecco the Dolphin - 40-Year Lifespan

The Sega Genesis is home to a library of quirky side-scrollers, and high among them is the story of Ecco. This intelligent sea mammal avoided an untimely fate while the rest of his family was sucked up from the ocean into space by the terrifying Vortex Queen. Assuming most players didn't complete the incredibly confusing, challenging aquatic epic, Ecco has spent the last 22 years searching the ocean for his lost family, and he's got another 18 healthy years of crushing loneliness in front of him.

Earthworm Jim - 8-Year Lifespan

Jim was just a lowly worm until he happened upon an empowering mechanized spacesuit that turned him into a hero. While his career died during the N64 era, Jim himself would've become one with the earth somewhere around 2002. 

Ristar - 10 Billion-Year Lifespan

Arriving late in the Sega Genesis' lifecycle, Ristar once had an appropriately bright future. Before Sega landed on a hedgehog for its mascot, Ristar was in the running. Sadly the celestial body's singular title was criminally underappreciated. Despite this, according to humanity's scientific findings, Ristar will have billions of years to reflect on his failure before fizzling out, long after Sega's corporate headquarters has crumbled. (Disclaimer: We're not sure if stars are animals or not)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - 80 years

I tried to limit this list to video game characters, but the Ninja Turtles are such an important part of video game history that I couldn't resist. Leo, Donny, Mikey, and Raph have been kickin' shell for the past 30 years, meaning that these mutant reptilian bros have another 50 years to spar, quip one-liners, and slowly die in the friend zone alongside April O'Neal. Considering the Turtles exclusively eat pizza, oftentimes in a manner of two bites, I predicted they'll either die of cardiac arrest or choking long before their 80 years are up.

Bubsy the Bobcat - 15-Year Lifespan

This wild cat has a life expectancy of 15 years, but he only needed three to completely screw it all up. His lackluster platforming debut in Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind was a clunky mess, and Bubsy 3D is among the worst three-dimension platformers ever made. In keeping with the laws of nature, Bubsy would've died of natural causes in 2008, if he didn't OD on yarn years earlier.

Donkey Kong - 40-Year Lifespan

The animal king of arcades has found continued success with Nintendo since his inception in 1982. His career found new life in 1994, when an entire country was named after him. He took a rest from his platforming days after Donkey Kong 64 for a short run at a bongo-fueled music career. He hit the platforming genre strong again in 2010 with Donkey Kong Country Returns at the ripe age of 28. Donkey Kong is not only aging like a fine wine, he continues to be a sharp dresser and a role model for all video game animals.

Sonic the Hedgehog - 5-Year Lifespan

Sega's blue mascot blazed onto the video game scene in 1991 as a smash hit. The following years became the hedgehog's heyday. Where most hedgehogs spend their lives feeding on insects and toads, Sonic snatched up countless golden rings and worldwide acclaim. The average lifespan of a hedgehog is five years, but in 1996 Sonic was still trucking along – though he hit a few speed bumps in his career with blunders like Sonic 3D blast. From that point on, the successful critter's career began to steadily deteriorate. Here we are 23 years later, and it's become painfully clear that this particular hedgehog's unnaturally long lifespan didn't grant him any extra success.

Fox McCloud - 5-Year Lifespan

If Sonic had died when Mother Nature had predetermined, he and his mutant fox friend, Tails, wouldn't have had to suffer the grief of outliving one another by much. Foxes have a life expectancy of about five years, though perhaps Fox McCloud's intergalactic adventures granted him a bizarrely robust lifespan. Unfortunately, similar to Sonic's career, Fox did his best work within those naturally sanctioned five years. After Star Fox 64, McCloud was essentially placed in cryostasis in the Smash Bros. series, where he's remained unchanged save for some aesthetic enhancements, like a taxidermist touching up their prized work.

Pikachu - 1-Year Lifespan

This Pokémon mascot has far outlived his real-life expiration date. Making his run even more impressive are findings that when introduced to raw electricity, the common mouse's life expectancy drops sharply.

Tofu - 5-Day Lifespan (Refrigerate After Opening)

Let's mix things up with a non-animal food product. Debuting as a sentient soy block in Resident Evil 2, this beret-wearing, vegan-friendly food would've lasted under a full week after opening. Yet Capcom continues to reference the now disgustingly spoiled Asian food product in continued releases.

Banjo-Kazooie  - 10-Year Lifespan\15-Year Lifespan

This bear and bird combo has a heartbreaking ending. Judged by the average life expectancy for bears, the good-natured Banjo would've died in his little yellow shorts somewhere around 2008, 10 years after his N64 debut and the same year as the 360 title Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Kazooie is a Breegull, which is actually a fake bird. Breegull sounds closest to seagull – a bird with a 15-year life expectancy. Tragically, Kazooie would've likely outlived Banjo, forcing the bird to live out her remaining years trapped in a backpack attached to a dead bear. She would have finally passed in 2013.

Sly Cooper - 2-Year Lifespan

Raccoons don't stick around for more than a couple years. Many of these masked critters are burglars by nature, rifling through humans' trash for sustenance. Sly Cooper lives on the razor's edge, stealing far more valuable prizes surrounded by armed goons and deadly burglar traps. Sly flies in the face of the laws of society and nature, with a crime spree that's lasted almost a decade past his predicted lifespan.

Frogger - 12-Year Lifespan

This brave/super-stupid amphibian's perpetual trip across the road began back in 1981. According to science, Frogger should've croaked sometime in '93, but the Rasputin-esque creature's run continues with releases as recent as 2013. Given  the dangerous work environment and probable high turnover rate, my theory is that "Frogger" is a name given to a series of frogs filling the role, similar to how Sea World handles Shamu. Frogger's continued exploitation at the hands of his publishers puts their unethical practices on the same level of those who handle the famous killer whale.

Rabbids - 12-Year Lifespan

These grating Rayman spin-off critters gained popularity in 2006. Judging by the average lifespan of a rabbit, we only should have had to suffer these idiots for three years. If they actually become rabid, however, they'll be dead within a matter of days - 2018 can't come soon enough.