As long as there have been video games, there have been companies hungry (puns!) to get their mascots into video games. Companies such as McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, and Burger King are but a few of the big names that have had video games made starring their mascots.over the years. Join VideoDunce as we look back through the years at some of the weirdest attempts at video game synergy ever.
10. M.C. Kids
The first game on the list and I’m already cheating. M.C. Kids doesn’t technically star McDonald’s iconic hamburger shilling clown; instead, it stars two kids named Mick and Mack who are tasked with returning a magical bag to Ronald McDonald after it was stolen by that darn Hamburglar. To accomplish this task, the M.C. Kids venture into McDonaldland, which is surprisingly not filled with obese women in rascal scooters and diabetes. Instead, it’s a magical place inhabited by the loveable McDonald’s characters. The M.C. Kids must run, jump, duck, and fight enemies in order to defeat the Hamburgler, and make the world safe again for terrible burgers and soggy fries.
9. Yo! Noid
Remember the Noid? The weird red spandexed, rabbit eared pizza ruiner appeared in dozens of commercials for the pizza giant in the 80’s, taking the blame for smushed, cold pizza. When you got these Noided pizzas, you would be annoyed. Geddit? A-Noid? Hur hur hur. And yet, the Noid was rather popular. So popular, in fact, that he ended up starring in two games on two seperate systems. The most bizarre was Yo! Noid, an NES game from Capcom that put gamers in the shoes of the Noid. The Noid was enlisted by the mayor of New York City to stop his evil doppelganger Mr. Green, because why not. What’s interesting about the game is that Yo! Noid is just a reskinned Japanese game known as Kamen no Ninja Hanamura, which had absolutely nothing to do with pizza. Capcom took the game, put a fresh coat of paint on it, and released the game stateside as Yo! Noid, leaving Kamen no Ninja Hanamura to languish in obscurity.
8. Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool
Ah, Chester Cheetah. The ultimate 90’s snack food mascot. Because the 90’s were all about being extreme, Cheetos took it’s outdated mascot, threw a pair of sunglasses on him, and made him a motorcycle drivin’, bungee jumpin’, skateboard ridin’ cool guy. Thanks to marketing, it was now cool to eat a snack that left a thick layer of orange dust on your hands. Chester Cheetah became so popular that he starred in two video games, Chester Cheetah’s Wild Wild Quest and the hilariously named Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool. The latter found the mascot engaging in some standard side scrolling action, while occasionally jumping on his scooter to take down bad guys. Too Cool to Fool was so cool, in fact, that it didn’t have time to spell check it’s instruction manual, which led to gamers being graced with the wonderful phrase “As is Chester Cheetah way, is one-person play.”
7. World Gone Sour
Just when you thought company mascot games were a thing other past, along comes Sour Patch Kids to prove you wrong. In World Gone Sour, you play as a Sour Patch Kid who has but one goal in life: to be eaten. After the bag he inhabits is purchased by a movie goer, he comes tantalizingly close to his life’s goal, only for the potential eater to trip and drop the Sour Patch Kid in the trash. From there, he embarks upon a journey to be devoured, even though no one wants to eat candy that’s been in the garbage. Along the way, he encounters Sour Patch Kids that befell the same fate as our plucky protagonist and have become sour, lashing out at the world that has forgotten them. For a game based on a mediocre candy, it puts a surprising amount of effort into the story. Also, added bonus, Method Man did the official theme song of the game, World Gone Sour (The Lost Kids.) I know Wu-Tang is for the children, but this is ridiculous.
6. Kool-Aid Man
The Kool-Aid Man is a giant anthropomorphic drink pitcher that bursts through walls to deliver refreshment to children. The game practically makes itself, right? Or so you would think. Instead, Kool-Aid Man for the Atari 2600 tasks players with using the thirst quenching powers of Kool-Aid to satisfy the Thirsties, who are using comically long drinking straws to drain the water from a pool. This is accomplished by crashing a red drink pitcher into tiny balls, but only when that ball is drinking, otherwise the player will get hurt and die. So blatant was the advertising in Kool-Aid Man that it was offered to impressionable youngsters for free by mailing in 125 proofs of purchase.
5. Cool Spot
You know the dot between the 7 and the up on cans of 7up? So desperate were the folks at 7up for a hip, fun mascot that they gave that dot arms and legs, slapped some sunglasses on him, and called it a day. Imaginatively, he was named Spot, and he somehow starred in FOUR separate video games. And against all odds, one of them managed to be pretty good. This is mostly due to the fact that Cool Spot was developed by Shiny Entertainment, they of Earthworm Jim fame, who used the same engine on Cool Spot that they utilized on the SNES Aladdin game. This lead to Cool Spot being a surprisingly fun platformer that saw the 7up spot embarking on a side scrolling adventure, shooting fizzy bubbles to vanquish enemies. The game was well regarded, and even managed to nab an award for “Best Sound” from Electronic Gaming Monthly. Impressive for a game based on a lackluster soft drink.
4. Chex Quest
Someone somewhere saw the demon slaughtering gameplay of Doom and thought it would be a great way to advertise cereal. Thus, Chex Quest was born. A total conversion of Ultimate Doom, Chex Quest was a non-violent shooter that pitted a man outfitted in Chex cereal armor against the Flemoid aliens, utilizing his “zorcher” to peacefully teleport the aliens off planet. A game that was previously about blowing enemies to pieces with various weapons became a child friendly game that shilled terrible cereal. But the game did it’s job, helping the fledgling cereal brand to see sales jump by 295%. A sequel was eventually created, but it’s the original that has managed to stay popular. Chex Quest has a surprisingly large cult following, with some devoted fans even setting up online deathmatch arenas for the game. Not bad for a game that was packaged with cereal.
Leave it to Japan to advertise a soft drink by creating a faceless superhero clad in a skintight Pepsi suit that only communicated via terrifying fizzing noises. Pepsiman was always running to people who needed their thirst quenched to deliver satisfying Pepsi, only to immediately be hurt in a ridiculous way afterwards. The commercials were wildly successful, leading to the creation of a Pepsiman video game. Released for the Playstation, the game put the players in the shoes of the titular Pepsiman, who would have to run through stages collecting cans of Pepsi all while avoiding various obstacles. Along the way, Pepsiman would get stuck in trash cans, hop on skateboards, and engage in various other wacky antics. During these stages, the players were treated to a soundtrack entirely composed of remixes of Pepsiman’s theme song. At the end of each stage, players were treated to a video of a portly American man who would yell out nonsensical Pepsi slogans. From all reports, the game isn’t half bad, but damn is it weird.
2. Darkened Skye
On the outside, Darkened Skye appears to be a generic fantasy action adventure game. You play as Skye, a young woman who must save the world of Lynlora using the power of magic. But once you get into the magic system, it’s revealed that only one tasty treat possesses the ability to amplify your magical powers: Skittles! Surprise, bitch! Yes, Darkened Skye is one big Skittles advertisement hidden under a fantasy game. Literally nothing in the game relates to the fruity candy, outside of it’s use in the magic system. Seeing that the box art makes absolutely no mention of Skittles, gamers were understandably surprised to find the candy in the game. While undeniably weird to make an entire game with the express purpose of sneaking in candy advertisements, you gotta give Skittles props for not going the obvious route to sell their candy.
1. Sneak King
Back in 2006, Burger King had the truly brilliant idea to release three games for the then-relatively new Xbox 360. The games would be budget priced at $3.99, and would be available at all Burger King stores. The games sold like hot cakes, even though they were all godawful. But one managed to stand out from the dreck due to the absolute weirdness of the game. Starring The King, the terrifying giant headed mascot of Burger King, gamers were tasked with sneaking through levels and surprising people with delicious Burger King food. Each character had a “Hunger Bar” displayed over their heads which would diminish from green to red, with red leading to the character passing out, and The King failing the mission. Thus, the race was on for the player to complete each level in time while racking up a high score based on speed and performance. The King could also take cover in various items, popping out of trash cans and bushes to surprise unsuspecting people with a delicious Whopper. Though VideoDunce questions who would accept a hamburger from a terrifying monstrosity popping out of a bush, Sneak King had no time for logic. It was awful, sure, but Sneak King managed to be memorable due to it’s sheer weirdness.