Video games are filled with heroes of all shapes, sizes, and species. Some heroes will be remembered forever, while others seem to eventually sink deep into the deepest, darkest parts of our memory and never resurface again. Here’s a list of heroes that should be pulled up for a bit of fresh air.
Few people remember this feeble attempt at starting a franchise. Originally designed to compete with mainstream characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Cheetahmen fell off our radars very quickly. Their video game was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System as part of a collection titled Action 52. None of the other 51 games on this cartridge could redeem the Cheetamen’s horrible gameplay and glitch-filled stages, forcing these anthropomorphic heroes into an early, and wholly forgettable, retirement.
Bub and Bob (Bubble Bobble)
Bubble Bobble starred two loveable bubble-spewing dragons on a 100-level quest to save their girlfriends from evil monsters. The gameplay possessed that old school Nintendo charm, making this simple platforming game hours of fun. It’s also featured multiple endings way before Mass Effect was all the rage.
Roman Centurion (Altered Beast)
In Altered Beast, you play a nameless centurion resurrected by Zeus to save his daughter Athena from a demon god of ill repute. This side-scrolling beat ‘em up takes place in ancient Greece, though it takes some very bold liberties with Greek mythology. The demon god of the underworld Neff kidnaps Athena, and Zeus grants a random fallen centurion the ability to transform into four beastly forms. Why Zeus just couldn’t ask any of his many illegitimate children to help is beyond me. Where are Hercules and Kratos when you need them?
Boogerman AKA Snotty Ragsdale (Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure)
Snotty Ragsdale is a forgotten hero that just didn’t get the praise he deserved back in the 90s. When the world was in jeopardy, he donned the mask of Boogerman, and with the use of his natural body functions—like boogers, burps, and farts—he saved our stuck-up butts time and time again. In return, we simply foroet he ever existed in the first place. Wow, we’re a bunch of jerks.
Zeke and Julie (Zombies Ate My Neighbors)
Zombies Ate My Neighbors stars two unlikely heroes named Zeke and Juile in a world overrun by every B-List horror character known to mankind. Traversing the many dangers of suburban neighborhoods, these two had to rescue as many of their neighbors as they possibly could. Armed with weapons like squirt guns, silverware for killing wolves, and crucifixes for destroying vampires, Zeke and Julie took down giant baby monsters with no problem. Though Zombie Ate My Neighbors reached cult classic status, Zeke and Julie seem to have been largely forgotten.
Rash, Zitz, and Pimple (Battletoads)
Most of you probably only know of the Battletoads as a running gag associated with prank calls to your local GameStop. Yet the Battletoads were once a force to be reckoned with, mutilating bad guys with inflated fists and axe kicks to the throats. This game was the ender of many co-op friendships with its extreme difficulty, and I will never forgive those damn hoverbike stages.
Vectorman was much like Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country in that Vectorman used pre-rendered 3D models to give the characters a smooth look and design. It may seem silly in retrospect, but in its time it was very impressive. Even though he was just a simple maintenance “orbot,” Vectorman singlehandedly saved Earth and the human race from a corrupted tyrannical robot using his amazing orb-based abilities. Though Vectorman did spawn a sequel, his place in video game history seems to be a tragically short-lived one.
ToeJam and Earl (ToeJam and Earl)
Thanks to XBLA, PSN, and Virtual Console, we are able to revive some of the heroes from the retro era. Still, ToeJam and Earl are two heroes that I don’t think are as appreciated as they should be. Though these two funkadelic aliens accidentally crash landed on Earth and their only purpose was to get the hell off our planet, they gave us a fresh perspective on the human condition. Dentists run rampant through the streets drilling anyone that passes, mailboxes attack with extreme prejudice, wizards dress up like carrots, and shopping-cart-pushing moms can knock you off cliffs. I think there was actually some social commentary going on here, though I never really figured out what it was.
Bubsy (Bubsy in Claws encounters of the Furred Kind)
The 16-bit era introduced us to some very charming characters, and Bubsy was definitely a charmer. In fact, he was so charming that he even had a pilot episode of a television series, but we the viewers and gamers let him down and it never went any further. Though Bubsy sported a few sequels in his time, he couldn’t maintain the sort of critical fame that his peer Sonic seemed to earn, leaving Bubsy to fade into obscurity.
Pitfall Harry (Pitfall!)
Pitfall Harry was a legend in the making, performing feats few game characters of his time could pull off. He was fond of jumping over logs, swinging across vines, and even standing on alligator heads back in the Atari era. There have been a few attempts at trying to rejuvenate Pitfall! since then, but I think Harry deserves another shot. With today’s technology, a new Pitfall! game could give Tomb Raider and Uncharted a run for their money. As for now, though, Harry will have to live on through our own nostalgic memories.