Neglected Video Game Characters - Part I
Written By: Jeff

Every year game developers come up with new franchises and characters hoping that they'll have the next big thing. However, with the inclusion each new character, older ones must be pushed aside only to return when the need to make a quick buck from a remake arrives. I've been wanting to do a Top 10 list for a while now and this isn't it, instead I'm just going to list 10 (13) game characters that have been left on the company shelf for extended periods of time and determine if the chance of them returning is Good, Bad or in the Middle. Let's get rockin'!

Zeke and Julie (Zombies ate my Neighbors/Ghoul Patrol)

If you grew up during the 16-bit era then there's a good chance that you've play ZAMN at one point or another. A tribute of sorts to Robotron 2084 wrapped in a B-movie setting and oozing with the same sense of humor that its developer, LucasArts, is legendary for. Zeke and Julie had to race through over 55 levels in a frantic attempt to rescue their neighbors from the worst creatures Hollywood has to offer and GODDAMN was it fun. A sequel was made a few years later called Ghoul Patrol and while it maintained the same basic gameplay but with better graphics and an actual start to finish story, it lacked the heart of the original.

Chance of Returning: Middle. While their main focus for now is milking the Star Wars cash cow (after saying FUCK OFF to their Adventure Game fans), Lucasarts may want to dip into some older series later on which is good news for ZAMN as it can easily be retooled into the kind of third-person action/adventure games they currently have their eyes on. Of course with online play becoming more popular, they could expand the game with modes like co-op, deathmatch, capture the cheerleader, team play, zombie tag and so on.

Little Mac (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!)

Little Mac's rise through the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association was a heart-warming tale, a tale that I would've like to have seen continued in several sequels. However, those hopes were soon dashed when Super Punch-Out!! was released with an all-new line up of opponents and, despite early beta screenshots showing a 16-bit Little Mac, a new lead character.

Chance of Returning: Bad. Odds are that the next Punch-Out!! will be a port of the original arcade game for Nintendo's upcoming DS system, which featured an anonymous green highlighted fighter.

Commander Keen (Commander Keen Series)

Eight-year-old Billy Blaze is just your average super-genius (IQ 314) until trouble on a universal level rears its ugly head, forcing him to put on his brothers Football helmet thus becoming Commander Keen: Galactic Defender of Justice. While console gamers had Super Mario Bros. to fill their 8-bit platformer needs, PC gamers had Commander Keen and his episodic adventures through space, saving alien worlds and fighting arch-nemesis Mortimer McMire (IQ 315). Commander Keen did come back a few years ago in the form of an original Gameboy Color game but it sucked more the deepest vacuum of space.

Chance of Returning: Bad. I believe Id Software owns the rights to the franchise and seeing as they'd much rather work on a new franchise after finishing Doom 3 then revisit an old fan favorite, it's a pretty safe bet that Billy won't be firing up the Beef with Bean Megarocket for a long time.

Bonk (Bonk Series)

Remember the Turbo Grafx-16? No? Don't feel too bad, a lot of people don't. One of the systems biggest hits was Bonk's Adventure a fun little platform game starring a small caveman that would beat up his enemies by whacking them with his enormous head. The series expanded with two sequels, a spin-off (Air Zonk) and even made the leap to Nintendo's consoles before the little guy was silenced.

Chance of Returning: Middle. During the course of releasing countless Bomberman games last year, Hudson Soft acknowledged Bonk's existence and re-released the first game with updated graphics on the Nintendo Gamecube (Japan only). Depending on how well that budget-priced game sold, they could reconsider bring the little headbanger back for a new adventure.

Mike Jones (Startropics Series)

Combine Zelda's 1 and 2, move it into modern times with a Caribbean backdrop and you have Startropics now add time travel to the mix and you have its sequel, Zoda's Revenge. Both well-received games in which its hero, Mike along with the help of his sidekick R.O.B. the robot from the early days of the NES, traversed islands and eras to save an endangered alien civilization all the while dispatching his enemies with weapons such as a Yo-Yo, Sword, Laser Gun, Axe and MIND BULLETS.

Chance of Returning: Bad. The series was never released in Japan so that may explain why it's been ignored; hell it didn't even get a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. A damn shame too because Startropics' island hopping theme and humor would have worked great with LOZ: The Wind Waker's graphic style.

Ok, that's it for now, I'm cutting this thing in half so one article counts as two which mean there's one less thing I have to write, even though were not told what or how much to write in the first place but it's the principal of the thing.


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