Ten video game heroes that time (nearly) forgot

11:31 PM, Mar 7, 2013   |    comments
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While some game heroes outstay their welcome, others leave the party early.  Some of these went into early retirement because their chosen genre had fallen out of favor, others because their game studios decided to focus their efforts elsewhere, and others still for reasons unknown.

In hopes that these lost, but not forgotten heroes will get a renewed chance at video game glory, The Game Guys pick the ten most deserving of another dose of limelight in order of just how hungry we feel the gaming public is for another game with the character in question.

10. Manny Calvera (Debut: Grim Fandango - PC/1998, Last Seen: Grim Fandango - PC/1998) | Back when Tim Schaffer was still with LucasArts, he created an interesting title called Grim Fandango that combined Aztec beliefs of the afterlife with film noir aspects a-la 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'Casablanca'.  The result?  A captivating tale of crime and corruption in the Land of the Dead as the cool and collected gumshoe Manuel "Manny" Calavera played savior to a newly-arrived soul.

9. Tom-Tom (Debut: Wonder Boy - Arcade/1986, Last Seen: Monster World IV - TurboGrafx-16/1994) | Tom-Tom made his debut back when platformers in the coin-op arcade weren't unheard of.  Soon after, it seemed like you couldn't go more than a couple years without a new Wonder Boy game coming out as in the eight years afterwards, no fewer than five games came out in the series (Though Tom-Tom himself wasn't the lead of the fifth game).  Nearly two decades later, isn't it about time that this hero who's battled countless monsters in the name of love get some love of his own?

8. Croc (Debut: Croc: Legend of the Gobbos - SEGA Saturn/1997, Last Seen: Croc 2 - PlayStation/1999) | When players first meet Croc, he's nothing more than a small, screaming, orphaned baby crocodile who gets adopted by the Gobbo King.  Shortly after adulthood, however, the Gobbos are mostly all kidnapped and Croc snaps into action.  What ensues is a charming experience that won over nearly any gamer with a touch of personality.  The charm continues in the sequel as Croc went out in search of his birth parents.  Did his adventures end there?  Fourteen years later, we sure hope not!

7. Bonk (Debut: Bonk's Adventure - TurboGrafx-16/1990, Last Seen: Super Bonk - SNES/1994) | Bonk's got a big head.  No, really.  He literally has a big head -- and he's not afraid to use it.  The title hero in the short-lived Bonk series, this caveboy knows no fear.  He headbangs his way through his pre-historic land, taking on dino threats like they're nothing.  The funny thing?  Bonk wasn't originally designed as a game character.  Rather, developer/publisher Hudson Soft created the caveboy as a comic character.  He was so well liked that the company decided to go ahead and give him his own game.  Maybe Konami, the company that purchased Hudson Soft in 2012, will feel the same and pave the way for a new Bonk game sometime in the future.

6. Conker (Debut: Conker's Pocket Tales - Game Boy Color/1999, Last Seen: Conker: Live & Reloaded - Xbox/2005) | When Conker first hit the scene on the Game Boy Color, developer Rare presented him as a kid friendly, yet mischevious squirrel who's birthday is ruined.  That's a far cry from the foul-mouthed, beer drinking furry that became an instant hit character in the Nintendo 64 game Conker's Bad Fur Day.  Since then, gamers have been chomping at the bit for a new, M-rated Conker adventure.  What gamers received, however, was little more than an updated version of the N64 game.  Rare might be little more than a subsidiary of Microsoft these days, but it shouldn't be out of the question that another Conker game is in demand, whether it be on the current Xbox 360 or its eventual replacement.

5. Glitch (Debut: Metal Arms: Glitch in the System - PS2/2003, Last Seen: Metal Arms: Glitch in the System - PS2/2003) | Like Manny Calvera, Glitch was the victim of a one-and-done video game with developer Swingin' Monkeys' Metal Arms: Glitch in the System being his one and only appearance.  In this one-shot video game, the gutsy little robot won over players with his personality and gritty, mechanical charm as he tries to save his home planet of Iron Star from a tyrannical military mastermind known as General Corrosive.  The thing is, the game is left open-ended.  As it turns out, a sequel was planned for this game, but Blizzard bought Swingin' Apes and the project was shelved.  Well, it took twelve years for Blizzard to release a sequel to StarCraft, so we're expecting to see Metal Arms 2 released sometime in 2015.

4. Gex (Debut: Gex - 3DO/1994, Last Seen: Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko - PlayStation/1999) | There's something about geckos.  They're just cool.  That's all there is to it.  Debuting in the 3DO game Gex (later ported to the PlayStation and SEGA Saturn), Gex is a too-cool-for-school TV addict who gets sucked into the television world.  The gecko, who is quick with a pop culture comment and snappy retort, really made the games as entertaining as they were.  Now that developer Crystal Dynamics has relaunched its Tomb Raider franchise, maybe it's time to do the same with Gex -- complete with updated pop culture quips.

3. Earthworm Jim (Debut: Earthworm Jim - SEGA Genesis/1994, Last Seen: Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy -  Game Boy Color/1999) | Some have to wonder if cartoon artist Doug TenNapel knew what kind of cult following his Earthworm Jim character would garner over the years when he created him back in 1994.  Only three Jim games ever came out, but there's something about a simple earthworm who becomes anything but a simple earthworm when a high-tech super suit falls from the sky, turning the lumbricina into a sci-fi hero for goodness.  While it's been 14 years since any Earthworm Jim game saw release (a PSP game was in development, but cancelled in mid-2007), there are clues that gamers just might get more of the cooky hero in the future.  Franchise co-creator David Perry said in 2012 that he's sure a new Earthworm Jim game will eventually be made.

2. The Battletoads (Debut: Battletoads - NES/1991, Last Seen: Super Battletoads - Arcade/1994) | Made by Rare eight years before their popular Conker character, The Battletoads are a team of three anthromorphic toads with superhuman strength.  Rare and Canadian animation company DiC (now known as Cookie Jar) created and released the toad-riffic team to compete for market share against another popular team of amphibians: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Like those Heroes in a Half-Shell, The Battletoads gained a following that's as strong as the games are hard.  More than two decades after The Battletoads' debut, gamers are still talking about the trio and wondering when they'll see a new iteration of the 1990's video game franchise.

1. Gordon Freeman (Debut: Half-Life - PC/1998, Last Seen: Half-Life 2: Episode Two - PC/2007) | With all of the Half-Life love that's still quite prevelant and the on-going rumors that there is (and isn't) a Half-Life 3 hidden in a dark closet somewhere at Valve by creator Gabe Newell, there is no question that the demand is greatest for the return of nearly every gamer's favorite theoretical physicist turned hero, Gordon Freeman.  Essentially what 'The Big Bang Theory' frontman Leonard Hofstadter probably wishes he could be, Gordon Freeman is the ideal silent protagonist.  He's so hardcore that Complex Magazine recently rated him amongst the 50 most badass video game characters of all time.  A question to Gabe:  The gamer's are ready for more Gordon.  Will you give it to them?


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