- Joe & Mac could’ve been iconic SNES heroes with their heroic motivations and unique caveman adventure.
- Master Higgins’ similarities to Mario may have hindered his ability to have a dedicated fan base and carry his own legacy.
- Zeke and Julia from Zombies Ate My Neighbors have a unique art style and gameplay, but their lack of personality may have been a reason for the series not taking off beyond one title.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was a revolutionary step forward for video game storytelling. Whereas its predecessor, the NES, had to make the most of its limited hardwore, the SNES was more capable of telling complicated stories, whether it be through RPG adventures like Final Fantasy VI or side-scrolling platformers like Mega Man X.
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As a result of the SNES’s advancements, there have been plenty of iconic video game heroes to come out of the console’s extensive library. However, there are also a number of video game heroes who didn’t quite get the respect they deserved back when the console was still active.
8 Joe & Mac
Side-Scrolling Cavemen Designed For Team Players
Joe & Mac
- data east , Elite Systems , Motivetime , Eden Entertainment Software , Flying Tiger Entertainment , Onan games
- Platformer , Run and Gun
Joe & Mac are the titular cavemen who star in the 1991 platformer from Data East, the same developer of the arcade classic BurgerTime. In the game, players one and two control Joe and Mac, respectively, as they adventure through prehistoric Earth to rescue kidnapped cavewomen, facing enemy dinosaurs and other obstacles along the way.
Given the clearly heroic motivations for their adventure, Joe & Mac could’ve easily become iconic SNES heroes. They even appeared in a sequel for the SNES in 1994, titled Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics, which is mostly a re-hash of the first game. It’s not like they had much competition when it came to SNES cavemen, perhaps other than Chuck Rock.
7 Master Higgins
Have We Seen This Outfit Before?
Super Adventure Island
- January 11, 1991
Adventure Island was a relatively successful franchise for the NES, spawning three installments featuring Master Higgins. In the series, Higgins is a young man who has come to the titular island to rescue a princess from an evil witch doctor. The story continues with the SNES titles Super Adventure Island and Super Adventure Island II, the last in the series.
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Once again in these games, Master Higgins is tasked with rescuing Princess Tina from evil forces, with them marrying at the start of Super Adventure Island II. Potentially, this plot point, as well as Higgin’s character design incorporating a red hat, could’ve made the character too similar to Mario to carry his own dedicated fanbase.
6 Zeke & Julia
Suburban Teens To The Rescue!
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
- Run and Gun
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is among the more underrated games on the SNES, despite having the backing of LucasArts and Konami on the development side. Zeke and Julia, the male and female avatars, are controlled by players to protect their neighborhood from monsters inspired by famous horror movies, equipping various power-ups in the process.
Given how unique the art style and tone of Zombies Ate My Neighbors is, it’s a shame the series never took off beyond this one title. The game has never gotten a proper sequel, though it’s remained an inspiration to video game developers for its gameplay. Maybe if Zeke and Julia each had more of a personality, they would’ve been more memorable.
5 Wink Baufield
No, This Old Man Is Not Him
- ZOOM Inc.
The 1991 SNES game Phalanx is one of the more interesting titles in the console’s library. Notably, the game’s cover art features an out-of-context old man playing a banjo, despite the game itself being a standard sci-fi shoot-’em-up, which was a confusing attempt by the developers to set themselves apart from other space shooters of the video game era.
Nevertheless, this anomaly likely cost Phalanx a larger legacy, which is a shame for its protagonist, fighter pilot Wink Baufield. In the game, Wink is on a mission to explore the planet Delia, where he comes across hostile alien forces who have terrorized his fellow humans, making him one of the more fearless SNES protagonists out there.
Ancient Japan Has Never Been So Silly
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja
- July 19, 1991
Surprisingly, Goemon is not stranger to being franchised as a video game character. Created by Konami, the character originated in Japanese folklore, before his video game adaptation hit arcades and saw further Japan-only releases on NES and GameBoy. It finally saw a North American release in 1992 with The Legend of the Mystical Ninja.
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In The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Goemon is tasked with rescuing the Emperor’s daughter from an enemy army, encountering ghosts, evil dancers, and ninja robots along the way. Although the game was acclaimed by critics, it never found its audience in the West, which is a shame considering how truly wacky it is, even by the SNES’s standards.
Audiences Were Understandably Grossed Out
Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure
- Genesis , SNES
- November 18, 1994
Interplay Productions are probably far more well known for their other contributions to video game history, including Earthworm Jim, Baldur’s Gate, and Fallout. Sadly, the company’s video game superhero never took off, and for good reason. Boogerman hit the SNES in 1995, centering on the titular alter-ego of a millionaire playboy named Snotty Ragsdale.
While the game received positive reviews for its fun gameplay, it’s obvious that many parents likely saw its crude content as too much for children with the SNES system. Some of Boogerman’s abilities, which include fly-farting, burping, and blowing his nose, make for a unique video game hero, even if he’s not the most decadent of SNES characters.
2 Jake Armitage
A Board Game Turned Digital Boasts An Interesting Hero
- Beam Software
- Action RPG
Shadowrun is another title from Data East, this time a sci-fi/fantasy RPG with collaboration from Beam Software. Based on a tabletop board game franchise (which is still active), the game takes place in 2050, where our hero Jake Armitage is searching for clues to uncover his lost memory, leading him to a journey filled with crime lords and magic.
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Although Shadowrun as a franchise has survived past this 1993 SNES title, Jake Armitage has mostly been forgotten, even by fans of the series. In fact, the character of Jake has little to no affiliation with the actual board game series, so it’s no surprise that even fans of the franchise have no emotional attachment to him, even if they should.
Now Here’s A Hero We Can Rally Behind
It might be difficult to argue that Ness is “underrated,” given the overall retribution Earthbound has received in recent years. Since appearing as a playable character in every installment of the Super Smash Bros franchise, Ness has remained an iconic figure in Nintendo’s history, though his heroic deeds have mostly gone unnoticed.
Those who haven’t played Earthbound might not know that Ness is more than yo-yo’s, psychic attacks, and baseball bats. Despite being a small town kid, Ness travels the globe in search of a way to defeat a cosmic super-entity known as Giygas, even having to fight against his own nightmares, and only wins when powered up by the entire world’s prayer.
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