Some video game adversaries are so well-known that they have become their own mascots.
In video games, mascot characters are commonplace. Indeed, each of the major platforms has a number of popular characters that serve as the company’s face, such as Mario for Nintendo and Master Chief for Xbox. The majority of these mascots are playable characters, but there are a few notable exceptions.
Some video game mascots are actually the player’s adversaries within the games they represent. Sometimes this is because the game is played from the first-person perspective, so the most frequently encountered characters are those being fought. Other times, it is because these foes are so notable in their presence that they become infamous.
Big Daddy – Bioshock
Bioshock is an excellent game in many ways, but its protagonist is not one of them. Jack is largely invisible, never speaks, and his name is also easy to overlook. This is likely why the Big Daddy is given the game’s cover instead.
Big Daddies are formidable foes who appear throughout the game and protect the Little Sisters that the player must either harvest or rescue. Their size is so intimidating that their footsteps cause the screen to shake. These interactions were so significant that one of them would become a playable character in the sequel.
Pipo Monkey – Ape Escape
During the era of the original PlayStation, Sony released numerous candidates for their own Mario or Sonic. While Crash Bandicoot was the obvious choice, other characters from Sony-owned titles, such as Parappa the Rapper and Japan’s Toro Inoue, as well as the Pipo Monkeys from Ape Escape, vied for the position.
In Ape Escape, these monkeys were the player’s adversaries, as they were the escaping apes that needed to be captured before they caused havoc across time. However, their diverse personalities and cheeky attitudes made them lovable, and they appeared in Sony’s marketing campaigns for years. A recent re-release of the first two games on PS Plus could bring them back after a long absence.
Jack Frost – Shin Megami Tensei
Shin Megami Tensei is a series filled with demons based on folklore from all over the world. While many are memorable, such as Pixie and the NSFW Mara, Jack Frost has risen above his demon brethren to become not only a mascot for the series and its spinoffs, but also for the publisher Atlus.
He is typically found among the enemies of any Atlus RPG and can be recruited by shouting “hee-ho!” This includes a spinoff dungeon crawler starring him and his brothers, as well as a story sequence in Persona 5 Strikers in which an army of Jack Frosts block access to one of the game’s Palaces.
Slime – Dragon Quest
Slimes are common enemies in role-playing games, typically low-level foes that deal little damage and are easily dispatched, making them ideal for low-level players seeking to learn the fundamentals of combat without being overwhelmed by formidable foes. None are quite as iconic as the Slimes from Dragon Quest.
It’s unsurprising that these lovable and squishy creatures, who are typically encountered as some of the first foes in each game, have become the face of the entire series, given that they’re typically the first foes encountered. They have appeared in every game to date and have inspired an endless supply of merchandise, making them even more recognizable than the series’ protagonists.
Servbot – Mega Man Legends
Mega Man Legends was a spinoff of the main Mega Man franchise that took the series in an entirely new direction, transforming the run-and-gun shooter into an RPG. Tron Bonne, a major adversary in the game, brought with him an army of robots that would eventually become mascots for the games and Capcom as a whole.
Servbots were miniature robots resembling Lego minifigures, eager to assist their mistress with any task, including cooking and cleaning, piloting machinery, and maintenance. The Mega Man Legends games have sadly been retired, but the Servbots have made cameo appearances in other games, such as Street Fighter x Tekken and the Dead Rising series.
Cactuar – Final Fantasy
Due to the fact that each Final Fantasy game takes place in a different world and features a different cast of characters, they require a connecting element. The solution is to reintroduce familiar creatures in every game, such as the Moogles that serve as fluffy, friendly NPCs and the Chocobo mounts. This also includes enemies, which typically return with unique modifications to fit each world.
However, one foe remains constant throughout the majority of the series. The cactuars are miniature cactus men that resemble an exit sign and have a tendency to shoot needles at the party before fleeing. They are humorous and iconic, and it’s always amusing to encounter them in each game.
Turret – Portal
Portal is a game that became instantly iconic upon its release. From the humorously sinister voice of GLaDOS to the meme-potential of phrases such as “the cake is a lie,” Portal won over gamers worldwide and had a significant impact on the gaming industry. It is therefore not surprising that the charmingly murderous turrets have become iconic mascots.
With their simplistic design and adorable high-pitched voices saying “there you are” and “is anyone there” when they see and lose the player, they went from being a frustrating obstacle to something players desired to purchase merchandise of.
Goomba – Super Mario
This entire list could be comprised solely of enemies from the Super Mario franchise. Even choosing the most recognizable is difficult, so the best option is to choose the foe that led the charge: the lowly Goomba.
In the original Super Mario Bros., these mushroom-shaped enemies provided the player with their first indication of the effectiveness of jumping on enemies. Since then, they have appeared in every Mario game and continue to shuffle around trying to collide with Mario, quickly becoming a franchise staple.
Creeper is a Minecraft creature.
A variety of enemies in Minecraft seek to thwart the player’s efforts to construct the ideal base. However, while zombies and skeletons are annoying, no foe completely ruins the day like the Creeper.
The Creeper, a strange green creature with no arms, is essentially a walking bomb that detonates when it gets close enough to the player, destroying most of the nearby environment, typically whatever is being constructed at the time. Even if you’ve never played Minecraft, even the uninitiated are familiar with this enemy’s distinctive appearance and explosive destruction.
Dopefish – Captain Keen
Occasionally, a foe becomes so iconic that it becomes more well-known than the game from which it originated. In the early 1990s, id Software revolutionized the side-scrolling platformer genre with Commander Keen, a PC game starring a young boy who becomes a space-faring hero. One enemy, the Dopefish, could be found in underwater regions, appearing goofy and harmless until it ate Commander Keen.
The Dopefish was so popular that it began to appear in id Software and other studios’ games for decades after its debut. The most recent appearance of the Dopefish was in the 2020 video game Doom Eternal (pictured), while Commander Keen has largely faded into obscurity.