The idea for the TSA advent articles hit me at half past two in the morning on the 2nd of December 2009. How then did Tuffcub manage to start off the whole thing 24 hours ago on the 1st of December? Well, time-zones, I’m in Australia. Being in such a country has brought about a few changes in my appearance. I’ve got my shorts on, I wear sunglasses and, like all Brits abroad, I’ve turned a good few shades redder. So this ties in nicely with today’s superultramegafuntimezsurprise topic: the changing appearances of gaming mascots.
First off, let’s take Lara Croft. Did you know that she was originally supposed to be a man? With a whip and a hat? Unsurprisingly it was asked that his design be changed to avoid trodding on the toes of some other “famous” explorer. Can’t think who it could have been, but regardless, the design team went in the complete opposite direction and Laura Cruz was born. A South American woman with a taste for adventure! However, it was thought that a more British name would make the character more easy to relate to so the team opened a UK phonebook and found the closest, most British alternative to the name that they could and Lara Croft was born. Her appearance then went through many changes from being a sociopath, a muscle woman and a even nazi militant. Even once her now familiar design was chosen, it was a “slip of the mouse” that increased her breast size by 150% of their original size. If only it were that easy in real life…
It doesn’t stop with Lara though, as Crash Bandicoot was originally supposed to be a Wombat called Willy. Spyro was supposed to be green, but they didn’t want him to blend into the grass. Master Chief was supposed to be much less bulky and had an antenna on non-green armor but was seen to look to effeminate. Kratos was supposed to have hair, a mask and a child on his back, but they wanted less “flowy things” and to make him look more greek and brutal. Sonic was also going to be everything from an armadillo to a man in pajamas before the blue hedgehog was finally settled upon as it reflected the Sega logo. Even Pac-Man was inspired by a pizza with a missing slice and was created to appeal to women because Pac-Man eats a lot and so do women apparently.
Then to top it off, there’s Mario who was named after the landlord of an early Nintendo warehouse, Mario Shigali. Mr Shigali was a demanding landlord and following a particularly heated debate about when he would be paid his rent, the development team decided to name the character after him. His hat and mustash are there becase they didn’t want to animate hair or a mouth, and his big nose is there to show that he’s human. His blue and red outfit is also there to help him stand out against the background. He’s come a long way from “Jumpman – That animal cruelty guy who drove his pet ape to insanity leading it to kidnap a princess and throw a lot of barrels down some slopes”.
I’ll be honest, when I pictured this feature, I never thought that the articles would be as long as this, but there we go! There’s a lot planned for the month, and it’s mostly surrounding gaming triva, and no matter how much we have, we’d love more! So if you have any fun, little known facts or stories about the gaming world, email them to me at: lorcan[at]thesixthaxis[dot]com with “TSA Advent” in the subject. If your fact gets used, there’ll also be a nice handful of points in it for you. Don’t make stuff up though, I’ll be checking!