It is no secret that Nintendo has a lot of franchises out there, including many classic characters that have not seen the light of day for some time. Super Smash Bros. helped to bring some of these heroes back to the front-light such as Pit and the Ice Climbers. Then there are many characters from popular classics like Mach Rider and Star Tropics. These characters are very popular and people would love to see their series reinvented for a modern era. But there are even more Nintendo stars than just the ones you might know and that is what this article is about. I have picked five characters from the NES era that I think deserve a bit more attention so let’s dive right in!
Mr. Stevenson – Gumshoe
The original Liam Neeson, one day Mr. Stevenson’s daughter is kidnapped by the head of the Mafia and is up to him and his particular set of skills to get back what they took from him. How does he do this? Diamonds! Not quite the same as Mr. Neeson I know but that does not mean Mr. Stevenson doesn’t initiate in some shoot-outs. While the 24-hour time limit keeps Mr. Stevenson always on the move it is up to the player to help guide his bullet to whatever obstacle is in Mr. Stevenson’s way as he collects the 5 black panther diamonds that will lead him to his daughter. Despite being made by the same man who created Metroid, Yoshio Sakamoto, and having a Vs. version of the game in arcades Mr. Stevenson has long been forgotten about. There is a good reason for this however and it is one that plagues the more popular retro hero Mike Jones as well: Gumshoe was never released in Japan. The game was designed primarily for a western audience and with the NES Zapper in mind but due to this Mr. Stevenson’s existence has more or less been forgotten by many. He doesn’t even get a single cameo in the Super Smash Bros. series and with Duck Hunt filling in that void of the NES Zapper rep it seems unlikely that Mr. Stevenson will ever get the focus again.
Goku – Famicom Mukashi Banashi: Yuyuki
Now when everyone talks about Goku their minds tend to wander to the hit manga and anime series Dragon Ball. A story originally taking inspiration from the Chinese myth of “The Journey to the West” about a monkey called Son Wukong who is sent to defeat the OX king by the gods as a form of redemption. However, when I think of Goku my mind turns elsewhere (ok it actually still goes to Dragon Ball but humor me here) and that is to the 2nd adventure in the Famicom Mukashi Banashi series: Yuyuki. What is Famicom Mukashi Banashi you might ask? Well, folks may know it more as Nintendo Fairy Tales and will likely be aware of its more popular first adventure: Shin Onigashima or “The Demon Islands”. This was the game starring Donbe & Hikari who have gone on to appear in other titles such as Captain Rainbow, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Mario Maker. But this game’s successor, Yuyuki, all but vanished after it’s reveal outside of a small cameo in Kirby’s Dreamland 3 (which Donbe & Hikari got as well). Thanks to the more well-known Shin Onigashima it is unlikely that Goku will receive any recognition even if the Nintendo Fairy Tale series is revisited in the future but maybe if enough people keep asking he will one day get to cameo in Smash? It worked for Geno so maybe this Goku will get his time as well!
Professor Hector – Gyromite
Everyone and their Grandma knows who R.O.B. is at this point (okay maybe not but you get my point) but I doubt many people are aware of what games are his. He only had two, Stack-Up and Gyromite, which he himself didn’t appear in. R.O.B. just helped the player actually play these games. Instead, the character most players were in control off was Professor Hector, the man who supposedly invented R.O.B. Looking like an aging Mario without the hat it was Professor Hector who player had to save as he is trapped in his lab with dynamite and killer robots. Due to R.O.B.’s emphasis being more on his role as an add-on rather than his own games it seems that Professor Hector has long since been forgotten. He managed to get a role in Tetris DS alongside Link, Mario and Samus but since then he has vanished from the limelight. Maybe a Gyromite themed level in Smash could bring him back. After all, it is unlikely that Nintendo will ever bring R.O.B. back again which makes his games one of the few that can’t be put on the Virtual Console.
Fighter Hayabusa – Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling was just one of the many titles in Nintendo’s sport series. While many remember the likes of Ice Hockey, Golf and Baseball it seems that Pro Wrestling went largely unnoticed. This is a shame because of all the sports games it was Pro Wrestling that actually had real characters rather than just generic sportsman. Golf’s player would eventually get a name for himself in Captain Rainbow but the wrestlers of Pro Wrestling didn’t need another game to give them character. Fighter Hayabusa was the star, a wrestler from Japan who fought monks, masked wrestlers, and even the creature from the Black Lagoon in order to become the wrestling star of the VWA. While the game is known more for it’s ‘A Winner is You’ meme than the actual characters those who did play this game likely have fond memories of the wacky wrestlers much like people do with real wrestling stars. A big reason this series went under-appreciated was the developers of the game were not Nintendo themselves but a second party known as TRY at the time. They later went on to become Human Entertainment and made their own spiritual successor to Pro Wrestling called Fire Pro Wrestling which has seen releases all the way up until 2012. However the characters of the original are all Nintendo owned property and so without the original developer it is unlikely we will see these wrestlers return.
Lover Boy -Time Twist
The final unsung hero of the NES is a young boy sporting a real Vegeta-styled haircut. After the Famicom Mukashi Banashi was over the team behind it went off to write a new story set all across time for the end of the Famicom Disk Systems line-up. This game was called Time Twist and starred an unnamed protagonist who I am just going to cal Lover Boy for the sake of this article. Lover Boy loves horoscopes and one day when learning that his horoscope has promised him the love of his life he makes sure to follow its instruction. Sure he bumps into a beautiful young girl by doing this but he also unleashes an ancient demon that takes the form of the main character and proceeds to travel through time, affecting history at various key-points in time such as World War 2 and the Crucifixion of Christ. It is up to Lover Boy to right these wrongs and follow the demon through time, searching for a way to seal him for good while fixing up history. A Japan only release much like Goku, Lover Boy is hampered by the issue of obscurity even in the country his game was released in. This is partly due to its 1991 release date on a system that had not sold very well one year after the launch of the next system: The Super Famicom.
Every generation Nintendo released games and series with characters that go unappreciated. In this article I decided to only cover those from the NES and Famicom eras of gaming but maybe in the future I can tackle later generations as well. Until then, let me know what you think of these five heroes. Did you know who they were before this article? Do you hope that one day Nintendo might give them some recognition or do you think their fall into obscurity is justified? Let me know in the comments below!