If you ask Joe Public who their favourite video game hero is, you can bet your ass most of them will say Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario. Why wouldn’t they? Let’s face it, the chubby plumber and lightning fast … um … hedgehog have been sitting pretty for decades as the undisputed kings of video gaming.
But what about those lesser known heroes? The forgotten few who dared to dream big but lost all of their lives without a hint of a continue? Well here at Horror Geek Life we haven’t forgotten them, and by golly we’re not about to let you guys forget them either.
So brace yourselves for a trip down memory lane as we bring you a list of our favourite forgotten heroes of gaming’s retro era.
Special Forces Operative Roy Adams – Operation Wolf (Taito, 1987)
When you’re out in the field, fighting a relentless enemy, you need a hero you can count on. You need a hero who, despite only being able to run to the right, will always have your back. A hero who is scared of no one and wields an Uzi like they had been born with it in their manly hands. You need a hero like Operation Wolf’s Roy Adams!
Created back in the glory era of coin-op gaming, Operation Wolf was a side scrolling shoot-em-up that allowed kids like you or I to take control of an ‘ultra-realistic’ firearm in order to rescue prisoners of war from a nondescript enemy (an enemy we all knew were evil because they had mustaches or beards). They probably said bad words too and kicked their dogs when they got home at night.
Hen-House Harry – Chuckie Egg (A&F Software, 1983)
How do you like your eggs in the morning? If you answered “made from chocolate” then you should be ashamed of yourself – go sit in the corner! But, if the answer is fresh from the mutated backside of a giant blue chicken then you’re in luck!
Those of you reading this who were lucky enough to play video games that were pre-loaded onto cassettes may remember this little gem from A&F Software that saw you take on the role of stylish chicken farmer, Hen-House Harry, a rotund little man in coveralls who risks his life time and time again to provide the world with some of that eggy goodness we all love so much.
Mmm, eggy goodness. I was just sick in my mouth when I typed that.
The story of Hen-House Harry is a sad one though, despite being the leading man in a million plus selling game that spawned a sequel and a modern PC based remake, Harry never quite reached the level of fame enjoyed by his fellow coverall wearing peers and quickly faded from public like an eggy fart.
Wonder Boy – Various (Sega, 1986)
Wonder Boy teaches us that if you’re handsome, blonde, and pretty much naked then you can achieve anything, which I’m sure you will agree is a valuable life lesson. One that I have taken into adult life – well, the naked bit anyway. I’m naked right now.
Where were we?
Dizzy – Various (Codemasters, 1987)
How do you like your eggs in the … oh wait, I used that joke already.
Video game developers really must have loved eggs though because back in the 1980’s they were everywhere, and Dizzy was the literal King of the Yolkfolk. Designed as the 8-bit home computer’s answer to Sonic and Mario, Dizzy bounced and rolled his way through various levels collecting potions and other useful items that enabled him to complete his quest which usually revolved around rescuing his fellow egg people, and trying to get it on with Daisy because game developers in the 80’s were weird.
Dizzy enjoyed a lot of success through the years, starring in 8 official sequels as well as numerous spin-offs and an iPhone friendly re-imagining in 2015. Rumours of a next gen console reboot however turned out to be a bit of a yolk.
I’m just yolking.
I’ll get my coat.
Alex Kidd – Various (Sega, 1986)
I have very large hands. Having large hands can make it difficult to type. For years I thought my giant hands were a curse. That was until Alex Kidd came along.
As someone with very big hands I could really identify with the mega-fisted man child. He made me realise that I didn’t have to spend my adult years renting my mitts out to construction sites as digging implements. No, I could instead go on adventures in mystical worlds and smash things with my fists!
Alex Kidd also led me to believe that I could settle every conflict I came into with a game of rock, paper, scissors. That’s really not true. Mind you I had more success settling problems that way than Alex did in becoming the poster boy for Sega.
James Pond – James Pond (Vectordean Ltd, 1990)
He’s suave. He’s dangerous. He’s … a fish?! Seriously, who comes up with these games?
With a name as bad as the puns in this feature, James Pond also known as Robocod was the underwater world’s answer to MI5’s super spy 007, solving crimes in the murky depths of the ocean, battling villains with equally terrible names such as Dr Maybe and presumably, because this is set in British waters, avoiding getting trapped in six pack rings or getting tetanus from rusty shopping trolleys.
Daley Thompson – Track and Field/Decathlon (Ocean, 1984)
Way before sporting stars like Tiger Woods or Charles Barkley had their own video games, Britain’s own 80’s Olympian Daley Thompson was setting the standard in Daley Thompson’s Track and Field.
As you can see from the above image, Track and Field was a realistic look at the Olympic Decathlon event, with photo real imagery and state of the art motion capture. Players were presented with the unenviable role of playing ‘generic white guy’ as they feebly attempted to shake their joystick back and forth quick enough to make him out run, out jump and out throw the moustachioed Superman.
Actually, now that I come to think of it, Daley Thompson wasn’t a hero. He was a constant reminder of how terrible I was in P.E. class and the source of much parental irritation whenever I snapped my joystick trying to play the damn game! By my reckoning, I had to replace about 8 joysticks for this game alone and at today’s rate of inflation, Daley Thompson owes me quite a bit of money.
Where’s my money Thompson? WHERE’S MY MONEY?!