As in life and Uwe Boll's Postal, it's always the good that die young in video games. Playing Earthworm Jim HD recently, we suddenly started thinking about 90s characters we'd loved that slipped away into gaming obscurity long before they should have. So join us, as we hold a wake for our favourite game stars from the decade of Jar Jar Binks, who all checked out in premature or undignified fashion . Sleep well, gentle princes. You truly were too beautiful for this world <sniff>.
Last known whereabouts: Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus (1998)
Debuting in 1997, Abe was an extraterrestrial life form that made impromptu bowel movements, arthritic platforming and slave labour cool again. Granted, he moved like the Prince of Persia… if he’d just had a dodgy hip replacement through the NHS. But then again, he was basically a green Che Guevara. Although he was admittedly more concerned about saving his fellow co-workers from getting turned into tasty beverages than starting a Marxist revolution.
Sadly, time was running out on our semi beloved factory worker. Although he was originally slated to appear in a five game quintology of Oddworld titles, he was replaced just three games in by an alien with serious Clint envy in Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. While the Western-style adventure was well received, it sold like petrified equestrian bum biscuits.
Above: Abe, your farts truly brightened up our lives. Bless you
Chances of being resurrected: Shiiittt. Pass me a Proton Pack!
Pretty dang decent. Series co-founder Jeff Braun recently confirmed that work had started on a game that had the cinematic quality of a “CGI-based film”. Although he tempered this by revealing it would take years to make. D’oheth!
Last known whereabouts: Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution <shudder>
Afro, Afro, Afro. Where did it all go wrong, buddy? Once the darling of not entirely shitty comedy boxing genre, Thunder took the Dreamcast by storm in the last millennium’s final year. With his mighty locks and fists quicker than a greased Scotsman, he stunned any Dreamcast gamers he crossed swords with (mind out of the gutter, sicko).
Pity his series was about to take the almightiest of nosedives into vapid, celebrity-pleasing nonsense. First it was Michael Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal in Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2. Then, after the series looked like it had suffered a reasonably honourable death after nine years in the wilderness, it returned in 2009… with shitting Simon Cowell as one of the fighters. Oh, Afro.
Above: Afro as we want to remember him: getting his face punched in
Chances of being resurrected: Slim. Please God, slim.
Considering 2009’s ill-advised Ready to Rumble: Revolution is currently sitting pretty on an average Metacritic rating of 37, we’d say we’ve seen the last of Afro. Ah well, at least we won’t have to watch him getting his faced punched in by a man wearing ridiculously high trousers again.
Last known whereabouts: Duke Nukem Forever (Oh man, the pain is still so fresh)
The stogie-smoking, soap opera-loving, womanising wonder first broke onto our monitors in 1991. In the years that followed, his sweary, stripper-shagging antics charmed the pants of anyone lucky enough to step into his awesomely manly shoes. Duke, quite simply, had the world by the g-string and could stuff as many blood-covered dollar bills down it as he wanted.
Then a little thing called Duke Nukem Forever happened. A hugely ambitious shooter, the project was in development for over a decade. It was finally taken out back and put out of its misery Old Yeller-style last year. And even for a hero so kick-ass he can fill aliens with lead while simultaneously getting a lap dance, we fear we’ve seen the last of the Duke.
Above: Now that's a man
Chances of being resurrected: We’re sacrificing lambs to pagan gods as we speak. But don’t get your hopes us.
Despite 3D Realms claims that the Forever is still in development, publisher Take-Two Interactive have filed a lawsuit against the developer for failing to finish the project. At any rate, we reckon our role model ain’t coming back. But a gamer can dream. A gamer can dream.
Last known whereabouts: Earthworm Jim HD (Buy it!)
An earthworm that became a superhero. A superhero that met a cow. A cow that totally crushed a princess. Our tenuous Gladiator-related intros aside, Jim was one of the brightest shining starts of early 90s platforming. When his original adventure stormed the Genesis and SNES back in 1994, it’s weird, wonderful and giant hamster-intensive levels were like nothing gamers had seen before.
Our invertebrate ass-kicker then when onto star in an equally crackers and critically acclaimed sequel. But sadly, the glory days couldn’t last. Personally, we blame the N64’s dreadful Earthworm Jim 3D (which was developed without original developer Shiny) for our spineless saviour’s downfall. Jim subsequently went onto demean himself even further by appearing in Clayfighter 63 1/3. That sound? The wails of a thousand 90s men children weaned on 16-bit platforming.
Above: Andy Asteroids (aka the best name for a mini-game ever)
Chances of being resurrected: We can rebuild him, we have the technology.
Thanks to Jim’s triumphant Xbox Live HD reboot, we reckon there’s life in this mud muncher yet. Although series creator Doug TenNapel denied Earthworm Jim 4 is in development, he still remains hopeful that it’ll see the light of day.