Don’t Call It a Comeback; 5 Nintendo Characters That Need Their Time in the Sun

Geno, Super Mario RPG, Nintendo, Character, spinoff, game

When you’ve been around as long as Nintendo has, you’ll no doubt have a few unfamiliar faces in your lineup. For every Mario, there’s like fifty Doshin the Giants. When they approach you at the party, you try desperately to figure out what their name is, where you know them from, and how you can worm your way out of the conversation. Best bet is to just be vague, ask them how work is going. Surely Doshin appreciates idle chit-chat. Bail out before he spikes your drink.

Sometimes, characters fall to the wayside through no fault of their own, simply lost in the folds of time for one reason or another. Over the last few years, Nintendo seems to have become increasingly fond of throwing us retro fanciers a bone, adding more little nods to these fine folks of old and sometimes even reintroducing them into the franchise. That’s how Pauline became mayor of New Donk City, a town with an economy so booming, her face is literally on the currency. Maybe, then, there’s still hope for these five wandering souls to be plucked from the ether, spruced up and returned to their former glory.


Super Mario RPG

Of course Geno’s on this list. He may be the single most influential one-shot Mario character of all time. A wooden puppet possessed by a star warrior from the heavens, Geno is as no-nonsense as they come, with an impressive arsenal of attacks and techniques. He can fire bullets from his fingers, pull out a magic wand to bathe enemies in a beam of light, and even turn into a cannon to dish out maximum damage. He kind of sounds like an overpowered OC from the vivid imagination of a very lonely ten-year-old (DO NOT STEAL).

His only other appearances are as a completely unexpected cameo in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the GBA where he hosted a minigame in Little Fungitown, and as a downloadable costume in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, aka the Smash Bros. games with the horrible subheadings. And though these were greatly encouraging for the character’s future, we’ve also had a few setbacks along the way – chiefly, the fact that last October’s remake of Superstar Saga on the 3DS removed Geno entirely. The motive for this is unclear, whether it was due to licensing issues with Square Enix, or purely an aesthetic choice, as no character is inserted to take his place. Whatever the reason, it was a slap in the face for fans of the obscure hero, and seems to put us back at square one (pun?) for the time being. At least he’s in a better position than Mallow – we haven’t heard a peep from that sucker in over twenty years.

Heike Kagero

Super Punch-Out

You know that Scissor Sisters track Filthy/Gorgeous? That would be an excellent theme song for this guy right here. Well, either that or something like Shizuka na Hibi no Kaidan Wo because, y’know, he’s Japanese and all. And we’re all weeaboos at heart.

The youngest ever competitor in Punch-Out outside of Little Mac himself, Heike is a pompous kabuki who enjoys a good giggle session and maintaining his long, luscious locks. That hair is more than just for show however, as he can also use it as a whip to catch you off-guard. His trademark technique, the mirage dance, sends him flitting about the screen before assaulting you with a sneak attack. Sure, he totally aped it from Great Tiger, but it’s much prettier when it’s being employed by everyone’s favorite bishi.

Sadly, Heike was passed up for other, more familiar competitors in the latest entry on the Wii, like most of his Super Nintendo brethren. Canada’s hairy son Bear Hugger was the only boxer from Super Punch-Out to make the squad, and his debut had actually been years earlier, in the series’ second arcade game. For some reason, the SNES edition gets no love, and that’s just a damn shame.

Winky the Frog

Donkey Kong Country Winky

The animal buddies from Donkey Kong Country each aided the Kongs in their own unique fashion, and in the case of Winky, that consisted of leaping to incredible heights to reach previously inaccessible areas. He probably also kept flies at bay and enjoyed a Budweiser every now and then. The point is, Winky was an especially fun character to use, but the writing was on the wall for him at an early stage. In the much-anticipated sequel, Winky had been replaced by Rattly the rattlesnake, a coiled serpent who operated in much the same fashion, albeit with a souped up super jump and forked tongue poking out all the while. Winky fans the world over felt besmirched; not only had he been shown the door, but the fact that he had been scrapped for a facsimile that played almost exactly the same was particularly painful. So what happened? Did the staff at Rare have a falling out with frogs?

Funnily enough, we actually know the true reason, and at long last, we can fill you in on this most compelling mystery. According to Steve Mayles, character designer and sprite artist for both titles, “the way Winky hopped/jumped meant you often plummeted to your death amid much swearing. The frog wasn’t allowed back for DKC2” Admittedly, Rattly’s less gangly animation did make for more precise controls, and in hindsight, it probably isn’t a coincidence that Expresso the ostrich, whose long legs made him similarly tricky to handle, was also omitted from subsequent titles.

But surely, all these years later, we should have found a suitable method to render Winky in such a way that makes him less cumbersome? It’s time for us to reach down into the depths of our imagination (as well as, presumably, whatever bottomless pit Winky happened to have fallen into) and find a way to bring this plucky companion back from the brink. Come now, guys – hop to it!


Fire Emblem Cormag

With no less than twelve original titles in the Fire Emblem franchise, there has been a veritable swarm of fantastic and memorable characters at your disposal. Though many of them have been treated well, becoming staples of the series, others have been quietly and patiently waiting in the wings – and in the case of Cormag, we mean that quite literally.

Hailing from the Grado empire in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Cormag is a stoic wyvern rider that brings his foes to their knees from atop a mighty dragon. On the surface, he may appear to be your average strong, silent type, but he has many more layers beyond that which make him quite endearing. He loves kittens, he loves woodworking, he loves justice, and he loves Adventure Time. We don’t know that last one for certain – we’re going out on a limb here.

Cormag is out for revenge on the people who killed his brother and initially confronts your party as an enemy unit. When he realizes that it was actually the work of his own general, Valter, he defects to join Eirika and Ephraim on their journey. Should you choose to challenge Valter using Cormag, the two will have an epic exchange before trading blows. That would probably be the preferred option, over letting some random like Neimi do the dirty work. Hopefully Cormag’s absence will be coming to an end soon, with Fire Emblem Heroes adding more and more units to its playable roster. Let’s just hope he hasn’t been replaced entirely by more recent dragoons like Gerome, Beruka and the scary booby queen Camilla.


Star Fox Miyu Faye

This one is loaded with technicalities: officially, these two Star Fox characters only made their debut last year in Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic, and by that same token, they actually have already made their comeback after more than twenty years of nonexistence. But specifically then, said comeback is actually their sole appearance, and… and… good gracious. It’s a paradox complex enough to make your head explode. We apologize for the mess.

Now that they’re finally off the schneid and have an actual title under their belts, we can all begin to speculate as to whether they will be present in some capacity in the next Star Fox game. Nothing is assured of course, considering that they are two reboots away from the present continuity, but at the very least, they could have a guest starring role as allies to the squad, in a similar capacity to Katt or Bill. They’re fairly blank slates on the personality front; we know that Fay is the daughter of a family of aristocrats, while Miyu blows lovely kisses, and that’s all very nice. Feel free to extrapolate that as you will: perhaps one of them could be the last surviving member of her race, have telepathic powers, and wield a staff. She’ll also double as Fox’s love interest, and probably have an English accent. That should be a formula for success!

About the author

Tony Cocking

A miserable little pile of secrets. Unabashed Nintendo stan, Resident Evil fancier and obscure anime enthusiast who insists everything is funnier when the rule of three is applied. Oh, and once I saw a blimp!