Microsoft has the savior of mankind, Master Chief. Sega has the famous blue hedgehog that we all either love or hate, and Nintendo can be summed up in one word: Mario. So, where does Sony fit into this equation? Most companies have established their own sort of mascot that receives its fair share of games, each amassing mind-boggling popularity. It doesn’t have to be just one character, either. For Nintendo alone one can name quite a few popular characters who are synonymous with the company, such as Link, Samus Aran, and Princess Peach.
While Sony’s early days with the original PlayStation heralded the diminutive Crash Bandicoot, Sony has never truly had that one singular mascot that you’d see anywhere and instantly think to yourself, “Oh, man. I gotta get the next X game.” True, there were a few really great Crash Bandicoot games, but over the years, the franchise has all but fizzled out.
No, while fellow companies were making names for themselves through their series of mascot games, Sony has never really been one for heralding one emblematic character. Instead, through the years, they’ve sought to keep the spotlight on the fact that they have a large variety of different characters, like Sly Cooper, or even Ratchet and Clank. Some could argue that recently Kratos has become a character that gamers look toward as Sony’s flagship mascot, but with the upcoming release of the eagerly anticipated LittleBigPlanet, that notion is about to be turned on its head.
Sony has seemed just a bit out of place during its entire inception as a viable video game provider. True, they have quality products and are making quite the splash with the PlayStation 3 despite what critics say, and most of the blockbuster titles coming out these days are also being made for the PS3. It offers free online service, a store with which you can download the hottest new PlayStation Network games, demos and multimedia, not to mention the fact that the PS3 is the only current console that provides the option to play Blu-Ray discs. Sony’s got a lot going for it, but it’s always been missing that edge that Nintendo and Microsoft have had over it for the longest time.
With the announcement of LittleBigPlanet all those days ago, a newer, more contemporary, and even more family-friendly mascot than ever reared its adorable little head: the Sackboy. A tiny brown, plushy being with cute black eyes and an innocent smile invites gamers to create their very own worlds in the upcoming revolutionary platforming game. Already in its beta stage, gamers (not including myself) are clamoring just for a small taste of what the game is going to offer, and that my friend, is a lot. The Sackboy smiles at you with its vacant, hollow eyes, inviting you to come check it out, and it’s really an offer you can’t refuse.
The Sackboy is everything a mascot should be. It’s small, plain, cute, and you remember its name. Granted, I’m not sure that the name Sackboy is the best name that they could have come up with (“Mom! Could I have that Sackboy doll, pleeeease?”), but it’s short, sweet, and you can instantly associate it with LittleBigPlanet and Sony. Interestingly enough, sibling companies of Sony established their mascots through platformers, save for Microsoft and Master Chief. LittleBigPlanet is a platformer, and also the PlayStation 3’s coup de grace. It’s that one huge chance to boost sales through the roof, and Sony is pumped and primed to market the darling little Sackboy until it can’t stand anymore on its poofy, adorable little legs.
With preorders of LittleBigPlanet, gamers are offered the code for either a Sackboy dressed up as Kratos from the popular God of War franchise or as Nariko from Heavenly Sword. Not only that, but the cute little rascal has been spotted in the game Pain. We can only surmise what’s coming next; will Sackboys get their own series of games beyond LittleBigPlanet? What about all the plushies, school supplies, dolls, t-shirts, stickers, posters, toasters, and other useless junk that children will see and have to purchase? It’s all one very massive marketing bid that seems to be building up quite the amount of steam.
However, I do have to wonder if the Sackboy has what it takes to become a fully-fledged mascot. So far, the Sackboy has no real story to tell, no voice, no personality, no nothing. It’s just an adorable little character. Can it really hold up to video game icons such as Mario, Link, Sonic, Master Chief, or Pac-Man (that’s really pushing it!)?
Remember, being cute can only get you so far. Sony, you can push the massively endearing little Sackboy all you want, but you’re going to have to prove that it’s worthy of the Sony name before I buy into all the hype.
We’ll have to see what all goes down on Oct. 21, when LittleBigPlanet is finally released into the hands of ravenous fans.