How does one create a cartoon character for a video game which will be able to stand the test of time? Well, there is no definite formula really. If there is, then how can one describe the similarities between Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog as they become the respective mascots of the game companies Nintendo and SEGA?
What it all boils down to is a set of factors which work in the favor of a video game cartoon character in order to stand out among the competition. To understand this further, let’s move away from anthropomorphic cartoon mascots to a real person rendered into the video game world: Lara Croft of the storied Tomb Raider franchise.
For the uninitiated, Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game series which normally centers on the search for a very powerful artifact by the female treasure hunter Lara Croft as she is pursued by many shady organizations out to get her. The first game of the entire franchise was released in 1996 and was very instrumental in the success of the first Sony PlayStation video game console. In 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records gave the distinction to Lara as the "Most Successful Human Videogame Heroine" in 2006.
A third sequel is being planned and is yet unnamed. Early reports have indicated that Angelina Jolie may not return to reprise her role. It is expected to be a reboot of the origins of the franchise in a similar way as Batman in Batman Begins. Among the rumored celebrities being courted for the new role is Megan Fox of the upcoming sci-fi movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Lara Croft is an example of how a character can be used to enhance a franchise (in this case, a video game) by targeting its demographic. With the peg of Tomb Raider for the male hardcore gaming demographic, the sex appeal of Lara Croft was used as a primary marketing pull. Another huge factor is the originality of Lara Croft at a time when most of the lead video game characters were mainly male.