Given all the racial news lately and that Black History Month is upon us I got to thinking about black video game characters. After some reminiscing and researching, I discovered that there are very few. With modern games and customizable options, though, black characters are becoming more prevalent, and this is likely a trend that will continue. Still, looking back to the days of the 8-bit NES, black characters were rarer than female ones. Off the top of your head, can you name even three? Not so easy, is it? I’m not including real-life athletes in this list of black NES characters (sorry, Bo Jackson and Mike Tyson), which made it even more difficult to compile. Anyway, after the jump, take a look at six – yes, sadly, there’s just six – black characters from NES games.
Mr. Sandman – Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!
Mr. Sandman appears just before Little Mac’s bout with Super Macho Man, and he’s one of the most difficult opponents in the game. To defeat him, you have to hit him in the face and then unload on his body. Mr. Sandman’s vicious uppercuts take off tons of energy, but once you figure out his attack patterns, he’s not too difficult. Come to think of it, Punch Out! features a pretty diverse group of boxers: Asians, Spaniards, blacks, Germans, Russians, etc.
Doc Louis – Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!
Doc – who somewhat resembles the dad from Family Matters – trains Little Mac throughout Punch Out! and offers valuable advice in between rounds of every fight. “Join the Nintendo Fun Club today!” is sage advice that even Angelo Dundee couldn’t think up by himself. The iconic image of Doc riding a bicycle in front of a pink jumpsuit-wearing Little Mac is memorable to say the least.
The Giant – Kung Fu
At the end of Floor 3 in Kung Fu, Thomas finds himself staring up at this monster in a wife-beater. Unlike some of the other bosses, the Giant doesn’t need sticks or magic to fight – just his big, strong fists. I imagine him sitting in a chair, sweating and pounding beers before Thomas disturbs him. i-mockery remembers him in a slightly different way.
Mohawk – Arch Rivals
Mohawk was the most recognizable character from Arch Rivals because of his big, green mohawk. I don’t have much else to say about Mohawk, and as you can see, I’m really stretching here trying to identify black NES characters.
Mack – M.C. Kids
Like, really stretching. In M.C. Kids – a Super Mario Bros. 3 ripoff based on McDonald’s – you can choose to play as either Mick or Mack. The characters are identical in nearly every single way, except for their skin pixel color.
Computer Opponent – Track & Field
This is how difficult it was to find black NES characters that weren’t real life athletes.
I’m certainly not accusing Nintendo of being racist – the games are made in Japan and most don’t even feature humans – but I really don’t know any more. If you do, post ’em in the comments.