Are there Only Six Black NES Characters in Existence?

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.

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  1. @ FriarNoir

    From the article:

    “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.”

    Thanks for not reading, and for simply looking at the pretty pictures before commenting. Amazing.

    Michael F. Stoppe



    Bonnie(yes a female black character)

    I’m sure there are more

  3. @Madison about Mark
    I think Mark was referring to your sarcastic comment to FriarNoir not the article itself.

    As far as the article itself, I am really excited to see how socially aware this whole website it and this article is just a great example of that. A lot of humor websites just have drivel, but I am please to see that this site points out sexism, racism, and bad messages in things like movies, video games, etc. I love it!

  4. I have thought about this before, and I’m not so sure that racism really ever played a role. A lot of it may have to do with how well certain colors and shapes animated with the limited capabilities of the NES. The reason that Mario (or Jumpman in the DK arcade) had a hat, mustache, and overalls is because those were ways to add distinguishable features on a character who was maybe 100 pixels total. It may be that using darker colors for skin tone made it more difficult to animate these features on such simple hardware. I could be wrong, but that’s my thought.

  5. @FriarNoir

    black or white, Moonwalker wouldn’t count. Sega isn’t a NES system. she said NES characters.

    Sega had more than 6 i’m sure, esp due to mortal kombat

  6. Maybe it’s because the work for the games was all done in Japan and they weren’t concerned about how many black people they had in the games?

  7. What about games that have characters based on TV shows/Movies?

    If they count, I can think of a few more black characters:
    – Winston from New Ghostbusters II
    – Kwame from Captain Planet

    There’s probably much more than that, if we’re allowed to count already established characters like the ones I just listed.

  8. what was that one game… it was like super violent olympics, in the graphical style of River City Ransom… I think some of the team members were black. or was that on SNES… I cant rememember any

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