Corporate mascots have been around basically as long as corporations themselves, with some being far more memorable than others. In the late 1990s, Pepsi introduced one of their own: a spandex-clad superhero known as Pepsiman. And 20 years ago, in 1999, that character starred in the PlayStation title, also known simply as Pepsiman.
Pepsiman was created by the Japanese branch of the beverage company, and had three different outfits, each based on a different style of the Pepsi cans that were in distribution at the time. The character would appear in various commercials to heroically deliver soda to thirsty people in need. Pepsiman actually made his video game debut in the 1996 Sega Saturn game Fighting Vipers as a playable character with the special ability to “quench one’s thirst.”
The PlayStation Pepsiman game was an action title in which Pepsiman must navigate his way across four different stages in order to save people in need of a soda. Pepsiman can dash, jump, and slide in order to avoid obstacles, and will occasionally also use a skateboard to go faster. Each stage ends with a chase, with Pepsiman having to run away from a giant Pepsi can in one case.
The game was interspersed with live-action scenes featuring actor Mike Butters, who essentially portrayed a very stereotypical view of Americans – he would drink Pepsi, eat junk food, watch TV, and promote Pepsi during these scenes, but not much else. Interestingly, though the game ended up being a Japanese exclusive, the entire game is actually in English. It received decent critical reception but didn’t sell particularly well, and contemporary reviews of the game mostly note it for its absurdity. Pepsiman features perhaps the most product placement of any other video game on earth, and having to navigate the wacky Japanese hero through an endless stream of Pepsi advertisements certainly makes it an odd footnote for both the Pepsi company and for PlayStation.