Now here’s a game that’ll make you laugh out loud… Pepsiman by Japanese developer Kindle Imagine Develop (aka KID). It was only ever released in Japan, although the game is entirely in English and features full motion video segments in English too.
Pepsiman was the Japanese Pepsi mascot who appeared in TV commercials for the famous soft drink manufacturer in the mid-to-late 1990s. He apparently became quite popular in Japan so naturally someone decided to make a video game based on him, and the resulting game is pretty funny. Pepsiman (the game) was apparently made on a low budget and sold for a low price when it came out, although I can’t find a reference to how much it sold for. If it was for the Japanese equivalent of less than ten pounds, then it was an okay purchase!
The basic aim of Pepsiman is to collect as many cans of Pepsi as possible over various urban courses, while at the same time avoiding the many hazards put in front of the silver and blue ‘superhero’ as he runs along. Pepsiman constantly runs forward, unless he crashes into something, or falls down a hole, or comes a cropper some other way. You can jump over things (like cars or fences, or through windows), and slide under things (often Pepsi trucks that block the road) to avoid crashing. All the while the ridiculous (but funny) Pepsiman theme plays repeatedly to the action.
Occasionally Pepsiman will inadvertently get a trash can stuck over his head, which reverses the controls. As Pepsiman runs through the courses the hazards become more frequent and dangerous. Workmen (and their heavy equipment) will get in the way. Large holes in the ground will swallow him if not jumped over. Cars will turn out of junctions directly into his path. Banana skins will make him slip and fall. He even has to jump and run through various houses to continue on his way. Pepsiman never stops running… That is: unless he runs out of time, or unless he reaches the Pepsi machine at the end of each course, in which case the level ends and his tally of collected cans is totted-up.
There are four levels in total, each broken up into smaller stages. Most of the time Pepsiman runs into the screen, but sometimes he runs towards the screen, which is much more difficult. Occasionally he’ll also jump on a skateboard (which speeds things up considerably), or even rides a barrel. The game is notorious for its difficulty and is no pushover. At the end of each stage Pepsiman delivers a can of Pepsi to a person who is dehydrated, thus saving the day. Just like in the commercials… LOL.
While Pepsiman was a Japan-only commercial character he did find fame in the West, partly due to this game being rediscovered by YouTubers who have since defined it as a ‘cult game’. Some commentators have said that Pepsiman is a bit like Crash Bandicoot, but in my opinion that is stretching it a bit.
Personally, I enjoyed playing Pepsiman – much more than I enjoyed playing something like The Adventures of Batman & Robin – even though it is very silly. There’s something about it that makes it funny and enjoyable in equal measure. Even though it does get difficult quickly. It’s not a game that you’re going to play for more than a few hours, although there is always the challenge of trying to complete it, or beat your previous can-collecting records.