Somehow I’ve managed to find myself making my debut on the Sega Mania blog, instantly outing myself as the complete corporate shill that I am by wishing the 7-Up mascot of all people a happy 28th birthday.
Coincidentally, this also comes on the one day of the year entirely dedicated to fools so I hope you will find it within the deep, dark recesses of yourselves to forgive the fact that I had absolutely no clue Cool Spot was a mascot in the first place until I read Simon Pike’s piece in the 1993 issue of Sega Mania (If you’ve not read it yet, why not? It’s fantastic). Like a sneaky little red-round worm, he (Cool Spot, not Simon) weaved his way into six year old David’s head and lodged himself there, apparently covertly filling his brain with cravings for a proprietary lemonade drink, leaving him completely unaware that anything sinister was afoot.
In fairness to the “dude”, this wasn’t entirely without merit. Largely lambasted nowadays, it’s easy to forget that the licensed game field was, once upon a time, fairly fertile ground for games with at least a modicum of pedigree. To this day I have a lingering fondness for the Mega Drive games Aladdin, The Lion King, Earthworm Jim (Although brutally difficult for some sadistic reason) and even dare I say it, I quite enjoyed the Jurassic park game released in 1993 on the Mega Drive. Maybe there’s another blog post in there about the best licensed games on each Sega console… anyway, I digress. What I’m saying is that Licensed games in this era were sometimes worth your attention and Cool Spot, whilst not tearing up any trees is certainly a competent experience.
At its heart, Cool Spot is a basic run and jump platformer, but one which takes full advantage of the processing speed on the Mega Drive. As opposed to other consoles at the time, the game runs slightly more smoothly with the admittedly floaty controls being somewhat offset by a more zoomed out camera. The large sprites also mean the game can take full advantage of the bold colours on screen and because Cool Spot is essentially, well, a spot, the visuals look great and I don’t know if this is a controversial statement or not, but the Cool Spot music is up there with some of the best on the console, making full use of that sound chip (A superior sound chip to competitors if you ask me).
I’m going to try and defend myself here and say if you played this game in the UK, then like me, you might be forgiven for not realising Cool Spot was in fact the fizzy drink equivalent of Duff Man (If you don’t know who he is, good lord I’m old), the 7-Up branding was removed from the UK release to avoid brand confusion with 7-Up's UK mascot Fido Dido, meaning Cool Spot, at least for UK audiences was just some “cool dude” that seemed to like lemonade a whole bunch.
Cool Spot isn’t a classic by any means. It’s a completely competent experience, doing nothing to stand out from the crowd aside from the music. What makes Cool Spot interesting from a modern perspective however is the window it offers to us back to a time when the home console industry was simultaneously becoming what it is today, but also desperately trying to find its equilibrium. An equilibrium it’s arguably still looking for. I had planned to conclude this by pointing out how we’ve come a long way between 1994 and 2022, but have we really? We still get these odd games from time to time; Burger Kings ‘Sneak King’ anyone? Or ‘Doritos Crash Course’? Then there’s the Energizer batteries in Alan Wake and and let’s not get started on NFT’s or abhorrent and pervasive microtransactions that leverage our psyche to manipulate us into opening our wallets. In many ways Cool Spot is of a simpler, more obvious time. I know I joked about it at the start, but Cool Spot isn’t trying to sell me something without me knowing about it like games today, because it’s brazenly doing it to my face and maybe in a way that’s better. We know what we are getting into and if we want a proprietary Lemonade drink after playing it then I’d wager that’s better than encouraging our kids to sink hundreds of pounds into a game with their parents credit card… maybe just don’t take 7-Up to the beach because if Cool Spot is to be believed you can kill crabs with it.
Cool Spot Vs Fido Dido
Brand: 7-Up (1987 - 1997)
Designers: Joanna Ferrone, Sue Rose
Species: Anthropomorphic Dot
Abilities: Can change into the 7-Up dot and back again.
Friends: Other Cool Spots that all look identical.
Interests: 7-Up, Being Cool, Surfing.
Disinterests: Objects larger than himself, other drinks that aren’t 7-Up.
Brand: 7-Up (1987 - Present), Lemon Lime Slice (80’s), Fruko (Turkey), Sprite (Australia), Fanta (Japan)
Years Active: 1985 -1987 (As Cartoon Character) 1987 - Present (As Mascot)
Abilities: Manipulation of reality
Friends: Doodles, Doody, Eff Dee, Boy, Lido Dido.
Interests: 7-Up, Relaxing, Taking Lif Easy, Being Cool, Girls.
Disinterests: No 7-Up, Stress, Uncoolness