What happens when Burger King and Pepsi make video games? Hilariously obvious mascot-centric games that you play for the memes, that’s what. But though these titles are blatantly, egregiously, erroneously corporatized, they not only have redeeming qualities, but can also be fun and genuinely enjoyable to play. We’re talking, of course, about Sneak King and Pepsi Man.
Before we get into the weeds with these two titles, let’s talk about licensed games. A licensed game is simply a game based on an existing license such as a movie, TV show, or brand. Other than our two stars, such games include Battle for Bikini Bottom, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Sometimes the games can be phenomenal, like the three listed, or they can be a complete dumpster fire, like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, which performed so badly the company literally buried over 700,000 unsold cartridges in the New Mexico desert.
Then there’s Sneak King and Pepsi Man. Both games are very clearly cash grabs aimed at selling the brands they represent to a variety of consumers. Neither have the most outstanding gameplay, and they aren’t in the running to be IGN’s game of the year, but their absurd existence has gained cult followings among them. They’re not necessarily bad games; some people enjoy them quite a bit. But when there are memes, it’s public service to educate the masses about said memes, so off we go.
I first learned about this game while watching a Nintendrew collaboration video with three other Minusworld members participating in a 5 dollar bad game challenge. The goal was to buy the worst game for their friends to play, spending no more than five bucks.
As the game booted up, I saw a scarily realistic and detailed “King,” the mascot from Burger King, walking around less-realistic people (who apparently could see only 2 feet in front of them) and slowly creeping up on unsuspecting customers to deliver them food.
Yes. It’s weird.
The goal of the game is to deliver food to the most people possible in as little time as possible, all while being sneaky for some reason. The more surprised the customers are, the more points you get. As Charriii5 laughed at Nathaniel Bandy slowly regretting his decision to play this, I couldn’t help but notice that it looked… sort of fun.
There are multiple different levels to explore, tons of missions, and a concept so ridiculous that it’s entertaining. However, after watching reviews, seeing more gameplay, and doing research into the game, I learned it can stop being fun really fast; at the very least, it can get incredibly tedious. While there are numerous missions, every one boils down to the same idea: give people a sandwich without them seeing it. Though there are four distinct areas and over 20 missions per area, it gets old.
Despite the disillusionment, the game went on to sell *checks notes* over two million copies. To be fair, it’s because you could get it for $3.99 when you purchased a Value Meal and Burger King, but still… two million.
Honestly, a lot of people give the game flack before even playing it, and with good reason: it’s a licensed fast food game. Maybe the game could’ve been more enjoyable if there was more variety or if it was shorter. As it stands, though, it’s more meme than video game, albeit one that might be worth it for the three-dollar laugh.
Pepsiman follows the “Pepsiman” mascot— used to market the product in Japan— as he travels through four worlds, collects Pepsi cans, and delivers them to thirsty crowds of people. There are only twelve levels in the game and each follows a generic formula.
Level One: Enter a New World, collect cans, arrive at a vending machine.
Level Two: Continue within the New World, collect cans, arrive at group of people.
Level Three: Get chased by a giant object rolling towards you.
Sure, each level has some unique properties. One level looks post-apocalyptic, with cars crashing and everything on fire. The obstacles get harder and harder to dodge, and there are some sections where you’re stuck inside a trash can or you surf on a piece of metal. Otherwise, it’s pretty monotonous. Two of the “chase” levels have the player run from a giant Pepsi can. TWO! Out of four! That’s half!
With this description, it may seem like the game is very short. It is. To research the game, I went to Youtube, typed in “Pepsi Man,” and found this longplay. Not a speedrun, no glitches, just a guy playing the game normally from start to finish. It took 30 minutes.
Now, this longplay is almost a perfect run, the player gathering all the collectibles, avoiding hits, and never losing a life, but the fact is that even if you’re not a professional Pepsiman streamer, you can beat this game very, very quickly. However, most people will take much longer than that to beat the game, both because half the time you can’t see and because everything in this game wants to kill you. Touch a car, you die. Fall into a pit, you die. Don’t get out of the way of a buffalo in time, you die. Even Pepsi trucks, which are supposed to be on your side, try and run you over.
Where this game goes from quick cash-grab to meme to somewhat-enjoyable experience are the cutscenes. There are literal live action cutscenes within this game. Sure, the story progresses with blocky PS1 character models— one of which asks Pepsiman to deliver Pepsi to people on top of a burning building— but there are also random cutscenes with a real human being. His name is Mike Butters, and according to his IMDB page, he’s appeared in over 70 films and 40 TV shows, but people remember him for this. (Seriously, click the link)
This game has such a cult following that numerous streamers and video game influencers have reviewed and played through the game. The Angry Video Game Nerd posted his own review, complete with the mascot and Mike Butters himself.
AND FOR DESSERT…
Whether you enjoy these games, play for the memes, or think they’re proof God stays in heaven for fear of what he’s created, these are just some of the thousands of licensed games constantly put out for the world to see. You can find numerous videos on them (The Completionist reviewed both of them) or feel free to buy them for yourself; the price point on these games are quite low. At the end of the day, at least these two made their mark, even if it wasn’t how they intended.