2D side scrolling action adventures used to all the rage on consoles before they fell to more popular genres. Fighting games finally took their toll on this genre and in recent generations of consoles, First Person Shooters (FPS) have made their push against the likes of Capcom and Namco. 20 years ago today, Sunsoft dropped Aero the Acro-Bat onto the laps of gamers in North America (if you happened to own an SNES or Genesis) and sales showed fans wanted more (a direct sequel and a spin-off title were produced later).
Taking up inspiration from more recent gaming mascots such as Bubsy and Sonic, Aero has a slight attitude, something Mario was completely devoid of (and still is, honestly). This edginess went well with the circus themed levels, darker colors and challenging gameplay (congrats if you beat this game without throwing at least one controller to its doom).
There was an official sequel, Aero the Acro-Bat 2 and a spin-off title, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, both of which appeared on both SNES and Genesis. Later, the original was ported to the Game Boy Advance. The Wii Virtual Console has received both Aero the Acro-Bat and Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (Zero was left to the sands of time).