Top 10 video-game characters – Part 2

28 Nov 2010

Continuing the countdown today to see who is ranked the No 1 video-game character on our list.

5. Ryu – Street Fighter series

I feel sorry for Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden). A ninja, who could only be more awesome if he was on fire, strolls out with a kick-ass name to match only to realise that someone else has the same name and is pummelling every fighter in the greatest fighting game series the world will ever see. Street Fighter’s Ryu has done the name justice since the original game was released in 1987 and he has been the flagship character for the series ever since. A series which has out-lasted every competitor who tried to take its crown. Yes, Ryu is essentially the same character as Ken, but no one likes Ken, and to this day no one can explain why!

4. Guybrush Threepwood – Monkey Island series

If I were to do this list solely on personal terms, this lovable pirate would be No 1. The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, despite being 20 years old, are adventure-gaming perfection. Guybrush’s quick wit, surreal reasoning and general idiosyncrasies make him one of the most well-rounded and funniest characters to have even been produced in gaming. Unfortunately for the series, one of the visionaries behind Guybrush’s witty dialogue, Tim Schafer, left to pursue other projects and the standard slipped quite a bit, culminating in the god-awful Tales of Monkey Island instalments released last year. However, by that stage, LucasArts had been milking the Star Wars franchise so long they’d forgotten how to make anything else. How appropriate, you fight like a cow.

3. Gordon Freeman – Half Life series

That’s right, the specky nerd with a PhD in theoretical physics. Well, if you are going to build a game with one of the most advanced physics engines around (helped massively by Ireland’s own Havok developers) then I guess it would help to have a physicist. Plus who else are you going to trust with an anti-gravity gun? You heard right, the guy possess a gun which reverses the effect of gravity. OK, I may have slightly broken one of the rules mentioned yesterday (the one which excludes Master Chief) but at least Gordon Freeman has a name and, even if it is only on the box art, a face. Plus if you are trying to compare Master Chief to Gordon Freeman just remember which one has the anti-gravity gun!

2. Duke Nukem – Duke Nukem series

It saddens me that there are gamers out there who won’t have a clue who this guy is, but they will do when Duke Nukem Forever is released next year … OK, even I can’t keep a straight face while saying that. (Un)Fortunately I’m old enough to remember the original Duke Nukem titles with seizure-inducing graphics and gun fire that looked like a glow worm try to wriggle its way across the screen. But it’s not those editions of Duke we’re here to see, is it? Step forward Duke Nukem 3D, the most misogynistic gaming character to make his way to our consoles. You could feel the testosterone oozing from the game every time Duke would reduce an alien to little red giblets, spout a charming insult or defecate into an enemy’s head. Every minute of this FPS was sheer gold and I’m going to be first in that queue for DK: Forever….Oh come on, stop laughing.

1. Mario – Mario series

I want you to try and picture this. A games designer approaches you and says, “I’ve got this great idea for a games character. It’s an Italian plumber, who lives in the mushroom kingdom and is trying to rescue his girlfriend who has been kidnapped by a giant turtle”. You’d have him sectioned under the mental health act before he could say “Super Mario”. OK, I’m being overly facetious, Mario started out as “Jumpman” in the game Donkey Kong (1981) but the character worked so well he received his own game franchise, starting with Mario Bros in 1983. Mario has since headlined the entire Nintendo franchise and any time a new console is launched the immediate question is asked, “When will Mario be available?” Indeed, a Nintendo console without a Mario game is like a car without an engine. Mario has appeared in more than 200 games on more than 20 consoles to date and Mario 64 was seen as the flagship game for full 3D gaming. Yes, Mario has the same “whipped” storyline as Link, but I always feel when he rescues the princess it’s on his terms. Plus he appears in platform, role-playing, racing, sports, puzzle and fighting games, so one thing’s for sure, Mario is deserving of his place as No 1 on our list.

Adam Renardson

Comments: @ARenardson, @siliconrepublic, #no1character

For Numbers 10-6 see Top 10 video-game characters – Part 1