QOTW: Who is your favorite game character?
Everybody has one--a game character that, for one reason or another, speaks to you in a very special way. Whether it is due to fond childhood memories or modern moments of gaming bliss, our attachments to our video game idols tend to run pretty deep.
Who can forget the wonder of learning Samus' true identity after spending countless hours exploring the harsh alien world of Zebes with her? Or the tragic revelation made to Cecil by Golbez during Final Fantasy IV? And remember when you saw the ending for your favorite fighting game character for the first time? However nonsensical and superfluous their stories may have been, you have to admit that it was at least a little heartwarming.
This week, we asked ourselves about our favorite game characters. Naturally, many of us took the opportunity to have a little fun with the question. There's no question, though, that these characters indeed mean a great deal to us. You'll be surprised the wide selection of characters mentioned in this feature, as well as by the diversity of genres they represent. You'll get a good idea about the types of games our editors like, as well as what types of in-game personalities excite them. You may also get a glimpse into their own personalities, but that wasn't our intention--you've been warned, at any rate. So brace yourself for what is bound to be a very special Question of the Week. One more thing: We're curious about your own favorite characters, so
Assistant Reviews Editor
Other editors might choose powerful fighters, stealthy ninjas, or noble princes. And these all have some merit, I'm sure. But none of them, not even the Boat from Jaws for the NES, can compete with a rectangular gaming piece that is, by nature, unstoppable.
For the paint eaters, I'm talking about Mr. Domino. Most of you know him from his smash-hit video game, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino , or from his frequent guest appearances on Silver Spoons as Alfonso, the break dancing companion of Ricky Stratton. Some of you might remember his hit single, "(No One Can) Stop [expletive deleted] Mr. Domino." No matter how you know him, everyone can agree--no one can stop Mr. Domino!
Life hasn't always been Crunky Bars for Mr. Domino. He traces his humble beginnings back to a Texas domino hall, where he was just another playing piece being flipped over and slammed against tables by migrant workers and cowhands. But all this abuse helped toughen up this young hunk of ivory, making him, well, invincible. He got out on his own at a young age, traveling across the country with a carnival group, running a "Can You Stop Me?" booth on the midway. He was making money and making a name for himself throughout the country. But this headstrong domino had dreams of so much more.
After three years working state and county fairs, Mr. Domino had a fateful meeting with some Artdink programmers, who had an unhealthy obsession with puzzle games, cough syrup, and dominos. Having seen Mr. Domino in action, they knew they had their man. While they had no idea that Mr. Domino would explode onto the scene in the way he did, they knew they were dealing with a very special talent. As head Artdink programmer Hiroshi Yamanuko said, "Everyone will be able to have enough the happiness of 'No One Can Stop Mr. Domino' at once!"
There are many reasons that I love Mr. Domino. There's those hypnotic leather pants he wears, and his Latin mystique just makes me weak in the knees. No, wait, that's Ricky Martin. Well, I'm sure there's some reason why I love Mr. Domino, or I wouldn't have spent all this time writing this column, would I?
The evolution of Guy--Final Fight.
If it ain't broke, then don't fix it.
Guy can run a set on any other fighter's sorry self with the quickness, without even having to bother with a special move. That crazy routine that he used on thugs in Final Fight translated very well into the Alpha games, making Guy one of the only characters whose basic attacks are his most effective. If you're hot, you can end his patented jab-jab-strong-fierce-roundhouse combo with a Bushin Hassoken super, getting you something in the area of nine to 11 hits. More importantly, though, it's got mad style--something that no punk-assed, cheap Shoto scrub can claim. When you're playing Street Fighter, you've got to sweat the style of your game. Otherwise, you're playing for all the wrong reasons. Life ain't some big tournament, you know, so you may as well play it with something other than winning on your mind. Like mad style. And that's how Guy plays it...anyone who thinks otherwise should step to the Bushin style and see how far their hating will get them.
| Beat down, Metro City style.|
WM - 300K | 100K | 56K
RM - 300K | 100K | 56K
My favorite character is a simple one. He spends his time navigating treacherous terrain and basically just staying out of trouble. No, I'm not talking about the Boat from the Jaws game for the NES. Oh, no, wait...I am talking about the Boat from the Jaws game for the NES.
The Boat from Jaws for the NES is my friend. Me and Boat have been known to kick it until all hours of the night. Let me tell you, friends, Boat from the Jaws game for the NES can drink any of you under the table. He's a machine! This one Saturday night, me and Boat went out to do a little bar hopping. Nothing out of the ordinary for us, but something was different about Boat. He was constantly mumbling under his breath, and I think he was already drunk when he showed up at my house. He claimed that if someone walked up to him and said, "We're gonna need a bigger boat," one more time, he was going to start snapping necks. He tended to joke around like that when he was drinking, so I said, "Whatever, Boaty, baby! You're the king!" Little did I know that I'd be spending the night in jail! Still, that beats what Boat did to those guys at the Regal Beagle. I think one of them is still wearing a cast on his face!
Yeah, the Boat from Jaws for the NES has a wild streak, all right. He's the type of guy that would go to the video store, rent all the children's videos, and tape over them with Another 48 Hours. What a knucklehead! But he means well, I guess. I mean, hey, who wouldn't want to watch Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte dropping knowledge instead of some dumb Blue's Clues tape, right?
But the Boat from Jaws for the NES isn't all bad. I mean, he volunteers his time down at the bookmobile, and he sure can make a good cup of coffee. He's talking about quitting his job down at the gas station and going back to school full-time to pursue his dream of becoming a sandwich artist. I think that's a great idea, because the tightwad that runs the gas station won't let Boat give out free gas or candy bars or anything. But if Boat from Jaws for the NES gets an artist position at Subway, I could get free foot-long meatball subs all the time!
But in the end, whatever makes the Boat from Jaws for the NES happy is fine by me. He's my buddy! We help each other out! If he's a few bucks short when we go out for burgers, I've got the Boat from Jaws for the NES's back. If I need some help defeating a particularly large shark that has been tormenting me at school, Boat brings out the heavy artillery. Isn't that what friendship is all about?
I could spend weeks deliberating and make absolutely no progress trying to come up with my favorite video game character. I've drawn a total blank on this one, as so many stellar figures come to mind. I've decided to go with a choice I'm sure none of the other editors would even consider, an unsung champion in gaming history. The baddest villain this side of a genome soldier, Revolver Ocelot merits a mention as my top character pick.
Revolver Ocelot, of Remingtons since before Big Boss could walk.
He knows how to use explosives, and wiring a fat executive-type with enough C4 to make a crater is just another day at the office. Revolver Ocelot is tough, too--chopping off his hand won't stop him, it just gets him angrier. He's got a great mustache, arguably the coolest set of handlebars in video game history. He's a cruel interrogator, and if you won't give up the info, he's not afraid to shoot you in the back with his antique pistols. That's right, Revolver Ocelot uses Old West six-shooters, and he reloads in the middle of a firefight like they did back when men were men and bad guys were cocky. Sure, Solid Snake handed him a relatively easy defeat, taking advantage of Revolver's dated tactics, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a villain with more class and panache than Mr. Ocelot.
Snakes, wolves, ravens, mantas--those creatures are played out, stereotypical "bad-ass" animals. It takes a hard man to take the name of a wild animal as cunning and vicious as an ocelot. Have you ever seen an ocelot? Those cats are bad, real bad. If I had to choose between having a wild animal like an ocelot on my tail or facing Bowser from the NATO" and pansy "United Nations." If Solid Snake weren't a genetic freak, he wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the six-gun master. Revolver's skills and style have been noted, and the fans have demanded more Revolver. Well, he's back. Revolver Ocelot will play a larger, more central role in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the PS2. Solid Snake? He doesn't stand a chance.
Talk about a tough question of the week. When faced with the prospects of picking my all-time favorite video game character, I had one specific character in mind, but I had to be sure that this character was undeniably and unquestionably my all-time favorite. So, I took a trip back through my gaming years and stopped to ponder virtually every character who evokes some type of emotional response in me. First stop, because it's my all-time favorite RPG series, was
Odin: the inspiration for Universal Soldier.
First he had the dark clothes, then he had the white outfit, but through it all, he had cool moves such as the spinning shuriken attack and his close-range sword attacks. If I recall correctly, Shinobi was the first of the early action games that I played through more than a few times. My best friend and I would sit around and play it from beginning to end, and then come back a couple of days later and experience it all over again. Besides, not many video game characters can boast that they've shared a game with Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, ninja dogs, and a giant Cyclops mech. Now that is variety. It was Musashi's complex mix of subtle style and violent fury that was so appealing. He didn't need to sneak around like so many other video game ninjas. He was coming right at you, flinging his shuriken, and it was up to you to get out of the way or get killed--or at least badly injured.
As I said in the opening, I was pretty sure that Joe Musashi is my favorite game character, but without going back through nether regions of my gaming memory banks I couldn't be sure. Now I am. Joe Musashi is unquestionably my favorite all-time video game character.
Assistant A/V Producer
I was debating this question yesterday with our Question of the Week editor extraordinaire, Miguel Lopez. I asked if a game based on a movie would qualify for the piece, seeing as most of the time the character in question had been created for film before ever existing in the gameworld. He gave me a reluctant, "Yeah, man, whatever you feel works best for you," and I decided I would go with James Bond, specifically in
For those of you who are not familiar with this vehicular god of battle, he is bar none the best character in the game if used correctly. Back in the day, when I'd play Twisted Metal 2 with my friends on a nightly basis, groans of despair would escape the lips of those who were foolish enough to think that they'd stand against us (hey, this is my response, let me wax nostalgic for a moment...). Sure, there were other characters that I'd learned to use with lethal intensity, but Shadow was a perfect fit for me. Mr. Slam came close to usurping his throne for a short while with a devastating and in-your-face combo, but nothing ever came close to that feeling of satisfaction I'd get when bouncing opponents from special attack to special attack as could only be done with Shadow. With true mastery came the ability to completely reduce an opponent with full health to a smoking heap of wreckage in short order.
If the special abilities weren't enough to win one over, there was the coolness factor. True, there were some really pimp rides in the game (look no further than Thumper, with his pink Impala and flame-slinging frontal assault, or Spectre, with his '63 Stingray, complete with a low down and dirty homing missile), but there is something really special about a purple Hearse that uses the spirits of the deceased as its primary attack. Add to this the driver himself, Mortimer--a truly twisted-looking chauffeur of corpses adorned with a crooked top hat and bad case of arthritis--and you have a character who brings a smile to my face even now.
One of the stronger points of Shadow was the large amount of combos. They were virtually endless when coupled with the library of cruelty in the form of power-ups and special moves. One of my favorites was busting out with a shield, ramming someone into a wall at full speed, and letting loose with a volley of special attacks at close range while I remained blissfully immune to my own damage. Another was the aforementioned bounce--throwing out a special attack and hurling the unsuspecting car into the air, then driving in reverse and sending out soul after soul into the spot where my victim would soon land, keeping them airborne and defenseless for the duration of their pain. This method was especially useful in levels like New York and Antarctica, where you could literally bounce them right off the map and into oblivion. If you were fast enough to pull it of, bouncing them with the special and then hitting them in midair with napalm or sweeping the wheels out from under them with a ricochet ball as they landed were rare treats as well. I've even made a special movie in Shadow's honor, which includes a few of these techniques.
Just this last weekend, in a tournament designed to stave off the growing anticipation for Twisted Metal: Black (which looks to be a triumphant return for the series...don't even get me started on the abysmal sequels, 3 and 4), a friend and I sat down to a friendly game of co-op. To my surprise, our twisted skills were unaffected by time (don't you just love how a great game can do that to you?), and we tore through it like so many squares of wet toilet paper. I even took the mighty Dark Tooth head-on without sustaining one frame-bending hit.
It's almost as touching as a Boy and His Blob, isn't it?
With companies releasing games with a new hero every other day, it's sometimes hard to sift through the wannabes to find the true stars. But a great mascot can be the difference between a game's success and failure and quickly put a developer on the map. For every Mario or Mario , there's a Mario or Mario waiting to take his turn in the spotlight.
Picking the greatest video game character of all time requires that you examine more than just his or her personality, graphical representation, and game theme. To be ranked among the best, you must have demonstrated longevity, versatility, and quality. To this end, there's really only one character that I can think of that has all these attributes in spades. That character is Mario.
Mario has appeared on three generations of Nintendo consoles and has had multiple starring roles on the Game Boy. Not only is he one of the few video game characters to have made the transition from 2D to 3D with style, but he's also been the central figure in a variety of genres as well. Mario is most at home in his platforming guise, where his career began in the classic arcade game Donkey Kong, but he's shown over time that he can hang on the Mario , at the Mario court, in turn-based Mario , and on the Mario without batting an eye. Mario has even outlasted his competitive brother, Luigi.
Other companies have tried to dethrone Mario in the past. Crash gave him a good run for his money in the '90s, Sonic has always been pushing up on Mario's tail, and I'm sure Microsoft is already trying to develop a Mario-killer for the Xbox. Despite being the number-one emulation target for other companies, Mario has a versatility and a power in the marketplace that few characters have been able to match. I can't remember the last game with Mario's name in the title that didn't sell well. Likewise, I can't remember a single Mario game that stunk up the joint. In many ways, Mario's name has become synonymous with quality products.
I'm sure some of my fellow editors will pick characters from games like Street Fighter and Final Fantasy as their favorites, and some may even choose Sonic. But when you break it down, all these characters have predominantly appeared in one type of game. Mario has appeared in countless genres and literally dozens of games. One of the greatest hockey players of all time, Mario Lemieux, is even nicknamed after Nintendo's mascot. How many video game characters can say that?
When you dig deeper into the matter, Mario can take a great deal of credit for saving the video game industry in the mid-'80s when he appeared on the NES. At that point, the arcade market had bottomed out and the industry was scrambling for what to do next. Nintendo released the NES with Super Mario Bros. packed-in, and the industry slowly began to turn around. Granted, an argument could be made that Nintendo has made Mario the star that he is by including him in nearly every game the company makes. But if people quit buying games with the fat plumber's face emblazoned on the front of the packaging, Nintendo would bring his shenanigans to a halt.
Many so-called mascots have come and gone, but Mario has stayed the course and continued to be a big part of the video game industry. In the past, Mario's platforming games have stood as a benchmark that other companies have attempted to live up to. While some may not appreciate Mario's squeaky-clean image, depriving Mario of his due respect would be the equivalent to forgetting the history of video games altogether. Mario may not be the apple of every game player's eye as he once was, but when compared with other video game characters, there's no competition.
Meryl Silverburgh from Metal Gear Solid (PS) is a hottie, plain and simple. She's a cute redheaded soldier with a tough-girl attitude and a husky voice. Meryl had a ton of poorly written dialogue in Metal Gear Solid, but she was at least the game's primary love interest, and she filled that role superbly. After running away with Solid Snake after the close of Metal Gear Solid, Meryl realized that her first love was protecting the environment, and she quickly enlisted in the local arm of Greenpeace, where she's a renegade boat captain who spends her time harassing oil tankers in Alaskan waters. Meryl lives in Anchorage with her close female friend, Cleo.
So that's all I could come up with. There were definitely more characters who popped into my head while I was thinking about this question. Unfortunately, characters like the three jets from Combat, Lizardman from Soul Calibur, the host from Smash TV, and the bomber from Ka-Boom! didn't have strong enough cases to make the big list.
There are several characters I could name as being some of the best of all time--several of them only appearing in one or two games. Some of them include Samus from Metroid, Cloud and Sephiroth from Mario games; and many more. What I can say is that just about all my favorite characters have been on older systems.
With a few notable exceptions, there really haven't been any characters introduced in the last few years that I have really liked. The reason why is that when a character becomes popular these days, its developer seems to go into overdrive, pumping out game after game starring that character. While the first couple of games are usually good, the quality never seems to last long. When the games start getting sour, so do the characters, causing me to be less and less interested in them. I wish developers would go back to the old way of creating masterpieces for games featuring a certain character that would come out every three years or so. But I guess this is a business, and if a company sees an opportunity to make a lot of money, it has to exploit it.
Reader Letters: Gamestock Impressions
Last week, or our crack team of editors reported on Gamestock--what was supposed to be one of this year's most exciting events. It's come and gone, and we gave you our impressions. You gave us yours, in due order, and here they are--read what you all had to say about Gamestock!
Only Mr. Do!
I bet that not a single Xbox game announced is really as fun as the old arcade game Mr. Do! A very, very interesting experiment would be to set up a couple of TVs with Xbox systems in the same room as Mr. Do! and grab 20 gamers, or just regular people off the street, and make them wait in the room for a couple hours and tell them they can play the games. Hmm...actually, that's a bad plan because gamers would be interested in being the first to know how bad the Xbox really is. Try that with the PS2 and its launch games, minus the sports ones--they have special appeal to certain types of people, which would skew the results. In the end, nobody will be playing the crappy PS2 or Xbox games, only Mr. Do!
I am the type of person who will buy a console for a single game--I plan to buy a PS2 for Zone of the Enders, and I don't care about the demo that comes with it either. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to show me one must-have game. In fact, Microsoft has yet to show me one game with the potential to be a must-have game (Munch looks great, but I don't care for "out of this world" gameplay mechanics). I'm not even a little excited about any of the games shown--Gamestock was a good chance to come out swinging and remove the doubt that a lot of hard-core gamers seem to be having across message boards. Instead, we were shown games that are 20 percent complete on hardware that isn't even finished! Good luck getting it out by this fall! When I read the editors' opinions on this subject, I kept hearing things like "we will wait till E3 for the real coming out party," etc. Good luck to Microsoft come E3...maybe they can steal the thunder away from Mario, Zelda, Rouge Squadron 2, Too Human, GameCube Metroid, and the rest. But it will be very difficult. Let's put it this way: If only 25 percent of Nintendo's rumors are true, they still have everyone else beat by a landslide. So Microsoft, please! Just one killer application for a person who will spend $400 on your poorly thought-out foray into the hardware industry!
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