At Last Token Gaming, we want our readers to get an idea of who we are as writer’s. We came up with the idea of having our writers come up with a person Top 20 Video Game Characters list of their own, and posting it on a weekly basis. Last week, fellow staff writer Marshall Garvey posted his. This week it is my turn. I hope you enjoy my list, as I surely had fun writing it.
by Terry Randolph
20. Samus Aran – Metroid series (except Metroid: Other M)
Samus is a badass, intergalatic bounty hunter who was once a Galactic Federation Soldier. I think that alone makes her awesome. However, she is such a huge influence in gaming that it wouldn’t be enough either. She was part of a large movement of side-scrolling shooters that were both fun and challenging. Not to mention, she is one of the earliest forms of a strong female protagonist in a medium mired in sexism controversy. The Metroid series has been a consistently stellar franchise, aside from the fiasco known as Metroid: Other M (seriously, avoid this one if you like Samus as a character). Overall, Samus is on my list because of her impact on video games.
19. Link/Ganondorf/Zelda – The Legend of Zelda series
Call me a cheat for having all three as one character, but I feel like its hard to separate them as a favorite character. What I mean is that each one plays such a vital role in how sweeping Legend of Zelda games are. Ganondorf is one of the better villains out there for video games, and proves to be the solid consistent anchor that holds the timelines together in Legend of Zelda lore. Zelda, while some may argue as being the typical “damsel-in-distress”, has been a strong female character as well by being Sheik (not to mention her willingness to sacrifice herself to save her people in Twilight Princess). Not to mention, her influence on each new Link (different timelines…and in each iteration it’s a brand new Link) is vital. Link is the standard, silent, strong hero that goes on to save the princess but also takes on the challenges head on. He is a foil for us to put ourselves on (our personalities) and allow us to feel like the hero. From his dungeon crawling days, to now Link has been a big influence on video games as well as become a big icon. All three characters serve to compliment one another and have created some of the greatest gaming experiences of all time.
18. Joker – Batman: Arkham Asylum, City & Origins
I know that he originated as a comic book villain and has become one of the most iconic ones of all time. He still is going to be on my list because of one person; Mark Hamill. Whenever I read a comic book with the Joker, it is his voice that I hear, or his cackle that haunts me. When you listen to him speak, you can feel the malice ooze from his words and feel unraveled by him. His work with Kevin Conroy as Batman has been amazing starting from the animated series to Rocksteady’s games. Their back-and-forths have the subtle shifts in tone between reverence and hatred. When I finished Arkham City, I found myself applauding at how stellar the experience was. It was a great way for Hamill to end his run as Joker, and it definitely did the universe of Batman proud. It would be hard to not have this guy on my list.
17. Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII & Advent Children (no other iterations)
I put the disclaimer at the end because it seems the Cloud Strife of modern times is nothing but a shell of his former self. Now, he feels a bit more one-dimensional by being trapped into this angsty, depressed man who seems so broken like many other characters out there. While some may argue that the events of Final Fantasy VII justify that, it still feels like it is a little overboard (Advent Children had him that way for the most part, but had him fight at the end). In FFVII, Cloud Strife was ambitious, certainly uncertain at times and having things unravel before him, but still he carried a big inner strength. Even as the secrets that were uncovered over time would seem to push him over the edge, he stood strong and carried on in what he needed to do. He was a soldier, and a leader of the pack. Which is why it feels as if they’ve done him a bit of disservice with these recent iterations of him. Hopefully, Cloud can actually be a little bit more like his former self.
16. Lee Everett –The Walking Dead: TellTale Series
The case for Lee can be tough to argue, mainly because most experiences of him are going to be uniquely different. The Walking Dead: Season 1 by TellTale was a game where you saw how your choices did affect the overall experience for Lee. He could be a jerk if you wanted him to be, or could be the man trying to do right by a little girl he was now caring for. Given the limitations of development TellTale had to face, their writing was very solid. Not to mention, the voice work was truly exceptional and brought out the best qualities of the game. I felt like Lee was who I would be and acted the way I would in his position; this allowed me to connect to him on a personal note. When I got to the end, I found myself wordlessly taken aback by how heart wrenchingly good the ending is. I sat in shock five minutes after the credits rolled and could not put together how I felt. That is how you can tell a game is good; when you care about the characters so much and you never notice how attached you grow to them.
15. Thane Krios – Mass Effect 2 & 3
When they showed character trailers for your new crew in Mass Effect 2, Thane stood out amongst them all. Brutal, ruthless but kind-hearted and spiritual, this was a man who had embraced mortality and found peace within death. The dichotomy behind his personality was striking, but it made him veer away from cliche territory. He was instantly one of my favorite people to talk to in game and to be in my party. I tried to get every conversation I could with him. The final moments with him in Mass Effect 3 were hard to watch, but so peaceful. This was a man trying to find redemption for his actions, and most of all a man trying to be there for his son even though it may be too late. I want to leave my reasons this far so gamers can play the game and truly enjoy one of the best trilogies on the current generation systems.
14. Vaas Montenegro – Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 was one of the biggest surprises for me as a game because it was never on my radar to play. I had not even known about it until a couple of friends told me to give it a try. I’m glad I did; the writing is strong and sharp, the characters real in their intense personalities and the world breathtaking. Gameplay is standard in the branching upgrades and leveling with shooting, but it was the extra stuff that set it apart. Most notably, the game introduced one of the most memorable, underutilized villains of all time; Vaas Montenegro. He was terrifying in his maddening unpredictability, Most notably, he has some of the more memorable monologues for an antagonist. While I wish he were definitely in the game longer, his presence was felt even when he was not on screen. Check out this YouTube link to see his most memorable monologue:
13. Andrew Ryan – BioShock
Andrew Ryan is an arrogant, prideful man that believes man should strive for its full potential. That characteristic, while looking like an archetypal trap, is what makes him so compelling a villain. Even though he is surrounded by the rubble of the world he strove to create, he stands by his ideology. Even though you are hunting for him, and even get to him, he stands by his belief that man should be free and not just obey. While that may just seem like him staying stuck in character, the words would carry a different meaning when the big twist happens. Andrew Ryan is just ONE of the reasons why BioShock is a huge favorite among fans and critics.
12. GlaDOS (Portal 1 and 2)
I think that out of all the characters on here, GlaDOS is by far an easy choice to be on here; getting through Portal and Portal 2are was fun thanks to her continually biting insults, sarcastic and wry humor. Even the final confrontation was all the more exciting with her writing. Plus, who can forget the ending song, that itself is a video game masterpiece (alright, not really but still a memorable song).
Here is is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
11. Solid Snake – Metal Gear Solid Franchise
Metal Gear Solid is a franchise notorious for two reasons; it’s views on war and a really complex and somewhat convoluted plot. Solid Snake, the more well-known protagonist, is a man worn from war but at the same time is able to brush aside his humanity when it’s needed. There is something about his ability to understand a situation, or to adapt to it that make him stand out. Not to mention, his intentions for fighting are not always as black and white as one would expect. There are plenty of reasons I could list for why he is on here, but most importantly it’s the overall message he and Kojima bring about in a time where war seems commonplace. The relevance of the themes displayed in the games are so eerily relevant that it almost scary to think about.