A friend of mine and I compiled this list of the top ten video game characters of all time. I'm proud enough to put it here, too.
The Top Ten Video Game Characters of All Time
It’s time to put the debate to rest. Since the dawn of time, nerds have debated about who the greatest characters in video game history are. Well, it’s time I put my spin on things, and once you see the results, I’m pretty sure you’ll be forced to agree. I have taken an unbiased, well informed analysis of the great characters in gaming, and managed to pinpoint the top ten characters ever created for the video game genre. Below are the results.
#10 – Master Chief
Master Chief is perhaps the most badass character in the history of video gaming. His very name is virtually synonymous with the word “hero.” Never has one character captured the attention of so many video gamers for his sheer determination to win against all odds, no matter what. After all, a Spartan never dies, but what makes this character truly great is the depth of his story.
When Master Chief was born, he was perfect, and so he was not tossed down the side of a mountain. His parents were the rulers of Sparta, a Greek city-state, and trained Master Chief to be a warrior from a very young age. When he was ten, Master Chief killed a wolf in the snow!
When Master Chief inherited the throne to Sparta, the Persian Covenant threatened to take his country away from him through a massive military strike. Never one to surrender to alien-dinosaur-ninjas riding elephants, Master Chief marched three hundred Spartans against the Persian armada, and battled them in the Hale Gates, where narrow corridors made numbers count for nothing.
Master Chief’s ingenuity against near-impossible odds makes him a favorite in the heart of gamers, and lands him a spot at number ten on my list. Plus, he always fights in his shades.
#9 – Companion Cube
Some characters make this list because of their heroism. Some make it because of their likability. Companion Cube makes the list because her story is one of the most tragic in all of video games.
Trapped in the Apeture testing facility, Companion Cube suffered for years at the mechanical hands of GLaDOS. Separated from her long-time lesbian lover, Chell, Companion Cube is forced help subjects pass test after test under the guise of just a normal block, with hearts.
Years of this pass before Companion Cube is briefly reunited with her past lover. Things start to look up when Chell and Cube do their best buddy cop impression through the halls of Apeture. Companion Cube even receives an invitation to a party to celebrate Chell’s success in the Apeture labs.
Things go downhill fast, however, when Companion Cube realizes that Chell has suffered massive brain damage. Companion Cube determines to help her handicapped friend though thick and thin, but Chell’s feelings have changed in their years apart, and she takes the first chance she gets to burn Companion Cube alive.
Companion Cube gave everything to her love, and in return tossed out like yesterday’s trash. Hers is truly one of video gaming’s great tragedies, and on top of everything else, she never gets to go to that party.
#8 – John Madden
I will simply start with an exert of John Madden’s wikipedia page.
Building on that success, Madden was hired by Al Davis as linebackers coach for the AFL's Oakland Raiders in 1967, putting him in the Sid Gillman coaching tree. He helped the team reach Super Bowl II that season. A year later, after Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to take the same position with the Buffalo Bills, Madden was named the Raiders' head coach on February 4, 1969, becoming professional football's youngest head coach at the age of 32.
Madden's Raiders reached and lost five AFC title games in seven years, which left the Raiders with the same image that the Dallas Cowboys had previously had—as a team unable to "win the big one." Despite a 12–1–1 mark in 1969, the team lost 17–7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the final American Football League championship game. Three years later, what appeared to be a last-minute victory over the Steelers instead became a part of football lore when Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" gave Pittsburgh a 13–7 win. Then, in 1974, after defeating the two-time, and defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins in dramatic fashion, the Raiders lost again to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game.
In 1976, the Raiders went 13–1 in the regular season, and escaped the first round of the playoffs with a dramatic and controversial victory over the New England Patriots. In the second round of the playoffs they defeated the Steelers for the AFC Championship. On January 9, 1977, Madden's Raiders finally captured their first Super Bowl with a convincing 32–14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
The Raiders lost the AFC Championship Game in 1977 to the Denver Broncos with Madden battling an ulcer for most of the season. He retired after the 1978 season when the Raiders failed to make the playoffs.
Madden retired as a Super Bowl winning head coach and was the youngest coach ever to reach 100 career regular season victories, a record he compiled in only ten full seasons of coaching at the age of 42. He is still the coach with the most wins in Raiders history.
Madden's overall winning percentage including playoff games ranks second in league history. He won a Super Bowl and never had a losing season as a head coach. Madden has a winning record as a head coach against other future Hall of Fame head coaches.”
And that’s only a taste. John Madden has perhaps of the most in-depth back-stories of any character in video game history, and that lands him a spot on my list.
#7 - Dark Jak
Dark Jak, from the popular Jak and Daxter games, was debuted in Jak 2 as a darker, edgier version of series protagonist, Jak. And darker and edgier he was! One of the most compelling antagonists to date, Dark Jak provided an excellent foil to Jak’s simply, boyish heroism.
Cloned from Baron Praxis’s Dark Solider program, Dark Jak is the baddest baddie to ever sport a goatee. Seriously, though, that is some beautiful facial hair, and was almost enough to land him a spot on this list all by itself. Dark Jak feels compelled to obey the word of his creator, and so is often at odds with Jak and Daxter. But there is more to Dark Jak than his altercations with his counterpart, and much of the Jak 2 finds Dark Jak searching for his purpose in life.
Dark Jak’s search for his soul and, through it, the true meaning of life itself makes the player feel sympathy for this clone born into a life of service to a tyrant. The player almost wants Dark Jak to succeed, but in the end his loyalty to his creators is too strong, and he cannot be convinced to fight for the side of good. The chronicles of Dark Jak’s short life are powerful and compelling, and give him the number seven spot on our list.
#6 - 66 Gators
The game Pinball: March of the 66 Gators released for the Gameboy in 1989, and set the stage for great character work for years to come. Ambitious for its time, 66 Gators featured 66 antagonists, all of whom were alligators.
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two living alligator species: the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis). In addition, several extinct species of alligator are known from fossil remains. Alligators first appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago.
The name alligator is an anglicized form of el lagarto, the Spanish term for "lizard", which early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called the alligator.
The gators from Pinball: March of the 66 Gators went on to star in many spinoff titles, including Croc, Pitfall Harry, Kirby, and Donkey Kong. Other reptilian heroes, such as Frogger, Gex, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles owe their success to Pinball: March of the 66 Gators. They also inspired many real world organizations, such as Geico and the University of Florida.
Pinball: March of the 66 Gators is an important turning in video game history, and places the game’s antagonists solidly at number six.
#5 - Tingle
Tingle is a great character. He is number five on our list, which is why we made him number five on our list.
#4 - Amy Rose
Amy Rose is here!
Amy Rose debuted in the instant classic Sonic CD, where she was captured by Metal Sonic and held captive. Originally Rosie the Rascal, Amy’s transformation from a Sonic rip-off to one of the few strong female leads in video games is a shining example of character development in any form of storytelling. That Shadow the Hedgehog was given his own game and Amy was not is one of the Sega’s great tragedies.
A feminist model known the world over, Amy demonstrates the strength of the female gender by wield a hammer larger than her torso. Independent and proud, Amy often finds herself in the role of saving her weaker male counterpart, Sonic. Though she started as a sidekick of sorts, Amy has accomplished much for female gamers, and would make any flapper proud.
Often exhibiting weapons such as a sharp intellect, strength of character, tenacity, science, and the aforementioned hammer, Amy Rose is basically the video game equivalent to Joan of Arc, except without the personality disorder, possibly.
#3 - You!
You were quite heroic Oregon Trail adventures, weren’t you? Your seemingly endless struggles against dysentery and rivers marked a timeless tale that was different every time, but always ended with the death of every member of your family (and countless bison).
You showed great ingenuity and fortitude when forced to pick a method for crossing that bridgeless river. Sure, that ferry was probably a lot safer than caulking the wagon and floating across, but you saved at least twelve dollars, and even though your youngest son drowned, he was being kind of buzzkill, what with his cholera and all.
Oregon Trail is one of the great tales of survival, and you were the star. A story about hardship, family, and the human condition, Oregon Trail is the oldest game on this list. So, congratulations! You placed third! In the Olympics, that’s a medal, albeit not a very good one. When adjusted for inflation since 1974, that’s practically first!
#2 - Pigma
Pigma is that video game villain that everybody loves to hate. You can’t help but crack a smile when he shows up. Everyone knows his story. Part of the original Star Fox team, Pigma was the disciple of James McCloud, the universe’s savior. After betraying McCloud for the price of 30 pieces of silver, Pigma aligned himself with Emperor Andross, and the evil shenanigans began.
Pigma is to video games what Iago is to live theater. A larger than life character, dripping with charisma and dialogue, Pigma steals the show from the game’s heroes. Unlike Dark Jak, you never want Pigma to succeed, you just want him to put up a fight so he’ll get more screen time.
As Andross’s right hand pig, Pigma has plagued the Star Fox crew for decades, and each new game is an epic new chapter in the Book of Pigma. It is a story with so many ups and downs that one could easily make an argument for putting Pigma at number one on this list, but I’ve got somebody who tops even this porky paragon of video game villainy.
#1 – Cloud Stri-LEEEEEEEEROOOOOOY JEEEEEENKIIIIINSSSS
Not originally intended for a slot on this list, Leroy Jenkins appears to have run in first once again without telling anybody, including me. But, to be fair, he is a pretty deep character, and World of Warcraft wouldn’t be the pinnacle of storytelling that it is today without the existence of its most famous character.
Not much is known about the mysterious Leroy Jenkins. What we do know about his character, we catch through subtle glances into his psyche. A brilliant strategist who excels in complex maneuvers of cat and mouse, Leroy Jenkins has saved the World of Warcraft from evil time and time again. He is known throughout the world (of Warcraft) as a brilliant tactician, but remains mystically aloof during times of peace.
Leroy Jenkins, with his masterful grip of subterfuge, has crept his way onto number one, shouting his infamous battle cry after delivering another deadly blow to all who oppose him. Can video game characters get any better than Leroy Jenkins? The answer, of course, is LEEEEEEEEROOOOOOY JEEEEENKIIIINSSSS
You're welcome, internet.