Welcome to March Madness everyone! We here at the Clash along with our sister site Going For 2 are doing a special bracket challenge. In this we are pitting some of your favorite comic book and video game characters up against NBA and NFL stars in a bracket style challenge to determine just who is the best of the best. First up for us is our top 8 Video Game Characters of All-Time.
Super Mario (Super Mario Bros.)
Super Mario might be the character most synonymous with gaming, if you talk about video games with someone who doesn’t play video games or haven’t even seen a video game there is a very good chance that they will know who or at least heard of Mario. The happy little plumber jumped onto the seen in 1981’s Donkey Kong game trying to rescue his then girl friend Pauline from the clutches of the Kong. From there he got his own arcade The Mario Bros Arcade game and then the Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom in Japan) debuted and with it was the ultimate home console game Super Mario Bros. was released alongside it and became one of the biggest selling games of all-time and launched Nintendo into the stratosphere of video gaming and single-handedly saved the industry. His games continued to be some of the best selling of all-time, and then once again in the mid-90’s gaming switched from 2-D to 3-D and a lot of people thought platforming games such as Mario would be left in the past, but no one keeps this plucky plumber down. Super Mario 64 showed that 3-D platforming not only could be a thing in the new generation, but could be an awesome thing. And the future looks bright for him, his Super Mario Run App is one of the most downloaded apps ever and it hasn’t even come out on Android yet, and this fall he’ll have a brand new game Super Mario Odyssey will come out on the Nintendo Switch.
Back when designing games for the original Famicom Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto had two games he wanted to make, one was the above Super Mario Bros. and the other was an adventure game that later became The Legend of Zelda. He and his fellow game designers when they would come up with gaming mechanics they would either going into the Mario box or the Zelda box. The Legend of Zelda was inspired by two two things from Miyamoto’s childhood. First off the adventure and exploration style of the game was based off of his love for exploring the woods and caves of his childhood home tow of Kyoto, Japan. Hence why the original Zelda there is almost zero hand holding, you are just in this world and all you really know is you have to save the princess, like a young Miyamoto-san you on your own in the woods or a cave and you’re exploring. This sense of adventure struck a nerve with gamers and this little adventure title became Nintendo’s second most well known game, second only to Mario. The second inspiration for the game came in the appearance our it’s main character Link, as it was inspired by Miyamoto’s favorite Disney movie Peter Pan. Hence why Link is a younger character in a green tunic and floppy green cap. Over the years we have gotten many different versions of this game, a top down action rpg, a side scroller, 3-D Adventure game, to the current open world adventure/survival game. Much like it’s older brother the future looks bright for Link as his latest game which launched with the Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had an attach rate of 89% to the console which sold over 1.5 million in it’s first week, meaning physical sales of BoTW reached approximately 1.3 million copies sold, with I’m sure more on the way as more Switches sell as well, which also makes it the most successful launch game ever.
Master Chief (Halo)
Master Chief might be the most unlikely character to be on this list since he came from a console that few people gave a chance at being a success. Shortly after the death of Sega as a game maker with the Dreamcast at the hands of Sony and its PlayStation 2, Bill Gates, founder and CEO of Microsoft decided he wanted to get into the console wars with the Xbox. It was a bold move by Microsoft but in order to really pose a threat to Sony Microsoft needed a killer app and they got it with Bungie’s Halo and it’s space marine Master Chief. A first person shooter that was not only the best of its time but it also had a deep story and lore, not to mention a catchy no-nonsense soldier like Master Chief made this the game the must-have in 2001. Lan-parties which had traditionally been a PC gaming staple made it’s way to consoles as people wanted to play 8 people death matches with their friends on many different televisions. Since then Chief has seen four more sequels, straight to DVD movies, novels, and a parody series Red vs Blue (which launched the YouTube channel Rooster Teeth) that continue to expand on the lore of the franchise and the character giving gamers new maps, modes, and ways to play with their friends online. And speaking of online, Halo 2 was the game that made online play on console mainstream and changed gaming forever.
Pokemon is a force in gaming, in its basic for in Red and Blue for the Gameboy it was a very simple Role Playing Game that was more or less for kids. However, not only did kids love the game, but teens and adults loved it too. It was a simple game that anyone could play. After the game’s popularity the Pokemon Company (Then called Gamefreak) and Nintendo produced an animated series based on the game, and it was decide to make Pikachu the mascot for the series and the adorable yellow rodent stole peoples’ hearts. After this Pokemon became an unstoppable juggernaut and Pikachu was seen everywhere from places like the Simpsons to being painted on airplanes. In fact Pikachu is so ingrained with the series even after multiple generations of games that have come out and attempts by the Pokemon Company to replace Pikachu as the mascot the fans have always come back to him and with the 20th anniversary last year all you saw all over the place was Pikachu.
Had this article been written several years ago there is a good chance Sonic would have been #2 or at least #3, but Sonic has fallen on some tough times as of late, but in spite of all of that he’s still one of the most recognizable characters in video game history. He was once almost on par with Mario and saw Sega through their most successful time as a console maker with the Sega Genesis (or Master System in the UK) in the 16-Bit era. He was still never able to overtake Mario, but the speedster gave Mario and run for his money. The popularity of Sonic has created various cartoon series, comic books, and toys. With Sonic Mania and and unnamed Sonic Project 2017 on the horizon, hopefully the 26st Anniversary (yeah Sega fucked up the 25th anniversary of Sonic) of Sonic will be his return to glory.
Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)
Originally appearing on the MSX and NES Solid Snake was in the spy thriller game Metal Gear, a well received and well made spy game that in spite limited hardware delivered a fantastic game that discourages gamers from running and gunning, but stressed stealth. However, Solid Snake would not become a household name until Metal Gear Solid appeared on the PlayStation. The first game to try and be like a movie, the cinematic opening and cut scenes changed the way video games were presented. Now stories of games are just as important as the game play. In fact many reviews will knock a score down if they don’t like the story because of Metal Gear. The series has gone through many changes and game play but the image of Solid Snake (and later Venomous Snake) continue to evolve and Snake (who is based off of Snake Plinskin from Escape from New York) is a very recognizable character and well loved in the gaming community which has propelled series creator Hideo Kojima into Rockstar levels to where people wait with bated breath on his next announcement, much like a Japanese Steve Jobs.
Cloud (Final Fantasy VII)
Final Fantasy VII is probably the most popular and famous game in the Final Fantasy series (though not the best, see our Top 100 Console Games of All Time). Also given that this is the game that truly made the JRPG popular in the West, its main character Cloud, the spiky haired hero became a pop culture sensation, his giant sword probably didn’t hurt his popularity either. The popularity of this particular game has never been lost throughout time. Since it’s release on the original PlayStation with its blocky graphics fans, with each gaming generation, have requested an HD remake with better graphics, which now with the PS4 fans are getting their wish, as in 2015 Square Enix announced the HD remake for the PS4 and fans rejoiced. Two years later the game still hasn’t been released but fans clamor for every ounce of news they can get.
Laura Croft who pounced on the scene with Tomb Raider on the original PlayStation and quickly became the new face of feminism for video games. Not since we gamers found out that Samus was a woman did we have such a strong female role model who could show us that girls can do what their male counterparts. A fantastical adventure that had mummies, Yetis, and a T-Rex was popular for sometime but then fell by the wayside until 2014 when the series was rebooted on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, and Xbox One gave new life to the series and was well received by fans and critics alike, for its simple story, realistic setting, and fantastic gameplay. It was easily one of the best games to close out the last generation and to kick off the new generation of gaming. Just last year the series celebrated its 20th Anniversary.
Check back tomorrow for our Super Hero Bracket and check Going For 2 for the NBA and NFL brackets and don’t forget to vote in our poll when it opens.