Top 5: Video Game Characters

It’s been a while since the last installment of Top 5. I was working on another list but it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped so I’ve filed it away carefully in /dev/null. I have to say that finding the right subjects to cover in these lists is harder than I first thought. The subject has to be one that people are interested in so that there’ll be some amount of arguing afterwards; it has to be broad enough that I’m not just listing the five things that qualify for the list; and it has to be narrow enough that I can have some hope of knowing what the hell I’m talking about.

So, throwing that last point (as well as all caution) aside, I’m going to try to list the Top 5 Video Game Characters. Try not to get too angry at me for getting this list so badly wrong.

5. Tails

Maybe Tails was less obvious than his more extroverted Hedgehog buddy Sonic, but that really added to his charm. Tails was content to hang back and let Sonic do all of the real work. He’d just saunter along behind the action, chipping in whenever he felt like it but never making a commitment. He was a symbol for our generation of free-loaders and coasters. And he could fly.

4. Heihachi Mishima

Given that many video games are aimed at the angry and hate-filled adolecent boy demographic, and that many of my game-playing years were spent as a memebr of that group, there’s inevitably going to be a skew in favour of ass-kicking, name-taking, hurt-locker-putting badasses. Heihachi is the Tekken series’ contribution. I joined the Tekken bandwagon at its third incarnation, where Heihachi stood out as the toughest SOB in the beat-em-up genre. I remember playing a versus battle with Heihachi and King that lasted about five seconds of the most bone-crunching moves in the game and ended very close to a double knock out, Heihachi barely the victor. Unfortunately I was using King. Even now in Tekken 5 when Heihachi is suppposed to be dead he can’t be beaten easily.

3. Sarge

Quake scared the shit out of me. The haunting noises of evil foes just around the corner, the dark shades of brown and grey in the deepest dungeons. I couldn’t bring myself to play it at night. None of it seemed really to bother the game’s protagonist, the hard-as-a-nailgun GI known as Sarge. Everything great about this character is summed up in the opening video of Quake 3, when you really think he can win against his crowd of foes even if he is only armed with a cigar. This is even before we consider that he’ll be played by The Rock in the Doom movie.

2. Sephiroth

Long black coat, cool-ass Japanese sword, chanting music in the background. The villain of Final Fantasy VII is himself most of the reason that it’s the best in the series. Nothing I can say will really evoke the awesome cool that radiates from this character during 70+ hours of playing FF7. Look for him in Advent Children.

1. Pac-Man

This is the second Namco entry on the list. Interestingly it has been rumoured that Pac-Man is actualy Heihachi Mishima’s biological father. Make of that what you will. He’s just a yellow disc with a wedge cut out of it but, as one magazine put it, he oozes more cool than a Zanussi in the arctic. He’s got an indellible retro chic, like a lava lamp that never went out of fashion. He’s also big business, being the most played arcade game in the world.

That’s my Top 5. What? No Mario, no Donkey Kong, no Street Fighter characters? No Ecco the Dolphin? Have I gone completely insane? You tell me. Who deserves to be on this list and who doesn’t?

Incidentally, I’m going to break with tradition and give a single honourable mention. This is the special category of ‘hottest video game character’, and my number one is Tanya from the Red Alert series. To hell with Lara Croft. Tanya, played by Kari Wuhrer in Red Alert 2, is the reason cut scenes were invented.