games / Columns

The 8 Ball 10.09.12: Top 40 Iconic Game Characters #16 – 9

October 9, 2012 | Posted by David McGregor

Hello and welcome to the penultimate edition of the 8 Ball for the Games Section of 411, I am your host David McGregor and French kissing a girl was one of the most horrific things I’ve done in my life.
This week we are entering the final stages of the countdown. This week we go from 16 to 9, with just one more column left until Ashish pulls the plug on the column.

Oh and remember to sign up for the new commenting system! It’s new and improved, so just do it.

16th – M Bison (Street Fighter Series)

This entry may seem a little high as most would probably prefer the Mortal Kombat series to Street Fighter, but for me SF is definitely the more iconic of the two. And at the very epicentre of the series is the M Bison character, which is indisputably legendary villain in the gaming world. I’ve always been more of a fan of the SF series when compared to MK, which I guess a lot of people wont agree with. But the reason for that was mostly due to M Bison, he is this perfect dictatorial character that is just an absolutely fantastic villain to fight against.

This is where I think MK fails; they don’t have that legendary figure that we must defeat. Yes Goro, Shao Khan and countless others are fantastic foils, but they never really match the greatness of Bison. SF may not have a plethora of memorable faces compared to MK, but the biggest one they do have has every other character in his wing mirror. M Bison is without a doubt, for me, the best character of the fighting game genre.

15th – Kirby

I don’t understand Kirby, what the hell is he? Is it a she? I have no idea! All I know is it is pink and eats people and then pretends to be them for a little while. It basically sounds like an average night in the gay bars of Glasgow. I kid; pink is definitely last season. Anyway, Kirby while an absolute anomaly to me is definitely one of those faces of gaming. One of those characters that people will see and instantly remember, maybe not a name but the whole character is just accessible to so many people that it is undoubtedly one of the most memorable characters of all time.

14th – Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil Series)

Leon Kennedy is like the gamer in Resident Evil, he and us are being introduced into a world that we know nothing about. We don’t know what is round the corner or what is going to jump out at us and neither does Leon, which is the beauty of the character as he is the everyday man in the situation. There are a lot of characters that are out of their depth in games, but Leon Kennedy comes across as more life like than all of the rest. He is one man in a situation completely out of his expectations and that makes for one of those captivating characters that the gamer can instantly link with. I will admit in saying I am not as up to date as I should be on the series, but even I know that Kennedy is a classic character.

13th – Tommy Vercetti (GTA: Vice City)

After me fawning over Ray Liotta playing Tommy Vercetti a couple weeks ago you guys had to know that he would get a decent ranking on this list. There is no more iconic character of GTA than Mr Vercetti, he may be a mishmash of every famous gangster on screen but that just makes him even more appealing. As a person who loved those gangster films like Scarface, Godfather and Goodfellas I was just won head over heels with the Vercetti character and the game.

The odd thing about the GTA series is that there isn’t really many iconic characters you can choose from, in fact Vercetti is probably the only one. There is amazing supporting characters throughout the series, but you would never say they defined the game themselves. The closest we get to a character that really sums up the series, at the very least the specific game, is Tommy Vercetti. He is a character with a murky past at best yet comes to dominate the city and its underworld, which is basically the premise of every game in the series. But when Vice City was released that basic premise wasn’t as out-dated as it has become now, as every single sandbox game has the exact same premise over and over and over again. At the time it was still interesting, far from fresh, but definitely entertaing.

12th – Ganondorf (Zelda Series)

Without knowing it Ganondorf has become the most iconic villain in all of gaming in my opinion, as those goody two shoes dominate the rest of the list. While it was a bit of an accident I would definitely say that Ganondorf deserves his spot on the list, even if he has been beaten more times than a teenage boys… I will be the bigger man and not finish that joke. But yes he doesn’t have that great of a track record, but what makes Ganondorf so great is that the character has managed to change over the years and keep coming back with something new and different. No two battles with this evil villain are the same, and that is what holds back characters like Bowser who for a long time seemed stuck in the same rut.

The other thing that makes Ganondorf such a great character is that at times he has been a scary character, which not many Nintendo bosses can lay claim to. There is an odd fear to the battles between Link and Ganondorf because you know this guy is going to be tough, and because he has always been there at the end of the Zelda games as the one powerful entity that ruled over Hyrule. For any fan of the Zelda series, Ganondorf is about as iconic a figure you can get in gaming and I would definitely agree. If only he had a name more easy on the tongue.

11th – Pikachu (Pokémon Series)

Who would have thought that a little yellow mouse would take over the world and become one of the most identifiable images of the last 20 years? Apparently the guys at Nintendo did! There is no bigger money-maker in gaming, apart from Mario, than the Pokémon franchise and at the very heart of the entire series is a cute little electric mouse. At least I think he is a mouse, as he doesn’t really look like anything at all, bar cuteness and loads of it.

I was a massive fan of Pokémon back in the “glory days” when everything was insanely popular! I was always a Bulbasaur fan but even I knew that the star of the show was Pikachu. He was on the cover of everything and everyone knew about him. Jump 15 years later and Pokémon has died down a lot, but everyone still knows who Pikachu is. If it weren’t for the fact that in the actual game Pikachu isn’t really all that important then he would be top 3 at least. There are things that are popular in gaming and then there are things that the general public find popular, Pikachu was one of the few that was able to be a superstar in both realms.

10th – Donkey Kong

I love Donkey Kong; he is one of my most loved characters. I can’t really explain it all that well, but what the character has done for gaming probably won’t be surpassed any time soon. This character showed the world who Mario was, if it wasn’t for Donkey Kong, Mario wouldn’t be as big as he is today. And DK didn’t just retire after introducing the world to the biggest thing gaming has ever created; no he went on and forged his own path as a legitimate gaming icon.

Some of the DK games have been standouts by themselves, games like DK Country for the N64 was an absolute joy to play through. Also for the time it was groundbreaking in its visual presentation. Also with Diddy Kong and a plethora of others coming from the DK name, DK has managed to create his own institution from his gaming career. That is pretty good going for a gorilla with a tie on.

9th – Mega Man

The final entry in the penultimate edition of this column is being awarded to Mega Man. I could have easily put the character in next week’s column but I think he deserved to top his own section. Mega Man has become one of those stalwarts of the gaming community that you have grown up to just expect to be there, but recently he hasn’t. For me the Mega Man games have always been a great addition to anyone’s collection, but a lot of people weren’t too happy with some of the last games that were released under the Mega Man banner. This has sadly lead to the little blue guy being relegated to DLC on Xbox Live, the shame.

But regardless of the current state of affairs Mega Man is a bona fide icon in this industry. That can never be taken away from the team who developed the character, and maybe one day he will be put back on his rightful position has a gaming legend of the present and not just the past.

The Comments Section

Jason Douglas •
“This actually started off life as Resident Evil sequel yet diverted so far off track that it became its own gaming series.”
Judging from the demo for Resident Evil 6, I think another separate series was in order. That thing feels more like Resistance than RE.
I’m glad I helped get Mike Tyson on the list. Personally I’d have placed him higher, but he was only in one big game so it’s understandable.
I never had the slightest interest in Crash Bandicoot. He just felt like someone said “there’s room for another Mario/Sonic ripoff so let’s get to it” and I never gave him a chance.

I was always a big fan of Crash, hence his placing on the list. I think you either don’t rate him, or rate him very highly. I am in the camp that rates him highly, and to be honest I would have put him even higher on the list if it were a personal list.

Favourite Video of the Week – Stand up to Cancer

Just one more article left! Next week it is the Top 8 Most Iconic Video Game Characters EVER!


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David McGregor
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