top 50 banner-01

top10-01Mario (Donkey Kong)

More than any other character on this list, Mario presented the paradox of judging a character of iconic design vs. one with a rich, deep personality. I mean… at his core, Mario is a pretty simple dude. He jumps on baddies, rescues the princess, and yells out the occasional “Itsa me!” or “wahoo!“. But he’s also probably the most popular video game character in the world and is practically synonymous with gaming itself. You show a photo of him to just about anybody you meet and they’ll know who he is. If there’s any character on this list that deserves to be called an icon, it’s Mario.   -John

top10-02Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

Lara Croft is one of the most iconic video game heroines of all time. From her early days as a thrill-seeking treasure hunter from the 32-bit era to the brooding survivalist she is today, we’ve seen so many iterations of Ms. Croft on both the small and silver screens. My personal favorite take on Lara is the first rebooted version who was seen in Tomb Raider: Legend, Anniversary and Underworld. This version of Lara was a seasoned globe-trotting adventurer who was driven by the mystery of her missing mother. It provided more depth to her character without going off the deep-end of melodrama that we see in her current iteration. Regardless of which version you prefer, Lara Croft is an icon for the medium and well deserving of her place in our top ten. –Adam

top10-03GLaDOS (Portal)

Perhaps the most complex and bizarre character on our list, GLaDOS is a hilarious and sadistic foil to the character Chell in the Portal series. When the player is first introduced to GLaDOS she appears to be a harmless instructional AI who is in place to teach you the mechanics and systems of the game, but by the end of the series she reveals herself to be a devilishly clever puppet-master who derives simulated pleasure from putting you through the ringer. GLaDOS is one of those enemies that you love more than you hate, and the range of character developments she undergoes across only two chapters in the series gives her an incredibly rich arc. GLaDOS is yet another example of how much we miss the glory days of Valve gaming. Plus one time she was a potato. –Adam

top10-04Link (The Legend of Zelda)

Link is one of the more interesting characters on this list because in almost all of the games he’s appeared in, he’s technically a different character. The Zelda timeline is a fragmented, complicated piece of lore that fans have studied for years, but no matter what the setting or the enemy to be defeated, one thing always holds true: a legendary hero of Hylian descent, born with the power of the magical Tri-Force, destined to defeat evil and bring peace to Hyrule. In most of the main games that has involved harnessing the power of the Master Sword and defeating the evil Ganon, but it has varied from game to game. For over 3 decades he has been one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters and he’s managed to do it all without saying a word.   -John

top10-05Ezio Auditore (Assassin’s Creed II)

Born into a noble family in 15th century Florence, Ezio Audiotore de Firenze discovers he is part of long line of Assassins after his father and brothers are hanged for uncovered a plot to cease control of Florence. While on his journey to seek vengeance for his family, Ezio uncovers a much larger conspiracy involving Assassins, Templars, and the race to find the Apple of Eden, an ancient artifact with incredible power. One of the things that makes the charming and deadly Ezio such a standout character in a series with many notable heroes, is that we follow his life and quest for truth through the course of several games, all the way until the bittersweet end.   -John

top10-06Ellie (The Last of Us)

When it’s discovered that a young girl may hold within her blood the cure for a worldwide epidemic, she embarks on a journey with a complete stranger in the hopes of creating a vaccine. The Last of Us is a heart-pounding thriller that makes us ask how far we’ll go for the ones we love and what we would sacrifice for the good of the many. While Joel may be the lead character in The Last of Us, there’s little doubt that Ellie is it’s heart and soul. Joel represents everything we’ve lost and the ghosts of our past and Ellie is the hope for a one day better future. Throughout the journey their bond grows from reluctant partners to true family and Ellie proves herself as a woman who is not only able to hold her own in a fight, but is a force to be reckoned with. Also, do not miss the Left Behind DLC which fills in her backstory brilliantly and is a beautiful tale in and of itself.   -John

top10-07James Sunderland (Silent Hill 2)

The story of James Sunderland and the search for his dead wife through the haunted streets of Silent Hill is perhaps the most compelling story I’ve ever played. There are so many layers to James’ tragic story and the way the developers deliver it is undeniably brilliant. By taking James secrets and painting his surroundings and encounters with clues, Team Silent created a story that allows the players to read between the lines and find meaning everywhere that James sets foot. The enemies are manifestations of his pain, his companions are ghosts of his past and it all leads you to a conclusion that pulls the curtain on a protagonist who is more damned than you would ever have imagined. –Adam

top10-08Nathan Drake (Uncharted)

No character on this list is more likable in my eyes than Nathan Drake. A wisecracking, death-defying action hero who somehow manages to be as relatable as your best drinking buddy. Nate charmed his way onto the gaming scene in the iconic Uncharted series and his harrowing adventures cemented Naughty Dog as the premiere game studio for cinematic adventure. With each installment of the series we learned a little more about this orphan who dreamt of being something greater than just a common thief. Greatness from small beginnings was the message of this series and man how great it was. From unearthing hidden cities to plundering pirate treasure, Nate brought us to the ends of the Earth in bombastic fashion and with the fantastic Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog gave us one of the best character send-offs we’ve ever experienced in a game. It’s not often that a Studio respects the stories and characters that it creates so much that it knows to close the book on its best chapter but that’s exactly what they did. Nathan Drake’s adventures were indeed an absolute treasure.  -Adam

top10-09John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)

The Red Dead Redemption series is one of the finest examples of storytelling in all of gaming. With it’s evocative cinematography, thrilling musical score, and smart writing, the series is in a class of it’s own when it comes to this genre. But all of that means nothing if you don’t have a cast of great characters, and John Marston is at the top of the heap in a pair of games full of classics. In the original, John is a man haunted by the mistakes of his past and trying to build a new life for his family, but the sins of his past refuse to be forgotten. In the prequel we get to see John as a young member of the Van der Linde and the events that set him on the path to redemption. Nobody creates amazing characters like Rockstar, and John Marston stands out as the cream of their crop. -John

top10-10Joel (The Last of Us)

It’s nearly impossible to even entertain putting anyone else at the top of this list other than Joel. The story of Joel in The Last of Us is the greatest achievement in conveying what it means to be a father in all of gaming. From the heart shattering opening moments of the game it is clear that you are experiencing storytelling on a different level from anything you’ve ever played before. Every brutal and harrowing chapter of this story gets under your skin. You feel Joel and Ellie’s pain, and the bond that forms from that pain is so natural that you never question their relationship because it just feels so real. The performance of Troy Baker is unforgettable and will stay with you forever. Joel’s quiet anger becomes your resolve. For obvious reasons I have connected more and more with this character over the years and I feel as if I’ve walked a thousand miles in his shoes. Every hard decision he makes, fleshes out who he is and brings you to an understanding of how a father will do absolutely anything to protect his child. Joel is unquestionably the greatest video game character of all time. –Adam

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s