We remember the great games we've played. But sometimes it's the characters we played as or those we encountered that linger longest in the memory.
UK newspaper The Guardian recently listed its 10 best video game characters of all time. You can read the reasoning here, but here's the 10 they came up with:
Floyd the Robot (Planetfall) The King of All Cosmos (Katamari Damacy) Niko Bellic (GTA IV) Mario The Lemmings Arthas Menethil (WarCraft III) Captain Olimar (Pikmin) GLaDOS (Portal) Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island) Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect)
A good selection, to my mind, mixing in a few leftfield but worthy choices amongst a number of predictable hall of famers. It got me thinking, then, who would make my own list? And, after some consideration, I came up with the following list of video game characters who have left the most enduring impression on me. But let's hear yours too. Who are your favourite video game characters and why?
The Jackal (Far Cry 2) The man you're sent to Africa to kill is a notorious gun-runner, exploiting both sides of a pointless conflict for personal gain. Except he's had an epiphany somewhere along the line. The Jackal sees himself as a cancer that can eat away the real disease that's killing the country. He's now playing both sides in a bid to destroy them and recognises a kindred spirit in you.
Samus Aran (Metroid series) She nevers speaks (well, she didn't until Other M). I don't really know much about who she is, or her background, her motivations, her life. But Metroid wouldn't be the same without Samus Aran. She's a bad-ass one-woman army. She's scientist-smart, always seeking knowledge with her ask questions first, shoot later approach. Nintendo shocked us all at the end of the first Metroid, revealing Samus to be female, but now it all makes perfect sense.
Rosie (Valkyria Chronicles) A tough-talking shocktrooper, Brigitte "Rosie" Stark undergoes the greatest character growth over the course of the war. From bigoted, ignorant warrior, she discovers her tender, selfless side through her relationship with the doomed Isara. When she eventually finds her voice and sings, it's one of the game's most moving moments.
The Arbiter (Halo 2) Although not quite a bait-and-switch on the scale of Metal Gear Solid 2, the Arbiter's missions in Halo 2 were a bold move by Bungie. But if their intent was not merely to surprise players but to challenge them by revealing the Covenant to be more than another relentless alien menace, then it paid off big time.
Dak'kon (Planescape: Torment) Sure, he's a kick-ass battlemage capable of slicing or fireballing through a fight. But Torment ain't about the fights. It's about discovering who you are, what your past selves have done, and unravelling the tragic tale of betrayal, faith and servitude suffered by a Githzerai named Dak'kon.
Garrett (Thief series) A cynical master thief with a nice line in dry and at times gallows humour, Garrett is almost a proto-Nathan Drake. Except for the fact you don't want to punch him in the face.
James Sunderland (Silent Hill 2) After receiving a letter from his dead wife, James sets out for the remote lakeside town of Silent Hill, and thus begins his slow descent into madness. A complex and flawed figure, wracked by guilt and inner turmoil, James stands apart from the stereotypical game hero. He's also a reflection of the player: you can redeem him or you can drive him further into despair.
Big Daddy (BioShock series) Who knew a lumbering gorilla in a diving helmet would become such an iconic figure? That shuddering stomp as it patrols the ruined halls, that heart-wrenching wail as it slumps defeated, that blur of power and precision on you drill dash across the room: the Big Daddy is not merely the face of BioShock but - from pivotal protector role in Rapture's eco-system to genuine father-figure star turn in the sequel - its heart and soul.
SHODAN (System Shock series) Gaming's greatest ever villain? I think so. Goading you, taunting you, threatening you, the malicious, power-hungry and utterly demented AI is always there, a malevolent presence accompanying you every step of the way. Unlike most game villains who turn up for an anti-climactic boss fight, SHODAN is constantly in your head. And she gets all the best lines.
Hoagie (Day of the Tentacle) Nothing phases Hoagie, not even being sent back 200 years in time via a porta-loo time machine and ending up in the same house where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and co. were drawing up the United States Constitution. Hands forever in pockets, he takes it all in his lazy, heel-dragging stride., watching the world with a bemused detachment from behind a thick layer of greasy heavy-metal hair.
The 10 best video-game characters [The Guardian]