When you’re an avid (or even casual) gamer, it’s basically impossible to not get a little bit attached to both playable and non-playable characters alike. Admit it. You’ve wanted to write a love letter to a few of them. Don’t worry. Your secret is safe.
All of the many things that might draw you to any given character are limitless. You may think particular warriors in a fighting series like Mortal Kombat are brutal just by how they completely eviscerate their enemies and, most importantly, because their killer instincts make you smile. You may also find yourself choosing certain “characters” in a racing game like Twisted Metal because their ride is one dope killing machine and you truly appreciate how they lay waste to your opponent’s now-burning vehicle. Or you might find yourself always squealing each and every time your overly leveled-up Death Knight in a MMORPG like World of Warcraft finds certain quest givers (with that Godsend of an “!” above their head) because they’re just so cool. If so, then you’ve probably thought to yourself, “Huh. I spend an awful long time thinking about this guy/gal. It would be pretty nifty if so-and-so were featured in another game of their own.”
Imagine this: all of your amazing highly underrated characters are now starring in their own video game, allowing you to play as them in more ways than ever before. You can now explore the seemingly unending depths of their inner psyche and discover more stunningly complex and tragic pasts about them, in turn, under covering a deeper thirst for revenge that’s unquenchable. Sounds cool, huh?
It is cool. Here’s a comprehensive list of popular characters from various gaming franchises who deserve to be the main protagonist (or antagonist) in their own game.
15. Tikal the Echidna – Sonic Adventure
In what could be designated as the “Sonic Curse,” most characters dwelling in the fast, blue, fuzzy hedgehog’s universe have fallen under the gun of gaming journalists everywhere (and rightly so), slapped onto all-time worst character lists across the internet because they’re just plain lame and/or annoying.
Tikal the Echidna has, for the most part, been spared, mostly due to her rarity, recently being severely limited to brief cameos in random games ever since her role in the two Sonic Adventure installments. In short, people haven’t had enough face time with the echidna to make anyone want to kill her … yet. It’s because of this why she actually has a fighting chance at becoming a truly great gaming character in a universe where that’s nearly impossible. Heck, she deserves it, just for having dodged the Sonic Curse for so long … for the most part.
Okay, so she’s on this list. However, don’t let her cute, innocent-like appearance fool you. She’s one badass echidna. Why? Because she has a truly horrific past, a plus in every gamer’s book. Over 4,000 years ago, Tikal tried (emphasis on the tried part) at stopping her war-mongering father and his fellow warriors from raiding the Alter of the Emeralds. Like a boss, she stood in their way, with her arms outstretched, defying all logic in the process. But, despite her valiant efforts, diplomacy failed. Tikal was soon “trampled over” by the echidna warriors as they stormed the alter. Seeing as Tikal had become buddy-buddy with Chaos, a Chao mutated by the Chaos Emeralds and guardian of its species, this turn of events didn’t bode quite well with the aptly named mutation. In a fit of rage, Chaos transformed into Perfect Chaos and wiped the Knuckles Clan off the face of the Earth. (Yes, it’s common knowledge that they live on Mobius in the comics.)
To stop Perfect Chaos from causing further devastation (while mourning the loss of her clan), Tikal sacrificed her body to strip Chaos of its power and sealed it inside the Master Emerald with her own spirit. But rather than never being seen again, Tikal was brought back to life in Sonic Adventure when Dr. Eggman sought to use Chaos to conquer the world.
Who says Dr. Eggman won’t try to control Chaos again? No one. When this hopefully happens, rather than only assisting Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big and E-102 Gamma in this new story, Tikal should lead the charge. With her unique tribal garb and the fact that she shares many of Knuckles’ classic moves (or should I say, he’s sharing her swag), in addition to having some really cool spiritual abilities of her own, Tikal could make an utterly fascinating character in a really rad game.
14. Luma – Super Mario Galaxy
Luma is, essentially, the new Yoshi in the Mario universe. Now before you try lighting this story on fire, this isn’t to say that Luma is better. Far from it. Luma can never ever in a million years replace the lovable green dinosaur. But he is, however, a worthy addition because he’s just so much more fascinating (read: not lame) than many of the other Mario characters who litter the franchise with their filth. Luma, therefore, deserves his own spin-off series.
Luma is not only part of the Super Mario Galaxy spin-off series, but he’s a pivotal character, seeing as he’s the one who bestows the Spin attack. Spin is a really nifty move. In addition to activating Launch Stars (providing Mario the ability to basically become a comet to reach new planets and galaxies), Spin stuns, freezes and inflicts dizziness upon enemies while also deflecting certain projectiles, performing the same duties as the Frog Suit (you swim faster) and much more.
The fact that after using Spin in Super Mario Galaxy, you can’t perform it again until, one, you touch solid ground and, two, Luma “recharges,” has made everyone who’s ever played Super Mario Galaxy crave the ability to use Spin all the time without any annoying limitations. Let’s give Luma a chance to do a few Spins of his own! Plus, he’s as cute as Kirby. Okay, okay! Almost as cute.
13. Captain Falcon – F-Zero
The history of Captain Falcon is a sad one. And that’s “history,” as in the history of Nintendo, not the backstory of the actual guy from the F-Zero games. See, Captain Falcon was originally meant to be the flagship character for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System upon its release. But as everyone knows, that didn’t happen. At all. In fact, the only reason why anybody really knows the name Captain Falcon is due to his “minor” role as one of the many, many playable characters in the Smash Brothers franchise. How sad is that? People don’t even recognize him as Captain Falcon from the game he originally “starred” in — F-Zero. He’s just some random dude you can use to beat up other dudes and dudettes in a cool fighting game.
While potentially upsetting, it’s interesting when you realize that F-Zero is a racing series. It’s not a fighting game like Smash Brothers (while a “death race” mode was first introduced in F-Zero X). You’d think that F-Zero would be fully fight-oriented since Captain Falcon became popular for his declarative “Falcon … PUNCH” and “Falcon …. KICK” attacks rather than his skill behind the wheel. It’s tragic. There’s nothing about him that suggests he’s a racer in Smash Brothers. (The same could be said of Fox McCloud, but everyone knows where he comes from. Who didn’t play Star Fox 64?)
So how great would it be to truly discover the depth of his character by having Captain Falcon star in a game where you can both control him on land (doing all of the “Falcon … PUNCH”es and “Falcon … KICK”s to your heart’s content) and in his Blue Falcon race car and Falcon Flyer midsize spacecraft? Might as well give him some love. He lost the flagship title for the SNES, for Pete’s sake!
12. Heishiro Mitsurugi – Soul Edge
This isn’t about Darth Vader. It’s about Heishiro Mitsurugi. Heishiro has to be one of the most legitimate samurai in video game history. The authenticity and historical accuracy of this character continues to impress gaming enthusiasts to this day, offering an extensive range of moves and stances that feel as though he could fit right in to classic samurai films like Seven Samurai (1954) or Harakiri (1962).
Heishiro’s original quest to “overcome the firearm” would also make for a great story line in any solo game. That being said, it would also be interesting to control an older Heishiro who, in his later years, wanted only to prove that he’s the greatest warrior of all time by fighting worthy foes across the globe.
Speaking of his history, Heishiro, like all great characters, is shaped by bloodshed. The son of a farmer, Heishiro always yearned to become a samurai due to his homeland constantly being ravaged by war. Rather than watch it happen, again and again, he wanted to do something about it. The final nail in the coffin (or should it be coffins?) was after both his parents died when he was but a wee lad at 14, allowing him to officially take up the sword.
Historical video games are also vastly entertaining. During Heishiro’s earlier years, feudal lords (“daimyos”) were attempting to claim the title of Shogun in what’s been deemed, the Sengoku Jidai or “the age of the country at war.” Sounds like a great setting!
11. Mankrik – World of Warcraft
There’s no such thing as there being too many video games with orcs. Hands down (weapons and all), the best orc you could ever control in any game, especially for fans of World of Warcraft, is Mankrik. Plus, his rather brutal story would make playing this insane beast all the more gratifying. The fact that he’s currently limited to a non-playable quest-giver is a true and utter tragedy that must be rectified.
Mankrik suffers from avenge-dead-wife syndrome. After being overwhelmed and KO’ed by quilboars in a heroic battle with his soon-to-die wife, Olgra, Mankrik awoke to find his wife-y gone. A heart-wrenching search ensued. While Mankrik was able to find her corpse, bury her, raise a monument in Olgra’s honor and take part in the mass-slaughter of quilboar at Thorn Hill, his blood lust for these wretched beings was nowhere close to being satisfied.
And that’s where Mankrik’s story could begin in this much-needed video game, as he travels to the Southern Barrens, wanting nothing more than to see the quilboar’s very homes razed to the ground and their mangled bodies strewn across the countryside.
It’s the classic revenge story. But it would star an orc! Win-win!
10. Ahri, the Nine-Tailed Fox – League of Legends
Ahri is like Pinocchio and Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation in that she craves to be human … except she’s badass and not a droid, respectively. Ahri’s thirst for life essence (or, more directly, her pursuit of humanity) is what makes her stand out from the plethora of League of Legend characters. She sticks out even more when you take into account that she’s been tragically unable to fill this seemingly empty void within her.
Seeing as she was once a “normal” fox should be proof enough to show just how much she’s driven to become human. It all began after Ahri somehow absorbed the life essence from a robed magician whom she found dying on a battlefield, giving her human form in the process. But rather than filling that incessant feeling of incompleteness, she still felt she needed more. Despite this setback, Ahri now knew what she needed: life essence. Thus began her quest of consuming as much of it as she could from humans who were foolish enough to become entangled in her scheme.
Suffice it to say, this “search for humans to become human” story would make for an intriguing game. But what would make this undoubted iconoclast of a game even more iconic is if it incorporated what happens every time Ahri absorbs life essence in the League of Legends canon: she gains more of a conscience. Oh, man! Inner conflict! Of course, to save the game from utter stupidity, its premise would have take place before Ahri turned to the League, seeing as they gave her a chance to gain her humanity without consuming human life essence. No, everyone wants consuming-life-essence Ahri, not tree-hugging Ahri.
9. Morrigan Aensland – Darkstalkers
Succubi are great. But they’re even greater when they’re vain and their whole existence essentially revolves around the excitement of battle. Enter: Morrigan Aensland. Before getting into her story, the fact that she’s appeared in more games outside of Darkstalkers than any of her peers means that it’s about to time she benefited from what comes with starring in one’s own series (and, no, the Osanpo Morrigan mobile game doesn’t count as her first “solo” venture).
Morrigan’s tale is also intriguing. After a frightening prophecy foretold certain catastrophic events if Morrigan were unable to control her power, Morrigan’s adopted father, demon king Belial, tried to circumvent the pandemonium that would inevitably ensue. The way he accomplished this is what would give this must-be-created game its plot.
Basically, Belial sealed one third of Morrigan’s power within himself (which would be returned to her upon his death) and the other in a pocket dimension. But this second sealed power would end up becoming way cooler after it eventually morphed into a child succubus named Lilith.
Yah, this would undoubtedly make a fascinating game! Imagine: you, as Morrigan, slowly regaining her full power over the course of this fictitious game before fusing with Lilith, like how Morrigan did in Darkstalkers 3. But why stop there? What if Morrigan adopts an alter-ego that mirrors Lilith’s personality and continues fighting? Oh! The possibilities are endless!
8. Jago/Shadow Jago – Killer Instinct
Whether you view him as the reincarnation of Street Fighter’s Ryu or are fascinated by the fact that he’s a monk haunted by the demon Gargos, Jago and his inner religious turmoil make him a fascinating playable character from the Killer Instinct series and a perfect contender for this list.
In Killer‘s debut, Jago is approached by ostensibly the Tiger Spirit who infuses Jago with its power. While granting him with some amazing abilities, in the sequel, it’s revealed that the Tiger Spirit is actually the demon Gargos in disguise and has been manipulating Jago to do his evil bidding the whole time. Remember: Jago is a monk, so doing evil things isn’t really on his to-do list. While a really cool concept, the ending of Killer Instinct 2 was pretty lame because Jago, upon discovering Gargos’ true identity, ended up fighting, defeating and banishing the demon. While going at it with a demon is pretty great and all, banishing it kind of puts a dampener on all of the fun that could be had later. Boring!
Luckily, Jago’s third rendition during the reboot of the series is awesome and would undoubtedly make for a killer (pun intended) game. In this later story, after realizing that Gargos had tricked him into believing that the demon was the Tiger Spirit, Jago tries to harness the corrupt power for himself rather than banishing it.
This choice makes Jago more of a flawed (and more interesting) character because, again, he’s a monk. Monks shouldn’t harness anything except holy stuff. So in this game, Jago basically undergoes a religious crisis rather than being an incorruptible monk (besides having been manipulated in the first place). What’s more, in the reboot of Killer Instinct, Jago, while trying to control his new abilities, undergoes a rather intriguing transformation. Eventually, he succumbs to the corrupt power of Gargos, allowing Gargos’ herald, Omen, to possess him. This new form is called Shadow Jago.
7. Kasumi – Dead or Alive
Beyond her insanely good looks, the tragic story of Kasumi makes her the perfect protagonist for a game of her own. In addition to being forever banished from her village for having left (a big no-no for her people), Kasumi ended up being labeled as a traitor in the process. But this means so much more than her not being able to go back home. She’s met with an extra bit of “fun.” See, it’s punishable by death. But on top of being hunted down by assassins, Kasumi’s sister, Ayane, is part of the “let’s punish Kasumi” fan club, too.
So while this game would undoubtedly focus around a unique story of its own, it would be fantastic if Kasumi, in this new setting, must deal with all the things she struggled with in Dead or Alive, like being hunted down by her own people and even her sister. Despite the fact that Kasumi was able to persuade her brother, Hayate, to forget about her outlaw status in the official canon, this little tidbit could and should be forgotten in this “game” as well as Kasumi’s later weird-okay-ish relationship with Ayane. The more conflict, the better.
Oh, that’s right! Kasumi was cloned, too. So in addition to dealing with all of the above, wouldn’t it be fantastic if she would have to fight off past clones like Kasumi Alpha (including all of its phases, Project Alpha-2, the redesigned Alpha-152 and Phase-4)? Heck, why not throw some extra ones in there, too!
6. Iori Yagami – The King of Fighters
When a character is born from a cursed clan, you know that character is going to be at least a tad bit interesting. Let’s start at the beginning. Once upon a time, there were two clans, Yasakani (now Yagami) and Kusanagi. At one point, these two clans got along just fine. In fact, they even worked together in sealing the demon Orochi. What’s stronger than bonds forged in bloodshed? Well, in this story, it turns out that a lust for power is.
Later, the Yasakani, sick of being in the shadow of the Kusanagi, made a blood-pact with Orochi (the same demon they helped seal) in order to gain more powers. Of course, this didn’t go over well with the Kusanagi, and a war was soon waged between both clans. In addition to many of their people being slaughtered, the Yasakani, now officially the Yagami, also had to deal with some extra problems. In return for their newfound powers, they became a cursed clan, whereby every heir would henceforth die at a young age and every mother die in childbirth. Enter: Iori Yagami and Kyo Kusanagi.
For obvious reasons, this list will be focusing on Iori because he’s cursed and Kyo is not. Also for obvious reasons, Iori doesn’t like Kyo, seeing as Iori is a Yagami and Kyo is a Kusanagi. However, the rivalry between these two characters is much more complicated than just blind hate. Despite for his indelible abhorrence for Kyo, Iori is known for helping Kyo defeat his other foes if it would allow Iori to fight Kyo later. There’s nothing better than a “gray area” between enemies.
What’s more, Iori has to deal with another curse in addition to the original one afflicted upon his clan. Known as “The Riot of the Blood” curse, Iori “suffers” from becoming faster, stronger and wilder, all at the expense of losing himself, where he’s known to attack erratically at anyone, regardless of who they are. While in this state, Iori is called “Wild Iori” or “Orochi Iori.”
Let’s see what you would get in this must-have game. So, one, you would control a violent and sadistic character like Iori who, two, would do anything to defeat his rival, Kyo, and, three, at random times would transform into “Wild Iori” or “Orochi Iori.” Should there be a game like this? What do you think?
5. Li Long – Soul Edge
If there ever were a game featuring Li Long as the lead, then it would have to be during the time in his life before he dropped the whole revenge thing because that’s what made him cool. Li’s I-need-to-avenge-the-death-of-my-love-Chie story is so compelling because, aside from the fact that it’s hard to top a good revenge tale, while searching for the men whom he believed killed Chie, Li would take the weapons of the fighters he defeated. There were times when he’d even re-purpose these killing tools for his own use. That, alone, would be a cool feature in any game.
Li is also quite a dramatic character, having suffered a long, long history of defeats (in fact, that’s how he met Chie). This gives Li a certain quality that makes him seem more heroic and, especially, more realistic than most heroes. More importantly, it bestows upon him the ever-strong appeal of the underdog who will never give up, no matter the odds.
Plus, Li’s tale is even more profound (and ironic) when you realize that Chie is actually alive and has given birth to their son. There’s nothing like a good “Someone killed the love of my life, so I’m going to kill everyone because she was killed, but, oops, she’s actually alive, so I’ve been killing people for no reason” story to keep you hooked in a game.
4. Scorpion – Mortal Kombat
It’s still a sore subject for many Scorpion (and Sub-Zero) fans that Mortal Kombat: Fire & Ice never came into being, seeing as it would’ve starred both he and Sub-Zero in cooperative game play. Instead, gamers have been “forced” to only enjoy Scorpion’s deadly antics in a limited environment where he’s just one of many characters to choose from in the iconic fighting series Mortal Kombat.
This undead ninja specter (oh, yah, he’s an undead ninja specter) is undoubtedly best known for his harpoon-like-spear-chest-impaling-rope-pull move, a great spammer, which has come to be regarded as one of the most identifiable and greatest taunts of all time. After aptly yelling out: “Come here!” to his foes, Scorpion forces them to, yes, come to him by pulling a rope-equipped “kunai” after it’s been thrown and embedded into their chests. That’s the joke. This attack/taunt has not only helped rocket the specter to stardom, but has allowed Scorpion to grow throughout course of the series’ long and extensive history into a really compelling killing machine.
Controlling this high-body-count-making undead ninja in his own spin-off game would probably be enough for any Mortal Kombat fanatic. However, Scorpion’s relentless need to seek revenge on Sub-Zero (except in Mortal Kombat X) provides this yet-to-be-released game a great plot to work with. Also, due to Scorpion being a playable fighter in nearly every rendition of Mortal Kombat, save for the original version of Mortal Kombat 3, makes this currently fictitious title starring Scorpion not only welcome, but extremely necessary.
3. Chun-Li – Street Fighter
She’s not only the first female playable character in Street Fighter, but has been deemed “the first lady of video games” by Retro Junk. So in honor of Feminism everywhere, the world shall yell a resounding “NO!” to Ryu and Ken. It’s all about Chun-Li!
Chun-Li’s sense of justice, alone, would undoubtedly make for the perfect protagonist in a no-other-character-but-Chun-Li spin-off. Whether the premise would revolve around Chun-Li’s original story where she sought to avenge her father’s death, around her saving an abducted student like in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike or around her, in any way, exercising the need to protect the innocent, this video game would definitely garner mass appeal. The fact that she’s an Interpol officer, gifted with investigating skills (maybe the layout of this game could follow in the footsteps of Batman’s Arkham series?) and has a talent for deception (there’s never a dull moment when deceit runs rampant in a game), all add additional layers to this potential story line.
Let’s not forget, either, that Chun-Li has been a mainstay in the Street Fighter franchise ever since her debut in Street Fighter II. So, again … No! Ryu and Ken can go sulk in a corner somewhere else. It’s all about Chun-Li!
2. Sweet Tooth – Twisted Metal
For being such an intense-looking clown that’s not only a mass murderer but is a cursed intense-looking, mass-murdering clown, wherein he must contend with the undying and torturous fires of Hell continuously burning on top of his head for all eternity, it’s therefore a travesty that Sweet Tooth’s character has always been hidden behind the wheel of his badass Chevrolet Step ice cream van in Twisted Metal. This clown should be outside of his vehicle, wreaking havoc in the streets, like he does in the cinematic scenes between game play.
Yes, Sweet Tooth’s creepy van is equipped with the ever-spam-friendly Napalm Cone pink homing missiles. And, yes, in later games, the van even develops its own split personality. But imagine what it would be like if you could both drive this killer vehicle outside of an arena into a whole world and also control this murderous, insane clown from beyond the windshield?
The fact that Sweet Tooth even had the chance to rid himself of the burning-flame curse, but gave it up because he’d have to renounce his obsession for murdering innocent lives, makes him one incredibly crazy psychopath and, more importantly, the perfect antagonist to play in a game besides in Twisted Metal. Here’s another reason why he deserves it: Sweet Tooth has been making parents everywhere rethink their decision of letting their child buy Twisted Metal due to his terrifying face (or van) being plastered on the cover of every release of the game since its inception.
1. Yoshimitsu – Tekken
He’s not just a master swordsman and practitioner of ninjustsu with a mechanical prosthetic arm (if you can even use the word “just” in that sentence). Yoshimitsu cuts down his foes with a cursed blade that retains its power by slaying villains. Yes! If that weren’t cool enough for whatever reason, then get a load of this: the blade drives the user insane if its insatiable thirst for evil isn’t continuously quenched. Whoa! The power of the blade is so intense, in fact, that Yoshimitsu is forced to use a second blade, the Fumaken, in Tekken 6, which can suppress the insanity-inducing properties of the cursed sword. That’s not only a cool reason to have another blade, but having two swords is always better than one anyway.
Even before Yoshimitsu’s character (and his weapon) were fleshed-out enough in the later Tekken installments to have him own a sword that’s cursed, his blade was still badass. The weapon has been part of a long-standing tradition in the Manji Clan, of which Yoshimitsu is the current leader, whereby the sword is passed down from one leader to the next. However, there’s a twist. During the inauguration ceremony, the predecessor is ritually sacrificed, and all of his/her powers and skills are then absorbed into the blade, which is then given to the successor. In other words, Yoshimitsu, as the current leader of the Manji Clan, has a sword that’s absorbed all of the abilities of the clan’s previous leaders. While intensely rad, it also means that one day, Yoshimitsu will be sacrificed, meaning his powers, as well as everyone else’s, will be in the hands of one lucky son-of-a-gun. That sounds like a possible sequel!
The only problem is that Yoshimitsu’s character is severely limited, due to the types of games he’s been featured in. He’s just one of many warriors in Tekken as well as in the Soul series, both of which are fighting games. While a game revolving around Yoshimitsu’s journey (and relationship) with his sword would be amazing in its own right, Yoshimitsu definitely deserves to spearhead his own series just because of how successful he’s been. The fact that he’s not only one of only four characters to have appeared in every Tekken game (except for Tekken Revolution), but has even crossed over to become a staple character in the Soul universe should be reason enough.
Yoshimitsu’s badass look as well as his infectious moves (including the classic Sword Stab and all of the spam-y, dizzy-inducing spin attacks like Slap U Silly) and stances (like the “Pogo”) have made him synonymous with everything that’s right in fighting games. Who hasn’t had fun trolling other players unfamiliar with the game by initiating Yoshimitsu’s seemingly harmless healing technique by sitting Indian style in front of the unsuspecting opponent before (upon pressing the back button) disappearing and then reappearing behind him/her and using the from-the-back Tornado Drop? Ahh … perfection!