From plumbers to physicists, earthworms to pink blobs, video game heroes have come in all manner of unlikely shapes and sizes, even little girls.
Take a gander at some of the unlikeliest of the unlikely heroes.
1. MARIO & LUIGI (SUPER MARIO BROS.)
A couple of brothers, who are plumbers and Italian immigrant stereotypes; yet are somehow the ultimate video game heroes. I mean Mario is basically the video game hero.
Whatever bizarre circumstance led to the Mushroom Kingdom calling upon earth plumbers to save their kidnapped princess, may never be fully understood, but what is know is that this choice solidified the Mario Bros.—does this make his name Mario Mario?—as the de facto video game heroes.
In other words, the set the bar pretty low.
2. EARTHWORM JIM (EARTHWORM JIM)
An earthworm? A bloody earthworm? Not even kids like earthworms!
I presume you thought you were selling this to kids. Sure he’s an interstellar earthworm, with a ray gun, but honestly, a heroic hedgehog makes more sense, and that doesn’t make any sense. But video games have never had to make sense, the just had to be fun, and Earthworm Jim was a good game, it was a lot of fun, even with an earthworm as the hero.
And what do they say about things that ain’t broke? Twenty years later they’ve made a whole series of Earthworm Jim games, on multiple platforms.
3. GORDON FREEMAN (HALF LIFE)
A theoretical physicist who often seems to have no clue what he is doing, prefers to use brains over brawn but when pushed bashes enemies with a crowbar.
This may not sound like your everyday hero, but Gordon Freeman is plenty heroic, don’t you worry. He’s survived an alien invasion over four games, so he must be doing something right.
Far from a smooth-talking deliverer of witty one-liners, Gordon is the ultimate example of the strong, silent type, he hasn’t said a word through the entire series—me thinks he may suffer from social anxiety.
Though this hasn’t prevented him from becoming the saviour of the human race, or lead him to considered shaving or reshaping that goatee
4. KIRBY (KIRBY SERIES)
What is Kirby anyway, some kind of cloud? A ghost? A blob? Does anyone know for certain?
Whatever he is—and it is he, that one thing we do know about him—he’s always happy and he kicks ass. And gamers love him so much that he’s been kicking it for twenty games.
To be fair I can’t think of a single video game protagonist who was better at inhaling enemies than Kirby, so his popularity makes some sense. The spitting out fireballs didn’t hurt it none either.
5. STUBBS THE ZOMBIE (STUBBS THE ZOMBIE IN REBEL WITHOUT A PULSE)
Zombies are huge these days. HUGE!
And there are a crap load of video games out there that let you shot zombies—actually there’s always been a crap load of video games that let you shoot zombies long before the recent trend—but there’s only one game that makes the zombie the hero: Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Cause.
And why shouldn’t a zombie be the hero? Stubbs is great, a zombie depression-era travelling salesman, battering people with their own recently-ripped off arms, tearing out spinal columns, eating brains, brains, brains. You know, real heroic stuff like that. Besides promoting cannibalism never hurt anyone, and its kind of what Zombies do best.
6. JADE (BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL)
A photojournalist by trade, Jade also proves adept at fighting aliens, sheltering orphans and exposing government corruption.
Jade is something of a rarity in gaming, a smart, capable woman not overtly sexualised heroine, one resembling a real person with real proportions and real agency.
Oh, yeah, and gamers loved her. Seems you don’t need tits and ass and bombs and guns to make a successful game with a female in the lead.
All you need is a fun game with a good story and a strong character, which Jade most definitely is.
7. ELLIE (THE LAST OF US)
If there any other action-adventure games with a 14-year-old girl as the hero, I sure haven’t seen them. And while Ellie may not be the lead protagonist in The Last of Us, she is certainly the most crucial character, the one around whom the entire plot pivots, and I would call her the hero. She’s a fully developed character with a well thought out back-story and her own motives and desires through out.
And when you do finally get to play as Ellie, its not a drag or a disappointment, she’s a fierce little lady, great shot, nasty with a knife and smart. She’s the type of hero video game-dom needs more of.