The 5 Best Video Game Heroes

OUR WORLD HAS ALWAYS NEEDED HEROES. We’ve told stories of heroic deeds since we started telling stories, so its no wonder so many successful video games are basically hero quests. And a great quest needs a great hero. Thankfully video games developers have given us many great heroes, like these five:

1. Pac-Man

I know, I know, he’s just a yellow circle that chomps up pellets but damn if he ain’t popular. Do you know any other yellow circles that have generated an entire series of video games and are one of the most beloved pop culture icons of all time? I didn’t think so.

Say what you will about him, but without Pac-Man and the video game craze he initiated, video games might never have made it and we might never have had any of the other heroes on this list.

2. Link

Link burst on the video game scene in 1986’s The Legend of Zelda, and has since appeared in 15 follow-ups.

The secret to Link’s success as a video game hero is probably may be that he starts out as a regular boy and develops powers and abilities as he progresses, just like the players themselves. The fact that there has always been a lot of crossover between fans of fantasy and fans of video games couldn’t have hurt either. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out kids who liked role-playing board games would like role-playing video games

3. Lara Croft

Smart, sexy, and a wicked badass, what more could you want out of a video game hero? Oh, a game that is actually fun to play, well check and mate.

Lara Croft and Tomb Raider have it all! Proving a female character can take the lead and be successful — and that teenage boys don’t mind playing as one when she’s super hot — every female video game protagonist since owes a debt to Lara Croft.

What other video game hero has spawned their own comic series, a film adaptation that didn’t suck, and helped launch Angelina Jolie’s career? Exactly. Thank you, Lara.

4. Master Chief

Everybody’s favorite cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier, Master Chief might be a relative newcomer in the pantheon of video game heroes; anyone who has ever played Halo knows his place within it is well deserved.

Faceless and silent, Master Chief is one of those characters that a player can really become absorbed in, shaping and personalising his persona to your liking and gaming style, imagining it is you in that 1000-pound green armor, your face behind the mask — provided you imagine you’re seven feet tall.

5. Mario

A moustachioed Italian plumber who leaps over barrels and fights a giant monkey in order to save a princess might not sound like a recipe for a fantastic video game hero but what do I know.

Nothing, apparently.

Mario is unequivocally the video game hero, his name synonymous with the term. Mario is probably everyone’s first favorite video game hero, and for many people he remains their favorite video game hero. Mario has become ubiquitous, he is the Mickey Mouse of video games. Yet he doesn’t suck like you might think, Super Mario Bros. games are some of the best ever, they’re family-friendly, fun and challenging enough to make beating them a satisfying feat.

Mario is the man, plain and simple, and I didn’t even mention MarioKart.

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
8 Fresh Impressions of “Halo 4″ 

The Dessexualization of Lara Croft? Not Really  
7 Kickass Women Guys Would Love to Date 
The State of Superhero Gaming 

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