Every now and then it's nice to see a video game take a supposedly "normal," everyman and make him into the biggest, meathead badass that it can. The kind of man that gets what he wants, does what he wants, and manages to save the day anyway. Maybe he'll spout a few one-liners, or maybe he'll just silently slaughter an entire army single-handed. Regardless, we must pay tribute to these characters!

Hector, one of the three main lords in the first Fire Emblem to reach the US, may not seem that manly when you first see him in-game. Rest assured that if you use him long enough, your opinion will change. He gains attack like crazy, dodges everything, and is arguably the best character in the game. But more than that, he's a loveable buffoon with a huge axe. But he's just a little bit too nice to make it up any higher than number 10. And I'll admit even that is a bit generous. Sorry Hector!

Kratos is scary. That's the best way to describe this family-murdering, god-killing antihero. He may be justified in some of his actions, and he certainly is very manly. He's also almost evil if having not already crossed that line. For that reason, he does not quite fit this list... however, I must admit that he's very manly. He'll get his dues with a mention, but he's not making it anywhere near the number 1 spot. Please don't hurt me, Kratos.

No, not Mike. Not Super Macho Man either. And no, not Little Mac. My friends, we're talking the only Russian-stereotype boxer this side of the Mississippi: Soda Popinski (Vodka Drunkskensi to the arcade-goers). This crazy, pink, boozy Russian man would laugh and throw wild punches that Little Mac would be dodging left and right. More than that, he took a lot of hits to go down. Maybe he wasn't the toughest opponent in Punch-Out!!, but he was the most manly. We drink to you, Popinski.

Mario has certainly changed over the years. Mainly, he's become less of an action-man and more of a family-man. Back when Donkey Kong released, however, he went by the alias "Jumpman" and took on one of the biggest, baddest apes he'd ever laid eyes on. Dodging barrels, climbing rickety ladders and in general showing up an ape about 5 times his size, Mario earns the privledge of being recognized for what he was way back when Donkey Kong was released: manly.

Barret was not the main character of Final Fantasy 7, but boy was he manly. Not only did he have a freaking gatling gun impaled in his arm (that he could inexplicably fire, hands-free), but he had a hairy chest and an attitude. Maybe he was a bit of a softy for his little girl, Marlene, but that didn't stop him from blowing stuff up and using the majority of the curse words present in Final Fantasy 7.

Sometimes a man doesn't have to be a total badass to be a total badass. Ben the biker isn't really such a bad guy: he inspires trust in his men and respects his elders. But, in Full Throttle he's pissed off and won't take crap from anybody. This man is willing to slash, club, and kick rival bikers down to the hard pavement without a single look back.

Arthur may not physically be a manly sort of hero, but there's something to be a said for a man that is basically fighting against the entirety of hell itself with little more than a lance and the clothes on his back. He'll dodge and destroy zombies, go head-to-head with demons and wolves, and in general earn his way through every single inch of ground ahead of him. And if he gets hit, his armor crumbles and leaves him alone in nothing but his boxers... a vulnerable position to be in, but something tells me he might get a few kicks out of it.

As for this unnamed hero, he's not "almost" doing anything. He IS fighting against the forces of hell and in his downward spiral into death will take as many of those demons with him as he can. The last living space marine on mars, he'll have to use shotguns, plasma guns, and a myriad of other death devices to fight for his life until he either succumbs to the madness that has gripped his comrades or is buried under a pile of demon corpses.

In this very strange, but totally awesome, rendition of Batman, big Mr. Bats has upped his kick-assery levels tenfold. Don't get me wrong, he's been a badass in pretty much every medium he's dappled in, but in this game it all comes to a wonderful pinnacle. Not only does he finally take the plunge and use guns to hunt down his greatest nemesis (a move many fans criticize the game for) , but he does so with style. Batman destroys everything he sees in front of him. His manliness is difficult to surpass, but...

Undeniably, there is no man on this green earth (or red planet, if you prefer) that can equal the pure manliness that Duke embodies. In his first game on the PC, he may have been nothing more than a man disgruntled at Dr. Proton interupting his television viewing... but even then he knew when to stand up and fight for his rights. With a swift boot in the ass of whatever got in his way.

Now, there's nothing wrong with making characters more "deep" than many of those present on this list. In fact, it's a great thing to do. Give characters flaws: make them people that the players can relate to! That said, I know that I've been disgusted more than once by angsty and over-dramatic characters that seem put in a game to whine and sit around. Where have the men of action gone?

List by capgamer (02/12/2007)

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