This list is part of a series of Top 10s designed to discuss the 10 best characters of every year of gaming, beginning with 1985, the year the industry revived from its great crash. It was originally scarletspeed7, who came up with this idea, which originally began as the Top 10 Characters of 2010. Our board began discussing this topic and it eventually expanded into what you see here. Think of this just as much of a history lesson as an awards ceremony. You'll be reading lists from a wide variety of authors: scarletspeed7, BlueGunstarHero, MotherKojiro, A1X_Jet, shadow_571, Reiser99, Nazifpour, Eesgooshee, and myself. Before you read any of these lists, please make sure to read the following rules, since they govern our choices to an extent. Please also keep in mind that the pictures included were meant to showcase the character, not the game.

1) We take into account the following criteria for inclusion on our list: popularity of the character at the time of release, legacy of the character, the character’s impact on video game industry and innovation as a whole, and character development within the game (or series, if the character has garnered multiple games). This means that there will be some predictable choices, so stop reading right here if you don't want to see Mario, Link, Cloud, Sephiroth, etc. This doesn't mean the authors are fanboys/girls, it means that the impact that the character had on the industry and his/her lifespan will be taken into account.

2) For the most part, only characters that debuted in a video game can be included on this list. However, even if the character has been introduced in a game with an extended universe that was created outside of a game prior to the character’s introduction, that character can be included. A prime example of this is anyone from KOTOR, or the main characters from LotR: The Third Age. Certain characters may not appear in the year they were introduced if their role was minor. For example, Alucard first appeared in Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse, but wasn't terribly significant until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Solid Snake also was arguably a throwaway character until the Metal Gear Solid series.

3) The earliest date of release (whether Japanese, American, or European) is the date we will use in respect to this list. If it is a multi-platform release with delays in between platforms, go with the earliest release again, regardless of the platform.

4) A character can appear in this series of lists only once.

"The Florida Marlins win the World Series!" Yes, many back in 1993 wouldn't have thought that an explansion baseball team would go on to win the championship just four years later, however the Florida Marlins did just that. What followed was a massive fire sale, that say nearly all 25 men on the WS roster, go to other teams by the middle of the 1998 season. In the videogame world, 1997 was a transition year of sorts, as there were no notable console releases (the was released though), and the developers of the big three were ever improving their work, daily. Sadly many games that debuted in 1997, did not have any original, notable characters; games such as Goldeneye 007 for the N64 had characters that made their first appearances in the James Bond films, while other games had many returning characters in them, such as Starfox 64, for the N64. This however, doesn't mean that there were not any new, fresh characters that arrived to the videogame world in 1997. Not to be taken away, one of the most grand, and celebrated (and in my opinion, one of the most overrated games in videogame history, right up there with SMB) games in videogame history, was released in 1997, and needless to say, it had a fair share of big name characters in it as well; the game, of course, is Final Fantasy VII. Now, on to the list!

**NOTE: I originally had Croc in spot #9, but took him out as the #9 character is the better character, in the better game, with the greater legacy, thus if you click on the entry,a nd it redirects you to Croc, that's why!

The list kicks off with a somewhat obscure character, though he is the face of the series, Max Damage. Carmageddon was notorious for its highly violent nature, no doubt being inspired by the equally violent (albeit "campy," violence) 1975 film, Death Race 2000 (one of my favourite films, and one of Sylvester Stallone's first major roles; give it a watch!). In Carmageddon, the goal is to win the "race," in one of three ways; travel through each of the checkpoints, in order, thus effectively racing on the "course," (the intermediate way) run over every pedestrian in the level, (the most difficult way) or smash into every opponent vehicle, destroying their vehicles, and be the last one standing (far and away the easiest method). Max Damage, while being the very first vehicle you start off with, is one of the worst characters to use in game, as while his car, the Eagle, is quite quick, it has poor handling, and is very weak. However, to generate enough cash to purchase newer, better vehicles, you will need to stick with Max for a VERY long time. While not the most memorable character, Max is memorable enough, to hit the list at 10.

He's not from Mars: Max's colour is red; its the colour of the Eagle, its the colour of his clothes, and its also the colour of his body; yes, he's got red skin! He also has a Quiet Riot tattoo (??)

Abe is a Mudokon, and one who is quite dimwitted and clumsy. Born into the slave trade, Abe is a factory worker (In particular, a floor-waxer, and he is the current employee of the year) at RuptureFarms, a processing plant for meat products (spoofs of cowpie and popsicles are among the products that RuptureFarms creates). He learns that the Glukkons (another race in the game's universe), and one in particular, Molluck (the head of RuptureFarms), are worried that they can no longer sell their products, as the animals they use are declining in population. Molluck then decides to use Mudokons as the replacement meat. Learning of this, Abe's unlucky hero attributes are put to the test, as he tries to stop the Glukkons, with the aid of a Shaman. Abe is a character with a fair amount of depth, as he communicates with many other characters, as well as displaying a vast array of emotions, which are seen in cutscenes; these emotions add a very human-like quality to Abe, as he shows melancholic emotions such as remorse, whenever a fellow Mudokon is killed; morality is also prominent in Abe's characteristics. Abe is also unique in that he is the only blue Mudokon, as the rest of his race are green (no reason is given). Abe would go on to star in two more games, the sequel to Oddysee, Abe's Exodus (which improved on the first in many ways), and Munch's Oddysee, where his role is not as large as the previous two games.

Mudokon's Got Talent: Abe is an expert farter (he can fart), and he is so proficient in the act of farting, that he can create massive explosions, when paired with the right, "brew."

MDK was a third person shooter released by Shiny Entertainment (Earthworm Jim), to little fanfare. The game though, deserved fanfare tenfold. While not as good as its sequel, MDK2 (which was actually developed by BioWare, and I contend to this day that MDK2 is their best effort), MDK had you running (and floating) around as a janitor, Kurt Hectic. Kurt had to destroy aliens that were attacking Earth, and banish the rest of them back to their planet (and their Minecrawlers). Kurt had two nifty gadgets in his arsenal; one being a sniper scope (which when used, could zoom all the across the screen with no pop up; unheard of in 1997), and the other being a... parachute-like (known as a ribbon chute) device, which allowed him to float down and up. Due to MDK's humourous nature, Kurt is memorable for his many comedic lines and situations (which only get better in the sequel). If you've never given MDK a try, do so, and you can enjoy Kurt as much as a lot of others do!

Murder, Death, Kill: The MDK has no official meaning, however there are some more prominent ones, such as, "Mother's day Kisses," (The readme file for the PC version was written on Mother's Day), "Max, Dr., Kurt," (the names of the three characters), or the bolded entry above.

Coming in at #7 is the burning kid himself, Batsu. Like many Capcom lead characters (particularly in fighting games), Batsu is a mix of the popular Capcom characters of the past; in this case, he can be considered a cross between Sagat and Ken/Ryu of Street Fighter fame. Batsu is a "different," protagonist in that he transfers to a new High School, Taiyo High, in search of his kidnapped mother, and his long lost father (who just happens to be the antagonist of the game, and principal of rival school {no pun intended}, Justice High, Raizo Imawano). Basically, the entire story of the two Rival Schools game revolves around Batsu, and/or his family, which is suprising considered that the Rival Schools series has a multitude of well developed characters (as most Capcom characters are). Batsu has also appeared in Street Fighter Online, and Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, as playable characters, Capcom Vs. SNK as a helper character, and was slated to appear in the cancelled Capcom Fighting All Stars game, pretty popular for the protagonist of a great, but unheralded game!

The "Hot-Blooded Transfer Student!": Batsu is 5'7, 141 pounds. He likes justice, ninjas, and his mother. He dislikes dogs and unfairness. Aside from Physical Education, Batsu is weak in all of his classes.

Mortal Kombat saw an upgrade to fully 3D graphics (well, characters anyway...) with its fifth installement, Mortal Kombat 4. It also saw the inclusion of quite a few new characters, many forgettable, many not worth anyone's time. One of the new characters however, gained instant popularity, and is still popular to this day; the character is none other than Quan Chi. As a sorceror sub-boss (as Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 2), Quan Chi was a guaranteed fight for any single player game, only he was a sub-boss with a difference; he didn't have four arms, he wasn't impossible to grab, and he was WAY cooler than Shang Tsung, not only in looks, but in moves. It is also revealed that Quan Chi is the mastermind behind the whole Scorpion/Sub Zero feud, and, of course, teamed up with Shang Tsung to create the Deadly Alliance. With white skin and red eyes (no, he's not an albino!), Quan Chi is also one of the most imposing Mortal Kombat characters, as he stands at 6'7 in height, taller than almost every other character in the Mortal Kombat universe.

Can I have your autograph?: Quan Chi's mocap and sprite actor, is the most prolific MK game actor; Richard DiVizio. He has appeared in one Mortal Kombat game every generation (save for this gen.) has performed on the Live Tour, AND even had a non-speaking role in the 2008 film, The Dark Knight.

** Insert "that's what she said," wherever available in this entry...

"Hey! Come back here and finish fight! Ogre, scaly, snake, ****face!" Being made by 3D Realms (the same developers as the Duke Nukem series), you just knew that Shadow Warrior would be a hilarity-fest! Shadow Warrior's protagonist, is one Lo Wang (NO PUN INTENDED!!!); a ninja-like bodyguard for Zilla Enterprises. When he hears of Zilla wanting to bring back horrific creatures from death, and try to take over Japan (and the world), Lo Wang decides that he wants no part of this, and flees the company. Wang then decides to take on Zilla, and the creatures themselves, in order to put a stop to these atrocities. What ensues is a hilarious, and super fun romp through locations that resemble different kung fu films, and other famous film and game locations (with clever titles such as Auto Maul). Wang is basically the Japanese Duke Nukem, jam-packed with cheesy Japanese cliches/quotes, as well as being just as adept with certain body parts (in Lo Wang's case though, its his hands, not his feet). Wang's popularity was quite high, as two novels were released based on the game, as well as merchandise, and a rap song. What does Lo Wang say about his popularity? "Oh but does it fly!"

Not just similar in play-style: As mentioned, Shadow Warrior has a lot in common with Duke Nukem 3D, not just in the fact that they are both first person shooters, and they use Ken Silverman's Build engine, but also in that the music is composed by Lee Jackson. Unlike Duke though, Jackson composed every piece of music in Shadow Warrior, and while not as classic, the tunes fit in perfectly with the mood of the game.

While the games have always been a shadow of the first game in the series, Turok as a character, has always been prominent, and is considered one of the N64's mascots. A Native American, Turok is tasked with making sure there is no rift between Earth, and the Lost Land (where Aliens and Dinosaurs rum rampant). Bringing new meaning to the term, "knifing," and with great graphics for its time, on a cartridge-based console, Turok was a big seller for the Nintendo 64, selling over 1.5 million copies. Turok himself has had a whole slew of items branded with the name, from comic books, to action figures, and more, not to mention a further six sequels of games, though as mentioned above, none have come close to the feeling that the first game had. Still, Turok is one character that is synonymous with the Nintendo 64 console, and will continue to be a face for Nintendo of yesteryear, for a very long time.

What? He's not the first?: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was in fact originally a comic book series, dating back to 1954. There have been numerous Turoks (as the title is passed down in the stories), and this game in fact, was released in order to make a bit of cash, by using an old property (Acclaim bought the rights to the Turok name, and the comic itself in the mid nineties).

And now, we hit the first of two characters from the legendary, and uber popular Square classic, Final Fantasy VII. Cloud Strife is just one of many memorable protagonists from the game, though he is the MAIN protagonist of the game. Cloud, a fomer member of the SOLDIER "organisation," is a mercenary, who has a troubled past, and its not until later that it is revealed that due to a combination of Mako poisoning (Mako, for those who don't know, is the primary lifesource/energy source in FF VII, and prolonged exposure to its concentrated form, can poison you!), and Jenova cells (Jenova is an alien life-form), Cloud's memories, thoughts, and actions are indeed not his, and instead, are those of his friend, Zack Fair, and what he would think a 1st class SOLDIER member would think. Afterwards, his true self shows through, and Cloud is really a caring, and thoughful character.

Cloud's creation was that of four men, principaly though, he was the creation of Tetsuya Nomura. Each man focused on a certain trait, or part of Cloud's character, and Nomura would oversee everything, while adding some input of his own. Rarely, if ever before, had one single character gone through such a development, and this amount of work was put into the development of the character... Anyway, Cloud has also been featured in every FF VII sequel and spin-off, albeit not always as the protagonist, as well as having toys, art, cards, and jewellery released of himself. If that doesn't reflect his popularity, then try this on for size; IGN's list of the top 25 FF characters had Cloud at #3. Who was #1? Well, unless you're simple, you'll know who he is in two more spots on this list...

Blacker is not always better!: Nomura has gone on record stating that Cloud's original hairstyle was to be slicked back, and died black... but he wouldn't stand out, hence the spiky blonde!

Dracula is back, and only one person can stop him, and that person is... his son?! Yes Alucard, which by the way is Dracula spelled backwards, in case you haven't noticed, is the protagonist of Symphony of the Night, and he's not your typical vampire slayer! Alucard is a dhampir, which is a half vampire half human, and his mother, "admonished," Alucard, to obey and respect humans, thus Alucard's stance on vampires. Alucard, like the Belmonts, is a highly developed character in the Castlevania universe, and like others on this list, he has layers to him (including the aforementioned stance on humans), though this can be expected when the developers of the game are a giant such as Konami. The development is so much so, that many video game sites, and publications, have praised Alucard's character, in how much his character, and the fact that he is Dracula's son, has added depth and a sense of humanity to a videogame entity. This can partially be due to the fact that Alucard was created by a female (and females are known for their emotions!), Ayami Kojima (who is NOT related to Hideo, if you're wondering), who has also been praised for her work. No matter which way you cut it, Alucard is more than deserving on this list!

Imposter!: While Alucard is NOT an imposter, Alucard isn't even his name; his real name is Adrian Farenheights Tepes. Yeah, Alucard IS much easier...

When you think of the word "Antagonist," or the world "vile," or the word "heartless," and immediately think of a video game entity that embodies those three words, only one character comes to mind; Sephiroth. I didn't even spend more than a dozen hours or so on FF VII, and I still think of Sephiroth whenever I think of the word, antagonist. Between his looks, what he does in the game, and his background, very few characters are ever as evil, and its funny because Sephiroth doesn't even appear on screen too much! As IGN states in their list of the top 25 Final Fantasy characters, "One of the remarkable things about Sephiroth is how little time he actually spends on-screen. Throughout most of Final Fantasy VII, he's not so much an active element of the plot as a looming presence behind it. Perhaps that's why his scenes have remained so memorable..." Its true; Sephiroth is a true case of reputation above reality (though he is a superb enemy, large reputation or not).

Sephiroth is also one of the most "beloved," if you want to call it that, villains ever, as the fan appreciation and reception is always grand, and positive. Going back to Tetsuya Nomura, he also created Sephiroth, and though it didn't involve four men, Sephiroth's creation was also heavily involving, and again, while not on screen for an extensive period of time, Sephiroth is one of the most in-depth villains that has ever been created. Sephiroth is the epitome of cold, and ruthless; he is the Darth Vader of video games, just pure, unabashed evil, with contempt for anyone he does not deem worthy. He is also completely focused on his goal to get revenge on humanity, and making Cloud's life completely miserable, again, the Darth Vader of videogames (or, since Vader is in videogames, the Vader of the Final Fantasy Universe!).

Not only has the fan reaction been positive towards Sephiroth, but publications galore have praised Sephiroth, from the aforementioned IGN, to Electronic Gaming Monthly, and more. He has been in the top 10 in 5 villain lists, including number one in two of them. His fights have also garnered recognition, as he was third in a list put out by Game Informer for best boss fights. Sliding back to the fan response, Sephiroth won the Gamefaqs Villain Character Battle of 2005 (beating out Ganondorf, who is equally as iconic as Sephiroth, and the only other villain I think of when I see/hear the word, "antagonist)", and a Gamespot poll put him at the top of a similar villain list, noting that the battle with him is quite special (he also garnered over two times the amount of the next closest villain, Bowser; no surprises there...).

Simply put, Sephiroth is one of the top villains in videogame history, and far more than well deserved, of the #1 spot on the top Characters of 1997 list. Whew!

Yup, He's Jewish... Somewhat...: If you are an etymologist, or just like words and their origins (such as myself), you'll know that anytime you see the word/name, "Roth," you're dealing with something Jewish! Sephiroth's name actually refers to manifestations of God, as told in the Kabbalah (and considering how Sephiroth thinks of himself, this is accurate!).

Well, that Sephiroth entry was the longest thus far in my top 10 entries, wow! I will admit, I absolutely loathe the Final Fantasy series (In my opinion, VIII would probably be my choice for the best, but I'm no expert!!), though, hence why I feel VII is overrated galore... however, with that being said, its impossible to not include Cloud and Sephiroth in this list; their level of iconia is just unsurpassed in the RPG world, and in a year where the new character talent pool was thin (including a no-show from Sega, which leaves me quite disappointed, though they would build steam in '98, leading to the GRAND year of 1999!), they stood out like GIANTS! One significant note of the '97 characters, is that each character had much more development, and layers to them, than they did in... say 1993 even. Its my thought that around this time, the video game character did not only have to be a character in the game, but rather a character that could stand on its own in the real world... but I digress. As mentioned, Sega would build steam in 1998, and that list will be written by the good man Eegooshee, who has entertained us all with the great "self-imposed challenges," lists, and it WILL be a good one, bank on it! See you guys for my last list, in 1999, peace!

List by Truck_1_0_1_ (08/10/2011)

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