If you like smirking, devil-may-care elven generals with a penchant for sharpshooting and military tactics, then you will love Gelu, star of the most popular iteration of the long-lived HoMM series. Gelu first appears in Armageddon's Blade, the first HoMM3 expansion, and over the course of it and Shadow of Death proves himself to be a great asset to the Erathian military. Gelu's conquests and campaigns describe a character who starts as a student fresh to the ranks of the ranger recruits who learns what war can truly mean. Gelu changes as he encounters the ultimate staying power of death, witnessing full civilizations bend a knee at its throne.
It's this growth that makes Gelu memorable and dynamic. Fighting side by side with some of Might and Magic's longest-lasting stars, Gelu holds his own both on the battlefield and in the story. By the time he reaches the end of Armageddon's Blade (with said Blade fully in his grasp), Gelu is very different. Now a veteran of the atrocities he witnesses, it makes his ultimate fate by the beginning of HoMM4 that much more shocking and maybe fitting. Of course, when a dynamic, strong-willed character is handed the power of a god, sparks will fly.
Note: In the accompanying picture, Gelu is the red-haired individual in the center.
A heavy favorite character among PC gamers in particular, Gordon Freeman often wins character contests (though notably, that tends to be the opposite on GameFAQS if you look at his character contest record). GameSpot has ranked him multiple times as one of the greatest video game characters. Empire magazine actually placed him at #1 on a similar list of all video game characters. Even UGO.com and the Guinness Book of World Records have award him various superlatives.
What is that turns this stoic geek protagonist into a gaming icon? It might be his iconic HEV suit, well remembered for its stylish futuristic design and its multi-use functionality. It might also be his deft handling of some of the most disturbing horrors to emerge from a dark and terrifying future that seems at times too real for comfort. Mostly, though, gamers relate and can submerge themselves well in a protagonist that not only is unique but also is simple enough to be relatable to. This is exactly why characters like Link and Crono have endured for so long; the ability for a character to serve as both a point of view and a character in and of themselves in of utmost importance when a developer designs a game. Too much personality can disengage a character from the player; too little can result in dull detachment. Gordon, however, strides on the line between these two extremes with grace... and a host of butt-kicking weapons.
Garrett is an unwilling protagonist in a stealth-based game who would love nothing more than for the whole plot of the game to just be over. A cyncial master thief who's greatest desire is to just be left alone to rob others in peace, the Thief series had bigger plans in store for him. Well-remembered for his wide array of weapons and abilities garnered throughout the quasi-steampunk setting around him, Garrett lives in a particularly dark and dangerous world prone to intrigue and violence. No encounter in this series results in all involved characters walking away unscathed - as evidenced by Garrett's unique mechanical eye.
Despite this, Garrett repeatedly references his desire to never kill while on the job. In this sense, Garrett echoes the sentiments of Robin Hood, Batman, and vigilantes popularized by literature. Garrett also distances himself from allies and friendships, with sexual interaction appearing to serve only as a means to an end rather than a sign of romantic affection. Garrett therefore is portrayed as an interesting, calculating protagonist who adheres to a moral code all his own. In the seedy, corrupt world of professional thievery, laced with suspicion and paranoia, Garrett proves to be an enduringly memorable guy.
A major fan-favorite from the popular Square foray into the Mario franchise, Geno takes the "playthings come alive" riff from Toy Story and makes it one of the most engaging parts of the SNES. Often keeping Mario and his comrades in check with his wise understanding of the events unfolding around them, Geno is a powerful member of the team in more than just weaponry. His trademark enthusiasm results in him remarking "Yo, Smithy!" at the entrance of one of the game's many bosses, just one of many instances where Geno demonstrates a strange dichotomy between his cosmic level of awareness of major forces at work and his very impetuously human attitude.
Geno may only have one major appearance in the video game world, but sometimes one is all you need. After all, most of the cast of Chrono Trigger has stood the test of time, enduring in popularity as the years wax on. Despite being far removed from his original foray into Mario's world, Geno still remains a well-loved fixture there. Fans often clamor for his return; a recent Famitsu poll suggested that Geno was the most requested newcomer for the next iteration of Super Smash Bros. Will he become the next Pit? Only time will tell.
Guybrush Threepwood has a nasty disposition, is willing to perform morally wrong acts just to spite others, and is somewhat neurotic. He can barely stand up to his significant other, has hardly any compassion for others, and barely any character in the Monkey Island series can pronounce his name.
Naturally, this makes him one of the single greatest characters of the early PC era.
Very few characters are designed with as much attention to their flaws as to their positive attributes (and yes, he has some). Guybrush is extremely well-read, a quick thinker and extremely clever. Added to his other personality traits, this creates a great mesh of easily memorable personality quirks that endear him despite his jerkish persona to gamers. As the Monkey Island series progresses, gamers keep eating up the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood (or, after his marriage, Guybrush Marley-Threepwood) because his life as an adventurer and a pirate create a perfect setting for such a self-serving yet quite intelligent individual. Despite starring in a series of games that never gained a huge amount commercial success, Guybrush has retained his extremely remarkable persona as each Monkey Island edition was presented. Ultimately, this is why gaming magazines and websites continuously present him as one of the top choices for Game Character of the Year, Decade, All Time, etc.... even when the ignorant masses of gaming public aren't aware of this diamond in the rough.
From one SNES star to another, Gilgamesh is... well, unique. Is that the right word?
A recurring pain in Bartz's side from the get-go, Gilgamesh is the comic antagonist that just wouldn't quit in FF5. His perennial return after return provided a constant source of entertainment to the FF series' silliest entry. His popularity grew to such an extent that he would ultimately return to future installments of the series in minor cameo roles. After appearing as an Esper in FF6 and a Guardian Force in FF8, Gilgamesh became the first character to actually make an appearance in a second FF title in FF9, where he could be seen in several cities, treasure hunting.
By FF12, Gilgamesh has become such a thorn in the world's side, that he will be petitioned as an Elite Mark for Vaan and company to defeat. In their battle, Gilgamesh is seen towing around the main weapons of several of the previous protagonists of the series. Gilgamesh has continuously stumbled into other FF titles since then, never losing his trademarked undeserved bravado. Gilgamesh has become a fan-favorite for the simple reason of silliness. Gamers love to laugh just as much as we love to mash the A button and watch things blow up. It's refreshing that the folks at Square Enix saw fit to keep the laughter going with successive entries of Final Fantasy.
It's difficult to discuss the amazing and deeply layered character called Garcian Smith without spoiling a masterfully written game. There is a strong air of mystery surrounding this more-than-competant hitman that grows and changes as the plot of the game takes shape. It's difficult, then, to provide compelling reasons why Garcian belongs on this list. But suffice it to say, there is much more than meets the eye . How much more? At least six times more. Maybe less. It's hard to say.
Regardless, in a cerebral psychological thriller, it is of paramount importance that the thrilling psychology be present. And it is: Killer7 has psychologically deteriorating minds in a royal flush with a pair of aces thrown in for good measure. Working with several unique and abstract narrative concepts, Killer7 throws major plot curves at the player every chance it can. And at the center of it all... Garcian Smith stands in his sleek suit with his stylish golden gun. Again, it's hard to say much without ruining this game for new players, but Garcian's complexity demands a keen attention to detail as every moment of the game progresses; he will leave you with a provocative impression long after you turn off your console. That's what a great game character can do.
A man of many guises, Ganondorf (aka Ganon), is the primary antagonist of the long-lived and ever-popular Legend of Zelda franchise. From its humble beginnings on the Famicom Disk System, the LoZ series has been menaced by the evil tyrant Ganondorf, maddened by a never-ending desire for ultimate power. Ganondorf may appear on the surface as a standard definition of the tried-and-true villain, but in reality the series of Zelda as a whole works diligently to present universally accepted archetypes in as accessible a way as possible. Refer to Joseph Campbell's Man of a Thousand Faces and you'll understand exactly what that means.
Ganondorf is inherently accepted as a great antagonist (whatever that paradox implies) primarily due to the Zelda franchise's masterful use of subtle game craftsmanship. The entire mise en scene of Ganondorf, from his rise to power and transformation (Ocarina of Time) to his far future as a calculating string-puller (Wind Waker), all present different accepted facets of the common evil we as a people commonly rebel against. The universal truth Ganondorf exhibits best is this: lust for absolute power results in absolute corruption. Time and time again, we witness the desperate gambits employed by an already dominant influence as he seeks to emerge from his mortal shell as an immortal force of nature. This most often seems to be Ganondorf's final goal. Why is it that humanity cannot always be satisfied with its iniquities? Ganondorf poses this very question to gamers from the NES to the Wii with great deft of ease.
It's gaming's worst kept secret... if you want to play a game with fully-realized, well-developed characters that will draw you in and stir real emotions with you, go play developer Bioware's works. Garrus Vakarian is further evidence of this excellent trend, hailing from Mass Effect, a series chock full of some truly memorable and moving stars. Garrus begins the series as a jaded space cop policing a Citadel of impotent bureaucrats and self-serving politicians (or vice versa), and depending on the actions taken by the player, Garrus can become a true paragon of justice, working to right flawed wrongs. If the player chooses, of course, Garrus can become further jaded, ultimately forsaking the societal mores around him in order to play judge and jury against a wide array of the galaxy's darkest and most devious.
Regardless of how you allow him to develop, Garrus will always be a valuable asset to the Normandy's crew. Providing a host of witty one-liners to go along with his prowess with a sniper rifle, Garrus' unique worth is that he provides the gamer with unique tools for playing as well as unique choices for plot and narrative. Characters like Garrus are few and far between; not many characters can claim supreme success in both the arena of gameplay as well as storytelling. The actions you allow Garrus to take - or, of course, the actions you prevent! - can have far-reaching consequences across the entire Mass Effect trilogy, making him a pivotal star in a well-regarded series.
And if you don't like him, don't use him. I'm sure he has some calibrations to make.
GLaDOS is the biggest, most ruthless, twisted, evil liar and withholder of cake in the known universe. She's also a part-time potato.
What can be said about GLaDOS that hasn't been written over and over to death a million times before? She's easily one of the most engaging and memorable baddies in this history of video gaming - indeed, the history of popular culture. Critics drool over her demented sense of dark humor, while fans eat up her sadistic hilarity like it was going out of style. There is something to be said for universal love: it's universal. The developers behind games such as Half-Life and Team Fortress went wild with the characterization of a quasi-dystopian crazed artificial intelligence. GLaDOS goes "Daisy, Daisy" faster and better than HAL-9000 ever did.
By Portal 2, just when you fear that GLaDOS will start to feel stale and overdone... bam! Now the player is thrown into a whole new relationship with everyone's favorite mad testing maven. In a plot reminiscent of X2, archenemies must unite to take down the even more menacing Wheatley (more menacing, at least, in his stupidity). Now GLaDOS has become utter comedy, with a streak of melancholy backstory thrown in for good measure. Not only do we love her AND love to hate her, but now we feel sorry for her. It's a testament to a well-made character that so many emotions can be involved in the perception of just one character. Given how short the two Portal games are, it is even more impressive that GLaDOS can leave such a long-lasting impression on players and impact on pop culture. Gaming characters are all about leaving the players with carefully crafted feelings, and that is exactly the result GLaDOS produces.
Creating a list of just ten G-characters generated a great gorge in my gut, attempting to glom together a grouping good enough for general consumption on GameFAQs. What you and I and the generic masses of guys and gals can glean from it all, however, is that there are a good deal of great G-characters out there. Naturally, not every G-star deserving of a spot could make it. But, stay tuned... one day I hope to create a G-list Part Deux. For now, however, this is scarletspeed7 saying good night, and good alphabet.
List by scarletspeed7 (05/30/2012)
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