Lots of our favorite game heroes have to power their way through harsh environs and enemy forces, oftentimes overlapping one another, but at least they have their shoes on through it all. And then there are the ones who have no such luxury...for all the difference it makes. Here are ten prime examples of characters who put their best (and, in one case, worst) foot forward.

If you've seen the movie, you know the absolute hell this guy went through without shoes on the advice of a stranger, particularly when he hid in a strategically disadvantageous location and wound up paying for it to get out alive.

Activision's 1992 adaptation of the action classic accurately re-creates that experience, making broken glass a viable obstacle that drains your feet's life meter, which can be restored with first aid kits, as opposed to soda for your actual life meter. If you can master the controls, you actually feel like a badass for walking in the absent shoes of Officer McClane as he clears Nakatomi Plaza of all 40 terrorists.

The game could've been better, though, so I can't put him any higher.

I'm sure most of you would've preferred the Genesis adaptation of 1992's top-grosser, but this is the one I remember.

The SNES game, while not involving Disney's animators, still maintains classic platforming action that one would expect from Capcom. Aladdin really shows off his acrobatics in this game, utilizing the classic head-stomping method as opposed to swordplay, as well as giving a better performance in the final showdown than he did in the movie.

And, of course, he gets the girl of his dreams, and for a poor, shoeless peasant, that's not bad. Not bad at all.

Okay, last movie adaptation, I promise. You control a little boy in his pajamas through eight Dreams, so it should go without saying how shoes don't enter into the equation.

Not that it matters, since he navigates the environs like a Green Beret or Marine, utilizing candy to ride or wear (mostly wear) friendly animals to fight enemies and get to places he couldn't otherwise reach to find keys, restoratives and extra lives. When Nemo gains the ability to wield the Morning Star (key words: the ability to wield), he no longer needs animals to defend himself (though it can't hurt, and there are still places he can't reach on his own), and can triumph in not one, not two, but three climactic showdowns.

Oh, and the movie? Don't see it. Stick with this.

There's only one reason you'd choose to climb the Clock Tower Of Untimely Death before navigating the Forest Of Giant Owls: Grant DaNasty.

After besting his monstrous form and seeing him return to normal, it wouldn't make sense to turn down the footloose acrobat's help, since the bridge that'd otherwise be a straight shot to Dracula collapses either way, forcing you to climb back down and start late into Stage 3-01. In addition to high jumps and surface-scaling, Grant's knife, though nerfed from the original Japanese version, Akumajou Densetsu, does as much damage as Trevor's upgraded whip.

What in this series could possibly be more badass than besting the Prince Of Darkness and his forces by stabbing most of them to death (including Death)?

Since he hails from a race of zoological anthropomorphs, you wouldn't automatically assume his people are exactly big into shoes. Some, notably female Blitzballers, wear ankle covers, but those don't cover the entire sole of the foot and thus, don't count as shoes (more on that later).

The resident Lancer and Blue Mage of Summoner Yuna's pilgrimage, this brawny, soft-spoken warrior is underappreciated by the gaming community at large, due probably to his limited progress on the Sphere Grid (unless one uses Key Spheres to to branch out into other characters' sections). However, if you accumulate enough Level 4 Key Spheres, he can learn Ultima, which means someone else (preferably Lulu) can also learn it if you happened to find a Black Magic Sphere. Plus, in addition to his reasonably good Jump and various Blue Magic Blitzes, he single-handedly takes down two of his own in what I'd personally consider a fair fight.

Numbers are everything, it's just a matter of where you put them.

This series has no shortage of characters whose kicks, unassisted by shoes, do a sufficient amount of damage. There are, however, some who stand out more than others. Here, in my opinion, is one of them.

A teenaged ninja and the rumored daughter of the first game's Geki, Ibuki really left her mark on the franchise with her appearance and fighting style, despite debuting in a game that was grossly underappreciated in its time. Her special moves and Super Combos look as impressive as you'd expect from a Capcom-produced ninja, which would probably explain why she went on to appear in Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix and Street Fighter IV.

Plus, it's pretty ballsy for a ninja to risk leaving identifying marks by forgoing footwear; Maybe she runs too fast for that to be possible.

Having raised himself in the wilds of the Veldt, it's really a miracle that this pubescent Berserker is even clothed at all.

Gau learns all his abilities from enemies that have been encountered thus far, including human ones, whenever you visit the Veldt. Some of his Rages, particularly one he has from the start, can do up to four figures of damage, making for a delicious gamebreaker and a valuable ally in the fight against the Empire. Later on, when Magicite comes into the picture, Gau can serve the cause more diversely with whatever magic you choose for him to learn.

Just one of many reasons why this installment is so revered.

The only villain on the list, Dr. Wily made this Robot Master with pointy-clawed feet to complement his Wolverine-like hands. Yes, I'm well aware of Shade Man, but this guy won out in my mind.

Boasting agility to rival Quick Man and a devastating melee attack in the Slash Claw, this component of Dr. Wily's second wave of his seventh assault can prove to be quite a challenge without the Freeze Cracker. Beware, though, because when he unfreezes, he parkours into his lair's celing and drops red sticky goo that renders you immobile and/or defenseless before descending and coming back at you fast and furious.

Eventually, however, you should win this particularly memorable fight and have your arsenal yet another weapon stronger.

Yes, I'm well aware that Ryu (along with Ken) has been the heart and soul of the franchise ever since its debut...in which he wore slippers, ditching them (along with his shirt, headband and gloves) only for the first and third mini-games.

When SFII came out, however, he decided to follow Ken's example and ditch 'em for good, much to his benefit, apparently, as he's only improved since. While he, like Ken, has always had the Fireball, Dragon Punch and Hurricane Kick, he continued to develop his arsenal to the point of legend through all his subsequent appearances.

Whether we choose him or not, there's a reason we associate him with the title of "World's Strongest". Ken's arsenal has also developed, but not to the same degree as Ryu's. Gotta love that screen-shaking kick-throw, though.

The Dragon Knight who conclusively proved that, a certain Relic three games prior notwithstanding, the boots do NOT make the jump. Sure, she wears ankle covers, but the way she stands, they don't touch the ground.

Hailing from the tragically-doomed kingdom of Burmecia, this tank of a rat proves to be one of the franchise's best, boasting abilities that both restore a fair amount and do massive damage. Though her role in the story is reduced after a *ahem* certain point, she still shows impressive fortitude, actually going into a volcano with Amarant to put the Fire Mirror in place. It's possible to equip boot Accessories on her and have her learn the abilities, but, like with any equipment that isn't a weapon, they don't show up on her character model.

Oh, and the cherry on top? She's a dancer, and a damn good one, at that. And judging by what one of the Cleyra Maidens says on the matter, I imagine she has a broader range beyond that pseudo-Riverdance. Yes, pseudo. There are definite similarities, but Riverdance is a little more complicated than that.

So there you have it, a list of characters who never let a little thing like shoelessness get in the way of getting the job done. So the next time you or a party close to you sees something impressive and thinks, "Gotta be the shoes", kindly turn your or their singular or collective attention to these ten individuals and they will show you or them just how wrong you or they truly are.

List by GigadeathWeapon (06/12/2012)

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