Video games have been around for decades, and millions of people all around the world enjoy them. The rise of the home console, pushed by firms like Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, ushered in the true mass market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
I chose to look at a variety of characters from various platforms and companies in the hopes of finding the most iconic of them all. I was seeking a few important characteristics in these characters during this search.
For example, they’d have to be franchise-defining characters who make many appearances and cameos throughout multiple titles. In an ideal world, they would have invented or shaped a genre and had a significant impact on modern gaming.
Since his debut in 1980 in Japanese arcades, Pac-Man has become one of the most iconic and well-known video game characters of all time. While Pac-yellow Man’s “mouth” design is limited, its simplicity may be one of the reasons for the character’s popularity.
The “ghosts,” Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (blue), and Clyde, are four well-known foes in the Pac-Man franchise (orange). The game is bright and cheerful, and the action is really addictive.
Billy Mitchell, the infamous baseball player, was the first to achieve the “perfect game.” Mitchell also played the adversary in the documentary The King of Kong, which I highly recommend.
2) Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic was Sega’s face in the 1990s, bringing the firm immense fortune as well as a lot of pleasure to kids who owned a Sega Genesis.
The game’s simplistic design and level structure were inspired by Super Mario, yet it provided enough diversity and distinctiveness to stand alone.
To begin, there will be Sonic Mania, which will have gameplay based on the original Sega Genesis games with some new polish while preserving the old style, as well as selectable characters such as Tales and Knuckles in addition to Sonic himself.
3) Solid Snake
Solid Snake is one of those classic heroes who has been around for decades, having debuted on the MSX2 in 1987. Hideo Kojima, the creator of Metal Gear, is quitting the brand after his magnum opus, Metal Gear Solid V, was released thirty years ago.
With Solid Snake, Hideo Kojima established the stealth action genre, and he has been a key figure in Konami and Sony’s success over the last three decades.
Solid Snake was voiced by David Hayter, who gave the character a harsh, growly tone. He is continually presented with conspiracies that are well beyond his military skills as a soldier.
4) Chief Master
Combat Evolved was the killer program, the reason to buy the first Xbox, and it was released as a launch title. Bungie developed one of the best and most epic shooters for consoles to date, as well as a franchise that influenced the whole industry.
Bungie focused on their deal with Activision Blizzard and released Destiny to the globe after leaving the franchise. 343 Industries is now in charge of developing Halo games.
They also created the Halo Wars real-time strategy game series in addition to the blockbuster shooter. Master Chief has appeared in a variety of media, including novels, toys, and even movies.
5) Geralt of Rivia
Because he was not conceived as a video game character, Geralt of Rivia is a bit of an outcast on this list. As early as the 1980s, Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy writings brought him to life.
CD Projekt RED has since released two additional Witcher games.
Several people, including our own editor-in-chief, have hailed the third title from 2015 as the best game ever made. By centering on one man, no other RPG has received such great praise.
In a fantasy action-adventure game, Geralt is the character that everyone wants to play. The game doesn’t need a character generator at first because the White Wolf has enough personality on his own to keep the game interesting.
God of War, arguably one of the best franchises of the 2000s, soared to stardom following its first release and has remained a big part of Sony’s hall of fame ever since.
The Ghost of Sparta is not only ruthless and terrible to his opponents, but he also brings the Playstation 2, 3, and eventually 4, to their knees. God of War II is still one of the most visually appealing PS2 titles available.
The dramatic battles against gods, giants, and animals are a sight to behold, and Kratos’ quest for vengeance will only continue in God of War 4, the latest installment of the franchise. Kratos now has a son, who will most likely carry on his father’s legacy.
7) Ryu Hayabusa
What would you reply if you were asked to name the best Ninja in video game history? I’ll concede that the Cyborg Ninja came in second, but Ryu’s reputation has a much broader impact.
Ryu Hayabusa has been a member of Team Ninja since the late 1980s and has remained so throughout the decades. The Ninja Gaiden series is still regarded as one of the most vicious and difficult games to master, depending on who you ask.
Ryu is one of the toughest video game characters around, whether in the original Ninja Gaiden for the NES or later editions like Ninja Gaiden Sigma. His games are so severe that beating them on the hardest difficulty requires you to nearly become a Ninja.
Nintendo has created so many iconic characters over the years that I could easily make a totally Nintendo-centric list. Link, the franchise’s mute hero, has been around since Nintendo’s foray into the general market with their home consoles.
It’s difficult to think of a single “poor” Nintendo game in which Link has appeared in the last 30 years. Although Link’s Crossbow Training may be the poorest title to mention, practically every other title was fantastic and received critical acclaim.
A link has always been one of those characters who hasn’t changed all that much since his debut. Sure, the graphics altered, and he even got the cell-shading treatment, but Link has remained steady throughout the years and is likely to remain with us indefinitely.
9) Lara Croft
When I look at this list, I can’t help but notice that Lara Croft is the only female character who made it. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of other female superstars who deserve to be on this list, but most of them remain in the shadows of their male counterparts.
Lara Croft was the gaming industry’s first female superstar. Her first game, Tomb Raider, released in 1996, thrust her into the spotlight of a male-dominated video gaming industry.
She was the trailblazer who paved the way for a more diverse gaming experience by defying the “damsel in distress” trope popularized by characters like Princess Peach.
Like her male counterparts, Lara is one of the rare female characters to make it to blockbuster films and book deals. Lara had to fight to stay relevant in the 2000s, but she is back and kicking ass with the help of Square Enix’s 2013 revival of the game.
10) Super Mario
From his debut game as the protagonist in Donkey Kong to his highly anticipated new adventure in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario is synonymous with video games. This small red and blue character is, and always has been, the pinnacle of video game design.
Mario is the central hero of the world’s most successful video game franchise, having invented the jump ‘n’ run genre and being the first to introduce us to a 3D setting. Mario is without a doubt the most well-known video game character.