Counting down the top 10 video game heroes of all time was more difficult than I anticipated. When I was 5 years old there video game heroes did not even exist, unless you count a pong paddle as a hero. Over the past 30 years video games have become a cultural phenomenon, and as video games started to approach Hollywood movies in terms of production quality, characters we can identify with have become more prevalent. That does not mean that our list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time is only going to feature characters from contemporary games. In fact, I think you’ll find it is quite the opposite. Some of video games’ most memorable heroes came from an era where characterization and storyline carried video games, since the graphics couldn’t. It was a golden age of video gaming and one that I look back on with much fondness. Enough of the trip down memory lane though. Let’s get to the goods. Here is my list of the greatest video game heroes of all time:
10 – Leisure Suit Larry
This little pervert entertained everyone who ever picked up and played one of his many video games, and is fully deserving of a spot on our list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time. Though not your typical gun-toting, ass-kicking video game protagonist, Leisure Suit Larry makes the list solely on personality, and though the women always seemed to reject him, we’ll always have a place in our heart for the little guy.
9 – Roger Wilco
Once upon a time Sierra was a video game powerhouse, and Roger Wilco was the star of one of their best franchises. We all love to cheer for the underdog, and this janitor who somehow became an intergalactic hero certainly qualifies. Not only did he have the goods when it came to saving the universe, but much like Leisure Suit Larry he got us laughing as well.
8 – Samus
Coming in at number 8 on our list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time is our first female on the list. Samus, star of Nintendo’s smash Metroid series, is destruction incarnate all rolled up into a ball. With a bevy of tricks and weapons galore at her disposal Samus doesn’t show much of her feminine side as she rains damage down upon her enemies.
7 – Sonic The Hedgehog
You knew this little Sega speedster was going to make an appearance on the list. Back before Sony threw their hat in the video game arena, Sega and Nintendo were battling it out for game console supremacy, and this little blue hedgehog was Sega’s star attraction. With unbelievable wheels he battled against the oppressive Dr. Robotnik, and his never say die attitude had us cheering him on.
6 – Mega Man
Back to back blue protagonists on our list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time. This 2-D hero has been keeping gamers entertained for years, and through many many sequels. Yet, somehow controlling the little blue bomber just never seems to get boring as he took the powers of his vanquished enemies and used them to wreak havoc of all who stood in his way.
5 – Pacman
Four against one! How is that fair? Yet somehow this little yellow pill gobbler managed to deke his way through maze after maze, usually his wiles rather than brawn to keep ahead of his enemies. No machine in arcade game history gobbled more quarters than Pacman.
4 – Link – Nintendo has yet another entry on the list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time, and many reading this would likely have Link right at the top of the list. For variety’s sake I’ve got him at number 4. Nintendo’s Zelda games certainly rank among the top video games ever created, and each new release in the series is always awaited with breathless anticipation. With a sword and crossbow, Link travels the length and breadth of the land and is known for delivering devastating G-rated punishment.
3 – Master Chief
This silent yet menacing figure is the only reason Microsoft is still in the video game console business. If not for the Halo series and Master Chief the original Xbox would have been doomed to failure, and a sequel would never have come along. Thanks to MC this disaster has been averted, and Sony has some competition to help keep prices down and game quality good. Any scenario where the gamers win is good to me.
2 – Solid Snake
This immensely popular mercenary was a no-brainer for a high spot on our list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time. To the chagrin of fanboys everywhere Snake finally met his demise in the most recent sequel, but he left us with great memories of hundreds of hours spent stealthily dealing death to any who stood in our way.
1 – Mario
A plumber made the top spot on the list of the top 10 video game heroes of all time? Well, not just any plumber. Mario has starred or had cameos in more video games than any other video game character in history, and has done so with typical Italian flair. Some Nintendo fans may put Link in this spot but for my money this little plumber is the top of the heap, and won’t be knocked from his perch anytime soon. Truly a video game icon.