tf2

Top 10 Casts of Characters

It can be difficult to say what exactly makes a great game, but there are a few constants we can all agree on.  Gameplay is always a big factor, as well as the graphics and sound design.  Story is obviously a huge part of that, and one of the biggest factors of that to me are the characters.  Great characters can go a long way towards endearing me to a game, and long after you’ve forgotten where the best sword is or what the hidden codes were, you’ll remember your favorite characters.  Here are the Top 10 casts of characters that have banded together for the better.

10.  Mega Man series:  While I can count on one hand the main characters from the Mega Man series I care about, when you include all the dozens of Robot Masters throughout the years, you have an impressive and eclectic mix of characters to sort through.  Skull Man, Ring Man, Gemini Man; the list goes on and on with the crazy guys Capcom has thrown our way over the years.  Some of the major characters that have been introduced, like Bass and Protoman, are extremely cool in their own right, and I can even dig Roll and Tron Bonne on a good day. If you add in the X series, and the surprisingly deep Sigma storyline, you have a significantly awesome cast.

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9.  Chrono Trigger:  Of all the SNES era RPGs, Chrono Trigger has to stand out as the most original.  A big part of this was your party, an area they totally knocked out of the park.  Every one of your party members, from protagonist Cronos to cavewoman Ayla to anthropomorphic frog Frog are well-written, timelessly designed and fun as hell to play.  Chrono Trigger’s trademark Double and Triple Tech functionality added a level of interactivity that other RPGs sorely lacked.  I’ll never understand why more games haven’t emulated that.

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8.  Mortal Kombat:  While fighting games by nature need to have a crew of interesting characters, Mortal Kombat went a step further by creating one of the most over-the-top fighter selections seen in a video game.  Street Fighter may have set the gold standard as far as the character select screen goes, but it’s impossible to deny the impact it made the first time you pulled somebody’s spine out as a frozen ninja.  Liu Kang and Co. weren’t the most polished or deep cast around, but they were a taste of something different, and it was a taste that gamers liked.

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7.  Final Fantasy VII:  Final Fantasy VII has remained a perennial favorite since its release, and it’s really not too tough to see why.  The combat was solid, the Materia system was a hit and it featured some of the most endearing characters we had seen.  Cloud, Tifa and the rest of the party were people you could really cheer for, and it created one of the most legendary antagonists ever with Sephiroth.  Even the minor players, like Rufus Shinra and the Turks, were memorable in their own way.

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6.  Super Mario RPG:  Super Mario RPG was sort of a strange beast when it came out on the SNES, but it managed to meld the venerable Mario franchise with top-notch RPG gameplay, and, most importantly, it game Mario one of his best-written performances.  Other Mario games have before and since tried to flesh out his personality, but nowhere was it done better than Super Mario RPG.  Not only did they make Mario better, they introduced his best supporting cast ever.  It’s shame we haven’t seen the wailing Mallow or the star man Geno since, because everybody in that game was in top form.

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5.  Uncharted:  The Uncharted games have never really blown me away like they did most other people, but one area they undoubtedly rocked was the writing.  Incredibly voice-acted, Nathan Drake’s tale was flawless penned, lending a real life to it that most games can’t even come close too.  The whole Chloe-Elena rivalry is great, and Uncharted 3 had a reall winning bad woman in the icy Katherine Marlowe.  Characters like Cutter and Sully are brought to life beautifully, and the web of intrigue is spun with a masterful hand.

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4.  Portal 2:  With basically a cast of one, the first Portal probably could have made it onto this list.  When you add in the additions of Wheatley and Cave Johnson in Valve’s hit follow-up, you have some of the best-written characters in any form of media, bar none.  The dark humor permeating the Portal universe is pulsing with intelligence and wit, and the superb voice acting couldn’t do a better job of bringing that out.  Cave Johnson alone deserves some kind of award for how much he made me laugh out loud, but Wheatley practically stole the show for me.  Another stellar performance by GLaDOS completely sealed the deal.

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3.  Team Fortress 2:  Apparently nobody told Valve that competitive shooters don’t need good characters, because they created one of the best casts ever for Team Fortress 2.  Without trying to bog itself down with some tedious story, Valve did what they do best:  Take a great gameplay design and wrap everything else around that.  Each of the selectable classes has a distinct look and personality based completely around their gameplay hook, but Valve took it a step further with their hilarious Meet The videos.  I’m no TF2 junkie, but I’ve always had a disposition to the Sniper.  Who’s your favorite?

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2.  Mass Effect series:  Despite whatever feelings you may have towards the Mass Effect story (personally I couldn’t be happier), you have to agree that it has some of the deepest characters you’ll find in a video game.  While Mass Effect 2 is my favorite of the series, the characters introduced in the first one (Anderson, Tali, Garrus, Wrex) remained my favorite throughout, perhaps because of our mutual start.  Mass Effect 2 introduces some great additions like Jack, Thane, Mordin, Grunt, Legion and Kasumi, and a whole lot more, and the end of the trilogy showed us their best sides…and their worst.  Either way, these guys will stick with me for a long time.

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1.  Final Fantasy VI:  Never have I fallen in love with a party like I did with Final Fantasy VI.  Terra had me hooked from the get go, and every character I met from that point onward just seemed to improve the awesome cast.  Celes, Cyan, Sabin and Shadow have remained some of my all-time favorites, and I even liked the ones I normally wouldn’t, like Relm and Gau.  Kefka has to be considered one of the best villains ever, and the free-form nature of the second half of FFVI really put the party you’ve become attached to front and center.  Final Fantasy VI is simply the best character-driven saga ever, and that is due to the timeless characters within it.

 




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