The 10 Most Influential Characters in my Gaming Life
Here's something for you guys to think about: I started writing this back in January and it was supposed to be my first Top 10 list here on ScrewAttack – as a way of introducing myself to the community other than simply being the guy behind the g1 Digital Forecast revival. But then g1 Features happened, and so did so much stuff along the way, which made this list go into a folder of solitude until half a year later. The fun fact? Most of what I wrote back then still holds up to this day. Nice.
So what's this about? Well I play video games, as much as you guys do. But someone out there said that gaming is not a hobby – it's a way of life. (I would love to tell the source, really, but the Fox censors wouldn't allow it.) And so, we tend to live and even connect with certain characters to the point that we can identify with them easily at one point. Some even mold our personality to the point that people even compare you to them!
So instead of making some sort of Top 10, treat this as simply an out-of-order list of characters that came to my mind that made me who I am today. As such, I'll treat the Variable in a different light, as it's more of a honorable mention unrelated to video games instead of an actual #10 entry. Also remember that this is a VERY subjective list – this comes from personal experience only, so this is not an end-all argument for every gamer out there. This is about me and me alone, and you'll know why below.
So here's my 10 – or 11, if you include #X – Characters that Influenced me in my Gaming Life. Enjoy.
The most transparent, straightforward reason as to why my avatar here in ScrewAttack is Kyubey (well, technically Trainer Kyubey, which is a crossover between Red and the creature himself) is to rub on the fact that I can't stand the overwhelming amount of bronies here on the site. Don't get me wrong – the fanbase is pretty awesome in its own right, but I still question my sanity every time I laugh at one of your image macros. So if I were to put on their shoes and choose a show that has a girly tone in it, I went with one of the most iconic anime creatures to show up in today's media: Kyubey.
Not many know who's this peculiar creature from the critically-acclaimed magical girl anime series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, so let me lay it down to you about him and the anime itself. Kyubey is a magical creature who has the ability to grant a single wish to a chosen, young girl so long as she decides to make a contract with him. The wish can be literally anything, as he so says – but there's a catch. By making a contract, that said girl will be forced to become a Puella Magi, a magical girl who's only purpose is to hunt down evil witches across the land. These are not your ordinary witches, so to say – they are monsters who, as they bring despair and chaos to wherever they reside, they create surreal, alternate dimensions in which these Puella Magi would have to dunk into to hunt down the witch.
In the first few episodes, the anime starts off rather cheerful and optimistic – anyone would brush it off as a simple high school anime with some flashy action scenes and even some subtle hints of Yuri (although there's really none of it when you think about it). Watch the third episode, though, and you'll learn that this is not your ordinary anime, and that making a contract with Kyubey may be either the best thing ever...or the biggest mistake you could do with your life. And that's a persistent theme during the anime – who is Kyubey, what's his purpose, and what is the ultimate risk of becoming a Puella Magi. Anyone who has a chance to watch this anime, do it – if the story doesn't get you, at least be glad that the overall artistic style and musical score are more than enough to keep you around; the ending theme (Magia) is by far one of the best themes I've EVER heard in any anime I've watched so far.
So why Kyubey? Why is he so resounding to me? It's logic. Kyubey and I have one big similarity when it comes to our ways of communicating towards people: ambiguous messaging. The cute, cuddly creature gives you a subtle hint of what's to come when becoming a Puella Magi, but he never tells you the real truth behind it – because he doesn't want you to know it. Same goes to me: I can write a tweet about some random thing going on, and you might not get it at first, because that's exactly what I want you to do. I only want you to know the superficial meaning of a plan I have in the works. It makes me calculative and, at times, selfish...and I don't think many of the traits Kyubey has can be attributed to me. But thinking back, I don't know how I would've reached that far without using him as a symbol of what I try to accomplish here on ScrewAttack. A guy who recruits people around the site to bring the best of the best, with the only catch of making them suffer through consistency and loyalty towards the community. Sure makes g1 Features really dark and somber, don't ya think?
Nah, I'm just messing with your heads. :P
Sonic the Hedgehog isn't exactly your well-developed character, so to speak. He has two versions: a classic, attitude-filled rodent who is impatient and rowdy, yet knows he's the hero his home world needs whenever there's danger; and the current one, laid-back, chatty, and understanding, who can quip a few words whenever he's on action but can actually sit down and share a chili dog with you if you're friendly enough. Whomever is your favorite version of the Fastest Thing Alive (or the Blue Blur if you like to call him like that), Sonic is just a cool fellow either way.
I grew up with the Super Nintendo, so I never got to live the days of playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. However, I did have the chance to watch the fondly-remembered cartoon series – both the comedic Adventures series and the one based on the Archie Comics, also known as Sonic SatAM (Saturday Morning). In here, Sonic was clearly molded to be one who would hate staying in one place and wants to get everything done as fast as possible, not only because the evil forces of Dr. Robotnik would come at any minute, but also because he simply hates being slowed down. Unlike the Sonic Sega portrays, though, the Archie version is known for being a bit of a lover, particularly with the main female role, Princess Sally. Amy Rose – the obsessed rascal whose mad love creeps the blue hedgehog more than a robotic doll, was nowhere to be found, though putting on Sonic's shoes, I wouldn't tag along with a girl who is not only obsessed, but also insanely jealous and short-tempered.
Then again, we could love a girl like that sometime... (I mean, Mad Love brings characters like these to our nerdy lives...thank you, Bruce Timm!)
Ever heard my catchphrases? Fun fact: While some of them nowadays can be linked from a lot of ScrewAttack videos, a lot of them came during the time I was playing Final Fantasy V Advance. The ironic part is that none of them are actually said during the game, but rather spun off from a one-liner either Bartz or Gilgamesh would say out of nowhere. Bartz’s funniest comes right around beating a sea-monster boss that was threatening to take down the newly acquired airship. “Looks like that monster just got served!” Galuf exclaimed, in which Bartz replied, “With cheese biscuits AND mashed potatoes!” After this amusing line, I quickly uttered, “Yeah! Who wants some more biscuits?”
And so a catchphrase was born. Nevertheless, it’s Gilgamesh who steals the show in this game, due to his hilariously boastful personality during the game. He is cocky and proud of his strength, and with good reason – enter a battle unprepared and he can totally kick your ass. Yet he’s chivalrous and respects those who give him a good fight. He ends up joining forces with Bartz’s troupe, sacrificing himself to save the team. While his character arc during the game will instantly be remembered, I think the best part comes during the second fight where he utters the following immortal words:
Hats. I love them, you love them, and Diddy certainly loves them. He can also pull out some shades and wear them while jamming at his boom box, play some awesome riffs on his guitar, AND has a cute little monkey girlfriend WITH A FRICKING PONYTAIL. (I prefer pigtails, but let's not get underage sisters into this.) Diddy is just plain awesome, and something that for a small part of my childhood I aspired to be. Hell, even now I compare my best friend from high school and myself as the monkey duo from the Donkey Kong series: he’s a guy who you don't wanna mess with, and I’m the guy who steals the show. :D
When I first got my SNES, Donkey Kong Country 2 was the game I got along with Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World. With a strategy guide that my six year old mind couldn’t quite comprehend, I rushed into the game learning how to control my two awesomely-rendered monkeys in this towering island of doom. I felt like I was Diddy during the whole journey, making him a prime candidate for a childhood influence in myself.
Mike Jones is not your typical hero. Back when Mother was doing its thing at Japan, Startropics and its sequel, Zoda’s Revenge, were the games that broke the mold of what a hero could be in a wacky world. Specifically Zoda’s Revenge, Mike was one cool MoFo. He was your average Joe in appearance, and he spoke in totally 80s fashion (TOTALLY RADICAL doesn’t have the same ring to It like today’s EPIC WIN), but he was traveling through time meeting all these awesome folks of the history, and being in so many locales at once. Before he fought the actual last boss of the game, he was saving cavemen, eating pizza with a knockout, helping solve a mystery with the greatest detective (if only it was the World's Greatest Detective...we can only dream, yeah?), digging gold in the wild west, helping out an inventor, survive Dracula's castle and got knighted all in one long adventure. He was like Marty McFly...only that he used a book instead of a DeLorean and he actually went through 8 different time periods...in other words, he was way more cooler!
His looks were simple and to the point: a jean jacket, black t-shirt, blue jeans, and some fancy hairdo. His companion, a girl he actually saved in the previous adventure, is an alien – and a pretty one at that. His weapons were no longer yo-yos, but rather weapons that you could throw instead of wield (how can Mike throw a katana and deal damage while still being able to keep using it is beyond me). Oh and he has some mean psychic powers. Mike Jones was the bomb back in the day, and one that I took notes when becoming more of a badass myself. Or at least try.
Ah, here’s the one. Trivia: THIS was the original mascot of Rare. Before Banjo-Kazooie, before Conker, hell, even before Battletoads, there was a little astronaut with a jetpack whose only desire was to collect enough fuel in order to reach a new planet to explore. Back when Rare was called ULTIMATE Play the Game, they made this little quirky game called Jetpac. Two sequels later we get this weird fellow from the so called “Federation of Space Loonies” – the only hope to save the world from some random space pirates wanting to take over the galaxy. Yeah right.
Jetman was as bland as he could be personality wise, but the world around him makes you create your own story around it. Using my Imaginer skills into practice, I could deduce three things from him: 1) he’s a treasure hunter, 2) he forms part of a platoon sent to seek such treasures, and 3) he’s doing this job like it’s nothing, at least that’s the impression during the ending of Solar Jetman. What does he give me as a person to be influenced in the first place? A desire for sci-fi games with some hardcore difficulty? A desire to own a jetpack, or hell a jet pod of my own? The pride of using his name as my own? Or a mix of all? You be the judge.
Alright, my first Pokémon Trainer was actually from Pokémon Crystal, but I’ll just go ahead and choose the whole collective trainers in the series. All the stories are pretty basic and familiar: you get your first Pokémon, set off a journey to catch ‘em all, and along the way you beat 8 gym leaders to earn badges so you can enter the Pokémon League, where the Elite Four awaits. And this is all while saving the world from some lame-ass team of criminals. So…what’s the charm of him?
For one, he’s relatable. My young self was about 11, maybe 12 years old when I first got my Game Boy Color bundled with Crystal, so seeing that the protagonist was also around that age makes it easy for me to connect with him. And the fact that he’s a guy with a goal in mind pretty much tells me that I, too, must get myself a goal that, while looking unreachable, is definitely possible. To be the the very best like no one ever was…too bad I’m stuck with being a jack-of-all-trades, master of nothing.
While I’ve played a couple of Castlevanias before Aria of Sorrow, Soma Cruz was one that really connected with me purely because of his story. Here’s a guy who out of nowhere he’s pulled into this random castle of evil filled with monsters. Your childhood friend is in danger, you don’t know what to do…and to top it all off, you have the power to rule the souls of defeated monsters. This sense of overwhelming pressure is something that is totally different from other entries in the series. Before Aria of Sorrow, you had characters that before entering the castle they were either training for the moment or combat-ready from the start; Soma, however is not. He’s a common guy from the streets of Tokyo, and all he wants to do is to run away. However, he’s tasked to enter the castle and look for answers as to why he’s there, and why he has those newfound powers.
Okay, so how does this relate to me? It’s…funny. I could say there’s three main reasons: one, his fashion is totally something I want to wear. (Okay, maybe not in public and definitely not in during the day while living in a tropical island...but you get my point?) Two, he's got a personality that I can very well adapt myself into; he's in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he's taking it hard-headed and puts his friends first and foremost. And finally, his overall aspect feels more modern than any other character in the Castlevania series. When you think about classic characters like Simon, Alucard or Richter, they look very antiquated and sometimes too silly and fantasy-like; Soma gives a more realistic vibe, like he's really a person who could live in this day and age and have the same struggles we have today as humans. And that's why he's on this list.
Samus Aran isn't exactly your typical bounty hunter. She had a rough past – one with a tragic ending to her family when she was still very young, forcing her to join the Chozo and live most of her life in a distant planet that's foreign to her own species. After training enough with the highly intelligent race and earning the right to use the iconic Power Suit, she leaves her adoptive parents in order to seek further training at the Galactic Federation. But then things turn gray in that time, as she quickly knew that sometimes even the so-called heroes can be proven to turn dark sometimes.
The sudden turn of events leading to her renouncement of her duties in the army is still a mystery to many, but one can presume that her first mission as a true bounty hunter – the extermination of the Metroid on Planet Zebes – was a key factor of making her what she is today: a focused, lone warrior who gets the job done, but has a strong sense of justice which allows her to make the right decision if the opportunity allows it. She may not show much of a personality and character development in-game wise (let's pretend Other M never happened...), but with so little story you can already assume much of a mysterious character's background. That is what I try to achieve with me – you don't really know much about myself or my past, but that little – plus my own actions – allow you to learn who is the Jetman on the long run.
(BTW I actually consider the Metroid E-Manga an enjoyable read, and it may make you understand some of the decisions made later in Other M. Yeah, I poked fun of it, but much of what happened during the game is somewhat jusfied when you read the manga (well, not all of it...) It's considered sorta-canon, so read it if you consider yourself a Metroid fan.)
Player 2 was never that big until Luigi came along. Maybe I was too happy playing alone by myself, but whenever I had the chance, I gave Luigi a spin just because he was just different. Everyone played as Mario because he was the big dog, the real hero, the man with the guts to get to Princess Peach; they would think of Luigi as the one hiding in the shadows, the one scared to jump into dangers, the one who would rather stay at home and let his brother get all the glory. I knew different, because I can relate to.
As a guy who is humble yet have the skills to reach the top, I knew that Luigi was more than Mario's brother. Sure, Luigi's Mansion made him the scary cat that many of us made to believe, but I think there's more depth to that. See, the reason why he's Player 2 isn't so much that he prefers to do so; on the contrary, it's more that people need to give him the chance to shine instead. The brilliance of the Mario series is that it's a game where you want your friends to join in, or maybe your mom who seems interested in that magical world you're so invested in. The latter was my case, and every time we played Super Mario Bros. 3 (my favorite in the series), I called dibs on Luigi – because in my opinion, me being the primary player choosing to be Player 2 isn't humiliating, but rather a privilege.
Let's forget E3 2004 for a bit and go straight to one year after the crowd went nuts knowing that a new matured-up, dark-themed Zelda was in the works. E3 2005 brought in a lot of surprises: the new Zelda was now called Twilight Princess, the story was promised to be more somber and tragic, and Link transformed into a wolf. But out of all what was going on, only one thing intrigued me: this cute little imp that the press referred to as Midna.
Many people called her creepy, others found her rather mysterious; I found her fascinating even before knowing who she really was. As the new companion for Link, she was going to serve as not only his guide (and the one giving all the directions), but also a key component whenever he's a wolf. More than a companion, she became a true sidekick with a fleshed out story that very few companions before her can stand among it.
But the reason why she's so iconic in this game is how she easily steals the show with her backstory, and even with her subtle manerisms. Her smile, her glare, her wit, her constant way of quipping at whatever is happening at the moment (I suggest calling her during the frog mini-boss at Lakebed Temple for some genuine laughs) – Midna was far beyond what we saw before, with the only one who can stand toe-to-toe with her is Ezlo from The Minish Cap. But whereas Ezlo remained more or less a chatty companion throughout the whole adventure, Midna had an arch that, while sticking to the ol' tsundere formula, was something much deeper than any other story in the Zelda series.
Now how can a female character be my biggest influence is beyond me, but take it from my friends back a couple of years ago, as they where trying to link each of us with a single character that would fit us best. When they looked towards me, they would link me – a dude who has a sarcastic way of talking, knows how to quip, and even sometimes has his own agenda while being a bit tsundere towards people – with an imp with an oversized crown. Literally, I was flabbergasted when I talked to my ol' pal Raven and he told me that it was an unanimous choice. I guess I can say, without question, that out of all of these characters listed above, Midna stands as the biggest influence for the Jetman himself.