Welcome one and all to a very Athena Veta season of good will! Athena’s a friend of the show, as it were, and general all-around cool person; she also happens to be extremely smart, so check out her blog at the AmbiGaming Corner for deep and well-considered thoughts on what we can learn from gaming as well as a whole bunch of other always-interesting stuff.
For the holiday season this year, Athena’s coordinated an event based on that classic Marmite of tunes (you love it or you hate it): The Twelve Days of Christmas. Each day from December 26th to January 6th, we’ll look at a gamified version of one of the song’s lines until eventually we have 364 gamey gifts!
On the fifth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me: Eight characters you love!
Hm. On the one hand, I bet there are a good eighty characters I love, but on the other I reckon a bunch of them would be from the same two or three franchises. I want a good eight from different places if possible, and perhaps they won’t all be from separate places but we’ll give it a go. Let’s see what happens!
8. Sazh – Final Fantasy XIII
He may not have been given a lot of focus in XIII (I’ve not played its direct sequels so no idea whether he’s further fleshed out there or not), but c’mon. The guy has a baby chocobo living in his afro. What’s not to love?
7. Xion – Kingdom Hearts series
I nearly went with Aqua, but here’s the thing: everyone agrees Aqua’s best girl. Xion, however, is super divisive for some reason, and I don’t entirely get why. She has this incredibly tragic plot about just wanting to exist and ultimately sacrifices herself – her entire existence, even the memories her friends had of her – so that others can instead. Xion deserves more love!
6. Travis Touchdown – No More Heroes
He’s a total dick. I love him.
5. Iwazaru – Killer7
I’m currently playing through Suda51’s Killer7 for a future review at The Well-Red Mage, so I’ve not finished it yet, but Iwazaru is really memorable. He’s a rubber-suited gimp ghost (maybe?) who just drops down from the ceiling on a bungee cord occasionally to give advice. He always starts his conversations with ‘Master. We’re in a tight spot!’ or something similarly bleak, which I thought at first would get annoying but which I actually find quite endearing and which set the mood for each level rather nicely.
4. Lance – Pokémon Silver
If I’m remembering right, which I may well not be, Lance first shows up as this mysterious figure to help the player clear out some baddies from their evil lair. You get to fight alongside him, and pick up a sense that he must be a truly powerful Trainer but don’t fully get to see just how strong. So when you later get to the end of the Johto Elite 4 only to find that the champion is… THE GUY WHO HELPED YOU OBLITERATE TEAM ROCKET, it’s a moment of conflicted emotions: happiness at seeing him again, awe at how cool he is, terror at realising his full power. It’s just a great moment.
3. Midna – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game I played through all the way, and companion Midna was a big part of what made the story special to me. She had a personal stake in what was going on, and her shift from frosty-I’m-only-with-you-because-you-might-be-useful to truly caring about Link felt really believable (as opposed, I later came to understand, to some of the less well-executed sidekicks in Zelda). The ending of Twilight Princess is genuinely powerful, in large part due to Midna.
2. Rico Rodriguez – Just Cause series
Rico’s entire raison d’etre is chaos. Heck, the entire point of the game is to cause as much chaos as possible, and gravity-defying physics wizard Rico’s shtick is pretty much perfectly in alignment with this. He’s in some ways a hilarious parody of a typical gruff American action hero, in others a gleeful kid knocking over sandcastles in a sandpit – except the sandpit is a slightly racially-stereotyped island and the sandcastles are giant missile-filled military bases.
1. Recette – Recettear
Recette is a young girl whose father disappeared amid ‘a fracas with a dragon atop a volcano’ (one of my favourite understatements in all of gaming). Her only recourse is to open an item shop to survive, but she does so with such aplomb and heart that you can’t help but love her. Even when things are completely desperate, even in the depths of despair and anxiety, Recette’s combination of endearing naivety and admirable work ethic makes you want to do your best for her. Capitalism, ho!
Once again, this list is neither in order nor comprehensive or authoritative as far as who I think the actual best eight characters in the universe are. It’s all in the fun spirit of the holidays!
Of course, I’m writing this in advance, so I don’t know who else is taking part or what they’ll have written, but I bet there are a bunch of other awesome people writing incredibly cool things on this very topic today, so check out the AmbiGaming Corner and probably Twitter for some links! See you tomorrow for the next day of Blogmas…