Fighting games live and die on their characters, whether they be ridiculously be-chested Amazons, hulking sword swingers or nimble Ninja, there’s got to be some sort of connection, or even the most polished game will fall flat on its face. Here are some of the best, worst, and most memorable out there. Disagree? Have your own suggestions? Comment away.
10. Blanka (Street Fighter)
Blanka, or Jimmy to his mum, was raised in the wild after a plane crash separated him from the rest of civil society. Which doesn’t really explain why he’s got ridiculous amounts of red hair, or green skin. Or, for that matter, why he can create an electrical field around his body, seemingly by rapidly waving his arms around. Origins aside, Blanka is a mainstay of the Street Fighter series, the classic beast with a heart of gold archetype; an oft copied but never replicated classic. Plus, his ability to entirely close off an opponent’s aerial attacking options make him a dangerous choice if you fancy humiliating inexperienced Ken spammers.
9. Heihachi Mishima (Tekken)
If ever there was a museum of iconic hairstyles, with ‘dos taken from every pantheon of the entertainment industry, there’d be a good case for Heihachi being the videogame representative. The grand dame of the Tekken series, Mr Mishima Senior is one of only a handful of characters to have appeared in each of the main entries in Namco’s legendary brawler. The head of an enormous corporation, Heihachi not only makes the dual vertical comb-over look cool, but also manages to pull off some truly outrageous platforms too. Add to this his unorthodox parenting style, that includes dropping his five year old son into a ravine, and you’re left with one badass OAP.
8. Scorpion (Mortal Kombat)
Whilst Mortal Kombat never quite reached the perfectly balanced precision of Street Fighter 2, it did allow impressionable youths the chance to throw harpoons into their friends’ necks, which to some, is far more important. Scorpion, and his sprite swap fellow ninja Sub Zero, were the series’ poster boys. Game developers may think we empathise with goody goodys like Liu Kang, but let’s be honest, we’re all rotten to the core; it’s way better to be bad. With a stark look, a delightful line in sharp throwing objects and a fiery fatality, Scorpion is the king of Kombat. And if you disagree, he’ll uppercut you into a pit of spikes. So there.
7. Cervantes de Leon (Soul Calibur)
Everyone knows pirates are cool, but what about undead pirates with Spanish names who dual wield enormous swords and have awesome beards? Well, they make it onto top ten lists of the best fighting game characters of all time. Obviously. Cervantes may have lost his place atop the Soul Calibur tree, relegated to the land of playable-from-the-get-go characters, but he’s still exactly the sort of sailor no one would want to share a cruise with. Obsessed with power, and father to the impossibly proportioned Ivy, Cervantes is a brute, pure and simple, and deadly in the hands of anyone who vaguely knows anything about fighting games.
6. Jack (Power Stone)
Power Stone is the lost gem in Capcom’s crown, a 3D fighter that set the Dreamcast alight with its insane speed, cartoon violence and over the top action. Whilst the other characters in the game were bright and heavy on the heroic, Jack was an altogether more sinister creature, an approximation of Jack the Ripper, with a list of moves just as deadly as anything the Whitehall slasher had to offer. A mummified whirl of blades and bandages, Jack was the black heart of Power Stone, and he, like the rest of the cast, is still sorely missed.
5. Dan Hibiki (Street Fighter)
Dan started out life as a joke, a sly nod to SNK that maybe they could start thinking up their own character designs rather than just copying Ryu and Ken, and quite frankly, he’s carried on in that fashion ever since. Hideously underpowered, with more taunts than you can shake a stick at and a bright pink costume, Dan is Street Fighter‘s whipping boy. His story is ridiculous; in fact, everything about him is ridiculous, which is what makes him quite so special. Dan’s greatest moment so far has to be Street Fighter 4, where he acts as perfect comic relief, as well as a punching bag in the training modes. Over confident and almost inescapably useless, Dan is the ultimate bragging rights character. If you’ve been beaten by Dan, it’s probably best you just give up now.
4. Jeffry McWild (Virtua Fighter)
The naming team at AM2 must have been working some serious overtime when they came up with this gem. Jeffry McWild’s nemesis is a shark, called “The Satan Shark”, who keeps destroying his boat, hence, he has to keep entering fighting tournaments to earn more money to fix it. A bulky, blunt object of a fighter, Jeffry is Australian, and in a game full of svelte Ninjas and muscular Karate derivatives, he makes a welcome change. Although I’m not entirely sure which part of Australia his surname comes from, sounds suspiciously Scottish to me…
3. Terry Bogard (Fatal Fury)
In the early 90s, anyone who was anyone had a cut-off denim jacket and a cap. It was sort of the law, especially if you wanted people to think you were super hard. Fingerless gloves and a ponytail were optional accessories. Terry represents a bygone age when everything was simple, all problems could be solved with the swing of a fist and anyone entering a fighting tournament was motivated by revenge. The figurehead of SNK for a good long while now, Bogard is a stark reminder of the glory days of the two dimensional fighter, before polygons ruined everything and side stepping made everything far too complicated.
2. Morrigan Aensland (Darkstalkers)
The undisputed star of the Darkstalkers series, Morrigan is a prime example of the impossible curvature of female brawlers. A succubus from another dimension, her crossover appeal is obvious; she’s easily the most recognisable of the Darkstalkers, due to appearances in the Marvel Vs Capcom, Capcom Vs SNK and the upcoming Capcom Vs Tatsunoko. The twisted congruence of an episode of The Addams Family, a mid-eighties cartoon and an issue of Maxim, Morrigan may look like a waif, but she fights like a demon. And somehow manages to remain upright.
1. Hamster (Ninja Hamster)
A Hamster that’s also a Ninja, imagine that. Imagine the raw throbbing ninjitsu power flowing through tiny, rodenty arms. Imagine if he had a cool headband that made him look a bit like the Karate Kid. No, this isn’t some crazed, cheese coloured nightmare. This is hard videogame fact. Obviously, you fight lizards, what with lizards being the sworn enemies of hamsters, all presented in spectacular Spectrum black-and-one-other-colour graphics. Your health meter is an apple; there’s really nothing to add to that sentence. If ever there was a fighting character who deserved a comeback, it probably wouldn’t be the Hamster, but still, he’s less annoying than Seth.