Top Five: Best Video Game Character Introductions

Earlier this week, IGN ran an article called The Best First Encounters in Video Games. It listed those character introductions that the author thought were the coolest or had the biggest (personal) impact on the player. While I agreed with the ones that I, myself, had experienced, there were a few that I thought were missing. So here’s my addendum to this list–Geekphoria’s Official List of Best Video Game Character Introductions. This includes re-introductions, but it must be you seeing or meeting the character for the first time in that game. So while you may know a character from a previous iteration in that franchise, if you haven’t interacted with him or her before then it totally counts for this list. The list is also female-heavy, but that’s probably just because female characters were largely absent from the initial list.

Warning: There may be some spoilers.

Sheik (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

From zeldauniverse.net

Part of my decision to include Sheik may be nostalgia–if you’ve been around the blog at all, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Ocarina of Time. It was the first game I got with my N64, and the first thing I played when I was old enough to really enjoy all aspects of a game. It’s why I’ll always be loyal to Nintendo, even now that I’ve moved on the world of HD FPS and RPGs.
When Link awakens in the Temple of Time, it’s obvious that things are not as they were when he was transported into the Chamber of Sages. Once you go outside, you see that Hyrule–though never innocuous-has been transformed into a dark and scary place. Although Sheik is certainly not a warm and fuzzy, when he appears you know you’re not in this alone. Sheik catches you up on what you’ve missed out on, and sends you on your way with as much help and guidance as he can (while still keeping that air of mystery). Sheik is also, obviously, very bad ass. I remember wishing I could play as Sheik (which, technically, you can in Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, but it’s obviously not the same). At the very least, I wanted to be best bros. When Sheik shows up, you know someone else is out there to fight the good fight which is good–although you’re the hero of time, no hero should be alone.

Clementine (The Walking Dead)

From walkingdead.wikia.com

As Lee Everett, you find yourself alone as the world begins to fall apart around you. You’ve seen the dead come back to life, you’ve been chased by them, and you’re searching for help. Of course, this is the zombie apocalypse, and instead of finding help you’re almost eaten. Clementine appears to help you, giving you the tools you need to kill the zombie and escape. She tells you that she has been hiding in her treehouse since the world went to hell. The zombie who attacked you had been her baby-sitter–her parents were out of town, which you know if you listened to the answering machine. She also informs you that she considered dropping a hammer on your head as you walked under the treehouse, is case you were a bad man. She’s introduced as a character who definitely has some capacity to take care of herself–though she’s still a kid and, you suspect, now alone in the world.  It builds up the character in your mind, while still keeping you sympathetic and making you want to take care of her. It’s probably the greatest introduction on this list.

Wheatley (Portal 2)

Taken from FastCompany.com

Ah, Wheatly. In Portal 2, you wake up in what appears to be a hotel room. It doesn’t seem like any of the events of the original portal have taken place–that is, until Wheatley shows up and the whole facade falls away. Wheatley is introduced as a companion and a rescuer. He’s going to help you escape from Aperture, which has definitely seen better days. Wheatley’s introduction is great because he appears to be a slightly bumbling but helpful little robo-consciousness and is entertaining while helpful. Of course, then he teaches you the lesson that power corrupts. Without this initial introduction, though, Wheatley would be nothing more than GLaDOS 2.0.

Bonnie MacFarlane (Red Dead Redemption)

From RockstarGames.com

Bonnie is introduced shortly after she saves your life. When you were left to die at the side of the road (something that apparently happens to John Marston more than it should), she takes you to the doctor and lets you recover at the ranch she and her father run. It’s great to see a female character introduced as a savior, and the first few minutes of character building show that Bonnie’s tough, strong, driven, and competent. I wish the character was a little more developed throughout (you spend most of the game away from her and the ranch after this set of quests), but Bonnie certainly makes a good first impression.

Jill Valentine (Resident Evil 6)

From Gamespot.com

Jill Valentine is the only character on the list that was first introduced outside of the listed game. Jill, of course, is a hero in her own right. We’ve played as her, and kicked zombie and bad guy ass. We know that she has everything under control and–thanks to cut scenes–know that she has died fighting Albert Wesker. Of course, later on in the game we find out that she hasn’t died. Wesker introduces her to us again, but she’s under some type of mind control (and suddenly blonde). Chris suddenly experiences ALL OF THE EMOTIONS, but so does the player. Here’s a character you’ve grown attached to over the years, rendered as a fraction of herself and not under her own control. You want to help Jill, but it’s not really a damsel-in-distress moment (especially as she proceeds to kick your ass). You want Jill to get back to being awesome, and that’s now your main motivation.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

One thought on “Top Five: Best Video Game Character Introductions

  1. Sheik is the source of, like, half of the nerdy love quotes in the wedding I’m in next month (the one that’s video game and Harry Potter themed). ;p

    Also, I only just now figured out how to subscribe to you, so I’m backlogging instead of doing homework.

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