I have played the Smash Bros. series since Melee on the Gamecube – I was instantly taken with it back then, and here and now in the present day, I’m pleased to say that Smash Bros. have only grown to loftier heights.
One of the things that I love about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is how it caters to so many people. If you’re a newcomer to the series, or a beginner with fighting games in general, then you can very quickly get the hang of the simple controls and features of the game. If you’re a returning fan then this new installment to the series is just more of what you already love, with the added bonus of every single fighter that has featured so far in the series.
This will most likely always be my favourite series of fighting games, there’s just something so fun about taking some of your favourite characters from gaming and pitting them against each other to see who comes out on top! And let’s not forget about the abundance of items that will randomly spawn on the stages for you to use! Some items can absolutely change the tide of the battle in your favour, so it’s important to know what they do and how they can help you!
One thing that I really missed from the previous installment on the Wii U is the story mode. I was so pleased to see the return of a story mode in Ultimate, I have easily spent hours and hours on this! A dramatic intro cut scene shows all of the fighters being deleted by a mysterious force made of light – all of the fighters except Kirby, who managed to escape on his Warp Star just in time. As Kirby you will travel through the world defeating evil spirits, and rescuing the fighters. Everyone you rescue will be added to your roster, so if Kirby doesn’t do much for you as a character, you won’t be stuck with him for long.
There were number of new fighters added to the roster for Ultimate, such as the long-awaited Ridley, the fiery Incineroar, super cool squid-kid Inkling, and the most adorable addition to date – Isabelle!
One small thing I like to do is collect the different costumes for the custom Mii Fighters. There are so many different options, most of which are referencing characters from various games. It can be a lot of fun to make your own characters this way, as if the roster wasn’t already big enough for us!
Playing by yourself, playing with your friends, either locally or online … no matter how you play, this is a fun game for everyone!
I barely even know where to start with Sword and Shield, the latest installment to the Pokémon series. I have a lot to say about them, so I guess I should start somewhere!
First, let’s talk about the theme.Sword and Shield are set in the region of Galar, which is inspired by the UK! As a Brit, it means there are lots of little nods here and there that I find quite amusing to say the least, and other things that I just find very satisfying to see.
From the very beginning I could immediately feel a sense of English countryside, starting off in the sleepy village of Postwick, moving onto Wedgehurst, the aesthetic was captured perfectly with the fields of crops, and grazing Wooloo (the sheep Pokémon!), and the villages and towns themselves hold a certain charm which I think reflects that of the rural countryside villages we see here in the UK perfectly.
And this aesthetic just grows more and more the further into the region you go! We have a town which seems to have taken inspiration from our famous landmark, Stonehenge, and it also has a Geoglyph on the hillside (a large design/pattern on the ground usually formed by chalk, small stones or other such materials) which is something that can be found surprisingly often in England, usually in the shape of a horse!
The PokémonCentres also have their own English charm added to them. They have a quaint decorated exterior which seems to fit in just about wherever you would find one, but it’s the interior that impressed me the most. I was simply shocked to walk inside for the first time and see on the left hand side of the room … a pub! Every PokémonCentre has its own little pub, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the tiny pictures of the berries on the taps!
The town names are another thing which I feel have been perfectly captured – I genuinely could be at home looking around for nearby villages to visit! Postwick, Circhester, Hulbury, Stow-On-Side, Wyndon … all you need to do is have a look around the UK on Google Maps, and you’ll see just how well these fit the theme.
The next thing I would like to talk about is some of the new features that I have come across so far! First, let’s talk about the updated mechanics for wild Pokémon. It seems as though Game Freak have taken the classic mechanics of the main games, the new mechanics introduced in the Let’s Go titles, and put them together to make a fantastic combination. Wild Pokémon will pop up in the grass, and they also react to you in different ways. Some will walk up to you with curiosity, others will charge at you and commence battle! And more still will flee as soon as they see you, you’ll have to sneak up to these flighty fellows! And besides these, you’ll also see an exclamation mark followed by rustling in the grass as you pass through – if you run into that small patch, you’ll find yourself in a classic random battle! Furthermore, you can even whistle or sound your bicycle’s bell to attract the attention of Pokémon – even those who might be flying in the skies above you!
Next on the list is the Wild Area. My goodness … I can hardly pull myself away from this new area! This is the first time that us fans have experienced such an overwhelmingly large area in a Pokémon game. The Wild Area has plenty of Pokémon for you to track down and catch – with a hefty level range! You have to keep your wits about you, otherwise you could find yourself being wiped out by one of these powerhouses.
A big part of the Wild Area is the dens which are scattered across the plains. You will occasionally spot glowing beams of light piercing the sky – these are emitted from the previously mentioned dens, and if you journey to one of these, you will be able to enter a raid battle! I have to say, I really, really enjoy these. Four players will take one Pokémon into battle against an enormous wild Pokémon – a Dynamax Pokémon. It is possible for one trainer to dynamax their Pokémon, but this will only last for three turns. There are many things to gain from completing these – besides the chance to catch a Pokémon that you might not be able to find easily otherwise, you will also get a nice haul of items, including a TR or two, an item which is used to teach your Pokémon a new move, but it breaks after one use (a throwback to the old school games where TMs weren’t unlimited use).
The last feature I want to mention is the camping. While you’re travelling, you can set up camp and let your team run around for a bit of fresh air. While in camp, you can observe them as they plod along, occasionally interacting with each other, you can throw a ball about for them to either catch and bring back to you, or kick around, you can take a toy out which seems to encourage a bit of rough-house play, and finally you can get cooking to feed yourself and your team! This is something I really enjoy – it’s just so fun to watch as you and your lead Pokémon take that suspenseful first taste, and then react in awe at the taste of your concoction! One of the benefits of doing this is a nice experience boost for your party, as well as any fainted Pokémon being revitalised enough to carry on for another battle!
With this new generation comes a whole host of new Pokémon for fans to discover. So far, I have been totally bowled over by the designs of these Pokémon … for the most part at least.
There have been some incredibly solid designs, and so many of them fit the theme perfectly. From squirrels to foxes, sheep to ravens … We even have Pokémon that have been inspired by Welsh Corgis, Vikings, knights, and even tea pots! This is just a small number of examples though, there are so many more that I could mention!
Next thing on my list is the GymChallenge. In a Pokémon game there are usually two main goals. Catch as many Pokémon as you can to complete your Pokédex, and defeat all the Gym Leaders and then the Elite Four. Sun and Moon saw a brief switch-up from this regular format through the Island Challenge, but otherwise the format is largely the same throughout the main series games.
I don’t know how controversial this opinion will be, but here it is: this is the best Gym Challenge I have ever faced.
I love everything about it. It is introduced to us as a rather exclusive, but nationally adored event (a rather obvious parallel with real-world sports). In order to enter, you must be endorsed, and we receive our endorsement from the champion. Every challenger is to have their own number for their uniform, and yes, you will be wearing a uniform. The Gyms themselves are massive stadiums! They must be tackled in a specific and official order with no deviations, and each Gym has a Mission for you to complete before challenging the Leader.
The best thing is without a doubt the battles with the Gym Leaders. The battle takes place in the main stadium, with endless crowds watching and cheering – they even react to the battle! The soundtrack is just out of this world, I get so swept up in it. And then once the Gym Leader has one Pokémon left … time for Dynamax! Not only that, but the crowd goes wild with excitement, and the soundtrack actually changes as the crowd sings along! You can also Dynamax at any point in this battle, but it only lasts for three turns, so choose carefully!
The way that the challenge is set out makes me think of the anime and how the Pokémon League is usually depicted – I always felt that was how it should be presented and that the games sometimes fell short of that. I may not have completed my copy of Shield just yet, but so far I have not been disappointed.
There has been a fair amount of complaint amongst fans in the run up to release day. I have seen complaints about the choice to not include all Pokémon, about the lack of innovation in the graphics, the shortness of the routes and the story in general.
I have to admit that while I understand and respect these opinions, I can’t say that I share them. It is a shame that not all Pokémon have been included, but at the end of the day, there are 400 Pokémon available for us to catch and train. That’s more than enough for me, I know I will spend plenty of time hunting them down and training up my favourites. It will be sad to see that certain Pokes didn’t make the cut, but I can still appreciate what we have been given.
I really can’t find an issue with the graphics personally – I think the environment is absolutely gorgeous. I have seen mentions about how the trainers and Pokémon pop up onto the screen as you get close to them, so that they don’t need to be rendered the entire time, and it just doesn’t bug me. They appear on screen in a very smooth way, so as not to be too jarring.
I can see why people are annoyed at the length of the routes, some of them are admittedly short. This hasn’t stopped me from spending plenty of time in each one though – with so many different Pokémon to come across, particularly with the changing weather, there is plenty of reason to hang around, see what you can find, and even to return to places that you have already been to! I have literally spent hours in the Wild Area catching anything I hadn’t already found.
There are only two things that really bother me, the first being the battle background when you are indoors. The outside and the stadiums have fantastic backgrounds that make you feel as though you’re really battling out there! But if you battle inside a building, it is a strange, hazy background which does break the immersion. It’s somewhat disappointing to see, considering they were able to achieve this with Pokémon Coliseum on the Gamecube.
The other thing that bugs me is the lack of a feature that was done so well in Let’s Go, that I really hoped it would be a reoccurring feature. You can’t pick a Pokémon to follow you around anymore! It feels like the foundation was there, with the wild Pokémon roaming around the world, but the feature itself wasn’t implemented.
My final word is that while this may have been a disappointing entry for some Pokémon fans, it ticked all the right boxes for myself personally, so PokémonSword and Shield get my full recommendation.
Chaos. Madness. Absurdity. Expect all of this and more if you decide to play Screencheat. This is one of my favourite games to play with friends in local multiplayer, it is quite simply … ridiculous.
What is it? Exactly what it says on the tin. There are a number of different game modes, the kind that you would expect from a first person shooter such as Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag (although named differently within the game).
So what sets this apart from any other first person shooter you could play with your friends? Well … everyone is invisible! So how do you play? You Screencheat! You must watch the other player’s screens to figure out where they are, but you have to hurry, before they figure out where you are!
The stages themselves are bright, vivid, and segmented by colour – this is the main way to determine where your opponents are, by looking at what colour is on their screen. But there’s plenty of ways to zip around the various stages by jumping through vents and being blasted through the air by fans!
Another thing I should mention – don’t expect to be using weapons that you would expect to see in other first person shooters! The weapons are arguably more unique than the concept of the game itself. There are a number of gun type weapons, but it’s much more fun in my opinion to use the zanier options such as the Hobby Horse (charge!), Bear Bomb (no further explanation needed), Sorgean (lots of potential for mishaps here), and the Chefolet (particularly dangerous, with ricocheting energy balls!).
Next thing to mention is the mutators. As you level up, you will unlock new mutators to use in your games, which spice up the matches somewhat. Some of them will affect the actual gameplay such Flappy Jump which allows you to perform a large number of midair jumps, Hyper Mode which makes everything fast, and Martyrdom which will make you drop bombs upon dying. Then there are the mutators which are just for fun. A couple of examples are The Haunting which will cause the ragdolls left behind on death to fly around the room, and Wilhelm which causes the infamous Wilhelm scream to play upon the death of a player.
The last thing I want to mention is the commentator. He is as equally absurd as the rest of the game, and he’s always ready to point out your deaths, and your silly mistakes! “Butter fingers!”
This game can also be played online, but it’s my personal opinion that this is a game that is best played with your friends via local multiplayer.
I have spent hours and hours and hours on this game. So simple, yet so much depth!
Right from the off you are given a rather heartbreaking scene, where your grandfather is on his death bed and gives you an envelope with instructions to open it only once modern society has pushed you to your limits… after another brief scene showing the joys of corporate life, you open the envelope and learn about Stardew Valley.
You will pick up how to play bit by bit as various NPCs tell you more, and quests offer you some small guidance in how to proceed. You will learn how to tend the land, make a profit, expand your farm, and you will also meet lots of interesting people who inhabit the valley, donate interesting items to the library, delve into the mines, enjoy the quiet pastime of fishing, take part in lots of community activities, bonding with everyone as you do, strengthening your relationships as the years go by, and eventually you will choose one of the lucky bachelor/bachelorettes to be your spouse!
So, do you think there’s enough in this game to keep you busy?
With so many different and unique characters to bond with and choose as your spouse, this adds a lot of replay value, for the sake of seeing what life is like with each one. As well as this, there are a number of different farm styles you can choose at the beginning of the game, so this will help to shake things up a bit between playthroughs.
I have had no trouble maintaining a number of different characters, and have yet to get bored. The one thing I haven’t tried is the multiplayer, as none of my friends play this particular title on the same platform as me, which is a shame because I quite like the idea of it – particularly as they have added the option to reduce profit margins for the farm, as a sort of “difficulty setting”.
One of the key aspects of story-based games is of course the antagonists! They can take many forms, whether they’re just annoying people who turn up occasionally to get in your way, or an evil overlord who wants nothing short of world domination.
Here are my 10 favourite antagonists, the ones who you just love to hate!
10. Micah Bell
Red Dead Redemption 2 was my first foray in the Rockstar’s classic cowboy franchise, which means that I did not have any insight of events that existing fans of the series had already. For me, the gang’s downfall was a gradual observation, rather than an inevitable conclusion.
As the game progressed I became more and more suspicious of Micah, disliking him more every time he opened his mouth. He seemed to be too much of a loose cannon, and it felt as though his presence would end up being detrimental to the gang’s well-being.
Micah also appears to have a huge chip on his shoulder when it comes to Arthur – as Arthur’s health gets worse, Micah frequently refers to him as “Black Lung” – but even more baffling is how no other gang members ever challenge him on his disrespect towards one of the key members of the gang.
There are few games that force you to spend so much time with the main antagonist – the usual format being occasional meetings and battles. It is always refreshing to see a game that challenges the usual formats.
9. Scott Shelby
Heavy Rain featured three playable characters that the game would switch up from time to time, so players get to know all three at roughly the same pace. Scott Shelby is a Private Investigator who appears to be looking into the deaths caused by the Origami Killer.
Early on Scott meets Lauren Winter, the mother of one of the killer’s victims, and she accompanies him on his investigations. The pair develop a very close relationship as the game progresses. But then a major plot twist reveals that Scott Shelby is in fact the Origami Killer! For first time players (or at least, for me) it was a huge shock to find out that you had in fact been controlling the killer all along.
This impressive twist is what makes Scott one of the most memorable antagonists for me.
8. Seifer Almasy
The rivalry between Final fantasy VIII’s Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy is one that I have always loved. They both grew up in Balamb Garden, and have frequently come to blows.
Seifer is eventually recuited by Sorceress Edea to be her knight, taking a completely different path to Squall who is given the mission to assassinate Edea. Seifer appears a number of times throughout the game to hinder the party’s progress .
My favourite battle with him triggers the appearance of Odin, a powerful GF (assuming you have recruited him). Odin has a small chance at the beginning of every battle to use his powerful Zantetsuken skill, which will cut all enemies in half, instantly winning the battle. But when Odin goes up against Seifer, the skilled swordsman in fact manages to strike the GF down, putting him out of commission for good!
Seifer as an antagonist isn’t inherently bad, but rather he is a skilled and ambitious young adult who doesn’t quite fit in thanks to his rash and rebellious nature, until he was manipulated by the Sorceress.
Another entry from the Final Fantasy franchise – Sin of Final Fantasy X.
Sin is a gigantic monster who is best described as a calamitous force in the world of Spira. When the settlements of the world get too large, or start to rely too heavily on Machina, Sin will appear and destroy whatever it can find.
Final Fantasy X has a huge religious theme, and as you might have guessed, Sin is portrayed as the “divine punishment” to the people, and the reason why they must try so hard to atone. Each encounter with Sin is full of tension and intense pressure, as the possibility of destruction is so real once it turns up.
For those unfamiliar with the story, summoners will travel to temples across Spira to complete a pilgrimage, and at the end of this pilgrimage the summoner will call the Final Aeon, which will fight Sin. The hope is that it defeats Sin for good, but that will never happen as there is much more to be told about the origin of Sin.
Sin also has a very bizarre design – one which you don’t get to fully appreciate until much later in the game, as in the early stages of the story it appears in the water most of the time. And as for the actual creation of Sin, there is a very elaborate backstory behind how it came to be, and how it keeps coming back after being defeated.
I think Sin makes for an incredible antagonist. As you travel through Spira, you will see a lot of destruction caused by Sin, and you will meet people who have been affected by it, and the journey to destroy Sin feels like a truly epic tale – one that won’t be forgotten by me any time soon.
6. Zachary Hale Comstock
You’ve all played Bioshock Infinite right? You all know what the deal is with Comstock right? If this information has some how passed you by and you want to play Bioshock Infinite to discover what happens for yourself, MOVE ON.
So, we’ve had the guy who was in our gang, who we spent time with, who then turned on us.
We’ve had the guy who we played as who then turns out to be the killer.
And what do we have now? The guy, who is you but from a different universe!
I don’t think my mind has ever been blown as much as it was when I played this game, and the penny dropped the Comstock was in fact Booker Dewitt, and that Elizabeth was in fact Booker’s daughter, Anna Dewitt.
Again, this is an antagonist with religious overtones, but instead of divine punishment, we have a prophet – you will hear a lot of his prophecies and beliefs as you play the game. The story-crafting here really is phenomenal, with countless tiny details all adding up to make an elaborate backstory.
The uniqueness of Comstock’s backstory and identity truly make him one of the most unforgettable antagonists out there.
5. Skull Kid
This is in fact two separate characters; Skull Kid and the spirit of Majora.
Skull Kid, much like Seifer, is a troubled character, who is corrupted and manipulated by a powerful force. He steals Majora’s Mask from the Happy Mask Salesman, but the spirit sealed within starts to control Skull Kid, causing him to wreak havoc across Termina, the world that Majora’s Mask is set in. This ranges from poisoning the swamp, freezing the home of the Goron’s, blocking paths with boulders, to forcing the moon to fall from the sky.
I first played Majora’s Mask when it was released in 2000, when I was 7 years old … at such an age, this game felt a lot scarier than it actually is. The themes throughout the game are much darker than what is usually expected of a Zelda game, and Skull Kid felt particularly menacing. I wasn’t actually able to complete the game as a child because there were some parts of the game that I just found too frightening to tackle! (Of course, now I can breeze through with ease)
As you get closer to the end of the game, you learn that Skull Kid is just a kid who misses his friends, and that he isn’t actually an evil character. By the time I reached the end of the game, I actually found him to be quite endearing.
The spirit within Majora’s Mask eventually abandons Skull Kid, leading to a very surreal final boss battle.
Skull Kid will always be memorable to me, partly for how disturbing and creepy he was when I was younger, and partly because of how I feel about his character now that I have seen his story.
Demise is the final boss of The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and what a boss he is.
You will not see Demise’s true form until the very end of the game, as the main antagonist that you face throughout the game is in fact Ghirahim, but he only acts as a servant to Demise.
I really like Demise’s design, he truly emanates an aura of pure evil and malice. The final battle with him is quite simply … epic. Phenomenal battle music, a breathtaking battlefield, and a genuinely tricky but enjoyable battle against him.
But most importantly, Demise gives us answers.
The main villain of the Legend Of Zelda series is Ganon, and it was never incredibly clear to fans of the series why Ganon keeps appearing across the various titles … until Demise is defeated in Skyward Sword! It is at this point where Demise leaves his curse behind, claiming that his hatred will be reborn over and over to haunt Link and Zelda’s descendants in a never ending cycle – and this is the explanation for Ganon.
As a long time Zelda fan, I will always remember experiencing that battle for the first time, to then have that bomb-shell dropped.
3. Frau Engel
Wolfenstein’s Frau Engel is simply put … evil. She is a devoted Nazi, so devoted in fact that she states the Nazi agenda is more important to her than her own daughter.
You will bear witness to her evil personality a number of times throughout Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.
The New Order features a disturbing cutscene where Engel’s face has been horribly disfigured, and she gets right into Blazcowicz’s face to taunt him, before being flung aside by B.J.’s companion controlling a robot mech.
In The New Colossus, she relentlessly hunts down the protagonist B.J. Blazcowicz, even going so far as to get his father to lure him into a trap, where she then captures him and beheads him on national TV.
There are probably few characters who you will find yourself hating more than this Nazi (which really is a testament to the character’s design), and so I would say that Frau Engel is one of the greatest video game antagonists out there.
Now, if you haven’t played Portal, chances are you’ve at least heard of Portal.
GLaDOS is the main antagonist of the game, and wow, is she a good one. She hates you. She really hates you. She does not have a problem showing you how much she hates you. Never has there been a more sadistic, sarcastic, sassy character. She is always ready and prepared to chastise you for whatever action you’re about to make.
But everything she does is in the name of science, and if you cooperate you get cake. Right?
One more thing – Still Alive. Once you complete Portal and the credits roll, GLaDOS starts to sing. And as it turns out, GLaDOS can sing!
Ganondorf of The Legend Of Zelda series, the third Zelda entry on this list … I wonder if that might be one of my favourite franchises?
Ganondorf is just one half of the character though, as he can transform into Ganon, which is his beast form. He appears across a number of Zelda games, and in each instance there is a powerfully unique design.
My first encounter with Ganondorf was in Ocarina Of Time, and I was instantly taken by him as an antagonist! He has such an obvious air of evil and power, which is fitting for the bearer of the Triforce of Power.Ganondorf feels like a truly epic force to overcome in this game, especially by the time you reach the second part of the game – seven years after he steals the Triforce and reshapes Hyrule as he sees fit.
In Wind Waker he is actually referred to as Ganon, even though he is still in his Gerudo form. His appearance in Wind Waker is a stark contrast to the bright, bubbly setting that is the Great Sea. Such a strong design, and an excellent final boss battle to boot – he absolutely left his mark on this game.
Twilight Princess didn’t reveal Ganondorf until later in the game, with the main antagonist appearing to be Zant – but Zant was in fact acting in service of Ganondorf, who he reveres as a God. Once again Ganondorf has an excellent design, but what truly stands out for me is the spectacular multi-stage final boss battle. First he possesses Zelda’s body and attacks through her, and then transforms into his massive beast form … the next stage is a heart-pounding horseback battle on a huge open field, until finally Link and Ganondorf face off in a one-on-one sword fight.
Ganondorf makes more appearances across the series, but for me these are the stand-out appearances that make him my all time favourite antagonist of all gaming franchises.
Protagonist’s are pretty important. More often than not they will be the one on a game’s box art, and they’re the ones who you will be spending most of your time with in-game. Getting a protagonist right is a pretty crucial part of designing a video game – who wants to play a game where they hate the main character?
So I thought why not share some of my favourite protagonists, and the reasons why I love them!
10. Jonathon Reid
Vampyr’s Jonathon Reid is an intriguing character. Besides his devilishly suave fashion sense that puts my wardrobe to shame, and his cheek bones that are sharp enough to be used as a weapon, he has an internal struggle that he must come to terms with as you progress through the game.
As a doctor, he is sworn to cure the sick. But as a vampyr, he is thirsty for human blood. This rather different plot point means that you have the option to decide what the good doctor will do, and how he will react to the various opportunities that are presented to him.
In general, I just really like Dr Reid’s character design, and he would probably be among my top picks for potential cosplay ideas … if I could actually grow a beard as slick and suave as that!
9. Max Caulfield
I find Max Caulfield way too relatable. Awkward? Yep. Geeky? Yep. Takes too many selfies? Yep.
Because of this, I feel like I developed a quick connection with Max as I played through Life Is Strange. I found myself feeling incredibly sympathetic towards her choices and problems, making the gameplay all the more impactful for me.
In particular, there is one scene which destroyed me, the end of Episode 3. It was so heartbreaking, because I knew that I would want to do the same thing for my friends, as she did for Chloe. Seeing the consequences of these actions was devastating, and it was enough to make me cry (a rare occurence – kudos to you, Life Is Strange).
So the main reason why Max finds herself on this list is for using her relatable personality to build up our connection, only to tear me apart with phenomenal story-telling.
The Villager. He/she doesn’t have much to say (or anything … at all), and yet they’re full of personality!
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the villager is in fact the mayor of the village! And what a good mayor they are! Pulling weeds, planting flower bed, bringing in new and exotic fruits, investing in the development of the town, donating bugs, fish, fossils and artworks to the museum, and still finding the time to wander about the village, greeting the residents and checking in on them, doing the occasional favour for them and forming lasting friendships… what? That doesn’t sound familiar to you?
That might be because you know the villager from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! The villager has brought a lot of tools to the fight, like an umbrella, a watering can, a pot, balloons, and even an axe!
Even when the villager is brawling with enemies, they still manage to maintain their sweet disposition!
7. Squall Leonhart
Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII is my favourite protagonist from the franchise.
He is cold and unfeeling on the outside, but inside he is surprisingly insightful, and even somewhat sensitive. His voice is trapped in his head as he struggles to express himself, so he remains silent and stoic.
As the game progresses, Rinoa Heartilly and others eventually manage to pull him out of his head, and we get to see Squall finally express himself and grow as a person.
On top of this I really enjoy Squall’s design. His appearance meets what you would expect when you think of a “cold, uncaring mercenary”, and his weapon of choice was quite unique for the time of the game’s release – the gunblade!
6. Commander Shepard
Well, why wouldn’t you love Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard?
First, thanks to the Renegade/Paragon system, Shepard can actually be portrayed as two very different characters, who make very different choices through their space journey.
I’m a goody-two-shoes, so Paragon is my preferred option, but I have played a Renegade Shep, and that can be just as fun.
Shepard is also quite the romancer, but then I suppose if you were trapped with the same people on a spaceship for so long, it might be difficult to not want to jump into bed with the person in the next cabin.
With all the different paramour options, it leads to lots of different cutscenes and romance plots which help build Shepard’s character even further.
A galactic hero who is known across the galaxy for his deeds, and can pretty much have whoever he wants. As a certain Cerberus agent once said, “Shepard is a hero, a bloody icon”.
Aloy, the protagonist of Horizon: Zero Dawn, is another character where I don’t have anything bad to say about her.
She has a spectacular design, with stunning details to her player model. She has a good heart and always wants to help the people in need who she comes across without so much as a second thought.
She is strong and intelligent, and empathetic, with a quiet dignity – she truly is a remarkable character.
4. Peter Parker
Anyone who has read my Spiderman post will know how I feel about this rendition of Peter Parker – I love him.
He looks good with an excellent character design, he has access to a whole wardrobe of Spidey suits (once you unlock them), and he has the goofy sense of humour and awkward social skills that we all expect to see!
I have honestly never enjoyed Spiderman as much as I have whilst I have been playing this game, and that is really saying something.
3. Arthur Morgan
Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan is another character that can be played in a number of different ways.
His appearance can differ so much thanks to the huge variety of customisation options that we have been given, so you can dress him up as a roguish cowboy, or a suave gunslinger, or however you want him to look!
Arthur will be presented with a great deal of moral choices as he progresses in his journey through the West. Sometimes it can be difficult to see exactly what is on Arthur’s mind as he makes these choices … or rather, as you make these choices. Thankfully, Mr Morgan keeps a rather detailed journal, where he writes about all the people he meets and what he gets up to, and even jots down a quick sketch of wildlife and flora as he finds them in the world!
The journal is what truly bonds you with the character, as you read his innermost thoughts about what is going on around him. My first play through I ignored the journal, my second play through I read it as I progressed. The difference in how you perceive Arthur as a result of reading the journal is huge.
By the time you reach the final mission, you know there’s only one way that it’s going to end, and you find yourself not wanting to start the mission. That’s how I felt anyway!
2. The Inquisitor
Again, we have a character that is shaped however you see fit.
With intense character customisation, and things like your race and class affecting the story in various different ways, there are lots of different ways to play as the Inquisitor.
Once again you will have many opportunities to show what kind of character you are through dialogue options and important quest decisions.
I have had several play throughs of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and each one feels so vastly different based on the choices I make, it really makes it feel like each decision you make is important.
Much like Commander Shepard, the Inquisitor has a number of different romance options, and I feel very much the same way about how these pan out – excellent character building, and not just for the inquisitor, but for the romanced characters too!
Also if you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time crafting the best armour and weapons for the Inquisitor, and tinting them as well so that you truly look the part!
Link … which Link?
Link from Ocarina Of Time was the one who got me into the Zelda franchise in the first place, and by extension video games in general. In my eyes, this Link made the famous green tunic truly iconic across the franchise, as he was the first Link to have such a strong character design in game.
Link from Breath Of The Wild has to take top spot though. The Zelda team outdid themselves when designing him! With a huge assortment of clothing options to choose from, including classic green tunics for those who are lucky enough to own the matching Link amiibo, Link can truly look however you want him to look!
This version of the hero also has a lot of skills that have not been seen so far in a Zelda game! He’s a strong climber, able to scale sheer cliffs! And put him in the right clothes, he’ll even swim up a waterfall for you! He can even surf his shield down slopes! If you want a less intense way down, why not just jump and paraglide down?
Link even takes on cooking in this adventure, and he must love it if his little hum is anything to go by! And he loves his food too, with a satisfying tummy pat whenever you eat a meal!
Make sure to watching his temperature though, he’ll need to wear special clothes or drink elixirs to survive in some of Hyrule’s more harsh climates. But the clothes and elixirs won’t stop Link from having rosy red cheeks as he traverses through the extreme temperatures!
One skill he still has not picked up, is one of the most basic skills of all. Speech! I know that Link is mute to allow you as the player to better assimilate yourself as the protagonist in your head, and I guess it works because I have no problem imagining that!
In light of the new remaster that has just hit the current generation of consoles, I figured I would talk about one of my favourite games from one of my favourite franchises .. Final Fantasy VIII!
I never actually owned this on the Playstation, but got this when it hit the Playstation 3, and I was simply enthralled. It is unlike any other Final Fantasy game that I have played with it’s unique junctioning system, where you enhance the members of your party by assigning the various GFs (Guardian Forces) to them, along with magic which you must “draw” from the monsters around the world.
As with any game in the series, the characters are all wildly unique in their own way, with a variety of weapons and personalities. The new remastered version brings us refreshed character models, so the party have never looked better!
The characters are in fact some of my favourite throughout the whole series – in particular, Squall Leonhart, Quistis Trepe, and Seifer Almasy. Squall is my favourite of all the Final Fantasy protagonists, and Seifer is a fantastic rival character in my opinion.
The character development that takes place as you progress through the story is very deep and emotional, though I won’t mention anything specific to avoid spoilers for the sake of the people who may not have played this game yet.
This is a long game, one that you will need to sink many hours into if you want to complete the story, let alone complete everything. The original Playstation version had 4 game discs as it was such a large game. There are lots of optional areas to explore, particularly in the second half of the game, lots of enemies to fight, cards to collect and card games to win, and there are GFs for you to find.
There are some interesting themes that are tackled in the story, personal growth, memory loss, love and fate, not to mention the controversial nature of a school dedicated to training teens to become an army of elite mercenaries!
The remastered version has actually added a few features that help you blitz through the story, which I would say have been added specifically for those of us who have already completed the challenge of the game, and simply want to experience the story again. There is a fast forward setting which allows you to play x3 times faster (but keeps the music at the regular frequency thankfully), a boost mode which gives the party full health and full limit break, and a no encounters option which of course turns off random encounters. Personally I am definitely making use of the x3 mode, as one of my favourite parts of these kind of games is grinding, levelling, all the things that most gamers would probably complain about!
This is absolutely one of my favourites, and definitely what I would consider a classic. I would say the remastered version is well-deserved, and I’m really looking forward to completing it!
Platform: Playstation, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 11/02/1999-23/03/2000 (Region and platform Dependant)