Game: Beyond Good & Evil
Reason: Thinks of the children
From earning daily bread in order to keep a power generator ticking over to foiling the plans of an evil empire by pamphlet warfare, Jade always keeps the welfare of her adopted family of stray rabbit, cat and bear children at the centre of her efforts. Porcine Uncle Pey’j, too, is like a father to the orphaned photojournalist, his cruel fate adding further fire to her desperate struggle to uphold the freedom of men, women and snuffling walrus babies everywhere.
9. Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Game: Assassin’s Creed series
Reason: Making the most of it
Your entire family are framed and murdered, and within hours you’ve been bumped down from cocky Florentine teen aristocrat to an outlaw, pursued through the streets for a crime you didn’t commit. While it would be tempting to hit the bottle, Ezio instead chooses to be reborn into the pristine white robes of his murdered father, and continue his work as an Assassin to rid history of the evil Templar menace. Dispensing with a corrupt Pope, countless dodgy aristocrats and a good chunk of the Borgia dynasty, Ezio builds a global Assassin army, before liberating Rome and turning his attention to a volatile Constantinople. Well into his fifties before he even considers taking a wife and settling down, Ezio’s initial revenge motive has been long replaced by a genuine desire for the common good.
8. Charlie Blackmore
Reason: Liberal outlook
Capitalism’s fine, but when it leaves you an abandoned pre-teen chimney sweep with a family enslaved into menial positions in a variety of corporate entertainment ventures, it’s possibly time for an uprising. That the tiniest Matryoshka in the world can literally and figuratively stack his way to the top, overthrowing the biggest and greediest, is Stacking’s genius, and one of gaming’s most glowingly transparent tales of love and justice triumphing over adversity.
7. Dr. Eggman
Game: Sonic The Hedgehog series
‘Nil desperandum’ is easier said than done, but the former Dr. Robotnik is surely the most shining beacon of persistence videogames have to offer. In over twenty years, he’s never faltered in his enthusiasm, ingenuity and – however he’s attained it – financial resources when it comes to his ambition to capture one solitary blue hedgehog. Swinging demolition balls, lakes of fire, cloned super-rodents, a whole brace of evil amusement parks and even an attempt to rewrite history have so far gained the ever-hopeful scientist absolutely no ground at all. But he’ll never give up; a franchise depends on it, after all.
6. Lara Croft
Game: Tomb Raider series
A lot of rubbish is talked about Lara these days. Yes, her body shape defied physics in a way that made even the pneumatically impossible Barbie look boyish. But consider the age in which she was born, in which women were prizes to be won after the final boss, or three-frame animated strippers to be proffered dollar bills in exchange for wiggling nipples, and Lara Croft was a true pioneer. She’s also moved with the times, to be reinvented next year as a more well-rounded character while at the same being less, erm, rounded, with it.
5. Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich
Game: Metal Gear Solid series
Reason: Inheriting the Earth
Apparently designed by Hideo Kojima to legitimise the stereotype of the anime geek by making him a hero, Otacon’s function in the Metal Gear Solid series is to fight evil by using his considerable intelligence rather than guns or muscles. He’s done well so far; from helping Solid ‘Dave’ Snake destroy the first Metal Gear on Shadow Moses to founding a secret organisation to disable a lot more of them in the years that followed. Never letting go of his love for giant robots and inability to talk to women, Otacon remains a refreshingly dyed-in-the-wool nerd despite his successes.
4. Ray McCall
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood
Reason: Finding God
It’s rare for a videogame to focus on the absolution of a deeply flawed individual, and rarer still to do so through the good ole’ power of the Lord. A prequel to a game in which he was an ass-kicking fire-and-brimstone Reverend, Bound in Blood show’s Ray’s transformation from drunken gunslinging hellion, selfishly pursuing the love of his brother’s life, to a man entirely at peace with himself who makes heartwarming amends by carrying out the eventual wedding ceremony himself.
3. Chibi Robo
Game: Chibi Robo
Reason: Small man, big difference
Too sweet-natured to even sport a Napoleon Complex, Chibi Robo proves that a simple desire to get your work done every day can pay dividends, even if you’re only three inches tall. From picking up discarded sweet wrappers to scraping up canine paw prints with a toothbrush, the Happy Points are rolling in for Chibi Robo’s adopted dysfunctional family as soon as he’s out of his box. Reuniting the family and even stopping an alien invasion are soon all within the grasp of the tiny plug-in hero.
2. Professor Oak
Game: Pokémon series
‘You have forgotten to treat your Pokémon with trust and love!’ Professor Oak chastises the hero’s rival following his inevitable failure at the Pokémon League. The secret to success, the Professor believes, is for people and Pokémon to work in perfect harmony – living, working and fighting together – to build an inexplicable bond. Sure, it’s still glorified cock fighting, but it’s got /heart/.
Game: The Legacy Of Kain series
A greedy nobleman who trades his soul for a vampiric unlife, Kain’s legacy becomes a twisting and convoluted series of evil and selfish deeds, spelling the end of civilisation in the land of Nosgoth, and, ultimately, the life of the land itself. And yet when he realises his every action and decision has, in fact, been manipulated by unseen forces, Kain has the cojones to challenge the whole of existence and defy fate at the last possible second. Considered the bad guy for four whole games, the revelation that his every dark action was a smokescreen for a wider good makes him one of gaming’s bravest martyrs.