Listening to the soothingly random melodies of Hayama Harbor’s Beat FM and attempting to avoid doing other people’s work I find myself thinking, “Jason, who are your favorite fighting game characters?”
I tend to think to myself in third person just in case someone decides to make a movie using my thoughts it’ll seem more dramatic.
I know this list would be impossibly long if I included all of the characters I like for comedy reasons such as Mortal Kombat’s color guard ninjas or Street Fighter Alpha’s Dan who was essentially designed to lose. I also couldn’t include characters that just look cool like Basara from Samurai Shodown (or Samurai Spirits for you total wankers) who would twitch about the screen, laughing manically as he drove his chain-blade thing through the nether and into Rimoruru. She deserved it, thought, what with her trying to replace Nakoruru and all. Plus she had a pet ice-cube. That's just taking the anime-stereotype of cute sidekicks a bit too far.
So what are my choices based on? Playability, looks, and level of bad-assness which I realize isn’t even a word so shut up. Bad-assness, by the way, is allowed to override playability and looks but this only happens once and it’s at the very beginning so let’s get it over with now.
- Shang-Tsung (Mortal Kombat 2) -
Mortal Kombat may be a silly, clunky game with digitized people running around in pajamas but it still, to this day, has one of the coolest gimmicks a character could ever have in a fighting game: the ability to turn into any and every fighter in the game at will.
Oh others have tried but none have come close to Shang-Tsung from Mortal Kombat 2. It was bad enough that he was a boss who could do this in the original but now he was playable and provided you weren’t playing the game on one of the CD based systems the player now had the power of becoming Sub-Zero and then Baraka, usually by accident.
Why do I exclude the CD systems? Because I hate you. No no, that’s not true. The truth is the early CD systems sucked at ram management and obviously a character that could become every possible character in the game was a memory hog so you’d either get load time during a match or simply be limited to only turning into your opponent and we all know how fun those Sub-Zero Vs. Sub-Zero fights can be:
“So, we’re both frozen.”
“We have been for a while now.”
“Why are we even playing this pile? Don’t we have better games?”
“Never mind…the timer’s bound to run out soon.”
The trick, and it could easily be done again (and better) was that every character that he could turn into was determined by a button combination such as Forward, Forward, Back, Back, Low Kick. As mentioned before this stuff could be done by accident seeing as how all of the special moves in the game were of the same, stiff ilk.
Regardless, he was a great character. He had all of his own moves plus the hundreds of others available in the game. So you can keep your Inferno, Edge Master, Twelve, and that Spinal guy from Killer Instinct. Shang-Tsung is where it’s at.
- Lilith (Vampire Savior) -
Sure she’s kind of a clone of Morrigan and technically also a minor so many things about her should be quite illegal but she’s so cute! She even skips when she’s being moved forward! Her discovery of self awareness is a little disturbing (essentially “So this is blood? I think…I like it”) but she controls so smoothly and giggles as she maims her opponents that any deep psychological issues she or the player may have are easily ignored.
For the record I don’t use her special attack where her clothes burst off in a flurry of bats because I’m a pervert who gets his jollies off of the pixilated fan service of a character who can’t be more than 14. It’s a good attack, I swear! I feel like I have to shower having wrote this paragraph. Thanks a lot.
- Sagat (Street Fighter Alpha series) -
Why in the world…HOW in the world did this man become a kick boxer? Look at him! Something terrible happened between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II. In Street Fighter Alpha, the in-between game, Sagat was apparently experimenting with a dozen different flavors of steroids for he grew another four feet, his chest exploded into a mess of random muscles, and his hands were now larger than Cammy’s all to proud posterior. He was still annoying, what with his little tiger fireballs that covered the crouching and standing positions, but the man could now seriously hurt you with an uppercut that hit multiple times. If that’s not convincing enough that he eats punks like your for breakfast he had a super move called “Tiger Genocide” and any move with the word genocide in it usually means you’re going to lose even if you do manage to block it.
Sagat also has a giant scar on his chest and wears an eye patch. He chuckles and bursts into mirthful laughter once his opponents have been crushed into barely recognizable lumps of putty. He simply could not be any cooler than this.
- Cervantes (Soul Edge series) -
Unless, of course, you were anything like Cervantes. Pirate? Check. Undead zombie? Check. Possessed by evil demon? That’s a check plus!
From his beginnings as the boss with amazing Tilt-o-Whirl stage to the cinema that had him tearing his face off similar to Scorpion (hmmm), Cervantes de Leon is no stranger to making opponents scream “cheap” in whiney, puberty-afflclicted voices.
I can not express the (admittedly sad) euphoria felt by my good friend Aaron and myself when it was revealed that Cervantes would be in the Dreamcast port (remake) of Soul Calibur. Little did we realize how much more incredible they would make him. Aside from being fast, powerful, and a pirate he’s got a lot of variety so it’s always entertaining watching battles with him.
It should also be known that I once won a tournament using him. I won the (bootleg) Soul Calibur soundtrack which I actually already owned but it was a glorious victory for undead pirates everywhere. Cervantes, I tip my hat to you were I wearing one.
- Ivy (Soul Calibur) -
Soul Calibur was an amazing game, almost totally rewriting the slower paced, Virtua Fighter-like Soul Edge into a fast paced game with so much freedom and variety that anyone could pick it up and play. Provided, of course, they did not play as Ivy.
Ivy was slow, had very few combos, and had a very awkward weapon; a sword that would turn into a whip seemingly at random. Those foolish enough to choose her simply based on her sexy outfit were in for a world of pain and humiliation.
Once you learn how to play her though people will hate you. Living off of the patented 8-way run technology Ivy annoyed everyone from a distance; stabbing, tripping, and whipping with her wacky, demon-forged sword. She could pull you in from afar, run you through, and then kick you in the back of the head with her spiked heels, sending you tumbling over the side of the ring feeling stupid and used.
Ivy featured a wonderful, anime-like dominating laugh and beady pupils which fit perfectly because she was insane. She’s also the daughter of Cervantes. Anybody related to Cervantes gets bonus points.
- Astaroth (Soul Calibur) -
Jeez, three characters from the Soul Edge universe and what? One from Street Fighter? I’m sure that enrages somebody but who cares, it’s my damn list. Get your own so you can put all of the Akumas and Guiles you want on it. Loser.
Astaroth belongs on this list for one reason and one reason alone. He’s a big slow character who I can totally kick people’s butts with. I realize that might seem like two reasons but that’s only if you’re reading too much into an article about the favorite fighting game characters of someone you probably don’t even know. Loser.
Player 2 using the Player 1 weapon, that’s my formula for destruction. A big, purple demon wearing a faceless mask, sporting what appear to be natural rock formations protruding from his back, and wielding an axe that is nothing more than a giant slab of metal attached to a large tree branch. He will hurt you and make you cry.
Very few fighting games make you really feel or at least flinch at the on-screen attacks. Samurai Shodown does this quite well with it’s magic slow down and grotesque sound effects. Soul Calibur uses sound, lighting, and, best of all, body language to express just how painful it is for Maxi to be struck across the face with the broadside of a giant axe.
Coincidentally Astaroth also giggles a lot. I’m starting to notice a small trend in my favorite characters having dark senses of humor.
- Team Ikari (Ralf, Clark, Leona, Heidern, and I guess Whip) (King of Fighters series) -
Who does SNK think they are kidding? Team Ikari is nothing without Ralf and Clark. Having survived their battle with generic jungle-themed troops and, um, space aliens, apparently the US Army or whoever decided that having them secretly enter a street fighting tournament would help them locate the current evil bad guy of the world. You’d think it might be a little obvious to these evil bad guys seeing an elite squad of army commandos join the tournament you set up but they’re probably too busy printing out detailed copies of their plans to take over the world and methods of stopping them to pass out as promotional flyers at the afore mentioned tournaments.
Anyhow, Ralf and Clark are brilliant. Not literally, of course, which becomes pretty obvious when they first appear, striking Power Ranger like special poses or screaming for no apparent reason. Ralf is definitely the cooler of the two, whipping out his bandana and screaming at it before each match. Clark’s got sunglasses and a hat which I guess is cool if you’re an 80’s airforce pilot stereotype. If there were a KOF yaoi doujinshi (which there are) starring Ralf and Clark (which should never, ever be) Ralf would definitely be the spastic little boy and Clark the tall, silent, brooding child molester.
Signature moves for the two include Ralf’s amazing machine gun punch (think Fist of the Northstar except with strange explosions and fire) which he can do while moving across the screen without actually moving his legs and Clarks ten minute long suplex of death where he chucks you into the air for pretty much the entire match and then makes fun of your mother. Yeah, I’m probably exaggerating that last bit but if you get caught in this thing that’s pretty much what it feels like.
- Wan-Fu (Samurai Shodown 2) -
Wan-Freaking-Fu. He pretty much sucked in the first game being nothing more than a fat man from China with a sword which are a dime a dozen in fighting games (not really, but whatever). Who could have known that replacing his weapon with a large stone pillar would make him so great? Suddenly his attacks just felt like they did twenty times more damage (partially thanks to the game’s clever though quite possibly inadvertent use of slow down). He’d smack you across the face with it, fling it down from the air like a blazing meteorite, or even whack his head against it to charge his super meter.
I’m sure the pillar has some sort of story behind it, like it was taken from the castle of his ancestors and contains the remains of his late brother’s daughter who he accidentally killed while throwing his old sword around at random, however it doesn’t matter. It’s a giant rock and he hurts people with it then laughs as if he’s reading from a cue card. "Ha ha ha ha," he yells, pausing in between each "ha."
- Jacky and Sarah Bryant (Virtua Fighter series) -
Virtua Fighter proved to be a very difficult decision as far as who my favorite characters were. Pai and Lau Chan were a close second, but Jeffery McWild and Wolf uh…Wolf somebody were also considerations. Then there’s Kage, Aoi, and Vanessa. Curse you, AM2!
Jacky and Sarah beat the others, though, because of a few reasons. Both are quite playable and possess some painful moves (such as Jacky’s back breaker and Sarah’s, um, nut breaker?). Both also sport magical catch phrases. For example:
Jacky: “I’m faster than lightning”
Sarah: “Better run home to momma now.”
Jacky was also the arch nemesis of Kage when my friend Jay and I would battle to the death in old games of Fighter’s Megamix. In the game’s story line he’s a race car driver seeking to help his amnesiac sister (Sarah, duh) who, coincidentally, is trying to kill him.
I’ll also state right here, right now, that Sarah’s character model in the arcade version of VF4 is the best looking model in any 3D fighting game to date. Seriously.
So, that’s it. You may be disappointed by the fact that there are only nine entries here but if you’re actually reading this list chances are that you are more than used to disappointment by now.