Here's a question to test your memory. Can you think back and remember the first video game character that you really fell in love with? Perhaps it was an iconic gaming personality that we all know - or perhaps it was somebody more obscure? Whoever it is, we're interested in hearing about him or her.
As usual, while you ponder your answer, here's the USgamer team with theirs.
This answer will really date me, but the first video game character I really liked was one of the earliest of them all - the yellow spherical dot-gobbler known as Pac-Man.
I distinctly remember two brand new Pac-Man coin-ops being wheeled into my local arcade while I was hanging out there with friends. The arrival of new machines was always an event back in 1980, and we all crowded around while they were installed next to the Missile Command and Asteroids coin-ops. As soon as they were turned on, one of my friends dropped a coin into one of the machines and started playing, without even watching the attract mode. We had no idea what the game was about, but it didn't take long to learn: It was obvious that the objective was to eat the dots, and it took just one collision with a ghost to realize that they were the enemy. What took a little bit longer to figure out, though, was that you could eat the ghosts after munching through a power pill. We initially thought it just made them run away and that they remained deadly to the touch, but when one of us accidentally ran into one when it was blue and scored some points, the light bulb went on.
From then on we all took turns playing, and quickly made progress. By the time I ran out of money, I'd notched up a pretty impressive day one high score and had conquered the first five or so levels - and I was hooked on the game! It was unlike anything else, and I really loved the Pac-Man character. At a time when most games were shooters, and didn't have any kind of personality, Pac-Man really stood out as something exciting and new.
Over the next few weeks, as we developed ever more efficient ways of moving around the maze, we realized that as we repeated our movements, the ghosts always reacted in the same way. That completely changed up our strategy: Rather than playing "freestyle" and reacting to the ghosts' movement, we instead started to develop and learn patterns that enabled us to clear screen after screen without dying. By the end of the Summer, I could get to the ultimate level of the game where the power pills stopped working - but I never did figure out the pattern to clear it. I just didn't have that much money!
Though I vastly prefer the subsequent incarnations to the original, the first character I really jammed with was the original Blue Bomber, Mega Man. I've always loved when the hero and his counterparts shared the same origins and powers. It's a great concept in shows like Kamen Rider and Casshern, and it remains a great concept in Mega Man
I admit, I probably read farther into the concept than Capcom did back in the day. I always felt Mega Man was horribly conflicted about taking down those of his own kind, regardless of if that fall in evil was by choice or brainwashing. Even worse, when he defeated certain robots, he would take on their powers. Young Mike thought that Mega Man probably gained some of their memories as well, making it a bittersweet situation.? (I was a kid with a lot of free time and an overactive imagination.)
The original Mega Man has since been overtaken by… pretty much every other version of Mega Man. X, EXE, both sets of ZX characters, and even GEO are more complex, naunced character than the original. (I have no experience with volnutt, sorry.) But back in the day, Mega Man was the first character that I played and thought, "Hey, I'd love to be him." He was the one I spent most of my time thinking about. And Mega Man ultimately led to all the other characters listed above.
I know this is a cliched answer, but I'll just get on with it. Metroid 2 was my first real introduction to the series, so I wasn't aware of the big twist at the end of the original game (Spoiler: Samus is a girl!) All I saw was a person in (some very cool) power armor, and I didn't think anything of it until a friend of mine excitedly told me that Samus is actually a girl. I actually didn't believe her at first because the power armor seemed so masculine, and because most of the women I had seen in games to that point had been princesses. But sure enough, Samus was revealed to be a woman when the credits ran, and I was delighted.
From then on she was my favorite Nintendo character, and she's remained first in my heart ever since. Thanks, Samus, for showing me that women can wear power armor too.
Mario. I know, I know--my answer's pretty boring. But what can I say? I was born in the early '80s. And, being a tiny animation addict, I blame the boldly cartoony arcade cabinet art of Mario Bros. for initially drawing me in: Something about those early character designs evoked the same sensibilities of Fleischer Popeye cartoons--which definitely served as an inspiration for Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto. And playing Super Mario Bros. shortly afterwards only sealed the deal for me.
As a kid trying to pin down my interests, Nintendo's 1985 platformer turned video games from a fun curiosity into an outright lifestyle. To be honest, I don't think I ever identified with Mario as a character--as if such a thing were possible--but that didn't matter: He's always been a fun character to watch move around the screen.
So I guess I have to commend Nintendo for their ongoing efforts to infect the minds of children, because they certainly did a number on me close to 30 years ago. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my daily loyalty oath.
I guess the first video game character I felt a strong bond with was the noble Descendant of Erdrick -- the titular Dragon Warrior. Uh, since Dragon Warrior is a role-playing game, and you are technically Erdrick’s progeny, does that mean I admired myself? Wow, psychologists would love to pick apart that little tidbit.
But it’s hard not to form a kind of weird digital friendship with yourself when you’re tasked with slaying dragons and saving the world. It helps that I first played Dragon Warrior during the height of my plentiful awkward years, when my near-sighted, stringy-haired, appendicitis-stricken self was anything but a hero, physically or emotionally.
I was also super-hardcore into fantasy and stories, and I was still slightly blown away by how Super Mario Bros wove a narrative into its gameplay, however sparse. So along comes Dragon Warrior, and suddenly I have tons of people to talk to. I started to understand the consequences of my quest. I realized the reasons why I had to go out there alongside Erdrick’s child and save the realm. I even swept up Princess Gwaelin into my arms and carried her back home from the dark, stinking depths of a dragon’s lair. Oh gosh, I felt so heroic.
Then I sold everyone out to the Dragon Lord, who crashed my game. Hooray for Nadia, champion of Erdrick’s bloodline!
Ah, I was going to say Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man, because those two were totally the equivalent of Angry Birds to a kindergartener in the early ’80s, but I see someone's already waxed rhapsodic about the guy. That's fine! I can just as easily, and honestly, say Donkey Kong.
Emphasis on Donkey Kong here, not Mario. Back when the first Donkey Kong game hit arcades, we didn't know from "Mario." He was just the jumpman, an anonymous dude climbing ladders and dying a lot. He became the bad guy in the next game, and totally got pushed out of the third one! Mario was a chump. But Donkey Kong… he was cool.
The thing about Donkey Kong was, he was huge. This gigantic gorilla hanging out at the top of the screen, pounding his chest, tossing barrels, and forever abducting the lady to climb to some higher perch on a ruined construction project. I knew Donkey Kong before I knew King Kong, so the reference was lost on me… but what wasn't lost on me was the fact that DK had more personality and presence than anything I'd ever seen in a video game before.
It certainly didn't hurt that Nintendo's licensing all centered more around Kong than it did Mario. I cherished the sticker book I had filled with puffy Donkey Kong stickers (some of which had googly eyes affixed to make them extra fancy!). And the sticker with Kong digging into a bowl of coins with the motto "I EAT QUARTERS" emblazoned over his head — well, friends, that was A+ prime comedy material right there. Kong was everything. I'm still annoyed about poorly they treated him in the Donkey Kong Country games....