Not all video games are created equal, especially in the old days. Back then, it wasn’t the most skilled, or the most knowledgeable player, that won the game – it was the one who grabbed the controller first.
Even though players of Overwatch, or the latest popular military shooter, might disagree, multiplayer games are a lot more balanced now than they used to be. This is due to patches and online functionality. Take a game like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, for example. Meta Knight was overpowered to the point of being banned in most tournaments. The current Smash Bros. games on the 3DS/Wii U have the ability to apply patches. This has allowed for the characters to become more balanced over time (like Diddy Kong), and has prevented another Meta Knight situation. The fact that players can play each other online has allowed the community to identify unfair advantages a lot faster, allowing the games to be changed accordingly.
Such modern advantages were not available during the old days of gaming. You just prayed that the developer knew what they were doing. We are here today to look at the characters that the canny player would select in order to get one over on their friends. From the Genetic Pokémon, to the small guy with the sharp hat, here are the 15 Classic Video Game Characters Everyone Wanted To Play As.
15. Mewtwo – Pokémon
The Legendary Pokémon began with three birds and a science project gone wrong. In Pokémon Red & Blue, the three Legendary Birds were some of the most powerful (and difficult to catch) creatures in the game. If the Elite Four were giving you trouble, then you could hunt down Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno to give you a hand. With those three in your group, the Pokémon Championship would be yours.
Once you complete the game, you got the chance to catch the most powerful Pokémon of all – Mewtwo. There are no “ifs” or “buts” on this, Mewtwo is the most powerful Pokémon in the first generation, and has remained among the most powerful in subsequent games.
The most recent Pokémon titles have given Mewtwo a further boost with Mega Evolutions. If you transform Mewtwo into Mega Mewtwo Y, then his stats will grow to new heights of unfairness. Not even Arceus himself can stand against this new Mewtwo.
If you were playing Pokémon Red or Blue with your friends, and you put a Mewtwo in your team, then your chances of victory would rise substantially. The only way that your opponent could counter this is by adding a Mewtwo (or two) of their own. It is for this reason that most players will impose a soft ban on Mewtwo, even in casual matches.
14. Axel – Streets Of Rage 2
It is rare for a video game genre to die out completely, especially with so many indie developers out there today. Sadly, that is the fate of the old beat ’em up genre of video games, the ones that were popularised by Double Dragon and Final Fight. Beat ’em up’s were highly successful on both home consoles and in the arcades. The genre has not aged well, however, and even the best games (like Turtles in Time) seem very primitive. Most games in the genre tended to be very short (a few hours at max), and have very simple gameplay.
Sega had two prominent beat ’em up series to call their own. The first was Golden Axe, which featured a high fantasy setting, filled with monsters and magic. The other was Streets of Rage, which was set in a gritty, modern era. Streets of Rage took a lot of inspiration from films like The Warriors, and featured a lot of improvised weapons and gang fighting.
Streets of Rage 2 is, perhaps, the most famous game in the series. Of the four playable characters, the best one to choose was Axel. This was due to his “Grand Upper” attack being the undisputed best move in the game. It dealt an incredible amount of damage, while also making Axel invincible through every frame of the attack.
13. Cable – Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
The most delicate issue when creating any fighting game is the implementation of ranged attacks. If they are going to be included, then there needs to be a significant drawback, otherwise players will use them nonstop. One way is to make them significantly weaker than melee attacks (a method that is used in a lot of Dragon Ball Z video games). Another is to give them a long charge time, or a limited reach (like in the Smash Bros. series).
If you are Capcom, then you could just not care at all, and put Cable from the X-Men into Marvel vs. Capcom 2. You can then give him lots of guns, and just let players fill the screen with laser fire.
Any player of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is likely familiar with the shout of “Viper Beam”. Most of Cable’s attacks involve him summoning a huge laser cannon, and firing massive beams of energy, while shouting “Viper Beam”. Even the lousiest player in the game can do well if they play Cable. Just hit the button and fill the screen with projectiles.
12. Baby Mario & Baby Luigi – Mario Kart: Double Dash
Mario Kart: Double Dash for the Nintendo GameCube was, perhaps, the most experimental game in the series. While the modern Mario Kart’s have mainly followed a rigid formula (with a few updates), Double Dash threw out the rule book, and just tried to be as fun as possible. It is for this reason that it is one of the most highly regarded games in the series.
Two of the main innovations regarding Double Dash include the multiple characters, and the unique items. Each Kart now had two racers, and you could switch between them at the press of a button. This allowed you to carry two items at once, and allowed for more strategic gameplay over the course of the match.
The unique items are what allowed the Baby versions of Mario & Luigi to stand out over the rest of the cast. Their unique item was the Chain Chomp . When the Chain Chomp was summoned, it not only knocks all of the other racers off the track that are in front of you, the A.I. also guides the Kart without you falling or taking damage. The Chain Chomp offered a safe ride, while everything in front of you was destroyed.
11. T.T. – Diddy Kong Racing
Nintendo has always held a strangle hold on the Kart racing genre of games. Mario Kart is the king, and nothing has ever came close. Crash Team Racing and Sonic Drift may have been fun alternatives for those who didn’t own a Nintendo console, but even those players who liked them knew that the games were off-brand knockoffs.
It is odd then, that Rare should also create a Kart racing game on a Nintendo system. Mario Kart 64 was more than satisfying the consumers needs, so releasing another would run the risk of being ignored. Despite this, Rare released Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64 to critical and commercial acclaim.
One of the most difficult characters to unlock in Diddy Kong Racing is T.T. (also known as TicToc). He is a clock man, whose role is to tell the player their best times on each track. Should you beat T.T. on every course in Track mode, then you will unlock him as a playable character. T.T. has the best stats in the game, and playing as him will give you a distinct advantage over your opponent.
10. The Zerg – Starcraft
The Starcraft series offers three playable races to choose from. You have the Terran race (basically the Space Marines from Warhammer 40k), the Protoss (high tech grey aliens), and the Zerg (the Xenomorph ripoffs).
Competitive Starcraft became a big business, especially in countries like South Korea, where the game was massively successful. As such, players looked for any possible advantage that they could use to win matches. Starcraft may be one of the most highly scrutinised games of all time when it comes to strategy.
One of the most popular tactics is known as the “Zerg Rush”. The Zerg race can create lots of cheap attack units for a low resource cost. This allowed players to create a small force that could attack other players while they were still setting up their base. It took longer for Terran/Protoss armies to produce units, so they would not be able to mount a proper defence in time. This tactic has been known to be banned at tournaments, through the use of rules that don’t allow engagement within a certain time limit.
9. The Wookies – Star Wars: Battlefront II
It must seem like the Empire gets all of the cool stuff in Star Wars. They get the Sith, the AT-ATs, the Tie Fighters, and the Star Destroyers. What do the Rebel Alliance have? Wookies! Luckily for the rebels, Wookies are awesome, especially in the Star Wars video games.
In Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the Wookie are hands down the best playable race in the game. After the Hero units, the Wookies are the most powerful characters to play as.
So what are the advantages of the Wookie? For one thing, they have massive amounts of health, almost twice as much as some other characters. This is an important thing to have in a Battlefront game, as most characters will die in a few hits, forcing a respawn. They can survive a hit from pretty much every attack in the game. In terms of offensive power, the Bowcaster can acts as both a close range gun and a sniper rifle. They also have access to a grenade launcher for when they need to take on groups of foes.
8. Starmie – Pokémon
The Legendaries are usually the most overpowered Pokémon in each generation, and even the most casual players would have no problem in banning them during a match. After all, if everyone just picked a team of six Mewtwos, then the game would get boring fast. This forces players to create a team from the numerous other Pokémon in existence, and it is here where most of the creativity in the game comes to play. The most friendly-seeming Pokémon in the game… like Chansey, can be turned into a killing machine with the right moves.
When it comes to the first generation of games, if you take the Legendaries out of the picture, then the most deadly Pokémon of all is Starmie. It has the perfect mixture of defensive and offensive moves. It can use Recover (a healing move) and both Double Team & Minimize (moves that drastically increase your evasion). Knowing those two moves alone would be bad enough, but it also possesses powerful attacking moves, like Blizzard and Thunderbolt.
Starmie’s other powerful feature is its typing – Psychic and Water. In the first generation of games, Psychic types were the most powerful in the game, due to them having no decent opposing types. Only Bug type moves did double damage to Psychic type Pokémon back then, and there were no decent Bug type Pokémon to equal the likes of Alakazam or Hypno.
7. Yoda – Soul Calibur IV
In Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, George Lucas abandoned the whole “size matters not” and “wars not make one great” philosophy, and turned the Jedi Master Yoda into a badass fighter. The whole thing about trusting in the Force was gone, and he was now a spinning cyclone of lightsaber death.
This character evolution would make its way into video games, and not just the Star Wars ones either. In Soul Calibur IV on the Xbox 360, Yoda was a console exclusive character. He would later make his way onto the PlayStation 3 version of the game, but as paid DLC.
Yoda is noticeably smaller than every other character in the game. This severely limits the amount of attacks that the other player can use against you, as he is immune to certain moves (such as throws). He isn’t considered a good character in competitive, and he won’t be much use to you in a tournament against players who know what they are doing. In a casual play environment, however, he is the terror of the newbies.
6. Ned Flanders – The Simpsons Wrestling
Ned Flanders is the best character in a fighting game? It’s always the one you least suspect.
The Simpsons Wrestling was a poorly received game on the original PlayStation. Despite the bad reviews, the game is fondly remembered by some for its adherence to the show’s humour. As the name implies, The Simpsons Wrestling was a professional wrestling video game that starred Simpsons characters. You got to play as the classic Simpsons characters, and wrestle in familiar locations (like the Nuclear Power Plant).
As you might expect, the characters all have special moves that are also references to the show. This is where Ned Flanders comes in. Once unlocked, Ned Flanders has a special move where he can call down lightning from the heavens. This acts as a projectile attack, with one of the highest damage outputs in the game. The lightning also stuns the enemy. He also needs to be defeated twice, as he will fully heal after his first pin recovery. Despite his otherwise weak stats, Ned Flanders’ god-given powers make him the best character in the game.
5. Gon – Tekken 3
The Soul Calibur series is the fighting game franchise that has become most associated with bringing in outside characters. Link from The Legend of Zelda, Spawn (from Image Comics), Heihachi (from Tekken), Yoda, Darth Vader, and the Apprentice (from Star Wars), and Ezio (from Assassin’s Creed) have all appeared in Soul Calibur games.
Tekken 3 was including non-related characters back during the original PlayStation era. The character of Gon was the star of his own manga series in Japan. Gon is a tiny dinosaur with a huge head. Due to his short stature, Gon is very difficult to hit with conventional moves. What he lacks in reach, Gon more than makes up for with his strength. His range of low attacks will force the enemy to crouch for the entire match, as they try desperately to hit the little dinosaur.
Those who have faced Gon in Tekken 3 should not be worried about facing him again. Series producer Katsuhiro Harada has confirmed on Twitter that Gon is not able to return due to licencing issues. His usage was a one time thing, and he will likely never return to the Iron Fist Tournament.
4. Eyedol – Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct was one of the most popular fighting games of the 16-bit era. Due to the game originating in the arcades, Killer Instinct was brutally difficult. This can be seen with the game’s end boss, Eyedol. Like his contemporaries in the “BS fighting game end boss” club (like Rugal and Azazel), Eyedol was a pain to beat. He was a two headed giant, armed with a club that he swung with unearthly strength. He could heal himself by stamping his hooves on the ground.
To the player who knew the secret codes, Eyedol was actually playable in both the Arcade and Super Nintendo versions of the game. Unlike some bosses who get watered down when made playable (like M. Bison), Eyedol is just as powerful when under the player’s control.
If you are playing the original Killer Instinct for the first time, and the other player has selected Cinder or Raptor, then watch out! Chances are that player is inputting the secret Eyedol code, and is getting ready to wreck you.
3. Old Sagat – Super Street Fighter II Turbo
Sagat has long been one of the best Street Fighter characters. Since his first (playable) appearance in Street Fighter II’: Champion Edition, Sagat has had almost no weaknesses as a character.
While Dhalsim has the best reach in the game (due to his extendable limbs), he is also very slow to move. Sagat has great reach with his long limbs, making him a far better alternative. As the games have went on, he has developed his own repertoire of moves that mirror those used by Ryu, Ken, and Akuma. He has the Tiger Uppercut to match the Shoryuken. He can fire a Tiger Shot to block the Hadoken. If faced with a spinning Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, he can counter with his own Tiger Knee.
In Super Street Fighter Turbo, if the player knows a certain code, then they can select O. Sagat. The O in this case stands for “Old”. Old Sagat is a much more powerful character than the already overpowered original. His recovery is much faster, and his hits are a lot stronger. It is for this reason that Old Sagat is banned in most competitive formats.
2. Wolf – Star Fox Assault
Don’t worry Wolf, Masahiro Sakurai might not love you, but we do. He’s just too busy filling Smash Bros. with his own favourite characters. Surely everyone was dying for Dark Pit to be in the game instead of you?
Star Fox Assault on the GameCube was a return to form for the series, after the bizarre action RPG known as Star Fox Adventures (which was originally an entirely different game, but was reworked to include Star Fox elements). The game has a popular multiplayer mode that is still enjoyed at gaming events to this day. The multiplayer starts off with a bare selection of options, but you can unlock more as you progress through the single player mode.
If you complete the game without letting any of your fellow pilots die, then you can play as Wolf O’Donnell in the multiplayer mode. Wolf has the best stats in the game, as he combines the best features of all of the other Star Fox characters. He is also the only character who can use the ship known as the Wolfen.
1. Oddjob – Goldeneye 007
Here he is, the most BS character in all of video game history. While Mortal Kombat has its fair share of overpowered characters (usually the playable boss monsters like Motaro), Goldeneye 007 has the king of them all. It is not immediately apparent that he is unbalanced. When a player picks a Giant Centaur in Mortal Kombat, they have probably guessed that he is unfairly powerful.
Oddjob is a special kind of BS, because it doesn’t become obvious that he is unfair until you have played a few matches against him. For you see, Oddjob’s 3D model is noticeably smaller than every other character in the game. The reason this is an issue is due to the Nintendo 64’s control scheme. Due to the N64 joypad only possessing one joystick, the player needed to use a separate D-Pad in order to aim. When most characters appear in front of you, they will already be at your aiming height, and you can start shooting. Oddjob is just small enough that you need to manually aim downwards in order to hit him. This movement gives him a chance to get several shots in, as the aiming was terribly slow in Goldeneye.
If you happen to play Goldeneye at a tournament or retro gaming event, be wary of the other players. Anyone who selects Oddjob knows about this trick, and is getting ready to exploit his height on the battlefield.