Doing these top 10 lists is pretty fun, so I thought I’d make some more. At first, I limited this list only to ‘Main Characters’ or ‘Heroes’. But then I realize that I don’t even have that much number of protagonists that I like. I mean, I can’t really think of a protagonist that I hate so bad, but there are only one or two of them that I really ‘like’.
So, let’s see who these guys are.
This post will contain spoilers from a number of games / animes where these characters are starred. Please proceed at your own risk.
York Neely [Yuuto] (Cross Edge)
York gets an honorable mention because … well … he’s cool. He’s the cliché hot-headed JRPG hero, but you gotta admit that he looks pretty cool. His gun techniques, while some looks corny, are pretty badass as well.
Leon Belmont (Castlevania: Lament of Innocence)
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is very much a ‘prequel’ of the whole series. Leon’s fiancée was kidnapped by a vampire, so he left everything behind to save her. However, he was too late and she was already bitten into a vampire. The ill-fated girl asks her fiancé to sacrifice her life and give the birth of the legendary ‘Vampire Killer’ whip. Leon tackles the vampire and announces that from this day on, ‘The Belmont Clan will hunt the night’.
10 – Arumat P. Thanatos (Star Ocean: The Last Hope)
Uh…Well…I wrote about Arumat here once in my Star Ocean: The Last Hope review, so I guess I don’t need to speak much here.
Yup. He uses a scythe. That’s valid enough to make him a part of the list. Next.
9 – Albel Nox (Star Ocean: Till the End of Time)
Albel Nox is the Captain of the Black Brigade – one of the three mighty military forces of the Kingdom of Airyglyph. When he was young, his father, Glou Nox, saved him from the dragon’s flames. As a result, Glou dies and Albel’s left arm was burnt. Because of that, he always wears a metallic claw gauntlet on his left arm. He grew up to be a ruthless man and is known throughout the lands under the name “Albel the Wicked”.
Albel is one of the rare cases where I actually like a character because of an influence from someone else. I ran across a couple of Star Ocean 3’s fan fiction, starring a pairing of Albel the Wicked and Sophia the sweet and innocent mage. Many SO3 player would go “WUT!?” right after you heard that, followed by “…Albel’s gonna chop her head off”. Yeah, I said that too. But it turns out that these fan fiction writers are pretty good in pairing up the sweet mage with the wicked man. Because of that, Albel X Sophia became my favorite couple of Star Ocean 3, despite being wholly impossible, lol.
It’s really a shame he was stupidly nerf from his Japanese version of the game. In that version, no one comes close to the amount of havoc he can cause. However, the localization of the game has the numbers rebalanced and Albel falls down to the mid-bottom tier of characters. Maria and Cliff surprisingly rose up to the broken tiers of characters because no other characters are even remotely close for a competition with them. …Or so they say.
8 – Squall Leonhart (Final Fantasy VIII)
Despite Final Fantasy VIII’s plot twist and the second half of the game’s story being really silly, many people could agree with one thing; Squall is badass.
Let’s ignore for a moment that gunblades aren’t practical weapons in our world. Just look at his moments in the game and tell me how those moments are not badass. Plus, dat Renzokuken.
Jokes aside, I like Squall because of how he slowly develops from a lonesome wolf to someone who ‘kinda’ care about others. Granted, he gets his emotional moments like:
“Even if the world is against you, I’ll be your knight.”
But I actually like that line, corny as it may be.
7 – Zidane Tribal (Final Fantasy IX)
After two Final Fantasy games with quiet protagonist, we have cheerful protagonist as the lead once again! Zidane Tribal is an optimistic womanizer and a thief. If he ever sees a girl, he has to ask her out. Chance of success was never a factor of consideration. Proof? Well, he instantly hits on an assassin that was sent to kill him. Yup.
Anyway, I like Zidane because of his carefreeness. He is cheerful and he quickly rises as the center of the team. Everyone trusts him. Everyone in the party is ready to follow his lead. And our Princess Garnet even fall for him even though he ‘Oooooh soft’ her.
This all the more makes the ‘You’re Not Alone’ scene even more tear jerking. Seriously, I don’t normally cry for video games, but wow…something just suddenly got into my eyes.
6 – Roxas (Kingdom Hearts series)
Roxas’s story is sad. He is literally a ‘Nobody’ – the empty shell with out a Heart. When Sora lost his heart and becomes a Heartless, Roxas was created and recruited by the Organization XIII because he can use a Keyblade. Roxas grows to doubt the organization and leaves off his own volition. He encountered Riku, who beats the crap out of him and brings him to Namine where they attempt to quickly restore Sora.
Throughout Roxas’s intro chapter in Kingdom Hearts series, everyone was “Shut up. You’re a Nobody” at him. He was treated so badly and he expressed those frustrations out, even though everyone kept telling him that he doesn’t have one. In Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix, a battle with Roxas was added. He is an insanely strong boss, and I instantly got a game over the first time I fought him right after the battle start (yeah, because I don’t know his attacks and bosses on Critical Mode can pretty much kill you in a hit). The BGM “The Other Promise” used during the fight is an even sadder remix of Roxas’s theme. I don’t know how other people interpret it, but the song felt like Roxas was screaming “I GOT FEELINGS TOO, DAMMIT!” and that makes the battle with him one of the saddest battle in my entire gaming career.
Also, DAT Reaction Command. That’s all I have to say. Everyone who fought Roxas knows what I meant.
5 – Jack Russel (Radiata Story)
Jack’s father is a legendary knight who slew the water dragon. Admiring his father, Jack sets forth out of the countryside to become the Knights of Radiata. Radiata Story is one of the rather … unique (?) RPGs, in that there is nothing really spectacular or groundbreaking about the game. Yet, the game is surprisingly addicting and it has good replay value. For instance, one of the biggest features of this game is the branching path, where Jack can either choose to follow his dreams towards Knighthood or to follow his true love. Each path has different story and ending, and it is recommended that you play both paths.
About Jack himself, well…simply speaking, the guy is loveable and humorous. Seriously, I can’t stop laughing for the first few hours of the game. He was mumbling how it sucks that his opponent is a girl and that he’s not good at holding back. Five seconds later, he was beaten to a pulp by that girl. Yup, that’s Jack.
4 – Zero (Rockman X / Rockman Zero series)
I like both versions of Zero, so I’m going to talk about each version one at a time.
In ‘Rockman X’ series, Zero is X’s best friend and partner. They have been fighting along side each other through several dangerous battles. Although he is hotheaded and a little reckless at times, Zero is normally profound and does not speak a lot. He is strong and extremely skilled in close-quarter combats. He fights with his trademark Z-Saber, performing the famous 3-hit slash combo, as his standard attack. He learns new saber techniques from defeating mavericks (strictly speaking, most of them are recycled moves, just with different element / effect).
At one point, Zero went into a deep sleep for 100 years, and woke up with no recollection of his past. This marks the transition from the ‘Rockman X’ series to the ‘Rockman Zero’ series. Zero was awakened once again by a girl named ‘Ciel’, the leader of the Neo Arcadia Resistance force. Having no memory, he decides to help the people who woke him up fight against Neo Arcadia. As he keeps on fighting, he gradually learns more about his past and incidentally meets with an inconvenient truth – He is NOT the ‘real’ Zero. I already forgot the details, because it’s a while since last played Rockman Zero 3. But while Zero went into sleep, his original body was claimed by ‘Omega’, and the ‘spirit’ of Zero was transferred to another reploid, which is the Zero we’ve been playing in Rockman Zero series. Zero defeats Omega and destroys his own original body. Claiming that he doesn’t need his past, he keeps on fighting for the Resistance Force. Rockman Zero 4 was where Zero met his end. He boards the ‘Ragnarok’, a space station controlled by the evil Dr. Weil. In the final battle, Dr. Weil connects himself to the core of the falling Ragnarok and fights Zero one last time. Zero knows that if he defeats Weil now, he’ll never be able to return to Earth safely, but he still decides to remain there to fight Weil. When taunted by Weil, Zero spoke his famous quote (Fanboys beware. The words might not be accurate).
“I never cared about justice and I don’t recall ever calling myself a hero. I just choose to fight for the people I believe in.”
Despite Rockman Zero 4 being the game that Zero met his demise, it is also where Zero found his resolve to fight for others, not as a legendary hero, but as himself.
3 – Lyner Barsett (Ar Tonelico)
Lyner is the only son of Leard Barsett, the leader of the city of Platina. Instead of entering politics like how his father wants, Lyner is more interested in sword fights and prefers to become the Knight of Elemia. When Platina was under attack by the ‘viruses’, Lyner was assigned to travel to the lower world and find the Hymn Crystal [Purger] to save Platina. The young man unhesitatingly boards the airship and travels to the lower world, where the story of Ar Tonelico unfolds.
Lyner is the hotheaded hero, always rushing at things and solving problems with his sword. That was where he starts. As the story progress, his character slowly changes to the man who cares more about his party members. He learns to solve problem by means other than strength, and in the end, he even ended up helping, Mir, the ‘Mother of Virus’, who, for the whole game, was always viewed as evil. Once Mir’s hatred for mankind subsided, the world finally manages to reunite and meets true peace.
Strangely enough, his Cross Edge incarnation portrays him a little less hot headed when compared to how he is in Ar Tonelico (with the exception of when he is fighting Bourd, of course).
Gameplay-wise, Lyner has many cool looking moves, ranging from the basic sword wave (Impulse) to multiple slashes that ending with big explosions (Break Blade). In Cross Edge, these moves were given an animation buffs and look even cooler. Here’s a comparison from Ar Tonelico and Cross Edge.
2 – Zack Fair (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core)
Originally, this guy are sic—-…I mean, this guy is just another minor NPC that only serves to create Cloud’s background story. Needless to say, Crisis Core’s main story is pretty much a huge bag of retcon, so I am going to ignore any details regarding Genesis and focus only on the ending, which is the transition to the main Final Fantasy VII.
Anyway, Zack is the first-class SOLDIER (well, he was promoted to first class mid-way into the story) and Cloud’s hero. He is an upbeat cheerful guy and a womanizer. However, everything went wrong during his mission at Nibelheim. His partner, Sephiroth, went nuts and burned down the whole village. Zack tried to stop Sephiroth, but was severely injured instead. Cloud, who was just a simple infantryman at that time, was the one who brought down Sephiroth while he is off guard. But he was also injured as a result.
Zack and Cloud were picked up by Shinra’s clean up team and they fell asleep for about 4 years (if memory serves me right). Zack woke up one day and took Cloud, who went into a coma-ish state, out of Shinra’s custody. Since they can no longer return to work for Shinra, Zack decides to take Cloud away and starts a new life. However, the Shinra caught up to him before he could ran away, and they sent a freakin’ army after both men. Having no other choice, Zack left Cloud behind a boulder and went off to fight the whole army by himself. No matter how good the guy is, he’s not god. One man against 1000, eventually, Zack was severely injured and fell down. Cloud, who happened to woke up from his coma-ish state, crawls out to find the bleeding Zack. Zack gave his sword to Cloud, passing on his ‘honors and dreams’ before he passed away.
That last paragraph was a retcon, by the way, people. Here’s the ending in Crisis Core and ‘real’ version of the same event shown in Final Fantasy VII.
I know. That kinda killed the mood right?
Here’s the idea. Zack’s dream is to become a ‘hero’. It is a very broad term with no set definition, but he follows his dreams nevertheless. As the story progress, Zack became a ‘fugitive’ and was hunt down by the military, and that’s pretty much the opposite of a ‘hero’ if you ask me. At the end, Zack sacrifices his life to save Cloud, where before the screen fades to black, Zack’s last words to Cloud were:
“Hey. Would you say … I became a hero?”
I played this game, knowing very well how it would end, and heck, I’m still crying like a little baby when the guy spoke that damn line. So yeah, that should be self-explanatory.
1 – Rockman (Rockman series)
If Sophia and Aurica are the unbeatable champion of my top 10 favorite girls, then Rockman is their counterpart.
The blue bomber’s adventure is the first video game I played and my most favorite childhood hero of all time.
Rockman’s story starts in the year 20xx (and for some reason, I always read that as ‘year two thousand something’). Dr. Thomas Light created ‘Rock’, the household robot to help him with the house chore. However, the ambitious Dr. Albert Wily stole all of Dr. Light’s other robots and used them to help him conquer the world. Rock can’t bear to see his brethrens being used for evil. So he asked Dr. Light to turn him into a fight robot, in order to stop Dr. Wily’s evil plan. Dr. Light was reluctant, but realizes that there is no other choice. And thus, ‘Rockman’, the blue bomber, was born. His standard weapon is the Rock Buster, a basic buster that generates power for the energy core hidden inside him. Rockman also has another signature ability, and that is the ability to steal other robot masters’ weapons after he defeats them.
Having a heart filled with righteousness, Rockman keeps moving forward to save the world from Dr. Wily’s evil plan.
There are several artists who drew the illustration for Rockman games, but the illustration in Rockman 8 is probably my most favorite (and while one of the less loved games, Rockman 8 also happens to be one of my all time favorite Rockman games, second only to Rockman 2).
And well, that’s it people – My top 10 favorite male characters list. Funny enough, I actually had less fun writing about this than the top 10 villains for some reason. It’s not that I like the villains more than these guys or anything, I just felt that I enjoyed writing about the villains more, lol.
Before we part, I have something else for you guys to watch. This is the Japanese opening of Rockman 8, and arguably, my most favorite game opening ever.