You gotta Friend in These?
There is an unintentional theme in our choices which becomes apparent when we stack them up next to one another, we’re not keen on the mild, meek and uninitiated. Most RPG’s put you in control of a band of youthful scamps who are ripe to be molded via life lessons and experience. They did not make the list. Instead we’ve opted for the more battle wary, well experienced, often crabby sidekicks who make the journey’s taken all the more entertainingly for their presence. Here’s our top ten Playable RPG characters;
Honourable mention - Prinnies - Disgaea Series
Dood! The minions of the underworld! Insubordinate, back-chatting, explosively volatile (literally), cynics and all the more endearing as a result. They’ll do what they’re told eventually but they’ll bumble and complain their way through the whole process. It’s refreshing to hear a candid, realistic response to these fantasy situations which you are thrust into and Prinnies will do just that. The only thing holding them back from appearing in the list is their lack of identity. With exceptions in places, you don’t learn of their past lives and they are infinitely replaceable with one another to the point that they don’t even get individual names (save for what you give them).
Gilder – Skies of Arcadia
Sky Pirate has got to be one of the more appealing occupations in the RPG job market (shop that sells like 2 things anyone?). Rather than the pastel colours of FFXII we’re headed to the Saturday morning cartoon territory that is Skies of Arcadia. Rife with their kin there is one which stands out and that man is Gilder. Most characters in this world are either aging, crabby Capt Ahab wannabe’s or young rogues out for adventure. Gilder on the other hand is in the prime of his life enjoying the spoils, the gold, the rum and the girls. He is literally the worse choice (not by much mind) of the 3 optional characters to end the game with but you’ll pick him anyways. With a woman in every port and only having love for his own ship, put short, he’s the embodiment of everything you’d like to be…
Mr Drippy - Nino Kuni
My Drippy is a Fairy. Mr Drippy is apparently Welsh. Mr Drippy was turned into a cuddly toy and is turned back to life by the tears of a child. Mr Drippy was so scared of the dark that a wizard gave him a lantern at the end of his nose to light his way. Mr Drippy is a fairy comedian and loved by all fairy “Littlies”. Mr Drippy’s tears heal you. Mr Drippy was playable in the DS version, but later became a support character. Mr Drippy is awesome and makes my list. Quote - "This here is the Deep Dark Wood. So called because it's shallow, well-lit, and sparsely wooded."
Clive – Suikoden 1& 2
With 108 recruitable characters in each of the series entries you’d think that we could make a list of these alone…and I will, once I’ve played through no. 4. For now though I’ll settle for a single entry in the list in the shape of Clive. You could be forgiven for having never used Clive, whilst easy to find he’s not pivotal to the main plot, rather he is special as he has his own side story. This might not sound particularly special in RPG circles but the Suikoden series rarely diverts from the main plot and lacks much in the way of hidden bosses etc. Whilst present in the first game it's not until Suikoden II that his quest becomes clear. He is hunting the rogue gunner Elza who is responsible for killing a friend. It even ends in a tragic showdown (although he does survive the ordeal). It’s the subtlety of his story and the fact he’s one of the very few Suikoden characters to have a gun that makes him stand out.
Handsome Jack - Borderlands the Pre-Sequel
Not only does Handsome Jack belong in any Top Ten Antagonist list, by the loophole of Borderlands the Prequel he also gets to be in my top ten playable RPG characters. Providing both the most disturbing and some of the most comedic dialogue in the Borderlands games (see also Chris’ choice of Claptrap) Handsome Jack’s insane level of self-promotion and psychotic confidence is hard not to love. “My day? It's been pretty good. Just bought a pony made of diamonds, because I'm rich. So, you know. That's cool. Kay, bye."
Factoid – The name Handsome Jack was originally a place holder taken from a throwaway line about Jack Harkness from Dr Who Lore. It was later kept as devs had grown to like it.
Vincent Valentine – Final Fantasy VII
The Goth’s choice. Like many, FFVII stands out as one on the highlights of my gaming youth, so surely it deserves an entry here? I agree however not in respect of the main protagonist Cloud. Cloud essentially lied about a large portion of his life, letting everyone think that someone else’s actions were his own. Vincent on the other hand comes with just as much baggage but doesn’t feel the need to slip into a coma part way through the story.
Fact – Due to constraints at the time and Vincent being an optional character he doesn’t actually appear in any of the FMV throughout the game, only in real-time rendered scenes.
Morgana - Persona 5
Morgana is probably the least obvious on my list. Despite the name, Morgana is a he and despite looking like cat, Morgana is not a cat. Still with me? Without playing the game is it hard to explain what makes Morgana one of my favourite, nuanced characters in any game. Outwardly confident and always trying to appear masculine and a “player” with the ladies, he is, at heart, struggling to find not only his identity but place in the world. Without getting too deep Morgana is a character that most people will be able to, at least in part, relate to. Apart from the fact he can turn into a bus. That’s hard to relate to.
Quote – “For some reason “Cats turning into buses” is an extremely widespread cognition among the general public” (Morgana explaining his ability to turn into a bus with an obvious nod to Tororo).
Iron Bull – Dragon Age Inquisition
Every adventurer needs an ally like Iron Bull. A lumbering powerhouse who take pure joy from doing his job of laying waste to armies and slaying giant creatures. Given his size and strength you’ll be surprised to hear that he is also a shrewd business man who also takes good care of his own and still laments the plight of his people. Sure you can give the man a sword and shield but we all know he’s not happy without the biggest, most garish Warhammer you can afford. Probably the best option on this list to share a beer with given the tales he can tell and his upbeat attitude won’t lead the conversation down the road of self pity! To top it off he’s one of the only selectable character who will start a romantic relationship with your hero, irrespective of what gender or race you are.
Geralt of Rivia - Witcher Series
Not the only “Kingslayer” to make the top ten (spoilers). Born from the stories of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, Geralt is a superhuman monster hunter, mind bender and total ladies’ man. Never before has a man on a mission to save his one true love (Yennefer) been side-tracked so often by the fairer sex. What draws me to Geralt is the fact that whilst he has little interest for the large scale politics surrounding him and has a very “no nonsense” approach to many situations, he does form strong bonds with his inner circle (many of which he beds, just so show how much he likes them).
Factoid – Geralt of Rivia isn’t from Rivia. He learned to don the accent and picked the place at random to give people hiring him confidence in him and make himself seem more human.
Dunban – Xenoblade Chronicles
The original hero! The tutorial introduction of the game has you playing as a group in an epic battle that look place a year ago where you play as Dunban, wielding the only weapon that can repel the vast army of mechanical creatures trying to invade, the Monado. Doing this causes him pain to the point that he loses use of his right arm. He serves as a guide to the world early on in a typical “passing the mantle” fashion only to spring up a few hours in and join the party properly. Dunban is the quintessential hero who will give everything to protect his family and friends on the battlefield, and would do it all again with a smile on his face.
Best point – His special attack involves him pretty much reciting a poem as a QTE and ends up with him shouting “Blossom Dance!”…actually it’s not so cool when you say it out loud.
Basch - Final Fantasy XII
Basch is the epitome of the b*d*ss, disgraced yet virtuous Knight. Accused of slaying his king and hated by the people he is so willing to lay down his life to protect, FFXII takes us on the journey of his redemption alongside the main quest. Whilst FFXII leaves you open to design your team as you will it’s hard not to have him as a dominant tank in your team with high HP and DPS stats. Stoic yet likeable Basch is the sword you want at your side.
Factoid:- Square Enix apparently later revealed in interview that Basch was due to be the main protagonist in FFXII but after the poor sales of Vagrant story (which also had an older male protagonist) they later went with Vaan who was more archetypal of a FF hero.
There they are. Do you agree? It's doubtful so we'd love to hear your opinion on the matter! email, Facebook or comment us and we'll make sure to respond.