Have you ever been playing a game and realized that there’s someone in it you want to see more of? Maybe you want to know more about their backstory, or maybe they have some cool abilities or powers that you want to try out for yourself. Or maybe they’re just straight up more interesting than the player character. There are so many video game characters I love but never got to play as.
I know I’ve often found myself intrigued by a bit player and wondered what it would be like if they were the protagonist, which brings me to this list.
I want to shine a light on the video game characters that I think deserve a game of their own. These aren’t necessarily my favorite NPCs of all time, just the ones I reckon could carry a game by themselves.
Game(s) Appeared In: Hollow Knight
Yes, I am aware that Hornet is going to be the protagonist of Hollow Knight: Silksong. I do have good reasons for including her here though. I promise this is the only video game character on this list with their own game, unreleased or otherwise.
Hornet is included here for two reasons, firstly she perfectly illustrates my broader point, and secondly, I will find any excuse I can to talk about Hollow Knight.
Hornet is on this list because she is a perfect example of how a little bit of mystery can make a character so alluring. Hollow Kight left me with a lot of questions, questions that I felt a game entirely about Hornet might answer.
As you explore, you catch glimpses of Hornet in the ruins of Hallownest. You even get to fight her a couple of times and experience her unique “needle and thread” fighting style. But as cool as that is, it’s Hornet’s past I want to know more about. Daughter of the Pale King and Herrah the Beast, sworn to protect the Kingdom from the infection sealed within Black Egg Temple? I need to know more. There is so much to dive into there, and I cant wait to see where Team Cherry goes with the character.
Game(s) Appeared In: Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed has outstayed its welcome. I enjoyed the original trilogy, but Ubisoft just didn’t know when to stop. I’d say they’ve run the franchise into the ground, but that just doesn’t do it justice. Assassin’s Creed has been stomped flat, torn to pieces, crudely stitched back together, and then forced to caper for our amusement once more. It’s old, it’s tired, and it needs to be put to bed.
My point is that there was a logical stopping point. A game set in the present day, focusing on Desmond Miles would have rounded out the series nicely. If you can remember as far back as the original Assassin’s Creed, you will also remember that Desmond Miles was (arguably) its protagonist. You may play (in a sense) as a 12th-century stabbing enthusiast, Altair, but that’s only half the story. Abstergo has kidnapped Desmond and is forcing him to relive the memories of an ancestor through the “Animus.”
Now as far as video game characters go, Desmond isn’t exactly my favorite. He’s a little bit bland and not terribly memorable. However, not all of that is his fault. It has long been my suspicion that at one point, a game about Desmond that would wrap things up conclusively was the planned finale for the series. But when Ubisoft realized what a moneyspinner they had on their hands, they decided to let things go on a little longer.
It always seemed like Desmond was using the Animus to improve his skills, perhaps so that the player might put them to use one day. But we never really got that. You do play as Desmond very briefly once or twice but it goes by in a flash. For how central he is to the series, Mr. Miles deserved his own game.
We’ll probably never get to see it, but I think it could have been pretty special.
Game(s) Appeared In : Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Is there a word for a video game character who is almost (and perhaps should be) the protagonist, but then isn’t? If anyone ever comes up with such a word I would immediately put Roland, from Ni No Kuni II forward as an example. The wonderfully bizarre opening act seriously wrongfoots you about the who, what, and why.
The very first thing that happens is a nuclear strike on a city where the president of a “major superpower” (Roland) is on his way to attend a peace summit of some sort. Ordinarily, Roland would of course have been vaporized instantly. But this, lest we forget, is a JRPG. So rather than dying horribly, Roland is transported to a fantasy Kingdom, just as a young king, Evan, is deposed in a coup.
And so before he even has a chance to come to terms with the fact he has been de-aged about 40 years, Roland is forced into a daring escape from Ding Dong Dell with Evan in tow. It’s a heck of an opening and does a lot to establish Roland’s character. He’s brave, decisive, and (as we see later) ever so slightly ruthless. I was looking forward to a fish out of water political thriller with Roland at the helm.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite what I got. Now to be clear, I love Ni No Kuni II. However, I also kind of wish it had stuck with Roland as the protagonist. As things progress, the focus shifts to Evan and his promise to his governess, Aranella, to build a new kingdom and bring about an age of peace.
Roland still has a big part to play, but we don’t get the kind of in-depth character moments with him that I was hoping for. I think he deserves a game of his own where he can shine.
Eileen the Crow
Game(s) Appeared In: Bloodborne
Bloodborne is my favorite game. That being the case, I felt duty-bound to include at least one character from it on this list. Now FromSoftware does video game characters a little bit differently. Their stories are obscure, and it isn’t immediately apparent what they want or why they act the way they do. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a stylistic choice.
You have to do a bit of digging to get Eileen the Crow’s full story, but it’s well worth the effort. In a world overrun by beasts, “Hunters” are employed to fight back on humanity’s behalf. But to stand a chance, many of these hunters are infused with beast blood, which grants them power, at the cost of their humanity. Many who undergo the procedure eventually go mad and then become beasts themselves.
Somebody has to put these men and women down before they become something monstrous. That unpleasant task falls to hunters like Eileen. The tragedy of her situation got to me. Watching her erstwhile comrades fall victim to the scourge, and then having to track them down and kill them. It’s enough to give anyone pause for thought.
If you pay attention and read between the lines a little, it sometimes seems as though Eileen is beginning to succumb to a madness of her own, perhaps a result of the nature of her work. Whatever the case may be, I would love to see Eileen’s haunting story expanded into a full game. I doubt that will ever happen, but a person can dream.
Game(s) Appeared In: Mainline Zelda Series, Smash Bros Series, Hyrule Warriors, Numerous other spin-off titles.
Nintendo has created many of the most iconic and enduring video game characters of all time. There’s really no argument there. Mario, Samus Aran, Kirby, Donkey Kong, the list goes on and on, and we haven’t even mentioned the Legend of Zelda yet. A franchise that, to my mind, still has an important step to take. It may be one of the most acclaimed and long-running series in the history of the medium, but I’d like to offer it a suggestion. Arrogant on my part as that may be.
I’m tired of playing as Link. There’s nothing wrong with him, I just think Nintendo has done all they can with the character. It’s high time they gave Zelda a leading role. In a mainline game, as a playable character, not just as a narrative device. Honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened yet. Around the time Breath of The Wild was announced I had hope that Nintendo was finally going to give us a chance to play as the iconic Hyrulean princess.
It wouldn’t even be much of a stretch gameplay-wise. Zelda is far from a damsel in distress, wielding all manner of powerful magic, and being more than capable with a bow and arrow. I would love to see what could be done with her. I would also love to experience a Zelda game from any perspective other than Link’s. We’ve been playing as him for more than 30 years at this point. I think it’s time he hung up the tunic and let someone else have a go. Zelda being the obvious candidate for a video game character worth exploring much further as a playable character.
Game(s) Appeared In: Uncharted Series (Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, Drake’s Deception, A Thief’s End, Golden Abyss)
In terms of iconic video game characters, Naughty Dog almost rivals Nintendo. They may not have quite as extensive a roster, but there are some big hitters in their stable.
Nathan Drake, Jak, and Daxter, Ellie Williams, they’re as recognizable as they are diverse. I certainly never expected anything like The Last of Us from the creators of Crash Bandicoot.
But my pick for Naughty Dog character I’ve always wanted to play is Victor Sullivan. Mentor and surrogate father figure to the one and only Nathan Drake. Now Drake has been on a few adventures (usually with “Sully” by his side), but the stuff we hear about from Sullivan’s past makes a strong case for him actually being the more interesting of the two.
Discharged from the navy for running illegal scams, working as a smuggler and a thief all over the world, and even dealing with infamous, and dangerous, drug lord Hector Alcazar, it’s fair to say that Sullivan has had a colorful past. Accusations of double-crossing former allies, including Nathan’s brother Samuel only turn things up another notch or two.
Sullivan pretty much taught Nathan everything he knows, and I think a game exploring either his past or more of his relationship with the young Drake could be really interesting. We got a glimpse of the latter in Uncharted 3, and it left me wanting more. A game all to himself would be very much welcome. Even if it was just an excuse for more of his gallows humor and dry sarcasm.
Bonus – Why Waluigi Shouldn’t Get His Own Game
He’s the guy everyone loves to hate. Luigi’s lanky, purple rival, his name literally meaning “bad Luigi” in Japanese. Ever since he first appeared in Mario Tennis, Waluigi has captured the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere. And yet, unlike his partner in crime Wario, Waluigi has never been given his own game, or even been made playable in Smash Brothers.
Why would Nintendo do this? It’s not like people aren’t asking for it. Are they just going out of their way to mess with their own fans? I don’t think so. I think that what Nintendo is doing actually displays a level of commitment to the character that I can’t help but respect. As much as I would like to see him in Smash Ultimate.
You see, the very essence of Waluigi is in his self-pity and delusion. He has nothing but contempt for others, and always makes himself out to be the victim. Charles Martinet, who voices the character, has outright stated that Waluigi believes that “Everything goes good for everybody but me!”
I might be bordering on conspiracy theory here, but I think that Nintendo is refusing to give Waluigi the spotlight in order to make him the eternal loser or runner-up he believes himself to be (and is really). I think it fits the character really well. A man furious that he is doomed to live in the shadow of his more appealing companions. A game of his own would kind of ruin that.
Agree with my picks? Have some ideas of your own? Join the conversation and let me know which video game characters you think deserves their time in the spotlight!