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Heroes and Villains

By Joe August ’13
Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Joe August been an avid gamer for almost as long as he can remember, and he works in the field now. We asked him to tell us about his favorite video game good guys and bad guys.

BIOGRAPHY

Joe August is a product manager at Activision, which recently launched “Destiny 2.” August studied entrepreneurship in College of Business Administration and worked as a photographer for LMU Magazine until he graduated in 2013. He has been an avid gamer from a young age, growing up with some of the iconic titles he highlights here.

1. HERO Mario
GAMES Too many to list
SYSTEMS Every Nintendo System
DATES ACTIVE 1981–present
DEVELOPED BY Nintendo
Mario may be the best-known video game character of all time. In fact, the Mario franchise is the best-selling video game franchise of all time. From his humble roots as Jumpman in the Donkey Kong arcade machine, Mario has branched out to star in almost every genre of game, from traditional platformers to sports games and kart racers.

2. HERO Link
GAMES The Legend of Zelda series
SYSTEMS Multiple
DATES ACTIVE 1986–present
DEVELOPED BY Nintendo
Probably second only to Mario in the list of best video game franchises is The Legend of Zelda and its hero, Link. Link is the main player character throughout the franchise, as he saved Princess Zelda from the series antagonist, Ganon. Link is often pictured with his two main weapons, the Master Sword and the Hylian Shield.

3. HERO Master Chief
GAMES Halo series
SYSTEMS Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
DATES ACTIVE 2001–present
DEVELOPED BY Bungie
Probably the best-known video game character from the 2000s, Master Chief (also known as John-117) is the main player character and hero of the Halo franchise. Created by Bungie, the Master Chief, an enhanced supersoldier, and his side-kick, Cortana, are part of the United Nations Space Command. They save humanity from extinction at the hands of an alien collective known as the Covenant.

4. HERO Commander Shepard
GAMES Mass Effect trilogy
SYSTEMS PC, Xbox, PlayStation
DATES ACTIVE 2007–12
DEVELOPED BY BioWare
Commander Shepard is the player character and hero in the original Mass Effect trilogy. One of Mass Effect’s and Shepard’s defining elements is customization. Players can choose not only physical characteristics, including gender, but they can also dictate the story, making hard choices about who lives and dies and whether one’s character is bad (Renegade) or good (Paragon).

5. HERO Dr. Gordon Freeman
GAME Half-Life series
SYSTEMS Mainly PC
DATES ACTIVE 1998–present (last release was 2007)
DEVELOPED BY Valve
Dr. Gordon Freeman is the hero and player character from the Half-Life series. A theoretical physicist from Seattle, Freeman is forced to defend himself when an experiment gone wrong releases aliens in his research facility. Freeman is usually seen in his Hazardous EnVironment suit and armed with a crowbar.

6. HERO Lee Everett
GAME The Walking Dead (Season 1)
SYSTEMS PC, Consoles, Mobile
DATES ACTIVE 2012
DEVELOPED BY Telltale Games
Lee Everett stars in the first entry into Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. Set in the same world as the comics, the game focuses on characters and human stories. Lee is a convicted murderer who finds himself tasked with protecting a young girl named Clementine. This game is one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching ever created.

7. VILLAIN Bowser
GAME Mario franchise
SYSTEMS Every Nintendo System
DATES ACTIVE 1985–present
DEVELOPED BY Nintendo
Bowser is the main antagonist of the Mario franchise. Bowser is the King of the Koopa (the turtle-like characters from most Mario games). Bowser’s goals are to kidnap Princess Peach, defeat Mario and ultimately conquer the entire Mushroom Kingdom. Although his attempts always end in defeat, he has more appearances than almost any other character and was even played by Dennis Hopper in the better-left-forgotten 1993 live-action film “Super Mario Bros.”

8. VILLAIN The Covenant
GAME Halo series
SYSTEMS Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
DATES ACTIVE 2001–present
DEVELOPED BY Bungie
The main enemies in the original Halo trilogy, the Covenant is a collection of alien races that formed a military alliance based around their worship of an ancient race known as the Forerunners. The Covenant views humans as blasphemous toward the Covenant gods and is set on wiping out our entire race.

9. VILLAIN The Combine and Dr. Wallace Breen
GAME Half-Life series
SYSTEMS Mainly PC
DATES ACTIVE 1998–2007
DEVELOPED BY Valve
The Combine is a technically advanced alien force that conquers Earth shortly after its appearance. Dr. Breen is the scientist the Combine places in charge of Earth who quickly becomes the villain. The main villain resides outside of the game. Following Half-Life 2, a trilogy of shorter, episodic additions were announced. The second episode in the trilogy was released in 2007, but the finale announced in 2008 has yet to be released or officially cancelled.

10. VILLAINS The Reapers
GAME Mass Effect trilogy
SYSTEMS PC, Xbox, PlayStation
DATES ACTIVE 2007–12
DEVELOPED BY BioWare
Although only directly encountered a few times in the series, the Reapers are the ultimate threat a player faces in Mass Effect. The Reapers are a sentient race of machines that are hell-bent on eliminating all organic life in the universe. Commander Shepard is humanity’s last hope to defeat them.

11. VILLAIN Ganon
GAME The Legend of Zelda series
SYSTEMS Multiple
DATES ACTIVE 1986–present
DEVELOPED BY Nintendo
Link’s antithesis is Ganon. He is often the embodiment of pure evil throughout the franchise. He appears both as a large
humanoid and a gigantic, demonic beast. His main motivations are to capture Princess Zelda and conquer all of Hyrule leaving only Link to stop him.

12. VILLAIN Walkers (aka Zombies)
GAME The Walking Dead
SYSTEMS PC, Consoles, Mobile
DATES ACTIVE 2012–present
DEVELOPED BY Telltale Games
Referred to as “Walkers” in the games, the Zombies are the constant threat looming over the characters. As in the TV show and comics of the same name, the Walkers don’t have any particularly special powers, but they are relentless and omnipresent. There is no escaping their terror or its results in this post-apocalyptic world.

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