Top 10 Memorable Videogame Characters of the 1980s

Credits: Dan Paradis Dave Thibault
Script written by Nick Spake Almost three decades later and they’re still some of the most famous faces in gaming. Join WatchMojo.com as kick off our series of the most memorable video game characters with the top 10 memorable video game characters of the 1980’s. For this list, we’re taking a look at video game characters that achieved their iconic status in the 1980’s with priority given to those characters who’ve remained relevant well past their decade. We decided to hold off on Solid Snake until the next list because, while he made his debut in 1987, he wouldn’t breakout in popularity until the 90’s. Special Thanks to our users "Shamikaru" & "nickaong795" for suggesting this topic on our website WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Memorable Video Game Characters of the 80’s


Almost three decades later and they’re still some of the most famous faces in gaming. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re kicking off our series of the most memorable video game characters with the top 10 memorable video game characters of the 1980’s.

For this list, we’re taking a look at video game characters that achieved their iconic status in the 1980’s with priority given to those characters who’ve remained relevant well past their decade. We decided to hold off on Solid Snake until the next list because, while he made his debut in 1987, he wouldn’t breakout in popularity until the 90’s.

#10: Frogger
“Frogger” series (1981-)

In the 1980’s, the most basic video game characters could become household names for undertaking the most straightforward tasks. Frogger is a seemingly ordinary amphibian. His quest: Passing an array of deadly cars, trucks, and alligators without becoming road kill. It may not sound like much, but getting this little froggie to safety quickly became an obsession for every arcade junkie. Although Konami would later try to remodel Frogger as a traditional video game hero, it’s his highway heydays that made him unique. He still leaves players jumping for joy.

#9: Bomberman
“Bomberman” Series (1983-)

Recent years haven’t been that kind to Bomberman, a low point being one of the most embarrassingly gritty retreads every conceived. Even if his more contemporary games have been hit and miss, he’ll always be a gaming all star in our eyes. Ever since he first dropped da bomb, this darling, yet deadly, robot has proven that every maze has a solution. Sometimes you just need to make your path. Now if we could only get him in the next “Super Smash Bros.,” we’d be officially blown away.

#8: Samus Aran
“Metroid” Series (1986-)

Male action heroes primarily dominated media throughout the 80’s. Just as film had Ellen Ripley, though, video games had a strong female heroine in Samus Aran. Of course most people didn’t realize this until the end of “Metroid.” By that point, however, it didn’t matter what gender Samus was. As far as we were concerned, this bounty hunter had proven herself just as badass as any of our macho idols. Samus continues to standout as a universally compelling character, demonstrating that this isn’t a man’s world or a man’s galaxy.

#7: Dirk The Daring
“Dragon’s Lair” Series (1983-)

In an age of sprites, “Dragon’s Lair” distinguished itself with fully animated characters made possible through laserdisc technology. At the center of this cinematic game is Dirk the Daring, a highly energized hero with a vast range of emotions. Brought to life by Animator Don Bluth, Dirk can be valiant one second, fainthearted the next, and even quite funny when bighting the dust. Whether confronting giddy goons, the Lizard King, or a fire-breathing dragon, we’ll gladly help this knight rescue Princess Daphne…as long as we’re not playing the NES version.

#6: Bill Rizer & Lance Bean
“Contra” Series (1987-)

If Samus is the video game equivalent of Ellen Ripley, then Bill and Lance of the “Contra” franchise are the medium’s John Rambo and John Matrix. While “Contra” works great as a single-player experience, you can also bring a friend along to fight enemy forces side by side. Together, Commandos Bill and Lance are an unstoppable team with an apparently never-ending supply of ammo. Constantly engulfed by action, these guys are like magnets for everything manly. They also share one of the most timeless bromances in all gaming.

#5: Mega Man
“Mega Man” Series” (1987-)

Humanoid robots were certainly a popular trend in the 80’s. On the gaming frontier, there’s never been a more elite robot than Mega Man. Literally armed with a cannon, Mega Man only gets more powerful with every Robot Master he defeats on the road to Dr. Wily. Bridging the worlds between humans and robots, he’s a bit like a kid-friendly version of RoboCop. Where most video game characters have made the permanent jump to 3D, Mega Man’s primarily retained his classic look. Oh megaman, where have you gone?

#4: Donkey Kong
“Donkey Kong” Series (1981-)

The initial mascot that put Nintendo on the map, this gorilla has evolved from chucking barrels at plumbers to chucking barrels at crocodiles. Donkey Kong’s a primate of simple tastes, living on a diet of bananas and only possessing a single red tie in his wardrobe. He’s been known to favor brawn over brain, but fortunately has a number of sidekicks to help him in that department. When King K. Rool threatens his island and fellow Kong’s, you can bet Donkey Kong will climb the Empire State Building for them.

#3: Link
“The Legend of Zelda” Series (1986-)

“The Legend of Zelda” is arguably the closest video games have come to producing an age-old fable. At the center of every timeless journey is the hero of time himself. Despite his lack of dialog, Link speaks to every person, young and old, that’s ever dreamed of being an adventurer. By stepping into Link’s boots, we can live out our wildest fantasies of exploring Hyrule, retrieving the Master Sword, and rescuing Princess Zelda from Ganon. Link is truly an eternal character, which is probably why he keeps getting reincarnated.

#2: Pac-Man
“Pac-Man” Series (1980-)

Going into this new decade, people generally didn’t see video games as a medium that was open to many possibilities. “Pac-Man” changed that not only with its gameplay, but its celebrated title character as well. Okay, so Pac-Man may not be the most complex protagonist. He’s essentially just a yellow ball that eats dots and ghosts. Without this unlikely phenomenon, however, the doors never would have been opened for the other characters on this list. Given his revolutionary place in gaming history, its only appropriate Pac-Man’s shamed like a wheel. Ms Pacman may have refine the gameplay, but he’s the original who defined it.

Before we level up to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Billy & Jimmy Lee
“Double Dragon” Series (1987-)
Simon Belmont
“Castlevania” Series (1986-)
Pit
“Kid Icarus” Series (1986-)
Thomas
“Kung-Fu Master” Series (1984-)
Bub & Bob
“Bubble Bobble” Series (1986-)

#1: Mario
“Super Mario” Series (1981-)

Come on, who else were you expecting? If there’s a video game character with everlasting appeal, it’s this Italian plumber. What’s incredible about Mario is that he hasn’t just been the star of one great game after another, but he’s proved versatile in several different genres. In addition to 2D and 3D platformers, Mario’s conquered everything from kart racers to RPG’s. There’s nothing Mario can’t do - evidenced by the fact that you’ll see his face. We can’t wait for Princess Peach to get kidnapped again so we can follow Mario on another adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favourite 80’s video game character? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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