With video games being around for almost fifty years, there’s plenty of characters that have wormed their way into players’ hearts. From icons like Pac-Man to characters like Malenia from the recent Elden Ring, there’s no shortage of beloved characters. A character being beloved might not necessarily have been prominent, though. They can be big story bosses or mere AI companions.
It’s hard to know what will stick in the minds of players. There are plenty of power-ups and characters that only appear for a level or so. These characters beat the odds by becoming famous in spite of their limited screen time. Whether it was just a level or a mere thirty minutes, these characters stood out.
Senator Armstrong – Metal Gear Rising
Metal Gear Rising is a crazy hack-and-slash game with tons of one-off bosses. Monsoon is a boss with magnetic powers who gives speeches about the nature of memes. He would make a lot of sense to include as a one-scene wonder-type character. The final boss, Stephen Armstrong, ended up becoming even more iconic.
The character is barely in the game at all until the last hour. This is in pretty heavy contrast to other Metal Gear villains who are pretty known quantities the entire adventure. Armstrong only comes out in the last hour, but makes himself known with insane lines and tough boss fights. He’s remained a meme icon since the game’s release, despite only having a few hours to impress.
Zoroark – Pokémon Black and White
Lucario is one of Pokémon‘s most beloved designs. The Gen 4 Pokémon captured the hearts of fans with its typing. Game Freak aimed at replicate its success in the next generation. They began to heavily market the new Dark-type Zoroark.
Zoroark was to be the signature Pokémon of the rival N, which was fine. Fans were shocked to find out that N’s team was the only place they could find Zoroark. Barring events, there was no way to find Zoroark in the original Pokémon Black and White. This upset fans and Game Freak ended up making Zoroark more common in future games, but it’s still rare in its debut.
Green Biker Dude – Mega Man X2
Mega Man isn’t really focused on the incidental characters. Civilians and other basic NPCs are pretty rare in the franchise. That’s what makes the intro of Mega Man X2 partially so shocking. Alongside Mega Man X, another robot rides in alongside him. Fans have dubbed this nameless NPC the “Green Biker Dude.”
X is technically fighting as part of a force in these games. This lone rider in the intro is one of the rare times it’s shown, and fans would celebrate this guy for it. “Green Biker Dude” became famous enough to be referenced in Mega Man’s Archie comics and games from developer WayForward. Unfortunately, after he wheelies, he is promptly shot and explodes, so there’s not a lot to discuss.
Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard – Jade Empire
Jade Empire is an Xbox RPG by Bioware. At the time it was quite a departure from Bioware’s other games for its more Eastern-inspired setting. The player played as a martial arts master and could choose how to develop their martial art. These days the game is mostly remembered for featuring John Cleese.
The British comedic legend lent his voice to one of the game’s more memorable characters. The character is a foreign explorer who attempts to “civilize” the people of the Jade Empire. Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard is a suitably dramatic name, but the character is actually optional. He only appears in an optional questline, meaning he can be missed.
Error – Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link
Plenty of characters from gaming’s early days were cryptic and confusing. This was especially apparent in the second-ever The Legend of Zelda game. One character living on his own simply says “I am Error” with no elaboration. This earned him and his phrase a memetic status, despite the fact that he never appeared in another Zelda game.
The line isn’t what it seems, however. There’s another character in the game called Bagu. This is a mistranslation of “bug” as in computer bug, and Error is supposed to be in a pair with him. This makes Error’s only moment of significance, being delivered a message by Bagu, somewhat opaque.
The Great Mighty Poo – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a completely absurd game. The game was Rare’s parody of the games that made them popular in the first place, like Banjo-Kazooie on the Nintendo 64. It featured a bright animal protagonist but in a dark and depraved world. No scene shows it better than the mid-game boss fight with the Great Mighty Poo.
The boss fight takes in a mountain made entirely of fecal matter. The turd will emerge from different places around the arena and begin to sing opera at Conker. During his song, Conker must throw toilet paper into his mouth. He’s only in the game for this one boss fight, but it’s one of the most memorable scenes from the game.
Space Core – Portal 2
Portal is no stranger to iconic characters in one scene. The original game had the Weighted Companion Cube. It was a carryable item that players ended up forming an attachment to despite it lacking features or dialogue. An item that isn’t lacking those things is the Space Core from Portal 2.
Also known as the Space Sphere, this guy only appears during the final boss battle. He’s a malfunctioning maniac that simply talks about how much he likes space ad nauseam. His dialogue ended up being quoted by players all over the internet. He ended up even becoming an official mod for Skyrim he was so popular.
Father Grigori – Half-Life 2
Half-Life As a franchise always flirted with horror. One of its darkest areas is definitely Ravenholm from Half-Life 2. This burnt-out neighborhood is completely infested with zombies and other aliens. Luckily, Father Grigori is there to help light Gordon’s way.
Half-Life 2 is known for its excellent follower AI. Grigori is no exception, acting as Gordon’s partner during the events in Ravenholm. He’s a badass militant priest and the last survivor of the zombies. He makes quite an impression and quite good backup.
James – Fallout 3
Getting a celebrity voice actor can really bring gravitas to a game. This was the case with Fallout 3, which managed to get Liam Neeson for the player’s father in a memorable role. His performance is pretty spectacular and one of the game’s standout moments. Unfortunately, because he’s so expensive he only ever appears at the beginning and then briefly at the very end.
James is a motivating character for the protagonist. Neeson’s performance helps the player form a connection with him in his limited screentime. He’s a doctor who comes across as a reasonable figure in the hell of the wasteland. Given he’s a big character in the game’s beginning, it’s no surprise he’s remained iconic.
0^2 – Kirby 64
Kirby games have a trend of becoming quite dark in the eleventh hour. This began with Nightmare in Kirby’s Adventure, who was a surprise hidden boss in one scene. Zero from Dreamland 3 was similar but also introduced blood into the fight. Zero Two or 0^2 from Kirby 64 is the third and probably the most famous version of this.
The boss only appears if all of the collectibles are found. The boss itself is a terrifying-looking angel that actively bleeds and transforms as Kirby attacks it. Its shocking depravity has made it one of the more famous final bosses in the series. This was helped by its extremely epic boss theme, which even made its way into Super Smash Bros..
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