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March Madness: The Sony Bracket

March Madness: The Sony Bracket

Let’s be real for a minute: When David took out Goliath, it was a lucky shot. We all know that 99 out of 100 times, Goliath is just gonna get pissed and kick David’s ass even harder. And when that happens, who do you want as your second? Yeah, you were only preparing David there as a diversion while your own Goliath finished putting his armor on, because that’s what it’s going to take to defeat Goliath – another Goliath! In the 90’s, Sega played David against Nintendo’s Goliath and took him out a couple of times. In public, Nintendo seemed on the verge of getting shut down by Sega, but in private, they had been stirred into action and teamed up with Sony to create a CD add-on for the Super NES. Nintendo eventually broke off the partnership in order to try another one with Philips, one of Sony’s competitors. The President of Sony was upset and humiliated when that happened, and Nintendo made a grave tactical error: They let him keep going with the project after breaking up, and Sony started acting like a crazy jilted romantic partner, but they were also clear-headed enough to realize nothing could stop them from releasing the CD add-on as a console of its own. And so with David knocked out for the count, his place was taken by a second Goliath in electronics giant Sony, which released the Playstation and brought Nintendo to their knees. Sony started out with a great market strategy, and along the way, they built an army of video game icons. So while Sony’s bracket strength may seem surprising, it was likely their plan all along, and you can’t argue with their results.

1 – Lara Croft
Who
Athletic and brilliant, the star of the Tomb Raider series is hardly a damsel in distress. If anything, she’s the more badass video game version of Indiana Jones, the famous movie archeologist who never gets stuck for a solution. The first Tomb Raider game helped push the Playstation, turning her into a mascot. Since then, Lara has been credited as the first sex symbol in video games (a dubious honor if you ask me), and holds a Guinness record as the most recognized female video game character, and is often cited as a catalyst for more female leads in video games. Her appearance has kicked off more than a few fights among the intelligentsia about whether Lara is a positive or negative influence on young women, but her impact of female video game characters can’t be denied. And when Angelina Jolie portrayed her in two movies, movies based on video games – after years of being seen by Hollywood executives and critics alike as low-budget jokes to be quickly made and dumped into theaters to lure kids to brand names – began taking a turn for the better as well. Samus Aran was The First Lady of Video Games, but she had to be hidden in a suit. Tomb Raider’s designers were straightforward about Lara since the beginning, and she became one of the first lasting video game cultural phenomenons. She has been in non-gaming ads, had a CD tribute album published to her, and had several lines of third-party accessories named after her, including hiking boots, backpacks, thermoses, and leather jackets.
Abilities
Lara has at various times been forced to play the roles of mercenary, hunter, and thief. Her best-known asset is her array of incredible athletic movements, which are always handy in a pinch in just about any situation. She is also fluent in several languages, and can upgrade many of her skills by game to include pain tolerance, ammo conservation, and survivalism. She is also very proficient in a number of weapons, including the two pistols she always wears at her sides, which are among the smaller guns you would have to worry about from a woman who can also effectively use a shotgun and an M-16. Sorry men, no cracks about her looks here.

2 – Crash Bandicoot
Who
When the Playstation was released, it was originally Crash who was being aligned to occupy the necessary spot reserved for Sony’s character response to Mario and Sonic. Crash Bandicoot is the titular character of his own series, and in canon, he was created by Dr. Neo Cortex, who was the one who originally created Crash in a genetic enhancement experiment. Crash got out, and since then, has been acting against Dr. Cortex and his schemes to take over the world. Crash was used as Sony’s mascot for awhile, and his games helped push Playstations to younger gamers after the NES generation got older and started looking for more adult gaming experiences (like Tomb Raider up there). Like all cute family-friendly mascot characters, Crash has journeyed across genres, appearing in racing and party games as well as his core series.
Abilities
Crash can run, jump, and spin, like many other platform characters, and he starts to learn new abilities as he defeats each boss, including a high jump, a body slam, a slide, and others. He is proficient with the fruit bazooka, immune to mind control, and gifted with enhanced stamina, agility, and speed. Crash also has the ability to jack stunned enemies to toss them into other enemies, but it’s his original tornado spin which is usually more than enough. It lets him deflect projectiles and hover.

3 – Ratchet
Who
Ratchet is the primary good guy of the Ratchet and Clank series. He is a creature known as a lombax, and is introduced as a lonely mechanic from the planet Veldin dreaming of adventure. Adventure comes to him in the form of a small robot named Clank, and the two set off and save the universe on numerous occasions from Chairman Drek, Captain Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious. The Ratchet and Clank series is sometimes credited with bringing a real sense of true action back to a staling action genre through over the top weaponry and relentless onslaughts of enemies, and they’ve won acclaim for the weapon selection, and polished graphics, sounds, and gameplay.
Abilities
In a word: Guns. Lots and lots of guns. Guns that launch streams of hot lava. Guns that throw lightning bolts. Guns that launch rockets and bombs. Guns that fire razor blades. Guns that suck up foes to use as ammunition as other foes. Guns that throw controllable walking explosives. Guns in the Ratchet and Clank series aren’t so much THE method as a way of making you ask yourself, “Now, how do I want to kill YOU?”

4 – Kratos
Who
Kratos is the star of the God of War series and more or less a remnant of the selfish, angry anti-hero protagonist that was everywhere in the 90’s. It’s hard to blame him for his anger; I mean, he WAS tricked into killing his own wife and kid by Ares. After killing Ares and taking his place as the new God of War, Kratos is then betrayed by Zeus, revealed to be a demigod and Zeus’s own boy, and that just totally set him off about the machinations of the gods and he goes on a quest to slaughter the whole lot of their arrogant asses. He shows a hell of a hedonism streak for such a tortured soul. God of War has received almost universal acclaim as a series, and more than one of the individual games has been ranked among the greatest action games of all time. God of War II has been named the greatest action game ever by one source and is widely considered the swan song for the Playstation 2.
Abilities
Well…. Where do you begin when your iconoclast is a demigod? Well, Kratos wields the Blades of Chaos, a pair of blades attached to each other by a long chain, which is a nice weapon with a nice range that can be used in many ways, and can be powered up! He can also equip himself with literal armor of the gods. Going through the game, he attains the attacks of several gods and mythological creatures as well, including the head of Medusa. Kratos has strength and endurance beyond any living creature, and the exact limits of his strength aren’t known, but they have to be pretty extensive. We’re talking about a character who once took Hercules, Hercules being a guy who once bore the literal weight of the world on his shoulders. If you wanna take out the gods – which Kratos does with alarming regularity – ya gotta have muscles.

5 – Solid Snake
Who
The star of the Metal Gear Solid series has actually been around for quite some time. He first appeared in a pair of games on the NES officially called Metal Gear, which most casual gamers don’t even realize ever existed. The first game was, in fact, praised for potential but otherwise panned in every other way. He then disappeared and looked forgotten until Metal Gear Solid in 1995, a reboot no one expected, and upon its runaway success, Solid Snake was catapulted to gaming superstardom. Snake became popular for his aura of cool, and has been praised for eliciting real human emotion and complexity unmatched in video games. The Metal Gear Solid series is credited with the introduction of stealth gaming, scenes that break the fourth wall, and for far-reaching stories which include explorations of themes like social engineering, existentialism, manipulation of free will, and the nature of reality.
Abilities
Snake’s cool alone would give him an edge, but that’s not going to count for much. Since Snake is a stealth hero, most of his moves revolve around avoiding being seen so he can sneak up on his enemies from behind and snap their necks. (Seriously, you can do this.) Although Snake tends to have trouble handling more than one foe at a time, he’s still armed to the teeth in case he gets caught. He has the ability to use handguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and explosives. He even has resourceful use of cigarettes, using them to make laser lights visible to the naked eye. Even though most of his arsenal is really only useful in VERY specific situations, he still has the ability to go either around you or through you. It’s your choice, I’m quite sure; but you really don’t want to underestimate what a guy like Solid Snake can do to you.

6 – Cloud Strife
Who
The main character of Final Fantasy VII is the reigning face of the series. A former special soldier-turned-mercenary-turned world savior, a little bit of an emo boy, and a man of a very complex and confusing background which is difficult to sort out. (His memories were combined with those of a friend of his who was killed, but that’s never said outright, and a lot of info on the dead friend is attainable only in an optional quest.) He also came to define the idea of the sullen asshole hero, which ended up wrecking a lot of otherwise perfectly good RPGs. Despite the character and story problems, Final Fantasy VII is often credited with a few things: One is popularizing RPGs after they had been a heavy cult genre for a decade, after developer Squaresoft threw a multimillion dollar blitz ad campaign for it. Another is being the first game that utilized the full potential of the CG cutscene, and yet another is opening a genre typically known for fantasies happening in lands of kingdoms, princesses, and knights up to using hard science fiction settings.
Abilities
Well, for starters, Cloud carries a giant sword almost the size of his entire body which is capable of cleaving metal in two. That sword is also capable of holding little glowy stones called materia, which have magical qualities and can enhance the strength of the weapon while allowing Cloud to lean magic himself. Cloud also has the ability to use limit breaks – very powerful attacks which can be used after attaining enough damage. Cloud learns limit breaks the slowest, but his are the most powerful in the game, and they allow him to shoot a beam from his sword or make it rain meteors. Cloud’s final limit break is the awesome and devastating Omnislash. He might be crippled by his sullen attitude, though, or at least the fact that he only fights for money.

7 – Duke Nukem
Who
The Duke has been around since 1991, but it wasn’t until he went FPS and made the jump from PC to console that his career really took off. Although Duke Nukem basically combined the hyper-masculine 80’s action hero with the cutthroat, egocentric XTREME! attitude of the 90’s, he was for a brief window believed to be the future of the video game action hero. Duke made cracks about rival games, had a foul mouth, and was misogynistic as hell – in other words, he was the perfect caricature for many early teenage boys who thought they were ready for more adult games, and mistook Duke Nukem for an adult series because they thought being grown up would be all curse words, beer, junk food, and sex. Duke was as politically incorrect as it got, and his games were both fun and popular. He might have lasted as an icon had his latest game not spent 15 years in development, only to be released to lukewarm reviews likening it to a first-generation PSOne title.
Abilities
Being a caricature of 80’s Schwarzenegger and Stallone movies means Duke Nukem is no superhuman, although he certainly plays the part pretty well. We’re given the impression that Duke is capable of using sheer machismo as a substitute for super strength, and he’s able to accomplish incredibly feats of violence though that alone. In Duke Nukem Forever, his giant ego is actually powerful enough to serve as his personal shield! Combined with his expertise with automatic weapons, energy weapons, and explosives, Duke is a threat to anyone in his vicinity, possibly including himself.

8 – Dante
Who
Part mercenary, part private detective, part demon hunter, and part vigilante, the star of the Devil May Cry series is all fucking awesome. He’s the son of the powerful demon Sparda, and as a result, has abilities beyond those of any normal man. Devil May Cry was originally intended to be some kind of sequel or spinoff of the Resident Evil series, it was such a radical departure from the classic survival horror series that Capcom just decided to make it an independent series of its own. The first and third game in the series in particular are considered pace-setters for a sub-genre of action games called extreme combat games, which reached their fullest potential in the God of War series. Dante’s confident, fearless attitude have won a widespread following which convinced Toycom to produce a line of Devil May Cry action figures.
Abilities
Dante carries a pair of pistols he named Ebony and Ivory, and obtains the use of several large swords and gauntlets. His half-demon heritage allows him to tap into a darker side called Devil Trigger, which enhances his speed and strength, regenerates his health, and enhances his abilities with melee weapons. Even without that, Dante has incredible strength, telekinetic abilities, and is very resistant to physical injuries.

9 – Spyro the Dragon
Who
The star of the Spyro series, duh! His character description includes the terms courageous, headstrong, eager, arrogant, and fiery personality. Heroism and friendliness are among his traits, but he is also very curious and rarely cautious, which tends to get him in trouble. Although he has frequently refused to help people who would otherwise have awarded him, he still manages to regularly save the world, sometimes by accident. Although one of the Playstation’s premier characters, the Spyro series only produced a handful of top-reviewed games, though it is noted in a few parts for the musical score of Stewart Copeland as well as voice work from Mark Hamill, Billy West, Gary Oldman, and others.
Abilities
He’s a dragon! Don’t be fooled by Spyro’s cutesy appearance; Spyro is still a dragon, and therefore, still capable of charging you with his horns; flying; and spitting fire. He can also use his wings as a shield and shoot electricity. Games also give Spyro other abilities like attacking with his tail; throwing balls of chi; and slowing down time. His most dangerous attacks, though, are from the elemental furies. They allow him to harness the powers of fire; ice; earth; electricity; and convexity, which is manifested in the form of purple breath.

10 – Yoshimitsu
Who
One of the featured characters from the Tekken series, Yoshimitsu is the leader of the honorable Manji Clan, a ninjutsu aficionado, and a master swordsman with a prosthetic arm. He also appears in the Soul series. The Tekken series started out as a Virtua Fighter wannabe, but it eventually grew into its own. It shares Virtua Fighter’s reliance on real-life fighting techniques, but runs on a different engine, and is frequently cited as the best series of 3D fighting games.
Abilities
Yoshimitsu is one of only two characters in Tekken to use a sword, and the sword is said to have supernatural powers, which would probably be more significant if Tekken wasn’t a fighter and Yoshimitsu could decapitate foes in one shot. His style is of course based in ninjutsu, so aside from basic puches, kicks, and throws, Yoshimitsu can also use moves like the slash kick; sword flash; and dive bomb.

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About Nicholas Croston

I like to think. A lot. I like to question, challenge, and totally shock and unnerve people. I am a contrarian - whatever you stand for, I'm against.

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