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The Greatest Video Game Controller Buttons Ever

The Greatest Video Game Controller Buttons Ever

Readers of this blog may have caught a post I wrote around a year ago about the worst video game controller buttons ever made. I fully intended to follow that up with a post about the greatest video game controller buttons ever, but my ever-frequent sidetracks came along and kept me from doing so. But since it was a great idea, I knew I would have to get around to writing on the subject eventually, and so here it is: The long-awaited follow-up. Every gamer knows that some gaming console controllers are better than others, but there a lot of individual controller buttons which are better than others. Some are excellent for their quality and ease of use, others for their innovations, and still others are good for the way they commonly function. But which ones are the best of the best of the best? Well, keep right on reading, because I’ve come up with an inarguable, bulletproof list of the best video game controller buttons of all time. I wrote it up on my napkin during break!

Yes, you can blame Kotaku for inspiring the original idea. But Kotaku doesn’t do descriptions or explanations, and I do, so there!


10 – A Button

Gamecube Controller

Better known as The Big Green Button, the one thing the Gamecube controller managed to get right was the ginormous A Button. Standing out among a formation of oddly spaced and oddly shaped controller buttons, Nintendo’s signaling of the phrase “PRESS ME!!!” was placed front and center, larger than any of the other buttons on the damned thing, bright green and basically impossible to miss. It might as well have been a giant neon sign. Just sitting there, the A Button knew it was the lord and master of everything it surveyed. Whatever game you happened to be playing on the Gamecube, you knew that whatever function The Big Green Button performed was going to end up being hella important, and so you started plotting your gaming style and strategy accordingly. In a way, that made the Gamecube controller’s A Button an evolutionary step up from one of the legendary video game controller buttons…


9 – Button

Atari 2600 Controller

Yes, this is a posterity pick, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think it deserves a spot on this list. See, you have to remember that video games are like any other entertainment medium – they evolve, and a lot of things that were once innovations either become better versions of themselves or get junked. Back in the days of gaming yore, no one thought that video games were ever going to need more than one button, so yes, this sucker ended up running its course. But what a course it was! Sitting there alongside a joystick, you always knew where it was and what it did because it was the only action button the 2600 used. It’s the only dash of any real color on the controller. It made Pitfall Harry jump, it made the thing in Space Invaders fire, it… Well, it performed countless different functions in just as many video games. And unlike the finicky joystick standing there next to it, it never particularly cared about the position it was in in relation to the gamer, because it always performed the same way whether it was upside-down or not!


8 – Start

Genesis Controller

This is a weird selection, mainly because the Genesis controller’s version of the Start button eventually turned into such a wild card. As most people who know anything about video games are aware, the Genesis controller did something unprecedented: It wiped out the common stock button known as Select and replaced it with a third action button. At first, this looked like overkill. Then it looked like foresight. It eventually started to look backwards after Nintendo placed four action buttons and two shoulder buttons on the Super NES controller. That last one started to cripple the Genesis when Sega decided that it wasn’t going to start including six-button controllers in its packaging. Not everyone bought the six-button, and those who decided not to but loved fighting games were treated to a myriad of weird control substitutions which often utilized the Start button. In one game, it could be the turbo button. In another, it could be block. And in others, it switched between punches and kicks. The caveat was that there was no way to pause a game, but a button as useful and quirky as the Genesis Start button wasn’t something we saw everyday.


7 – D-pad Right

Most 16-bit Video Game Controllers

Well, what other direction would you go in?


6 – Z Trigger

Nintendo 64 Controller

For all the bad-mouthing we do about it, the Nintendo 64 controller was a stroke of genius in a handful of different ways. The Z Trigger is one of the coolest little innovations I’ve ever seen on a controller. Used in tandem with the analog stick, it brought a bit of ease to first-person shooter players because it was now possible to aim and fire using the same hand. Yes, the usual griping came out of PC gamers, but the Z Trigger introduced a natural ease to shooters which hadn’t been felt since the point-and-press days of Space Invaders. If you weren’t much for first-person shooters, well, you got stuck using the Z Trigger anyway. As I wrote in my piece about the worst controller buttons ever, the Nintendo 64 controller was bogged down by the fact that no one ever programmed anything into the d-pad or L button. The entire left side of the controller was useless. So when a function needed to get placed into a shoulder button, it was the Z Trigger that got the outsourced function on the Nintendo 64 version. What we have here is a novelty trigger with more versatility than a trigger is usually allowed.


5 – Analog Stick

Nintendo 64 Controller

And hey, speaking of the Nintendo 64’s analog stick, does anybody remember how much everybody HATED the thing when it first came out? The only reason we had trouble adjusting to it was because we never HAD to adjust to something so radical before. Even the Sony Playstation, which was launched around the same time and led by a prevalence of 3D games, used the basic d-pad. But the analog stick turned out to be an instance where’s Nintendo’s attempt to force gaming to evolve was right on point. Yes, everyone is still so in love with the original d-pad that all the major console makers are forcing them onto their controllers to this very day. But as a form of basic movement, the d-pad is a two-dimensional way of moving for a two-dimensional time in video gaming. When games jumped to 3D, Nintendo saw that gamers would need a form of uninhibited movement in 360 degrees. It saw that we were going to need our games to read more minute movements which would have to be read in more efficient ways than light, gentle taps on the d-pad. Now here we are over 20 years after the fact, and no hardware maker is crazy enough to try to launch a new console without this standard form of movement.


4 – L2 and R2

Playstation 2 Controller

Yes, I know everyone remains in love with the pill known as the Super NES controller. And yes, it WAS important – it included more action buttons than any controller ever seen at that point and introduced the first two shoulder buttons. Unfortunately, the thing was small and uncomfortable, and I hated the thing so much that I passed on the Super NES for a Genesis. When Sony introduced the first Playstation, the pistol grip put my deformed arm at ease, so it rescued my ability to game. But it wasn’t until the Dual Shock 2 came out that Sony saw it fit to extend and taper the bottom two shoulder buttons, making them easier to grasp and get our fingers around in way that was more natural than anything we had seen before. Although L2 and R2 were originally done as novelties that only made it easier to fit more functions into a single controller, the Playstation 2 is where they started to take on a new life of their own. The use of shoulder buttons as basic action buttons started with the Dual Shock 2, and a console generation later, Sony started spring-loading the buttons to allow their greater involvement in video games.


3 – L Trigger and R Trigger

Dreamcast Controller

Concluding the trigger portion of this list is the breakthrough enhancement that enabled designers to see the potential of triggers on controllers. Yes, the Nintendo 64 was the original, but the Dreamcast spring-loaded the things and placed them properly underneath the controller, transforming the difficult shoulder buttons into practical devices we could use without having to remind ourselves that they were there. Microsoft liked them so much that they nicked them straight for the original Xbox controller, creating the iconic versions of the L and R Triggers gamers have all come to know and love.


2 – X and Y Buttons

Super NES Controller

After Sega added a third action button to the Genesis controller, Nintendo realized it would have to go big. So it created a controller for its new flagship console with four action buttons and two shoulder buttons. Not only did that force Sega to create more evolved controllers to add to the Genesis, but how many more controllers had a button C? Even the Dreamcast used the X and Y axis layout.


1 – B Button

NES Controller

Okay, you can make a powerful argument that the A button belongs in this spot, and I’ll understand. A made Mario jump and Link swing his sword, after all. B was slightly more innocuous in Nintendo’s primary mascot series because Mario mostly ran with it. But when you make that argument, you’re denying Mario his ability to throw fireballs, Link the ability to shoot his bow and arrow, Samus the ability to shoot anything, and Kirby the ability to suck up his enemies. My qualm with A here is that so much of its function revolved around jumping. It was B that continued what Atari started with the 2600 controller, but it pulled off the trick of doing that while being an additional button which let gamers play with accessories and power-ups. B was the sort of button that shined bright whenever its time came, but which knew that it had to take a backseat at other times. It was B that eventually caused video game controllers to expand the way they did, inviting the other action buttons to show up at the party and bring along unique personalities of their own. B was the button that was at ease playing either the leader or the sidekick. Its position on many of today’s hand-engulfing controllers still enables it to play both of those roles with ease. And all of it started when Nintendo promoted it to its first big boy console.


The Worst Video Game Controller Buttons Ever

The Worst Video Game Controller Buttons Ever

If you’ve ever spent a lot of time playing video games, you’ve certainly noted the fact that not every controller is created equal. I can go on to amend that by saying that not every button on a controller is created equal, either. You would think that as game controllers and games themselves got to be more complex, designers would figure out how to make use of auxiliary buttons better. And, well, they did, but that doesn’t mean every button on a controller is going to be used well. And even with games allowing gamers the freedom to change up the control schemes in ways that are best suited to their tastes, some designers just still have trouble assigning decent uses to perfectly good controller buttons.

You know what? You can just blame the popular gaming blog Kotaku for this one. It was one of their famous unspecified lists. I read it, liked the idea, and decided to create my own, but with explanations! So here’s my list of the worst controller buttons ever, with undefined and haphazard qualifications!

10 – D-pad, All Directions

Nintendo 64 Controller

I’m one of the very few people who gave a wholehearted, enthusiastic endorsement to the much-hated Nintendo 64 controller. That, however, was based more on the comfort I enjoyed while I held it, the analog joystick, and the cool Z button. But let’s be honest: The detractors have some solid arguments, and they start with its deadweight of a d-pad. The question about this thing is, WHY?! Why is it there? Why did Nintendo even bother? There wasn’t much of a point, because nearly all the d-pad’s functionality was outsourced to the analog stick – even menu screens used it. And despite gamers widely complaining about getting stuck using the analog stick – you have to remember that this was the very early days of 3D games, and gamers back then had never used analog sticks before – Nintendo forced it onto everyone. Few, if any, games came with an option to use the d-pad, and so it just sat there being useless.

9 – Select Button

NES Controller

The original NES controller is the defining video game controller of all time. Every controller today is based on its interface: D-pad on the left, action buttons on the right, selection buttons in the middle. That being said, one wonders why so few people can still manage to find a valid function for the Select button. Yes, designers have been getting better about it, but the original Select button was damn near useless. It sits there, taking up space, being forgotten. The Konami code didn’t require it. When Sega designed the Genesis controller, it didn’t even see fit to include some form of it, opting instead for a single menu button – a Start button – and three action buttons. When NEC cranked out the TurboGrafx-16 and almost carbon-copied the NES controller, it tried to be a bit more inventive – the way to reset most Turbo games is to press its Select and Run (the Turbo’s Start) buttons at the same time, but it still didn’t give poor Select a real function. In just about every form, Select sits, inconspicuous in its form, limited in its function, and you get the feeling that in 99 parallel dimensions, it doesn’t exist at all. As opposed to this dimension, where it just might as well not exist.

8 – D-pad, Left

Various Controllers in the 8- and 16-Bit Eras

We can argue about the real origins of the side-scrolling adventure game until the cows come home. But what will never, ever change is that fact that Super Mario Bros. is the inarguable point where games started to model themselves on it. What did the game do? Scroll. Where did Mario start? On the left. Where did he go? To the right. Thus, a permanent template was created, and video game characters forevermore started on the left and moved to the right. This mindset enveloped games so much that, if you’ve ever gotten ahold of one of the very rare games that does it the other way around – or, hell, if you’ve even played a game that so much as offered a single level that does it – it feels completely unnatural. So where does that leave the poor left button on the d-pad? Well, there’s no denying that it has a lot of importance. After all, a gamer needs to have room to dodge, set up defense and counterattack, and weave. But there is a whole genre of game where the characters can’t even turn left! There are a lot of other games where gamers aren’t allowed to backtrack, including the original Super Mario Bros. itself. So how’s left as a useful controller button? Of course, this has been dying out since games started going 3D, but gamers around my age remember when there was one direction to move in, and it was the right.

7 – Z Button

Gamecube Controller

The thing about influential inventors and innovators is that we tend to only look at their successes. We ignore their failures completely. And everyone who ever invented anything has failed a lot more than they’ve succeeded. Nintendo, for all their influence, has made a lot of controller shit. You would be amazed how many people think their greatest work is the Gamecube controller. While a comfortable controller, it contains a LOT of obvious blights. None are worse than that Z button. Almost certainly crammed onto the Gamecube controller purely as an afterthought, the Z button sits tucked near the R button as nothing more than an auxiliary menu button. It feels like a weird outcropping on the controller rather than a real button, and to press it feels like making it click.

6 – Left Analog Stick, All Directions

All Xbox Controllers

It’s a universally accepted fact that the original Xbox controller was just a really bad idea, but even with the compact model that quickly became Microsoft’s norm, people tend to ignore the unnatural thumb alignments. The now-standard Xbox controller is basically a knockoff of the Playstation’s Dual Shock, which would be just fine if not for the unusual placement of the left analog: It sits above the d-pad rather than below it, while the right analog is distal to the d-pad. This setup takes a little bit of practice before your thumbs manage to adjust to it, and even when they do, it never seems to develop into anything natural. Now, this isn’t so bad in a lot of games because the double analog setup usually doesn’t mean very much – the sticks are used to perform two different functions. But if you’re into fighters or first-person shooters, THEN it gets to be an annoyance. The problem is more muted in fighting games because you only need a single d-pad to play them, and the proper d-pad is often an option, but nothing feels right about quarter-circle or double-tap motions with the analog so far away from the grip. In first-person shooters, it gets pervasive because you need both sticks for basic controls, and nothing about the movement/viewpoint setup feels right.

5 – Buttons L and R

Saturn Controller

Sega had led a wave of innovation with the Genesis and the Dreamcast, but it seems like they were playing catch-up during every phase in between. After gaming evolution wrecked the original Genesis controller (as well as the ability to play fighting games on the Genesis), Sega knew it couldn’t go on with anything less than six buttons… Which it included on the Saturn controller as buttons A, B, C, X, Y, and Z. You might notice that this means the Saturn controller HAD six buttons WITHOUT adding L and R! So in its attempt to keep up with the Joneses – the Joneses in this case being Sony and Nintendo, both of whom adopted shoulder buttons – it added a couple of plastic shells to the Saturn controller which it placed on top and referred to as “buttons.” They were there as replacements for the Mode button on the Mega Drive, which is video-game-ese for, “they didn’t do jack shit.” Basically, Sega put a pair of keep-up buttons on a controller strictly for decoration.

4 – D-pad, All Directions

Gamecube Controller

It would be pretty easy for me to make this argument by just copying and pasting my entry for the Nintendo 64 controller up there. But, to reiterate, the damn thing is useless. And the Gamecube controller comes with the added bonus of being far too small for it to be comfortable to use. The thing is about the size of the Game Boy Advance d-pad; not something that one would expect a real, adult-sized hand to fight with on a big boy video game controller.

3 – Buttons L3 and R3

Playstation and Xbox Controllers

No one thinks of these buttons, and there’s a good reason why: They tend to be obscured by being hidden inside the analog sticks. You press them by pressing down on the sticks; I don’t mean hitting the directional stick in the down direction, I mean it in the sense of applying pressure to the stick. Imagine trying to crush it between your thumb and your hand. This is one of those “break glass in case of emergency buttons,” to be used in case there’s no other place to put a weird, offhand function. Useful functions placed inside the sticks feel like they’re being forced there, so designers compensate by trying to hide optional, offhand junk functions into them. The sirens in the Grand Theft Auto games were put into the L3 and R3 buttons. There’s a reason why these buttons do such weird things: They’re impractical and they don’t press easily. Even the engineers at Sony and Microsoft think they’re jokes; there are gamers who have owned those consoles for years without ever figuring out these buttons even exist.

2 – C-stick, All Directions

Gamecube Controller

This was another result of a Nintendo attempt to drag gaming evolution in a direction it clearly wasn’t going to go in. This had its origin in the Nintendo 64 controller, which had four singular buttons pointing in four directions referred to C Up, C Down, C Left, and C Right. Those were intended to be camera buttons, but they ultimately functioned as the action buttons they were destined to be. The C-Stick is sort of just… There. It just sits, innocuously, not doing anything one way or the other because it’s another instance of designers – including Nintendo itself – not knowing what to do with it half the time. Now, the idea wasn’t a bad one – it placed an increasingly common function into a controller device set aside strictly for it. But it would have been a huge help had anyone been able to figure that out. There were a lot of games in which the C-Stick just wasn’t functional. (Are you sensing a theme yet?) Many other games just outsourced them to the shoulder buttons, which was the common thing to do at the time. What the C-Stick DID do was give FPS buffs a way to finally play their shooters the way they were meant to be played, with one stick to move and the other to look, so I guess it did serve as a camera stick in that capacity, at the least.

1 – L Button

Nintendo 64 Controller

Wow, what a blunder this sucker was. Now, when Nintendo made the Nintendo 64 controller, it did so with the idea of offering control options to gamers. As we’ve already seen, though, those options never, ever came into fruition. The L Button from the Nintendo 64 controller was supposed to be used in conjunction with the action buttons, the R Button, and the Z Trigger (which, by the way, looks like it will make my list of greatest video game buttons). But forget a controller that intimidates people who have all ten fingers – the Nintendo 64 Controller required three hands, or at least it would if the entire left side wasn’t so flaccid. The L Button’s work on the Nintendo 64 Controller was outsourced to the Z Trigger. When the Nintendo 64 was introduced, the Z Trigger was already a lively button – the hand-form pistol grip made it easy to reach and keep your index finger on at all times, and that made it useful for a handful of its own functions. It changed the way we look at first-person shooters. But all of the usual L Button functions were also automatically handed over to the Z Trigger too. Few games offered options, and even in the very few games in which the d-pad was at least usable in SOME way – such as a menu screen – the L button just sat there, outcast to the point where it should have come equipped with its own little anarchy sign.

Playing with Ultimate Power: Super NES vs. Genesis

Playing with Ultimate Power: Super NES vs. Genesis

This is another one of those great 90’s arguments. It seems a moot point right now, sure; today’s kids will never have the pleasure of growing up standing by their favorite video game console, warding off its attackers. In the 90’s, console ownership was like being a fan of a sports team: You picked, you stood by it no matter what, because it was YOURS. If someone attacked, you took it personally, and gunned for the attacker with a barrage of Your Mother insults and shots at the console itself which frequently included the words “crap” and “suck” as well as a bunch of other, much more creative things you could think up that involved more explicit terms. You didn’t care what the objective truth was – all you knew is that an attack on your chosen console was an attack on you, your family, your lifestyle, your religion, and whatever else you held close to your heart.

Time marched on, though, and multi-console homes began becoming the norm. Those of the 16-bit Golden Era shook hands and called our uneasy truce. However, the objective question at hand was never properly answered: Which console, exactly, was the superior console? While others might like to throw in bids for personal favorites like the TurboGrafx-16, Neo Geo, 3DO, CD-I, and Jaguar, those are all being thrown into the wind these days because we all know it was really about two consoles waging a fierce war against each other: In the first corner was that eternal Goliath of video games, Nintendo, which brought what is still arguably its crowning console achievement: The Super NES. In the other corner was Sega and its trailblazing Genesis, which was able to successfully play the David for a couple of years and make itself into a household name. So let’s do this! The Super NES vs. the Genesis. One day, I’ll learn.

The Genesis came along a couple of years sooner, and when it did, it was the most powerful console the discerning gamer could buy. After all, its only real competition was NEC and its TurboGrafx-16, which critics kept accusing of being nothing more than basically a pair of eight-bit consoles duct-taped together to emulate 16 bits. The Genesis was released in Japan in October 1988 before being dropped into North America ten months later to capitalize on Nintendo’s apparent laziness and/or inability to admit they probably needed to evolve their hardware in order to keep up in the video game market – after all, Sega was able to get by for awhile on a marketing campaign which showed the Genesis as the embodiment of cool while showing the original NES as a console which kids played. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Nintendo got the point; when they released the Super NES in Japan in 1990 (North America in 1991), they had created a monster bigger and badder than anything the video game demographic had ever seen. The Genesis had a faster CPU speed (7.67 MHz as opposed to 3.58 on the Super NES), a better internal ROM (One compared to a nonexistent ROM on the Super NES), and a synthesizer. The Genesis One had a headphone output and the Genesis in general had backward compatibility with an adaptor. In every other respect, the Super NES swamped it: More colors, better resolution, could show more sprites at once and in higher resolution, and twice as much RAM. They tied in sound processor bits – eight – and in CPU bits – 16.
Super NES. Yes, the Genesis had a two-year head start, but the problem with a big head start is that the competition quits worrying about timing if it has a machine developing in the wings which is capable of kicking your ass. You can make the argument that it’s not about the equipment so much as how the equipment is used, but this argument is entirely about the equipment. When used to its full potential, the Super NES could do more than the Genesis, and that’s not even bringing the controllers into the debate. The Super NES wins this round.

When Nintendo released the NES in 1985, the idea of video game characters was fairly new – Pac-Man had been a massive hit with a song and a Saturday morning cartoon, but he was more or less a novelty which no one thought would ever come along again in a fad industry which, courtesy of Atari, was on life support. Nintendo introduced a certain plumber by the name of Mario, packed his game in with the console, and within five years more American schoolkids were familiar with Mario than Mickey Mouse. After that, Nintendo did it again by introducing Link, Samus Aran, Mega Man, and eventually, Kirby. Thanks in large part to those characters, video games became a cultural force which could no longer be ignored, and lord knows other developers tried to follow Nintendo’s lead. NEC introduced the wildly underrated Bonk on the TurboGrafx-16 while Sega found some success on the Master System with Alex Kidd and Shinobi. NEC bowed out, and Sega carried Alex Kidd and Shinobi to the Genesis while also bringing a memorable duo of hip hop aliens, Toejam and Earl, into their first party line. But it was in 1991 that Sega found a winning formula when it introduced a zippy little blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic, and the console war became a real console war. Nintendo’s mascots were so good that they were able to keep going on their strength, especially when placing them in new 16-bit games like Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. They also created another new character to add to their pantheon, Star Fox, and reinvented Donkey Kong as a good guy. Meanwhile, with no familiar names, Sega got to work finding their own exclusive characters which could help propel the Genesis along: Ecco, a dolphin in search of his lost pod who fights aliens that are endangering the time/space continuum; Vectorman, a robot made entirely of orbs; and Ristar, another underrated mascot developed by Sonic Team whose appearance served as the curtain call for the Genesis.
Super NES. The fact that Sonic was the character that introduced, embodied, and influenced the entire idea of in-you-face XTREME!!! ATTITUDE!!! in the 90’s can’t be understated, and the games in Sonic’s core series in those days are some of the best ever made. That, however, can’t hold a candle to Mario, who basically created the template to an entire genre of video games which is still very popular; another character – Link – who served as the template to the pseudo-3D action/RPG’s which were popular throughout the 16-bit era; and Star Fox, which turned Mode 7 shooters into viable commodities instead of interesting novelties. And while most people blame Sega’s advertising department for their eventual fall out of hardware development, their first party developers certainly didn’t do the company any favors, either. Toejam and Earl were given two popular games, released to sensational reviews, and never seen again until they showed up on the Xbox; Vectorman had a similar fate, but without the next-gen console update. Shinobi and Ecco were placed on ill-fated consoles before disappearing completely. Ristar was never seen again. Ecco and Sonic both suffered severe quality downgrades when their gameplay mechanics didn’t translate very well into 3D. Nintendo’s mascots have all suffered too, but the Mario and Legend of Zelda series continue to churn out regular Game of the Year material, and Nintendo will always be just fine as long as that’s the case. If you can get away with pitting your first party characters against each other in an acclaimed series of fighting games (Super Smash Bros.), you’re good no matter what.

When it comes to actually being able to control your games, both Sega and Nintendo acted on a startling realization which others hadn’t yet envisioned: They were both aware of the fact that video games were evolving, and the standard one-button-to-jump-and-one-button-to-shoot format would soon be outdated. Sega countered by adding an extra action button, so they ended up with three instead of two. Nintendo placed six on the Super NES controller, which was unnecessary and incredible at the time, but it proved to be a great long-term move. Soon after the release of the Super NES, two-dimensional fighting games reached their apex, and the Super NES was better equipped to handle the wide range of moves. Developers struggled to work six-button schemes into Sega’s three-button layout, and after awhile, they just stopped trying altogether. The Genesis adaptation of Mortal Kombat II was missing an entire move, and Streets of Rage 3 had a couple of non-essential attacks cut. Sega rectified the situation by releasing six-button versions of their standard controllers, but the three-button controllers continued to be prevalent until the Genesis went defunct. I’m not sure if it ever became the default pack-in controller. But while the Super NES controller was the more functional, it was also much harder to hold; the Genesis had a nice pair of grips that stuck out on the bottom ends and said, “Grab me!” The Super NES controller had the look and feel of an oversized pill, and it introduced an innovation that became a bane: The shoulder buttons, which felt weird and misplaced. It was very difficult to get at the shoulder buttons because it never felt like my hands were at the proper angle, and how good is a controller anyway if you can’t play a game for more than ten minutes without your hand cramping up?
I’m going with the Genesis. Maybe you don’t share my opinion of the shoulder buttons, but those poorly-placed innovations made it too difficult to play games. You’ve only forgotten that, or maybe you’re looking at them through nostalgia goggles, but the things were a hassle that never got fixed until an entire console generation later, when Sony’s Dual Shock introduced the pistol grip. I don’t know why people raved about the thing so much. Maybe they were fooled into thinking that boxy old controller with the original NES was still the greatest controller ever, or something. Also, the Genesis had disc-shaped d-pad while the Super NES had no diagonals. There’s some consideration of the gamer for you.

Innovative Games
Part of the reason the Super NES and Gensis are considered the infallible Kings of the Golden Era is because developers started getting bold, and we started seeing them take gaming risks they never would have taken before. Innovation of both consoles ended up challenging all gamers and unleashing their imaginations as they were encouraged to think outside the box. The Genesis had games like Shining in the Darkness, a turn-based RPG played in the first person; Ecco the Dolphin, and exploratory puzzle-based game which boasted digitized graphics motion-captured from footage of real dolphins and immense gameplay rewards to those who stuck it out; and Comix Zone, literally a panel-by-panel brawler set in a comic book. The Super NES brought Star Fox, with its Super FX chip and nonlinear level paths; Chrono Trigger, the legendary RPG which gave us the tech system; and Uniracers, a 2D racing game where you raced unicycles around roller coaster courses. Nintendo introduced pre-rendered 3D graphics with Donkey Kong Country; the Genesis countered later with Vectorman. The Super NES could use scaling and rotation and the Genesis was capable of animated cutscenes. Both of these consoles had a lot going for them in this department.
Genesis. Yes, the Super NES certainly had a huge share of innovative games that worked, but it also had the option of falling back on established characters. While the Genesis may have spent its early years adapting the invincible game library Sega had in American arcades, Sega had ran out of them by the time the Super NES hit stateside, and after that, they were forced to take chances because they had nothing to ride. The Genesis used celebrity licensing – Michael Jackson and Joe Montana were noteworthy signings – and had to make the Genesis appeal to people who weren’t kids or the parents of kids who needed video games to be safe. So we saw games like Mutant League Hockey, Phantasy Star II, and the blood code version of Mortal Kombat. Retro Gamer said this about the Genesis: “It was a system where the allure was born not only of the hardware and games, but the magazines, playground arguments, climate, and politics of the time.” Exactly. It was born, in other words, of the things that necessitate innovation and invention.

Action/Adventure/Platform Games
Um… Wow. It’s tough to figure out just where to begin with this one. These genres produced so many games and overlapped so much that it almost doesn’t seem worth debating. Mario against Sonic is a fight to the death. Both had access to third party attempts at new characters, like Earthworm Jim and Rocket Knight Adventures. Sometimes, the Genesis versions were better and the Super NES owned better versions of other games.
Look, there’s nothing that can be said about one console’s collection of these genres that can’t be said for the other. Certainly Nintendo can harass Sega people about having The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but the Genesis was fully capable of taking on that challenge: Sega released a pair of outstanding adventure games, Landstalker and Beyond Oasis, which were as deep and rewarding as any Zelda adventures. Nintendo could throw Contra and Castlevania at Sega, but the Genesis was given mid- and late-life games in both series: Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps hold up as well as any of their namesake games on the Super NES. Nintendo threw Donkey Kong Country – with its new-fangled graphics technique – at Sega, only for Sega to counter with Vectorman which, today, is almost universally considered the better game for miles. Mega Man had to contend with Gunstar Heroes. In other words, if you’re not willing to write this off as a draw, it’s time to get off your fanboy throne.

Role-Playing Games
You would have thought Sega would be just fine wandering into the 16-bit era in the role-playing department. After all, they had released the classic Phantasy Star on the Master System, which had a first-person view through the dungeons and was considered one of the most unique games available back then. With the introduction of the Genesis, Sega fleshed out the idea of a first-person RPG when it introduced Shining in the Darkness, the first game – and still the game many gamers consider the best – in a loose series of games affectionately termed the Shining series. Shining in the Darkness eventually paved the way for a pair of sequels, Shining Force and Shining Force II, both of which are more traditional RPGs with serious elements of strategy. A bunch of other great RPGs also popped up: Light Crusader, Landstalker, Beyond Oasis, Sword of Vermillion, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, and Shadowrun all stood out. Likewise, when Nintendo entered the 16-bit world, they were coming in on RPG strength too: They had a successful series on the NES called Dragon Warrior, which proved to be another template series, so with that alone Nintendo looked all set to go up against the juggernaut Sega had become. And then Dragon Warrior’s developer, Enix… Stopped exporting the series, which in Japan was called Dragon Quest. That didn’t mean Nintendo was down for the count, though; they went about releasing a new Zelda game, and they also had this second party developer called Squaresoft which had released an amazing little RPG on the NES called Final Fantasy. Although the full compliment of available Final Fantasy games didn’t make it to the United States, the Super NES did get Final Fantasy IV – which was Final Fantasy II here – and FFVI, which was FFIII here. Both were considered groundbreakers, and Final Fantasy spent the Golden Era going toe-to-toe with Phantasy Star. Beyond that, Nintendo really got to work churning out classic after classic: Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Earthbound, Breath of Fire… Hell, Nintendo even teamed up with Squaresoft to make Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Super NES. Let’s face it: Sega gets royally stomped in this category. I know this is the second time in a row I brought up The Legend of Zelda and pit it against certain Genesis games, but that was for two reasons: One is because the RPG elements of them are toned down to the extent that you can make a case for them all being either adventure games or RPGs, and the other is because I wanted Sega to have a fighting chance here. I was a Sega person during those days, but even I can admit this: Outside of Phantasy Star, Shining Force, and the action RPGs, there weren’t a lot of RPGs that buffs of the genre got excited about. Most of them are best remembered these days as excellent cult games: There were some damn fine games in the Might and Magic series, and the collection also includes The Faery Tale Adventure, Exile, and Warsong; but if you brought any of those games into a room to throw at the likes of Actraiser or Chrono Trigger – which is in the discussion for the greatest RPG ever, an opinion I tend to concur with – you’ll be laughed out. The entire genre is basically one of Sega’s legendary missteps, especially seeing as how Sega pretty much outsourced its RPGs to the Sega CD after that came out. And no, I’m not awarding points to the Genesis here for the Sega CD or 32X because their games weren’t compatible with the Genesis; therefore, I’m not giving any points for the introduction of the Lunar series, harsh as that is. The cancellation of a Genesis version of Lufia and the Fortress of Doom doesn’t help either. If you like RPGs, you’re a Super NES person, and that’s that.

Sports Games
Although it’s barely brought up today, the 16-bit era was a golden age of endorsement deals from real professional athletes for sports video games. Joe Montana had Sports Talk Football. Jerry Glanville (!) had Pigskin Footbrawl. Evander Holyfield had Real Deal Boxing. Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Deion Sanders (who endorsed games for two different sports), Troy Aikman, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Sampras, Jack Nicklaus, and so many other professional sports people had so many game endorsements that it’s impossible to list them all. Hell, things got so out of hand that Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal both managed to sign endorsement deals for games that had virtually nothing to do with basketball – Jordan signed his name to an action/adventure game called Chaos in the Windy City and O’Neal went down in history for one of the most notorious gaming blunders in history, a fighting game called Shaq-Fu. This resulted in a massive market for sports games; so much so that sports games became game series which released new versions every year. Of course, the NES had started out giving gamers a handful of classic sports games, including Tecmo Bowl, so Nintendo had momentum going into the Golden Era. Then Tecmo suddenly started producing games for both the Super NES and the Genesis. Nintendo also had Punch-Out, which their fans could brag about for years before Toughman Contest appeared on the Genesis and arguably was the better game (the reasoning was because its boxers were real and didn’t use patterns to let gamers know when and how they would strike). The 16-bit years saw the comic sports game genre reach its apex with Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey for the Genesis, while Electronic Arts emerged as a go-to giant in simulations. More arcade-oriented sports games also came out – NBA Jam was very popular. The emergence of sports gaming makes sense – after all, sports has been an eternal theme in gaming, from the time of the first-ever video game – Tennis for Two – to the first hit video game in an arcade, which was Pong. The Golden Era allowed deeper and bigger games than ever before, and the licensing created a sense of realism which didn’t previously exist.
This is where the Genesis truly shined. Yes, the Super NES had many of the same sports games as the Genesis, but it was never quite able to one-up the Genesis the way Nintendo would have liked. Hell, the Genesis versions of EA Sports’s popular NHL series are considered to be the outright superior – especially in the case of the iconic NHL ’94, for which the Genesis version is the defining hockey game of all time. As if that wasn’t enough, Sega had an entire wing of first party developers right in their own offices simply called Sega Sports, and those guys weren’t just trying to ride the tide to the bank; they produced a series of NFL games capable of holding their own against EA Sports’s mighty Madden series. They also produced World Series Baseball, the defining baseball series of the time, with its groundbreaking, dramatic plate view. The greatest testament to how good Sega Sports was is in their legacy. When Sega went third party, Sega Sports was turned into 2K Sports, and in 2004, they released ESPN NFL 2K5, which is still considered the greatest football game ever made and which scared EA Sports shitless to such a point that Electronic Arts had to run out and snatch up the NFL license for itself. 2K Sports’s basketball games are considered the best available today. (And frankly, Madden football was never that good in the first place. Had sports gamers not been brand loyalty sheep to it, 2K Sports could have fleshed out its potential and Electronic Arts wouldn’t be playing Monopoly.) Furthermore, Nintendo’s attempt to stay on their kiddie image is what probably kept the Mutant League series off the Super NES, and there’s a distinct possibility it kept them from trying to get certain athletes licensed, although that’s just my own hypothesis.

Fighting Games
Ah, a category you were all waiting for because it covers another one of those great 90’s debates: Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat! So, everybody already knows both consoles were homes to some stellar ports of Street Fighter II and, to a lesser extent, Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat has kind of an odd track record on home consoles: The Genesis version of the first game was better, and the Super NES had the better version of the second game before they leveled out at the third and fourth games. But what about the fighters that didn’t have those names? Well, both consoles had very good renditions of the Fatal Fury series which, in the grand pyramid of fighting games, ranks just below Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Both had renditions of the criminally underrated Samurai Shodown, but while the Super NES had all of the original characters, they were compromised by small sizes. The Genesis version axed the least popular character, Earthquake, but made the sprites a lot bigger while making the final boss a playable character in the two-player mode. Both had notable exclusives of popular arcade games: The Genesis introduced a fine conversion of Virtua Fighter 2 in its twilight, and the Super NES got an awesome version of Killer Instinct. Both also had several fighting games which are largely unheard of, and both had home exclusives like Clay Fighter, Weaponlord, and Brutal. Of course, they also both had to contend with the atrocity that was Shaq-Fu blighting their reputations too.
I really wanted to pick a winner for this one, but I can’t. As with the Action/Adventure/Platform category, the respective output of both consoles is too similar. It’s even more similar that that, in fact, because so many fighting games were made by third party developers, and the exclusives flat out sucked half the time. I know there will be people whining about how I should give this one to the Genesis because it had Eternal Champions and the bloody version of the original Mortal Kombat, but here’s the thing: Eternal Champions was a lousy game. As for the bloody version of Mortal Kombat, don’t give me that shit. The Genesis version was every bit as bloodless as the Super NES version. The inclusion of a code that inserted blood into it doesn’t count, because the thing about video game codes is that they’re not meant to be discovered! There’s a difference between a bloody version of the game and a version which had a blood code; even though everyone knew the fucking code, it still required a set of actions not mentioned in the manuel or alluded to anywhere in the game. I know people want me to give this to the Super NES because its controller had twice as many buttons, but that doesn’t work either because both consoles offered the same range of alternative controllers, and all but about two of Sega’s alternates had six buttons, plus that disc-shaped d-pad the Super NES controller lacked.

Shooting Games
There’s little in gaming more fun than hopping on a spaceship and blowing everything in sight to Kingdom Come, and once again, both consoles had whole sets of shooters created strictly to oblige you. As far as the more multidirectional overhead shooters go, both consoles had Electronic Art’s great Strike series and the whacked-out bit of comic genius that was Zombies Ate My Neighbors. As far as exclusives went, the Super NES had the Pocky and Rocky series while the Genesis had the innovative Red Zone. When it comes to rail shooters, though, the selection couldn’t be more different, and this is a big deal because rail shooters were one of the most dominant genres of video games in the early 16-bit era; they were so popular that even the TurboGrafx-16 built an army of rail shooters which included several all-time greats. Once again, the Super NES was stacked with a list of name games; its list included games from the Gradius, Raiden, and R-Type series. The Genesis had to rely on innovative development, and so it had a list of shooters that included games like Sub-Terrania, MUSHA, and Steel Empire. Both had great shooting games with behind-the-player viewpoints: The Super NES, of course, had Star Fox while the Genesis had Space Harrier II and After Burner.
I’m giving this to the Super NES. Konami made third party games for both consoles, but they clearly seemed to prefer Nintendo. After all, it was Nintendo that got the Gradius games and a sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors – called Ghoul Patrol – which never came out for the Genesis. After Burner and Spare Harrier II were great games, but Star Fox introduced the idea that a shooter didn’t necessarily have to be linear. Although the Genesis did get a Raiden game, had a solid shooter lineup, and introduced Sub-Terrania, it’s very difficult to persuade me that its general quality wasn’t more hit-or-miss than it was on the Super NES. The problem with shooters is that they exemplify a particular ethos about game design: The way shooters are done is so stupidly, insultingly simple that everyone knows exactly what to do and how to do it; but on the other hand, doing it well takes time and practice, and even with that, it’s still very, very easy to suck at it. Although innovation is normally a wonderful thing, in shooting games, you usually want to stick with name brands because doing it well is automatic for them at a certain point, and you want something you know will be good rather than taking a risk on something which, even if it’s not bad, still has a huge chance of feeling like a worse version of something you’ve played before.

Arcade Conversions
It’s hard to believe these days, but once upon a time, the arcade was the place where you could play the newest, biggest, most advanced game available. Arcade games weren’t limited by console technology, so programmers went nuts. If an arcade game made a lot of money, it would inevitably find its way to the Super NES and Genesis, where it was up to the developer to try and cram all the advanced circuitry in those mammoth machines into a 24-meg, 16-bit cartridge. Naturally, conversions could be hit or miss. This was most obvious in fighting games: Street Fighter II carried over pretty well to both. Mortal Kombat Genesis mopped the floor with the Super NES version, and Mortal Kombat II Super NES returned the favor. The Super NES got the superior version of Art of Fighting, and Samurai Shodown was better on the Genesis. NBA Jam survived almost fully intact on both. Sometimes, developers did weird and unnecessary things to arcade conversions: When Capcom brought Final Fight to the Super NES, it axed the most popular character, Guy, the two-player mode, and a whole level. Later, Capcom basically retracted by creating a version with Guy, but it was still a single-player game with two selectable characters and a missing level. Acclaim cut the ducking punch from the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat II. Both consoles also tried to adapt games which were way out of their league: The Super NES gave it a go with Killer Instinct, while the Genesis used Sega’s acclaimed Virtua Fighter series, and they both turned out well – they kept the fundamental aspects of the games while scaling back the technology.
Genesis. I give Nintendo all the credit in the world for how the Super NES debuted – it started out by giving people Super Mario World straight off, and that proved to be a sign of the times because it meant that Nintendo was, after years of holding out, recognizing and adapting to the changing nature of video games. They showed that by presenting gamers with an epic specifically tailored to their new console. This isn’t about epics or what’s suited to do what, though – it’s recognition of how good developers did in bringing the arcade experience home. And in that respect, Sega is the undisputed King, albeit on the strength of the early Genesis library. It’s not a coincidence that Sega first advertised the Genesis by playing up adaptations of its arcade library, or that the first pack-in game for the Genesis was Altered Beast; Altered Beast was a weak game, but it was popular and people liked it. Sega then set off on an arcade conversion streak which also included Strider, Golden Axe, Gain Ground, Atomic Runner, and Air Buster. Sega also created a whole new version of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and Shadow Dancer. In the early days, if you wanted a certain arcade game to bring home, you bought a Genesis, because if Sega made it, you knew it would show up on the Genesis, and frequently be damn good.

Well, holy shit: My second tie. Oh well. My loyalty was with Sega throughout the era, but this just shows that in the Golden Era, there were no losers in the Super NES/Genesis war. It doesn’t matter by now, though. This fight has been over almost 20 years now, and nearly every serious gamer who was a member of the 16er Generation has – no matter which console they prefer – conceded that both were excellent.

The March Madness Video Game Tournament Finals Round

The March Madness Video Game Tournament Finals Round

Final Four

Master Chief vs. Dante
The thing about Dante’s matches is that he really hasn’t been, ahem, challenged just yet. Now he’s facing off with a first seed who wears a suit of armor specifically designed to repel a lot of his attacks, and the person wearing it is a genetically enhanced, super-trained soldier capable of absorbing his melee attacks. Dante’s Devil Trigger is a limited mode, and it’s not going to be strong enough to knock off Master Chief in a single round. Given this, it’s easy to imagine Dante taunting Master Chief in the early goings of the fight, but Dante’s best attacks are his melee attacks, and he’s going to drop his act pretty quickly after approaching Master Chief only to get socked in the face. Master Chief’s armor is going to repel a good number of Dante’s more dangerous ranged attacks, which sucks for Dante because with melee combat being a last resort and Master Chief being a range fighter, that’s how Chief is going to make Dante beat him – at range. Although Dante is very capable of fighting at range, it’s melee combat which is his greatest strength, and so what Dante is stuck with is a choice between frying pan and fire: Use his now-unreliable ranged attacks or try to rush up to fight melee with Master Chief shooting bullets and energy weapons in his face. The Son of Sparda is going to be forced to fight off the mistakes of a guy who’s trained to never, ever make mistakes, and he’s going down.
Winner: Master Chief

Samus Aran vs. Vectorman
A battle of attrition is going to commence between Samus and Vectorman, and it’s going to be an ugly match. Vectorman can turn into a bomb, and Samus can morph into a ball which plants bombs along the ground. Both know the importance of multidirectional aim. Hell, they even both use basic weaponry stored in their arms! Although Samus is armed with the mighty Screw Attack, it’s going to be tough to be able to get into a fully safe area where she can activate it. Samus is eventually going to take a final gamble using her Speed Booster, which allows her to move at supersonic speeds which are lethal to her enemies. She’ll get an opening in Vectorman’s line of fire, charge up as fast as she can, and launch at Vectorman in Shinespark mode, which throws Vectorman off his bearings. After that, Samus launches every ranged weapon she has at Vectorman while he’s down.
Winner: Samus

Championship Match

Master Chief vs. Samus Aran
Two stars of first-person shooting games wearing protective biological suits. Sadly, this isn’t going to end up being the legendary final matchup we hoped for – after all, Samus has a lot more in her arsenal, and items other than guns which allow her more functionality beyond just protection while killing everything in sight. She can move around and do more to avoid Master Chief’s attacks. The big difference-maker, though, is going to be Samus’s Ice Beam. Although Master Chief’s armor provides protection against the elements, its makers probably never viewed a beam capable of freezing up the armor from the inside as a real threat. It would be almost too easy, actually, and after Master Chief is frozen, it’s time to unleash the rocket launcher, or perhaps the Screw Attack or Shinespark, since there’s no real guarantee using the rocket launcher against Master Chief, who’s probably equipped to survive a close-by explosion.
March Madness Video Game Character Tournament Champion: Samus Aran

And The First Lady of Video Games takes the top prize. Was there ever any doubt?

The Nintendo Bracket Face-Off

The Nintendo Bracket Face-Off

Round One

Samus Aran Vs. Ryu
Anyone who’s played Street Fighter II knows that Ryu tends to fight very defensively – he’ll wedge himself into a corner, launch fireballs for all eternity, and smack his opponents with a Dragon Punch if they get too close. A good long range attack might come in handy against Samus – whose primary weapons are ranged – but it would only last until Samus got fed up, rolled under the fireball volley, and planted a few bombs right at Ryu’s feet. Besides, even if Samus decided to move closer to Ryu via air instead of rolling under his fireballs, there’s no way in hell the Dragon Punch would ever survive her Screw Attack.
Winner: Samus

Kirby vs. Pac-Man
An interesting matchup at first glance because both are round and have bottomless stomachs. Pac-Man would use a power pellet to become invincible, but then again, Kirby can ALSO become invincible, and there’s only so much effect throwing a few dots can have on a flying pink puffball who specializes in blue magic.
Winner: Kirby

Mega Man vs. Bonk
Bonk can fly. Mega Man can’t. Unfortunately, since neither character – not even Bonk in Air Zonk mode – has the capability of multidirectional firing, this fight is going to be settled on the ground, where Bonk is at a huge disadvantage. He might be able to freeze Mega Man long enough to get a little closer, but his instant-roast fire breath is short range, and Bonk will be swiss cheese just before he’s close enough to use it.
Winner: Mega Man

Simon Belmont vs. L-block
L-block is four squares of solid slamming power! Usually, this would be an enormous help for Simon, because he’s capable of throwing bottles of holy water that decimate blocks. Unfortunately for simon, though, he never could get his sub-weapons to fire at angles, which is going to be a problem with L-block falling on him from above.
Winner: L-block

Round Two

Mario vs. L-block
It’s established fact that L-block is most effective while falling onto the playing field from above. It’s also well established that Mario can rather easily make mincemeat of blocks by slamming into them from below. Granted, Mario is only able to do that in his larger form, under mushroom power, but I’m assuming here that he is, since my established rule list says all powers are taken into consideration. Mario is making quick work of L-block, and taking any coins L-block might have hidden within.
Winner: Mario

Link vs. Mega Man
This looks to be a little bit of a standoff from the outside. Magic against technology, and magic is so broad that it might be able to sort of nullify technology. There is, however, a massive caveat to Link’s usage of time: He has to be in the right spot in order to use it. Also, while what Link is able to do with time concentrates on large swaths – thus, theoretically, enabling him to go back in time and kill Mega Man before his transformation – Mega Man’s usage of time is more immediate and minute. He can slow it down and stop it. Time-stopped Link is looking awfully vulnerable, and thus we have the deciding factor of an incredible contest.
Winner: Mega Man

Samus Aran vs. Kirby
Yes, Kirby is quite capable of swallowing Samus whole and absorbing her powers. That, however, is only provided that once Samus is in Kirby’s stomach, she isn’t going to either: 1 – Roll into a ball and drop a slew or bombs; or 2 – Stay full-sized and use the Screw Attack or her ice beam to freeze up his innards. And since Samus’s suit is acid-resistant, there’s no hope of him digesting her.
Winner: Samus

Round Three

Mario vs. Mega Man
Mario got the first round off so he gets to fight again now. And the poor plumber is going up against Mega Man. This is going to be a long, hard fight because Mario has that statue ability from his tanooki suit, and he’s also very good with a well-placed fireball. Mega Man uses a handful of different shields, though, like the Leaf Shield and the Skull Barrier as well as the standard Force Field, and many of them can be used offensively as well as defensively, at least to a point. Mario is somewhat naked out there, even at his most powered-up. Mario is powerful, but Mega Man has an answer for everything Mario can throw at him, and he can easily fight defensively to wear out Mario before making the killing blow.
Winner: Mega Man

Nintendo Bracket Championship

Samus Aran vs. Mega Man
Mario can be hurt during one of his mighty jumps, but I’m not seeing how Samus can be hurt during one. The Screw Attack is so powerful that it’s known to destroy obstacles as well as enemies, and I don’t think any of the barriers Mega Man is able to erect would be able to endure it. It destroys floors and ceilings too, for god’s sake! There’s little doubt Samus would be pretty reliant on it in a deathmatch with Mega Man, and supposing this, it’s pretty easy to imagine her being in Screw Attack position when Mega Man gets fed up and whips out the Time Stop. It’s also pretty easy to see Samus freezing Mega Man in place with the Ice Beam before then, however, since the Ice Beam is used concurrently with every other weapon in her arsenal, and Samus also has multidirectional aiming. So if Mega Man froze Samus in the air, his single-directional Mega Buster would still require him to jump, as well as power up the weapon for a big hit first, and that weakness is going to cripple him. If and when Samus freezes Mega Man, her biggest delay is a few steps into position, activating the rocket launcher, and BOOM! Bye bye Mega Man. This is an insanely close call, but I’m making it for Samus.
Nintendo Bracket Champion: Samus Aran

March Madness: The Sega Bracket

March Madness: The Sega Bracket

In the early 90’s, Sega became known as the David that, for a couple of years, slew Nintendo’s Goliath. That should make it pretty surprising that Sega fields such a weak bracket, but in hindsight, it does make perfect sense. After overtaking Nintendo on the marketplace for a couple of years, Sega developed some marketing and developmental habits which made them famous as the hardware maker that couldn’t capitalize on the good thing it had going. Instead of developing a real business plan and sticking to it, Sega took the approach of throwing things until something hit, and the result was a horrific clotting of ideas which never reached their real potential. In some cases – like the Vectorman series – Sega had a fantastic idea which they up and abandoned. Some – particularly the 32X – were bad ideas from the start. The Saturn was undercut by better marketers. Sega managed to get their act together to launch one final hurrah with the Dreamcast, a console that pioneered a lot of the functions the new generation of gamers is taking for granted. While many gamers acknowledge the importance of the Dreamcast in the evolution of the medium, Sega’s loyalists had moved on by its launch and saw no need to return. Sega is the only bracket in the tournament which completely shut down its hardware department to focus on making games for the other consoles, but their hardware developments and competitive history are of too much importance for them to be left out. 

1 – Sonic the Hedgehog
The world’s greatest environmentalist and star of his namesake series, Sonic is a flying bundle of spikes who loves freedom and hates injustice. When he was first introduced, Sonic became the immediate prototype for the popular “XTREME” characters and attitudes that dominated in the 90’s, which produced later (and much worse) characters like Bubsy and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. Sonic was an instant star and when Sega still had its marketing head, they dumped their old mascot – Alex Kidd – and rode Sonic’s spiky back as he rushed them to the bank through some of the most magnificent platformers ever made. Sega invented a concept called “blast processing” to sell Sonic, but while blast processing was a real thing, it was created using a technique which can be likened to DW Griffith being the first director to move the camera: Such a stupidly easy thing to do that everyone just plump didn’t bother with it at the time. Sonic also helped legitimize video games as a medium when, in 1993, he became the first video game character to appear as a float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Unfortunately, his games have undergone a terrible drop in quality since the 90’s, because they didn’t translate into 3D. His nickname in gaming circles is the Blue Blur.
The theme song called him the fastest thing alive for a reason. Sonic gets his very name from his habit of regularly using his feet to break through the sound barrier. Several of his abilities, like the Peel Out and Spin Dash, capitalize on that. His primary attack is the Super Spin Attack. In later Genesis games, a shield would enhance the Super Spin Attack by allowing him to bounce high, fly as a fireball, or double jump. In later games, it had a targeting quality. When running at a high speed, Sonic can also roll up into a ball, which enables him to take out any enemies that happen to be blocking his path. His spikes are a simple thing, but Sonic is very good at getting both literal and figurative mileage out of them. 

2 – Joe Musashi
One of the killer apps that propped up Sega in the early, unsure days of the Golden Era was a line of strong arcade games that could be easily shrunk down to home Genesis size. One of those games was called Shinobi, which starred the ninja Joe Musashi. Shinobi was one of the series in a trinity of series – along with Strider and Ninja Gaiden – which popularized ninja video games, and is arguably the best of those series. Shinobi was never ported to the Genesis itself, but its three sequels – Revenge of Shinobi; Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi; and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master – are all Genesis classics. Shinobi was later rebooted for a new ninja craze on the Game Boy Advance and Playstation 2.
Like all good ninjas, Musashi makes use of a katana and shurikens. His games granted him with a variety of different ways of getting around, like dashing, hand-over-hand walking, wall climbing, and a flip from which a fan of many shurikens at once could be shot. Musashi is also known for his use of ninja magic, which is very powerful – it has the power to grant invincibility, smart bombs, high jumps, and to turn his body into a living bomb – but so rare that he rarely gets to use it more than once per level. 

3 – Ecco the Dolphin
Known as the Defender of the Future, Ecco the Dolphin is the star of a series of very unique adventure games which sent him in search of his missing pod. It’s kind of a love-it-or-hate-it series because with its slow, meticulous gameplay, it rubbed a lot of casual gamers the wrong way. People who loved it (like me), though, reveled in an engine which opened up amazing mental rewards to those who could go along with its demanding, exploration- and puzzle-based gaming depths. Ecco the Dolphin revealed exactly what was possible in the realm of photo-realistic graphics; see, Ecco is NOT a cartoon dolphin. He was designed and animated using photographs and what we know about real dolphins, and the design and atmosphere remains one of the truly great early arguments for video games as art. 
Since Ecco is a real dolphin in video game form, he has all the abilities you would expect of a real dolphin. Like all dolphins, Ecco deploys a charge which he uses against hostile sea creatures and the aliens who kidnapped his family. Also like all dolphins, Ecco communicates in song with other sea creatures, and uses echolocation to find and orient himself. Unlike other dolphins, Ecco upgrades his song through the course of his adventures so he can use it as a stunner and an outright weapon. 

4 – Akira Yuki
The mascot of Sega’s awesome Virtua Fighter series comes off a lot like Ryu: Similar garb and similar point of his entire being, wandering, improving his skill, looking for good fights against worthy opponents. The first Virtua Fighter game was released in 1993, and it sent a shock through a public which had, by then, been given fighting game nourishment on a steady diet of the Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat wars which had captured the imaginations of anyone who had any interest in video games whatsoever. The reason? Virtua Fighter was in 3D and contained a deceptively simple three-button control scheme which was difficult to master because every joystick/button combination you could think of resulted in one different move or another. Those two features made Virtua Fighter an oddity, but the style caught on and now, led by games like Tekken and Soul Caliber, 3D fighting games are dominant on the landscape. 
You know what also makes Virtua Fighter unique? The fact that every character in the game uses a real fighting style. There are no meter-building power moves, no projectiles, and no unbeatable or unstoppable special attacks to abuse. Everything Akira does is based on real kung fu moves. EVERYTHING. His move list includes things like the kaiko, tenzankou, and soutoushou, things which, in the arsenal of an experienced and hotheaded fighter like Akira, are very much able to put some clangs and dents in opponents’ heads. Akira is very strong on offense and, when in the hands of someone who is truly skilled at Virtua Fighter, nearly impossible to so much as even hit. 

5 – Vectorman
Another eco-friendly hero, Vectorman starred in his own namesake game, in which he started out as an “orbot,” a cleanup robot left behind on Earth by the humans who abandoned the planet after it got too polluted to live on. He fights against a warped orbot named Raster, who took over after being mutated. Vectorman is a later-era Genesis series of action platformers which won various game of the year awards and were noted for their level designs, soundtracks, and graphics. The graphics were something of Sega’s response to the rendered 3D designs seen in Nintendo games like Donkey Kong Country. They were pre rendered, and instead of being a single sprite, were composed of many small sprites moving in unison, creating an ultra fluid look and feel. Unfortunately, they came out around the time Sega’s marketing department became SEGA’S MARKETING DEPARTMENT, and their handling of Vectorman became one of their legendary missteps. A potential new mascot was left after two stellar games, and Sega quit using their new graphic style for some reason. A third game was scheduled for release on the Playstation 2 in 2003, but it was cancelled because it deviated from the creativity of the Genesis originals, becoming just another generic third-person shooter; and the character was redesigned and looked more like Halo’s Master Chief. 
Vectorman is armed with a ball gun contained in his hand which, like in any good action game, can be upgraded; Vectorman could nab power ups containing a machine gun, a triple fire gun, and a bolo gun. He also had the ability of transformation, and can turn into a drill which breaks through floors; a bomb; and an aquatic form to help him move around underwater. That doesn’t even cover the levels where Vectorman starts out in morph form and stays that way throughout the duration. Vectorman 2 gave him new weapons like a pulse beam, and new insect transformations. Even his double jump relies on foot boosters which fry any enemy unfortunate enough to be standing too close to him! Watch out for this one. 

6 – Blaze Fielding
The resident tough girl of the Streets of Rage series, Sega’s response to the Final Fight games. Blaze is a dancer by night and she WAS a police officer by day until her efforts with her buddies Adam and Axel to form a blockade against a criminal ring failed and they all quit the force to take out the syndicate on their own. Streets of Rage was heavily influenced by Final Fight, but it tweaked the Final Fight formula just a wee little bit and made itself the better series.
Punching and kicking bad guys into oatmeal is always nice and fun, and Blaze has an extremely developed array of punches and kicks. Besides being an ex-cop and dancer, she’s also really into judo, which means she’ll pick you up and throw you across the room without breaking a sweat. She has the most powerful throws of anyone in the Streets of Rage series, which is useful for hurling bad guys into pits or other bad guys. She later develops a very short-range fireball for use in emergencies, and has the most complex and elaborate ways on using the various weapons the bad guys leave on the ground. 

7 – Chris Redfield
Chris is one of the defining faces of the Resident Evil series. Usually, fictional worlds present us with either evil corporations or evil zombies, but the Resident Evil truly terrifies us by having both. Chris Redfield was inadvertently yanked into a web of intrigue and conspiracy as a member of a special unit otherwise performing a routine mission. He and his three partners got trapped in a mansion where some experimental illegal shit was going down, and we’re not talking your average random drug dealers here. Chris was in the original Resident Evil game, a hit from Capcom which is credited with kickstarting the survival horror genre, and he is still playing regular major roles in the series. His most notable is arguably CODE: Veronica, which is considered one of THE must-own games for Sega’s final console, the Dreamcast. 
Chris served as the point man for his STARS Alpha Team, and as for that common business of no one getting left behind, he takes that very seriously. He is an extremely proficient marksman, especially with handguns, shotguns, and sniper rifles, and his stance when blowing something’s head off allows him to fully control his weapons recoil, so he can retarget right after every shot. He even has that ability with the Remington Model 1100, a weapon so powerful that its recoil is capable of knocking a person down. On the off chance that his accuracy is taking a sick day, Chris is also trained in many different fighting techniques, with both fist and knife. Powerful, fast, and agile, Chris is pretty much everything you could ask from your combat team leader. 

8 – Liu Kang
A kung fu fighting monk affiliated with the Shaolin Monastery, Liu Kang is considered the heart and soul of the Mortal Kombat series, the fighting games which competed with Street Fighter for the hearts, minds, souls, and imaginations of blood-and-guts-obsessed teenagers throughout the 90’s. Kang was mentored by Raiden, the god of thunder. In the end, Liu Kang defeats half-dragon Goro and shapeshifter Shang Tsung, becomes the champion of Mortal Kombat, and lives to keep repeating as Tsung’s master, Shao Khan, keeps trying to use the tournament to take over Earth. Mortal Kombat provided breakthroughs in photorealistic digital graphics, but the series is best known for a level of ramped-up ultraviolence. Mortal Kombat is known as one of the most violent video game franchises of all time, and it’s credited as the series that helped usher in a new era of cartoonish shock violence which changed video games by paving the way for more adult orientations, which helped because everyone old enough to remember the NES is now grown up and gaming is now a popular and accepted adult hobby. Mortal Kombat is also credited for being one of the final straws that resulted in the creation of the ESRB rating system, and Guinness says it’s the most successful fighting game series of all time. 
Liu Kang is one of the most popular characters in Mortal Kombat because he might be the best starter character ever in fighting games. It’s very easy to learn and use his moves, and his combos don’t demand the precision and hours of practice required of the more advanced characters. His fireball is a good, reliable projectile, and his flying kick is a good way to catch an opponent off guard in close quarters. His bicycle kick is devastating. Although his primary fatality move – cartwheeling into his opponent and smacking him with a hard uppercut – is one of the most boring and pedestrian fatalities in the series, his dragon fatality more than makes up for it. Since the symbol for Mortal Kombat is a dragon, it’s only appropriate that it was Liu Kang who got to transform into a dragon and eat his opponent’s torso!

9 – Earthworm Jim
The star of the same-name series is basically another marketing gimmick of the 90’s going XTREME! In the case of Earthworm Jim, though, there’s honest to god substance to back it up. It’s about an ordinary earthworm who is transformed into a superhero after crawling into a special super suit. The original game was a runaway success, and the Genesis version in particular was lauded with many game of the year accolades. There was a sequel soon after which was cited by many sources as better than the original, and a Sega CD remake of the first EWJ is considered the best game in the series. The 16-bit classics are renowned for hand-drawn-style graphics which were rare in the Golden Era, and their stylish and quirky humor. He got a couple of 3D games at the beginning of the Next-Gen Era as well, but they were made under a different developer, panned, and Jim has been retired ever since.
Jim can use his worm head as a helicopter and a whip. His gun is capable of receiving some powerful upgrades like a Barn Blaster – an actual barn which blows up everything on the screen – and a Three-Finger Gun. There are a few traditional weapons, like a 64-directional machine gun and a Plasma Blaster, and Jim also carries a rocket in his pocket which he uses to push a bomb at one point in Earthworm Jim 2. He’s just fine as long as he avoids picking up the Bubble Gun.

10 – Terry Bogard
Terry, along with his brother Andy, is the main character of the Fatal Fury series, which later crossed with Art of Fighting to create The King of Fighters series. He’s easily identifiable by his trademark red short-sleeve jacket and Fatal Fury hat, and his drive to kill Geese Howard. Fatal Fury is known as one of the Neo Geo hipster alternative fighting games played by people who got bored of the mainstream war between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, and it’s also considered a somewhat pioneer of the 3D fighting game because of the dual plane innovation. Characters could jump between the foreground and background. Fatal Fury 2 introduced the desperation move, a very powerful special move to be used when low on energy, and a precursor to today’s ultra-difficult power moves which can be used when a meter fills.
Terry can unleash the power wave, a wave of energy which moves along the ground; and the burn knuckle, where he launches himself at an opponent with his fist stuck out and on fire. Knowing Neo Geo fighting games, though, the only good special moves Terry uses are the ones in which the setting is on the powerful punch or kick, otherwise they wouldn’t dent a soda can or fly past Terry’s fingernnails. Every Neo Geo fighting game character is like that. If you’ve never played a Neo Geo fighter, later Street Fighter games give us Dan, a fighter who is in the game basically to mock the Neo Geo. Even though there are players who are awesome with Dan, he’s totally in those games as a joke character.

March Madness: The Nintendo Bracket

March Madness: The Nintendo Bracket

The Nintendo bracket was by far the most difficult to decide. Nintendo is known as the gaming giant which brought video games off life support after the great crash of 1983 and turned it from a passing fad into a billion-dollar giant which is now intrinsically linked with the entertainment industry and popular culture. They’ve created so many iconic characters that I purposely had to scratch some off in order to get a shot at some of the other, more random characters who aren’t Nintendo icons. I scratched Donkey Kong from the seeding since he is, in the most technical sense possible, part of the Mario series. I also left off Pikachu since he can be replaced by any other Pokemon. And still, look at the selection: In any other bracket, Samus Aran would have been a top seed for sure. I hated not giving her the bye, but such is the cultural iconoclasm of Mario and Link. If you decide to take bets on this tournament, Nintendo’s loaded bracket is the definite favorite to produce the winner. 

1 – Mario
A humble Brooklyn plumber who has been repeatedly called upon to rescue the royalty of the Mushroom Kingdom from the clutches of the evil Bowser, Mario is Nintendo’s shining star. He first appeared as the main character from Donkey Kong, using the pseudonym Jumpman, and has since been credited with creating the modern prototypes of the side-scrolling platformer and the 3D platformer which has been copied by almost every platform game since. He’s also successfully branched out across a wide range of genres, including classic forays into RPGs and racers. Despite the strength of the other characters in Nintendo’s arsenal, their top seed could never be anyone else. 
Mario’s first real adventure game granted him the abilities to change sizes, warp through worlds, shoot fireballs, and turn invincible. That’s not even mentioning his best asset, a simple high jump which became the terror of a thousand Bowser underlings. Since then he’s also learned to fly, throw hammers, turn into a statue, ride a very hungry dinosaur, travel across the galaxy…. And that’s only covering a handful of the things he’s capable of in his core games. Bringing his other adventures into it, Mario is almost unstoppable and – in spite of his portly appearance and cheerful disposition – not a guy any other character in the tournament will want to face. 

2 – Link
The elven star of The Legend of Zelda series, a series so well-produced that very few of its games haven’t been game of the year material. The Legend of Zelda games are a Criterion Collection of gaming all on their own, and are credited for being the template of the overhead adventure games which had strong cult followings in the Golden Era. The viewpoint of these games has gone the way of Sega consoles, since the advent of 3D rendered them unnecessary, but the genre still exists and continues to evolve. Link is the savior of the land of Hyrule, the rescuer of Princess Zelda (former rescuer, anyway; she’s taking a more active role in the series as of late), and the foe of Ganon. He is the bearer of the Triforce of Courage and at different times known as the Hero of Time; Hero of The Goddess; and Hero of Winds.
Link’s primary weapon is the Master Sword, a magic sword, and he is known for swordsmanship and skills with the boomerang, slingshot, and bow. He is also known to wear magical garments like bracelets, shoes, and gauntlets. He also has a knack for musical instruments which – you guessed it – have enormous magical qualities and allow him access to the space-time continuum, allow him to change the seasons, or access to the inaccessible. In short, Link is a hero’s hero for those who dream of being celebrated in worlds similar to Middle-Earth or Narnia. You can expect quite a bit from him.

3 – Samus Aran
The greatest of all bounty hunters would make even Boba Fett back down quickly if he learned Samus was also on the trail. The star of the always-popular and usually-acclaimed Metroid series also has the distinction of being The First Lady of Video Games. Samus’s gender was shown to be female upon beating the first Metroid game, when she took off her helmet and blonde locks draped out. She even has one of the feared Metroid creatures on her side, after one mistook her for its mother, which is bad news for the space pirates she’s gunning for.
Samus’s metallic yellow suit provides her with protection against every atmospheric threat you can throw at her. Through the course of the Metroid series, Samus arms herself with a lot of suit and blaster upgrades, including the nasty Screw Attack, which wipes most of her foes in one shot while making her almost invincible at the same time. Her wave blaster and rocket launcher aren’t anything to sneeze at, either.

4 – Kirby
Literally a small, pink, round ball of fluff, no one really knows who Kirby is or where he’s from. He first appeared in Kirby’s Dream Land on the Game Boy, fighting to rid Dream Land of the evil King Dedede. Since then, he’s gone on to become one of Nintendo’s most recognizable and reliable characters in a series of popular and solidly-built platformers.
We’re all aware of Kirby’s looks. I’m sure that’s part of the reason King Dedede thought he was in the clear the first time he took over Dream Land. Unfortunately for him and his minions, Kirby has an appetite, and a certain affinity for sucking up everyone in the immediate vicinity and spitting them out at someone else. If no one else is there, Kirby can gulp a nice hunk of air, which brings his weight down enough for flight. In later games, swallowing bad guys allows him to nab their characteristics, and his strength is then magnified quite a bit through various physical, chemical, or electrical means. Yes, Kirby might look like a wimp, but if you’re thinking that, he’s probably got you right where he wants you.

5 – Mega Man
The star of the Mega Man series is nicknamed the Blue Bomber. He was created by the great scientist Dr. Light to be a lab assistant. Light also had an acclaimed colleague named Dr. Wily, though, who despite being a breakthrough scientist in his own right was constantly upstaged by Dr. Light. Sick of living in the shadows, Dr. Wily created an army of robots to take over the world. So Dr. Light responded by outfitting his assistant in some blue armor and giving him a little bit of weaponry to stop Wily’s robot army.
When starting out, in various games Mega Man will start out with a slide, a powerful kick, and a potent uppercut, but his signature weapon is the Mega Buster, a solar-powered arm cannon which can charge bullets. That’s only the beginning, though; Mega Man’s true trademark is the absorption of the attacks of the mighty boss enemies he faces. Killing Wily’s boss robots opens up new weapons like the Bit Cannon; Crystal Eye; Laser Trident; Time Stopper; and Wave Burner, and those don’t even scratch the surface. The thing with Mega Man is that Dr. Wily was really good at building robots, and the fact that his robots are regularly equipped with weapons capable of controlling fire and stopping time means Mega Man will eventually have those powers himself. And there are lots of robots Wily built! If you’re looking for a safe sleeper pick to bet on, here’s your man.

6 – Simon Belmont
A renowned vampire hunter from the 17th century, Simon is the star of the first two Castlevania games. Castlevania is a long-running series with many protagonists, but Simon is – with the possible exception of Alucard – the most iconic of them. That’s no small feat, because since the 12th century, Simon’s clan was the one charged with entering Castlevania and defeating Dracula once every century when he came back to life. Simon wasn’t quite able to kill Dracula in their first face off, and Drackie in fact managed to curse him, so he was then forced to gather Ol’ Pointy Teeth’s remains and burn them. The initial attempt blew over, the vamp came back, and Simon fought him a second time, lifting the curse upon his victory.
Like everyone else in the Belmont family, Simon was endowed with the Vampire Killer, a powerful whip made for, well, killing vampires. He is also allowed to use a variety of supplemental weapons – including holy water, which is carried by all good vampire hunters, and a very powerful cross which also doubles as a boomerang.

7 – L-block
One of the various block formations in Tetris, the most popular video game of all time. The L-block has no real identity, origin, or explanation beyond being the L-block.
The L-block can be a nightmare if it drops at a bad time, but used wisely, it’s one of your best friends in Tetris. The shape makes it ideal for sliding into single-block outcroppings or – when used by a master – turning upside-down for use in preventing other blocks from disrupting a potential tetris as you wait for the straight to drop. When utilized to its greatest potential, the L-block is one of the game’s only two sources for triples.

8 – Bonk
The mascot of NEC during their brief foray into video games, Bonk was the premier character for the Japanese PC Engine and American TurboGrafx-16. A cuddly caveman, Bonk uses his Conan O’Brien-sized noggin as his primary weapon in his various quests to keep King Drool away from Moonland and its ruler, Princess Za. The PC Engine was a great success in Japan, where it even managed to outperform Nintendo’s Famicom for awhile. It was a different story Stateside, though. NEC entered the 16-bit era with the TurboGrafx-16 right alongside Sega, who was wielding the Genesis. NEC had a knack for picking its bad games to import, though, and unlike Sega, they had no arcade favorites to fall back on. NEC bowed out of the Golden Era quickly while Bonk performed a short tour of duty on Nintendo’s consoles. A planned Bonk comeback in 2010 was cancelled.
Bonk literally uses his head, and he has some creative ways to utilize it. He can use it to float by rapidly spinning it in a flip, and he can also drop headfirst onto enemies. The real fun comes when he’s able to power it up, though: He gains the ability to freeze enemies by slamming his head on the ground or shooting red honeycombs at them. He can also defeat them in one shot with fire breath. On the more passive front, Bonk can also learn to fly, shrink to half his size, or grow to several times it. If you want to bring his spinoff future shooting game, Air Zonk (which stood out even on a console still widely renowned in gaming circles for an array of incredible shooters), into it, Bonk is suddenly also packing a brutal arsenal of cartoonish weapons like cards, and occasional friends who fly alongside him shooting missiles.

9 – Pac-Man
The first-ever video game character mascot, and still one of the most beloved. While Pac-Man has gone out in many different directions since his inception, he’s still known as the maze wunderkind with an endless appetite for dots and, when powered up, the ghosts who chase him. Pac-Man was the first game to feature a real character as opposed to a generic thing on a mission, and the first game to feature cutscenes. It’s also credited for being the father of the stealth genre, where you avoid enemies rather than fight them. He demonstrated the potential of characters in video games when he became a cultural phenomenon, spawning a Saturday Morning cartoon and a song.
Pac-Man’s appetite is even more bottomless than Kirby’s, and he’s invincible when he chows down power pellets. Later games turned Pac-Man into an adventure star, even giving him abilities beyond those that everyone identifies with him like the Rev-Roll and the ability to throw dots. Still, though, it’s the power pellets making him invincible and letting him eat freaking ghosts that everyone knows him for.

10 – Ryu
If the whole fighting game genre has a face, Ryu is it. Decked out in a traditional white karate gi with a black belt, gamers know at first sight that Ryu is a living buzz saw of arms and legs if they get too close. He doesn’t ask for very much in life – he wants to improve his fighting skills to the point where he’s the best, and then challenges himself by looking for opponents and making sure they put up a good, hard fight. Ryu is the main character in the Street Fighter series, which is credited for bringing fighting games to their apex in the 90’s and maximizing their potential – thus, maximizing the popular image from the 90’s of a pair of teenagers in a bedroom playing Street Fighter II for hours, eating naught but pizza and candy and drinking naught but Mountain Dew.
Yeah, a karate master at Ryu’s level can hurt you. Like everyone else in the Street Fighter series, Ryu is equipped with a trio of punches and a trio of kicks. His standout moves include a fireball; the powerful Hurricane Kick, which spins toward opponents in a dangerous flurry of feet; and the fearsome Dragon Punch, which can send any opponent attacking from the air flying onto their asses while leaving Ryu unharmed. Ryu is a great all-around character who can win on offense and defense, fighting from ground or air, and can be powerful in the hands of both the novice and the expert alike.