As I set out to write this article, I decided on three very specific groundrules. To be eligible, firstly a character has to be the protagonist of their respective game series (sorry, all the Pokemon and Piñatas), no matter how cool they are (sorry, Chrono Triggers Frog). Secondly, they have to be based on a real animal (sorry, Spyro, Ratchet and Daxter). Finally, the character needs to have originated in video games, not in film or another medium. With these guidelines in place, Id like to invite you to try to think of your own list of ten before you start reading. After the article is over, tell me how many we agreed on in the comments section. Lets get started...
10. Conker the Squirrel
Conker: What is it, the testing department's day off or something? Conker made his N64 debut in RAREs Diddy Kong Racing in 1997, but behaved so well nobody suspected his true nature. It wasnt until Conkers Bad Fur Day came out in 2001 that he really let loose. A brilliant alternative to the huge variety of twee and happy platformer titles available on the N64 (some of them also made by RARE), Conker offered a game bound to appeal to the generation that had grown up on Mario but now saw it as childish. They wanted something a bit different, and its fair to say that a swearing, alcoholic red squirrel being conscripted into a war between some grey squirrels and Nazi teddy-bears provided them with it. From start to finish, Conkers Bad Fur Day is a treat. The gameplay is actually very similar to other N64 platformer titles, as the title was originally intended as a generic platformer. The fun never stops, though, from the introductory shot which sees Conker re-enacting the opening scene from A Clockwork Orange, to your encounter with the Grim Reaper (Hes called Gregg). The film parodies are brilliant, and even if toilet humour isnt your thing it becomes infinitely funnier when delivered by cute, furry animals. If theres one game crying out for a decent sequel, its Conkers Bad Fur Day.
Worm: Kamikaze! Worms! One of the most addictive games ever released, Team17s Worms for the Amiga sees between two and four teams of heavily armed invertebrates, who would duke it out on a colourful randomly-generated map, by taking it in turns to use a variety of different weapons. Striking just the right balance between luck and skill, the game (which was originally going to be called Total Wormage) was both frustrating and brilliant. A lot depended on where your team spawned, but a skilled Worm General (Worm Commander?) could counteract a disadvantageous spawnpoint by a well placed metal girder or by digging a complex network of tunnels. The game has seen numerous sequels since then, and I actually think that Hogs of War provided a much better three-dimensional version of the experience than Worms 3D (despite coming out three years earlier). Worms: Revolution, Worms: Reloaded, Worms: Battle Islands and even the dubiously named Worms World Party are just some of the 15+ official sequels, but the first game contained everything you really needed to have a blast. Various cut-scenes showing Worms dying in amusing fashion helped break up the monotony, too. Click Next to see numbers 8 and 7 in our countdown.
Laurence Gardner was born in Canterbury, England. After moving around various cities during his childhood, and spending some time travelling in Europe and America, he studied English Literature at Oxford University. Since then, he’s been living abroad, teaching English, learning a range of languages, and writing in his free time. He can currently be found in Heidelberg, working as an English Tutor and Translator and studying at the University. If you liked this article, follow him on Twitter to get automatic updates on his work.