It’s been almost twenty years since Sony launched the original PlayStation into the world and since then, they have not only established themselves as major players in the video game industry, but have also introduced us to compelling characters who have captured the imagination of gamers across the globe. Therefore, to celebrate Sony’s upcoming anniversary, what better time to look at the most memorable characters ever to grace Sony’s consoles.
He may be the newest edition to Sony’s family, but Delsin Rowe was for many one of the main reasons why they picked up a PlayStation 4. The way his facial expressions and movement were realised in early trailers for Infamous: Second Son highlighted the power of Sony’s next-gen console and became labelled — rightly or wrongly, depending on your opinion — Sony’s first game for the next generation. However, next-gen good looks alone does not make a good character; Delsin Rowe luckily was blessed by being brought to life by the industry’s hardest-working and most sought-after voice actor, Troy Baker. Out of all his high-profile roles, Delsin sees Troy most at ease with himself, full of life and bursting with energy. Unlike his predecessor, Cole McGrath, Delsin relishes in his powers and is just as likely to fire off a quip than a shot of smoke. He’s a character who’s easy to like and hopefully, we’ll see more of him in future installments.
Compelling characters don’t always have to be wise-cracking action heroes; sometimes, the bravest of characters say more by their actions and Ico proves this. Outcast by his own family, the titular Ico is imprisoned in a foreboding castle just for having the cheek to grow some horns on his head. Here, he meets Yorda, an ethereal princess who speaks a language he doesn’t understand. Through sheer instinct, Ico becomes Yorda’s guide and guardian as they build an unforgeable and moving relationship. Despite only appearing in one game, Ico quickly became a favourite amongst fans as he was so different from all your other regular protagonists. Nowadays, quirky protagonists are quickly becoming the norm, especially in indie games, but back then, they were much rarer. In many ways, Ico arguably set the trend. We’re unlikely to see him again but the impact Ico had on the industry is still felt today.
Sucker Punch’s second creation on the list, Sly Cooper is the titular protagonist of the hugely popular series and first appeared in the mischievously titled Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus on the PlayStation 2. Since then, he has become a Sony stalwart and rightly so, as his mix of witty banter and heart of gold makes him easily likeable. Despite coming from a family of thieves, Sly Cooper is the quintessential lovable rogue. Throughout the series, he clearly places more importance on his friendships with Bentley the turtle and Murray the hippo than on any pile of money or valuables. With relatively recent releases on the PlayStation 3 and PSVita, we’ll hopefully see more of him in the future.
For many, Crash Bandicoot holds many fond memories and his almost total disappearance from the gaming landscape is saddening. However, back in the days of the heady dominance of the PSone, he was Sony’s unofficial mascot and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with icons such as Mario and Sonic. Part of Crash’s appeal was his all-out zaniness compared to other gaming icons. He was a bandicoot on the edge who seemed like a bundle of nerves rather than a hero. You couldn’t really blame him, really, what with all the stacks of TNT he would often find himself surrounded by. Seeing Crash go from fear to sheer delight after overcoming impossible odds made him instantly relatable. Therefore, it’s an incredible shame that no developer since his original creators, Naughty Dog, have managed to recapture the spirit of the original PSone games.
Ratchet and Clank
If you had to pick a mascot for Sony today, there could be arguably be no better choice than Ratchet and Clank. They’ve had incredibly successful games on various Sony platforms, including handheld, they’re instantly recognisable as Sony characters, and they even have their own movie scheduled for 2015. It’s easy to see their popularity, with their contrasting personalities and handiness with inventive weaponry. Also, they have a great cast of supporting characters who bring a lot out of them, most especially the self-centered and deluded Captain Qwark. Hopefully, the upcoming and movie will be one of the first good video game adaptations and only reaffirm their popularity whilst introducing them to a new generation of fans.
A truly R-rated protagonist, Kratos, star of the God of War series, remains one of the most all-out bad-asses in video game history. Despite being a violent anti-hero, Kratos has surprisingly more depth than your everyday hack-and-slash protagonist. Moulded through tragedy, which included the death of his own family as represented by the ashen look of his skin, Kratos often takes on quests given to him by the scheming gods of Olympus. Fuelled by revenge, Kratos is a man searching for peace and it’s this journey that makes us relate to this incredibly savage warrior. These quests for revenge often land him in more trouble but somehow, through all the brutal violence, we hope that Kratos will find the peace he’s so desperately looking for.
Jak and Daxter
Another of Naughty Dog’s creations, Jak and Daxter first made their appearance in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy on the PS2 and it’s difficult to include one without the other. A duo bound by an unbreakable friendship, Jak and Daxter go on an incredible journey throughout the trilogy and their tale is far more compelling than their original mascot-like looks portrayed. Their progression as characters is what really makes this pair so interesting. In the original, Jak doesn’t even talk, although it would have been difficult with his fast-talking partner Daxter not letting him getting a word in edgewise. However, by its conclusion, Jak is a character within his own right who not only talks but has his own story arc. It’s the compelling tale that is woven for these heroes which makes these characters compelling and, whilst we may not see them appear in their own game again, they remain firm favourites amongst Sony fans.
He may have gone multi-platform now, but Snake very much is a character synonymous with Sony, especially since his appearance in Metal Gear Solid on the PSone. Whilst this wasn’t his first appearance in a game, it was his breakthrough and he’s still ever popular today. A gruff veteran, Snake was wonderfully brought to life through David Hayter’s voice work, which was so authentic that you could almost smell the cigarette smoke. He was like the best action heroes all rolled into one, but through Hideo Kojima’s compelling and often convoluted plot, he was a character who had depth, too. Whether we were following the young life of Big Boss or his successor Solid Snake, we felt for Snake as he faced the horrors of war along with personal losses. With Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on the horizon, it looks as though Snake’s suffering will continue and many fans will be eager to pull him through it all once again.
Proving that simple ideas are often the best, Sackboy for LittleBigPlanet is a triumph in character design. With little more than two beads for eyes, a mouth, and a zip, Sackboy is the perfectly mouldable character who can dance just as well as he can jump. The beauty of Sackboy is that he’s yours to shape; you can shape him into your favourite superhero or just give him a moustache. It’s up to you. Also, you can control his limbs and facial expressions, which makes him even more a reflection of you and who doesn’t love you? In many ways, the build-your-own-experience of LittleBigPlanet was one of the first and it clearly influenced games such as Minecraft. Sackboy also happens to be purchasable as a key ring, which is a sure sign of success. Set to appear on the PlayStation 4 in LittleBigPlanet 3 with a host of new friends, Sackboy’s popularity is bound to keep on growing.
Ellie maybe a relatively new character and we may never see her appear in a game again, yet her impact upon the industry makes her character that many Sony fans will find difficult to forget. Appearing in what arguably was the best game of the last generation, The Last of Us, Ellie is one of the most fully formed characters ever in video games. Growing up in a post-apocalyptic world, Ellie is thrown into extraordinary circumstances and has to battle with the need to survive along with the need just to be a normal kid. Throughout the course of the game, we form a bond with Ellie that is incredibly strong, a bond that is only made stronger when we finally step into her vulnerable shoes. Also, we get to relate to her even more through the excellent DLC Left Behind, where we discover what truly drives her in life. She’s very much a 21st century video game character, whose likes of which we can only hope for more of.
You have to hand it to them — Naughty Dog know how to create a compelling character. Ironically labelled as ‘Dude Raider’ upon its initial release, the Uncharted series has now established itself as PlayStation’s premier franchise. A lot of this success is down to the appeal of main character, Nathan Drake, who is equal parts Han Salo and Indiana Jones. A treasure hunter who has a penchant for getting into trouble, Nathan Drake is a wise-cracking hero who is difficult for even his harshest critics to dislike. Whether it be his flirtatious nature with the opposite sex or his true dedication to his friends, he is clearly a gaming icon. There’s a reason why Sony left the reveal for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to the very end of their E3 press conference and for many, his return cannot come sooner.
So who are you favourite Sony characters? Are there any I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments below.