Nintendo has developed numerous games over the years for fans to enjoy. Each title offers a fun narrative, an excellent cast, and colorful worlds for players to get lost in. None of these worlds would be as great without its protagonists, though.
To celebrate Nintendo’s legacy in the gaming industry, we’d like to highlight some of the best protagonists they’ve created over the years. Whether it’s their charming personality or the way they’re written, these are some of Nintendo’s best protagonists yet.
As usual, we would love to hear your thoughts about our picks in the comments below.
Mario (Super Mario Bros.)
No matter if you like or despise his games, Mario is Nintendo’s definitive mascot. From his early battles with Donkey Kong to his long-running rivalry with the evil turtle dragon, Bowser, Mario’s seen it all. His adventures have undergone vast improvement over the years, too. He went from hopping over Koopas and Goombas in 2D to fighting terrifying dragons in medieval terrains.
While he’s a man of few words, many people love the iconic voice Charles Martinet lent to Mario. His “wahoos” and “mama mia’s” played a huge role in making many people’s childhoods bright and imaginative. Mario’s games may not have the most complex plots, but people can’t get enough of his games’ mechanics.
On that note, the upcoming Super Mario Bros. Movie handled by Nintendo and Illumination may be the perfect opportunity to flesh out Mario and the lore surrounding the world he explores. Let’s hope it’s a great adaptation and not a poorly received one like the live-action 1993 film.
Link (The Legend of Zelda)
Whenever fans think of Nintendo, two franchises come to mind. The first is Super Mario Bros. while the other is The Legend of Zelda. Unlike the former, the latter contains more depth. The Legend of Zelda cast has emotionally-gripping backgrounds and endures adventures that’ll evoke strong emotional feedback from players. Nonetheless, Link is a silent protagonist like Mario.
While he occasionally lets out a scream or gasp, words never spiraled out of his mouth. Surprisingly, this doesn’t irritate or bother players as they can tell how Link feels about situations due to his reactions to things. He’s a cheerful, courageous, and likable hero who’s embarked on many fantastical adventures. He’s befriended many complex partners and battled many evil people in his quests.
The games he stems from are all well-received to an extent. The upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game looks to be Link’s greatest adventure yet. He’ll be using various sci-fi and fantastical-themed tech to assist him in defeating Ganon again. Let’s hope this game can live up to fans’ expectations like 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did.
Samus Aran (Metroid)
It may not be as popular in the East, but western fans can’t get enough of Samus Aran and her chilling adventures in the Metroid universe. Her bravery, brawn, and wit are impressive. Samus fights various enemies in her games from the cunning space pirate Ridley to the complex Mother Brain. Her saddening upbringing will convince many newcomers to empathize with Samus.
On that note, Samus serves as a symbol for strong women in the gaming industry. Her independence, strength, and perseverance are inspiring. Samus’s abilities in and outside her trademark armor are equally impressive. She can shoot plasma beams from her wrist and morph into a tiny ball to squeeze into tight spaces. While Princess Peach may be Nintendo’s number one damsel, Samus Aran is their greatest female powerhouse.
Fox McCloud (Star Fox)
While the Star Fox series hasn’t dished out an incredible experience in years, it still holds a special place in many Nintendo fans’ hearts. That said, the game features an incredible cast of heroes and villains. Fox McCloud is an excellent pilot and leader. Alongside his fellow wingmen Peppy, Falco, and Slippy, they travel through space to maintain peace in the universe.
Fox’s childhood isn’t the best. His father James passed away after a vicious confrontation with the monkey scientist named Andross. Since that day, Fox made it his mission to thwart Andross’s plans. However, he’ll need to go through Andross’s army of mercenaries, including Team Star Wolf, to achieve his goal.
Fox’s character would undergo some changes in later installments. Some went as far as to depict him as a lazy space pilot. Eventually, Fox would find a love interest in Krystal, a female fox he meets in Star Fox Adventures. Regardless, Fox is cherished for his courageous spirit and heroic persona. Hopefully, he can appear in a future installment that receives overwhelming positivity.
Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong Country)
Donkey Kong is an amusing powerful ape. While his villainous roots still remain in some titles, Donkey Kong Country sees the naive gorilla traversing the jungle to thwart evil. His journey’s never lonesome as his pal Diddy Kong will stay by his side through thick and thin. While there are some entries where you’ll play as other Kongs, Donkey Kong is the best of the bunch.
In Donkey Kong Country, he teams up with fellow Kongs to defeat villains like King K. Rool, Tiki Tong, and Lord Fredrik. Each villain is more powerful and crazier than the last. Donkey Kong isn’t a fan of people messing with his homeland, especially his succulent bananas. He’ll do everything in his power to make these villains pay for their crimes.
Whether that’s clobbering them with his giant fists or pulling out his coconut gun to shoot them, Donkey Kong shows no mercy to those who defile his property or harm his companions. As stated earlier, Donkey Kong can assume a villainous role well as shown in the arcade classic Donkey Kong and in his VS series with Mario. However, modern Nintendo fans recognize Donkey Kong as their goofiest hero.
While JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest were set in medieval lands, Earthbound creator, Shigesato Itoi had his game set in a world familiar to our own. However, this world is run with numerous living organisms from anthropomorphic toxic waste to cultists who threaten to harm children. While the Earthbound series had many protagonists over the years, many argue Ness is the best.
Ness inhabits a small town called Onett in a world called Eagleland. Unlike most JRPG protagonists at the time, Ness feels more relatable and realistic due to his childlike appearance and modernized outfit. However, don’t let his ordinary appearance fool you. Ness harbors incredible psychic powers and befriends many strange yet charming people who’ll assist him in stopping the evil alien Giygas.
Despite airing from a game that didn’t sell well in the west, Ness managed to nail a spot in the first Super Smash Bros. game. This helped his series capture the hearts of many Nintendo fans. Earthbound inspired the profound indie developer, Toby Fox, to create Undertale and Deltarune. While Ness may be a silent protagonist, he left a significant impact on gaming history.
Kirby (Kirby series)
Despite looking like a pink adorable puffball, Kirby’s been through some crazy adventures over the years. From fighting large penguin lords like King DeDeDe to nightmarish atrocities like Marx, Kirby’s done everything in his power to save the world time and again. With these numerous threats in his way, it makes sense for Kirby to be just as powerful, if not, more so.
Kirby’s given the ability to gobble up enemies and copy their abilities. For instance, if Kirby sucks up an enemy who’s a skilled swordsman, Kirby will become one too. While Kirby can swallow mobile-based enemies to increase his speed, he tends to zoom through worlds, lands, and civilizations via his Warp Star.
Kirby’s so popular that an anime called Kirby: Right Back at Ya! was made to celebrate the series’s success. While Link and Mario’s shows were hit and miss with audiences, Kirby’s anime was well-received due to having entertaining characters, gripping plot, and wonderful voice acting. Love him or despise him, Kirby’s one of Nintendo’s best and strongest characters ever.
Pit (Kid Icarus)
Kid Icarus was a niche series like Mach Rider, Ice Climber, and The Mysterious Murasame Castle. It was heavily obscure and only had a small fanbase. This all changed when Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in 2008. After Kid Icarus’s protagonist Pit debuted in the game as a playable fighter, many modern Nintendo fans became interested in Pit and the world he stemmed from.
In the 2011 release of the Nintendo 3DS game, Kid Icarus Uprising, Pit and his friends received an entire makeover. While many people haven’t played Kid Icarus Uprising due to it being stuck on this system, those who have played it cherished the game for its fast-paced gameplay, colorful world, and charming cast. As for Pit, he’s a lovable and heroic goofball who often receives help from his master, Lady Palutena.
He fights countless demons, gods, and entities in his world. While he relies heavily on Palutena and others’ help to win fights, Pit’s not a pushover and will do everything in his power to protect those he cares about from evildoers. While Pit can be overconfident in his skills, he’s not one to give up easily. While his series remains dormant for the time being, fans can’t wait to see Pit and his friends again.
Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles)
Xenoblade Chronicles is a fabulous JRPG series with excellent characters, fun gameplay, and a vibrant open world. The game spawned four incredible games that center around different protagonists and storylines. While all its protagonists have their own unique charm, Shulk is regarded as the best protagonist from it.
Shulk’s battled many foes from giant robots to godly figures. He wields an incredible cybernetic sword called the Monado that grants him great strength in battle. Despite being an easy-going fellow, Shulk endures many traumatic circumstances in the Xenoblade Chronicles universe. He’s endured much loss, betrayal, and grief, but manages to push it aside to fight for a brighter future.
Speaking of the future, Shulk obtains the power to peer into the future. This plays a huge role in helping him protect many people from deadly outcomes. Shulk’s also an intelligent individual who loves to spend his time researching indoors than exploring his world for new discoveries. All in all, Shulk is an incredible Nintendo protagonist with a large heart.
Ike (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance)
The Fire Emblem series has spawned countless entries over the years. It was once a dead franchise in Nintendo’s eyes but managed to pick itself back up again after the phenomenal success of the Nintendo 3DS game Fire Emblem Awakening. While Ike doesn’t have his debut in that game, he’s known for being an incredible Fire Emblem protagonist.
Ike first debuted in the GameCube Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. He’s a noble swordsman who takes over as the leader of the Greil Mercenaries after his father passes away. After establishing a bond with the Crimean army, Ike vows to save their country from Ashnard, the Kingdom of Dein’s unruly king.
Ike’s known for being an abrupt, passionate person. He’ll dish out harsh criticism to authoritarians and doesn’t show any fear in battle. He fights to protect his loved ones and has the strength to back up his blunt remarks. Just like his portrayal in the Super Smash Bros. series, Ike is a powerhouse who can lay waste to many people due to his grand stats and growth rates. While Marth, Roy, Byleth, Robin, and others have their appeal, Ike carries baggage that outweighs them all.
So, there we have it, our pick for the best Nintendo protagonists through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!