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Top 10 Greatest Nintendo Characters

From Link to Mario, we count down the best of the best.

With the Wii U already being released in some parts of the world, there's never been a more apt time to look back on Nintendo's illustrious past, including the iconic characters they have created since first introducing us to Donkey Kong and 'Jumpman' back in 1981.

Here are the top 10 greatest Nintendo characters of all time, according to us. Feel free to let us know who we've missed out in the comments section below.

 Falco Lombardi

Series: Star Fox

Best Appearance in a Game: Star Fox 64

The Han Solo to Fox McCloud's Luke Skywalker, Falco Lombardi is the grumpy anti-hero of the Star Fox series. One of the most skilled pilots in the Star Fox Team, Falco's talents have also led to him becoming the most arrogant, as he spends most of his time chastising Fox via radio communication. However, his surly attitude is matched by his loyalty to his fellow pilots, which has led to him becoming arguably the most popular character in the Star Fox series.

 

 Samus Aran

Series: Metroid

Best Appearance in a Game: Metroid Prime

"Wait… it's a WOMAN?!" Such was the reaction upon seeing the 8-bit female form of Samus Aran when completing Metroid on the NES, after spending the entirety of the game not even considering what was underneath that badass robotic suit of armour. Samus would later prove to be one of the most enduring and arguably the most recognisable heroine in video game history, until Other M made her whiny, petulant and completely dependant upon males. However, there's still hope that Samus will return to her old ways in the future.

 

 Captain Falcon

Series: F-Zero

Best Appearance in a Game: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

The F-Zero series has been lying dormant since the GameCube's excellent F-Zero GX, but Captain Falcon's popularity as a character has remained thanks to the Super Smash Bros. series. With his 'Falcon Punch' move prompting the creation of many a hilarious meme, Captain Falcon is one of the most popular fighters in a series that boasts a huge roster. Now all we need is a new F-Zero game…

 

 Donkey Kong

Series: Donkey Kong

Best Appearance in a Game: Donkey Kong Country Returns

The Donkey Kong arcade game is what started it all for Nintendo, so it should come as no surprise that everybody's favourite tie-wearing ape has made his way onto the list. While the antagonist of the arcade game isn't the Donkey Kong we see today (the surprisingly complicated lore for the game dictates that the star of the Donkey Kong Country series is actually Donkey Kong Jr. from Super Mario Kart), the current DK has still starred in some of the greatest games in Nintendo's back catalogue, including 2010's excellent Donkey Kong Country Returns. He's always quite the skilled bongo drummer.

 

 Zelda

Series: The Legend of Zelda

Best Appearance in a Game: Ocarina of Time

Although Princess Zelda could be placed in the overpopulated 'Damsel in Distress' category, she has proven herself to be capable in battle throughout The Legend of Zelda series and, although it is always required that protagonist Link rescue her, she is as much of a hero as he is to the people of Hyrule. Having appeared under the guise of the impertinent Tetra in Wind Waker and the mysterious Sheik in Ocarina of Time, there is always far more to Zelda than first meets the eye.


 

 Wario

Series: WarioWare, Wario Land

Best Appearance in a Game: Wario World

The antithesis of the clean-cut, goody-two-shoes Mario, Wario excels as a character because he is everything that the company's mascot is not – crude, lude and loud. Wario has headlined some of the most quirky Nintendo games, including the wacky WarioWare series, and appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a motorbike-riding, farting superhero. What more do you need from out of a character?

 

 Yoshi

Series: Super Mario

Best Appearance in a Game: Super Mario World

Forget Luigi and his haunted mansion and his stupid cowardly face, Mario's greatest sidekick is undoubtedly everybody's favourite green dinosaur, Yoshi. When Yoshi was first introduced to us in Super Mario World we instantly fell in love with him… and then we sent him hurtling to his death as we hopped from off of his back in order to successfully make a particularly long jump. The fact that Yoshi has continued to stay by Mario's side despite this speaks volumes for the strength of his allegiance to the Italian plumber. We salute you, Yoshi, you wonderful, naive bastard.

 

 Pikachu

Series: Pokémon

Best Appearance in a Game: Hey You, Pikachu!

There are certainly Pokémon who are stronger and more awesome than Pikachu, but when it comes to adorableness, the little electric rat has them beat hands down. Pikachu's cuteness helped make Pokémon the success it is today, spawning a myriad of video games, TV shows and films. While we would certainly rather have Charizard in our Pokéball than the series' cuddly yellow mascot, it still doesn't detract from the fact that when Pikachu cries, we feel like crying, too.

 

 Link

Series: The Legend of Zelda

Best Appearance in a Game: Ocarina of Time

Although Link has thus far remained voiceless throughout The Legend of Zelda series (he did have some spoken dialogue in the CD-i games, but we like to forget that those existed), he remains one of the most iconic video game heroes in history. Throughout his various incarnations (each Link is an ancestor of the previous one, destined to fight for the safety of his world), Link has shown himself to be incredibly brave and accepting of his fate, battling relentlessly to keep the Triforce out of the hands of those who will use it for evil. It also doesn't hurt that he's been the protagonist in arguably Nintendo's most consistent series.

 

 Mario

Series: Super Mario

Best Appearance in a Game: Super Mario Galaxy

Who else? Mario is to video games what Mickey Mouse is to cartoons. He's the face of this industry, and everything created within it owes itself in some way to the Super Mario series. While he's hardly the most interesting or developed character, he's still undoubtedly the most important. From Super Mario Bros. 3 to Super Mario Galaxy, Mario has double-jumped from each and every console generation, leaving behind him a library of superb titles that have made Nintendo one of the most respected and influential developers of all time.


Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro