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Thread: Best protagonists

  1. #1
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Dancing Chocobo Best protagonists

    Inspired by the "good silent protagonists" thread as well as the "worst protagonist" thread.

    What are your favorite protagonists in RPGs? Was it their personality that made them your favorites? Their character arc?

    I'll jot mine down later

  2. #2

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    Commander Shepard
    By giving Shepard such a well thought out personality with many subtle divergences over the course of the series, and by having her right in the thick of conversations relating to the story, her own feelings or the characters around her, I was really able to inject my own personality into her own in a much more meaningful way than I would have been able to if she just stood around saying nothing meaningful for the entire game. Regardless of how you play her, she's also badass as hell which I appreciate. And if Netflix were to ever license the Mass Effect rights to a 'Shepard and Garrus buddy-cop comedy' series I would resubscribe in a heartbeat.

    Geralt of Rivia
    I may have less influence over his character than Shepard, but he's still cool AF and I love his pragmatism. Geralt's a good guy but he's been around long enough to know that sometimes, things just gotta die. I also really like the position of his character in the lore. Everyone who knows him likes him... or at least respects him, but as a Witcher he is inherently mistrusted by a lot of people. That leads to some interesting conflicts and earning people's respect (and getting paid) by doing cool missions is very fitting.

    Zidane
    I love his character arc as he goes from lovable rogue but-also-kinda-misogynistic prick to genuine nice boi discovering real love for the first time. Also he's such a good bro to best boy Vivi

    Balthier
    Shut up, he's the protagonist, just because you start off playing as Vaan DOES NOT MAKE HIM THE PROTAGONIST thank you

  3. #3
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Haseo is definitely a major candidate for best.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karifean View Post
    Haseo is definitely a major candidate for best.
    ...playing .Hack is on my list, I swear. I do own them on Steam!

    Googling Haseo brought up Tales characters as related entries so I need to add Yuri Lowell and Velvet to my best protagonist list real quick.

  5. #5
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post

    Balthier
    Shut up, he's the protagonist, just because you start off playing as Vaan DOES NOT MAKE HIM THE PROTAGONIST thank you
    lol Ashe says hi. Still decent deuteragonist though

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post

    Balthier
    Shut up, he's the protagonist, just because you start off playing as Vaan DOES NOT MAKE HIM THE PROTAGONIST thank you
    Saying that you are the main hero, doesn't mean that you are the main hero though. Otherwise, by that logic....





    He's now the main character of Final Fantasy XIII.




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  7. #7

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    Squall is one the best protagonists of FF. A lot of people don't like him because they're put off by his attitude, but I really appreciated all the delving into his thoughts with thought boxes added instead of just dialogue. That level of introspection makes him one of the most developed, rounded characters in RPGs, especially at the time it was practically unprecedented.

  8. #8
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Late with some of my own mentions because stuff.

    Luke von Fabre - Tales of the Abyss
    Sheltered, arrogant, selfish, rude. Luke is not a likable person at all when the game starts. But the journey his character and personality takes over the course of the game is the reason he's one of my favorite protagonists.
    He hits rock bottom, vows to become a better person, goes through a massive existential crisis and at the end of it all, he's a great guy. When I think "great character arc", Luke instantly comes to mind.

    Estelle Bright - Trails in the Sky
    I'll admit I'm somewhat of a fan of the "tomboy" stereotype. That said, Estelle's more than just that. While she's definitely the "hit first, ask questions later" type in many situations, she can also be thoughtful when necessary. She's also just a joy in every scene and has great chemistry with all the other characters. On top of all that, how often do you see a protagonist using a bo staff?

    Croix Bartel - Ar Tonelico 2
    Because on top of just being a great, competent character overall, he also has the best romance in gaming and learns a language just so he can sing a duet with the other half of the best romance in gaming.

    Rean Schwarzer - Trails of Cold Steel
    Rean comes off as pretty generic at first. But slowly you find out he has some layers to him and is far too competent to be called generic. This alone already made me like him enough, but not the main reason he's on this list. That would be the way the story treats him. Not getting into the spoilery details, but let's just say whenever you think he might be getting a little too competent, the story knows how to knock him down several dozen notches. After seeing him go through all the hardships over the course of 4 games, it's hard not to consider Rean one of my favorites.

  9. #9
    Do Myself a Mischief Vermachtnis's Avatar
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    Marona from Phantom Brave. This poor little girl lives alone on an island with a ghost. She does her best for everyone and is cheerful. And everyone hates her and treats her like garbage. But she keeps on smiling and helping everyone.

  10. #10
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Fei Fong Wong - I often struggle to think of another main hero in any game we get to know so intimately as we do Fei. What I like about Fei is that we get a full gambit of his personality. He's not always the most likable character in the story, he can be childish and selfish, but then we seriously watch him grow as he overcomes one bombshell after another within his story. His past(s) are all intriguing and uncovering how he's connected to the history of the whole planet is really one of the best parts of Xenogears' narrative.
    Crono - One of my favorite silent protagonists, his journey to save the future is one of my favorite stories. I love shaping his personality through my actions at the Millennium Fair that are judged later in the court room, and watching how the rest of the cast banters about him is always entertaining as well. Still, my favorite moment is watching him pay the price by not relenting in the face of Lavos and getting killed for his trouble, then watching as the second half of the game can be turned into a quest to bring him back. It was one of the most shocking moments of the 16-bit era for me, and still one of my favorites as well.
    Ashley Riot - Ashley is a force to be reckoned with in VS. His role in the game is basically one part Cloud Strife, and one part Solid Snake. He's a pure badass and the game will not let you forget it either as you conquer towering monsters. Yet I really enjoy the ambiguity of his story. Ashley never forgets the mission but his journey through Lea Monde will change him and how he sees himself forever. Is he a man with a death wish who only wishes to see his family, or is he a tired killer who lost his taste for blood long ago? Only Matsuno knows.
    Ramza Beoulve - Probably my favorite main hero of a Final Fantasy game, Ramza's tale of idealism in a world of grey is really well told, and unlike other games that try these tales, the story is more even-handed. I enjoyed watching Ramza try to conform to the ideas of nobility in the first chapter which conflicts with his morals and his relationship with his best friend Delita. Watching him finally stop running away and taking a strand during the War of the Lions in the later chapters is a sight to behold. Ramza sticks to his ideals and loses all of his physical wealth in the process, but he ends the story with the only person he cares about still alive and his ideals uncompromised, which beautifully contrasts the journey we witness Delita take.
    Chris Lightfellow - One of three main characters you can choose in Suikoden III, Chris is the odd woman out of the bunch as Hugo falls in line with previous and future heroes of the franchise, while Geddoe is the typical badass with a past type character. Chris is a character who is thrust into the spotlight by her selfless heroics and watching her journey to learn how to worry more about herself is actually refreshing. Even more so, Chris actually has the most questionable record of main protagonists within the series, as some of her actions have major consequences for other characters and eventually herself down the road. Also, can I just say how refreshing it to have the female character be the heavy hitter instead of being typecasts as a mage like in other games?
    Ryu - BoFIII's Ryu is easily my favorite of the group. I feel it helps we get to see him during several major portions of his life. From his idealistic youth where bumbles around as a petty thief looking for his family, to his more angsty teens where he undertakes a journey to find god and ask her why his race had to be hunted to extinction. I loved the fact as a kid he takes a while to get good at fighting, with his attack animation starting with him flailing his sword while turning his head away in fear before he grows more confident and fights like a seasoned warrior. The big pay offs for me is watching him reunite with Rei, Nina, and Teepo as all three had a major impact on his life in his youth and see how time has not been kind to any of them.
    Gustave XIII - While it is easy to mistake Wil Knights as the protagonist of SaGa Frontier 2, Gustave has the greater story impact than Wil. The lone muggle in a world where everyone can use magic, Gustave is stripped of his birthright as a child and has to find his own path in life, and while he dies tragically halfway through the game, the impact of his life changes everything in the world and his legacy endures as he goes from outcast to a figure reminiscent of Alexander the Great.
    Squall Leonhart - Yeah, smurf you all. Squall's journey to lighten up and open up is he best part of VIII's narrative, though I quite like his more sardonic personality. The real humor of VIII for me is watching Squall try to dodge and weave his way past his more upbeat companions. Yet his story of overcoming his abandonment issues and finally opening up to the relentless Rinoa is actually quite touching. I love how the two most powerful moments in VIII's ending for me is when Squall cries at the thought of losing Rinoa during the Time Compression nonsense, and when he smiles at the games ending. Squenix has tried to recapture this idea with both Cloud in Advent Children, and Lightning in the XIII trilogy, and I just don't feel like it ever quite had the same impact in either game.
    Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca - The heart of XII's plot, Ashe's journey to let go of her hatred and desire for revenge and instead have the resolve to make the tough decisions that would benefit her people more is actually well told throughout FFXII. Like Chris, I enjoy the fact she's not presented in the typical fashion of other heroines within the genre, her first playable appearance having her fight with sword in shield in hand alone against imperial soldiers. Ashe's resolve is like a well forged steel and while she has her moments of doubt and weakness, its watching her press forward that makes her feel like such a powerful figure within the team that can easily go toe to toe with Vayne, the Judges, and even the Occurians. Ashe is easily one of the best female leads within Final Fantasy.


    I'll probably think up a few more later.
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  11. #11
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Rean Schwarzer - Trails of Cold Steel

    WarZidane already pointed him out, but I figure I need to list the guy as well. He's probably as generic of a "good guy" "chosen one" anime protag as it gets, but there's something delightful about seeing a guy with no real character flaws try his hardest in a world swallowed by so much conflict. And he certainly doesn't have it easy. When he does accomplish something it feels deserved; and when he fails it really hits you with him. He's just a guy you feel like rooting for.

    But that's only the beginning, as unlike most protagonists of his nature, you actually get to see him grow up after he completes his first 'big adventure'. I don't know everything about his road from CS3 onwards, so I'm still very much looking forward to experiencing it for myself, but in a way I also just find it fascinating since you never really see this in games.


    Joker - Persona 5

    Well you may have seen it coming. Joker is easily the most charming and charismatic protagonist in the Persona games I've played. He's a man of few words (naturally) but really his backstory, demeanor and lovely smirks is all you need to get exactly what this guy is on about. God he's such a player though.


    Tidus - Final Fantasy X

    Squall is definitely one of the best protagonists in the FF series, but I can't help but keep a special place in my heart for Tidus, the hero of my favorite game in the series. "Hero" is probably the best word to describe him really, a guy who came from a world where the very concept of self-sacrifice is about as far from the mind as conceivable, coming to a completely unfamiliar world, and ultimately making possibly the hardest choice of any character in the series as - through everything he learns of the world of Spira and how much its people suffer - he decides to have his entire world and himself erased, for the good of a world that's not even his own home.

    That final high five he shares with Jecht is still easily one of my favorite character conclusions ever, it just ties everything between them up so wonderfully.


    Gwendolyn - Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

    Can't have a list of only male protagonists now can I. Gwendolyn is kind of a special character, she's one of those female protagonists that are incredibly courageous and badass while still remaining ultimately very selfless, devoted to making the most important people in her life happy and fighting for them. She's unconscious for a large part of the overarching story but whenever she is around she's one of the most proactive (and successful) characters in the story.

    Also her budding love story with Oswald is beautiful and one of the best I've ever seen in a game.


    Adol - Ys series

    Since Wolf Kanno mentioned Crono I figure I'll have to mention the other classic red-haired sword-wielding adolescent silent protagonist. He's a very simple character, but it just works for a series like Ys that's all about going on adventures and discovering different parts of worlds rich with lore to discover. The Ys games' stories are told through his adventure book which he wrote in old age, so you always know he's not going to encounter a fate of a magnitude quite like Crono, but even so he's just exactly the kind of hero these games need.

    Dana is my overall favorite Ys character so far, but while she is definitely a main character of Ys VIII, I'd be hard-pressed to call her a protagonist quite like Adol is, so I'll leave her for another list.


    Haseo - .hack//G.U.

    If I had to describe why I love Haseo as a protagonist in one word it's "growth". Unlike many other characters on this list, Haseo is incredibly shaped by the experiences he goes through. Hell before the game even really starts we already have his introduction to The World only to be backstabbed by the first people he meets, only to be rescued and taken into a guild, only to have his girlfriend fall into an inexplicable coma over being PK'd and him going on a complete killing spree on player killers everywhere only to have his entire game progress deleted, leaving him as a Level 1 character hated by a large part of the most vicious player base of the game. Holy smurf. Now that's a setup.

    Watching him slowly work his way back up is a rollercoaster as while he is absolutely not perfect, he is one of the most genuine human characters I've ever seen in a game. Between him snapping at Atoli when she talks about how beautiful the fake game world around her is, becoming overcome with egomania when he first awakens to Skeith, but also slowly learning humility and how much he values the people he suddenly finds himself surrounded with, it's never quite a straight line but you can still absolutely tell why people are drawn to him. Especially his relationship with Atoli as while he's not necessarily always the nicest person to her, he absolutely speaks to her as a person which understandably means more than anything to her, and it's telling that one of the biggest wrenches in their relationship comes in the form of her believing that to not be genuine after all. And of course who could ever forget his breakdown when (SPOILER)Alkaid fades away x.x.

    His character arc is none you haven't seen many times before, but the way it's done with Haseo just hits all the right notes.

  12. #12

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    Squall Leonhart because like already mentioned, he's realistic and feels like a real older teenaged boy struggling through how to deal with life, other people and his sullen past with losing Ellone. Squall's past in pretty smurfed up actually, yeah, it's no Nibelhiem Massacre, but Squall was a orphan, he only had a close relationship with Ellone, Ellone disappears one day and NONE OF THE ADULTS TELL HIM WHERE ELLONE IS AND WHY SHE'S GONE.

    Yes, Squall is a douchebag at first, but he has good reasons as to why, and why he has his trust issues and his anxieties with trusting and getting close to other people. Also, Squall is a good main character because of his journey of development, and him overcoming his worries, and him becoming a better person.


    And no, Squall is "not emo".



    Ramza. I just like him, and think he's great, because he goes to a pub and asks for milk. What a cutie.






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