“It’s-a-me, Mario!” Say that to just about anyone and they’ll conjure up the image of a short, plump, mustachioed man in overalls wearing an “M” emblazoned hat. He entered the video game world in 1982 in the arcade hit, Donkey Kong, and has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Widely considered the most popular video game character of all time, he’s a big favorite for many Xers, Millennials, and even Boomers. But that’s not to say he hasn’t had challengers along the way.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Mario’s popularity was rivaled by Sonic the Hedgehog, created by Sega in 1991. Since then, the anthropomorphic hedgehog has helped Sega sell over 80 million games, and it was inducted into the Walk of Fame alongside Mario and Link.
Another favorite among the video game community, Link rose to fame through the The Legend of Zelda, first released in 1986 in Japan. The game chronicles Link’s adventures through the mythical land of Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces, and the game’s antagonist, Ganon, all while trying to rescue Princess Zelda. Link is one of the initial eight characters in the first playable version of Super Smash Bros.
Don’t worry, we won’t forget a classic: Pac-Man. Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium and an icon of 1980s pop culture. Upon its release, the game became a social phenomenon that sold a large amount of merchandise and also inspired an animated television series and a top-ten hit single.
And for you younger gamers, you may remember the popularity of Pokemon’s Pikachu, a character from the wildly popular Pokemon franchise. After its release in 1996, Pikachu has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, multiple episodes of The Simpsons, and even ranked as the second best person of the year in the 1999 edition of Times Asia.