Since the days of Atari, video games have been an ideal way for people of all ages to act out their friendly rivalries with their peers. Can't agree on who should make dinner? Whoever loses at Mario Kart is tonight's chef! Friend making over-the-top claims about his Madden skills? Make him put his money where his mouth is on the (virtual) football field!
Naturally, rival gamers are going to lead to rival characters within the virtual world; nobody wants to play as a simple palette swap of the main protagonist. Of course, this doesn't stop some developers from doing it! Many times we see a slightly different-colored version of our hero with a "mysterious" (aka they didn't want to develop it) backstory that acts as the direct competitors to the beloved character. Other times developers will get deep into the lore of their worlds, leading to fleshed-out rivalries between characters that span over multiple games and sometimes franchises.
Do you think you have what it takes to identify some of the greatest rivalries in gaming history? Now, we aren't simply talking about villains in video gaming. We're talking about the rivals- characters that are directly competing in the same task or have similar characteristics. Now, step up to the plate and take the test! Can You Name These Video Game Characters' Rivals?
With his signature "GET OVER HERE!", Scorpion has been tormenting players of Mortal Kombat for decades now. The former ninja clan leader was murdered in cold blood by his rival before getting resurrected as a spawn from Hell. Now, he uses his prowess with a sword as well as his chain spear to mercilessly slaughter anyone who stands between him and his revenge. This character is not only his current rival, but is also the one who was responsible for the death of his family.
Sonic The Hedgehog
He hasn't had a good game in years, but Sonic the Hedgehog was once a superstar that could rival the likes of Mario or Master Chief in popularity. For a while, it appeared like Nintendo's plumber and SEGA's hedgehog were destined to compete against each other forever. Eventually SEGA decided that their premiere hero needed a rival. Although they would eventually try to replace this frenemy of Sonic with Shadow the Hedgehog, but this character will always be considered the hedgehog's greatest rival.
Donkey Kong is the original king of the arcade! The titular first game featuring the character had him as a villain, but we'd like to think that he was really just misunderstood. The second game portrays the character as the victim, with his rival kidnapping the great ape and holding him hostage. Eventually Kong was able to regain his title as a hero, and starred in his own set of games for the SNES and Nintendo 64. Any gaming historian out there should know this one!
Speaking of not having any games in awhile....where is our new Starfox game!? Sure, we got Star Fox Zero back in 2016, but that was basically just a repackaged version of Star Fox 64 with a few new gimmicks. Also, it was met with a pretty mixed reaction thanks to its over-reliance on motion controls and short length. The series stars Fox McCloud and his ragtag band of pilots. This mercenary acts as the rival to our hero, holding a personal vendetta against him.
Finishing up our quiz is John-117, otherwise known as Master Chief. Arguably the greatest video game character of the 21st century, the Chief is now synonymous with the Xbox brand as well as the first-person shooter genre. The character has appeared in every Halo game to date, minus the two spinoffs (Fall of Reach and Halo Wars). The rival of the Master Chief is a member of the Covenant that has the highest rank of their kind bestowed up them, and is playable in two of the main Halo games.
Mega Man X
When it was time for the Blue Bomber to make his way onto the Super Nintendo console, Capcom decided to hit the reset button on the franchise. Although the regular continuity went on with Mega Man 7, the one game that is most associated with the SNES is the Mega Man X series. This timeline took place ever further into the future, where the likes of Wily, Dr. Light, and the original Mega Man were long gone, replaced with a robot simply called "X." This character was his rival/friend.
Poor Luigi. Despite being one of the most popular characters in Nintendo's lineup (always appearing in Mario Kart and Smash Bros. on top of the core Mario games), he always takes a backseat to his older brother. It's gotten so bad that even Nintendo seems to be in on the joke now, declaring 2013 "The Year of Luigi" and releasing a slew of games and DLC including the famed plumber in honor of his often-unappreciated existence. In 2000, Nintendo decided to give Luigi his own rival in the hit game, Mario Tennis 64.
With the first Assassin's Creed game getting moderately good reviews and sales back in the late 2000s, the publisher decided to greenlight a sequel set a few hundred years later, in Renaissance Italy. Luckily for fans everywhere, the second game was even better than the first and is still considered by many to be the crowning achievement of the series. The game starred Ezio, an Italian assassin that used his sneaking skills and technology to hunt down targets across Europe. His main rival was:
Mega Man (The Original)
Capcom may pretend that he doesn't exist nowadays, but the original Mega Man games were arguably the best on the original NES. Six of the titles were released for the console, with its sequels getting a release on the SNES, Playstation, and Wii/PS3/360 respectively. What made these games so endearing was the ability Mega Man had to steal away the powers of any boss he defeated. His rival was built to be an ally, but turned to the side of evil. Now, he acts as one of those "grey" characters.
Lara Croft was one of the original flagship characters of Playstation. The famous archaeologist and adventurer is the star of the Tomb Raider franchise, a series which has eleven games and two feature films under its belt. Croft is the epitome of video game heroines- Strong, intelligent, compassionate, and full of an adventurous spirit; there are no limits to what she can accomplish. Although she's often found fighting dinosaurs, mummies, and ancient gods, Croft actually does have a human rival.
Who says that best friends can't also be rivals? Heck, who else would be better for this kind of thing!? In the Street Fighter series, Ryu is a martial arts master who has entered the titular tournament in an attempt to further his fighting abilities. However, once his skills are noticed by the tourney's more evil members, they try to sweep him up into their schemes. The rival of Ryu is not only his friend, but his sparring partner as well as his brother in arms against evil.
The Castlevania series was the go-to action/horror series back in the days of the NES. The first three games were classics (well, maybe not Simon's Quest), but it was Symphony of the Night that really took the series to the next level with a non-linear map and abilities that could be upgraded across the course of the adventure. The star of this game was Alucard, the son of Dracula and a woman named Lisa. Technically these two are on the same side, but they both come into the game trying to achieve the same goal on their own.
Who doesn't love Kirby? The adorable pink puff started off back in 1992 with the Game Boy's Kirby in Dreamland before going on to star in over twenty different games, including the lucrative Super Smash Bros. series. With the ability to literally eat his enemies and inherit their powers, the little star warrior is one of the more unique protagonists in the Nintendo lore. Normally Kirby is portrayed as an innocent yet fierce warrior. This character has acted as both mentor and rival to the hero.
What can be said about Pokemon that hasn't already been said? The franchise has risen to levels of popularity rivaled by few others. The original entry of the franchise (much like the rest) followed the adventures of a young boy who wanted to be the very best Pokemon trainer that ever was. Though you could name your character anything you wanted, one of the default options was "Red." One of the name options for Red's rival was another color of the rainbow.
Jin Kazama (Tekken)
There's awesome, and then there's Jin Kazama awesome. The character is the grandson of longtime fan-favorite Heihachi and the "main" protagonist of the franchise. Surprisingly, this was not always the case; Jin didn't hit the scene until the third installment of the series. The previous protagonist had turned evil in the second game, leaving his son to take over the reigns. However, Jin is susceptible to losing control and allowing his "Devil Gene" to take over, turning him into a powerful demon-like being. His rival in the series is...
Little Mac has joined the likes of Link and Gordon Freeman as one of the most well-known silent protagonists in all of video game history. The character is the star of the Punch-Out! series, starting on the NES all the way up to the recent franchise reboot on the Wii. Often joined by his trainer, Little Mac dons a neon pink jumpsuit atop his black tank top and iconic green gloves. Some may say that Mac's rival is Mr. Miracle or Mike Tyson, but it's this much more well-known character.
Oh, Mario...You really are the greatest video game character of all time. He wasn't the first, nor the most innovative, nor the most powerful. However, he is by far the most popular as well as has been gifted with arguably the most consistently good titles in gaming history. Naturally, a hero so popular needs an evil version of himself as a rival! We're not talking about Bowser here, either; He is far and away Mario's greatest enemy, but this guy is a perfect example of the whole "mirror character" phenomenon.
Just about everything that the publisher Naughty Dog touches turns to gold- Their Crash Bandicoot games are still hailed as the best Playstation games of the 2000s, and they continued this success into the 2010's thanks to their Uncharted franchise. The star of this series, Nathan Drake, is an Indiana Jones-like character who is the descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Much like his ancestor, he has a knack for exploration; Drake chases down historical artifacts in a similar fashion to Lara Croft. In the second game, this character plays foil to Nathan.
Billy (Double Dragon)
Double Dragon revolutionized the side-scrolling game when it first came onto the scene. Instead of simply moving left to right, jumping on enemies, this game allowed you to move in four different directions and use your fists and feet to beat the bad guys into a bloody pulp. In the two player mode, each person gets to control one of two brothers who are competing for the hand of the damsel in distress. One's name is Billy, and the other is...
The original Metal Gear game pushed the limits as to how a story could be told in 8-bit form. Despite the graphical restrictions of the time, it was able to weave together an intricate tale about betrayal, espionage, and patriotism. When Metal Gear Solid came along for the Playstation, it took things to the next level by fully incorporating a 3-D environment complete with backtrack-able maps. The hero of these games, Solid Snake, has a very...odd relationship with his family members. His major rival in the MGS series is...
The aptly-named Phoenix Wright is a lawyer and star of his own self-titled series of Nintendo games. The series started off on the Game Boy Advance and migrated into the library of the Nintendo DS. What separates the Phoenix Wright titles from their competitors is the unique style of play; the story unfolds as a "visual novel," allowing players to simply choose from a series of prompts that are tied to actions within the story. Despite its unconventional style, the series is a massive hit. This guy is Phoenix's rival lawyer.
Pit (Kid Icarus)
Surprisingly, for a character of his popularity, Pit has not appeared in that many games; he was introduced in 1986's Kid Icarus, but has only shown up in as a protagonist in two more titles since. Otherwise, he has been limited to a guest character in games like Tetris and Smash Bros. Pit was also one of the main characters in the popular Captain N: The Game Master TV show of the '90s. This rival is literally the mirror image of the character.
Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
Kingdom Hearts is one of those story ideas that sounds so insane that it just might work. The game follows a young boy named Sora that is separated from his friends after an attack by a dark race known as the Heartless. He then encounters Donald Duck and Goofy, who offer to journey with him across the kingdom to see King Mickey. It may sound crazy, but Kingdom Hearts is one of the greatest RPGs ever created. This character is both friend and childhood rival to Sora.
In the F-Zero games, Captain Falcon is a bounty hunter that is the best there is at what he does. Although the character's real name is Douglas Jay Falcon in the continuity, spinoffs have claimed that "Captain Falcon" is a title that is held by whoever is currently the best racer in the entire world. Falcon is perhaps even more well known for his appearances in the Smash Bros. games, where his deadly "Falcon Punch" makes him a go-to selection for many players. In F-Zero, he is rivaled by this character.
Speaking of games that need another entry...Earthworm Jim was one of the most bizarrely entertaining games of the 16-bit era. He is literally an earthworm that gained superpowers through a suit that was dropped on him by a giant crow. Yep, it's just as crazy as it sounds. However, the humor in these games were something that you just didn't find anywhere else at the time. His rival is another forgotten hero of the era that used a similar style of gross-out humor.