Characters vastly improved by sequels

Wario in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3


Wario started as a new archenemy for Mario, since Bowser can’t be the bad guy in every game. In Super Mario Land 2, our hero comes home to his castle to see that the greedy Mr. W has taken it over along with the nearby population. Though cast as the plumber’s dark, twisted mirror image, when we finally see Wario, he looks less like a menacing villain and more like a chunky, half-baked Mario clone that’s missing a few chromosomes. He’s quickly dispatched, seemingly forever, but Nintendo knew it had something special.


After making a couple more appearances as lead villain, Wario successfully usurped Mario’s series for good, as Super Mario Land 3 became Wario Land. Wario was Nintendo’s first true anti-hero, as his undying gluttony put him in conflict with new baddies competing with him to snatch treasure. The game had a more joking nature, allowing the developers to poke fun at the tired Mario formula with silly power-ups (such as fire-breathing dragon hats) and comical enemies, while maintaining Nintendo’s traditional high-quality of design.

From there Wario was unstoppable, starring in a stream of Wario Land sequels including 2008’s Wario Land: Shake It!, all of which kept the same faintly mean and rude sense of humor that the first game had. Meanwhile, Wario has been a staple of the Mario Sports and Party games, and started his own immensely popular and incredibly oddball minigame compilations branded WarioWare. Whenever Nintendo needs an outlet for their eviler impulses, it knows exactly who to look to.

Ken Masters in Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, etc.


In the first Street Fighter, poor old Ken wasn’t even an official participant. Simply trotted out to challenge Ryu in two-player matches, he was naught but a palette-swap sprite, that lowliest of fighting game clichés, existing only to provide a balanced (i.e. identical) opponent. Player two had to defeat player one using him if he was to earn the right to even compete in the tournament, meaning that the brash, blonde badass was forever in Ryu’s shadow. In Street Fighter II, he became a character in his own right, but all that time in second-place meant that he had developed no style or individual moves of his own, bar a longer, rolling throw. He was still basically just the less cool Ryu you picked only if you really had to.


Ken’s development into his own man was a gradual one, but well worth the time it took. Over the duration of several games his confidence against Ryu grew (he eventually beat his training partner in SFII and rewarded himself with marriage), first manifesting itself with a wider arcing Dragon Punch and a slightly better Hurricane Kick in SFII: Champion Edition.

Later, as Ken’s ballsy, in-your-face personality came out further in Super Street Fighter II, his Dragon Punch became unquestionably better than Ryu’s, hitting from much greater range, scoring three hits and bursting his opponent into flames. Truly, the boy was his own man now, and he wasn’t dicking around. He even started to sound different from Ryu, with faster, more hyperactive battle cries. By Super Street Fighter II Turbo, he had moves Ryu didn’t even possess, namely a bunch of nifty, showboating command kicks, which suited his character down to the ground.

Ken is a perfect example of the way Capcom designs its character’s abilities around their personalities, and his evolution has been one of the most natural and rewarding to watch.

Apr 22, 2011

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  • Sleuth - April 27, 2011 4:16 a.m.

    Garrus/Turian Batman is always in my crew.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - April 25, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    That's sort of the same Price, but not really.
  • soxknight1127 - April 25, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Soap was a good call but I would have gone with Price. He goes from cool but forgettable in COD2 to badass with great facial hair in COD4 to badass with great facial hair who nukes a space station in Modern Warfare 2.
  • wrpen99 - April 24, 2011 8:59 p.m.

    Koei had a good thing going, and they were smart not to change it. Better to keep something good and have it get boring over the years than change it for the worse by accident. Besides; 7 is everything great about the other 5 games put together, plus the added Jin campaign and playing as a general kingdom instead of only a single character, not to mention the ability to use any weapon you want, and the different element effects. To summarize, Dynasty Warriors is a great game, and it's best if it stays generally the same way. Though I'm pretty sure no one would mind if they added a mode similar to the first game.
  • Zeb364 - April 24, 2011 7:48 p.m.

    I know this has been said in these comments before but just want to state how completely I agree. Garrus rules. He came with me on every mission from the moment I recruited him in both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Obviously the Bioshock entry is spot-on. I really enjoyed learning about the Big Daddy process and who they used in their tests. The Dom and Maria scene is what made Gears 2 more than just an epic (no pun intended) shooter for me. Lastly, I agree with FVDub that Desmond and Lucy became not only much more likeable but actual three dimensional characters throughout ACII and AC: Brotherhood. I think putting it as Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher lite is a bit generous but I agree with the overall idea.
  • jackthemenace - April 24, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    I was almost in tears when Dom found Maria. TBH, I always liked Raiden, but mainly because I played as him before I ever played as Snake. Seeing Raiden in MGS4 was a reason to finally bitch-slap my friends and tell 'em they were wrong, despite non of them giving a toss. And Garrus? When I finally found out who Archangel was, I jizzed in my pants.
  • NaughtySnape - April 24, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    Dom was always my favorite character, and my first choice in multiplayer. GoW3 will have no exception
  • nbamike - April 24, 2011 4:26 a.m.

    How about Sora in KH1 Before: Scrawny little kid who happens to be surprisingly good at killing heartless. After: Sorta scrawny teen who is good at killing heartless and nobodies.
  • LordZarlon - April 24, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    I agree with Soap. I loved Call of Duty 4 but I always thought that Soap was a stupid name for a character. I just recently bought Modern Warfare 2, cause the price finally dropped on the PC version, and when I saw that Soap was a my badass Captain it made me smile. Great article.
  • Clovin64 - April 23, 2011 9:43 p.m.

    I brought Garrus along with me in every mission in ME2... and banged him three times with my lady Shep. Awyeah.
  • 510BrotherPanda - April 23, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    I wish Nintendo would bother evolving Luigi like Capcom did with Ken. Always getting only second fiddle... Dom's beard... it's awesome, but Batman5273 should just Photoshop Mikel Reparaz onto him and make it infinitely better.
  • FauxFurry - April 23, 2011 6:13 p.m.

    The whole list is pretty much air-tight. Even a character as good as Garrus was, he only reached true greatness in the sequel. Any other characters vastly improved by sequels will have to wait until the list itself has a sequel if such a time ever arrives. I'd like to recommend, for if and when that day comes, Yuna from Final Fantasy virtue of association with Paine. That's all she needed, really. Then there is also Dan Hibiki who went from minor palette swap joke character to the one of the most hilarious fighting game characters ever. Would the sequel list focus on character who lost their mojo/minds when the sequel rolled around, then Anders from Dragon Age 2 ought to be guaranteed a spot, two if Justice counts as a separate character there.
  • Japanaman - April 23, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    What about Wee-Gee?
  • manicania - April 23, 2011 4:55 p.m.

    I've only played two of these: Dead Space/Dead Space 2 and Wario Land.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - April 23, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    I hated Garrus in Mass Effect 1. I took him with me two times and then stopped because he sucked at combat and bored the hell out of me.
  • kluivertus - April 23, 2011 4:14 p.m.

    It needs to be pointed out: Mario Land 3 aka Wario Land is the best in the Mario Land series, and one of the best Mario games period. I think I beat that game ten times when I was a kid . . .
  • egregious - April 23, 2011 3:35 p.m.

    Garrus' badass upgrade in ME2 means he needs his own comic book series.
  • Sjoeki - April 23, 2011 1:54 p.m.

    I almost never left the normandy without garrus at my side. And raiden... he's better in Metal Gear 4, but I'm still happy I didn't have to control him instead of snake, I'm a big fan of the metal gear series but so far I'm not impressed with metal gear rising.
  • md1292 - April 23, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Soap McTavish could never be on the same level as Captain Price. "What's a muppet like you doing in the S.A.S.?" Plus, Captain Price is the protagonist for two of the best levels in FPS: "All Ghillied Up" & "One Shot. One Kill."
  • BlackElement17 - April 23, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    Considering that Soap reverts back to being the nameless gunman by the end of Mawa Deuce is his place on this list still justified?

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

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