Introduced in… Super Street Fighter IV
There were only two new characters introduced in Super Street Fighter IV, but in keeping with our rules for this feature, we had to choose one of them as the “best.” It’s a tough call, but when the decision comes down to a slinky-sexy taekwondo combatress and a lava-red Turkish oil wrestler we had to go with… hm, actually that’s still a pretty tough choice. Screw it, let’s pick the deliciously evil femme fatale and call it a day.
Juri’s overall aesthetic appeal is quite strong even if you don’t spend hours a day honing mixups and perfecting your FADCs. Her bare stomach is an obvious center of attention, but we’re more taken in by the violet colors, lens-flaring robo-eyeball and her spiderlike top that slithers across her shoulders. It’s a strong, standout design in a game filled with iconic characters – the fact Juri even remotely sticks out next to people like Guile, Chun Li and Ryu is an accomplishment. That said, Juri is kind of a corporate ploy for cash and boners, as she was specifically designed to appeal to Korean players. Not sure that plan worked, as we’ve yet to see an expert-level Juri player really stomp people at events like EVO, Season’s Beatings or Shadowloo Showdown. But hey, at least she looks nice.
Introduced in… Mass Effect 2
As you’ve likely been told a thousand times, Mass Effect is all about the characters. In fact, most of Mass Effect 2 centers around you recruiting said characters and dealing with their personal baggage. That means a whole lotta talking, and with a cast that’s growing into the double digits there’s a lot of competition for your affection. And while we obviously can’t get it on with a robot, Legion’s clinical and decidedly mechanical delivery made him our favorite addition.
Legion is actually over 1,000 geth – hence the name. He says “we” and “this mobile platform” instead of personal references, and presents a view of humanity (and the galaxy at large) that biological life can never quite relate to. Every conversation is intriguing, every comment is enlightening and every greeting is a refreshingly emotionless take on life. But it’s not like you’re talking to a toaster, as Legion has a number of subtle facial tics that convey feelings he technically doesn’t have. True, HK-47 kinda-sorta did the same thing in KOTOR, but his obvious disdain for “meatbags” permeated every sentence – here, you get a cool, calculating hive mind that’s coming down to our level so it can save itself from an even bigger threat. The only down side? It’s possible to make it to the near-end of the game before acquiring Legion, depriving you of several immensely cool opportunities to see and hear his unique take on the mission.
Introduced in… Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
We wanted to hate Monkey at first. Everything about the protagonist's design – from the anime hairdo, raccoon makeup and swinging "tail" to the bulging muscles and exposed pelvic muscles (did we really just type that?) – seemed ridiculous, like the developers were trying way too hard to grab our attention. The generically grumpy Gears of War personality didn't help.
If only Marcus Fenix had a Trip. As soon as Enslaved's fragile sidekick is introduced to the story, Monkey becomes three-dimensional, with something rarely found in videogames – an actual character arc. Through some of the year's best cutscenes, motion capture and voice acting, we watch as this caged animal transforms into a selfless and heroic man. Not in a single moment, but slowly, from one subtle line of dialogue or nonverbal cue to the next.
And then, when romantic rival Pigsy is introduced just so he can make fun of Monkey's appearance? Developers, you win.
Oswald the Rabbit
Reintroduced in… Disney's Epic Mickey
Technically, he isn't new. Technically, he's almost a century old. However, this is Oswald the Rabbit's first videogame appearance – heck, it's his first major appearance anywhere since before World War II – and the story of how this came to be is too good for us to ignore.
Walt Disney created Oswald while working under Universal Pictures in the late 1920s, but after a nasty budget dispute with producers, decided to leave the character behind and start his own studio, as well as give life to a slight variation on Oswald by the name of Mickey Mouse. One cartoon was soon world-famous, while the other faded into obscurity.
Until, in a rather hilarious 2006 deal, Disney traded very real ABC sportscaster Al Michaels for its long-lost, ink-and-paint mascot, clearing the way for Oswald the Rabbit to show up in stores as a stuffed animal, as a t-shirt logo, as a collectible figurine and, best of all, as a celebrity mouse's estranged and justifiably jealous sibling in 2010's Epic Mickey. It's a comeback tale over 80 years in the making, and the happy ending occurred in a videogame. Pretty cool, right?