5. The Prince, as seen in Prince of Persia
Sometimes, being small and weak has its advantages. Despite his stringy forearms and fragile frame, the Prince from the Prince of Persia series never ceases to amaze me. It also didn't hurt that the first Prince of Persia, released for the Apple II in 1989, featured some of the most fluid animations ever seen in a videogame. You really got a sense for how hard it must have been for the Prince to pull himself up from ledges with his incredibly weak forearms.
It was also the first game that I can remember, which successfully incorporated a real sense of the physicality of climbing into what was essentially a platformer. Gone were the unrealistically high jumps and long leaps seen in other platformers that came before it. Like most humans, the Prince couldn't hold a match to a horse when it came to running or leaping. His tiny hops realistically represented the limits of a human's un-muscular build. But that only made his relentless ability to conquer ledges that much more impressive.
Above: Unfortunately, like so many male protagonists in gaming, the Prince's only motivation for action has to do with a helpless human woman in distress
4. Desmond Miles, as seen in Assassin's Creed I and II
Unlike the Prince, Altair and Ezio show few signs of weakness when scaling structures in Assassin's Creed I and II. Maybe that's because they're being piloted by Desmond Miles, the direct ancestor of these ancient assassins. While under the control of Desmond, Altair and Ezio climb with an unprecedented level of confidence. Always surefooted, every move is made with purpose as they reach for that next foothold or pull themselves up onto a rooftop.
Both Altair and Ezio also seem to be experienced riders, which does not harm my high level of appreciation for these dangerous non-horses. But it's the way Altair and Ezio always press forward without hesitation that makes me admire these two fine specimens of the human species so greatly.
Above: My hooves control Desmond Miles, who in turn, controls both Altair and Ezio as they bravely climb to heights equestrians have only dreamed of
3. Alex Mercer, as seen in Prototype
When I want a good laugh, I like to watch the Olympics. Marathons are my favorite. Watching the world's fastest humans struggle to cover a mere 26 miles is better than the best stand up comedy your species has to offer. But I never laughed at Alex Mercer, the amnesiac shape shifter in Prototype. Not once.
The awe inspiring Mercer doesn't climb buildings with his arms. He scales them with his powerful hind legs, which propel him with a frightening force. Every movement he makes is filled with rage as he relentlessly leaps from building to building while slashing anyone dumb enough to get in his way to pieces.
The nightmares have stopped since I finally finished Prototype. But from time to time, I still have terrible visions of a future where mankind has grown a pair, a pair of evolved hind legs that actually have some kick to them. In my dream, I see men in tracksuits running circles around me as I gasp for breath, unable to move. Meanwhile, an army of human babies with sock puppets wall-run up the skyscrapers surrounding me. As their chubby calves flex and pulsate, I see a young foal in the distance charging towards me. I realize that the young steed is running from Alex Mercer. The vicious shape shifter is shrouded in darkness and is quickly gaining on the foal, who is now galloping in slow motion. I know something terrible is about to happen, but I am powerless to stop it. But again, I digress.