A new challenger approaches!
There's nothing better than adding a new face to your ranks. Whether you've recruited a new knight or unlocked some special character mode, it's a great feeling knowing there's more to a game than the starting roster. Nothing spices up a skating game like a Sith Lord, and nothing makes a survival horror game more intense than playing as a piece of food.
Even though fighting games are famous for expanding rosters, there are new characters to uncover in platformers, adventure games, and RPGs too. Get ready to recruit new party members and fight some hidden badasses, because we're starting with...
Reptile (Mortal Kombat)
There's no better way to start talking about secret characters than with Reptile: he was literally the first unlockable boss character in fighting game history. All you had to do was win with a Double Flawless Victory without blocking and finish the fight with a Fatality, all when a certain object flew past the moon in the one very specific level. Pssh, easy.
The master of the Pit has appeared in all the Mortal Kombat games since, alternating between a human form in green garb and a full-on lizard man. The scaly dude has quite a legacy; David Icke would be proud.
Tofu (Resident Evil 2)
So you're playing Resident Evil 2. You could play as Claire Redfield or Leon Kennedy and enjoy the thrill of narrowly escaping death at the hands of zombies or you could play as a floppy, larger-than-life block of tofu.
Finish all parts of the game with A rankings, and he's yours. He was originally just meant to test the game's collision physics, but Capcom wisely made him playable - starting with just a knife and few herbs. Sure, he can take more damage than other characters, but that doesn't save him from being eaten by fellow operative Hunk at the end of the game. Poor, delicious friend.
Mewtwo (Super Smash Bros Melee)
Oddly enough, Mewtwo isn't considered that good of a fighter in the Smash Bros. series. Sure, he can dodge better than most, but it's his status of being the only playable legendary Pokemon that makes him, well, legendary.
Originally meant for Smash on the Nintendo 64, Mewtwo didn't make the cut until Melee on the GameCube - where you had to play dozens of hours and hundreds of matches to unlock him. After fan outrage at not being included in Brawl, those same fans freaked the hell out - in a good way - (opens in new tab) when he was announced as DLC for the Wii U and 3DS versions. Yay, Pocket Monsters!
Akuma (Street Fighter II Turbo)
There are Ryu and Ken, and then there's Akuma. While the two Street Fighter posterboys battle for good, Akuma exists only to defeat others with his dark arts. Funny, considering he's actually Ryu's adoptive uncle.
The coolest thing about Akuma is his conception. An April Fool's Day joke in an old issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly hinted at unlocking Ryu and Ken's master Shen Long in the original game. After massive disappointment from their fan base, Capcom threw the kids a bone by including the evil master Akuma. And with Street Fighter 4, they finally revealed Gouken, Ryu's adoptive father and Akuma's older brother. Ah, family.
Devil Jin (Tekken 5)
'Evil' versions of characters are nothing new, and palette swaps usually satisfy the fanboys (I'll take purple suit Luigi for as long as I have to, Nintendo). But there's something extra special about Devil Jin, who is Tekken's main protagonist consumed by the evil genes inside him - just look at those wicked wings!
He showed up in Tekken 3 and 4 in cut scenes, but we finally got our hands on his horns in Tekken 5. While Jin fights with traditional karate techniques, Devil Jin pounds foes with the high-level Mishima fighting style, full of dragon punches, tsunami kicks, and 10-hit combos. Bad to the bone.
Toriyama Robo (Tobal No. 1)
If you're a fan of manga like Dragon Ball and Sandland but haven't played Tobal No. 1, shame on you - all the characters are designed by mangaka Akira Toriyama. This is important, as Toriyama includes a "Tori Bot" in most of his work; it's a little robot that represents himself in funny situations. And that bot is playable in Tobal No. 1, going by the nickname Toriyama Robo.
The best part is that you won't even know Robo exists until you finish an especially difficult 30-floor dungeon in the game's Quest Mode. "Who's this fool?" you'll ask until you beat him and realize he was a secret character all along.
Donkey Kong (Punch-Out!!)
The NES version had Mike Tyson, so Nintendo knew it needed another celebrity final boss for its Wii revival. It went internal, setting up the great ape Donkey Kong as the ultimate boss. Even better, you can spot DK in the audience in multiple Punch-Out games.
You'll have to complete the game a few times over to reach the fight, but when DK finally hops into the ring, it's on like something, I can't remember. Anyway, the red-tied tank can take you down with pretty much any attack, arguably making him the most difficult fight in Punch Out history. Where was that verse in the DK rap?
Luigi (Super Mario Galaxy)
Poor Luigi, always living in his brother's shadow. In Super Mario Galaxy, he gets literally lost in space and is taken prisoner at some point. Mario has to rescue him from the Ghostly Galaxy, at which point the green brother will assist him in collecting three stars.
A total of 120 stars and a Bowser fight later, and you can actually play as the other brother. Luigi runs faster and jumps farther, and his Cosmic Form is much smarter than Mario's. The weird part? Luigi can also rescue Luigi from the Ghostly Galaxy, though his imprisoned twin looks a little 'off.' At least he has his own mansion...
Darth Maul (Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3)
Tony Hawk, Bam Margera, Bob Burnquist - these are real, professional skaters. Who better to join them on the halfpipe than Star Wars' totally out-of-Lucas'-head Darth Maul? Kickflips and grinds are only made cooler with a double-ended red lightsaber in hand. What's extra cool is that when you select Darth Maul inside the skate shop, the shopkeeper will actually be choking from the Force in the background.
So how do you unlock the Sith fiend? It's a simple matter of completing all the game's goals and getting every gold medal as Tony Hawk. Too much? Just use the cheat code YOHOMIES instead.