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The 30 best Capcom characters of the last 30 years

Guile

First appeared: Street Fighter II (1991)

Look at that flat top. That has to be the most extreme haircut in the US military, but thats not the only reason we love Guile. A Major in the Air Force, Guile began his street fighting career to avenge the death of his best friend, Charlie. He fought his way to the top to take down the guilty party, M. Bison, but after defeating the crime lord, Guile decided to be the better man and spare his life. Even after Bisons defeat, Guiles dedication to truth, justice, and the American way continued in future tournaments, but he also found time for a personal life.

Occasionally he finds a glimmer of hope that Charlie might still be alive, but when not chasing that ghost, he lives with his family. In fact, this ripped master of the Sonic Boom is related to Ken by marriage, as each is married to one of a pair of sisters. That must make Thanksgiving uncomfortable.

Leon S. Kennedy

First appeared: Resident Evil 2 (1998)

Leon Scott Kennedy had a rough first day at his new job. After arriving in Raccoon City to join the police force, he found the city in ruins thanks to a massive zombie outbreak. Thanks to his skills, resourcefulness, and friends like Claire Redfield and Ada Wong, Leon lived through that day, and was soon recruited by the US government, which really needed his skills in battling bioterrorism.

Leon has since spanned the globe fighting the undead, occasionally running into his old friends, and battling massive beasts that cant be killed by anything less than a rocket launcher. Leon takes his job fairly seriously--even shooting a zombified president if the moment calls for it. Hes been battling Chris Redfield for the top spot as resident Resident Evil lead, but to us theres no contest between the cool, fashionable Leon and the bullish Chris.

Blanka

First appeared: Street Fighter II (1991)

The roster of Street Fighter II is so memorable that it would be easy to include all of them in this feature, but were going to limit ourselves to the wildest of the crazy characters in the game. Blanka exemplifies the special brand of insanity that made us love Capcom. Raised in the wild since childhood, the green man comes from the forests of Brazil and is ready to tear apart whatever fighter stands in front of him.

His fighting style is much more instinctual than technique-based, and his ability to emit electricity might not be natural, but it gets the job done in a fight. Blanka is often used by Capcom as a comedy character, but facing him in combat is no joke.

Chun-Li

First appeared: Street Fighter II (1991)

Can you name a more popular woman in video games than Chun-Li? Lara Croft is one of the few that comes close, but Chun-Li has been lightning-kicking ass for much longer. At an early age (perhaps on a Tuesday), the China native watched helplessly as her father was murdered by crime boss M. Bison. She vowed revenge, eventually perfecting her fighting skills and joining Interpol in the hopes of one day stopping Bison.

Chun-Li can throw deadly kicks in the blink of an eye with power backed up by her muscled thighs, and she can throw out energy blasts as well as any Shoto. Even after her father was avenged following Bisons defeat, Chun-Li continued to work for justice, though she still found time to appear in many of Capcoms crossover titles. She blazed the trail for so many playable female characters in games, and shes showing no signs of stopping more than 20 years later.

Zero

First appeared: Mega Man X (1993)

While Mega Man and his more advanced counterpart X are fairly similar, their rivals are truly only alike in color scheme. The red-clad Zero is one of the top maverick hunters of a robot-plagued future, which means hes tasked with hunting down AIs gone bad. And unlike X, Zero uses a badass energy sword thats not as clumsy or random as a Mega Buster.

Zero started out as a supporting character, but soon got his own playable campaigns in the X franchise, and his stages played very differently from Xs. As he continued to grow more unique from X, Zero eventually got his own portable spin-off series. Lately hes even made more playable appearances in the Vs. Capcom games than Mega Man has. Is Zero currently the favored Mega Man character of Capcom developers?

Firebrand

First appeared: Ghost n Goblins (1985)

In the world of gaming theres not much room for advancement. If youre a background character, odds are that youll never get a game of your own, but in the NES days, things were different. Even a somewhat random baddie like Firebrand could go from chasing the main character in Ghost n Goblins to starring in his own game.

After taking the lead role in two Gargoyles quest games and Demons Crest for the SNES, Firebrand went back to his day job of chasing knights. His return to the forefront in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 reminded us of why we loved the bright red beast, because his story of hitting the big time gives hope to the rest of us schmucks in the real world.

Viewtiful Joe

First appeared: Viewtiful Joe (2003)

Having grown up with the Power Rangers, we could relate to Joes obsession with Japanese monster films starring costumed hero Captain Blue. And we also wished that we could jump into the screen like Joe did and become a masked superhuman ourselves. Sadly, thats the type of thing that only happens to video game characters like Viewtiful Joe, and he uses his newfound powers with an stimulating sense of childlike excitement.

Joes special powers worked in his sidescroller adventure, but were also fitting for the world of film that he inhabited. He could speed up time or slow down the film to dodge attacks ala The Matrix, or he could zoom in the camera to pull off a particularly devastating combo. The character starred in a quick succession of games, then vanished almost as fast as he became popular, but recent guest appearances in Capcom crossover games have given the hero a new lease on life.

Ken Masters

First appeared: Street Fighter (1987)

Over Capcoms 30 years theyve created some of the most heated (yet friendly) rivalries in gaming history, and Ken and Ryu are at the top of that list. Both trained together under the same enigmatic master, which explains their similar styles, but Ken has always been the flashier of the two. While Kens Hadoken might be a touch weaker than Ryus, Kens fiery version of the Shoryuken leaves Ryus in the dust.

But we think a big reason for Kens continued popularity is him being more relatable than Ryu. Though Ken enjoys overthrowing a would-be world-conqueror as much as Ryu, Ken embraces the fame of being a championship fighter. And unlike confirmed bachelor Ryu, Kens married and has a son. Despite his bravado, Ken ends up with arguably a more balanced life than the solitary Ryu.

Morrigan

First appeared: Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (1994)

Capcom has a number of attractive ladies in its history, but its hard to think of any more famous for their beauty than scantily clad femme fatale Morrigan. Shes a succubus born more almost 400 years ago, and shes armed with some powerful dark magic, but she most often fights for the thrill of battle, not with killer intent. It might be easy to like Morrigan for her low cut tops alone, but she has a deeper backstory than some fan art would lead you to believe.

Underneath Morrigans initial impression of vanity and arrogance is a woman avoiding a responsibility that she never asked for. She grew up as the adopted daughter of a demon king, and she was intended to take the throne some day. But Morrigan would rather enjoy the world of humans, a world that had always fascinated her. In later Darkstalkers games, when she becomes the lead of the series, Morrigan ultimately accepts her royal responsibilities, mainly to gain enough power to protect humanity from annihilation. And heres some Morrigan advice: turn on safe search when Googling her. Youll be scarred by what youll see.

Rad Spencer

First appeared: Bionic Commando (1987)

Rad Spencer may have been created in an age when Mario made jumping the popular means of exploration, but that would have been too easy for a cyborg superman like Rad. Instead of jumping, Rad uses his robotic arm to swing around multilayered 2D stages, blasting henchmen left and right, never once jumping. This gameplay made Rad stand out from the pack in the 8-bit days, and it still feels pretty fresh today.

Though Rad got a gritty reboot in the 360/PS3 era, we prefer the more clean cut super soldier of the earlier games, not least of which because the Rad on the NES wasnt saddled with a ridiculous wife arm revelation. Plus, in the original version of the game, Rad is battling a troop of Nazis run by the reanimated head of Hitler. At the end of the game Rad blows up said head in one of the most entertainingly extreme moments of violence the NES ever saw, and well always be grateful to Spencer for giving us that.