Just like mainstream gaming has Mario, Kratos, and Master Chief, indie gaming has memorable characters of its own. Many of these stand out to indie fans as some of the best protagonists in video games. While people without a vested interest in the offbeat scene might not recognize Runman or Ikachan, these are well-known heroes to supporters of independent games. Here’s our countdown of the top five indie game heroes.
5. Unnamed Explorer from Spelunky
An unnamed hero from an unnamed land, Spelunky’s protagonist is a brave adventurer not unlike Indiana Jones. Initially, he’s armed with only a rope and bombs, but later he can obtain a few more tools. The Spelunker, as he is often called, explores the darkest depths in search of gold, gems, and various other riches. You have the option of saving damsels in distress or using them to set off traps. While that last part might not seem like the most heroic of deeds, the Spelunker needs to take care of his own hide if he wants to get through the game’s treacherous levels. After all, dying a single time means it’s game over for this treasure hunter.
4. CommanderVideo from the Bit.Trip Series
One of the most enigmatic characters to star in a video game, CommanderVideo begins his galactic journey in Bit.Trip Beat and soon finds himself facing perilous pixels and massive bosses. CommanderVideo is definitely shrouded in mystery, but it’s that mystique that makes him so special. As CommanderVideo, players travel through colorful dimensions and listen to some really awesome music. We’d like to think that this monochromatic protagonist is a pretty generous guy for letting us tag along throughout his stylish trip across the stars.
3. Captain Viridian from VVVVVV
After his crew mates go missing, Captain Viridian must search for each one and return them home again. While more cowardly characters would simply fish out the nearest portal and escape the danger that threatens their very livelihood, Captain Viridian sticks around, intent on finding all of his friends. At times, the situation looks dire, and Dimension VVVVVV has countless perils, but nothing stops this pixelated space man from saving his crew and being remembered as a true indie game hero.
2. Quote from Cave Story
Many consider Cave Story to be one of the most important indie games ever created. Therefore, it would be a shame for protagonist Quote not to earn his rightful spot as one of the top indie game characters to date. An amnesiac robot from a distant land, Quote stumbles upon a race of rabbit-like creatures called Mimigas. An evil scientist is manipulating and transforming them into beasts. Trying to make sense of everything, Quote springs into action to help the Mimiga tribe. His adventure takes him through many dangerous lands, where he meets vicious villains and good friends such as the fan favorite Curly Brace. In an act of true heroism, Quote decides to aid the critters despite not knowing who he is or where he’s headed.
1. Meat Boy from Super Meat Boy
The original Flash-based Meat Boy introduced the now-popular character, but it was developer Team Meat’s second endeavor with the franchise, Super Meat Boy, that propelled the titular character’s stardom to meteoric heights. After his girlfriend Bandage Girl is kidnapped by the nefarious Dr. Fetus, Meat Boy risks life and limb to rescue the love of his life. Throughout his quest, the skinless, square-shaped hero looks death in the eye and traverses saw blade-laden deathtraps, factories overflowing with deadly salt, and the flaming horrors of hell itself. Meat Boy isn’t just the top indie game character–he’s one of the hottest, most heroic protagonists to appear in a video game yet.
Everyone has their favorite video game heroes. While Link and Donkey Kong are fine choices for the mainstream side of the industry, a whole other cast full of credible, memorable, and charming characters exists. The indie gaming scene is adorned with the tenacity of Spelunky’s unnamed treasure hunter, the exploratory nature of CommanderVideo, the unrelenting heroics of Captain Viridian, the selfless attitude of Quote, and the fiery willpower that drives Meat Boy to the darkest depths, all in the name of Bandage Girl.