Top 5 Nintendo Character Designs

Before today’s Top 5 I want to send a shout out to Red Fly Studios. They featured me on the front page of their site for their upcoming game, Mushroom Men. Just wanted to say thanks for the notice, and I really can’t wait until November 11th for the game to come out.

Now that the pleasantries are over, I’m going to ask something of you for today’s Top 5 list. I want you to clear your head of any knowledge you have of past Nintendo characters. I know it’s a hard feat, but today’s list requires it. I want you to clear your mind of any idle fanboy trappings about your favorite characters. The reason I bring this is up, is today’s Top 5 list is the best character designs in Nintendo history. Notice, it’s not “Top 5 Characters” but just the designs, and how each have left their mark on the gaming world. Today’s list was actually inspired by the crazy character design that Mushroom Men has in their upcoming game. Ok, I’ve done enough sucking up today, so let’s get to the list…

Top 5 Nintendo Character Designs

5. Mario: Sitting at #5 is easily the most loved character in the history of Nintendo. One of the great things about Mario is the simplicity of his design. He may not be the most flashy, but with the addition of power-ups, Mario has seen plenty of variety throughout the years. Instead of writing paragraphs on it, I’m going to post a gallery for different Mario designs through the years which is more than enough to justify my case.

Super Mario Bros  Super Mario Bros 2  Super Mario Bros 3  Raccoon Suit Mario  Super Mario World
Super Mario 64 Metal Mario Super Mario Sunshine Super Mario Galaxy Bee Mario

4. Charizard: This could be the first time I’ve ever mentioned Pokemon on WiiBlog. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the series, but I’ve played most of the games. One of the pokemon that truly stands above the rest is the massive, overpowering, and fire breathing Charizard. When the game first came out, I was in the later years of middle school. Everyone wanted Charizard. What was it that made him above the rest? The overall design of Charizard is what gives him his appeal. Which is the reason why so many fans will put it at the top of their Pokemon lists.


Charizard 3D
Even In 3D Charizard Still Looks Menacing

I’m not sure what it is about dragons that appeals to so many nerds gamers, but we tend to flock towards them. I’m not sure if it’s just the ruggedness of the character, or demeanor. Maybe it’s the solitude in which dragons live. Whatever the reason, Charizard has massive amounts of appeal. Which can mostly be accounted to his design, and presence.

3. Captain Falcon: One trend that appeared to have begun during the SNES years, was the emergence of driving games from Nintendo. What would start the trend was F-Zero. This game brought some serious speed to the driving genre, and Captain Falcon was the poster boy. When you mention racing and Nintendo, Captain Falcon is almost always the first character to come to mind. And for good reason.

If there’s one Nintendo character that screams “America…F*** Yea!” (props to those who get the reference), it’s Captain Falcon. He’s got huge muscles, and he loves for you to know about it. He’s cocky, but in the loving sort of way. He’s got a huge eagle donning his helmet, and he’s got solid white eyes that seem to pierce the soul. Sure Nintendo gave him a scarf during the Super Smash Bros. era, but even he could pull it off and make it look bad ass. The only thing missing is him waving the American flag in front of a screaming crowd.

Captain Falcon

Captain Falcon Super Smash Bros.
America…F*** Yeah (I Really Need To Go Back And Watch Team America)

2. Samus: Samus, like Mario has seen a lot of change through out the years. Her overall concept has always stuck, but her suit has received minor changes. It’s always looked slick though, and she epitomizes the concept of alien ass-whoopin’.

Her orange suit, and green visor is a thing of legend in the video game world. Besides her standard blaster, she’s received a boatload of power-ups. Here are a few of those enhancements. This list alone is enough to grant her spot on the list.

-Morph Ball: With this ability, Samus is able to shrink. With her ball-like structure she is able to roll around, which she needs for navigating through certain parts of the Metroid universe. The Morph Ball is probably Samus’ most recognized maneuver and its followed her in nearly every single game she’s been in.

-Missile Tanks: Nothing really needs to be said. If you’re hunting aliens, it’s pretty obvious you’re going to need missiles.

-Screw Attack: This ability is like the Morph Ball, only on crack. You basically charge up energy inside of Samus, and when she lets it out no alien being stands a chance. Hell hath no fury like a Bounty/Alien Hunter.

Of course I’d be doing the character a disservice if I didn’t mention the greatest thing of all about Samus. Yes, there’s the alien stomping suit, and the cool upgrades. The fact that all if this is done by a woman even adds more to the mystique. I think for those of us who played the original and first discovered Samus’ true nature was greatly stunned. I was really too young to appreciate it, and I actually think I hated it when it first happened. Looking back I see how silly I was (hey I was in like 3rd grade), as Samus being a woman is one of the greatest character design choices in the history of gaming.

Samus Aran visor
Who Knew Behind That Menacing Visor Were Eyes I Wanted To Get Lost In

Samus Fan Art
You Really Have To Appreciate Fan Art

1. Ganon/Ganondorf: I’m not sure if this is an underlying current of the person I am but I’ve always seemed to appreciate villains more than heroes. Call me weird but if you ask me who my favorite characters are in different forms of entertainment; I’m more than likely going to mention a villain. If there’s one character that screams villain, purely by design it’s Ganondorf.

Starting off only as Ganon, the main villain of the Legend of Zelda series has really matured as the series rolls on. On top of being one of the greatest character designs, I’d definitely say Ganon is the most improved character in Nintendo history. During his early years, he started out as some kind of pig beast who more than likely only wanted to do evil because of self esteem issues. Even in these rough, and early years Ganon was a force to be reckoned with. What he lacked in looks, he made up with creativity during his boss fights. The first time you face off against Ganon it is a legendary, frustratingly long fight. There’s only a certain combo of weapon uses that can take him down, and it’s up to you to figure it out. All the while dodging his attacks and making sure you stay alive.

I Think Ganon Would Have Been More Successful In The Early Years If He’d Had Laid Off The Doritos

It wouldn’t be until Ganon became what we know as Ganondorf that his character would fully take shape. The name Ganondorf first came to be in Link to the Past. He was still a pig beast in the game, but the manual gave his full name, Ganondorf Dragmire. Then when Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released, we finally received the most legendary of Nintendo villains.

He turned from pig beast, into gigantic sorcerer with a huge bad-ass long sword. The boss fights that featured Ganondorf were always atmospheric due mainly to his presence and how menacing the character looked. These were the early years of 3D gaming, and he still was quite scary and gave off an un-easy feeling.

Ahh, That’s Better

**Spoilers** The spoiler warning might be unnecessary because if you haven’t played Ocarina of Time, then quit typing and go download it on the Virtual Console immediately. Anyway, when you defeat Ganondorf the battle isn’t over as he turns back into his more original self. He’s a pig beast again, but instead of just looking overweight and out of shape, he’s a massive mammoth of a creature. I remember my jaw hitting the floor at just the overall scope of Ganon. He was so huge that his size made it seem like the fight would be fruitless, as there’d be no way you could defeat something this large. Because of Ganon/Ganondorf’s metamorphosis from his original design in the early era, to what we have now is the reason why he gets the #1 spot on today’s list.

Just like all the other Top 5 lists, I want to hear back from you. What have been some of your favorite character designs throughout the history of Nintendo? If you’re a Birdo fan it’s ok, I’m willing to be open minded.


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  • Squa
    September 6, 2008 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I think Kirby’s character design is great. I mean, he hasn’t changed at all, but that what’s made him awesome, he’s so constant and yet so awesome looking.

  • September 8, 2008 - 7:07 am | Permalink

    Kirby definitely has appeal, and would have made a honorable mentions list for me. Probably should have included a honorable mentions list, considering the great character designs throughout the years

  • July 4, 2009 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    I like bowsers alot, i mean: TOTAL GIRTH POINTS!! lol

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