This generation of game consoles is finally starting to reach the end of its life, with Nintendo already having released their new Wii U console. The expectations are that Microsoft and Sony will at least announce their next generation consoles within the coming months, which means that it is time to start reflecting. There have been a few characters on each console that have become larger than life and almost a household name, but some of the popular characters are simply older ones. These are the three defining characters of this generation of home consoles (Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3), in no particular order, one for each console.
Xbox 360. Master Chief — Master Chief from the Halo series is one of those characters whose life started before the Xbox 360 and before his first appearance on the Xbox 360. Master Chief made his debut appearance in Halo: Combat Evolved and his second appearance on Halo 2, both games appearing on the original Xbox. Since then, we’ve seen Master Chief make two appearances on the Xbox 360 in both Halo 3 and the recent Halo 4. Halo continues to be one of the defining series for Microsoft and their Xbox brand and with 343 Industries in control of his fate, one has to assume that he’ll carry over into the next generation as well.
Wii. Mario — There might never be a Nintendo console where Mario isn’t the king, which is both good and bad. The bad is that try as they might, Nintendo has a hard time creating characters that can live up to the name Mario. The good is that Mario is just that damned good that no other character can live up to him. The Super Mario Sunshine games on the Wii took the 3D platformer to a new level after Mario Sunshine provided a lot of more of the same on the Gamecube. It will be hard for Nintendo to ever dethrone Mario, so why bother?
PS3. Nathan Drake — Ahh, finally, some new blood in the mix. I feel like Sony has had a hard time coming up with console-defining characters over their lifespan. Sure, there have been characters like Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 on the PSX and the girls of Final Fantasy 10/X2 on the PS2, but when it comes to first party games, they have always struggled. They’ve finally hit one out of the park with in-house developer Naughty Dog. Naughty Dog has had some near-misses in creating defining characters in Crash Bandicoot and Jak, but they’ve finally struck gold with Nathan Drake of the Uncharted games. Finally Naughty Dog is getting the recognition that they deserve for making great games with Uncharted and they are hoping to continue carrying that torch for a long time.
There has been talk of future Uncharted games, which means that Nathan Drake could live on to see Sony’s PS4 console, which I’m sure that not many gamers would complain about.
What is interesting to note on this list is that the only company whose console featured a new character was Sony’s PlayStation 3. As mentioned above, Sony has struggled with getting that first-party big name character to be associated with their brand and it looks like they’ve finally struck gold with Naughty Dog.