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With half of our first round complete, Gaming Hero March Madness rolls into Round 1-3. Another 16 will enter; another 8 will survive. Here’s a look at our next leg of showdowns:
1. Kat v. 16. Sly Cooper
These two would make an oddly sensible pair of protagonists in a bizarre crossover game. Unfortunately for our one of our favorite bandits, gravity is not a superpower you want to mess with. Gravity Rush’s Kat is a force to be reckoned with, one that means trouble for low-ranking opponents. Oddly enough, Sly Cooper is actually equipped with some abilities that diminish Kat’s destructive power. His top-tier stealth, alongside some most useful anti-gravity techniques, can make this a fight. But Sly lacks the sheer damage output required to pull off this miraculous upset. As agile as he is, it would take countless hits to equal the impact of one lucky meteor. Kat wins despite a less than ideal matchup.
8. Sora v. 9. Commander Shepard
Much like the Final Fantasy heroes of the same family, Kingdom Hearts’ Sora can piece together an absurd level of power. He’s defeated a wide variety of creatures, warriors, and a handful of dastardly Disney villains. Despite a promising setup, Sora has yet to fully reach his potential as a character. He actually became somewhat of an underachiever in the grand scheme of gaming protagonists as the franchise’s focus shifted elsewhere. Maybe he’d achieve that much needed progress if Kingdom Hearts had released a main installment game since the Bush administration. This leaves room for a more polished Commander Shepard, whose firepower and leadership is a crucial edge over one of gaming’s most naïve characters. He’s quite lovable but, if we’re being honest, Sora is pretty dumb. Shepard would ultimately outsmart and outlast an opponent who prefers to blindly charge into encounters and risk defeat, giving Mass Effect’s star the victory.
5. Corvo Attano v. 12. Isaac Clarke
Stealth is off to a mixed start in this tournament. The determining factor for our sneakier heroes has been what they’re capable of once they get the jump on an opponent. Sly Cooper may have lacked the necessary punch up close, but Corvo doesn’t have that problem. In fact, Corvo is arguably the deadliest stealth-based protagonist in gaming. Isaac Clarke is significantly tougher than your average survival-horror subject, but he still spends much of his adventure feeling helpless and hunted. Corvo is a hunter. Granted, he doesn’t have to deal with terrifying aliens, but his skillset is the perfect combination of stealth and power. If Isaac even manages to find the Dishonored star before it’s too late, Corvo still wins on an assassination waiting to happen.
4. Ness v. 13. Chris Redfield
If Ness were a boulder, this would be a very different story. But the boy-wonder has that balanced and dangerous RPG skillset that we’ve discussed earlier in this first round. These games produce characters that are ready for just about anything. Chris has taken out elaborate monsters and waves of enemies that should be way out of his league, which is something to consider for these underdog matchups. But Ness is a psychic-based elemental threat that goes beyond the abominations of the Resident Evil universe. There’s no magic serum or antivirus to defeat Ness, whose power would be too much for Redfield to handle. The kid can even absorb Chris’ incoming fire. Ness wins this one easily.
6. Pit v. 11. Duke Nukem
We’ve just explored the futile efforts of a gun-based character against a character that can nullify projectiles. This one’s another lesson in that category. Pit can erase most of Nukem’s crazy damage, as well as utilize his flight to keep the fight at a distance. In addition to defensive maneuvers, Super Smash Bros. barely scratches the surface of Pit’s extensive arsenal. Duke might be able to rip heads off with his bare hands, but he wouldn’t lay a finger on the speedy angel. With a barrage of weaponry and attacks, Pit seizes a clean victory. Minus some potential wrist discomfort.
3. Scorpion v. 14. Captain John Price
Witness the battle between what 13 year-old boys used to play and what 13 year-old boys currently play. Captain Price is the most iconic character in the Call of Duty universe, and is featured in what most believe to be the franchise’s best games. But by the universe’s own logic, he’ll die if he’s shot in the foot or if he’s stabbed literally anywhere. Call of Duty bashing aside, the durability gap between these two is laughable. Scorpion’s entire existence is one-on-one fights, making him an immediate contender in this tournament. And his daggers would end Price before the wily veteran emptied his first clip. Scorpion wins, and caps it off with the fatality of your choice.
7. Link v. 10. Ezio Auditore
The Hero of Time takes on the Florentine Assassin as two of gaming’s most popular franchises collide. The Assassin’s Creed brand has suffered a noticeable decline in recent years, but fans fondly remember Ezio’s adventures as the peak of the series. As for Link, The Legend of Zelda seems to be doing just fine at the moment. In a fight, a large degree of an assassin’s success comes down to stealth. Ezio is in trouble if he’s caught by a handful of guards, so things won’t go well at all in a cage match against Link. Unfortunately for the suave killer, Link is also too clever for an assassin’s many games. The courageous adventurer isn’t overtly praised for his intelligence like most of gaming’s brainier heroes. Yet the entire Legend of Zelda gameplay system is predicated on the idea that the protagonist can think his way around any problem and be exceptionally aware of his surroundings. From various dungeons to the consistent acquisition of gear, Link’s intellect is second only to his bravery. This isn’t some oblivious historical figure waiting to be ambushed. Ezio doesn’t have the power, arsenal or skills to take out a hero of legend, and Link wins this one without too much trouble.
2. Dante v. 15. Crash Bandicoot
The Naughty Dog carnage continues. Believe it or not, Crash is one of the few heroes who can take as much of a beating as Dante. But the difference in damage output between these two is staggering. While Crash spins around, occasionally jumping or tossing fruit, Dante is unleashing the death-dealing capabilities of humans and demons alike. It’ll be difficult to find someone who can keep up with the pizza-loving mercenary of the damned, and even more difficult to find someone who can prevent him from getting back up after every substantial hit. Dante advances despite having to lay an unholy beating on his opponent.
In our next segment, we’ll wrap up the first round and send another 16 fighters to victory. See you then!