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In a fourth leg of protagonist carnage, Gaming Hero March Madness will introduce the last 16 fighters competing in this year’s tournament. Check out today’s lineup:

 

1. Starkiller v. 16. Little Mac

Starkiller - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Starkiller – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Little Mac - Punch-Out!!
Little Mac – Punch-Out!!

Starkiller is one of the more powerful Jedi in the Star Wars Extended Universe. The Force Unleashed games explore the full potential of a Jedi in his prime, a stage the movies usually avoid. He’s got lightsabers, insane combat skills, and a strong connection with the Force. Little Mac, however, did beat Mike Tyson. A few decades ago, defeating Mike Tyson and possessing the Force were similarly impressive accomplishments. Jokes aside, Mac obviously gets destroyed against a guy who can probably take out most of the Star Wars characters you’ve seen in the movies. Starkiller scores the knockout this time around.

 

8. Captain Falcon v. 9. Ratchet & Clank

Captain Falcon - F-Zero
Captain Falcon – F-Zero

Ratchet & Clank - Ratchet & Clank
Ratchet & Clank – Ratchet & Clank

The famous Falcon Punch and its user bring an excess of speed and strength to the table. Physically speaking, there aren’t many characters in this tournament that can match up with Captain Falcon. But my favorite Smash character is out of luck in any fights that can be kept at a distance. Ratchet alone isn’t all that far behind Falcon’s fighting abilities, and his never-ending arsenal summons a downpour of bigger and better explosions. Captain Falcon can annihilate any character up close with a Falcon Punch, but Ratchet & Clank can bust planets from afar. Without the ability to compete at all distances, Falcon can’t win this fight. He probably ends up dancing in place against his will, awaiting a mini-nuke. Ratchet & Clank are an underrated threat in this tournament, and win to the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

 

5. Doomguy v. 12. Aloy

Doomguy - Doom
Doomguy – Doom

Aloy - Horizon: Zero Dawn
Aloy – Horizon: Zero Dawn

If Master Chief is the most famous first-person shooter, Doomguy is at least the most relentless. Doom’s non-stop murder party sends hell itself running away. As the game’s violent protagonist, you run around armored and mindless destroying all lesser beings in your path. That sounds oddly familiar to Aloy’s experiences. As powerful as he is, this is a terrible matchup for the Doom Slayer. Aloy hunts by systematically taking down large foes, dismantling their armor and targeting weak points. Her ability to prepare for a specific encounter and read her opponents before they’re even aware of her sends Doomguy sprinting into a no-win scenario. He’d stumble through a dozen tripwires before eating a few bombs and a triple-headshot. If he got his hands on Aloy, he’d likely decapitate her. Maybe he opts for the chainsaw. But this fight would be over before Doom’s lead ever knew what the Nora seeker looks like. Aloy seizes the upset against the most dangerous metal-monster she’s ever faced.

 

4. Shulk v. 13. The Prince of Persia

Shulk - Xenoblade
Shulk – Xenoblade

The Prince - The Prince of Persia
The Prince – The Prince of Persia

Both of these characters have some degree of foresight, making this an interesting battle of wits. Shulk and his Monado Arts are a stat-buffing, party-boosting good time. The Prince can undo most of his mistakes with a Tracer-like rewind. Although I suppose Tracer’s rewind is actually Prince-like, technically speaking. Much of The Prince’s powers, however, are meant to proceed through environment scaling and navigation. Shulk is more of a true combatant. While Shulk’s full potential does heavily rely on teamwork, making him ill-suited for this tournament format, the physical demand of his average fights are on a level that The Prince of Persia can’t exactly compete with. A fight between these two would work against the focus of a Prince of Persia game, playing into the hands of the more battle-tested character. Shulk wins this one despite having to fight alone.

 

6. Geralt of Rivia v. 11. Mario

Geralt of Rivia - The Witcher
Geralt of Rivia – The Witcher

Mario - Super Mario Bros.
Mario – Super Mario Bros

The hero you all know takes on the hero you all should. The Witcher 3, objectively speaking, may be the best overall game of all time. Super Mario Bros, on an equally significant hand, may very well be the most important game ever made. It’s a prestigious matchup, and might be a more competitive one than you’d initially expect. Mario’s many power-ups and items are no joke. But they’re all temporary, expiring either via time or damage. This is an appetizing flaw for arguably this tournament’s most seasoned and precise fighter. Geralt gets the Batman advantage, meaning he can theoretically beat anyone with a plan and some prep time. That doesn’t make him invincible, but we can safely assume he enters every fight with the best possible path towards victory on his mind. Mario’s easily underestimated barrage of wacky items and abilities can catch a less experienced fighter off-guard. But Geralt knows to anticipate his moment, maybe wait out that star, flick away at any mushrooms or flowers, and eventually complete his hunt. Then, in a stunning combination of worlds, he brings back Mario’s severed head to a village of high-paying villagers in the Mushroom Kingdom. Enjoy that image. Geralt wins.

 

3. Sonic v. 14. Olimar

Sonic - Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic – Sonic the Hedgehog

Olimar - Pikmin
Olimar – Pikmin

The tournament’s fastest competitor gets an opportunity to run around gaming’s equivalent to an angry pile of leaves. Olimar and his Pikmin army are quietly dangerous, with the ability to gang up and overwhelm larger foes. But none of those foes can break the sound barrier. Until we find someone who can stop Sonic in his tracks, eliminating that speed advantage, the hyper hedgehog has the potential to run wild all over this tournament. He may not be the strongest fighter, but anything that hits you faster than a fighter jet is going to hurt. Sonic wins this one in the blink of an eye, turning Olimar and his cute little friends into bugs on a windshield.

 

7. Marth v. 10. Ryu Hayabasa

Marth - Fire Emblem
Marth – Fire Emblem

Ryu Hayabasa - Ninja Gaiden
Ryu Hayabasa – Ninja Gaiden

Marth is both a legend and leader, one who commands and leads armies into battle. But his strengths as a military figure fall by the wayside in this tournament’s format. Luckily, he’s not so bad on his own either. There are few swordsmen in gaming who can compete with him, but one of them is in this matchup. Ryu Hayabasa may be the least stealthy ninja of all time, hacking and slashing his way to countless victories. But his skill with a Dragon Blade in the face of impossibly difficult fights separates him from the field. Marth is gaming’s King Arthur, one who is as famous for his leadership and lore as he is for any actual fighting. A great deal of his strength as a character comes outside of combat. Ryu Hayabasa, not to be confused with Street Fighter Ryu, isn’t even entirely human. He’s a demon ninja with a sword, created for the sole purpose of slicing opponents up. This is one of the first round’s toughest matchups to call but, in the context of a straight-up swordfight, the ninja’s combat prowess is just a little more impressive. Ryu advances after a mind-numbing duel.

 

2. Cole MacGrath v. 15. Carl C.J. Johnson

Cole MacGrath - Infamous

Carl C.J. Johnson - Grand Theft Auto
Carl C.J. Johnson – Grand Theft Auto

Cole MacGrath is basically gaming’s Electro. He makes Pikachu look safe for children. The more electricity he absorbs, the more devastation he can dish out towards his helpless enemies. C.J. Johnson, however, did survive the rough streets of Los Santos and went on to become very successful. So that’s something to consider. Cole’s notable weakness is water, due to his charged up condition, and can’t survive anything resembling swimming. This is another case of one character having the better game, but losing very decisively in the fight. Cole’s high voltage attacks are unlike anything in the pre-mods Grand Theft Auto universe. C.J. has about as good a time fighting the errand boy as he did following that damn train. Cole wins easily, and closes out this first round in style.

 

64 entered; 32 still stand. The second round will be much tougher to call, and will require a deeper analysis than what we’ve covered so far. Come back next time for bigger and better fights as Gaming Hero March Madness kicks off Round 2.

Catching up? Check out Round 1-1

 

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