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The Gaming Hero March Madness Sweet 16 aims to slice another half of our contestants into oblivion. As the matchups get bigger and better, so too does the difficulty in picking these winners. With gaming’s most powerful forces quickly approaching each other, let’s take a look at the first half of our Sweet 16.
1. Kratos v. 4. Master Chief
A battle of consoles, and of Spartans! We’ve yet to question Kratos, but he now faces his toughest opponent yet. Master Chief didn’t make it this far based on power alone. His experience and tenacity as a seasoned soldier make him more than a simple hard-hitter. But both of these fighters are accomplished warriors with irrefutable résumés. With no real tactic in Master Chief’s arsenal for this fight other than shoot him a lot, the battle comes down to the amount of damage each side can deal and take. The punishment taken throughout the Halo series certainly surpasses that of the average shooter. But I don’t think Chief could take a point-blank lightning bolt from Zeus himself and fall from the top of Mount Olympus. These are of course plot driven events but, with or without a specific example, Kratos consistently absorbs more of a beating and very easily delivers a greater one. And the guy can fly. Kratos was created for a videogame series in which you slaughter the gods for fun. It is going to be very difficult to beat this man. Kratos wins and makes himself comfortable in the Elite 8.
3. Samus Aran v. 2. Cloud Strife
You can settle this one in Smash if you’d like. As far as these many hypothetical matchups go, this may be the toughest one to call yet. Bullets are nothing against Cloud, but Samus fires a whole lot more than bullets. Samus can overpower most enemies, but Cloud is an absolute freak. There aren’t many ways to split hairs between these two contestants, and I must’ve gone back and forth a dozen times. While Cloud’s Final Fantasy physics are practically flight, Samus can actually fly. So the mobility edge, which Cloud is very used to owning, isn’t in his favor this time around. The biggest determining factor here, however, is the concept of limits. Cloud’s limit-based attacks require a cool-down and recharge period in which he has to resort to his more standard moves. This is still more than enough to steamroll his usual enemies. But, against Samus, only occasionally getting to use your best abilities isn’t a luxury than anyone can afford. He would of course pop Omnislash, which she can cancel with the temporarily invincible Hypermode. Cloud’s base athleticism wins most fights on its own, but this battle requires a higher form of combat. With Samus unleashing several powerful attacks for his every one, Cloud is eventually worn down. Despite a very available argument for either side, Samus wins this one via mobility, range and the sheer readiness of her full arsenal.
1. Bayonetta v. 4. Elizabeth Comstock
Elizabeth can take Bayonetta to hell and back, and the witch is ready to go there. Bayonetta is one of the few characters who can withstand Elizabeth’s constant tears in reality, as well as the rapid changes in scenery and battle conditions. As mentioned in the first round, Elizabeth’s godlike power is balanced out by her mortality. One shot to the head can end it, whereas Bayonetta can take a significant beating from her enemies if need be. Red Dead Redemption’s tragic hero couldn’t land the shot, but a demon-summoning Umbra Witch might be exactly what this challenge calls for. Elizabeth is also one of, if not the most, unstable characters in this bracket. Her odds against a seasoned killer plummet as she struggles to control her own power and keep up with the fight’s pace. The combat experience between these two is heavily lopsided against the BioShock Infinite icon. Ultimately, Elizabeth will need an alternate universe to win this time. Bayonetta advances to the Elite 8, defeating space and time itself.
6. Kirby v. 2. Dovahkiin
In every Kirby matchup, we’ve explored what power the adorable ball of death would snag and how that new ability would alter the fight. With so many moves on the menu, it’s very likely and safe to say that a successful capture of the Dragonborn would grant Kirby use of the hero’s Unrelenting Force shout. It’s the signature utilization of speaking in the dragons’ tongue, and the Force push on steroids can be a useful thing. However, in the grand scheme of Skyrim, an Unrelenting Force shout isn’t all that much of what the dragon slayer has to offer. Kirby would have to lean on his impressive slate of base abilities to win this one. Despite all his speed, strength and durability, the Dragonborn brings a much wider arsenal to the table. This gets a little convoluted, but Kirby absorbing a Dragonborn and therefore possessing some degree of a dragon’s soul may actually allow said Dovahkiin to rip Kirby out of the air as he would any other dragon. Even without this loophole, shouts that take over the skies or alter the contestants’ attributes tip the scales completely in the Dragonborn’s favor. Kirby might be an epic and hilarious boss battle, hidden in the deepest areas of Bethesda’s medieval playground. But the Dovahkiin nonetheless emerges victorious and ventures on to the next round.
Just like that, half of our Elite 8 is in place. The best of the best continually clash for increasingly intense matchups between heroes. Next time, we’ll complete the 8 through a few more impossibly difficult decisions. Enjoy!
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