Black History Month may be over, but you don’t need just one month to celebrate it! Over much of February, I named many black figures– be they a character or creator– in video games that I find cool. Below is a list of the figures I covered in detail.
Taurus– Interstate ’76 by Activision
Eli and Alyx Vance– Half-Life 2 by Valve and Sierra
Elena and Dudley– Street Fighter III by Capcom
Terrence Carson and Greg Eagles– Voice actors
Garcian Smith– Killer7 by Grasshopper Manufacture and Capcom
Sheva Alomar– Resident Evil 5 by Capcom
For this post, I’ll list the characters and creators that I didn’t cover during February, with a brief description for each one. In no particular order, here are my remaining cool figures.
Col. John R. Blade– Sin by Ritual Entertainment and Activision
Col. Blade is the head of HardCorps, one of the largest security forces in the fictional city of Freeport. Deadly with deadpan humor, Blade fights the evil genius Elexis Sinclair and her army of mutants. I rather liked Blade; he was a brash character who spat one-liners throughout the game, much like Duke Nukem.
Unfortunately, not much of this character has been seen lately. His last appearance was in Activision’s 2006 title Emergence, the only part of what was supposed to be a series called Sin: Episodes. A sequel to the original Sin, Emergence features Blade as a silent protagonist for some reason, taking away the best trait of the character: his personality. Photo comes from freakygaming.com.
D’arci Stern– Urban Chaos by Mucky Foot Productions and Eidos
Urban Chaos is a third person action/adventure game that I briefly owned, and while it had good intentions it was not a great title. It did, however, have a cool character in officer D’arci Stern. A confident and capable cop, Stern is spry and agile enough to perform acrobatic moves during combat. It would have been nice to see Stern in a better game, but alas, Urban Chaos marks the character’s first and last appearance. Photo comes from mobygames.com.
Cree Summer– Voice actress
Perhaps most well known for her role as Freddie on the sitcom A Different World, Summer is a prolific voice actress with a resume that includes work in television, movies, and video games. Some of the games Summer has provided voice work for include X-Men Legends, the original Fallout, Kid Icarus: Uprising,and Broken Age just to name a few. Personally, I’ll remember most as the voice of Penny from the cartoon Inspector Gadget. Photo by Todd Williamson (for Getty Images); comes from imdb.com.
Jax– Mortal Kombat series by Midway/Netherealm Studios
Major Jackson Briggs made his debut in Mortal Kombat II, and sported his now famous mechanical arms in Mortal Kombat III. Cool-headed yet ferocious in the heat of battle, Jax is so strong that he can shake the earth, even without the cybernetics. Of course, the Ground Pound move with the cybernetic arms is cool, especially when delivered in a combo.
How cool is Jax? So cool even the excellent Michael Jai White portrayed the character in the Mortal Kombat Legacy web series Photo comes from mortalkombat.wikia.com.
Storm– Marvel Comics character
A character can’t get much cooler than a weather-controlling mutant, especially if it displays the class and leadership skills Storm does. Obviously, Storm did not start as a video game character, but she sure has starred in a ton of games. From her video game debut in LJN’s 1989 The Uncanny X-men tile for the Nintendo Entertainment system, the Wind-Rider has appeared in no less than a dozen games over the years. The types of games she’s been in have varied too, from role-playing games (the X-men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance series) to arcade beat-em-ups (X-men) and fighting games (Marvel vs Capcom series), providing something for every Storm fan.
Actually, Storm may be the most prolific black character ever in video gaming. Of all the characters listed here, only Eddy Gordo, Jax, Dudley and Elena have appeared as playable characters in more than five games. Photo comes from goodcomics.comicbookresources.com.
Wu-Tang Clan– Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style by Paradox Entertainment and Activision
Rap groups have had video games before– both Kriss Kross and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch had Make My Video games– but no rap group had a fighting game until the New York based rap group Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style dropped. Featuring all nine members of the legendary rap group, Shaolin Style was created from the same game engine for Paradox Entertainment’s unreleased fighter Thrill Kill. Each member of the group has a character based on their stage persona (like Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, U-God to name a few) and possessed fatal finishing moves similar to the ones found in the Mortal Kombat games.
Debuting in 1993 with the release of the now classic album Enter the 36 Chambers, the Clan is famous for its mixture of hip-hop and sound clips from old Kung fu flicks. It was really cool to see that combination manifest in a video game. Photo comes from wikipedia.com.
Victor Vance– Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories by Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar Games
Carl Johnson of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the first black protagonist of the GTA series, but it’s Victor Vance that resonates with me the most. A beleaguered character, Vance joined the army with hopes of giving his family a better life. Ironically, it was a superior officer that got Vance into the drug trade, an act that swung Vance’s life further out of control.
Vance is a complicated character. He wants the best for his family and often finds himself resorting to dangerous lengths to provide for them. Serious, sincere, and a little short-tempered, he’s one of the series’ best. Photo comes from gtaforums.com.
Eddy Gordo– Tekken series by Namco
Mr. Gordo disapproves.
The Brazilian Gordo made his debut in Tekken 3 as a Capoeira fighter seeking revenge for his family’s death and subsequent misfortunes. Gordo is all cool, from the hair to the moves. Actually, Lateef Crowder, the man who portrayed Gordo in the live action Tekken movie, is awesome too. Photo comes from fightersgeneration.com
Barret Wallace– Final Fantasy VII by Square Enix
Controversy and history surround Wallace, the first playable black character in a Final Fantasy game. With speech that often uses profanity and slang, Wallace has (and I think rightly so) been criticized for being a stereotypical portrayal of African-American men. While there is some truth to that, I believe that Square Enix was trying to create a cool and tough black character but made very questionable choices in Barret’s creation, leading to a character many people have found offensive.
It’s unfortunate, really. I included Wallace on this list because he actually has a good background story as a vengeful terrorist turned hero. I always liked Wallace’s design with that cannon hand, which that was enough to finally get me into Final Fantasy as a kid. Photo comes from wikipedia.com.
Tyrael– Diablo series by Blizzard Entertainment
Tyrael is the Archangel of Justice from the Diablo games. A member of the Angiris Council (a collection of five archangels who are the elite authority of the High Heavens) he opposes the demon Diablo and his minions. As an angel, he looks as he does in the picture above. When he became mortal however…
Yep. Photos come from diablo.wiki.com and diablo.gamepedia.com
Born Reggie Noble, Redman is a legendary rapper from New Jersey. He is featured as his stage persona in all four of Electronic Arts’ Def Jam fighting games–Vendetta, Fight for New York, Fight for New York: The Takeover, and Icon— and is on this list because he is hilarious. Photo by arphoto; comes from goodfellamedia.com
Aveline de Grandpré– Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation by Ubisoft Sofia and Ubisoft
The first female protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed series, Aveline is an assassin of French and African descent. Brave, strong-willed, and gifted with the acrobatic talents of past Assassin’s Creed protagonists, Aveline fought for the Assassins in New Orleans during the 1760s and 1770s.
You really don’t see black female characters like Aveline come around very often. Just about everything about her is cool, from her costume to her fighting abilities and her background. Photo comes from gametrailers.com.
That does it for this series. I hope anyone that read these posts enjoyed reading them as much I enjoyed writing them! Until next time.
Peace & Pixels
Update: I made a change to Storm’s profile, adding that Jax, Dudley, and Elena have indeed appeared in at least five games as playable characters.