It’s Video Game Week here at SBNation and we wanted to take some time to commemorate these fictional characters that we’ve enjoyed over the last several decades. Characters like Mario, Link, and Pikachu were woven into many of our childhood and adolescent years, so I wanted to assemble an entire starting roster of video game characters; 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players, with a brief description on why they may be ideal fits at their respective positions in the VGFL (Video Game Football League). Let’s start it off with a BANG and introduce the roster:
Quarterback, Samus Aran (Metroid)
It was a tough battle between Samus and Mega Man, but I feel Samus is better suited for the job. She literally has a rocket for an arm that can pin-point missiles (in this case hopefully footballs) to her wide receivers. Essentially, she can throw with anticipation, is strong in the pocket, and can drop bombs behind her when a defender is in pursuit. Good luck scheming against her, defensive coordinators!
Running Back, Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Sonic is used to carrying teams on his back; he was Sega’s version of Mario that stuck and helped Sega become a quality brand for a while. His traits as a running back speak for themselves; he’s lightning fast, has a nasty spin move, and he loves chasing rings. His ability to roll into a ball, and keep his knees up, would really assist him at the goal line. Plus, his blue fur, red shoes, and white gloves remind me of the Giants, so I’m happy with him being on the squad.
Wide Receiver 1, Fox McCloud (Star Fox)
Much like Sonic, Fox is used to carrying a squad. Fox is constantly saving the behinds of his teammates Slippy and Peppy, who are two of the more annoying characters in video games. Falco is more of a reckless teammate, but a solid one. Fox would make a good wide receiver because he is used to flying, has incredibly quick speed, and when he jumps, he gets massive amounts of air and fire spews from his lower body (see Super Smash Bros); the fire will assist him in creating separation, and he could be an ideal receiver for Samus on the outside.
Wide Receiver 2, Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)
Snake is a highly-skilled, chiseled, and smart weapon. He infiltrated the captured nuclear development facility and had to fight Revolver Ocelot, Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, and Vulcan Raven. He eventually had to fight his twin brother Liquid Snake to help save the world. Why would he be a good receiver one may ask? Well, his IQ is 180, so he definitely knows how to get open; plus, his athletic ability is off the charts, as is his speed, power, and jumping ability. Liquid may have been the twin with the “elite soldier genes” but he couldn’t withstand FOXDIE. However, Solid took out an entire army, dealt with Decoy Octopus, and helped expose the bad intentions behind Metal Gear REX. I think he can catch passes too...
Slot Wide Receiver, Crash Bandicoot (Crash Bandicoot)
He may look like he’s downed a few BANG energy drinks, but he’s still very fast! As Sonic was developed to be the face of Sega, to combat Mario for Nintendo, Crash was created to be the face of Sony’s top video game franchise. Crash can jump while he’s still in the air, has a tornado spin to create space and make defenders miss, and he uses his legs well to keep defenders away. Give Crash some space to operate in the slot and he’ll find ways to get open; not to mention he and Sonic create some interesting mismatches against linebackers and safeties.
Tight End, Albert Wesker (Resident Evil)
Wesker is one of the main antagonists, who is a double agent in the Resident Evil franchise. Before proving to be a scumbag, Wesker was a part of an elite unit known as S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad/Service); he led Alpha team into the mansion outside of Racoon City to investigate the strange disappearances happening in the mountains, and a possible cannibalistic group of people. Wesker’s helicopter went down and the game begins with Bravo team going into the mansion to find out what happened. It turns out that Wesker was working with the evil Umbrella Corporation and he ends up injecting himself with a variant T-Virus to become super human. His superior speed and strength are just too hard to overlook and would help in both blocking and receiving. If drafted, Wesker would slide down the boards because of character concerns. He needs a strong locker room around him to maximize his success.
Left Tackle, Sheeva (Mortal Kombat 3)
The offensive line can be a game of hand fighting, so a character with more hands probably has an advantage. She can use her under arms to grab hold of the defender’s chest, while securing loopers/blitzers with her upper arms. Put her in a one on one blocking situation and what pass rush move is going to defeat four arms? Sheeva is a half human, half dragon, with rare strength. Now, I can’t say confidently if she could effectively execute a kick slide, but I’m willing to roll the dice on this four-armed being who could stomp on the ground to force opponents to fall over.
Left Guard, Snorlax (Pokemon Red & Blue)
This team is looking to abuse the A-Gap, let’s just not ask Snorlax to pull into space. Sure, he’s a rather large 1,000-pound being who enjoys sleeping, but I see what he does in Super Smash Bros. when that poke-ball gets thrown. His ability to knock people off the map is a useful tool for an offensive lineman. We’ll have to give him some ‘Monster’ before the game. But if he can’t stay awake, then Vortigaunt from Half Life will kick out to right tackle and Donkey Kong will play guard. All in all Snorlax can be a valuable asset to the team. Also, he’s a good locker room character - who doesn’t love Snorlax?
Center, Panda (Tekken 3)
Panda is a super smart bear, who is the pet, and best friend, of Ling Xiaoyu. She’s overly protective of Xiaoyu, and she’s incredibly strong as a fighter. We need Panda to be the same way to Samus, and ensure that the protections are set, and that Snorlax is aware of what’s going on. Panda’s hand fighting is top notch in the Tekken franchise and I expect that on Sundays in the VGFL.
Right Guard, Bowser (Super Mario Bros.)
Bowser is the monarch of the Koopa turtle people and he spends most of his time attempting to kidnap Princess Peach. Now, we want our interior offensive lineman to be mean, but not sociopathic. It’s difficult to overlook his grip strength, frame, and ability to breath fire on his opponents. He’d make a quality guard, if he stays on the straight and narrow. He’s a mean turtle, and could use some speed. If I’m coaching the squad, I’m substituting Bowser for Marcus Fenix (Gears of War) when we’re facing a defense that has either Mario, Luigi, or even Toad for that matter.
Right Tackle, Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong)
The duo of Bowser and DK on the right side of the line really gives the offense options for weak-side runs, when Wesker is on the left side. Much like Sheeva, DK can stomp the ground hard to force opponents in his area to fall to the deck. DK has tons of raw power, long arms, and a strong punch. DK has been an antagonist and a protagonist, so he knows when to be angry and when to be a good guy.He’d excel as a right tackle in the VGFL.
Defensive End, Ganondorf (Legend of Zelda)
The main antagonist from Legend of Zelda would make an excellent defensive end. Why? Because he is massive, tall, and possesses the Triforce of Power, which enables him from accessing Godlike strength and other mystical powers. He does wonders with a heavy sword, so I have to believe his forearm strength is exceptional. I feel Ganondof would make a very good boundary side end.
Defensive End, Tyrant (Resident Evil: Survivor)
A Tyrant is a genetically engineered super-soldier created by the Umbrella Corporation. They are incredibly tall, strong, and have massive claws for hands when they mutate. My brother and I called them “Stone-Henge” because they kind of resembleed gigantic rocks in Survivor. I was going to put Nemesis on the list, from Resident Evil III, but there could be bad blood between Wesker and Nemesis, for Nemesis’ was created to kill all S.T.A.R.S. members. Since Nemesis is out of the question, I went with Tyrant. We’ll just need a strong protective chest plate over Tyrant’s heart, due to its exposure. Nevertheless, Tyrant would make a really good field side end.
Defensive Tackle, Kratos (God of War)
Kratos would make an ideal 3-technique and would use the personal vengeance that he would build up to make quarterbacks pay. Kratos has broad shoulders and is filled with power; I can’t say for certain if he has a quick first step off the snap, but I wouldn’t want to line up across the line of scrimmage from him.
Defensive Tackle, Kirby (Kirby’s Dream Land)
The ideal nose tackle is Kriby, who can puff himself up to clog the A and B-gaps, forcing the offense to really struggle. If Kirby is struggling against an offensive lineman, he can just swallow him and steal his skill set and maybe even spell Snorlax, if he cannot stay awake for the game. Kirby can also jump pretty high to knock balls down at the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t really have the quick twitch to create interior pressure. Shao Khan from Mortal Kombat can really spell Kirby, if the puffy pink character gets tired and his lack of speed becomes a liability for the defense.
Strong Side Linebacker, Nosferatu (Resident Evil: Code Veronica)
Nosferatu from the video games was Alexander Ashford, a lead scientist in the development of Progenitor viruses for the Umbrella Corporation. Ashford’s twin children, Alexia and Alfred, captured his father and used him as the test subject for the T-Veronica Virus. Alexander became a gigantic intelligent being who could excrete poisonous gas. Yeah, he may have lacked sight and was bound up, but he had three gigantic tentacles growing out of his body. His tackle radius and ability to bat balls down is incredible, albeit his speed isn’t great. Just like the Tyrant, a strong chest plate will be needed for Nosferatu’s exposed heart.
Middle Linebacker, Master Chief (Halo)
A 6-foot-10, 290-pound MIKE with a wealth of experience as a weapon and the jumping ability to make vintage Jordan jealous...yeah, let’s try him in the middle of the defense. Often seen in green, it may take a lot of convincing to have Master Chief play for Big Blue, but his unique exoskeleton, and ability to attack (with or without his plasma cannon) will be useful for any defensive squad.
Weak Side Linebacker, Chun Li (Street Fighter II)
She was the first female fighter in any mainstream fighting game, and now she’s playing weak side linebacker in this theoretical team in a fictional league called the VGFL. Imagine putting Li on the weak side and allowing her to throw exotic kicks at the opponent? And if there’s a weak side run, she’d bring the Hyakuretsukyaku to the point of attack, ensuring that the ball carrier is not advancing. Li, Master Chief, and Nosferatu from Resident Evil would form an effective, yet atypical, linebacking trio.
Cornerback 1, Pac Man (Pac Man)
There was literally a cornerback nicknamed Pac Man, so it’s only fitting that he earns a spot on this roster. Pac Man’s job is to eat all the food and the tiny dots (or balls) on the map; it is the job of the cornerback to intercept footballs in the game of football, hence why Pac Man would succeed despite his short, rotund, figure. My one concern with Pac Man at cornerback is his mental toughness. As a corner, you have to forget the past and play the game rep by rep. I question Pac Man’s ability to do this because the guy is constantly running away from ghosts. I don’t consider Pac Man a lock down corner, but he’s a risk or reward type of defender.
Cornerback 2, Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad (Assassin’s Creed)
This cornerback is a master in disguising his intentions. His hypothetical tape seems to allude to his effectiveness in possibly baiting quarterbacks into throwing passes where he actually has leverage on the route; he has very high mental processing with stealth in this regard. He might as well do parkour with how he jumps building to building and that will assist him on the football field. Off the field he’s known to take excellent notes in his journal; there are some other question marks about him off the field, but I’m not 100 percent certain what they are.
Free Safety - Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Croft is one of the most iconic protagonists in any video game and she earns a role as a free safety on this fake squad. She has survived plane crashes, being stranded in the wilderness, and several close encounters with dangerous beings, but she comes out alive to tell the tale. How does this make her a quality free safety? It doesn’t, but she’s incredibly light on her feet, has rare attention to detail, and her tackles are very balanced/steady, due to excellent breathing control and hyper awareness. She also has Eagle Eye as one of her skills that can be earned and that can be important when playing free safety.
Strong Safety - Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat)
Sub-Zero wins...FLAWLESS VICTORY...Sorry, I was reliving my childhood. Sub-Zero rounds out the list as the strong safety, and it’s hard to argue. He can manipulate ice and control where it goes. How do you think running backs will fare in the alley when Sub-Zero comes downhill and freezes them at the line of scrimmage? WHOOOOOPSIEEEE, the barrier of frost, ice showers, and the ice nuggets that rain down from the sky will all be easy ways for Sub-Zero to execute his run-fits and defend against the pass. If he’s ever beaten deep, he has the choice to freeze the receiver or the ball, OPTIONS PEOPLE OPTIONS. I mean...have you guys seen his fatality? A sliding tackle while making a replica of himself to use in violent ways...yeah, strong safety fits him.
To recap, the video game character fantasy team would be rather fun to watch. Sure, I thought about Mega-Man at quarterback, but decided Samus was a better leader. Axel from Twisted Metal crossed my mind, but he has tires for arms and struggles with authority. For a coach, I was thinking maybe G-Man from Half Life...just because his name is G-Man and that’s similar to GMen. Mario and Luigi could be the team’s plumbers and Spyro can be the team pet. All in all I feel the team would be fun to watch; there’s some mercurial personalities, but enough leaders to hold the locker room together...hopefully.