Today is Mexican Independence Day, or 'El Grito de Dolores', and we'd like to take the opportunity to celebrate our favorite Mexican characters in video games. The video game industry in general hasn't always been very considerate or sensitive in its portrayal of Mexicans throughout its short history, but even some earlier stereotypical characters managed to win a lot of love and fandom. Nowadays more modern sensibilities plus a greater number of Latin@s in the industry are driving better characters and stories. All in all, Mexico has plenty to be proud of in its digital sons and daughters. Here are our top picks:
Tyson Rios (Army of Two)
Man-mountain Mexican-American Tyson Rios is a US Army Ranger raised in Brooklyn, but he hasn't lost touch with his roots. He literally wears his Mexican pride on his sleeves, bearing 'Vaya Con Dios' (Go With God) on his right arm, and a Mexican eagle on his left. In co-op focused shooter Army of Two Tyson's Mexican-American background and his Christian faith serve to distinguish him with a more developed personality than his partner.
Rico Rodriguez (Just Cause Franchise)
The Just Cause series is a frantic, chaotic action sandbox with intense gameplay but a lot of the fun of the franchise comes from the personality of the protagonist. A kind of mix of James Bond, Indiana Jones and Enrique Iglesias, Mexican-born agent Rico Rodriguez is a dashing, badass agent of chaos. Rico wreaks havoc, looks good while doing it, and peppers the destruction with snarky one-liners worthy of the best of 80s action heroes.
Manuel "Manny" Calavera (Grim Fandango)
Grim Fandango is a LucasArts adventure game which fuses noir atmosphere with Mexican mythology (all the gameplay takes place during four consecutive annual Dia de los Muertos) to tell a hardboiled story about crime and corruption in the land of the dead. It's a game much beloved by fans to this day, thanks in a large part to the charisma of the lead character, Manny Calavera. Manny's a Reaper, a 'travel agent' who helps along souls to the afterlife. After he inadvertently uncovers a conspiracy to keep deserving souls from their final rest, he takes it on himself to get to the bottom of it, with plenty of wisecracks and tough talk along the way.
Luisa Fortuna (Red Dead Redemption)
Luisa isn't the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, but her arc forms an impactful part of the emotional core of the story. Idealistic and naive, she longs for peace but falls under the spell of slimy rebel leader Abraham Reyes. Luisa's innocence and patriotism in a world of cynicism and violence provides a foil to hard-bitten hero Marston and a sense of what's at stake in the story.
El Fuerte (Street Fighter IV)
A luchador and cook, it takes a hell of a lot of panache to make a character as potentially cringeworthy (one of his moves is called Habanero Dash) as El Fuerte work.Luckily this chef-turned-world warrior carries himself with plenty of flair and style. His dramatic personality and charisma, combined with his blinding speed, unpredictable attacks, aerial dominance and brutal combos have won the hearts of fans around the world. The story clips in series often hint that he's actually a pretty terrible cook, but he's one of the most solid fighters in the game.
Isabella Keyes (Dead Rising Franchise)
Isabella Keyes is a recurring character in the Dead Rising series who takes on both sympathetic and antagonistic roles. A hotshot scientist, she conspires with her brother Carlito to instigate the events of Dead Rising in order to avenge the destruction of her hometown. Later in the game and also in the sequel, she assists protagonist Frank West (being playable in part of the first game), but later resurfaces with a darker agenda. No matter what side she's on, Isabela remains a stone-cold badass and the lynchpin of the Dead Rising story.
King (Tekken Franchise)
King is actually two different characters, with the first King from Tekken and the sequel dying before the events of Tekken 3, with a new fighter taking on his mask and legacy. In both incarnations King is one of the most unambiguously noble of Tekken's cast, as his fighting career exists to fund an orphanage in his Mexican village home. The original King was even a Catholic priest (a tribute to real life luchador Fray Tormenta). In any of the games, King is one of the strongest characters, favoring a defensive style that punishes foolhardy foes with devastating grapples.
For more Mexican Independence Day goodness, see our sister site Movie Pilot's list of best Mexican movies.
Who's your favorite Mexican video game character?
[Image source: DeviantArt]