The 6 Most Popular Animal Video Game Characters of All Time

Written by Justin Sexton
Published: November 13, 2023
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Video games since the 1970s have been a pastime for many generations. There is a video game for everybody, whether Pong, Call of Duty, Animal Crossing, Fortnite, or Super Smash Brothers. In many video games, there are famous animal characters that fit the theme of each video game and some… not as much… but they’re still fun characters to play with.

Before we get into some of the major and lesser-known iconic video game characters, let’s take a brief moment to reflect on the odd 2000s era of movie video games and their animal stars.

King Kong

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The massive gorilla has had a larger-than-life influence on massive animal movies, but not too much of a massive video game presence. The 2005 video game King Kong relatively had mixed reviews, but it was fun for fans of the film series. There are also other animal movie stars that have their own video games.

Chicken Little

The adorable little chick that wasn’t crazy when he said the sky was falling had its own video game adaptation. The premise of the video game plays the exact plot of the movie, not deviating at all from the film.

TMNT

Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, and Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received their video game in 2007. But, these four mutated turtles were around much longer before the film that specific game was based on.

Before we get into the animal video game characters, please note that they’ll be original video game characters rather than characters from TV shows and movies who have their own game.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the most popular animal video game characters.

The blue hedgehog is one of the most popular animal video game characters ever.

©Aadish Nair/Shutterstock.com

Sonic The Hedgehog and his animal counterparts have provided three decades of entertainment. The blue hedgehog along with his furry counterparts go on constant adventures to stop Dr. Eggman from his villainous plans like turning animals into robots.

So how similar is Sonic to an average hedgehog? Well, one thing for certain and two things for sure: Sonic is much faster than an average hedgehog and there are no real blue hedgehogs. Matter of fact, the Sonic creators actually got a few things wrong about how a hedgehog is supposed to be. Hedgehogs are actually nocturnal, unlike Sonic who goes through much of his levels in a daytime setting. Tails, which is Sonic’s sidekick, is a fox. However, foxes prey on hedgehogs. Also, Hedgehogs don’t bounce on their prey or enemies. They bite as their main attacks.

Sonic also has other non-hedgehog counterparts such as:

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot

Crash

Bandicoot

gained popularity from the early PlayStation days.

©Pe3k/Shutterstock.com

The world first saw Crash Bandicoot back in 1996. Crash Bandicoot is a mutant eastern barred bandicoot that escaped a failed experiment by the series’s main antagonist. Thanks to his genetically mutated powers, Crash Bandicoot has superpowers that can toss rockets, protect himself from projectiles, and even give him the ability to skateboard.

One of the main reasons the developers at Naughty Dog made Crash Bandicoot was so that Sony could have a competitor against Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog and Nintendo’s Mario characters. Naughty Dog wanted to use an animal that little to no people knew about, so they chose an eastern barred bandicoot.

What is an eastern barred bandicoot? It’s a marsupial! These marsupials are endemic to the Australian region and have the odd nickname of pigrat. Why? Well, they have a body shape and small dark eyes similar to a rat and when they dig for insects, their grunts are similar to that of a pig’s.

Here are some fun facts about the Eastern barred bandicoot:

  • They can cover three feet of ground in a single leap
  • The females have backward pouches for their young babies so dirt won’t touch them as they’re digging in the ground.
  • They cannot skateboard in real life like Crash can.
  • Eastern barred bandicoots are related to another famous marsupial, the kangaroo!
  • Unlike Crash Bandicoot, these animals are relatively shy and come out at night to get their food.
  • Their population is declining but there are initiatives set in place to help replenish their numbers such as placing them in protected areas.

Panda From The Tekken Series

This adorable character is one of several animal characters in the Tekken series.

©mac morrison / CC BY 2.0, Flickr - License

Tekken is one of the more unusual fighting video games. It does answer the unusual question of “Who would win between a reptile and an android?” Or maybe, “Who’s a better fighter between a devil and a Muay Thai master?” Well, what about the question “If a panda and a grizzly bear fight an ogre, could they take that ogre down?” Well, you can answer those questions by playing the Tekken games yourself.

But this panda, whose name is Panda, (pretty self-explanatory) is connected to the series as a loyal pet and bodyguard of another Tekken character Ling Xiayou. The panda was actually an alternate attire for the grizzly bear character until it gained enough popularity to be its own character. From the looks of it, Panda is a part of the Giant Panda species. Giant Pandas typically are 3 to 4 feet tall when they’re on all fours. When they stand on two legs, they can be 4 to 6 feet tall. In the game, players can fight with Panda on all fours, on two legs, sitting down, and even on its back if fighters want to rub its belly.

In real life, it wouldn’t be advised for great pandas to fight as they’re endangered species. Most of the panda bears in the United States have been returned to China as of the time the article is published, the Atlanta Zoo is the only remaining American Zoo with pandas.

Since Panda is a female fighter, she has some notable differences from a male Great Panda. Panda would be a lighter bear than a male Great Panda Bear. Males typically weigh between 187-276 lbs pounds and females weigh between 154-220 pounds. It’s easier to tell which panda is a male and a female based on their eating patterns as the males eat faster than females.

Isabelle From Animal Crossing

Isabelle is a golden Shiz Tsu

Isabelle is a friendly helper in the Animal Crossing series.

©Hannari_eli/Shutterstock.com

This friendly secretary is a popular character from the Animal Crossing video game. She has crossed over into other video games such as the Super Smash Bros video game series. Isabelle is a golden Shih Tzu who acts as the player’s secretary and helps with mayoral duties.

Although some fans theorized that Isabelle is a bell, she is indeed a golden Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu name stands for “little lion” in Chinese. Like Isabelle, Shih Tzu’s are very friendly to kids. They’re also reasonably smart but can be a bit stubborn at times. People thought Shih Tzus originated from Tibet because of their double fur coat. Their coats can come in different hues such as black, gold like Isabelle’s, grey, white, brindle, or a combination of any of those colors.

Like Shih Tzus in real life, Isabelle is loyal to the main character in the game and will help out in any way. She is also very friendly and loves to be around friends. Her gold fur is the most common fur type Shih Tzus can have. Shih Tzus also has a very long lifespan. These small dogs can live between 10 to 18 years. They can weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and be 8 to 11 inches in height.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is a gorilla

DK is another staple in the Nintendo franchise

©Toro The Bull/Shutterstock.com

Donkey Kong, which draws inspiration from King Kong, was Mario’s first antagonist in the early days of arcade gaming. Nowadays, Donkey Kong can be seen in video games like Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, and even Mario Kart. DK was the main antagonist in his self-titled game in 1981. The players had to be Mario and rescue Princess Peach from DK grasps in a love triangle similar to that of Popeye’s.

The famous gorilla resembles a western lowland gorilla. Typically, western lowland gorillas have more of a brownish color compared to their other gorilla counterparts. Like real-life western lowland gorillas, Donkey Kong has a wide skull.

Western lowland gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans and have the ability to learn American sign language. They’re a critically endangered species like their other gorilla counterparts. They also walk on all fours as their knuckles carry the pressure of their body weight. The Western lowland gorillas also weigh less than the other gorillas.

Sly Cooper

Sly Cooper is a racoon

Sly Cooper is a raccoon thief.

©StriderHiryuZero / CC BY-ND 2.0, Flickr - License

In the early 2000s, the world was introduced to Sly Cooper: The Master Thief. The premise of the games is based on different series of heists which eventually have Sly and his friends take down crime organizations. It has a cult-like following as people still ask for new releases to this day. There are a few comic books out about Sly and some pending films and TV shows under development.

Sly Cooper, like his real-life raccoon counterparts, is a clever animal that gets into a lot of trouble for their erratic behaviors. Both animals have black and grey fur with their hind legs being bigger than their front legs. Sly can also hide well in many different places like his real-life brethren along with having bushy tails. The purpose of a raccoon’s black mask is unknown. Maybe they use it to identify each other or hide more easily in dark places.

Raccoons actually avoid human conflict, unlike Sly, who typically gets into conflict due to misadventures. Raccoons however will try to fake like they’re about to attack humans only to buy time so they can find a way to escape. In regards to animals, raccoons will have some conflicts with smaller animals like cats, rats, and rabbits. A concern for raccoons can be the presence of dogs in backyards or out in the streets.

Most of the time, people and animals run into raccoons in the nighttime as they’re nocturnal animals. Hence is usually why they’re found scurrying through trash cans in the middle of the night. Since raccoons eat from trash, they have a strong possibility of carrying diseases that can threaten human and animal health. They also can carry a viral disease that affects dogs as well as foxes, coyotes, and skunks called canine distemper. They also can infect humans through scratches and bites and transmit diseases that way. One of the common diseases they can transmit is called Leptospirosis.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © mac morrison / CC BY 2.0, Flickr – License / Original


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About the Author

Justin is an A-Z Animals Writer that loves to cover places, unique natural disasters, and travel. He has eight years of experience as a writer in the medical and media fields. He wrote for the likes of VCU Health, theMSQshop, PayDay LA, and Comic Book Resources under the penname Jay Guevara. Although he's a full time writer, Justin graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science with a background in Community Engagement. After spending over two decades in Richmond, Virginia, Justin now resides in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He's a dedicated gymrat. He's also a two-time poetry author who's influenced by rappers Joe Budden and IDK along with Dante Alighieri.

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