Though the two companies were once polar opposites by most metrics, there are actually a lot of similarities between Sega and Konami these days. Both turned their backs on console gaming in favor of breaking into Japan's lucrative Pachinko market, leading to the majority of their most popular IPs sliding into a prolonged period of dormancy.
As those old enough to remember will already know though, there's a lot more to Sega than just Sonic, Yakuza, and Persona. The company actually holds the rights to some fantastic gaming franchises, many of which feature powerful playable characters the likes of which its former rival Nintendo could only dream. These are the strongest Sega protagonists of all time.
Alex Kidd (Alex Kidd)
Alex Kidd may only be a child, but his freakishly large hand can actually pack quite the punch when needed. During his adventures through Miracle World, he beats the crap out of all sorts of animals and wildlife, including frogs, bats, pterodactyls, and even an oversized octopus or two.
Interestingly, though, boss fights in Alex Kidd in Miracle World are handled a little differently than in other games, with the titular character settling the score with a friendly game of rock paper scissors rather than his fists. For this reason alone, he does lose a few marks, but his final score remains mightily impressive nonetheless.
Ryo Hazuki (Shenmue)
Considering the heavy emphasis that the Shenmue series places on martial arts, it's actually fairly light on combat. Sure, there's the epic 70-man battle towards the end of the first Shenmue game and that section in Shenmue 2 where players need to partake in a spot of illegal street fighting. Ultimately, though, when all's said and done, most players will likely spend more time opening draws and asking about sailors than they will fighting bad guys.
Of course, none of this is to say that Ryo isn't still a skilled martial artist, and the progress that he's made in just a few in-game months is actually very impressive. As the ending of Shenmue 3 points out though, he still has a long way to go before he can avenge his murdered father. Whether or not he will ever get another chance to do so remains to be seen.
Ax Battler (Golden Axe)
There are actually three playable characters in the first Golden Axe game, but Ax Battler gets the nod ahead of his two peers on account of his utterly ridiculous name and prominent placing on the game's box art. Well. That, and the fact that, unlike Gilius Thunderhead, he's not five-foot-tall.
Also known as Tarik in certain English language versions of the game, Ax Battler is a Barbarian who helped to return peace to the land of Yuria by defeating the evil villain Death Adder. He then went on to appear in four more games, including his very own spin-off, Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe.
Axel Stone (Streets of Rage)
Apparently, Sega's localization team in the late eighties and early nineties had a thing for the "Ax" sound, as it was also used for one of Streets of Rage's three playable protagonists. Together with Adam and Blaze, Axel is tasked with bringing down an evil crime syndicate led by the mysterious Mr. X.
Along the way, Axel and his buddies encounter countless bad guys, and, true to the genre that the series helped to popularize, they convincingly beat 'em up. Going by sheer volume alone, it's difficult to think of too many video game protagonists who have proven themselves against quite so many enemies, helping to cement Axel's place as one of Sega's strongest heroes.
Kazuma Kiryu (Yakuza)
For more than a decade, Kazuma Kiryu served as the main playable protagonist in Sega's Yakuza series. During that time, the Dragon of Dojima faced countless obstacles, yet still managed to persevere despite what at times felt like insurmountable odds. He's more of a brawler than a technical fighter, but this ends up working remarkably well for him due to the series' earlier combat style.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Kiryu isn't his strength though, but rather how much depth there is to his character. The majority of Sega's heavy-hitters are shallow, two-dimensional characters, yet the former Tojo informer is anything but. Many fans were unhappy with the decision to replace him as a result, and, for as charming as Ichiban can be, it's kind of easy to see why.
Akira Yuki (Virtua Fighter)
It may not look like much by today's standards, but Yu Suzuki's Virtua Fighter series helped to revolutionize the fighting game genre. At the forefront of that revolution was Akira Yuki, who was many players' pick for the series' strongest fighter, as well as the inspiration for Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki.
Thanks to his mastery of the Bajiquan fighting style, Akira is one of only three fighters to have won the coveted Virtua Fighter tournament and typically serves as the face of the franchise. With a wide array of shoulder and elbow strikes at his disposal, he has everything he needs to deal with all but the very toughest of foes.
Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog)
As his name might suggest, Sonic's strength comes not from his bulging muscles or mastery of some long-forgotten martial art, but instead from his blast processing-driven supersonic speed. Being able to run faster than the speed of sound allows him to outrun any legitimate threat if needed, but it's also his most powerful offensive weapon too.
At those kinds of speeds, even a feather would be able to deal some serious damage. A spiky blue ball would likely cause anyone or anything that it made contact with to explode, which is pretty much what players see in the games. Then there's the whole Super Sonic transformation, which makes the blue blur more or less unstoppable (and also yellow, for some reason).
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