“Do you intend to rain your justice down on all the villains of the world?” “‘Intend to?’ I already have.”
We’re now into the final stretch as the top 25 rolls along with our top 10 characters. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.
8) Yuri Lowell (Tales of Vesperia) – 2 votes/190 points
Chris: Until Tales of Vesperia came out, Tales of the Abyss was probably my favorite game in the series. While there were several factors involved in that changing of the guard (better graphics, the weapon skill system, etc.), there was none bigger than Yuri Lowell.
In Abyss, you have a group of bad guys who have only two primary purposes: kill you, and help Van. Legretta in particular seems to want to shoot you at every available opportunity, and Sync keeps trying to take control of Guy and force him to murder Luke. It’s a bad situation.
Faced with this adversity, our intrepid heroes keep being goody-two-shoes and letting them escape. The most horrific example of this is about three-fourths of the way through the game, when the two groups face off on a snowy mountain. Their battle causes an avalanche in the area and sweeps the party off a cliff. It’s a miracle that they even survive in the first place. If you trudge through the snow, you can find the enemy group unconscious in the snow. They’ve caused nothing but trouble and will keep pursuing the heroes, but do we murder them in their sleep? Nope. Just let them go. Maybe they’ll be nicer next time.
In Vesperia, Yuri Lowell isn’t about that life. When he starts to murder enemies one by one, they aren’t even really targeting himself or his group yet. He just sees injustice happening to villagers and regular people, and decides that enough is enough.
Ultimately, Yuri ends up being the most layered character in the entire Tales series. He will do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals and help his friends, but it’s generally behind the scenes. For example, he starts a guild to create a welcoming system with rules that follow his ideals, but lets Karol run it in his place to boost his confidence. He kills bitches who don’t know their place. And he refuses to yield on what he thinks is right, even when it involves his best friend.
Joseph: Yuri Lowell is not a hulking, testosterone-laden gorilla concerned solely with pulverizing the enemy. He is lithe and thoughtful, assessing a situation before acting. He doesn’t get involved without good reason, but when he gets invested he makes certain the outcome is final.
Any fan of the Tales series knows the drill with enemies: fight them, they escape, fight them again. For the whole game. It’s enough to make any man scream at the screen and beg someone to walk forward three steps and stab the bad guy to death. Yuri Lowell is the man willing to take those three steps. Time and again we get the pleasure of seeing Yuri solve the characters’ problems for good.
Put him in any other Tales game, or even most other games, and they wouldn’t be nearly as long. Bowser? Not stealing the princess again. Dr. Robotnik? Cuddly animals can rest easy with Yuri Lowell around. Lowell is an undertaker’s best friend, and that makes him our best friend. Thank you, Yuri, for making the decision we’ve been wanting to make for so long.
Shaun: Gotta be honest, ladies and gentleman — I thought Tales of Vesperia was a highly mediocre title. Regardless of my feelings of the game — and actually, maybe even more impressive because of them — I loved Yuri Lowell. Plucky and loyal, and with a great design, he was an easy main character to root for, especially when juxtaposed with his Mary Sue dichotomy, Flynn. Yuri cared about his friends, and while his moral compass was a little flawed, he always fought for the overall greater good.
And by flawed, I mean in the best possible way. Like Joseph mentioned before, video games in general are notorious for scenes where the good guys confront the bad guys simply for a means to provide exposition to advance the plot — of course, the bad guys are going to get away because the good guys can’t kill them…right? Well, Yuri never believed in this trope — just ask the middle-tier villain he let drown in sand — and he became one of the all time great characters because of it.
Jason: This was the first JRPG I ever played, and let me tell you, the fact that the main character wasn’t a whiny little man child and openly killed people he didn’t like was a HUGE part in getting me to open up to the genre. I’ve since discovered he’s kind of a one-of-a-kind hero, and you know what? That’s OK. He managed to be proficient and deadly, yet still heroic and kind.