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7 video game characters who deserve a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon

Thanksgiving is a holiday of traditions. It’s an excuse to eat some good food, watch football with your old man, and fall asleep on the couch as all that tryptophan sinks in. As a kid, my favorite part of the holiday was always the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a spectacle where I’d get to see all of my favorite cartoon characters blown up larger than life. You can’t imagine my excitement the first time I saw an enormous Pikachu floating through the streets of New York City.

While video games have been represented at the parade over the years, their appearances have been sparse. Outside of Pokémon and Sonic, only a handful of gaming franchises have really gotten the balloon treatment. That leaves a whole slew of deserving mascots sitting on the sidelines, watching the floats pass by with the rest of us.

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Consider this my proposal to the parade committee. There are plenty of great video game characters that deserve to fly in next year’s show. Here are a few of my most practical picks.


Kirby appears as a big round ball in Kirby's Dream Buffet.

Frankly, it’s a little surprising that Kirby isn’t already a staple of of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The pink puffball is already a living balloon, making him a perfect choice from a design standpoint. He especially deserves it at this point in history though, as Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of Nintendo’s finest games Nintendo has released in years. Personally, though, I’d love to see a balloon fashioned after his orb-like appearance in Kirby’s Dream Buffet.

The Rabbids

An angry Wiggler ambushes the heroes from behind in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.

Let’s call a spade a spade: Rabbids are the Minions of video games. They’re annoying but endearing little creatures that are brimming with slapstick energy. Though they’ve been popular for well over a decade now, they’ve yet to be treated as gaming royalty like Pikachu. This year’s excellent Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope proved that these little freaks are more than just a gimmick, so it’s the perfect time to bring them into the fold. If we have to pick just one, I vote that Rabbid Peach gets the spot so she can take the world’s biggest selfie.

Chris Pratt’s Mario

Mario stands on a mushroom in the Super Mario Bros. movie.

Mario is no stranger to the Thanksgiving Day parade. He’s gotten to fly through his city wearing his yellow builder outfit from Super Mario Maker. However, there’s a new version of Mario on the horizon that’s going to make gaming biggest star even more famous. The Super Mario Bros. movie is set to release next year and introduce the world to Chris Pratt’s spin on the iconic plumber. Naturally, the movie version of Mario deserves to be immortalized to commemorate the release, complete with some matching voice lines delivered in Pratt’s vague Brooklyn accent. The best part about this is that it’ll be a relatively cheap balloon to create since the designers won’t have to use much material when replicating movie Mario’s paper-thin butt.

Master Chief

Master Chief meeting the Weapon in Halo Infinite.

While the big parade usually focuses on kid-friendly characters, there’s plenty of room for gaming’s more mature icons. Case in point: Master Chief. Xbox’s big green mascot is a gaming legend at this point, and his recent foray into live action TV has made him a cross-media superstar. The team creating this balloon could even take some cues from Halo Infinite‘s development to make sure the project is ready for 2023. It can just rush a first draft of it out next year and release the full balloon in 2024.


Kratos looks at the Leviathan Axe.

Kratos has always been one of gaming’s most iconic faces, and that’s only become more true in recent years thanks to the series’ successful soft reboot. With this year’s critically acclaimed God of War Ragnarok (which picked up a whopping 10 Game Awards nominations), it’s become clear that Kratos deserves to be one of gaming’s household name, like Pikachu. I propose inflating the big bald dad up and floating him down Sixth Avenue with a tiny Atreus balloon at his side. Just picture the commentary: “And here comes the God of War himself, Kratos, flying with his boy in tow!”


Joel and Ellie in HBO's The Last of Us.

Speaking of Sony’s top franchises, The Last of Us is slowly turning into a cultural institution worthy of a balloon. That’s thanks in part to its upcoming HBO adaptation, which is sure to bring the survival-horror story some mainstream attention. To make sure the parade is ahead of the curve, it’s only right that The Last of Us protagonist Joel get to fly alongside Kratos. The folks pulling that balloon just need to be careful, though; I’d hate to see Joel’s head collide with a light post.


Balan holds a girl in Balan Wonderworld

OK, look, Balan Wonderworld is infamously bad, and you could argue that it doesn’t “deserve” a spot here. But think of its inclusion more as a tribute to its creator, gaming legend Yuji Naka … who was recently arrested for insider trading. It’s a complicated story, but allegations state that Yuji Naka and two other Square Enix employees used their inside knowledge of the then-unannounced Dragon Quest Treasures to buy tons of shares in developer Aiming. But should that information stop Macy’s from proudly flying a giant replica of the game’s top-hat-toting hero? Probably, yeah.

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The best video games of November 2022: God of War Ragnarok, Pentiment, and more
Kratos sternly looks at Atreus in God of War: Ragnarok.

November 2022 was filled to the brim with some of the year’s biggest releases, which is typical of this time of year. Although not all of them lived up to expectations, others like God of War Ragnarok garnered critical acclaim and are must-plays for anyone gaming in 2022. Still, there are plenty of other games that released in November 2022 that also deserve admiration.
December 2022 will be packed with exciting games too, so you’ll want to check out these six titles before that rush begins. From well-known games like God of War Ragnarok to smaller indies like A Little to the Left, these are the November 2022 video game releases that you shouldn’t miss.
God of War Ragnarok

Sony Santa Monica followed up 2018’s critically acclaimed God of War with a sequel that is bigger in almost every way. While that doesn’t always work out perfectly for God of War Ragnarok, it’s still a massive and emotionally touching action game. It features many great accessibility options for players that need those too.
“God of War Ragnarok is much bigger than its predecessor, though not inherently better,” Gaming Editor Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his four-star review of the game. “It’s more reminiscent of the jump between the original God of War in 2005 and God of War 2, offering a largely similar experience down to its plot beats. That larger scope makes for a messier story that loses some of the previous game’s intimacy, but the trade-off is even sharper combat that further establishes the franchise as the God of action games.”
As God of War Ragnarok had the bestselling launch of any first-party PlayStation game ever, there's a good chance you're already playing it. If you haven’t checked it out, though, this sequel is a must for PlayStation owners. God of War Ragnarok is available now exclusively for PS4 and PS5.

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10 video games that would make great movies
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Hollywood hasn't had the best track record when it comes to turning video games into feature-length films. Most of these adaptations have received the cinematic equivalent of a "Game Over" upon release, leading many to believe that a great video game movie is impossible.
The film industry has gotten more skilled at bringing games to the big screen in recent years, however, with Sonic the Hedgehog and Detective Pikachu being prime examples of the turnaround. Just as filmmakers got better at making superhero movies, they could start adapting more and more video games for cinemas the right way, and Digital Trends has put together a list of popular games that have not yet gotten the Hollywood treatment and would be perfect for theaters.

10. Star Fox

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God of War Ragnarok shares a key strength with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Hafgufa flies away in God of War Ragnarok.

God of War Ragnarok’s main story is memorable, but some of the smaller moments are what have stuck with me most since completing it. I'm not just talking about its moments of quiet, but its optional Favors as well. These sidequests can be entirely ignored, but skipping them is a mistake as they contain some of the game’s best scenes. It's a trait that God of War Ragnarok shares with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one of the best RPGs of the last decade.
In some large RPGs, sidequests can often boil down to boring fetch quests, or they simply may not have as much polish put into their writing. As a result, they can feel like content bloat that does more harm than good to the game’s pacing. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and God of War Ragnarok avoid this problem by elevating these sidequests, making the entire adventure feel more cohesive and ensuring that the small moments stick out as some of the best.
More than a side thing
Like God of War Ragnarok, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a lengthy main story full of memorable characters, set pieces, and boss fights. While those alone would have made it a strong RPG, it’s remembered as an all-time great because of how rich its world is, something that's reflected in its side content. There were quests like Ghosts of Past, which pays off the character arc of Witcher 2 character Letho, but it's entirely possible to finish the game without ever seeing it.

Others, like Return to Crookback Bog, turn what could just be some fun supernatural fights into a chilling tale about abuse and broken families. While The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s main narrative is strong, these side moments are what make it a game that sticks with you years after release. I can already tell the same will be true of God of War Ragnarok, as some of my favorite missions in the game are entirely optional Favors.
An early game Favor called The Weight of Chains sees Kratos, Mimir, and Atreus freeing a giant Lyngbakr sea creature that Mimir imprisoned while working with Odin. They manage to break its chains, but find that it now struggles to move and do what it used to. This sidequest takes a series of somewhat standard combat encounters and puzzles and spins them into critical aspects of a memorable tale. The Weight of Chains reflects on how Kratos and Mimir’s reckless actions have had irreversible consequences, but they now have an opportunity to be better people in the future.
Another standout Favor called Secret of the Sands, where Kratos and Atreus free a trapped jellyfish-like creature called a Hafgufa, is also quite beautiful. The short story shows what Kratos will do to be able to spend more time with his son in the face of Ragnarok. However ordinary these sidequests may be from a gameplay standpoint, their narrative relevance and level of polish are on par with some of God of War Ragnarok’s main quests. This high effort even applies to some side missions that wholly exist with NPCs in the game’s overworld, ones that aren't even built around huge set pieces. For example, there’s The Lost Treasure quest.

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