Before I begin this list, which will be completed over the next 10 days, I want to clarify this is entirely subjective. I don’t/didn’t play Nintendo or Sega consoles for example and I know that a large number of people will consider that total sacrilege. I also didn’t start gaming properly until the late 1990’s, so my views do not include games prior to around 1997. In fact a good point to see as the beginning of my gaming career is Final Fantasy 7. And no, none of my 10 favourites come from that game.
There is also a massive skew towards RPG’s, primarily because character depth is more important to me than badassery or sentimental attachment to a particular set of games. So Dante from DMC, for example, is not in the list though he gets an honourable mention in the introduction as the example of course. That’s not to say there aren’t characters from other genre’s coming up, there are, but I want people to know my biases before we begin because, frankly, I can refer back to if people disagree.
There will also be spoilers for all of the characters, in all of the posts. I’ll repeat this warning at the start of each post so that it’s clear.
Character #10: Jolee Bindo. Knights of the Old Republic
So, to begin a character that I enjoy primarily because he breaks a mould in a traditionally distinct power struggle between good and evil. Jolee Bindo is a Jedi, and thus had training in the tenets of the Light Side of the force, primarily that emotions such as anger, passion and hatred lead to the dark side and thus are bad for you. But Jolee ends up falling in love, generally seen as a sign of misplaced passion and thus heavily discouraged if not outright banned in Jedi circles depending on the academy or your Master. In the end he marries the woman he loves and leaves the Jedi, and thus begins a life outside the core worlds.“Pulling a Bindo” in the sequel to Knights of the Old Republic, is mentioned when the subject of Jedi marrying is raised in reference to this backstory.
Bindo’s wife is revealed to have turned to the Dark Side during her time with him, after he trains her in the use of the Force. He duelled and defeated her, but let her go. She killed many Jedi before being finally beaten again, and Bindo feels immense guilt for his failure to keep her away from the temptations of the Dark Side.
When you meet him in the game, Jolee is on Kashyyk, the Wookie home world, and is detached from galactic politics and the general difficulties of the Jedi and the power of the Sith. Having seen the rigid and inflexible side of the Jedi, Bindo is skeptical to their beliefs and systems and no longer considers himself a “Jedi” in the strictest sense. He’s most commonly described as a “Grey” Jedi, in that he broadly supports ideas such as justice, charity, helping others and peaceful resolutions to conflicts but refuses to be locked into doctrine that dictates when this should be applied, preferring to let his emotions tell him when it is right to do so. This is in contradiction to the Jedi code, which states “There is no passion, only serenity” but also contradicts the first line of the Sith Code that “Peace is a lie, there is only passion”. His story through the game allows him to challenge both of the views of the Jedi and the Sith as he travels with Revan, but also reinforces the reasons why he stays out of the conflict between them. He increasingly, whether you go light side or dark side in the game, comes to the conclusion that one or the other will cause harm, but that only the Sith accept and even embrace the harm they do, which causes further damage.
This is why Jolee appears as the first entrant of this list. He challenges the player to think beyond traditional meanings of “good” and “evil”, particularly in a universe like that of Star Wars which was built upon the Jedi/Sith dichotomy, notably in the prequels. He also attacks the selfish or one-sided views of the companions in the party. Notably he does not see the Republic necessarily as a force for good, unlike the Jedi or Carth Onasi during the game. He views it in the same way that many cynical about modern politics view their governments, that in the end they serve a very small section of people, while the rest suffer. He still prefers this to the xenophobia and martial law the Sith would bring, however. He simply doesn’t see the Republic as important to the galaxy as a whole, believing individuals within it are more important than the organisation. He also speaks in riddles that leave interpretations open to the player at several points, which adds to how different players will react to him. He is also one of the few party members, the others being Bastilla and HK-47, to know Revans identity from the beginning of KOTOR, but upon meeting you he says nothing, believing it his not his place to reveal that information.
But I think the main reason I like Jolee is that he shows how difficult it is to be good in a world where your emotions drive your actions. We are not Jedi, and while many may aspire to the idea of a perfect system of people knowing when to act or not, this creates further strife when they debate what best to do. Acting on impulse is dangerous, unadvised even, but Jolee does so out of a genuine desire to do good now, rather than waiting for people to suffer while the best option is decided upon. This is a topic that is regularly brought up during Knights of the Old Republic, in the first and second game, and it does the series great credit that it didn’t just focus on a good vs evil story and instead examined the process behind each sides reasons for entering the Mandalorian Wars, and later the Jedi Civil War.
So to conclude, Jolee Bindo is a character that is deliberately designed to challenge the player. He does so in a very subtle, but important way, and is given an excellent backstory to compliment his personality and current motives. He’s also one of the few light sided Jedi who is said to actively use “dark” force powers such as lightning, since they feed off emotions. This makes him pretty damn awesome by any standards.