Surely gaming is bound to be more immersive than cinema, so it's not really a comparison? You get to be the main character after all. It's up to you whether the main character progresses or not. Many games have much more time than cinema to get you immersed too.
I think Mario is a great character, and he's even gained an air of coolness about him in recent years.
Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island games is hilarious, and Coach from Golf Story is pretty funny too:
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Joanna Dark stood out in the 90s when there weren't many decent female characters in games, and Elvis the alien from Perfect Dark was great too.
I think a lot of 80s and early 90s games managed to inject characters with personality, even when limited by the technology of the time. E.g. Dizzy, the snakes from Snake, Rattle n Roll, the blob from A Boy and His Blob.
I haven't played many of the well-known story-driven games of recent years yet but have a few on my list...
Kain and Raziel from the Legacy of Kain series
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