Bottom of the Food Chain
The games industry produces a never-ending stream of games chock-full of the manliest, muscle-bound macho beefcake, the toughest space marines packing a Star Destroyer’s worth of firepower, and armor-clad knights of the realm, ready to lay down life and limb in defense of chaste princesses. We like games full of action and explosions, so it’s a necessary evil.
But then there are those moments when the above formula just goes completely off the rails, whether intentionally or through some misguided train-wreck of a design decision, and we suddenly find ourselves faced with the weirdest, whiniest, and dorkiest bunch of characters this side of the final Harry Potter movie’s midnight showing. That’s not to say we don’t love them; whether serving as all-important comic relief in otherwise blasted landscapes or being the most memorable feature in what could have been an otherwise bland game, the loveable losers of gaming are as important as any characters. For this reason, today we honor the freaks and geeks of gaming. Enjoy!
* * * *
FBI Agent Francis York Morgan/Deadly Premonition
Despite the fact that Deadly Premonition actually has a bit of charm to its open-world survival horror gameplay, the main character Francis York Morgan is a total conundrum of douchey goodness right from the very beginning. Whether speaking with the non-existent character Zach (how Morgan breaks the fourth wall and addresses the player in creepy one-sided conversation) in plain earshot of the town’s locals, delivering inane banter during driving sequences to discuss the pros and cons of his favorite ’80s films, or just divining that day’s weather forecast in his morning coffee (all true!), you’d be hard-pressed to find another character as quirky and dorky as Francis Morgan.
Voldo/Soul Calibur series
This character just straight up creeps us out. It’s not that he’s scary, but it’s the way he moves and never talks. Also, he crawls and wears knives on his hands. Voldo is awkward to the point that it makes other people feel awkward just fighting him. Huge advantage in online play. At least he’s a strong character!
Franky the Pitchfork/Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Franky the Pitchfork is an unusual ally, mainly because a) he’s a bit of a loser, and b) he’s a talking pitchfork. Upon first meeting Franky, he and his “chums” (a foul-mouthed talking paint-pot and a brain-dead paintbrush) are squabbling over who should kick Conker’s ass. Franky, after much abuse from the paint duo, decides to do it himself and fails miserably. Fed up of being so rubbish, and after a little coercion, Franky decides to hang himself in the barn. Of course, what he doesn’t realise until he’s up there is that pitchforks don’t have necks or 0esophagi.
Yup, this really is what actually happens.
Alistair/Dragon Age: Origins
He’s young, handsome, and will probably grow up to be the monarch one day. And yet, he has literally no idea what he’s doing, and is completely useless without either Duncan or yourself. Fortunately, he does do some major developing throughout the game, but in the opening hours, there is nobody whose misfortune we were laughing at more than dear old Alistair. He’s clumsy, slow-witted and not the most useful companion. But that’s what makes him so darn loveable.
Baird/Gears of War series
Savvy mechanic Baird straddles a fine line between dork and douchebag. Made of 99% sarcasm and trace elements of good humour, he’s the subtler, wittier comic relief to Delta’s loud, dim-witted Cole Train. Blunter than the butt of a Gnasher shotgun to the bridge of a nose, Baird’s snarky barbs hide, we think, an endearing social awkwardness, his true companionship found in fixing and tinkering with machines. (Yeah, yeah, group hug.)
Joachim/Shadow Hearts 2
This vampire dresses as a pro wrestler and goes off on long faux-philosophical rambles about items he finds lying around, before picking them up to use as a weapon. Even the other characters are left shaking their heads and wondering just what is wrong with him.