All games have characters. It’s pretty much the one unifying trait of every videogame ever made. Some are as utilitarian as Doom’s space marine, whose soul expressive outlet was the occasional grunt or scream. Others are damn near fully realized humans with realistic personalities and intriguing stories and lives, such as John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. Boring or entertaining, fully-formed our merely a bare outline, most characters serve the singular purpose of putting you, the player, into the game. They’re there to give you a more enjoyable experience.
Then you have the occasional character that is so messed up, so freaky and disturbing, that they leave you with no proper response other than to pause the game, step back and ask “What the fuck did I just see?”. These are a few of those characters. As always, this list simply reflects my own opinion. If you disagree or want to put in your own example, then get to posting in the responses.
5: King Hippo (Punch Out & Mike Tyson’s Punchout)
Both the original Punch Out! and its ear-bitingly rebranded follow up are full of insanely cartoonish, stereotypical characters. All of them, however, make sense as boxers. You have lightweights (Glass Joe), middleweights (Great Tiger) and the heavyweights (Bald Bull). Then you have the “whafuk” weight class. King Hippo can jump around the ring like he’s on a pogo stick, but is unable to shift his massive bulk up from the canvas when knocked down even once. Also, while punches to the mouth have no effect on him, a quick jab to the gut has him pissing blood for a month.
We should all be eternally grateful, by the way, that the Punch Out! games have been relegated to 8 and 16 bit systems or cartoony Wii games. I shudder to think what King Hippo’s moobs would look like flopping around in the uber-realistic graphics engine of the Fight Night games. Hell, I still have occasional nightmares about his big mushroom nipples in the Captain N cartoon. How that got by network censors defies reasonable consideration.
4: Shade (Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlet’s Pirate Booty DLC)
Shade is a supremely messed up man. He lives in a dried up, desert, ghost town, and his only companions are a surly shopkeep who won’t even talk to you unless you have some seraph crystals and five corpses. Corpses that Shade has wired up with speakers that spout out creepy one-liners that were recorded in barely altered voices, and tied up into poses, making them into gruesome mannequins being used as characters in a one-man play. It also doesn’t help that Shade looks like the Joker if he were on his way to a Hunter S. Thompson convention.
3: King Of The Cosmos (Katamari Damacy) & Captain Kabuki (Jumping Flash! 2)
I put these two characters together at number 3 because they are, essentially, one and the same. They’re both gigantic, bothe have over-sized faces with the unsettling, pouty of a serial killer whose newest victim just learned the rule about the lotion and the basket, both are mystic creatures who live in deep space and both wear disturbingly tight unitards. Captain Kabuki’s game may have come out nearly a decade before his majesty’s, but I’d be willing to bet that they graduated in the same class at Creepy Bastard Academy.
2: The Entire Cast Of The Cho Aniki Series
I don’t pretend to be an authority on Japanese culture and art, but videogames have taught me that subtlety doesn’t seem to be a requirement in Japanese storytelling. I’m not saying that American games, movies and television are beacons of low-key entertainment (if that were so, the entire Wayans family would be homeless), but while an American TV show might have a character run on screen and scream “A shark just ate Uncle Joe!”, on a Japanese show that same line would be delivered by a grown man, who’s wearing a diaper, that’s riding a dragon that shits gold coins. Also, the shark would only eat Uncle Joe after it had finished raping him with its many tentacles. Tentacles which ejaculated rainbows.
What I’m trying to say is that, in Japan, if you want to make a point, you have to make it clear enough that Helen Keller couldn’t fail to get the message. Therefore, to portray someone as being homosexual, you have to make them the gayest person that has ever existed (search for “Super Gay” on YouTube for a prime example). They have to be so over the top gay that the cast of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy would be tempted to seek membership in the Westboro Baptist Church after being exposed to them.
Enter the cast of the Cho Aniki. Rather than try to describe them, I’ll just show you.
1: Tingle (The Legend Of Zelda Series)
Ahh, Tingle. Volumes could be written chronicling the night terrors that this guy has inspired. Tingle first appeared in The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, where he fawned over Link’s “fairy” clothes and expressed his desire to find his own fairy and live like the “fairy people”. He reappeared in The legend Of Zelda: The Windwaker. This time he had apparently enslaved several men, whom he forced to dress like he does and work at his map-making light house. After being rescued from prison by Link, Tingle proceeded to stalk the young boy, following him around for the rest of the game and spying on him as Link worked his way through the game’s dungeons (if you ponied up the cash for a Game Boy Advance and a link cable, that is). Tingle’s creepiness was even strong enough to get him his own spin-off game for the DS.
Everything about this guy screams “molester”. His picture should be use to educate children about what signs could indicate that someone is to be avoided. His weird, green body stocking, his John Waters moustache, his obsession with Link and Link’s clothing and his strange private language. All of these things, when put together, say “I’m a predator, and I’ve got a van full of lollipops, comic books and small, K-Y scented corpses to prove it.”