Assessments of character, from Mario to Kratos

I don’t like Mario. I like his games – most of them – but I don’t like him. He’s a plumber, which means he wants to charge you £60 simply for loading his game, even if you don’t play it. That increases to £80–£100 if you play late at night or at weekends.

Plus he wears dungarees. Not since Play Away have dungarees really worked. And he has an embarrassing faux-Italian accent; if he spoke like that at my local barbershop or pizzeria he’d be strung up with piano wire. And finally, he’s clearly aiming too high by pursuing princesses. I’m about as fat as he is, and I know it’s not worth doing any more than looking cutely hopeless in the corner of my local pub.

Sonic the Hedgehog. Sorry, but he doesn’t even look like a hedgehog. And what sort of a name is ‘Sonic’? It’s meant to evoke velocity, but if that worked he’d be called ‘SUPERsonic’. Sonic the Hedgehog? Noisy the Badly Drawn Unrealistic Blue Creature more like. Apparently he says things like ‘totes amazeballs’, ‘dudes’ and ‘dudettes’ in the later games. This does not endear him to me – indeed, I’ve deliberately punctured both eardrums with a bradawl so that I never have to hear it, even accidentally.

And those are all the characters I don’t like. Ha, just kidding! I also hate the President’s brat from Resident Evil 4. What was she called? (If only there was some kind of interconnected computer database we could just type questions into.) I’ve just remembered: Ashley Graham. The trouble is, she’s too young to be useful. (Don’t take that the way you’re currently taking it.) Kids are rubbish dead weights in games and films… and if they’re not, you know the game or film has been aimed at the rubbish dead-weight kids who play or go to see those types of games and films. (A demographic you are not part of.)

Anyway, Ashley Thingummywotsit was the whiny equivalent of cramp; an organic orthopaedic shoe that slowed you down and didn’t contain guns or biological weaponry to help you in any way. I love kids (again, shut up), but I’d have happily seen her implanted with demon seed. (Really, shut up now.)

The clever thing at this juncture would be to balance this out with some characters that really work, but I’ve done that before – and actually laying into the characters I’ve paid good money to hate is far more fun. Let’s be clear, though: I don’t love to hate them. I hate them.

Next up is the Creature from Black & White. Yes, I wrote the story, script and dialogue for this game, so I’m either being deliberately shocking to stop you turning to the better contributors’ pages, or I’m utterly insane. Mainly it’s the first one. But the trouble with the Creature was this: the way you taught him things was organic.

There was no computery ‘tell him something three times and he’ll know it forever’ system. He tried to please, he remembered, he forgot, he reacted to other things while trying to carry out your requests. He was like a dog, or those tiny, dribbly humans you sometimes see young ladies carrying once their beer bellies disappear.

With videogames, we’re used to binary states. Tell your squad to go somewhere and they’ll do it, or die trying. You are in charge. That’s the beauty of games: you get to be in charge. (Something you’ll never be in the real world if you play such things too often.) In games we expect our orders to be obeyed instantly, accurately and without question. (Especially in WWII titles. The irony.)

But the Creature from Black & White not only responded to you, but also to his inner desires and feelings, and to the world around him – just like dogs and pram-based homunculi. The only reason people put up with such erratic behaviour is because they empathise with their tiny, bootee-wearing hominoids or dogs. I utterly love my canine companion, and when she’s erratic I find it endearing. In order to put up with your Creature, you must love it. I wrote 60,000 lines of text and dialogue for Black & White, so the love was, shall we say, tested.

GTAIV’s Niko Bellic. He’s nothing more than wise-cracking stubble. I hate him because I’m not him, and also because if I asked him to go for a pint he’d say no, but in a wisecracking way, and I’d feel belittled and left out and he’d drive off in a giant shabby car to murder people, leaving me to catch the last half of Bargain Hunt alone.

Blanka from Street Fighter II. He’s got claws, an off-the-grid lethal electric attack – and he’s NOT HUMAN. He’s by far the best character and should tear the faces off the rest and wear them as a bumpy vest; but he’s actually a grunting, self-confidence-free green ape. I had my fill of those as a schoolboy and have no desire to see their like in a 2D global best of three, thank you.

In first place – not that these are in any order; I’d need to be far more organised to attempt something like that – is that idiot Kratos from PlayStation ‘fave’ God Of War. His head is tiny, he yells incomprehensibly all the time, and he has breasts. (Don’t tell me those are pecs.) If I want a shouty, tiny-headed, unintelligible person with breasts, my go-to guy is Wee Jimmy Krankie.

Next month: games that cause me to self-harm.

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