Right. This is essentially becoming a video game blog. I was listening to a Destructoid podcast (Potoid 41) last night, and they were discussing their top five favourite video game characters. Always keen to borrow an idea or two, I thought this might be fun. In fact, once I started thinking about it, I came up with all kinds of top fives. If Nick Hornby is to be trusted, it’s a particularly male inclination.
So, to start with, I’ll pick my five favourite video game characters of all time, from fifth to first.
5. Roger Wilco (Space Quest)
I played King’s Quest with my father when I was barely old enough to read the dialogue. Space Quest came quickly afterwards, and Roger Wilco became one of my all-time favourites, and the first video game character I ever really noticed.
The humour in Space Quest was fairly lame, really. It’s tough to do in video games, and there’s always a level of corniness there. The great thing about Wilco was that he was just so incompetent. This by extension made you, the player, incompetent. It’s such a contrast from being the ultimate bad-ass that most games hand to you.
4. K.K. Slider (Animal Crossing)
Also known as Totakeke, if you’re really in the know, K.K. Slider is a pretty cool cat, considering he’s a dog. Animal Crossing has made me do a lot of things I’m not particularly proud of, thanks to the idea of running the game on a real-time clock. I have moved plans on a Saturday night to later in the evening so that I could check out K.K. Slider’s set. I went out eventually though. I’m still cool.
I think I like Slider a lot not just because of his amazing musical ability, but also because of his ideals. When a guitar-wielding dog tells you in a series of gurgled beeps that he doesn’t believe in selling out to “the man”, and you’re acting like it’s humourous but nodding furiously on the inside, that video game has achieved something pretty cool. That or I just miss being more ‘intense’ about the flaws of the capitalist system.
3. Dog (Half-Life 2)
When I first had the idea of writing about my favourite video game characters I assumed I would be all pretentious and list various characters with emotional depth that showed how far storytelling in video games has come. After some further thought, I realised that I wouldn’t really be writing about the five characters that are closest to my heart. I would also have a top five with four entries from the Half-Life 2 universe.
Dog survived the cull. Despite being a robot, Dog is one of the few video game characters that I genuinely care about. That is to say, Dog dying would not be cool. NOT COOL. Even though, in the context of the video game, it’s a robot that the other characters can rebuild. Even though, in real life, it’s a robot in a fictional universe. We’ve come a long way since Short Circuit.
2. B.J. Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein 3D)
Okay. Some of you will say that Duke Nukem is cooler. Thing is, they’re both essentially ripping off Ash from the Evil Dead films. However, if anything, B.J. leaves more room for me to do the impressions myself. There’s nothing better than a square-jawed do-gooder blowing Nazis away, if you ask me. Add to this ridiculous initials and a battle with Hitler in a robotic suit, and I’m sold.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog
Now, looking over this list you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m drawn to video game characters for fairly superficial reasons. That isn’t the case. It just appears that way. Sonic is the perfect example. Sonic is my favourite character for a few reasons: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is my favourite video game of all time, the Megadrive was and is to this day the only electronic device that ever made me a ‘fanboy’, and, well, it’s Sonic.
It’s impossible to explain and still sound like a rational adult. I just dig Sonic, I have done since I was a child and I will do so for God only knows how long. The fact that Sonic has been in one good game since Sonic 3 has only solidified his position as my number one. The more he hurts me, the more I come back, convinced in my heart of hearts that one day all the Olympic-themed disasters and 3D misadventures will fade away. And then life will be good again.
Superficial? Not even a little bit. I could have compiled a list of beautifully written, emotionally complex characters (and probably will if I write about villains soon) but these are the ones that really mean something to me. Sonic rules!