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Top 10 Love-them-or-Hate-them Game Characters

In the world of videogames, for every Mario or Master Chief there is a Crash Bandicoot or Slippy. In other words, there are just as many characters we hate as we love. In between those though, there are controversial characters. These are characters who are loved just as much as they are hated. The debate rages on as to whether they are the very best or the very worst in character design with few gamers between the two extremes of love or hate. We have compiled a list of the top 10, and have even ventured our opinion on whether we love or hate them. Do you agree?

10. Ken

Why is he hated? Because he is the ignorant Street Fighter players choice. For those who know nothing about the game, the desire to pick Ken and dragon punch from start to finish is strong. The danger here is that against other noobs this is a most effective strategy. Against anyone who has played the game for any amount of time though, this is the easiest kind of player to beat. Worst of all, Ken player’s are often the most verbally offensive, childish, crybaby players when you beat them. The proliferation of stupid Ken players led to the meme “Flowchart Ken”. Do we hate him though?

Verdict: Love He is still a classic Street Fighter that has been there from the start and a good rival for Ryu, even if the players who choose him are often terrible people.

9. Cole Train

Ah, Cole. the hyperbolic, hyperactive Thrashball player from the manliest of manly games series: Gears of War. An offensive racial stereotype, or a simplistic but loveable character? Hard to judge. In a Universe so devoid of personality though, Cole’s larger-than-a-life personality stands out like a Brumak in a world of waist high rubble.

Verdict: Love The somewhat poe-faced Gears needs some light relief, and who doesn’t love a game that goes out on a song?

8. Sonic

Oh Sonic, how you hurt us! Sure you were good, great even. But those days are long gone. You just won’t quit, even though you are broken; drooling in the corner of the rest home, your red sneakers soaked through with urine that has run down your legs. You have a cast of buffoons all around you, and you pathetically try to get “down with the kids” by turning into a werewolf or fighting with a sword. When that didn’t work you finally gave your old fans what they wanted and appeared in 2D games again, which though decent were also completely irrelevant to modern gamers. Why Sega? Why won’t you let him die?

Verdict: Hate And hate of the worst kind. Love that has become hate.

7. Waluigi

If ever there was a seemingly redundant character it was this guy. While Wario has had a few good games and maybe even some great ones, Waluigi was always a bit of an afterthought. Wario’s names made sense, with its inversion of the first letter of Mario reflecting Warrio’s inverted personality. The anti-Mario, he was mean, evil and selfish. Less likely to save Princess Peach for cake, he would steal the cake, throwi it in her face then kick her down a warp pipe. Waluigi meanwhile had far less character. Sure, he had a funny name, but it didn’t really mean anything and was vaguely ridiculous.

In fact his name is purportedly portmanteau of Luigi’s name and the Japanese adjective warui (??) meaning “bad”. In other words, he is a “bad Luigi”. Even more excitingly, his creator has discussed the possibility of making a game featuring him where the objective is to cheat to win. Intriguing, but is it enough? The verdict is…

Verdict: Love! As regular listeners to the podcast will know I fucking love Waluigi! He is such a perfect blend of surrealism and stupid that I can’t resist his charms.

6. Johnny Cage

As you may already know, before Ed boon made Mortal Kombat he was working on making a Jean-Claude Van Damme game. When this fell through, he stuck with very similar character designs to create Johnny Cage. Originally modelled on images of Daniel Pesina, Cage continued to bare more than just a passing similarity to the Beef from Belgium. With his movie star attitude and sunglasses to match, Cage was cocky, confident and ready to punch you straight in the balls.

It wasn’t until MK9 that a degree of self awareness crept in and Johnny became more of a parody. Spouting cheesy one liners and frequently being beaten up by everyone but Baraka, Cage had gone from top-billing to Kombat clown. As a long running series joke, have we tired of Cage’s antics?

Verdict: Love I’m taking you out to lunch Johnny, because you rock!

7. Rico

Oh man, this guy! In the Killzone series the long running character of Rico has somehow survived while any of the vaguely interesting characters have been killed off. From the first Killzone where he enters firing a machine gun while cursing non-stop in his awful voice, he has remained a bugbear for fans of the series.

Worst of all he is supposed to help with zapping your character back to life and shooting enemies. Shortcomings in his AI means that he himself is frequently shouting for you to come help him, rarely helps you and is a terrible shot. Finally, no matter how far you go in this series he just keeps popping up. Just when you think you have escaped Rico, Bam! More Rico.

Verdict: Hate There’s nothing to love and a lot to hate here.

6. The Bosses in Fighting Games

Gil. Seth. Geese. The Eternal Champion. These are some of the most annoying characters in any type of game. Deadly timing, massive combos and frequently ignoring all the rules of the game world in which they reside, they laugh at the skills that you have developed thus far. Using any conventional tactics against them is doomed to fail. Instead, you must learn their moves by rote, study every frame of animation and eventually figure out away to get yourself a desperate, unsatisfying, cheap victory.  You will spend hours fighting them, learning none of the skills that you can translate to the game proper and slowly realising that perhaps single player fighting games are truly, genuinely rubbish.

Verdict: Hate With a few exceptions (MK9 we love you!) fighting game campaigns are terrible and the bosses are the worst.

5. Raiden

When Metal Gear Solid 2 was initially shown to press, the gaming world was blown away by the sheer awesomeness of seeing Snake on the powerful PS2 console shooting cabinets of drinks glasses, sneaking around a waterlogged tanker and reading magazines of nudey Japanese women. We even saw Snake make his way around the “Big Shell”, a huge sea based complex full of enemies, security cameras and utterly insane bosses.

It wasn’t until the game was released though that we learned more than half the game would see you play not as the Snake Pliskin inspired Solid Snake, but instead as a Silver haired girly-man called Raiden. He may have had some kung fu moves, but the move away from the grizzled veteran to the plucky newcomer was welcomed by….well nobody.

Raiden did go some way to redeeming himself in Metal Gear Solid 4 where he had some great fights with Vamp and even managed to defeat a great deal of enemies in a Monty Python-esque series of fights where he had no arms. Using a sword with your mouth has never looked as cool before or since!

Verdict: Love The dude is in one of the best videogame fights of all time with Vamp. He makes the love list…. just.

4. Vanille

My ears! My fucking ears! Vanille comes from a very particular style of Japanese character design where horrid voice acting is not just acceptable, its integral. Her grating, twee, child-like voice identifies her as a very specific character archetype that Japanese gamers seem far more able to tolerate than westerners. If you love Squaresoft, Final Fantasy and JRPG’s you might be able to tolerate this bullshit. Otherwise…..

Verdict: Hate Seriously Japan, we love your robots, cosplay and violent anime, but enough of this shit.

3. The Arbiter

If Metal Gear Solid without Snake is a crime then Halo without Master Chief is almost as bad. Since Halo 3 we have had ODST and Reach without the Chief, but back in 2004 we were all ready for the return journey to Earth where we were all ready to finish the fight, and we wanted to do it with Master Chief. What did we get instead? No battles on Earth, a fight that wouldn’t be finished till the next entry in the series, one of the worst game endings of all time and some loser Covenant alien called the Arbiter that we used for half the game. It was an attempt by Bungie to deepen the Halo universe and humanise the Covenant, but it just left players confused and disappointed as the story twisted back and forth aimlessly and the main heroes “teamed up” in the most disappointing way possible. The defenders of the Arbiter will say he brought a refreshing change to the series and showed the whole conflict from another perspective….

Verdict: Hate …but we say he sucked balls.

2. Rachel

Ok, so this is clearly wrong. Right? To compare Rachel to another highly sexualised character, Bayonetta can be argued to some degree to be a kind of emancipating female figure. She may have inhuman proportions and get more naked as she fights, but she exists in a universe full of weak, snivelling men where women settle all conflicts and are both the protagonists and antagonists. Rachel meanwhile has ridiculous “clothes”, ridiculous weapons and unbelievable …assets and she is also a damsel who needs saved. In one scene she is devoured by a monster before being saved by the “heroic”, Ryu Hayabusa. To see a leather clad women be eaten by a demon then spat out covered in slime satisfies far too many fetishes for this character to be anything but creepy. Defenders might argue she has a big axe and has boobs. Good points perhaps, but the results are in and….

Verdict: Hate A great character to show everything that’s wrong with the games industry (and my recommended costume for anyone cosplpaying at Halloween), this kind of character design is why more women don’t play games.

1. Grayson Hunt and Ichi

In Bulletstorm there’s a great deal of attempted humour, but not much actual humour. Opinion seems to be split on whether its occasionally funny or not funny at all. Similarly the characters are either described as progressing from unlikeable to sympathetic, or from dicks to complete dicks. While Grayson is a drunk who makes one bad decision after another, Ichi manages to be a bad ass cyborg thats also a moaning bitch. Throughout the game he constantly whines at Grayson that he promised to save him, while in some half hearted attempt at a redemptive story arc Grayson tries to get both him and Ichi off the resort planet that’s now full of enemies.

The true test of whether you warm to both characters though is if they make you laugh, and that largely depends on how funny you find the word “dick”. If its the pinacle of comedy for you then you will love Grayson and Ichi. If not then….

Verdict: Hate These guys really dick around with my dick. The dicks.

That’s the end of the first top 10 list we’ve done in a while. I’m sure it will be controversial as awlays, tell me why I’m wrong or who I missed in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Published inTop 10