If my memory serves me, someone famous once said something clever about history repeating itself. And, even though this person probably wasn't talking about video games, I think it's safe to say that's what he meant. I mean, here we are coming up on the halfway point of 2012, and we haven't even taken a break to think about the way that the past six months are going to affect future generations. After all, we've seen several impressive titles so far. But that doesn't mean that a few stinkers haven't slid out of the industry and into your console.
Even though it's easy to write off an entire game as being wholly good or bad, it's often one tiny element that ruins the fun for everyone. In fact, the one particular element that seems most difficult to get right is pretty easy to put a finger on: characters. So, in an effort to learn from our mistakes, let's take a look at some of the most annoying characters that the video game industry has produced so far this year.
Disgaea 3 is what the Harry Potter franchise would have been like if it were set in Bizzaro World. Students at Netherworld Evil Academy who cut class, break rules, or are generically evil make the honor roll, while stereotypically good students are considered deviants. Essentially, everything is backwards from the Potter universe, with one notable exception; all the characters are still endlessly annoying.
The crown jewel of this annoyance comes from the game's lead character, Prince Mao. Thanks to his fixation with video games, anime, and comic books, Mao has become obsessed with becoming a hero. In fact, the prince aims to kill his own father, the Overlord, for crushing his precious SlayStation Portable—heroism at its finest.
After only a few minutes into the game, it's pretty easy to see why Mao's friends are basically non-existent. He's continuously tossing around idiotic adages like "Demons must relish solitude," in a voice that only a theater nerd could love. However, at some point, the game's silly premise gives way to an unexpected level of character development and Prince Mao is eventually transformed into a surprisingly complex character. Until then, though, no one will think poorly of you for wanting to slap him around a bit.
Now, I'm not an activist of any kind, but if I were, I might consider picketing the overuse of hillbillies as stereotypical dunces by the entertainment industry. P. Walter Tugnut from Shoot Many Robots is the latest in a long line of clichéd bumpkins, and I really hope he's the last.
There's nothing particularly bothersome about the character, but it's a bit like eating leftover pizza for the fifth day in a row; the first day was fine, but now you never want pizza again and you want to backhand anyone who suggests it.
Far be it from me to discourage Konami from tossing a hot chick with spectacular cleavage and a sidearm into one of their games. But, unless they're making another Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball title, it'd be nice if the character had an actual purpose. I mean, call me chivalrous, but in an age where the entire civilized world has an Internet connection, another pair of computer-generated breasts seems a bit redundant.
I really can't express how useless Arcadia Maximille actually is. She never delivers a helpful piece of dialog or kills an attacking enemy, though she repeatedly manages to get herself killed in the most inconvenient ways possible. Seriously, if her character had been killed off in the opening sequence, the entire game would have been more coherent.
Listen, I'm aware that Arkham City was released last year. But with the Game of the Year edition hitting shelves later this month and a Quinn-centric DLC pack arriving along with it, I stand by my decision.
Ever since Batman: The Animated Series showed up in the 90's, Harley Quinn's character has been a staple in the Bat universe. And, even though I originally enjoyed the dynamic that she and the Joker had, in recent years their relationship has been reduced to that of the bickering sitcom couple. In fact, the only thing that Quinn's character has become useful for is making the Joker seem less threatening. Plus, I think we can all agree that her voice is a bit grating.
Ayumi from Blades of Time is simply a goulash of other famous video game characters after their personalities have been edited out. She literally just runs around talking to herself about anything that's unmistakably obvious. For example, if you happen to be in the desert, she'll be sure to point it out to you. Seriously. I wish I were exaggerating.
Actually, I wonder if Ayumi was created specifically to make dumb people feel smarter. It's the only explanation that makes any sense.