I bet you thought that I’d have something really meaningful and impressive for my 200th rant, right? Man, were you ever wrong.
Oh, yes, and incidentally, I was gonna update the Mass Effect 3 DLC rant for the Omega DLC released yesterday, but I figured I'd done enough filler lately. I'll get it properly done some time in the future (maybe I'll just do it with the next ME3 DLC, whenever that happens). But, since it's important to be timely on these things, here's the ultimate verdict: DON'T BUY THE OMEGA DLC FOR MASS EFFECT 3. Unless you really, REALLY hate the idea of spending your money on things you could actually enjoy. If you loathe spending money well, then by all means, go nuts.
Anyway, on to the actual rant.
Y’know what? RPGs have some fucking weird characters in them. I mean, you get some odd individuals in any genre of video game, sure, and plenty of bizarre characters in other forms of entertainment, but...I really think that RPGs are filled with more weirdos per capita than basically any other form of storytelling out there. This is a genre where aliens and anthropomorphic creatures are so standard that you don’t look twice at most of’em.
I mean, just look at the list below. Do you have any idea how hard it was to narrow this list down to 15 spots? Well, no, probably not, unless you’ve got me under 24-hour surveillance, and I’m reasonably sure you don’t, because frankly my life is not interesting enough to warrant it. But it was tough. It was very tough. Because there are so many strange RPG characters out there to choose from, and they are so weird. I mean, this is a list of weirdos where an anthropomorphic mushroom, a talking shrimp who controls the weather, time-traveling babies armed with mallets, and whatever the fuck this thing is, all did NOT make the cut for weirdness.* Hell, who here is familiar with Viki, from the Suikoden series? Viki isn’t weird enough to even be considered for this list. That’s the level of weird that RPGs bring.
So then, who did make the list? Which RPG characters are just the most bizarre of all? Let’s see.
Note: This list only counts specific party characters. In other words, generic, typically non-name characters (like Pokemon, or the various minions of most Nippon Ichi games) are disqualified here. Because Pokemon would otherwise probably occupy at least 2/3rds of this list. I mean, they have a fucking garbage bag Pokemon now.
15. Skelly (Chrono Cross)
Skelly is an animated clown skeleton with a serious love for pasta. That’s really about all there is to him, but really, isn’t that enough?
14. Mao and Nao (Suikoden 4)
Mao and Nao are creepy, antisocial growers of mushrooms and mint, respectively, who cultivate their crop in a room on the ship that its builder doesn’t remember making. They each seem to have a paranoid hatred for the other’s crop, seeing it as some sort of invading army and making complaints to the game’s protagonist about how wrong Mao’s mushrooms are or Nao’s mint is. They’re just really creepy little weirdos, is all there is to it.
13. Dungeon Man (Earthbound)
Really, it’s fairly self-explanatory here. Dungeon Man is a man who is a dungeon. Specifically, he was a guy named Brick Road, whose passion was making dungeons. Then he made himself into a dungeon. Not that Earthbound is at all lacking for claims to weird fame, but I can’t honestly say I’ve ever seen any other game decide to have a freaking dungeon join the party.
12. Mojo (Chrono Cross)
Another instance of how Chrono Cross defeats itself at every turn: Chrono Cross’s plot and ideas generally seem like those of a game trying to take itself as seriously as any other given RPG, but its cast is made up of talking dogs, adorable aliens, clown skeletons, talking produce, and our boy Mojo, who is a giant, walking, talking voodoo doll who uses the giant nail stuck in him as a weapon. Even humor RPGs don’t usually have weird, goofy shit like that in their cast. Just...really, Squaresoft? A living voodoo doll? You were that desperate to pad out your already over-numerous cast?
11. Donald Duck (Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Chain of Memories)
Seriously, though. When you really think about Donald Duck, he’s pretty weird. He’s a walking, talking duck with a shorter fuse than the Incredible Hulk who goes pants-less at all times and has the most distinctive speech impediment ever conceived. What twisted corner of Walt Disney’s mind gave birth to a rage-aholic duck?
Weird by himself, Donald only gets weirder in RPG context. I mean, why is he the magic-user of the party? It’s implied that his magical abilities are the result in some capacity of training in mysticism--does Donald really seem like the type to have the patience for learning the arcane arts? And what about the talking thing? The typical assumption with most RPGs is that spells require verbal invocation to work--this assumption being substantiated by countless RPGs’ status ailment Mute or Silence, as it is only when the magic-user is under this condition that they cannot use their magic. Granted, that status ailment is not actually present in the Kingdom Hearts games that Donald features in, but it HAS been present in one of the recent superfluous spin-off titles, so it is once again reasonable to assume that spellcasting requires a spoken component in the KH universe. How the HELL does this work with Donald? To quote Daffy Duck in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, “Does anybody actually know what this duck is saying?” How do the spells know which one he’s trying to chant?
I’m probably overthinking this (surprise, surprise, The RPGenius overthinking something), but no matter how you slice it, Donald Duck is pretty weird, and weirder still as an RPG character.
10. Turnip (Chrono Cross)
Apparently wanting to one-up the weirdness of having an anthropomorphic frog knight with a Middle English accent in Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross decided to try doing the same thing again, only instead of a frog, it’s now...a turnip. Well...guess they succeeded. I mean, it’s a sword-swinging root vegetable. That’s weirder (somehow) than a frog doing the same thing. Add to that the fact that Turnip is essentially just a random NPC’s dream made flesh (well, whatever a turnip’s made of), and that he questions the nature of personal existence as a result,** and, well, you have a pretty bizarre individual.
9. Minsc (Baldur’s Gate 1 + 2)
What list of weirdos would be complete without Minsc, really? Legendary among PC gamers of old, he’s a perpetually enthusiastic nutjob who thinks his pet hamster is a divine space rodent that talks to him and tells him what to do.
You don’t have to crazy to get on this list, but apparently it helps.
8. Joachim (Shadow Hearts 2)
Joachim is cut from much the same cloth as Minsc, really, as is Flay from Mana Khemia, another weirdo who only just managed to miss being on this list. He’s a muscle-bound vampire who dresses up as a butterfly-themed super hero and arms himself with random large, blunt objects he encounters on his travels, ones which he feels have secretly noble souls--things like public mailboxes, desks, lumber, large frozen tunas, and small buildings filled with miniature people who are angry about their deadlines.
I swear I’m not making this shit up.
7. Domingo (Shining Force 1)
6. Jean (Breath of Fire 2)
Jean’s not all that weird on the surface--sure, he’s an anthropomorphic frog, but c’mon, you’re like twice as likely to see one of those in an RPG than you are to see a human being with dark skin. What makes Jean such a weirdo is his carefree, yet sometimes kind of listless, personality. It’s hard to describe, and the specific examples seem less weird to say aloud than they are to witness in game. He’s like...you ever watch Azumanga Daioh? You know Osaka from that anime? As Osaka is to a school girl, Jean is to a French-ish wandering prince. The guy is just not all there, in an extremely eccentric way.
5. Quina (Final Fantasy 9)
Quina’s one of those perfect examples of weirdness, an individual who acts about as bizarre as they look. Quina’s weapons are cooking utensils, its greatest joy in life is chasing and devouring swamp frogs raw, and...well, just look at the damn thing. And Quina’s odd nature just seems that much more weird in the game’s context--FF9 is a fairly serious and very thoughtful story, whose cast is otherwise made up of deep, multifaceted characters. Where did this freak even come from?
4. Lily (Fallout: New Vegas)
Why the hell would I ever need to do drugs? I have a game where I can travel around with a kindly super mutant grandmother armed with a broken helicopter blade and a seriously violent case of schizophrenia.
3. Gubibi (The Magic of Scheherazade)
Yeah, so, Gubibi is a living, talking glass bottle with arms, legs, and one eye, who is a wizard of some renown. I don’t feel I need to explain any further than that, really.***
2. Mao (Shadow Hearts 3)
While the Shadow Hearts games have a lot of tongue-in-cheek aspects, and introduce a lot of unusual things into their world, they generally try to stay reasonably grounded in the real world’s early 20th century. The quasi-attempt at a setting that mimics reality is part of why a giant talking alcoholic cat who knows kung-fu and has aspirations of being a movie star in a secret film culture solely involving cat actors seems so strange. The other part of why it seems so strange is did you not just read the previous sentence?
1. Democratus (Anachronox)
You thought it was weird to have a living dungeon in your party? Try being followed around by a planet. Yes, the Anachronox party member Democratus is an entire planet, shrunk down to personal size, its usually disorganized and argumentative leaders cheerfully ready to risk the billions of people living on its surface and its orbital rings for the sake of a grand adventure, and a chance for it to be its own ambassador. Let’s face it: it just doesn’t get weirder than that.
Honorable Mention: Former Enemies (General RPGs)
I know there’s almost always a good plot reason for why a party of heroes will take a former enemy into their midst, but that doesn’t make it any less weird, when you think about it, that these people are basically welcoming into their greatest confidence a person who until recently was attempting to kill them. It’s even quite often done casually. Again, there’s usually a believable and occasionally even rational explanation for this occurrence, but I still maintain that it’s pretty odd.
* Muppy (the one I just showed you) did almost make it, though. In the end, what really kept him off the list is that as odd as he is, you do kind of expect an alien to be somewhat different. Yeah, even by that consideration, Muppy’s a freak show, and the majority of his strangeness comes from his personality anyway, but it does still knock him just a little too low to make it here. Close, though.
** It must be a very sad feeling for a writer to realize that your fucking talking turnip’s got more character depth in his paltry 5 lines of half-assed dialogue than your entire main cast.
*** Fun little fact of further weirdness: Gubibi is not the only talking, arm-and-leg-possessing bottle who can be recruited in an RPG. Among the large list of generic individuals who can be recruited in Phantom Brave are the Bottle Mails. They, however, are generic, so they don’t qualify for the list like Gubibi does. But, man, what does it say for a genre where having a living milk container be your world-saving comrade happens twice?