Sunday, February 12, 2012

Top Ten Overshadowed Characters

You know that feeling at work when you're performing really well yet one of your peers gets the promotion? Or when you're clearly the best at football but someone else gets picked ahead of you? And how many times has the star of a movie only received Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars?!?

Well, in another example of art imitating life, it's exactly the same in gaming. Here Megabits looks at the the Top Ten Nearly Men (or Women) In Gaming - those who could have been true greats but were overshadowed by others and are now merely known as sidekicks or extras.

(mild spoilers ahead)

10) Luigi
Think of a missed opportunity for a character in gaming and perhaps the green-hatted moustacioued Italian springs immediately to mind. His first appearance in 1983's Mario Bros sums up his gaming life... he was the character always controlled by player two - and he would forever remain the deuteragonist of the series. Sure he had cameos and more prominent appearances in other games but his portly brother always got most of the adoration and attention. It's-a-me...Luigi.

9) Victor Sullivan
We catch a glimpse of a younger, fitter Sully in Uncharted 3's flashback level and get the impression that he would have been worthy to star in a game! Sure, he's available as a multiplayer character but he perhaps he rues the day that Nate stepped into the limelight and stole all his glory.

8) Otacon
Hal Emmerich was a key character in the MGS series and saves Snake's skin more than once. As a hacker, he spends most of the time behind the scenes, communicating with our protagonist via the good old Codec. He had enough history and background to carry a game on his own as the lead character - but maybe it was his repeated failure with the ladies (most of whom come into contact with him die in his arms), combined with his geeky persona that was his downfall?

7) Catwoman
She's sultry, slinky and sexy but has never made it on her own. The Halle Berry movie-inspired 2004 offering was panned by critics and has become infamous more for its idle animation than the gameplay. She made a welcome appearance in the latest Rocksteady outing but, as always, had to play second fiddle to the Dark Knight himself. She could have been a great, if it weren't for Bruce!

6) Ishi Sato
Grayson Hunt steals the limelight in the sublime killfest Bulletstorm with Ishi just acting all bitter and twisted. Mind, he was critically injured during that initial attack so he has every right to be a little pissed. Oh, and he does end up as an ugly-ass cyborg with a dislike for Hunt's escapades. Another case of "what could have been", we bet Ishi wishes it was Grayson on that operating table and he'd been the one to find fame by pulling off all those cool skillshots.

5) Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde
The Pac Man ghosts are synonymous with retro gaming; they're cult figures but they never quite made the big time as they were always in the shadow of the pizza-shaped, pill-popping Pac Man. They were real characters; the menu screen even flagged up their different attributes. But all these years on, they proved they weren't individuals, just followers. They could have been greats but Pac Man ran rings around them.

4) Brucie Kibbutz
Baldie Kibbutz had three loves in his life: women, steroids and himself - perhaps that's why he never had the time to focus on becoming more of a leading man. He appeared in both GTA IV and DLC The Ballad of Gay Tony but had no more than a bit part, playing second fiddle to Niko, Roman and countless others in Liberty City. His character was surely worthy of a standalone outing?

3) Daxter
Funny but also slightly irritating, Jak's trusty sidekick in the popular series is only playable on a few occasions and definitely plays second fiddle to the guy that turned him into the otter/weasel hybrid we all know and love. He has had the occasional moment of glory - notably his self-titled PSP game - but he could have achieved so much more.

2) Alyx Vance
AKA the woman in Half Life who keeps saving Gordon Freeman's butt. She's good with computers, handy with a gun and an all-round strong female character. Much-loved but overshadowed, what about making her a playable character and giving her centre stage in Half Life 3, eh?

1) Wheatley
UK comic Stephen Merchant's Bristolian accent and humour was perfect for playing Portal 2's slightly-deranged robot Wheatley. He initially revives Chell from her slumber and encourages her to escape by completing a few simple puzzles... His well-"rounded" (see what I did there) character would be perfect for a spin off game - if he can ever find a way of getting back from space.


We’ve had a few emails since we posted this from readers pointing out that Alyx and Wheatley had huge roles in their respective games and shouldn’t be included on this list... But beyond these games and in the grand scheme of things, I'd argue that they are overshadowed by others. Sure, they had major roles and were important characters in these titles but ultimately they still didn’t get all the kudos; they weren’t the “lead” in these games but had more of a supporting role – they’re on this list because they were great characters and deserve a game to themselves. Look at the Luigi explanation – and video - or the introduction. These guys deserved to win that Oscar for best actor… not best supporting role. They were overshadowed by Gordon Freeman and arguably, even Chell. I thought the same for Enslaved’s Pigsy… but then remembered his DLC outing!

Brucie Kibbutz loves women? You know what they say, you can't spell subtext without b-u-t-t-s-e-x.