Videogames can be frustrating enough as it is, without having non-player characters repeating the same lines over and over again, repeatedly bumping into bits of scenery, or simply standing stock still and grinning at you with a scary fixed grin.
To this end, we’ve compiled a list of ten particularly odious and irritating characters from the history of videogames. And just to prove that they don’t even have to be human, we kick the proceedings off with a particularly unloveable mutt…
The Dog – Fable 3
Okay, this one is very personal, as most people loved their dog in Fable 3. For many, they were a loyal friend and companion who stays by your side until the bitter end, finding buried treasure and attacking enemies, asking nothing in return but an occasional bout of fetch and a cuddle.
Unfortunately, my dog was definitely the runt of the litter, seemingly allergic to treasure spots, and lacking the moral fibre to fight enemies. He was so stupid that at one point he forgot how to use his legs, and he just followed my hero around the sand dunes of Aurora as if on roller skates, which was hilarious to see, albeit totally impractical.
In co-op games, I would watch in envious wonder as my companion’s dog would constantly find dig spots and defeat enemies with a playful bark and a wag of his tail, while my retarded canine chum’s time was taken up by continually head butting a tree or chasing his seemingly irresistible tail.
Otis Washington – Dead Rising
“Don’t cut me off like that, it’s rude!” You know what’s rude, Otis? Banging on about manners when a hundred zombies are taking it in turns to bite my delicious neck.
Otis is an elderly Janitor at Willamette Parkview Mall. After the zombie outbreak, Otis helps to lock down an area for survivors in the security room. When our protagonist, photo-journalist Frank West, ventures out into the mall, helpful Otis hands him a map and a transceiver, explaining that he’ll let Frank know the whereabouts of survivors he sees through the security cameras.
Unfortunately for Frank, the sense of omnipotence brought on by seeing everything going on in the mall, while having a human puppet to command, seems to drive Otis completely insane; he buzzes on the transceiver every few minutes to fill Frank in on the numerous happenings around the mall, and gets all indignant when Frank has to cut off in the middle of his wafflings to fight off the hoards of ferocious flesh munchers.
Roman Bellic – GTA IV
As with most irritating characters, Roman starts off with good intentions. When his cousin Niko arrives in Liberty City, he gives him a job in his taxi business and a roof over his head. However, soon after your initial meeting, it becomes clear that Niko would have been better off drinking paint stripper with Liberty City’s hobo community than spending a single hour with his liability of a cousin.
Initially, Roman asks for your help with some Albanian gangsters he owes money to. After solving Roman’s debt problem in the shootiest way possible, Roman spends the rest of the game getting Niko into trouble or asking to be taken bowling, play darts, or visit the theatre. He’ll soon start hurling his toys out of the pram if you don’t drop whatever murder filled activity you’re doing to take him out on a spur-of-the-moment man-date.
Sheva Alomar – Resident Evil 5
The co-star of Resident Evil 5, Sheva Alomar is an African agent for the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, and is assigned to work alongside series favourite Chris Redfield in a mission to apprehend biological weapons dealer Ricardo Irving.
An experienced warrior and an expert with multiple weapons, Sheva is more than equipped to handle the parasite infested Majini. That’s the theory, at least. In practice, your AI partner acts like a peril-sensitive maniac covered in gravy. On the rare occasions that she isn’t being chewed by the local lunatics, Sheva requires constant help to keep breathing, and annoyingly, will steal all the ammo, or use first-aid sprays and green herbs on her various paper cuts and small grazes.
Princess Peach – Most of The Mario Games
Rumours and theories abound across the Internet about Princess Peach and her dangerous addiction to being kidnapped. One sordid but scarily plausible theory is that the Princess and Bowser are secretly in love, and they have to put up the pretence of kidnapping in order to keep all the reptile-sex away from public scrutiny.
Slash-fiction fantasies aside, my own theory is that she has some form of Münchausen syndrome, and keeps castle security low and kidnappings high as a way of getting attention from everyone’s favourite pipe fitter. Unfortunately, speculating on Peach’s psychological problems is the only thing that makes her even slightly interesting. Her huge, vacant eyes and dim expression give the impression of a character with less personality than a headless doll.
The day will soon come when Mario, tired of a life of jumping on turtles and rescuing princesses, with nothing but the vague promise of cake to keep him going, will receive the news of her latest abduction with a shrug, call Luigi with the news that he’s suddenly found himself with much more free time, and go play a round of Mario Golf.
Navi – The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Enlisted to help Link through his greatest adventure by the great Deku tree, Navi is probably the most helpful sidekick in any game ever, serving as a useful targeting system in combat, perfect for talking to characters throughout the quest, as well as providing story prompts and hints on the whereabouts of secret areas.
Unfortunately, Navi is as irritating as she is useful. Taking to her duties with dreadful fervour, she constantly bombards Link with a shrill “Hey! Listen” (one of the few instances of voice acting in the entire game), before bestowing Link with the most inane kind of advice imaginable.
Dog – Duck Hunt
This mocking mutt has been the bane of videogamers the world over since his appearance in Duck Hunt, the fondly remembered lightgun game that provided hours of fun with its simulated mallard slaughter.Using the Nintendo zapper, players attempted to shoot the doomed ducks as they flew across the screen.
Failure to do so resulted in the nameless dog sauntering into the middle of the screen and openly laughing at your ineptitude, in a manner so irritating as to cause the most even-tempered of duck hunters to hurl their plastic guns at the TV in frustration. Decades later, countless fan-made Flash games across the web allow players to live their revenge fantasies out for real, and actually shoot the dog.
Tails – Sonic 2 onwards
Miles “Tails” Prower to give him his full, idiotic name, is a fox born with the hideous deformity of possessing two tails. Ever the optimist, Tails turned his disfigurement into advantage after learning to fly by rotating his rear appendages like helicopter blades.
He then began a new career of stalking Sonic the Hedgehog by hovering two feet from the back of his head at all times. Tails should be a brilliant character. He can run as fast as Sonic, perform the same moves and he can, and he can even fly. Theoretically, he should be better than Sonic.
It’s like Robin having exactly the same abilities as Batman, but being armour plated and armed with flamethrowers. But he isn’t better. Tails just hangs around at the back like the kid who eats glue at school, and ignores any opportunity to save Sonic’s life until pre-determined moments, when he whizzes by in a plane and saves the day.
Tingle – Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Tingle. Even the name is enough to make you hate him. Link finds this green suited freakshow in towns across the length of Termina, hanging by his waist from a floating balloon – presumably to keep him away from children. After shooting him down, he helps you out by selling maps at what one would assume is a huge mark up. Obsessed with rupees, Forest Fairies, and chanting his own gibberish magic words, “Tingle, Tingle, Kooloo-Limpah!”, he is one of the creepiest characters ever to grace a Nintendo game
In the Southern swamp, you meet his father, and even he hates him. It seems even the bond of familial love isn’t enough when faced with a fully-grown man in a green, open-faced gimp suit. Inexplicably, Tingle continues to appear in small roles and easter eggs in the Legend Of Zelda series, as well as starring in some of his own terrifying titles, such as Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, and Tingle’s Balloon Fight DS. The mind boggles.
Slippy Toad – Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64 in America)
As engineer and inventor for the Star Fox crew, I’m sure Slippy is invaluable – fixing vehicles and creating new weapons is a responsible and skilful job, and I’m sure Slippy is more than capable of the task. However, as a pilot, Slippy gives me Tourette’s syndrome. He actively flies into trouble, and makes sure everyone knows about it.
“Fox! Get this guy off me” is a phrase that will be etched onto your very soul after a few levels babysitting this shrill, green laser magnet, who forces you to drop everything time and time again in order to save him from certain death.
Worse still is the fact that, seemingly unencumbered by short term memory or any life-preservation instincts whatsoever, he immediately leaps back into the fray with an arrogant cry of “You’re not getting away that easy!” before getting his ass handed to him yet again. In one of the many possible routes through the game, Slippy is knocked out of the sky by a combination of idiocy and end of level boss, and the team is forced to spend the next level trying to save the whimpering simpleton.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to leave him stranded on the desolate planet, otherwise I would have stopped playing the game there, happy in the knowledge that Slippy was starving to death on an alien world, forced to eat his own shoes.