Most videogames thrive on conflict, and nothing says conflict like a good old-fashioned rivalry. Where would Batman be without the Joker? Where would Dastardly and Mutley be without that pigeon? Where would nice tasting food be without hummus? In a happier place, probably, but that’s not the point.
Here, for your perusal, are ten of the best rivalries in videogames. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
Sonic vs Robotnik
It was a close call between having Robotnik as Sonic’s main rival, or the developers of his more recent games. In the end though, it’s the fond memories of Sonic’s time as a sprite, running around lush, parallax scrolling vistas and thwarting the plans of a man with the greatest moustache in videogame history that are important, not werehogs and idiots called Shadow.
Sonic and Robotnik hate each other, plain and simple. The cocky blue speedster and the maligned master of obscure science (which only seems to work if jewels are involved) were never going to be firm friends, but the fact that Sonic insists on destroying all of the bad doctor’s scientific handiwork ensures that theirs is a hatred for the ages.
Master Chief vs The Covenant
Few enmities run as deep as that between The Covenant and Master Chief. The rag tag bag of aliens hate the seven-foot saviour of humanity with a religious fervour, and quite right too. Everyone’s favourite faceless space marine has foiled The Covenant’s plans, almost single handedly, on so many occasions that it’s ridiculous.
To The Covenant, the chief is like the guy at the pub who knows all the answers to the quiz questions and isn’t on your team. Except the pub is space, and the quiz is intergalactic war. And I guess in this simile, the questions are bullets. Basically the same though.
Jack Thompson vs Videogames
Jack Thompson hates videogames, he hates them so bad that he can’t sleep, because he’s too busy hating videogames. Thompson was a lawyer who took his personal crusade against violent videogames to ridiculous levels, champing at the bit whenever another disturbed youngster went on a killing spree.
After repeated attempts to sue almost anyone and everyone who had ever even looked at a violent videogame, including a personal letter sent to Bill Gates blaming him for Counter Strike, Thompson has somewhat faded into obscurity since his disbarring by the Florida Bar. He’s still lurking though, a hilarious bogey man hiding in the shadows, waiting to jump out on any unsuspecting videogame and blame it for something.
NB. Because we don’t want Jack Thompson to sue us, we should mention that there are portions of the above text that were embellished for comedic effect. Probably didn’t work though.Brutal Deluxe vs The Entire Speedball Leagues
In a sport where the chief method of taking the ball back from the opposition is crippling them, everyone’s a rival, really. Speedball 2 is the greatest videogame representation of a potential future sport in the history of everything, and anyone who disagrees with that is obviously reading it wrong.Sliding, throwing, performing grievous bodily harm on the goalkeeper before he can reach the ball, the game had it all, and at the heart of it lay the Speedball league.
Leading Brutal Deluxe from league newcomers to hardened, steely-eyed professionals is one of the greatest experiences in gaming. There was nothing quite so satisfying as a last gasp winner, or finally turning those stars the same colour and receiving a huge bonus. Much imitated but never bettered, Speedball 2 is a classic, and so are its rivalries.
The Horde vs The Alliance
One of Blizzard’s many master strokes with WoW was effectively splitting the population of their MMO down the middle, offering the choice between two sides in an ongoing conflict. More than that though, Blizzard made their two opposing forces utterly unique, creating hugely varied content for each of the sides.
This in turn fostered a strange sort of animosity between players of different allegiances. Sure, you might have a character on each side of the divide, but when you’re playing as your Horde avatar you damn well hate The Alliance and everything they stand for, even if you’re grudgingly joining forces with them to stop a demon from destroying the world. Most MMOs since WoW have done something similar, though very few have created so effective a dichotomy between their players.Guybrush Threepwood vs LeChuck
The eternal battle between good and evil made manifest in a zombie pirate captain and a bumbling, naïve, would-be pirate with the most ridiculous game in videogames. The most interesting thing about the ongoing animosity between Threepwood and LeChuck is that it’s quite often difficult to say who’s winning. Of course, we’re always rooting for Guybrush, but his, or rather our, ineptitudes quite often result in LeChuck, or something worse, being unleashed.
Their rivalry inevitably centres on a woman, Elaine Marley, whom both man and zombie/ghost/demon love. Whereas Guybrush chooses more authentic wooing tactics, LeChuck decides that kidnapping is the order of the day, and so begins the ultimate pirate showdown.
Earth vs Invaders
Earth is always getting invaded. If real life were like videogames, then we’d spend almost all our days hiding in bunkers with guns, being taken prisoner by evil alien races or dying horribly at their hands. And if it’s not aliens, it’s some internal threat, more often than not communists, who are trying to subjugate the rest of us and make us do their bidding.
Of course, from there rises the classic underdog dynamic, with an embattled hero taking on insurmountable odds and somehow, er, mounting them. Nowhere is this displayed better than in Space Invaders, a game where you either save the world, or perish trying. Space war is hell, and involves lots of well regimented lines of enemies.
Ryu vs Sagat
The rivalry between Ryu and Sagat is a heart warming one. At first, Sagat hated Ryu, mainly because a dragon punch from the white pyjama wearing pugilist lead to the unsightly scar across the Muay Thai master’s chest.
Over time though, the hatred in Sagat’s veins slowly dulled, until finally, by the time Super Street Fighter IV rolled around, the two were friends. Granted, they’re the sort of friends who, when they meet on the street, kick the living crap out of each other, but I’m pretty sure that we all have friends like that, right?
The tale of Ryu and Sagat should be a lesson to us all – even if you severely disfigure someone with a single punch, there’s a chance that years down the line, you could become firm friends. Albeit firm friends who engage in exactly the same sort of pugilistic rampages that created the disfigurement in the first place.Controllers vs Walls
Sometimes, you have to feel sorry for the poor controller. Especially now, with the advent of wireless gaming. At least in the olden days, they had the security of a wire, a stretch of flex that protected them from being hurled too far. Now though, when the going gets tough and the irrational ire rises in the gut, there’s nothing to stop you throwing the lump of plastic that connects you to your on screen avatar as far as you possibly can.
Unfortunately, because so few of us play games outdoors, this inevitably leads to the controller meeting a wall somewhere in its flight path. This is one rivalry that is unlikely to end soon, despite Microsoft’s best efforts to tackle it by introducing controller-free gaming. If that trend continues, you can expect people to start hurling their televisions, consoles or opponents at walls pretty soon.
Mario vs Bowser
Logically speaking, the enemy of an Italian plumber would be an enormous, malevolent, spiked turtle. Either that or an unpleasant blockage in a pipe, but wads of baby wipes and filth wouldn’t make for such an interesting antagonist. Mario and Bowser have been at each other’s throats since Super Mario Bros, caught in a constant cycle of steal princess/fight/retrieve princess.
They might team up together occasionally, but their natural roles as defender and usurper of the Mushroom Kingdom guarantee that it won’t last for very long. These two will be rivals when everyone else on this list is a mere flicker of memory.
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