First, I have to admit: I am nowhere near as accomplished a video gamer as Philip and way less of one than Jeff, the chaps who wrote the first two Top 5 Video Game Characters posts. (Though I may be able to beat both at Venice. And definitely at basketball.) But I do, like you, have my favorite characters. I’m gonna go ahead, in the same way they did, and leave off most of the obvious PopCap characters that I love (remember this for later: I said “most”) like Chomper and the Alien in Insaniquarium, because that might be too obvious. With that caveat, here are my top five video game characters.
Don’t be confused, or think I’m confused – I don’t mean the Kong from Donkey Kong, but the one from the very-close-to-but-not-a-copy arcade game Crazy Kong. See, in the Kwik Shop in Lindsborg, KS, in the mid-80s (yeah, I’m old, so what?) they had the Crazy, but not the Donkey. And that’s what I played and where I grew to have a strange kind of affection for the always angry and banging his feet around simian kidnapper. You might think I’d like Jumpman better, since he was my representation in the game, but nope, I liked the ape, even as he threw barrels at me. Partially this was due to Crazy Kong being slightly tighter in its gameplay, which meant that Jumpman always seemed to be letting me down. But really, a lot of it is just that I like apes. Fun fact: Crazy Kong was also called Monkey Donkey. Which is yet another reason why it’s better than Donkey Kong.
This may start to seem like I have an animal obsession, but c’mon, does anyone who was around for its heyday not love Joust? I mean, outside of bad people? You’re a knight on a flying ostrich, winging it from floating rock to floating rock while facing off against Bounder, Hunter, and Shadow Lord evil knights and wacky pterodactyls, with everything happening over a bubbling lake of lava. And when you defeat those evil knights they turn into eggs you can scoop up for points. The whole premise is genius. Genius. Why they don’t make games like this in the modern era (and I don’t mean imitations, but with the same twisted logic and imagination) is beyond me. Anyway, ever since I played the game way back when I’ve wanted a flying ostrich. And still do today.
I played a lot of Mario Kart at one time, mostly on DS and Wii and mostly with my nephews who were too young to drive and still could defeat me soundly in Kart, which is the best driving game of all time (feel free to disagree — you’re wrong). You might guess that my continual losing in this way would be frustrating, but it wasn’t, for one reason only: Toad. As far as I can tell, Toad’s a diminutive nose-less being wearing a diaper, a vest lifted from the genie in Aladdin, some really cozy brown slippers, and of course a giant red and white mushroom headpiece that’s nearly as big as his body. Toad is perhaps the smile-iest video game character ever. Toad is always smiling, and his smile is contagious like a happy strain of bubonic plague. If you play as Toad, you realize that losing isn’t a big deal, and that what really matters is smiling. And mushrooms.
If you don’t know about Dr. Stephen Strange, he’s the sorcerer supreme of our dimension (and if anyone says different, that’s because they’ve been confused by poorly written and lame recent Marvel comics). You can learn more about his origin story, which is without a doubt the finest origin story ever, on a site run by an enigmatic genial guy named Neilalien, where you’ll also find out which Dr. Strange comics you should own. But mostly, know this: Dr. Strange is cool. From his wildly colorful threads (including his famous Cloak of Levitation, which inspired my own cloak wearing), to his always-on-target mustache, to his ability to make the most magical of hand gestures, to his effervescent attitude in the face of many-armed baddies from other planes that would make you and I faint instantly, the Doc operates on a plane of daily existence most of us can’t even dream about. That’s right – our dreams can’t even reach his level. Oh, and his manservant Wong also kicks ass while wearing pajamas, and his usual ladyfriend-from-another-dimension, Clea, is hot.
Earlier, at the beginning of this post, I said I would leave off most PopCap characters. Here is where I break the rules. But it isn’t out of self-interest, instead, out of self-preservation. Cupid, the cupid from the awesomely Italian city-saving game Venice, seems all cuddly and helpful during the game. But if you look into his eyes, you’ll soon begin to understand that behind the little wings and smiles he’s a fierce, deadly, unearthly being. And I certainly didn’t want him after me. So, when he asked to be in this post, there was nothing I could do. Nothing. I mean, just look into his eyes:
Look into his eyes:
Look into his eyes!
And now play Venice – he wants you to.