The hero, the villain. Every video game needs these two elements to work properly. You, the protagonist, are fending off the goals of the antagonist. These goals can range from world domination (typical) to simply filling your screen with blocks (also typical). Without a hero against which the villain can struggle there is no competition, and, thus, no game.
And then, every so often, there is the jerk.
Jerks can be heroes and they can be villains. More often they are side characters, both protagonists and antagonists, who somehow propel the plot forward. Regardless of their function, jerks perform their role with an eye towards irritating everyone around them. Maybe they're constantly sarcastic; maybe they do one thing in particular that's annoying; maybe, just maybe, they hate the world, and they want the rest of society to feel the sting of their ire.
They exist in video games. Here, now, below, are the ten biggest jerks that I have ever met while playing video games. I hate these people so much.
The Rival, aka Gary Oak - Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow
Call him Blue, call him Green, call him whatever you like, but if you watched the Pokémon cartoon show you almost certainly named your rival Gary. He looks like Gary, he talks like Gary, he gets some of the same pokémon as Gary. He's Gary-freakin'-Oak.
But he's more than Gary. Your rival is a big jerk. He's not evil - not once is he shown helping Team Rocket - but he's not nice, either. He springs out of nowhere at the most inconvenient times, launching his pokémon at you with a sneer and a predictably childish taunt. Then, after you've whupped him AGAIN, he acts as though he won and takes off! Even his theme music sounds smarmy! He's domineering, selfish, petty and, frankly, the best rival in the Pokémon series to date. Why?
Because he's such a jerk. And he never learns to be anything but a jerk.
Special mention goes to the rival of Pokémon Gold and Silver. He is also a jerk. Indeed, some might say he's more of a jerk than the original rival. I would disagree, however, because the latter rival learns his lesson partway through the game. The evil Gary clone cannot say the same.
Link - The Legend of Zelda
"Hi, there. I'm Link. Saviour of Hyrule. I'm coming in your house, now... oh, look at that, a treasure chest! Thanks, I needed that Bottle. You didn't need it anymore, right? Hum dee dum... ah, jars? Better smash those, you never know when they'll have... let's see... ah! Yes, see, right there, among the fragments of your beloved pottery. Rupees. Trying to hold out on me, eh? I'm on to ya! Oh... wait... is that clucking? Is that a chicken in your yard? Excuse me a moment, I have to go wallop it with my sword. Won't be but a moment."
Yep. Link is a big jerk.
These criticisms apply to any hero in an adventure-RPG. More loot has been stolen from the houses of NPCs than valuables from real-world homes. RPG heroes are the biggest criminals of all. But none of them manage to fully exploit the contents of a house like Link, because not only does he steal everything he can, he
- Destroys the décor
- Manhandles the artwork
- Attacks the pets
- And blows holes in the walls with his bombs.
He'll never apologize for it, either, because he never says a word. Jerk.
Baby Mario - Yoshi's Island
oh my god stop crying
If you're an expert player, you'll love Yoshi's Island. It has a nice, simple story, engrossing game play, excellent level design, inventive bosses and stylish graphics. More games need to be like Yoshi's Island - and you'll agree, as an expert gamer. Because you won't get hit.
But if you're not an expert, like the rest of us mere mortals, you will get hit. And then Baby Mario will float off your back in a giant bubble.
oh my god stop crying
There are few sounds more obnoxious in all of existence than the bawling of Baby Mario. He demands your immediate attention, now, now, COME GET ME NOW, and if you fail to comply he'll shatter your eardrums for long, painful seconds until the stupid Toadies usher him off to Kamek. By then you won't even care. Go, stupid baby, go. Let the dumb sorcerer deal with your raging vocal cords, you infantile jerk.
Edgar Ross - Red Dead Redemption
John Marston is the nicest man on the planet. Yes, he's a little rough around the edges. Yes, he has a troubled family life. Yes, he used to be a member of a gang of cutthroat outlaws who would just as soon blow your head off as they would give you the time of day. And, yes, John is still pretty handy with a gun, and uses it often to blow people off this mortal coil. His kill count is astronomical. He's still the nicest man on the planet, and as his story spins to an unfortunate close you feel profoundly sad for this guy who's put his life back on track - and then lost it all.
And who's to blame? Edgar Ross. The total jerkwad of Red Dead Redemption.
An agent of the American government, Edgar Ross is manipulative, cruel, vindictive, smarmy and sinister. He has not a single word of praise for John; he simply uses the poor cowboy for his own ends. Whenever Ross shows up, you want to bash his brains in for being such a jerk. Doesn't matter if he is on your side for much of the story, he's the enemy.
Does he get his comupence? Mercifully, yes. But John isn't there to serve it to him. And that fact, in and of itself, is a bit of a tragedy. Stupid Agent Ross. More like Agent Jerk Face.
Falco Lombardi - Star Fox
"Gee, I've been saved by Fox! How swell."
Let me get this straight, Falco.
You needed saving.
There was an enemy on your tail. You could not handle it yourself. You, ace pilot, were about to die.
I saved you.
And you criticize me for it?
Falco is the worst ally ever. Sure, he gets into trouble less often than Slippy or Peppy, and he lacks the frog's effeminate irritation factor, but those two at least thank you for saving their butts. Falco goes out of his way to belittle you when you do the same for him, offering up some of the most sarcastic lines every heard in a Nintendo franchise.
I seldom save Falco anymore. He's earned himself a wrecked Arwing. Stupid jerk.
Commander Shepard - Mass Effect
Perhaps you play Mass Effect straight. You are the good guy. You stand firm against adversity, you're kind to the little people, you are well-respected and admired by your crew. The Reapers are the bad guy, and your Shepard is just the person to bring them down. Time to save the galaxy, folks.
All that's well and good - if you play the Paragon Shepard. But what if you play the Renegade Shepard instead? You become a massive jerk.
Yes, your goal is still to stop the Reapers and save humanity. But notice that key word in there: 'humanity'. Renegade Shepard is a racist prig, a domination-oriented hothead who will kill, steal, lie and slug his way through every situation. Even his (or her - FemShep can be an amazing jerk) crew is not spared constant tongue-lashings.
Also? Renegade Shepard hates reporters.
Granted, this is true of any BioWare protagonist, even the specific ones. Darkside Jedi in The Old Republic are big jerks, and so are the Grey Warden and Hawke in the Dragon Age games. But Shepard carries over into more games than any of 'em, and by the third title his or her jerkiness is near-legendary.
Reaver - Fable II and III
There are a lot of jerks in the Fable games. Your own brother in the third game is a terrible jerk, and he would probably take the top spot if it weren't for precious Reaver. Reaver the pirate, Reaver the gunman, Reaver the selfish, egotistical, vainglorious prig.
Reaver is immortal. In order to extend his immortality, he must sacrifice others - and he does it in the most underhanded way possible, sending you off to die without even a hint of what's going to happen. He gets even worse in the third game of the series, turning into a Dickensian factory master whose every suggestion for saving money is bad for the populace. Save an orphanage? No, no, let's turn it into a brothel instead! Capital idea, Reaver, capital.
Reaver's a jerk. This is undeniable. Unfortunately, he's also pretty awesome. The whimsical tones of Stephen Fry turn this insufferable bastard into an insufferable bastard who's more amusing than the rest of the cast - in both of the games in which he appears. Go figure.
But he's still a jerk.
The Dog - Duck Hunt
If you played Duck Hunt, the dog laughed at you. That's all there is to it. He laughed at you, because no matter how good you were, you occasionally missed your quota of ducks. Even if it was purely the gun's fault (not uncommon), you still had to endure the laugh.
The laugh was fiendish. Insidious. Horrifying. Nothing more than a short, digitized sound clip, but amply maddening to drive anyone insane. Aren't you the master? The guy with the shotgun? Should this stupid dog really be snickering at you?
Dog. You are the pet. The faithful hound. The loyal companion when the world falls apart and hell rises. STOP LAUGHING AT ME, YOU JERK. NO DUCK FOR YOU.
Ben - The Walking Dead
Ben is the jerk you hate to hate because he's not trying to be a jerk. In fact, he's trying to do the right thing throughout all of his appearances. He's trying to save his friend, he's trying to help the group, he's trying to rescue Clementine from the crazy weirdo with the walkie talkie. Always is Ben trying to help.
And always is Ben failing.
Ben is a big, wasted failure, from the second episode to his untimely departure. Every time he does something, he screws it up. Goes on guard duty? Screws it up. Left to watch the little girl? Screws it up. Trying to get his long-dead buddy back? Screws it up. Trying to cross a narrow gap between buildings? Screws it up. Let's not even get started on the big reason to hate Ben, which is a spoiler to those who haven't played The Walking Dead and so obvious to those who have that it doesn't need to be mentioned.
And yes, all this may not make Ben a jerk by the classic standard. Yet he is still a jerk. Why? Because he keeps trying and failing. The ponce doesn't know when to step back and let someone more competent take his place. Worse, he makes the audience feel bad for disliking him, because he always has his poor-little-me routine ready when he does something wrong. You jerk.
Pokey - EarthBound and Mother 3
Throughout EarthBound, you're confronted with a single name that encapsulates all that's wrong with the world: Giygas. Giygas is the alien invader, Giygas is ruining the planet, Giygas will destroy everything if he's not stopped. Everything that goes belly-up is heaped in Giygas' lap.
Yet Giygas isn't a jerk. Indeed, Giygas isn't really the face of the bad guys in EarthBound. No, that painful position goes to Ness' irritating neighbour, Pokey.
Pokey's a doughty little stain on the face of Onett. He's cowardly, conniving, shifty and useless. He's the Eddie Haskel of EarthBound, pleasant to authority figures but a pest to his fellow kids. In battle he even makes a point of hiding behind Ness rather than attacking - and eventually he becomes the attacker, joining Giygas' forces and directing brainwashed troops and alien invaders from a ritzy building in Fourside. Much of your journey towards Giygas is spent on Pokey's trail, and he mocks you with that fact every time you see him.
And then he flees. He doesn't see justice. At the end of the game, Pokey gets away scot-free. His power base is gone, true, but the smug little jerk lives to see another day.
That 'other day' turns out to be Mother 3, where, after several chapters of dwelling in darkness, Pokey is revealed to be the head honcho of the Pig Army. He's responsible for the chimeras plaguing the land, the gradual urbanization of pleasant little Tazmily Village, the awakening of the dragon that sleeps beneath the island, and, worst of all, the brainwashing of Lucas' brother Claus.
But you can't hate him. He's not an absolute villain. Not totally. There are hints of the boy who once was, a boy twisted by time travel and a lack of maturity, who wants to live a normal life. These slight hints bring Pokey down from his pedestal as a truly malevolent villain -
- and turn him into one of the biggest jerks of all. Because, at the end of the day and in his own warped and twisted way, Pokey manages to get away yet again. You never really get to deal justice unto him. Stupid Absolutely Safe Capsule.
... maybe Dr. Andonuts is the true jerk here?