They come in peace – But other times they come to turn your land into pieces, or just evaporated all together. Aliens are a tricky subject to get right; Do you make them into an evil species whose sole purpose is to cause carnage and mayhem? Or perhaps you turn them into a long forgotten race who is looking for their way in the cruel, dark universe. Whatever you like to think of when you think of an alien, there’s no doubt there’s many of them in pop culture.
A world gone awry, a land desecrated. People and creatures sparse and cultures completely gone to waste, this is a list of those worlds that we remember. Not just words: But these are Dystopian Worlds. It doesn’t matter how the world around them is falling apart. It could have been ravaged by rambunctious aliens, or it could have been war gone wrong. Perhaps nukes have gone off and all that’s left are wastelands, or perhaps they live in a bleak future, where people depend on substance to survive. All we know is that the lands we’ve chosen today are our Top 10 Dystopian Worlds.
These vicious villains typically rule over their people through fear, oppression, cruelty and downright nastiness. They’re menacing, they’re daunting and imposing people in their own way – Sometimes through reputation, but often through physical violence or threats that even the most prestigious of world leaders wouldn’t be able to get away with. Cruelty is the name of the game in this weeks’ Top 10 Tyrants.
We took a little bit of liberty with the meaning behind a tyrant for this list. We took it to mean someone who rules over something; so it doesn’t have to be a definitive leader of a race, or over a land – They could rule over their peons in sweatshops, or over those who are their minor.
Hiding one’s face from either a brutal deformity, or possessing some amazing powers and contain whole entities, such as demons and gods. But don’t let that put you off donning a mask, whether it was this past Monday on Halloween, or if you just want to cosplay as a character with a mask, we’ve got just the list for you.
So come and join us as we celebrate those who would shroud their faces, as we don’t need to see their full features to appreciate who they are. This is our Top 10 Masks list and you’d better believe these guys have nothing to hide.
10) Roadhog – Overwatch
Starting lightly, Roadhog is a character from Blizzards universally acclaimed team shooter title. Although Roadhog can be described as anything but light, there isn’t too much to say about this individual. Massive health, massive size and a very smart theme to the destructive brute, this piggy certainly will be hooking you and blowing your head off with his shotgun.
He can’t score much higher due to the fact he’s just one character from a very diverse range of characters. In a game where a hulking brute is second fiddle to a scout-like character who sparked controversy due to the way she stood, Roadhog is a giant amongst mortals. But, even with his incredible size, it’s not enough to topple the rest of the list. Still, we love his snout-esque gas mask!
9) Aku Aku – Crash Bandicoot
A powerful mask which comes to the aid of Crash and Coco in their times of need, Aku Aku is a sort of guardian spirit in mask form. When the two bandicoots are in trouble and in dire need of a friend, Aku Aku is there, floating around them to take the damage for them. He’s selfless and he’s brave; he’s smart and he’s wise – this mask is exactly who you’d like to find floating around next to you.
Whether it’s his massive wooden eyebrows, or whether it’s his calming voice, you can bet that Aku Aku will find a way to help you succeed. Collect three of him and you’ll be slicing through the enemies like you’re a knife through butter. After the third Aku Aku power-up is obtained, you become invincible for a limited amount of time, instantly killing all enemies. However, that doesn’t stop you dying to falling from great heights…
8) Jacket – Hotline Miami
Critical acclaim aside, Hotline Miami was kind of a big deal in the world of indie games. Playing through this gritty title as Jacket, whenever you start a level with him, you typically have to choose a mask for him to roam around in. Of course for fans of the franchise, the most iconic mask is Richard the Rooster, which brings no benefit to the player, but it’s a damn rooster mask and seeing that before you get shot up is pretty much terrifying.
Hotline Miami took the world by storm and people have even come to our meetups wearing a Rooster mask ala Hotline Miami. So as Jacket receives instructions to go and take down the shady underworld of Miami in the 1980s, he must take with him a mask. The one I recognise the most is the pig mask, which is featured prominently on most of the artwork of the game. It’s brutal, it’s bloody and it’s downright fun sending criminals to their graves! Oh justice…
7) Masked Man – Mother 3
Spoilers in the video
Fans of Earthbound and the Mother franchise rejoice, I could not forget about the highly important scenes of the Masked Man from Mother 3. If you’ve never played Mother 3 because you cannot read Japanese, I can basically explain what happens but this is a very spoilery part. If you intend to play this game and don’t want to know what happens, your spoiler warning is incoming… 3, 2, 1…
So in Mother 3, you play as Lucas. After you seemingly lost your brother due to a freak accident, your father Flint goes on an emotional rampage. Lucas, alone and afraid, sets out in the scary world, often encountering this horrible person, known only as the Masked Man. He was incredibly strong and seemingly quite young too, able to take out your whole party single handedly. Your life is only spared by your Franklin Badge, which deflects all lightning damage to the caster. Learning of this item, the Masked Man flees time and time again.
But then, during the climax of the game, something happens. The Masked Man remembers who he was… No, who he is. He was Claus, your long lost brother. He slowly remembers in the middle of a fight with Lucas. It’s then that he finally feels as if all the weight of the world has been lifted from him. He realises the terrible crimes he’s committed in the name of a false idol… And he takes off his mask. Revealing himself as your brother, he smiles and finally casts his one last lightning attack.
Claus took mortal damage.
There, that wasn’t so hard was it..? Who’s cutting onions in here?
6) Vega – Street Fighter
Or Balrog, depending on what language you play in, Vega is a Spanish narcissist whose mask is as iconic as the claw blades he wields in combat. Fighting for beauty alone, the mask serves to protect his face from hideously disfiguring wounds or worse, blood splatter from his victims temporarily marring his glory. He has a loathing of the ugly, and goes to rather unpleasant extremes of violence and aggression when attacking anyone that does not meet his high standards.
It’s fairly understandable of course, after seeing his mother killed by an ugly man and fixating upon that as a symbol of evil, and beauty as emblematic of heroism and bravery. The only alteration he has made to his own appearance are tattoos that mark him as a villain, iconic of his gang ties and associations with M. Bison’s super-mafia, Shadaloo. His face however is to remain unblemished… although I’d be seriously intrigued to see what happens if he ever gets scarred.
I’m going to take a few moments to try and compose myself, I shamelessly preordered the second game so I can play it a day early and I’m not ashamed of that fact. To the point though:
Dishonored delivered a stealth gaming that the most recent Thief title simply couldn’t, and while the mask is not what won it a BAFTA or earned it a sequel (starring Stephen Russell of the original Thief Trilogy as Corvo Attano) it shapes that game in a rather iconic way. The skull like vision came to the visionary Piero Joplin in a dream – no doubt visited upon him by the enigmatic Outsider – in which he claims death himself stared back at him.
Aside from becoming an icon of fear amongst the Dunwall aristocracy, Corvo’s mask serves to protect his face, his identity, contains a handy zoom function, and also represents a little of himself too, a fractured personality who bears the spectre of death, and the decision whether or not to bring that spectre down upon the heads of those who made him appear to be a murderer.
4) Guy Fawkes/V
Seasonal, I know, but the nature of Guy Fawkes has rather changed over the years as general mistrust in politics grows, and rebellion struggles against the comfortable chains of cushioned lifestyles. In the comic V for Vendetta we are introduced to a man who adopts the face of that famous failed terrorist who was caught before managing to blow up parliament. He has taken on the personal mission to finish what his adopted likeness began.
Hugo Weaving superbly delivered the character to us in the 2005 film, and it’s no small feat to perform behind a fixed smile. Yet we are given rage, passion, calculation, sorrow, and joy, all concealed so cunningly behind that vicarious visage, and delivered through subtleties of movement, measured words and timed silences. Little wonder that the face replaced the green morph suit that had once represented the more anarchic divisions of the Anonymous anti-establishment movement.
3) Jason Voorhees
The truest masked murderer of all, Jason Voorhees is one of the world’s most iconic characters in any medium. A true slasher icon, a horrific and terrifying presence and all in all, an amazingly memorable design. The hockey mask came to represent the fear that he brought, rather than the sport the mask was designed for. Of course, he’s not the only masked murderer around. The concept of a masked killer however is a rather hard one to judge.
Whether you’re a fan of Friday 13th and feel Jason is well placed, or if you think Leatherface or Halloween’s “The Shape” are a better candidate (I.E Michael Myers), there’s no doubt that the masked murderer trope is huge. But who do YOU feel is the best masked murderer of them all? Here’s a tiny sample and you guys can shape what this part should look like:
We’ll check back to see how many votes each one got by Monday and we’ll see who you all deemed to be the best masked murderer of them all!
2) Majora’s Mask
What can we say, other than the fact that this mask is not only titular to the whole game, but it was featured in one of the most important RPGs ever to be released? You take up the helm of Link once more, going about your heroic deeds to go and save Hyrule… But oh my, you’ve been met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?
Majora’s Mask features many different masks, from the amazing Deku Scrub, through to the Majora’s Mask itself. The looming creepy moon, the feeling of impending doom you feel as you play this game is simply staggering… And it’s made even worse as you’re presented with various scenes where Skull Kid is wreaking his havoc upon the land. This was one of those games that shook the very foundations of what video games could be… And it got a very fitting re-birth in terms of its 3DS remake.
1) The Mask
Jim Carrey I would label as an acquired taste. He has his style and it is the over-the-top goofy exaggeration of everything that one might call over acting if he weren’t so very good at it. It may seem odd to some that he’d be chosen to play a man possessed by a mass murdering green mask known simply as Big Head. Oh yes, the original Dark Horse comics painted Stanley Ipkiss a very different shade of green, lots more blood, gore and violence than you’d want from the family friendly version we got to see.
There’s surprisingly little overlap between the two, Stanley Ipkiss finds a mask that possesses him, gives him incredible power that helps him secure the woman he loves, take down some mobsters and generally be a glorious anti-hero. The character was originally a cross between The Joker and Jekyll and Hyde, and would never have samba’d his way free of an army of cops.
There’s a whole world of trivia to delve into with these two, from the differing origin stories, to the spin-off where DC’s Joker gets to don the Mask. But if you loved the film as a kid like we did then get your hands on some comics, because things get a whole lot weirder.
Of course masks are a rather hard concept to get your head around, (or indeed into). Where does the definition of a mask end and a helmet begin? It’s hard to say, but what we know is none of our list are considered to be wearing a helmet. Perhaps a helmet needs to be a hard construct which covers the entire head? Either way, in definition of the worlds they’re from, these characters are all masked or are masks. Nevertheless, here’s some more masked goodness for you!
Kanohi – Bionicle
Following a short burst of “edgy” toys directed at older kids within the Technik range, Lego struck collectible gold with the masked warriors, the Bionicle. The Toa were powerful heroes washed up on the isle of Mata Nui, gathered their masks of power and set about saving a world they barely knew. Each mask gave them a unique strength,ability, and a certain distinctive style too. And they weren’t alone either, generations of Toa followed over the years (and are still being released today) all with their own mask collections.
Mask powers vary, from simple strength, and speed, all the way to manipulation of space, time, the very minds around you. The Bionicle range came under some controversy for using the names of Maori gods and similar use of their language, Kanohi itself is the Maori word for face, but the series endured, and now we see a leviathan range that only now seems to show signs of stopping.
Did you ever wonder exactly how easy it would be to make people think you’re someone else? I know everyone makes a huge thing out of Superman’s alter ego basically being him in glasses, but he puts on a tremendous act for Clark Kent, let’s not forget those heroes who cut holes in a sleep mask and thought they’d be safe from ever being identified. Who is that recognisable by their cheekbones and eyebrows that a tiny bit of black felt is going to function as a disguise.
Robin/Nightwing, Green Lantern, The Phantom, Mockingbird, Black Cat, Black Canary, I mean really guys, come on, I know everyone rips on Clark for adjusting his quiff and ditching the tie in a phone booth, but really are you doing any better? Kudos if you get the ones that also turn your eyes into shiny white orbs, not sure how you’re doing that, but honestly, half a job can sometimes be worse than doing no job at all.
And, y’know, thanks for saving the world a bunch of times I guess.
That’s it, I’ve covered myself long enough and now I’m about ready to reveal my true identity. I’d not turn a blind eye to what you, our beloved readers, have to say on the matter. Whether you think some of these don’t fully constitute as masks, or if you think that we’ve not unmasked enough of these characters for you to decide, that’s all down to you to let us know… But before you do, could you spare a moment and vote for one of these three for next weeks’ Top 10?
Now that I’ve finally revealed myself to all of you, it’s up to you to take a good look. Sure, these heroes and villains may be a bunch of misfits to you and me, but they’re ultimately the best chance we have. What do you think of our list this week? Do you think we’ve forgotten some rather important masked characters and have to tell us? Do you think we ordered some of these the wrong way around? Did you seriously not think of “The Mask” when you thought of “Top 10 Masks”? Let us know what you thought in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. As usual, keep your suggestions pouring in!
Netflix drops another Marvel title, another one from the “lesser known” stack but one we’ve been waiting for now for a long time, ever since word first began about their Defenders series. Luke Cage makes his second appearance in the series following a rather heavy-handed cameo in Jessica Jones, and it looks like Mike Colter is settling in for a long run as the man with impervious skin. It’s every bit as noir and pulp-fiction-y as the Defenders have been so far, much dirtier and hardcore than the films, proving once again that the superhero genre isn’t just for kids.
I’ll not stand on ceremony here, let’s just launch straight into this. (more…)
Content Warning: For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Killing Joke is one of the grimmest Batman stories ever put to paper, and deals with some hard hitting issues. I will be discussing them. And also spoiling substantial chunks, but this is now an eighteen year old comic… so…
Though DC’s live action films might be fighting a war on two fronts, I’ve grown rather addicted to their recent efforts in animation. Flashpoint Crisis, Gods and Monsters, Assault on Arkham, and a few others that have piqued my interest. It’s been well worth a watch, delving into some of the more complex sides of the DC universe, seeing how they run off their own internal logic, and seeing the interplay of the world’s mightiest heroes. I’d have to say that the Justice League’s inter-personal dynamic is stronger by far than the personalities of any of the individuals, maybe even better than that of the Avengers. (more…)
Oops, we’re running out of puns… Quick, find something nearby and fire it off at our readers. Um, umm… Baloney Fudge and Mustard! There, now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time for us to look forward to this weeks’ list, as chosen by you, our dear Top 10 readers. Right now, both Joel and Timlah are at AmeCon, enjoying the convention – But we couldn’t forget to do our Top 10 for this week now could we?
You demanded it, so you’ve got it, this is our Top 10 Improvised Weapons list, but let’s get some ground rules going here. If it’s just there and it happens to be usable, then sure, it’s an improvised weapon. Also, if it’s something that people just wouldn’t generally use, then it’s also an improvised weapon. The room for scope on this one is massive, so read on for our list!
10) Shoe – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
“That really hurt! Who throws a shoe, honestly?”
Who said that everything was groovy to Austin Powers? The international man of mystery (though it’s dubious as to how he even got that title) is known to be susceptible to the occasional hit. It doesn’t matter that he’s a spy, he’s certainly not the best out there, even though Basil would probably try to get you to believe otherwise. Occasionally thought, Austin has been known to get hit by flying projectiles.
Such as shoes! In this scene in the first Austin Powers film, an assassin comes in and instead of throwing a knife into his throat, or poisoning Austin or anything logical, he throws his shoe at Austins head. This obviously hurts, so Austin shows his frustration by telling the assassin that it really hurt… And he’s right! Who would throw a shoe, honestly?!
9) Paint Cans – Home Alone
Of all of the many clever traps we could have picked, this one’s a favourite of Kevin McAllister’s when defending stairs. Tie off paint cans so that they swing and collide with the intruder firmly in the face, sending them flying backwards and severely wounding in the process. He liked it so much that he brought it back for the second film with a major upgrade, but I’d like to raise a few issues here.
The Wet/Sticky Bandits are drastically different heights. How’d he hit them square in the face the first time? They’d have to be on the right side of the stairs, and he’d have to have judged the height perfectly during prep work, along with all of the other crazy stuff he puts together. The pipe from Home Alone 2 was inspired, as it sweeps the whole staircase, hits them simultaneously and when they least expect it, but the cans were perversely well placed, and not to mention genuinely lethal!
Thank slapstick rules those guys lived, otherwise Home Alone 2 would have been a very different film. One without paint cans.
8) Milk From A Cow – Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Okay, this isn’t a list of Top 10 Cows, that’s already happened hasn’t it? But this is a list of Top 10 Improvised weapons and to be honest, if you’re a kung-fu cow, you have very little in the way of weaponry. You have your hoofs and you have your body weight, which is significantly more than a human, but there’s very little else in your favour when you’re going one on one with a martial arts master.
Except, cows are female and therefore produces milk. In a scene that evokes the purest of reactions including “What am I watching?”, a cow attacks our protagonist by doing a cartwheel of sorts mid-air, whilst firing off stream of milk that it milks out of itself then and there. Aha, I guess the old adage of “Use what you’re given” rang a bit too true to this bovine. Moo-ving on, then.
7) Spoon – Mewtwo
Now, it’s arguable that this isn’t improvised at all, but instead is actually one of Mewtwos weapons. Yes, you’re reading this right, Mewtwo has a spoon in some adaptations of the character. Often seen in the manga with his spoon, Mewtwo is no better than an Alakazam, because y’know, spoons are the most obvious form of intelligent life, right? Whatever, why has this made our list?
Basically, the spoon isn’t really a spoon, but rather something that Mewtwo conjured. This means that Mewtwo had to think of something to produce as his weapon… So why would he choose a spoon? Perhaps it’s simply to mimic Alakazam, perhaps it was Pokemons way of saying “He’s a psychic type!”, but if you ask me, I just think that Mewtwo had a lovely bowl of soup once and wanted to use the spoon he ate it with… But also to make said spoon a lot bigger.
6) Wet Fish – Lots of things
The wet fish is a staple in comedy now. From the Holy Mackerel as we covered in our Top 10 Fish list a few weeks back, to just a wet tuna being slapped in someone’s face, the wet fish is a running gag which can also sometimes be taken to extremes, by making them into incredibly vicious weapons. You can be sure that if you get hit by a wet fish, you’re going to be extremely embarrassed.
I’m not sure where slapping someone with a wet fish first came from, but you can be sure that it’s been thrown around for ages. I’m sure that someone out there will know where this first came from, so if you know, leave us a comment below with your knowledge on slapping people with a wet fish… But hey, at least it accompanies the Scout’s favourite energy drink: Bonk!
5) Chair – Everything
Whilst lacking in originality, the chair is rather a classic, being something easy to lift, suitably heavy, and readily available in most fight situations like bar-brawls, stadium riots and cage fights. As bottles fly faster than harsh language, and people are being politely shown the exit head first, you can guarantee that somewhere in the midst of the carnage will be a chair, quite literally on its last legs.
When it comes to the matter of offering someone a seat, this method may be seen as a little over the top, but when they’re agitated and causing a fuss the best thing to do is get them a chair and make them calm down. Apply to the affected area, and repeat as necessary.
4) Microwave – Gremlins
This was inspired. One of the most fearful monsters in horror-comedy history is small enough to be shoved in a microwave and cooked until paste. For the monstrous spawn of Gizmo the kitchen is a source of food, mischief, and dangerous weapons, ones that they can use, and ones that can be used against them.
Though they are surprisingly strong, agile and deadly for their size, you can easily take a few gremlins down with a steak knife, a blender and flash photography, but one afternoon in a bathtub and they can regroup in terrifying numbers. Still, if you’re in a pinch, a powerful dose of radiation can really take care of things. Interestingly, the gremlin in question was nicknamed Grumpy, and was one of the first of Gizmo’s brood alongside Stripe, unlike Stripe, he does not reappear in the sequel.
3) Insults – Monkey Island
Insult Sword Fighting is a staple of the Monkey Island series, which took on many incarnations, including a rather weird turn for Insult Arm Wrestling too. As such, it’s obvious to me that the real weapon in these fights were not the physical activity, but clearly the wit to defeat your opponents in an insult-off. With quips such as “En garde, touche!” “Oh that is so cliche” and “You’re as repulsive as a monkey in a negligee!” “I look that much like your fiancee?”, you can bet that the insults are sharp!
But the curious part about this is the limited knowledge that Guybrush Threepwood possesses (he’s a mighty pirate, you know?) When he starts out, especially in The Curse of Monkey Island, he basically knows nothing about insults. He has to try to make do, but be humbled in defeat and learn from his defeats to progress and to learn to be wittier. Effectively, he’s making it up as he goes along – and that’s the ultimate form of improv.
2) Willing Allies, and Unwitting Enemies
You may have heard this one referred to in less polite terms, but in short this is the practice of bludgeoning someone with another someone. Be it a projectile halfling, a legion of reanimated corpses, or swinging the guy you knocked unconscious around by the ankles until his buddies have joined him, there are many uses for friends and enemies alike.
Whether you’re a fan of the M:tG card Fling or the practice of turning people into weapons like in Soul Eater, there’s no denying that the greatest and most terrifying weapon that’s always readily available is somebody… well some body, doesn’t matter if they’re cooperative or not. Only one rule applies when wielding people as weapons, never toss a dwarf, and if you do, don’t tell anyone.
1) Health bar – Deadpool, Marvel Avengers Alliance
Oh would you look who’s back at the top of the list? It’s our favourite reoccurring character. Well it’s not our fault Deadpool does so many things better than anyone else, and amongst them is improvising in his specialist field: sarcasm! And I guess weapons.
If you’ve ever played Marvel Avengers Alliance you’ll know it to be a surprisingly good “freemium” social media game, interesting stories, interesting mechanics, a surprising amount of engaging gameplay, but after a while, if you’re not winning all of the tournaments or paying real money you’re missing some of the best elements. I am not ashamed I paid money for Deadpool.
Like the badass he is, he’s well aware he’s in a game, and plays up to it, including the absolute best move in his arsenal (if not the most powerful), ripping his health and power bar from the GUI and smashing his opponent over the head with it. Now that’s thinking outside the box.
Some weapons are just not what you’d expect, but it’s not exactly the most improvised. In these next two cases, we show you two weapons that are indeed improvised to a point, but neither of them qualify properly for the list. Still, it’s worth mentioning them as they’re both weapons that are pretty unique to their titles.
Whatever You Can Grab – Dead Rising
It was perhaps the biggest selling point for Dead Rising that weapon creation got… well, creative. Most famous of all must be the double-ended-chainsaw-paddle, but the franchise also includes lightsabers, burning gloves, a pitchfork-shotgun, toy helicopter with blades, a lawnmower helmet, a heavily armed wheelchair, burning bull-skull helmets… you know what? There are lists on the internet, just have a look around, it gets silly.
But when you’re facing down hordes of zombies and you’re options are limited then necessity really is the mother of invention. Even when your shopping malls have guns readily available they can only get you so far, and then you need to get messy. Alright, so I’m not sure how necessary it is for you to strap a bunch of sawblades into a vacuum cleaner, but when inspiration takes you, you’ve really just got to go with it.
Proton Pack – Ghostbusters
On first appearance, the Proton Pack really shouldn’t be included on a list of improvised weapons, because the Ghostbusters went out specifically with these weapons. It isn’t until you actually stop to think about the facts of the Ghostbusters do you realise that this is a very highly specialised kind of improvisation.
The Proton Pack was created based upon a few basic theories which include:
- Ghosts exist
- Ghosts could be stopped
- How ghosts work (In theory)
They put together their weapon and they put their suits on based entirely on conjecture and theories. In my eyes, this makes them amongst the ultimate improvisational characters of all time… But what do you think?
That’s it, I’m going to put down my keyboard and instead throw it between your eyes! You’ve now bared witness to the greatest improvised weapons that have ever existed – at least to us. As always, we’ll be back next week with another list that we put together last minute (Or several days in advance, since you know, writing schedules and all that jazz). In the meantime, you get to sway the vote in your favour:
We’re done for this week, so it’s time to put down that pool cue, stop mincing our words and time for us all to celebrate that it’s all over with… By throwing some farmyard animals around. What do you think of our improvised weapons list? Were they zany and outlandish enough, or do you think we could have done better than this bunch? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.
Recently, I was invited to see the office of CrownRoot Publications, who we wrote about a while back here on GeekOut. It’s been a long time since we checked up on them, so after chatting to the organiser of the company, Vincent, I went down to his office and got to understand what the company is all about. Join Timlah as we look at CrownRoot Publications and what they’re hoping to do for the UK manga scene.