Even amongst monarchy there is a hierarchy; some kings are more kingly than others, entire reality shows are dedicated to picking the best queen, and with so many Disney princesses how are you to choose? Be they leaders of government, warrior monarchs, whether they reign over nations, planets or worlds, all were considered.
You left us with a real tough challenge this week; You chose the Top 10 Useless Protagonists. When we really dissected the name, we realised that the term useless is pretty strong to apply to anyone. Also, to consider a protagonist useless is an even harder concept, as when you consider the purpose of a protagonist, it’s simply to get the story from A to B, via means of a character that you rally behind. Therefore, it’s got to be a main character, which automatically removes candidates such as Yamcha (Sorry, at no point has he been a main character).
Now that we’ve discussed what the protagonist element of this Top 10 is, it’s time to dissect the useless element. To be useless means you are without any use… In other words, to say a protagonist is useless is primarily a useless endeavour (at least, in most cases). With this said, useless is very similar to inept… Which is way more defined a concept. As such, we’re going for a Top 10 Useless Protagonists, but we’ll often dip into the inept. Rules for this list out of the way with, let’s get on with it!
10) Vault Hunters – Borderlands
The lowest entry to our list because, let’s face it here, Mordecai, Lillith, Roland and Brick aren’t exactly good for nothing. They help accelerate the plans of Atlas’ Commandant Steele by locating pieces of vault key, and there’s all of the sequel material in which they are pretty damn pivotal. But there’s two major points against their overall effectiveness on the story here.
1 – They show up at The Vault they’ve been hunting for just to discover Atlas already found it. The Vault opens up and the contents immediately kill the major villain who you’ve been failing to thwart all game.
2 – The whole thing was Handsome Jack’s plan! Start to finish, with Angel’s guiding hand, the Vault Hunters have been enacting the will of the biggest bad in the galaxy.
Well done folks, still feel like a hero? Good job there’s a new cast for Borderlands 2, they might actually accomplish something.
9) Guybrush Threepwood – Monkey Island
Guybrush Threepwood is well and truly a mighty pirate… Or at least, that’s what he keeps introducing himself as. See, Guybrush really is less of a mighty pirate and more of a mighty pirate fantasiser. I mean, he manages to put a ring on the finger on Elaine Marley, so he’s got something going for him, but he manages to always cause some insane blunders which means he needs to get out there and… Uh… Plunder, I guess. Guybrush really isn’t your stereotypical main character, which is why so many people loved him and still do to this day. But unlike his advasary, the ghost pirate LeChuck, he really is nothing special.
He’s a low lister on this list, as he does manage to accomplish just about whatever he sets his mind to… But Guybrush, although not truly useless, certainly falls under the category of the inept protagonist. He’s someone who basically does stuff and that’s great. It’s not really like he thinks about the grand scheme of things, or why things happen the way they do. A prime example is in LeChucks ship at the start of the game The Curse of Monkey Island. Oh sure, he manags to escape alright, but he only does so because he winds an old friend up to the point of reducing the man to tears, then blows up some skeletal pirates, breaks the cord keeping the cannon secure and boom – The cannon is fired one more time and he blows up the whole god damned ship in the process. I don’t think he really thought about his safety there, or even what the hell he was doing. Still, a success nevertheless.
8) The Kid – Little Inferno
It’s so very cold outside, so stay sat in front of your very own fireplace and burn your useless old belongings to keep warm. And so you do, as a young boy with his brand new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace by Tomorrow Corp you sit unmoving, immolating stuffed toys, wooden soldiers, and play with a miniature universe as the entire world about you dies.
The girl next door dies, she tells you all about it in her upbeat letters, while you sit there burning stuff. She sends you gifts, you just burn them. Your house is destroyed, and all you can do is go and ask what to do now, before being picked up by the Weather Man and whisked off to somewhere new.
Don’t get me wrong, Little Inferno is a work of art, but damn that kid! He was beyond hopeless.
7) Marty McFly – Back To The Future
Okay so get this… We’re led to believe that one of the major characters of Back to the Future is… Doc Brown?!
All jokes aside, Marty McFly really isn’t all that special, yet he’s treated with a lot of respect. Interestingly, we only thought about Marty McFly, as we almost inducted Morty from Rick & Morty… However, as that show literally explains, the stupid brain waves of Morty are used to disguise the genius brainwaves of Rick. Needless to say, that’s a pretty big power, so Rick keeps him around for this very purpose. Meanwhile, Marty likes to ride skateboards, plays the guitar and plays lots of video games.
Sure, we don’t disapprove of the youngsters lifestyle, but for crying out loud! Just because he played a lot of video games does not make him good at shooting a gun! If anything,
6) Billy – The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy#
Probably the biggest idiot on this list is our dear child friend, Billy. He’s definitely nothing special and you’d certainly not expect the Grim Reaper to literally be bound to be this kids friend for all eternity… But that’s just how it goes when the sister of dear Billy is Mandy, the evil and manipulative little girl that she is. Conversely, Billy has a heart of gold, but thankfully that’s not literal as otherwise people would try to kill him for his heart alone.
Nevermind, Billy doesn’t have any powers and it’s infuriating. He is obscenely gross though, so he has that going for him? Ah, boys can be so, so icky…
5) Charlie – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Here’s a kid who earns a factory by being less lousy than a bunch of other kids who were randomly selected by their unrelenting devotion to one of the least healthy foodstuffs in existence.
Really need I say more on the matter? It’s not like Charlie doesn’t succumb to temptation like the others, he just manages to wriggle his way out of it without the need for a song, dance, and a gang of Oompa Loompa’s with a wheelbarrow. His most defining action is giving back his gobstopper.
That’s just in the Gene Wilder version, in the more recent (worse, but not all that bad if we’re honest) version he basically just talks to Wonka until the Mad Chocolatier has enough flashbacks for his daddy issues to be resolved.
4) Flute Cop – Axe Cop
When Axe Cop found the perfect axe at the scene of the fire he became the greatest Good Guy of this or any other world, the pinnacle of the arc of destiny that would send him into a legendary career of decapitating Bad Guys from the back of his mighty T-Rex, Wexter. In his mission he has many friends and allies: Grey Diamond, Sockarang, Liborg, Uni-Baby, and his closest partner in fighting crime, side-kick, brother, Flute Cop!
That’s a guy with a flute. At one point he was an avocado with a unicorn horn and he was vastly more impressive but that flute does, basically nothing. He’s a great sounding board, a humourous straight-guy to Axe Cop’s comedy, but in a world of evil moons and rabbits who break all the rules, a flute ain’t doing much for anyone.
3) Twoflower – Discworld
Ah, Twoflower. The little tourist hailing from the Counterweight continent, bane of Rincewind’s peace and wellbeing, living danger-magnet in a hawaiian shirt if such a place as Hawaii existed on the Disc. Our intrepid adventurer comes equipped with camera, phrasebook, general obliviousness to his surroundings and the most deadly travel accessory known to man.
The put upon Wizzard is swept into interesting times, watching in horror as danger from all corners narrowly misses Twoflower and instead has a stab at him. The eldritch terror Bel Shamharoth, the cruel dragonlords of the Wyrmberg and C.M.O.T Dibbler’s sausage inna bun, Twoflower survives more by blind luck than any design or aptitude. His antics inadvertently start a revolution back home, for which he is jailed, and once again saved by providence and is landed one of the highest ranks in his nation’s government.
Not bad for an insurance salesman on holiday.
Yes Mario is on this list and he’s all the way up at number two! It’s hard to believe that this really rather well known hero could end up on this list, but you need to understand something here… Mario, in the main games, is supposed to be a plumber. He’s never done actual plumbing in a game. No, going down pipes does not count as plumbing, would you please just stop it. No, plumbing isn’t going inside of Bowser either. How rude…
But nevertheless, Mario is super successful at being the hero, even though he’s actually genuinely useless at his supposed profession of choice. I bet he just calls himself a plumber so that way he has an easy time explaining what he does to the locals.
‘So, what do you do?’ asked Toad.
‘Uh, it’s a me, Mario theeeeee…’ Mario paused, struggling to find anything adequate to explain his employment status. Suddenly, he heard a flush, ‘… Plumber!’
Suddenly, a large beast with a spiky turtle shell on his back known only as Bowser comes out from the restroom. ‘Oi, red hat. You a plumber? Good. You’re needed in there.’
And to this day on, Mario became the sworn enemy of Bowser.
Ah, toilet humour.
1) Daphne – Scooby Doo
Daphne is one of the ‘gang’ in Scooby Doo and she’s an iconic character from the series. This isn’t the first time we’ve included a character from the Hanna-Barbera Productions classic on our Top 10 lists, so we’re glad to get another one in. Daphne is instantly recognisable with her red hair, blue top and green scarf. She’s not dumb, but she’s certainly far from any of the more useful characters on the show.
She has no qualities which makes her of any true use. You could argue that Shaggy also has a similar fate, but between the two, Daphne has even less use in that she often does just act as a damsel in distress. See, whilst Fred generally has the plan and Velma has the ideas to make it happen, we’re left with three characters: Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne. Whilst Shaggy might have his off moments, he certainly makes up for it with some uncanny bravery for a scaredy cat. He usually will act as bait for the baddies. Scooby helps, by being a dog he brings some useful skills, especially when he’s being rewarded… But Daphne’s just Daphne… God damn she is so useless in this show.
Some characters are simply and utterly rubbish at what they do… And these are two more characters that deserve to be mentioned on our Top 10 Inept Useless Protagonists list.
Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler – Whitechapel
Ok, I feel a little bad for this one. DI Chandler is a good detective and a good cop. In every season of Whitechapel he solves the crime in just enough time for things to get good and dramatic, despite his ever clashing team, crippling OCD, and the sheer terror of the horror-themed criminals that Whitechapel pitches against him.
But there’s one major problem. It seems there’s a curse upon poor Chandler, as he’s never yet managed to bring a single killer to court. The New Ripper, the Copy-Krays, the Bogeyman, the Witchhunter, the Flayer, every single one has died in bizarre circumstances just as the team have them bang-to-rights. Had the show been renewed for one more season, the one it richly deserved, we may have discovered why every criminal they uncovered died before being brought to justice.
Lan Hikari – Mega Man Battle Network
Lan Hikari really is far from useless, as he’s managed to save the world from some evil viruses and programs. If you’re uninitiated, Lan Hikari is from the Battle Network series of Mega Man, which also had it’s own anime. In the anime, Lan is viewed as a plucky, eager and energetic kid who has a great heart. In the games he’s viewed as much too… And his partner in digital virus busting is the titular Mega Man. Pretty impressive that he can control Mega so easily…
Except at the start of every game in this franchise, he manages to forget everything he’s done. He goes so far, that he forgets even how to bust viruses at the start of every single one of the games in the franchise and has to be re-taught how to do it! It’s a little insane – and whilst I respect the fact gamers need to be taught how to play the game (especially when there’s new features, or if you’re new to the game), the fact it so bluntly tells you “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!” is a little over the top.
We’re now absolutely fed up of these characters getting so much glory, when they effectively add nothing to the story. It’s time for us to put this list to rest and tell these characters to get back to what they do best, which isn’t much really, but at least we’re being honest about these things here. While we wait for these useless ones to get out of here, help us decide what Top 10 we cover next week. We never said we weren’t useless at making up our minds..!
That’s it for this week, from Daphne to Twoflower, we’ve covered some pretty useless and inept characters indeed. But what did you make of our list this time? Did our reasoning of including ‘inept’ characters resonate with you, or do you think that made this list too easy? What about the order of our list? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.
Let me pick up from where I started last march by saying that a palette swapped creature in a game needn’t simply be a conservation of resources, and can be representative of something notably different or important, something made distinct by a change of colour.
For example, revisiting The Fallen from Diablo: (more…)
Trick or treat! Don your outfits and go a-gathering, alongside some of the finest of theatrical traditions and human habits, the desire to adorn ourselves in the appearance of another for the fun of it. Geeks are perhaps the most enthusiastic when it comes to taking to the sewing machine and the welding torch in pursuit of a new outfit.
Join us fare and geeky folk, as we celebrate those times when our favourite characters have donned new duds, assumed new guises and costumed themselves from boot to scalp. Welcome to the Top 10 characters in costumes.
10) Faust – Guilty Gear
Ah Faust, we’ve mentioned this guy in a much older Top 10, where we spoke about his rather large scalpel. No innuendos, he really does have a large scalpel, which is bigger than an anchor. Faust was an incredible doctor, if a little unhinged, but an incident saw him go from an insane doctor to basically a shell of his former self. At least, that was the case until he realised the world needed his medical genius and thus, he stepped back into the world.
The weirdest part, is after he was sane again, he decided that he didn’t want the world to see his face. So, he donned his paper bag – which is all he’s seen out in public in. Now, Faust only gets the tenth place, but that’s simply because all of his costume is just his doctor’s attire and then a paper bag on his head. But, without that iconic paper bag, he just wouldn’t be Faust now would he?
9) Every MOBA
A MOBA is usually free, which means that to monetise their games, they need to add something the fans will like. So, they often add in skins. A skin doesn’t affect the way the game is played, but is just a nice little visual change for the gamers. People who genuinely love the game they’re playing are more than willing to part with some cash to put their favourite characters in a bizarre outfit, because who doesn’t love seeing the Hindu Giant of Sleep in pyjamas as pictured above?
This is a very vague entry, hence the low placing on our list, however MOBAs are filled to the brim with costumes. Whether you play League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Awesomenauts, Smite or any other MOBA, you’ll no doubt understand where we’re coming from on this front.
8) Jinnosuke – Afro Samurai
Straight away, I bet you’re thinking “What on earth is this guys deal”? And in all truthfulness, there’s a very simple explanation for the odd teddy bear head he wears. Jinnosuke, or Jinno for short, is an android who wears a teddy’s head as a way to disguise the fact he looks so similar to the Afro Samurai himself. Oh that and the fact that this guy is a freaking android.
The best part about this bear costume is the complete transformation Jinna goes through. When wearing the bear costume, he’s known as Kuma, which of course is basically Japanese for bear. Antagonistic, but sympathetic, this is an incredibly well fleshed out character who deserves to be mentioned. Plus, the style of this show is through the roof. Well worth checking it out if you haven’t, but be warned: It’s graphic.
7) Knights of Badassdom
Peter Dinklage is a massive nerd, and it’s awesome. If it’s not enough to know him as the crowd favourite from Game of Thrones then you can get a slice of the Half-Man as a berserker in LARP comedy Knights of Badassdom, alongside Summer Glau, Danny Puddi and Brian Posehn (and a handful of lesser-known names). Our heroes don their costumes, take to the forests, and get ready to beat the living hell out of one another with foam and latex weapons.
Ahh, but all goes terribly wrong when somebody reads from a “prop” book they brought from home for some convincing looking rituals for the XP and accidentally summon an actual demon. Either way, this is not your normal costume drama, not by a longshot, it’s a heavily armoured and fully armed costume comedy that’s about the pros and cons of taking things too far.
6) South Park Heroes
This series addresses the very worst aspects of humanity and shines a big light upon them, all against the backdrop of a child’s ability to see things in the most direct fashion, and also through the lens of make-believe. We have seen the team play as ninjas, (twice) fantasy archetypes, and superheroes. We could have gone with the fantasy characters as they’re the basis for The Stick of Truth, but between the legend of Mysterion, his tireless war with The Coon (and The Fractured, but Whole coming soon) we decided to go with the super-heroes.
The band of foul-mouthed nine and ten year olds have fashioned their identities from what they know and what they have to hand, that’s why we have heroes such as Tupperware, Toolshed, the Human Kite, and Mintberry Crunch. In the middle of all of this is Mysterion, the undying hero born of occult practices, and The Coon, who is Cartman.
This one depends on exactly which version of the minions you follow. If you’ve watched the prequel to the Despicable Me series then the Minions have lived forever, adapting thematically to whatever dark overlord they attach themselves to, high collared capes for a vampire, linen kilts and gold for pharaohs, and for pirates whatever looks cool. Gru’s demands being mostly for hardware means they’ve switched to dungarees, but no doubt the future holds something new.
But the original film clearly shows designs for the minions on Gru’s wall, meaning that he designed them for a purpose, and every costume change is done for a reason. They adapt to changing situations, like cleaning, fires, and the dark with a quick change of costume (or luminosity), and it’s a habit that’s getting worse now there’s adorable kids in the house.
4) Scooby Doo Villains
Hah, this is great. Somehow we’ve gotten a staple childrens show into a Top 10, but when you think about it, the Scooby Doo villains are the ultimate cosplayers (Unless we count the next one on this list, but bare with us here). These are characters who are often depicted in their normal human forms at an earlier point in the episode, before being chased around by Scoob and the gang and then revealed.
The most iconic part about Scooby Doo is how all of these villains run around, often sporting the most ridiculous of costumes. From zombies and ghosts, to full on swamp monsters, these guys and girls are the ultimate cosplaying baddies. Put a costume on these evil men and women who just want Scoob and gang to go away, turn into fully enraged devils in their own rights.
3) Costume Quest
Did you ever cosplay as someone and fantasize about possessing the powers that they wield? Well fantasize no more… well, less, this is a videogame not an upgrade. Your characters scoot around the neighbourhood, gathering sweets and treats from the neighbours, making new friends, uncovering strange mysteries and saving your sibling with the powers granted to you by whatever you’re wearing.
Tim Schafer’s knack for simple yet brilliant ideas transformed into games shines through in this cross between an RPG and an arena-fighter. Your cardboard box robot suddenly becomes a Gundam-scale killing machine fully capable of toppling the monsters that stand in your way. Or adopt the guise of a noble knight and become a champion against the darkness. Or french fries, a unicorn, or the entire solar system. Hallowe’en was never this good.
The truly valorous seek to become symbols of what they stand for, to become something memorable, something immediately recognisable that inspires others to become something better than they are. Some people just really want to be superheroes, people like Dave Lizewski, who has taken it upon himself to beat up the villainous sort while wearing a distinctive costume he made out of a cheap wetsuit.
It does at least serve as an inspiration to others, and after a tragic death makes him the city’s premier hero, suddenly dozens of costumed vigilantes come wriggling out of the woodwork. The extra armour isn’t much of an upgrade, especially as he can barely feel pain as it is, and he still looks kinda dumb, but that look becomes something of a flagship that the others can rally too. It’s not about hiding who he is, or becoming who he was always meant to be, it’s about doing what’s right, and making a point about it.
1) Tanooki Mario
Hardly surprising that the number one pick for us had to be Tanooki Mario; an iconic costume for Mario. Much like the aforementioned cosplay qualities of the Scooby Doo villains, once Mario gets inside of this very warm and snuggly looking Tanooki costume, he’s on his way to gliding all around the place like a madman. Plumbers don’t always fly, but when they do, they do so in a Tanooki outfit.
Now, this gets our number one slot because of just how popular this outfit is. From people cosplaying Tanooki Mario, to people who build whole Mario Maker levels around the Racoon Mario costume (Which granted isn’t Tanooki, but shares many similar properties), this is a well known and well loved outfit.
Not all of our costumed crusaders are good, not all are bad. Not all of our costumed characters do it for a reason, some do it as it’s confidence building. These are parallels to real life costumery which is why we love the Halloween spirit of Trick or Treating. These next two deserve a nod, for they’ve taken costuming to a different level.
James – Pokemon (Anime)
James beat out Mimikyu for the Pokemon slot, but of course James often doesn’t wear a costume because he wants to be loved. Instead, he wears a costume as a form of disguise. However, it’s sometimes he wears an outfit that’s just so over the top that the party instantly say “But this is Team Rocket again!” Honestly, why won’t Officer Jenny listen to Ash and his friends from time to time?
Regardless, James appears alongside Jessie and Meowth, as well as their rather amusing companion Wobbuffet. James isn’t afraid to cosplay and crossplay, making him a braver man than most. Besides, when you have legs like those, who wouldn’t want a chance to show them off?
Rick Castle (as Space Cowboy) – Castle
Nathan Fillion has made no small point of how much he loved Firefly, how much he misses it and resents its’ cancellation. In his biggest role following he took as many opportunities as he could to drive that point home, most memorably during a brief moment in one Hallowe’en episode, that makes it to the honourables section purely because it is just that brief.
As Richard Castle emerges from his costume change, you’d swear he was the spitting image of Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Serenity, the resemblance is uncanny. Not the first time he’s worn the outfit too, as his daughter comments on his having worn it about five years ago (harr harr, because of when the episode aired, how deliciously nerdy). It’s one of many such references throughout Castle, but it’s easily the least subtle.
That is all for our sartorial selection, now get back into your day to day threads – be they clothing or forum – and get back to work. Before you wander back into normality, take the time to help us pick out a list for next week.
Ok, don’t dress it up, how did we do? What do you make of our little ensemble? Did we miss any of your favourite characters playing dress-up, or alternative outfits? Let us know on our Twitter, Facebook and Reddit pages. And join us next week for another fantastic Top 10.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the internet…
They do say that worse things happen at sea, but frankly any large body of water can hold a variety of toothy, poisonous, bloodthirsty or otherwise deadly aquatic horrors. And water… deadly, deadly water.
There’s a difference between flogging an intellectual property until everyone hates it, and having an idea that just keeps getting bigger until you can’t slow down.
The obvious example of the former, with each successive console supporting several new Mario titles in some form or another, either as the featured attraction or simply making a celebrity appearance such as in Smash Bros. or randomly showing his face in a Legend of Zelda game. The original format is spectacular, and it’s great that’s it’s maintained such a legacy, but there’s no denying that the squat italian is overstaying his welcome a little. Ever notice that you hardly ever see anything with Mickey Mouse as the main character these days? Disney knows when to retire a character better than Nintendo do.
Mario has had some variety, and is quick to pick up the best adaptions the platforming genre picks up as time goes on (where Sonic has rather failed), so it’s not to say that he’s grown stale over the years. He’s become the staple, the go-to, and while Nintedo’s catalogue grows ever wider there’s no denying that between the quantity, fluctuating quality, and exposure of Mario that they’re hitting a certain infuriating saturation point.
But they’ll keep Mario alive while the name and sexy, sexy moustache are still bringing in the money. While it’s nice that a new generation also get to experience the joys of stomping mushrooms and dragon-turtles to death, they’ll also get to experience getting sick of it like the rest of us…
Let me hold that up against another, more recent IP that’s seems to have overrun the market.
Maybe this is a huge cash-cow for Ubisoft, but at its core you can practically hear the echoes of the original conversation. Constantly reincarnating as an assassin working for the same order throughout history, appearing in every major culture as a pivotal figure in the ongoing war between the Templar and the Creed, a storyline that spans lifetimes, just the thought of that could spawn so many ideas, most of which you’d never be able to tie to a single narrative arc.
The story of Desmond Miles may be long over, but the nature of the idea still has a lot to offer. Taking the same raw concept and plunging it into the greatest civilizations of the world at their height creates stories almost organically, even if at times certain historical figures are shoehorned into place. With the recent addition of the Chronicles series that detail the stories of the lesser players in the many lives of the serial assassin, it’s given the creators chance to really delve deeper into that episodic narrative that their big-budget features wouldn’t normally allow.
And maybe some of us are sick of seeing it, to be honest the gameplay never gripped me but the concept I enjoy thoroughly. There are places where the zeal of the publisher shines through and the rushed titles suffer a little much like poor old Mario, but there’s still places where genuine warmth and affection for the core design and idea still resonates.
I’m not saying there’s not still love in the world for the old and overdone titles, least of all in the studios creating the games in question. Pokémon and Zelda both show profound love for the basic concept in (almost) every title. By comparison the Sims is eternally run out of the box like it’s fresh and new, and it’s just the same thing with a fresh coat of mesh, the title is a boundless well for random DLC concepts.
Love for a title shines through no matter how old that title becomes, and an idea that sparks in the head of one person that catches real fire can spread to other people, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m sure most of you have had that one idea that doesn’t let you go until you’ve seen it to its eventual conclusion – or burn out, and know the thrills it can bring to see those ideas come to life. Now imagine you have a Triple-A budget behind that idea.
What a life that must be.