Top 5 most annoying characters in gaming
Posted by Sam Hale
If 2013 was any indication, video games are capable of creating some of the most wonderful and loveable characters in entertainment. However, for every great character that video games have given us, there is an equally annoying character with the potential to ruin even the most cherished of video games. These are the annoying escort missions, the whiny brats who tag alongside the hero and the guy who just doesn’t know when to shutup. I’m counting down the five most annoying characters in video game history.
5) DJ Atomica from Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise is a glorious arcade racing game that gets almost everything right, except for one aspect. Upon starting the game, the player is introduced to DJ Atomica, a radio host in Paradise City who immediately forces the player into a restrictive tutorial. Not the best first impression and unfortunately it only gets worse.
At first you won’t mind the obnoxious DJ’s commentary. Sure, Atomica’s a bit full of himself and unusually calm for a guy who encourages reckless driving but he’s not that bad right? Once you start cruising the streets of Paradise City however, you’re likely to change your mind. Atomica will remind you of all the totally radical events you’re missing out on and soon enough it will wear you down.
Whenever you fail an event, he’s there to remind you that yes, you did indeed fail that race and it probably has something to do with crashing into the wall several times. This becomes problematic later in the game when the events become more difficult and require multiple attempts. You’ll desperately search for a way to turn him off only to discover that the option to do so is buried in the game’s menus. Unfortunately this will only turn off the hints; it seems nothing can keep DJ Atomica from reminding players of exactly what they’re doing. Burnout Paradise is a classic game but it could have done without the obnoxious DJ.
4) Ashley Graham from Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 tasks Leon S. Kennedy with rescuing the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham. She’s legendary for being the most annoying escort mission in video game history and oddly enough it has nothing to do with the actual game mechanics of the mission itself.
Less than one-third into the game, the player will break Ashley out of her cell and from that point on she’s a burden on the player except for the many moments when she’s captured. Oddly enough, the player will look forward to these moments, if only to be spared Ashley’s annoying wails.
As a game mechanic, Ashley perfectly meshes with the focus of resource management which complements the survival horror atmosphere. If Ashley’s health is reduced to zero or if she’s carried out of the area by an enemy, the game will end. This forces the player to multitask, increasing the difficulty of the game without directly weakening the player or increasing the strength of the enemies. In some areas, the player can order Ashley to hide in a bin, guaranteeing her safety until she is called out.
Unfortunately, the same care and attention wasn’t put towards Ashley’s personality. To put it simply, Ashley is an annoying brat. She frequently screams for help whenever she’s attacked and in the many moments where an enemy has her captive. She’s screams for Leon far too many times and at least once the thought of putting a bullet in her brain will cross the player’s mind.
Ashley gets annoying alarmingly quick. She’s a helpless teenage girl and the absolute antithesis of the strong female characters video games are capable of producing such as Alex Vance from Half Life 2, Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite or Ellie from The Last of Us. Women have come a long way in gaming and that’s never more clear than when playing Resident Evil 4.
3) Otis Washington from Dead Rising
This next character is also from a Capcom game about zombies, though this particular character managed to piss off players with a single spoken word of dialogue. I’m of course, talking about Otis Washington.
In Dead Rising, the player controls a photojournalist named Frank West in a shopping mall that’s been overrun with zombies. Frank is guided by Otis Washington, the mall janitor, via a walkie talkie. This walkie is a crucial part of the game as it’s the only way for the player to receive sidequests.
When Frank answers the walkie talkie he unequips his current weapon and can’t attack; if the weapon requires two hands to carry, for instance a chainsaw, then Frank will drop the weapon. If any one of the hundreds of zombies that are in every area grab Frank, he will automatically hang up prompting Otis to call the player back and scold them for hanging up.
To make matters even worse, Otis’ messages can’t be skipped and the on-screen text is incredibly small for anyone who using a Standard Definition TV. Keep in mind that Dead Rising was released in 2006 when HDTVs weren’t exactly a common sight in the households of gamers.
Otis will call the player about a sidequest as long as the window for completing the quest is open. Ignoring these messages isn’t an option unless the player wishes to spend the entire game listening to the walkie’s ringtone. Otis has no other role in Dead Rising but to constantly nag the player about side quests. Unless the player abandons the story missions, he will persist throughout the entire game.
Dead Rising is a perfect example of how not to write a quest-giving character. The player should discover a side mission at their leisure, not have it forced upon them whenever the game feels like it. Otis is a glaring flaw in what is an otherwise surprisingly decent game.
2) Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It wouldn’t be right if Navi wasn’t somewhere on this list, though I imagine many of you expected this character to be number one. Of all the annoying sidekicks in video game history, Navi is the most infamous by a wide margin.
At the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the player is accomapanied by a tiny forest fairy named Navi. She helps the player target enemies and provides hints at the press of a button.
Navi is a constant nag to the player. It seems that at every moment she bugs the player, saying “hey listen,” prompting them to consult her for hints.
It gets even worse when the player is in combat as Navi will insist that they consult her on how to defeat an enemy. Even if that enemy is the weakest in the game.
It doesn’t help that most of these hints just repeat information that’s already clear to the player. Indulging Navi’s pestering won’t make her hints any less frequent, forcing the player to read the same hints over and over or endure her nagging.
The proverbial icing on the cake however, is that Navi accompanies the player for the entire game. From beginning to end she is with the player, almost ruining what is considered by many to be the greatest video game ever made. One wouldn’t think that something so simple would make a character annoying but after five minutes of playing Ocarina of Time, I assure you’d be convinced.
1) Half the main cast from Final Fantasy XIII
It’s one thing for a game to have an annoying side character that constantly pesters the player but it’s downright unforgivable when a game asks a player to root for these annoying characters. This is Final Fantasy XIII‘s greatest blunder; it has the player control not just one annoying character, but many.
This isn’t the first time a protagonist has been in a Final Fantasy game. Tidus was the main character Final Fantasy X and he was an annoying and whiny brat but at least then there was only one annoying character in the main cast so it was a lot easier to look past until Tidus’ character eventually developed. Even then, Tidus’ personality turned out to play into the narrative as his desire to not use the summoning was the only true way to save the world. Final Fantasy XIII features characters that are more annoying and painfully written.
If you were one of the unfortunate gamers who was excited for Final Fantasy XIII back in 2010, then you were subjected to some of the most annoying video game characters ever put on screen. In a story that’s driven by six characters, three of them stand out as the most relentlessly annoying protagonists in recent memory.
First is Snow, an obnoxious self-proclaimed hero who leads a band of equally obnoxious rebels. Whenever he’s on screen Snow can’t resist proving to everyone that he’s amazingly heroic and he’ll save everyone in the end. He’s engaged to the sister of one the main characters, a fact that he is eager to bring up. Imagine the most insufferable upbeat self-indulgent schmuck you could possibly meet and you have Snow.
Snow spouts hideously clichéd catchphrases such as “heroes never die” and like the rest of the cast, is devoid of any likeable characteristics. Snow is so annoying that at one point, one the main characters punches him in the face. One might argue that Snow was deliberately written this way however a deliberately annoying character is still annoying and there’s absolutely no subtlety to this characterization. If Snow is meant to be annoying then he’s far too good at it.
Next up is Hope, an angsty teenage boy grieving over the loss of his mother in the game’s prologue. At first, I wasn’t annoyed by Hope as he seemed to be the only main character who had any chance of development. Unfortunately, this development is handled in the most painfully overt way possible.
Hope blames Snow for his mother’s death and plots his revenge, nicknaming his scheme, Operation Nora. A mere cutscene later, Hope cancels Operation Nora only to “activate it” a few chapters later. Hope’s character arc is comparable to Harry Osborn from Spiderman 3. He flops from one angsty cliche to another and at no point behaves like an actual person.
Rounding out this trio of dreadful characters is Vanille. She is simultaneously the most annoying and oblivious video game character that I can remember. Vanille offers nothing to the narrative except for asking a dumb question every now and then to set-up exposition from another character.
To be fair, there is actually a legitimate justification behind Vanille’s oblivious nature, but it isn’t revealed until over 20 hours into the story. No amount of decent characterization can undo the 20 hours that most players will believe that Vanille is a ditz. If Square Enix had intended to inspire sympathy from players, they would have revealed Vanille’s backstory as soon as possible. Instead Square Enix decided to hold back on this reveal until way past the halfway point in the narrative, scaring away everyone except the most hardcore Final Fantasy fans.
There is no excuse for bad writing and bad characters in video games. A mere four years ago, Final Fantasy XIII demonstrated what happens when a developer puts no effort into their characters, outside of their appearance of course. I can only hope that the characters in the video games of the future will never again sink this low.