Lunchtime Discussion: The Ugly

This is the third part of The Good, The Bad, The Ugly series of Lunchtime Discussions on characters. Why not check out the Good and the Bad.

So we’re up to part three, the ugly. It was pretty obvious what I was going to discuss in the good and the bad, but what about the ugly? Well to be perfectly honest I wasn’t quite sure myself when the first idea for the first two were suggested to me. Calling them the good and the bad automatically leads to the ugly, but what to discuss? The obvious topic is those forgotten characters. We’ve done heroes and villains now, so what about supporting characters?

A story with just the hero and the villain can be incredibly dull, for a deep story you need those side characters, the sidekicks and the assistants. You need characters like Luigi, Toad and Sully to keep the story moving forward, and to give someone for your hero to talk to. How dull would Metal Gear Solid have been without Colonel Campbell or Mei Ling to call up on your codec?

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Of course the supporting characters can often ruin a game. Look at the host of supporting characters that got added to the Sonic series over the years, did the title really need them? The original addition of Tails wasn’t so bad but as they added more and more characters the time you actually got to play as Sonic became more and more marginalised. This really is the ugly side of supporting characters, they should be there to support the main character, give them someone to interact with, not to replace the main character.

Supporting characters in games also seem to be a major Marmite issue, you either love them or hate them. I know, for some odd reason, that some people love Tails. Personally I can’t stand the annoying little fox, but that’s probably just me. On the other hand I loved Colonel Campbell in the Metal Gear Solid series, but I’m equally sure that some people couldn’t stand him either. This kind of split doesn’t seem to exist for more major hero and villain characters, maybe it’s because we have greater exposure to there characters, or maybe writers simply put more into the main characters.

So for the final time this week, it’s time to through the flood gates open. Do you have a supporting character you love or hate? Do you think that there’s a more significant split on opinion other these characters, or am I just talking nonsense?

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