Chris: I’m not sure how no one else mentioned her, so…Navi. Look, I can deal with annoying support characters. I play JRPGs, after all. Even in the rest of the Zelda series, we have several candidates for grating sidekicks, like Tatl and Tael, Fi, Ciela, and even Midna in the beginning. But nothing comes close to Navi.
The thing that sucks the most about Navi is that there isn’t one thing that sucks the most. She’s just the complete package. Shrill voice that will haunt your nightmares? Check. Constant badgering of the main character? Check. Needless tips just to remind the player what the next objective is (sometimes over and over if you’re doing sidequests at the time)? Check.
Navi is the worst. Whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired.
Joseph: My dishonorable mention would have to go to Princess Peach Toadstool. Time and time again she is kidnapped by the unrelenting King Bowser Koopa. Does she do it for fun? I cannot tell you how many times I have arrived at the end of the game to find she wasn’t really in danger or she could have magically floated out of her cage anyway.
She’s no good at running a kingdom. Have you ever noticed how heavily segregated everything is? Toads are allowed in the castle. Yoshis have to stay on their island. Practically everything else is an enemy to be crushed. Sure, there is the occasional festival, but they only seem to happen when Mario and Luigi are taking a break from their dull lives as Brooklyn plumbers. Any other time? You can bet the genocides are swift and merciless.
Next time you get kidnapped and you think I want a cake as recompense for saving your life, you can stay kidnapped. Or dead. Preferably dead.
Michaela: Ema Skye: Her eating Snackoos every time I had Apollo try to ask or show her something was a nuisance. It makes me miss Detective Gumshoe’s hilarious incompetence, and her obsession with science bores me to tears. But the ultimate reason why I dislike Ema is because of the intentional similarities she has to Maya (how dare they try to replace Maya with this lame-o!).
Fi: It’s a shame that Fi’s really lame. Her design is neat, and her status as a sword was also a cool idea, but her robotic demeanor was not appealing. At all. It only works when you’re GLaDOS and have terrific voiced lines to go along with. Fi was a boring companion who did nothing except repeat the same thing over and over: “Master, your battery level is under 10%”. Great Fi, now SHUT UP.
Agnes Oblige: I usually find characters who follow their goals with unwavering conviction interesting and compelling, but Agnes is not one of them. For so much of the game, she’s a stick in the mud and I can’t find it in my heart to forgive her distasteful attitude. Not to mention the voice acting didn’t help (sorry Erin Fitzgerald).
Cary: Not gonna lie, my inner “Girl Power” sensibilities want me to tell you all to f*** off, because ALL GIRLS ARE AWESOME. But, I am all too well aware that there are some pretty awful females out in the video game world, from those that resulted from poor and uneducated notions about women (thanks developers…sorry…”girl power”) to those that were meant to be bad in a bad way.
Let’s start with Elsa Lichtmann from L. A. Noire. I loved the first two-thirds of that game and absolutely despised the third act, thanks in part to the relationship between the main character Cole and his “love affair” Elsa. Elsa Lichtmann was German nightclub singer who, I gathered, was supposed to be modeled after the glamorous and sexy Marlene Dietrich. But Elsa was neither glamorous nor sexy. Her character was so vague and unappealing that I couldn’t for the life of me understand why Cole was attracted to her. In all her conversations, she seemed bored and tired, hardly feisty, alluring, or at all like “the other women.” I’d like to play L. A. Noire again someday, but just thinking of Cole’s and Elsa’s scenes together makes my stomach churn.
Next, I have to call out Tron Bonne — the Tron Bonne of Marvel v. Capcom 2 and 3. I’m sure she was perfectly lovely in the Mega Man universe, but she just didn’t cut it for me in a fighting game. Her character was just so clunky to maneuver and difficult to work with (this coming from a long-time Zangief supporter!), and she had really unexciting finishing moves. Whenever I play a fighting game, new or old, I’ll always cycle through the female characters first. Every time I pop in an MvC game with Tron Bonne, I’ll give her another shot. And every time I see her and her little Servbots waddle around the screen, I hate them all a little more.
Finally, it pains me to have to do it, but the award for worst characterizations of a stereotypical group of women in a game has to go to the prostitutes in Red Dead Redemption. (I’d almost extend this women NPCs in general in Rockstar games, but that’s going a little too far…maybe.) Read Dead Redemption is one of my most favorite games. The story of John Marston’s reclamation of his family and his dignity was second to none, and it occurred in one of the most beautiful gaming landscapes ever created. So the game’s NPCs in general had a lot to live up to. But the prostitutes (all female — no equal opportunity offenders like in the Fable games) might as well have all been flat scenery. Or maybe they should have all just been bloody corpses, because every time I rode into one of the towns, one of them was always in the process of being unceremoniously killed. (She’s just a hooker, so who gives a good goddamn anyway?) It’s a shame because RDR had one great woman character (Bonnie) and a couple memorable ones that were part of side missions. I’m not saying that each and every lady of the night should have been rendered with full and complex personalities, but couldn’t we have done better than “rote and boring solicitor of sex” and “dead?”