As previously discussed, a good villain can make or break a story. And typically, the bad guys are the only characters you’re supposed to hate. So why is it that side-characters so often have us gritting our teeth, throwing our controllers, or shouting into the void of our TV screens/monitors out of sheer frustration? These characters are supposed to be your friends, which means that the game typically won’t let you murderize them into little pixely bits.
Here are just five of the many, many non-villain characters we really wanted an excuse to kill.
Tom Nook – Animal Crossing
Anyone who has played the Animal Crossing games will understand this entry on the list. Tom Nook (a tanuki in Japanese versions, but a raccoon in the US, because WTF is a tanuki?) is one of the first characters you meet in the series’ first game. He welcomes you to town and, because you’re required to have a house, gives you a non-optional loan, which you spend the entire beginning of the game working off. On top of being a loan shark, he’s quite snarky about it, bringing up your debt every chance he gets. Eventually, Tom Nook gets bored with your slave labor, but that doesn’t stop us from cursing his name.
And it’s not just us. Despite Animal Crossing being a friendly series with no real villains to speak of, Tom Nook still managed to be nominated as a top villain at the 2003 Annual Nintendo Power Awards.
Watch yourself, Tom – we’re on to you.
Moogles – Final Fantasy series
This addition to the list may be unpopular, but I don’t have the energy to put on my caring face.
Moogles are found in just about every Final Fantasy game since FF III. Poorly evolved cats with bat wings and giant ears (and, in earlier games, horribly racist slanted eyes), they instantly get on the nerves of any sane player. Oh, and did I mention that they have a literal pom-pom on an antenna on their heads? Perfect for target-practice, but not much else. The forced cuteness is just too much to bear, and friendly fire quickly becomes a desirable feature.
It doesn’t get any better when you enter into dialogue with one. Despite ostensibly speaking the common language of the FF games, they will insert the word “Kupo,” or variations thereof, into every single sentence. I’m pretty sure they’re using their native language to laugh in our faces, and I’m not okay with that. Don’t be blinded by the over-the-top cuteness – shoot to kill!
Dog – Duck Hunt
No list of annoying game characters would be complete without this 80’s gem. Anyone old enough to have owned an original NES back in the day will instantly know what I’m talking about. If you ever had the pleasure/misfortune of owning a Nintendo Zapper, it likely came with the bundled Nintendo NES, Super Mario Bros., and Duck Hunt. For the uninitiated, the Zapper was an accessory for the NES shaped like a gun, used for certain games, such as Duck Hunt and Wild Gunman. You used the gun to “shoot” at the TV screen, and in 1985, this was practically VR.
In Duck Hunt, you are a hunter, specifically of ducks – can’t fault them for false advertising, at least. To aid you in this task, you have a dog. This nameless, pixelated pup has two skills: retrieving the ducks you kill, and mocking you. That’s right, man’s best friend quickly becomes man’s worst critic every time you fail a round, popping up from the bottom of the screen to laugh at you. This eventually gets so frustrating that you want to shoot your own dog. Just say he had rabies?
The good news is that there are multiple games in which you can, in fact, shoot the dog. Vs. Duck Hunt and Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting, both released on the original NES, allow for this violent vent of frustration, as do many unofficial web-based versions of the game.
Navi – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Arguably the best Legend of Zelda game ever made, Ocarina of Time was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, and became one of the most ground-breaking games in history. 3D dungeon crawling in an open world may be an everyday thing now, but for 13-year-old me (and the rest of the world, really), it was an incredible new experience. The plot was vast, the graphics were amazing, and the characters were memorable – especially Navi.
Players of more recent Zelda games will be familiar with the ever-present guide/companion character type, which has become a staple for the series over the past two decades. Navi, a faerie who appears as a glowing ball with wings, was the first of their ilk, and we rue the day we met her.
We meet Navi after talking to the Great Deku Tree, who tasks Link with saving the world and charges Navi with helping him do so. Any kind of help with such a monumental task is not to be scoffed at, but sometimes we wish the Great Deku Tree was alive to take returns.
The reasons Navi annoys the ever-living-Triforce out of us are simple. Firstly, she is one of the few characters in the series to have actual voice clips, a fact which we are constantly reminded of with her high-pitched, “Hey!” “Look!” “Watch out!” and the ever-dreaded, “Listen!” Second, she has loads of on-screen dialogue telling us how to play the game, which is extremely slow, totally unskippable, and almost never useful. If all that wasn’t bad enough, she yells at you when you try to do side-quests, because saving the world is so urgent. We have time-travel, Navi! Now shut up while I race this stranger across the whole country.
Slippy Toad – Star Fox 64
Over the years, I have shouted at games for many reasons – often over glitches or lag-induced deaths, sometimes at the developer for including impossibly difficult tasks, but typically over my own bumbling attempts to complete challenges that require finesse and skill, rather than brute force and shouting.
Star Fox 64, however, gave me another reason to shout at the screen, and his name is Slippy. Star Fox 64 was an excellent game, and I spent many an hour barrel-rolling my way through 3D bullet-hell environments in my super cool, super pixelated spaceship.
As the eponymous leader of the Star Fox team, Fox McCloud was automatically the coolest of the bunch. Peppy Hare, an old vet and friend of your father, was mostly useful, aside from his persistent reminders to do a barrel-roll. Falco Lombardi was the prima donna of the group, always going on about how amazing he was, then generally failing to deliver on said amazingness. …and then there’s Slippy.
I’m pretty sure several millimeters of enamel have been ground off my teeth after dealing with Slippy. Slippy Toad is quite possibly the most useless companion character in any game ever, and I’m even including Ashley Graham from Resident Evil 4. His annoying voice, constant pleas for help, and utter incompetence in combat made me throw my poor N64 controller more times than I can count. It’s no surprise that a common tactic was to simply let Slippy die as soon as possible, because fighting with one man down was arguably less of a handicap than fighting with Slippy’s incessant wailing.