We here at Yell! Magazine are fond of disposable objects. We love things that can be used and then haphazardly thrown away with little to no care in the world. Like used tissues or interns. Or my sanity. The Evil Tormenting Bosses used it as a doormat for a few days, and then sent it off to the dry cleaners. I haven’t seen the damn thing since. I’ve got the ticket stub for the Laundromat and everything, but when I tried to claim it they handed me a pink tutu.
Be honest, does this make my underarms look flabby?
Luckily for us Yellers, video games have been providing gamers with countless disposable bad guys for decades. You know who they are: the rank-and-file, the cannon-fodder, the minimum-wage underlings, the palette swaps, the ninjas…
Or the palette swap ninja!
These are the generic video game bad guys you dispatch by the hundreds on your way to more meaningful encounters. You jump on their heads, one-shot kill most of them by breathing hard in their general direction or murder a bunch using only harsh language and naked pictures of Bette Midler. These are the M&Ms of the video game world: you can’t stop at just one. Join me, your faithful tutu-wearing reviewer, as we recap The Top 10 Generic Video Game Bad Guys!
No.10 Goombas, Super Mario Bros.
Many gamers of my generation have fond memories of squishing their first Goomba in the original Super Mario Bros for the legendary NES. Designed not to tax the reflexes or mental faculties of players too much, this easily dispatched bipedal creature was the forerunner of generic video game bad guys to come. If you don’t immediately recognize the following screenshot as world 1-1 of the aforementioned game, I hereby rip up your membership card to the Brotherhood Of Video Game Geeks and sentence you to summary pantsing.
The Goomba pictured above would go on to a long career of epic battles against Mario… well, that’s not quite right. The Goomba went on to negligibly hinder Mario’s progress by sticking to the soles of his shoes, forcing the plumber to delay his quest for Princess Peach for a few seconds while he scraped off the Goomba’s remains on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, Mario went on to endure the world’s longest passive/aggressive romance, finding himself in a loveless relationship with a Princess of dubious nobility who goes running off to her abusive Koopa boyfriend whenever her plumber lover gets too needy. What? Tell me I’m wrong!
No.9 The Entire Cast, Smash TV
If there’s one game on this list that deserves to be the poster child for droves of generic video game bad guys rushing to meet their doom, arcade hit Smash TV would brush all other competition aside. Here is a game where the screen gets so crowded with enemies that figuring out which tiny collection of pixels you’re controlling becomes a chore. Ported to every console available on the market in the early 1990s, Smash TV‘s unique brand of Running Man-style reality show combined with rampant slaughter of herds of soulless drones made it an addictive hit. Mario might squish the occasional Goomba on his way to the castle, but the Smash TV dudes easily surpass the plumber’s lifetime kill count with a single pull of the trigger. There’s enough motion on screen at any given time in Smash TV that your eyes will soon develop bulbous, muscular veins from all the back and forth they’ll be doing. And speaking of bulbous, here’s some early ’90s titillation!
No.8 Stormtroopers, Any Game With “Star” And “Wars” In The Title
Everybody and their mother (if your mother is any kind of cool) knows that Imperial Stormtroopers, despite questionable claims from retired Jedis regarding the preciseness of their shots, can’t aim for shit. Which probably makes peeing an exercise in frustration.
“Aw, God damnit!”
Luckily, Stormtroopers make up for what they lack in aim with sheer, insurmountable numbers. Unless they’re up against Ewoks, in which case they’re easily surpassed. These Imperial cannon fodder troops have been making appearance in Star Wars games as long as there have been Star Wars games. Usually, they show up as the bottom rung of the Imperial bad guy ladder, just thrown at the player by the dozen so they can soak up a blaster shot or two before… oh who am I kidding? Or two? Please, they go down in one shot. I don’t know who designed Stromtrooper armor, but I have a sneaking suspicion he might be rebel scum.
Oh sure, Stromtroopers come in many varieties and some of the higher ranks might have jetpacks, heavy armor, missiles launchers and whatnot, but let’s face it: the standard, white-armored variety is designed to be expendable and cheaper by the dozen. Vader probably gets like a 25% discount for ordering in bulk. Plus, they’re none too bright.
No.7 Ninjas, Tons of Games, Sometimes You Don’t Even See Them
Ninjas are awesome. It’s a scientific fact backed by science and a whole bunch of statistics I just made up. Nine out of ten fictional scientists in my head agree that you can use statistics to prove anything. Unfortunately, Ninjas are often victim of the less-is-more causality equation in relation to their lethality. I’m talking in sexy, science speak because chicks dig guys with brains. Anyway, the equation goes like this: 1 ninja = badass, 100 ninjas = 100 soon-to-be-dead ninjas. Ryu Hayabusa, from the Ninja Gaiden series, is an overwhelmingly powerful opponent who regularly goes up against his own kind. So why is it that hundreds of similarly trained foes can’t seem to defeat him? Hell, Wolverine kills 57 ninjas on his way to work every morning!
So why is it that individual ninjas fare much better than their ganged up counterparts? I have another theory because my brain is bustling with science stuff and exotic narcotics! You know those video game moments where your character is suddenly rushed by about 100 ninjas? I believe that 99 of those dudes have no idea what they’re doing. They’re just handed a katana and told to go out there and kill stuff, quite possibly told lies about how they’ve been handed a sword of invincibility or ninja sandals of fleetness or something. But ninjas are all about tricks and deception! You see, these 99 doomed idiots are just cover for the one guy who knows what he’s doing hidden in the middle of the group. Their job is to get him to the target by swamping the hero in dead bodies. It’s the only thing that makes sense!
No.6 Terrorists, Any FPS Of The Last 10 Years
If you’ve played any first-person shooter released in the last decade or so, odds are you’ve gone up against some foreign devils intent on ravishing our American women and destroying our American way of life and stealing our American cable. Yes, franchises like the Rainbow Six series might feature terrorists of the homegrown variety but, let’s face it, most shooters aren’t exactly politically correct and usually have you going up against villains that have the word Jihad in their vocabulary. The kind of people that enjoy lighting burrito-toughened farts in the general direction of America.
Luckily, since entering the modern age of shooters, our valiant servicemen/anti-terrorism special ops groups (insert random FPS cliché here) have been blessed with the only weapon one needs to achieve victory in the global war on terror: the rebounding health meter. Yes, that grenade indicator you totally missed may have blown you into a red smear on the wall, but walk it off, son, walk it off. A few recent shooters (Homefront) have tried to shift the focus to conflicts against foreign armies, but I doubt the industry will ever outgrow its penchant for focusing on wave after wave of AK-47 wielding bad guys of undetermined, Middle-Eastern origin.
Find out who ranks Number 1 as the ultimate generic video bad guy after the jump…