The 10 most feeble character motives in video games

"I claim this kill in the name of, er... carrots!"

Ive written a feature about the most feeble motivations in video games. Why? Why not? After all, the characters in this feature do far crazier, far more dangerous things based on far hazier motivations. Ooh, I dont have any plumbing to do, so Id better save a Princess. Damn it: my daughter is wearing a bikini, Id better travel the world and beat up strangers.

Video games often get unfairly accused of having rubbish plots and poor characterisation, but in these following examples, those criticisms are more than justified So read on, and discover the flimsiest, most bizarre motivations for characters to do what they do best in video games.

Sonic (Sonic and The Secret Rings)

So, Sonic has a dream that someone is deleting pages of the Arabian Nights, and thats enough for him to put his own life - and the lives of his closest friends - at risk as he travels the world, jumping over precipices and stealing jewellery. Okaaaay. Not being funny, Sonic, but there are bigger problems in the world right now. If some oxygen-thief wants to deface a few books, let the librarians deal with them. At worst, theyll get a fine. Surely youve got better things to do Didnt Princess Elise tell you to put the bins out?

El Fuerte (Street Fighter 4)

Fighting games dont need stories. Does anyone really care why two people are knocking seven shades of shit out of each other? Probably not. The very best motivation for fighting is either to a) win and get rich, or b) survive. However, as ludicrous motivations for violence go, surely Street Fighter IVs El Fuerte takes the prize. Hes willing to break the bones of his fellow men and women to learn some recipes. Yeah, hes a chef: I get that. But seriously, just read some books, go on the internet or - if you want to get more local recipes - just travel the world without hitting people.

Willy (Jet Set Willy)

Willy is just a tired bloke, who wants to go to bed after a big party. For some reason, his housekeeper Maria wont let Willy into his own bedroom until hes risked his own life tidying up the various party detritus left lying around the mansion while dodging enemies. Hang on a minute. Why did Willy let his enemies into his own house? And why the fuck is Willy taking orders from the hired help? Willy pays Marias wages. Its literally her job to clean up his house. So if he wants to go to bed after a party, and let someone else clear up the mess, then surely thats exactly what he should do.

Jim (Earthworm Jim)

Earthworm Jim is motivated by love. Ah, a noble sentiment, surely! 99% of games are about players competing for either love, money, or survival... so why is Earthworm Jim in this list? Well, its never really clear why he decides to save Princess Whats-Her-Name. Hes never met her; doesnt even know her. If the Duchess of Cambridge needed saving, Id let the army do it. Im sure shes a nice lass, but Ive never met her. Plus, and I feel this is quite important: Jim is a worm in a suit. What possible future can he have with a Princess? I totally admire his grit and determination, but Jim's motives are questionable at best.

Bass Armstrong (Dead or Alive series)

Another wonderfully bizarre fighting game story (and there are plenty in Dead or Alive) comes from Bass Armstrong. He joins the DOA tournament in the original game to make sure his 22 year old daughter, Tina, doesnt get hurt and because he doesnt approve of her wearing skimpy outfits and making money from beating up some dudes. His method of saving Tina from her terrible fate, is by dressing up in skimpy outfits, and making money by beating up some dudes. To top off the utter hypocrisy of his reasoning, Bass actually fights and beats up his own daughter during every DOA tournament. Nice one, dad.

50 Cent (50 Cent: Blood on the Sand)

The whole premise of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is ridiculous. In fact, its so bad that its actually good. Our Fiddy, along with G-Unit, play a gig in the Middle East (dont ask where, its the just the Middle East', ok?). The shady concert promoter has no money, so offers a mysterious diamond-encrusted skull as payment. The skull is subsequently stolen, and the rest of the game sees 50 and the gang committing genocide to reclaim the skull. Hmm Is it really worth a) potential death, and b) committing mass murder, to reclaim an artefact that probably belongs in a museum anyway? Especially when Fiddy is a millionaire several times over? Probably not. Seriously, just cut your losses, fly back home, and sell a few more baseball caps.

Everyone (Super Runabout)

The intro to Super Runabout - and almost every justification for gameplay thereafter - makes no sense. Joe runs a delivery business in San Francisco. Hes doing pretty well. One morning his niece steals her parents car (shes school-age, so shouldnt even be driving with consent), crashes it into Joes garage, and announces that not only is she moving into her uncles spare room, but that shes also going to become the manager of his business. What? The reasons for her sudden appearance, her wish to leave home, and her assumptions that shes qualified to run a small business are beyond tenuous - theyre simply never explained. And the cherry on top? Joe just accepts all this and carries on as normal.

Dizzy (Treasure Island Dizzy)

Treasure Island Dizzy is the classic tale of one eggs quest to lodge a compensation claim against a holiday company. You see, when Dizzy is on-ship, enjoying a cruise, he accidentally uses the spare leg of notorious pirate Long John Silver as a wicket during an impromptu game of cricket. When Long John discovers this, he gets (understandably) pissed off, and makes Dizzy walk the plank. This maroons Dizzy on a tropical island, and the rest of the game sees him attempting to return home to lodge his complaint. Seriously?

Everyone (Incredible Crisis)

A game as bonkers as Incredible Crisis, naturally, has a crazy premise. Essentially, its grandma Harukos birthday, and her family have over-promised on the gifts theyre planning to give her. Somehow, this leads to the main characters running away from giant boulders, becoming hostages, and getting involved in fights between the navy and UFOs. The insignificance of the main premise only serves to highlight the madness of Incredible Crisis 24 mini-games: it truly is king of the tenuous quests.

King Panther (Conker's Bad Fur Day)

Yeah, I get it: Conkers Bad Fur Day is mocking other games with so-called excuse plots. Conker himself just wants to get home after a night on the town. Hes got a hangover, hes tired - fair enough. Its the motivations of his nemesis, the Panther King, that provide the satire. Deep breath The Panther King is incubating an alien inside his body. The alien requires milk to survive. The Panther King keeps spilling his milk because it rests on a table with a wonky leg. The leg in question is too short, so in order to balance the table, the Panther King needs an object the exact size of a red squirrel. Conker is a red squirrel. So, the Panther King spends the whole game trying to kidnap Conker to balance his table. Phew.


Andy has been writing about games since 1999, when he nagged the Editors of his University newspaper so much they let him start a brand-new video games section. After that he worked in print mags for over 10 years before switching to the murky world of online editing, when he became Executive Editor on GamesRadar. Now he uses his ill-gotten power and influence to write endless, beard-stroking think-pieces on Destiny and Game of Thrones. Spoil the latest episode of the show, and he will cut you.
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