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Remember Darth Vader? He used to be the epitome of evil, the most recognizable symbol of scum and villainy in cinematic history. Then we saw the prequels and learned the awful, retconned truth: “Annie” liked to build toy robots, wear pageboy haircuts, yell cutesy catchphrases and hit on his babysitters. The character hasn’t been the same since.
Unfortunately, this happens just as often in videogames. Beloved heroes, villains and childhood icons are constantly being ruined through unnecessary back stories, ridiculous revelations, annoying voiceovers, stupid sidekicks and more. Here are 10 whose full lives we wish we could forget, but never ever will.
What we USED to know: Two things. First, hedgehogs can apparently run really, really, really fast when covered in blue fur and wearing red sneakers. Second, that Nintendo’s Mario and Link suddenly had some serious competition in the “favorite gaming mascot” department. Sega’s Sonic, with his screen-blurring speed and gently rebellious attitude, was the perfect hero for a generation of sugar-rushed kids coming into adolescence. He represented us, man.
What we know NOW: Too many things. First, that Sonic occasionally sounds like Steve Urkel. Second, that he has terrible taste in friends, hanging around with a zoological freakshow of other lazily named anthropomorphic creatures like Cream the Rabbit, Big the Cat, Rouge the Bat, Wave the Swallow and Cheese the Chao (?!). Third, that this supposed 15 year-old is involved in a gag reflex-testing love triangle with a pink hedgehog and a princess human. Fourth, that in addition to ultra quickness, he is also capable of entering storybooks and transforming into werewolves.
Fifth, and definitely most damaging to our sacred 16-bit memories, Sonic is something of a whore, appearing in whatever medium or genre is currently popular and necessary to turn a few extra bucks: party games, fighting games, adventure games, roleplaying games and even Olympic team-ups with his former sworn rival. Our childhood selves would be aghast.
What we USED to know: A prince needs to rescue a princess, and he’s going to look incredibly cool while doing so. Forget personality. Forget dialogue. Forget convoluted storylines. All that mattered were the deviously unforgiving death traps standing in his way, and the gorgeously animated acrobatic moves he’d use to overcome them.
What we know NOW: The prince is a bit of a prick… and possibly a diagnosable schizophrenic as well. In the past decade, he’s burned through three totally different personalities, each more smug and insufferable than the last. 2003’s Sands of Time protagonist was somewhat likeable, but only after dropping the pouty playboy act and owning up to his mistakes. 2004’s Warrior Within antihero was an angry emo caricature, so over-the-top we couldn’t even take him seriously. Arguably worst was 2008’s reboot, a cocky fratboy type who spouted lame one-liners, dressed like a Final Fantasy reject and rudely interrogated his female companion while refusing to divulge any real information about himself. Considering his recent track record, though, perhaps we should count our blessings on that final part.
What we USED to know: Slimes exist only to be slaughtered upon your sword. As the first and, by far, weakest enemy you encounter in nearly every Dragon Quest role-player, they are perfectly harmless, guilt-free practice for any beginning warrior. Rats have fur, families and possibly feelings. Imps and goblins wear clothes, so might have names. Slimes, though? They’re just gelatinous gloop, no more alive or aware than a bowl full of Jello.
What we know NOW: Shame. Everlasting shame for our terrible, terrible deeds. Turns out those blankly staring, stupidly grinning gumdrops have more than mere names. As revealed by Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on the Nintendo DS – and earlier by the Japanese GBA game, Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest – they have entire towns, governments and communities. They’re peaceful, friendly and occasionally heroic. They have children, parents, siblings and best friends. They sing in church, love to joke and say stuff like “Oh my gooness!” or “I’m blubbocating!” without a trace of irony. Basically, they’re the very last things you’d ever want to harm… and you’ve been murdering them senselessly since 1989.
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