JOSEPH “SUPER JOE” GIBSON
What we USED to know: Not sure who we’re talking about? “Super Joe” is a forgotten arcade all-star, the player’s protagonist in Commando, Mercs and the original version of Bionic Commando. When the latter was ported to the NES in 1988, Joe became the captured teammate you must save with the help of your robotic grappling arm. In each of these, however, he was just a simple soldier. Nothing special. Nothing remarkable. Nothing stupid.
What we know NOW: According to the 3D re-imagining of Bionic Commando earlier this year, Joe is one ridiculously complicated guy. He’s the leader of a silly-sounding government acronym, T.A.S.C., or Tactical Arms and Security Committee. He’s also (spoiler!) the leader of a silly-sounding terrorist group, Bio-Reign. He recruits your character, Nathan Spencer, then betrays him. He’s ceremoniously brought back from obscurity by Capcom, only to be revealed as the game’s villain and unceremoniously killed a couple hours later. Oh, and did we forget to mention that he may or may not be responsible for turning the hero’s wife into the hero’s bionic arm? Yeeeaaaaaah.
Listen, we’re not saying Super Joe’s original background was worth remembering or reminiscing. What we are saying is that this new background, and this new Bionic Commando storyline, are very much worth forgetting… and that we were perfectly happy when the premise was purely “You’ve got a friggin’ robotic arm!”
FIGHTING GAME HEROES
What we USED to know: Every lineup has one. The strong and silent type. The born leader. The unquestionable good guy. He’s on the front of the box or on the side of the arcade machine, staring with stoic determination. He’s on the character select screen, fully maintaining his discipline and dignity while surrounded by panda bears, skeleton ninjas, lime-green monsters and skirt-wearing sumo wrestlers. He may be boring, but he’s also safe and reliable. You can count on this fighter, no matter what the sequel or situation.
OR CAN YOU?!?
What we know NOW: Oh, of course. What a surprise. What an earth-shattering, mind-blowing twist. The fighter with the dark alter ego or secret monster form is the fighter we’d least expect. Street Fighter’s Ryu can’t be simply Ryu… no, he has to possess an angry subconscious that, if given into, will unleash a horrifying palette swap with shadowy grey robes and glowing red eyes (“Evil” Ryu, introduced in Street Fighter Alpha 2). Meanwhile, Tekken’s Kazuya couldn’t remain the mysterious hero of the first game… no, he had to be exposed as a greedy and corrupt overlord who sold his soul to demons long ago (“Devil” Kazuya, introduced in Tekken 2). Finally, Mortal Kombat’s Liu Kang is far too trustworthy… no, better kill him off and bring in an undead version instead (“Zombie” Liu Kang, introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deception).
Seriously, is nothing sacred? We love murky morality and complex characterization, but not in our fighting games. Here is one genre where good guys can stay good guys, bad guys can stay bad guys and everyone will stay happy.
And a cheap shot before we go…
What we USED to know:
What we know NOW:
Nov 5, 2009
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