Our Top 7s aren’t just silly or videogame-centric – every once in a while, they can be semi-educational, too. And while writing The Top 7… Historical figures defamed by games might have been treading just a little on Cracked’s more edifying turf, it’s easily one of the most informative, exhaustively researched list articles we’ve ever done.
Credit for this one, in a way, belongs to EA’s Dante’s Inferno, which played so fast and loose with the identity of 13th-century poet Dante Alighieri that – thanks to an overactive sense of outrage and a passing knowledge of medieval European history – I couldn’t help but get upset about. Making Dante a Crusader was one thing, but the game also pinned blame for one of the Third Crusade’s worst atrocities on Dante. And no matter how fictitious it might have been, there’s no way that shit could stand unchallenged.
Above: What? No. Don’t be absurd
That could have been an article unto itself (which probably would have been whiny and instantly forgotten), but thinking about it made me realize something. There were all kinds of instances where games had refused to let the truth get in the way of a good story, even if it meant tarnishing the name of a real (but dead) person in the minds of gamers.
Some just stretched reality – Oda Nobunaga may not have been evil incarnate, for example, but he was pretty dickish even by feudal-Japanese-warlord standards. Others were more baffling, like Samurai Shodown’s decision to make Christian revolutionary Shiro Amakusa into an effeminate, diabolical sorcerer.
Above: This man led a failed rebellion against an oppressive dictatorship. Let’s make him our bad guy! We’ll base the hero on that one guy who killed people for sport
In researching the whys behind a lot of these questionable depictions, I learned a lot – like that there was another, less significant Brutus present at Julius Caesar’s assassination, and that the above depiction of Amakusa actually comes from the amazingly silly 1981 Japanese movie Makai Tensho. Hopefully, those who read it learned something as well. Learning all around!
Ah, game bad guys you didn't want to kill. This feels like it's going way back, but amazingly it's only been two and a half years. 2008 was a good year for Radar, wasn't it? We've chosen this one largely because it lit up on our hits counter, resonated with an unusually wide audience and did exceptionally well on aggregator sites. And crocodile sites too (fnar fnar).
It was an idea that even non-gamers could “get,” and that's what eventually made it one of the the Top 7 Top 7s. It's universal. Not that everyone liked it, mind. "Terrible article just terrible" said one comment. That was the whole comment, too. Makes all the hours spent writing these things worthwhile, doesn't it?
Still, despite such sentiments, I was actually pleased with it, and still am. In fact, I only just learned that it was turned into a full-page magazine advert for the site in the US – makes me wonder what else of mine has done the rounds in a distant land without me knowing.
Oddly, it still gets thousands of clicks per month even now, despite its age and the fact it looks nothing like a modern Radar article. It doesn't even have the orange sub-headings in it!
However, it's also rather painful to look back at because of the old Photoshop work here. Those goombas above have clear white outlines from using the “magic wand” selector tool. Ugh. Justin from three years ago, I slap your wrist for using such ham-fisted methods! But then I'll shake your hand – this one did all right.