Go on, give us a smile
Modern video game characters are so moody. Just look at their faces. Trevor Philips: angry. Aiden Pearce: complete poker face, devoid of emotion. Kirby: Happiness vacuum. OK, I just used Kirby so I could make the joke, but even he looks a bit pissed off. Why are they like this? Because it isnt cool to be happy any more. Ill say that again so it really sinks in: It is not cool to be happy any more. What a sorry state of affairs that is.
Well, it can't have been like this forever. Indeed, I definitely remember there being some happy characters in gaming. Lets try and find the king or queen of them all and crown them gamings happiest character. Even if I have to go right back to the paddles in Pong, I'm gonna do it. Any platform, any game... Wish me luck.
Sackboys emotions are metaphorically written all over his knitted face. One moment he can be grinning from ear to ear with a smile so wide, it threatens to consume everything in the vicinity, Kirby-style. But a few downers later (I mean on the dpad, of course) and hes suddenly utterly morose, sticking pictures of skulls to everything and even demonstrating extreme self-destructive tendencies just because he cant see a way out of his current situation. They do say happiness and sadness are cut from the same cloth Still, most of the time, he seems chipper enough. Let's check the Happy-o-meter...
Happy-o-meter rating: 70%
B.D. Joe (Crazy Taxi)
Happy-o-meter rating: 90%
Croc (Croc: Legend of the Gobbos)
32-bit platform hero Croc is a happy soul. A bit gormless, perhaps, but he's full of yazoo!s and 'kersplat!'s and other such expressions of pleasure. He doesn't always smile in-game, instead preferring to blink at things with massive eyes. But he appears to be perfectly jovial, whatever he's doing. He even looks happy at defeated bosses, like the giant ladybird that returns to its normal size and perches on his nose. Aww. And put it this way: I haven't ever seen any (straightens tie) crocodile tears.
Happy-o-meter rating: 81%. Mind you, this might have something to do with the fact he started off his existence as
Yoshi (Super Mario World)
Yoshi is adorable. Why? Because he makes cheerful noises. The one where he sticks his tongue out is a personal fave. Nnnn-ang! Although quite why he looks *that* pleased when he lays an egg does concern me a little. Either way, Yoshi never looks down in the dumps. Distressed, perhaps, when he gets hit by a goomba, but then who wouldnt be? Even when he gets hit by a shell in Mario Kart, he just makes cute owowowowowooo noises and then carries on just the same as before. Good egg, that Yoshi. (Groan).
Happy-o-meter rating: 91%
Mario (Super Mario Bros)
Marios always got a cheery okey-dokey or a wahoo under his cap, and faces any situation with enthusiasm, optimism and an annoying chirpiness. That said, I have seen some pictures of him looking very angry, often when hes playing soccer. And there is pictorial evidence that suggests he once wanted to bash animals skulls in, as seen on the front of Donkey Kong on Game Boy. Sure, hes a nice guy with a family-friendly demeanor these days, but is that really happiness, or just a mask? Hmmm
Happy-o-meter rating: 73%
Dizzy (Dizzy The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure)
Dizzy is an egg who tumbled his way happily through a bunch of classic adventures back on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 back in the day. But, unlike the majority of eggs Ive seen on my travels, hes almost always smiling. In fact, theres only one game I can recall (from his released games, at least) where his face features anything that isnt a big cheerful grin, and thats Fantastic Dizzy. You know that song that goes 'I'm only happy when it rains?' The title of it escapes me, but the polar opposite of that sentiment describes Dizzy. Oh, and when the Pirate makes him walk the plank. But that is hard to smile through, in fairness.
Happy-o-meter rating: 96%
Samba (Samba de Amigo)
The star of Samba De Amigo always has a smile on his face. Hes always ready to party, is never seen without two brightly-coloured maracas in his hands and oh, wait! He is seen without maracas. And he looks completely traumatised! Poor Samba. If I were his mate, I would probably apply superglue to those maracas when he puts them down. Its the only way hes gonna be happy enough to function in society in the long-run.
Happy-o-meter rating: 76%. Just dont take away those maracas, whatever you do.
The LocoRocos default emotion is joyful. Sure, hold the circle button and they look a little perturbed, and they don't like getting killed (but then, who does?) but as soon as the world has stopped shaking, theyre back to their smiley selves in an instant. Theyll even start singing when left to their own devices, and smile and bounce and squish their way through their colourful existence with glee. Awww! We might have a winner here...
Happy-o-meter rating: 99%
Nyan Cat (Nyan Cat!)
Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan. That's a pretty happy ditty if ever I heard one. And it never. Ever. Stops. Nor does Nyan Cat stop smiling. And also, it totally counts in this feature because I've played a Nyan Cat game on iPhone.
Happy-o-meter rating: 100%
The Right Pong Paddle (Pong)
Have you noticed how things got happier as we went back through time? Well, here we are at gaming's inception. Oh fine, Space Wars blah blah woof woof, I know. I also know most people favour the right Pong paddle, but I think left has a bit more of an aura about it. Y'know, some mystique. But then again, maybe people prefer ol' Righty because of its dumb charm. It does indeed bumble through much more cheerfully than why-so-frickin'-serious Left Paddle. Happily batting its way through life's ups and downs (yes, deliberate), Right Pong Paddle never moans, never complains. I am, of course, talking complete bollocks. It is just a white rectangle.
Happy-o-meter rating: 0%
Is anyone happier than Nyan Cat?
Streaking across the universe, surrounded by sparkles and trailing a freakin' rainbow. Nyaning. That's pretty damn happy in my book. But is anyone else happier? Pikachu? The Adoring Fan from Oblivion? Let us know in the comments. And hey--keep smiling, yeah? The world's getting too dreary if you ask me.
And if you're looking for more, check out 10 sequels that ruined happy endings and Which game character has changed most in 20 years?.