7 cute game characters who are secretly praying for death

Insane with the pain

People are really good at hiding their problems. Sure, the internet is full of angsty attention-seekers if you know where to look (ie. Facebook, Twitter, anywhere with the facility to post comments or status updates), but in real life, people tend to keep their bad stuff locked down. It's not a healthy thing. After all, letting pain and trauma simmer and stew always does the opposite of making it better. But pride being what it is, a lot of people keep quiet.

And so it goes with game characters. Okay, games are full of angsty attention-seekers if you know where to look (ie. any AAA action game hero), but in seemingly more innocent quarters? There's a whole lot of unchecked pain going around. In fact some of the very cutest characters must have horrific lives, by their very, unspoken natures. But, perhaps due to the pressure of keeping up their designated adorable personas, they seem to be hiding that fact. They must be. So, in this horror-filled Halloweek, let us not forget that not every nightmare is an explicit, garish carnival of blood and gore, and instead take a good hard look at the dark realities lived quietly by these poor wretches. Some of the deepest terrors are too far buried to see.

Bub and Bob (Bubble Bobble)

Bub winced in preparation. It was happening again, and this one was going to be bad. He could already feel it building in his throat, deeper than where the sensation usually started. That hard, round bulge made of a thick concentration of fluid, but made agonisingly tangible by the tenderness of his gullet tissue already starting to press against his trachea, already starting to crush.

Rising fast but never fast enough to lessen the pain it, as it always did, prompted uncontrollable convulsions, the heaving and the hacking tearing at his insides, the vague taste of blood apparent again. As his body further rebelled against him with such unfathomable cruelty, his mind raced with the hot panic that always came with this invisible strangulation. Breathing now impossible, he felt the last gasp of air and sputum forced from his windpipe into the back of his mouth, dancing and churning against his epiglottis. Soon the rest would join it, the wet, acidic mass filling mouth and sinus alike with a feeling inseparable from that of drowning. And then it would leave. Cheeks stretched to the point of tearing, jaw forcibly extended to the point of dislocation, the bubble would leave his mouth and start along its fearful journey.

Yoshi (Super Mario series)

Yoshi could stand no more. Head whirling with the incomprehensible horror of just one more hour in this world, he eyed the abyss between platforms with the same self-destructive lust with which an alcoholic covets a fresh bottle of vodka. Could he do it? Could he summon the bravery to take that final, guilty stumble? It would be a sinful move, of course, but if he could take the fat tyrant with him, if he could free his brothers from their own anguish, surely that would cleanse his soul just as readily as he damned it?

But he could not. Spine creaking under the plumbers weight, back screaming with the fiery, contorting pain of his endless labour, his will was weak, his fortitude broken. He would do as he was told. He would force the hard shell of another turtle down his sensitive throat, gagging and recoiling, and quietly, shamefully hoping that it would end him. He would push it through, he would push it down. Guts clogged with the stinking detritus of too many deaths, he would press the macabre swill into the shape of an egg, and he would pass it, oversized and terrible, back into the world. As he again made that same dark, silent prayer, he thought of the turtle. In another world a better world they could have been allies. Brothers, even. But this was Super Marios world, and in it, they were damned to accept their mutually destructive fate.

All Pokemon (Pokemon series)

The Tepig was, by this point, quite mad. Those spiteful memories of the time before those wicked, blue-green, sunlit dreams of air and space had surely been a lie. Not a long-passed truth, but a false product of his flailing, thrashing mind, created initially to give respite but serving now only to taunt. He knew now that it had never been real. He knew now that the ball and the pain were all. How foolish, how nave he had been to entertain the fantasy of anything else. After all, how implausibly cruel a world would be to allow such a contrast to exist.

He had two states and two states only. In one, he would fight. Locked in proximity with some poor, dumb, wild animal a feral beast of unknown origin, so unlike him and so mercifully unaware of its plight he would burn, scorch and sear flesh, lest the same be done unto him. And then, with himself or his opponent beaten into a stupor, he would return to the ball. Oh the pain of that tiny, airless, hyperspace prison, all sides curved into one, endless, unnavigable slope, all hope of orientation futile. As featureless as it was confounding, it nonetheless comprised half of his entire existence. Which of those halves was worse, he would never be able to say.

Om Nom (Cut the Rope)

On Nom looked up. He had no choice, of course. The mechanism saw to that. Holding him in place, tilting back his open jaw at the opportune moment, the device ensured that the speeding, sugary payload would hit its mark every time. Hurtling from the sky at a disconcerting speed, each confectionary bullet slammed from air to mouth to stomach in the blink of a watering eye. There was no time to swallow. There was certainly no time to chew. And besides, even if the process were to slow, all of Om Noms teeth had been shattered months ago.

Every day he became bigger, and fatter and slower. He was sluggish not just of body, but now also of mind, locked upon a rhythmic path of furious sugar-highs and deathly, waning collapses. He had no hope of escape. His only release would come as it did for all of those before him when his liver had swelled to the requisite, abdomen-stretching scale, and he was carted away for foie gras extraction, by either butchery or bursting.

Bob-omb (Super Mario series, specifically SM64 onwards)

The Magikoopa could not understand why Bowser had done it. For all of his own transgressions, he could see that this was a step too far. It had been a fine plan a humane one, even when they were simple automatons, thoughtless, mechanical devices deployed upon a wind-up path of destruction to defend the air fleet. Their manufactured threat had saved thousands of Koopa lives, replacing living footsoldiers with a more effective, mechanised force. But making them now sentient? That was just malicious.

And there was no doubt in the wizards mind that they were sentient. The lucky, stronger ones had broken free from the cause, repainting themselves in pink and dedicating their lives to peace. Their only act of aggression was in their aid of the plumber. But the remaining majority? They were cast into the green sprawl of the castles hidden lands, free to enjoy their new homes only until the Italian came. And the Italian would always come. Upon his arrival, their brainwashing would take over, and the sprint to a fiery death would begin. Contrary to the propaganda, there was no glory in their deaths. It was pointless, militarised suicide, and nothing more.

Sackboy (LittleBigPlanet series)

Sackboy knew that he should not be. A lumpen, handcrafted parody of humanity, his body was all the evidence required that flesh, not cloth, was the dominant form for the living. His rounded, bulging shape was as only he truly knew not designed for adorability, but simply the product of too much stuffing rammed haphazardly into too little binding. He feared rupture with every movement, so why, why did his human overlords force him to run, leap, and now clamber through his every waking moment? The false, forced smile they had carved and sewn into his head was the ultimate, vile mockery. Only his empty, black eyes spoke the truth.

And worse even than that was the grime of it all. His rough, woollen skin prone to pick up every last smudge of dirt, dust and gunk, he knew that he would never be clean again. He had been pristine white when he was created. No-one but he and his masters knew that. Washing? Not an option. He had tried that once. The cleansing process hadnt been too painful though an entirely waterlogged body is a weighty, temporary anguish - but the drying? The shrinking, the constricting, the very tightening of his skin, squeezing and kneading his insides until the seams around his body threatened to snap under the pressure? He could not take that again. Maybe one day soon he would pull down that zipper upon his chest and end it all.

Bubsy (Bubsy the Bobcat series)

Why had they made him like this? Why had they forced him into the spotlight, into a long-raging battle he neither wanted, nor had any hope to win? Sonic and Mario had been honing their craft for years before. He could barely even jump properly.

And seriously, what was that 3D thing about? He was born a joke, and he would die a joke. His only relief was that the latter would come soon. Bubsy looked at the gun and twisted out a final, ambivalent smile.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.