The Top 7… Historical figures defamed by games

You may know him as: The murderer of Julius Caesar (as portrayed in the weird, wonderfully gruesome Shadow of Rome) who framed hero Agrippa’s parents for the assassination, and then murdered all of his co-conspirators to ensure that the truth would never be revealed.

He’s also a leering bully who wears a lion pelt, delights in murder and waits until the hero has freed his condemned mother to kill her in front of him.

But in real life, he was: Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, an accomplished Roman general and one of the co-conspirators who murdered Caesar. That much is true, and it sort of makes any attempts to say he was “defamed” ring a little hollow. However, there’s no indication he was the monster portrayed in Shadow of Rome. Hell, he isn’t even the Brutus most famously associated with the crime – that was Caesar’s nephew, Marcus Brutus (although Decimus was also a relative and reportedly close to Caesar).

Above: He’s probably in this picture somewhere

Decimus also never went to any murderous lengths to hide his involvement from the public – he never had to. Caesar’s assassins, who were convinced they were killing a tyrant on the verge of turning their republic into an empire, carried out the murder in broad daylight. The following day, the Roman senate granted them amnesty in the name of keeping the peace.

While Decius died fighting Agrippa in the arena (in a version of Rome where public politics have the tone of pro-wrestling matches), Decimus spent the years following the assassination fleeing for his life, continually chased and attacked by the forces of Mark Antony. Finally, he deserted his own legions, and was eventually captured and executed by a Gallic chieftain, becoming the first of the conspirators to be killed.

Above: As far as we know, though, he never stabbed anyone’s mom in front of them and then laughed about it later

3. Amakusa Shiro Tokisada

You may know him as: The central villain of the first Samurai Shodown, and the effeminate sorcerer-prophet of a dark and evil cult whose influence spread insidiously across Japan. Also, he had some kind of axe to grind with the Tokugawa shogunate.

He apparently redeemed himself in later Shodown games, after being split into good and evil halves, but by that point we’d forgotten to give a shit.

But in real life, he was: A teenage Christian revolutionary and martyr, called “heaven’s messenger” by his followers, who led the failed 17th-century Shimabara Rebellion against the shogunate. Sparked by overtaxation and state-led persecution of Christians (with the aim of stamping out foreign influences), the revolt culminated with a months-long siege at Hara Castle, during which the besieging Tokugawa forces actually had to call in assistance from their Dutch allies. After the castle was finally overrun, Amakusa was captured and beheaded, along with an estimated 37,000 supporters. The loss of life was so great that the Shimabara Peninsula and Amakusa Islands had to be resettled, and following the massacre Japanese Christianity was driven completely underground.

Above: One of several Amakusa statues erected around the islands after which he was named (Image byJoshBerglund)

To be fair, Christianity wasn’t the “dark and evil” religion Amakusa spread in Samurai Shodown. According to the game’s backstory, his revenge-hungry spirit eventually made a resurrection pact with the dark god Ambrosia, whose gospel he then spread. And this particular characterization of Amakusa doesn’t even come from Samurai Shodown, really. If anything, it’s awfully similar to the way he was portrayed in the 1981 Japanese movie Makai Tensho, which seems to have been a font of inspiration for Samurai Shodown in general.

Above: It also starred Sonny Chiba as Jubei Yagyu, which is like badass squared

Here, Amakusa’s sudden evilness is a little more understandable; outraged by a god that would allow 37,000 of His faithful to be massacred, the reborn Amakusa pledges his soul to Hell so that he can take revenge, and Samurai Shodown seems to have followed the same line of reasoning.

Above: He’s also a bit less girly in this version

Probably that’s not the nicest way to portray Japan’s answer to Joan of Arc, but at least it gives Amakusa an understandable reason to turn to the dark side.