Say what you see!
A wise man once said 'catchphrases are a lot like watching old people fall over; funny at first, then just kind of sad'. I know this, because I was that wise man *dramatic camera angles* Of course, some of these little quips can stand the test of time quite admirably. The likes of 'It's a me Mario!' and Phoenix Wright's 'Objection!' continue to confound fad status, thanks in large part to their speaker's enduring popularity.
Other witticisms meanwhile aren't nearly so lucky. Some are just plain bad to begin with. Today's nonsensical list of things features 14 of these poor, played out phrases--and just to show I'm not all bad--some 'top quality' crowd-pleasing replacements. Now, if I might introduce a real zinger of my own: 'let's all go ahead and read some of this stuff'. Coming soon to a t-shirt near you.
Toad (Super Mario Bros.) - 'Thank you Mario, but our princess is in another castle'
Talk about a gut punch. This infamous phrase ought to be splitting Mario's spleen wide open. Armed with some of the worst intel in all of gaming (the hunt for Kirby's WMDs is a close second) Mario repeatedly risks life and limb in pursuit of his pouting Princess Peach--only to discover that she's never, and I mean e-e-e-ever where she's supposed to be. Of course, thats nothing compared to the singular thrill of listening to the same smug-eyed answer following each and every failed rescue. "Yes, yes I know you were expecting a buxom blonde, Mario, but I'm afraid you're just going to have to make do with this pint-sized sentient fungus." Sounds like your average trip to Amsterdam, then.
Alternate suggestion: "*cough*, Mario--it's a trap, Bowser he rigged the room to blow, tell my wife that II" *impressively large explosion*
Skylar (Cybermorph) - 'Where did you learn to fly?'
It seems TV's Breaking Bad isn't the only show with a nagging lass named 'Skyler'. 1993's Cybermorph, a flop-tacular flight sim from Atari features its own variant--albeit with an 'a' in place of the 'e', and a cold, emotionless exterior instead of ano, no they're pretty much the same character. Appearing every time the player impacts on an object--which, in a game of 2-inch draw distances is a fairly common occurrence--this A.I companion is enough to make you wish they'd just get on with activating SkyNet already. At least that way we could punch a big ol' machine straight in the face, before taking up your spot in the skull-paved highway
Alternate suggestion: "I know now why you fly, but it's something I can never do" *self-terminates*
Harbinger (Mass Effect 2) - 'Assuming direct control'
Bland, standardised and more than likely to bug, Mass Effect's Collectors are well suited to their favourite phrases. 'Assuming control', 'assuming direct control', 'assuming control of this form'--geez Harby, would you change the channel already? You're a world-eating monster ship--you've trashed more libraries than the Nazis and Vikings combined, surely you can come up with something a little more inspired than that? Speaking of which
Alternate suggestion(s): "I'm going to turn this shell to swell, and this gun to fun--it's time for another extreme insect overlord makeover!"
"Got crabs?!" *high fives*
Link (Zelda cartoon) - 'Well exssssscuse me, Princess!'
What do you mean 'not a real video game?'. Well exsssssscuse me! See what I did there? Did you? It was good, wasnt it? Your move Shakespeare. Anyhoo, this seventh level of catchphrase hell first appeared in the short-lived Zelda cartoons of the late 1980s. Ripe with fictional inaccuracies and fan-baiting mistakes--Link appears with brown hair and errchats quite a lot--this sassy, some would say lunacy-inducing phrase has all the hallmarks of a schoolyard smash. Fortunately, it appears that someone at Ninty took pity on the rest of humanity, deciding to scrap the show before any of that could happen. You might even say we were'excused' after all Yeah I'm leaving.
Alternate suggestion: "" *wild stabbing motions*
Yoshi - 'Yoshi!'
Remind me again, how is it that Yoshi (and the vast majority of Pokmon) can learn to speak their own names, but not a single lick more? I mean, it's not as if they're parrots, repeating our words ad neaseum for their own sick amusement. These are distinct, phonetically complex quips. Maybe they're all just massive egomaniacs--they could be talking up a storm, but why bother? Why choose to recite one of Luigi's many hate-filled limericks when you could be blathering on about yourself instead? Still, if stating your own name sounded like a chew toy being attacked, you might just stick to silence.
Alternate suggestion: "My spine aches. Please refrain from riding me"
Guards (Oblivion) - 'Stop right there, criminal scum!'
Before there was 'arrow in the knee' there was this. Uttered after every single transgression--no matter how minor--this stern rebuke lives on today as one of the most maddeningly memorable lines in a franchise well known for it meme-worthy repeats. In a world where 'progressive policing' likely translates as 'the odd day off from torture', Oblivion's guards remain an unsurprisingly hard-line lot. Still, considering just how easy it is to bribe them, you'd expect a little bit more courtesy.
Alternate suggestion: "Your paypal account has been charged 3000 Royal Septims, please enjoy your order of--'crazed village-wide slaughter'."
Guards (New Vegas) - 'Patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for Nuclear Winter'
Ahaaaa! I see what you did there, you crafty writers you! The Mojave Desert is hot, whereas a Nuclear winter is cold. Living in one spot makes you long for the other, when in fact both situations present their own unique and dire challenges. Brilliant! That really is top quality conversation. Alright, so maybe it isn't that bad, at least not as the one-off wisecrack its writer likely intended it to be. Sadly, the folks at Obsidian Entertainment decided to cut some corners vis-a-vis variety, and now you get to hear this self-satisfied jibe every single time you encounter one of the game's many NCR troopers. Like a passing fad that lasts long enough to draw in middle-aged admirers, this quip just keeps on getting lamer the more people join in.
Alternate suggestion: "The desert is hot, I am greatly chafed by this, but feel no pressing need to crack jokes about it at the present time. Thank you and goodbye"
The Warden (Dragon Age: Origins) - 'Can I get you a ladder, so you can get off my back?'
The key to writing good combat dialogue is a lot like being a successful hangman; always try to keep things short, simple and snappy. Remember, these battle born quips are the same grunts and groans that players will be hearing over and over again throughout their epic adventures. So, for the love of all things that are holy, never try and get creative. Unfortunately for those players who opted for the 'violent' voice set in Dragon Age: Origins, the game's staff of writers decided to include one highly visible, hugely lame phrase to rule them all. 'Can I get you a ladder, so you can get off my back?' sounds like some kind of reverse chat-up line, from a world without humour, or hope.
Alternate suggestion: "aaargh!", "Hhhhrrr!", "Heeyaaar!"
Street Vendor (Sleeping Dogs) - 'Why do you not have a Pork Bun in your hand!'
Some folks are just natural born salespeople. Smart, affable, attractive and just a wee bit sly, they convince us to part with our hard-earned cash faster than a Nigerian monarch at an over-50s Internet cafe (those exist right?). As for the rest of them, you know--the other 95% of professional orators--well let's just say they're not quite so gifted in the 'gab' department. Like a snoozing pooch with a bone, these c-list marketers make a lazy, yet somehow still quite aggravating attempt to convince us of their position--none more so than Sleeping Dogs Pork Bun-bonkers vendor. He patronises, he asks nonsensical questions, and occasionally even denies your manhood. Sorry dude, no sale. Now please be so good as to stand here while I perform impressive kung-fu on your person.
Alternate suggestion: "Come getcha mystery meat, every bite a different animal!"
Commander Shepherd (Mass Effect) - 'I'm Commander Shepherd and this is my favourite store on the Citadel'
You're the baddest man or lass in the whole damn galaxy--so why exactly are you endorsing a store? It's not even a very big one, and the owners haven't tried plying you with any free gear. The most famous face in the known universe just happens to show up at Nothing, Nowhere Boutique and the dude who's working the desk is prepared to quibble for a discount? I'll tell you this much, Garrus wouldn't take it. He'd flip them the middle talon, say something witty like 'calibrate this sucka' and then bounce. Even if Shep absolutely had to get his or her face out there, couldn't he/she have done it with a little more oomph? i.e.
Alternate suggestion: "Sup, Commander Shepherd here. All life in the universe is about to be extinguished, so you better dress well for the end. Check out this spot for the hottest cosmic cremation gear. Peace!"
Tidus (Final Fantasy X) 'This is my story'
Self-centred much? Tidus may not be the honking great noise box that everyone assumes he is, but the man from Zanarkand does himself very few favours with a silly slogan like this. It's bad enough that we're saddled playing as the lamest character in an otherwise interesting crowd, but does he really have to keep rubbing it in? Auron's been through some stuff man, he's got as much right to this tale as anyone, and what about Yuna--isn't Tidus just a wacky addition to her grand adventure? Way to be a team player T.
Alternate suggestion: "Now, this is a story all about how, Spira got flipped-turned upside down, And I'd like to take a minute, Just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became a douche with immaculate hair"
Important Merchant (Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace) 'Better stand back, mister, cause I'm about to slash...all my prices!'
Where women of a certain age go through menopause, men must suffer an equally debilitating phase--the complete and utter loss of all humour. Symptoms include non-ironic punnage and a newfound fondness for tired old 'dad jokes'. Sorry men, but it's inevitable. 50 years of total, nonstop hilarity is all you get. Speaking of dad jokes, this excerpt from the Phantom Menace game remains a prime example, featuring the barest hint of misdirection, followed up by a lame, unfulfilling punch line. Also, given that this particular clanger is dropped in front of a rather fed up Qui Gon Jinn, it's something of a minor miracle that the 'Important Merchant' wasn't disembowelled on the spot.
Alternate suggestion: 'Better stand back, mister, cause I'm about to 'slash' *urinates triumphantly*
Noon (Shining Force 3) - 'Now bear my arctic blast!'
Can a quip really be classed as 'lame' if it brings so much smirking joy to the world? Consider the peculiar case of Shining Force 3, a timeless role-playing title from the late 1990s, sadly burdened with some of the worst voice acting in human history. It's bad enough that the line itself--a truly pompous declaration that demands an equally arrogant delivery--features the indifferent tones of a lisping teen (probably), but the sentence itself is all kinds of wrong. 'Now bear my arctic blast!' Are you seriously warning your enemy what's on its way? Alright, I guess I can chalk that one off as typical RPG extravagance, but 'bear', really? Yeah, it can work, but it's reads more like you're asking them to grudgingly put up with your ice attack, to endure it all like some kind of stoic Russian hermit.
Alternate suggestion: "Be so good as to tolerate this chilly breeze"
Navi (Ocarina of Time) - 'Hey, listen!'
Here it is, the single lamest phrase ever uttered in a video game. Yes, yes I know this isn't exactly a countdown list, but this horrifying noise deserves special recognition. Combining the righteous self-importance of a rich 16 year old with the ear-splitting shriek of a sugar-addled toddler, Navi's insufferable quip measures a whopping 8.9 on the Jar Jar scale. That's just half a point lower than finding yourself trapped in a One Direction rehearsal room. Does Ocarina of Time carry an irritant warning? Because it should.
It's good but it's not right!
Eurgh, so many terrible catchphrases. Feel sounclean. If you have any suggestions for awful, awful gaming quips, please just keep them to yourself. I assure you, you'll be doing humanity a favour. Alternatively, check out the comments section below to sadden us all.
And if you're looking for more (vaguely) related features, why not soothe your NPC irritation with The best game characters of the last generation (opens in new tab). And then have a look at The 25 most gloriously stupid character names in video games (opens in new tab). Basically just for a bit of a laugh. It won't make you instantly rich, or good at science, or anything.