by Anand Ramachandan. This article first appeared on my weekly Game Invader column for The New Indian Express
With the possible exception of comic books, which have featured some of mankind's baddest dudes (Lobo, Hellbrandt Grimm, OMAC, Galactus), gaming has perhaps been the home of the most dudes you wouldn't want to mess with.
Of late, Marcus Fenix from Gears of War is a personal favourite. This is a dude who stared down – yes, you heard right, stared down – a big, mean spider-monster about the size of Valluvar Kottam. This is a dude who killed a huge rockworm the size of Anna Salai by getting into it, and cutting of its arteries, and then slashing his way out of it with a chainsaw. All the while, making witty jokes and indulging in light-hearted banter with his buddies. Awesome.
I also like The Nameless One, from Planescape:Torment. Firstly, the guy simply couldn't die. Whenever someone managed to 'kill' him, he'd rise again, even more horribly scarred than before. Additionally, he had a journal tattooed to his back, and his best friend was a floating, talking skull. We're talking off-the-scale pWnage here.
Bioware also gave us some of gaming's greatest badasses in the Baldur's Gate series – Minsc, Sarevok, Bodhi and Melissan were tr00ly hardcore individuals who could decimate entire armies all by themselves. Er . . . okay, maybe not Minsc. He had a pet hamster. But it WAS a miniature giant space hamster, which redeems him just a bit, right? And, boy, could he dual-wield.
And then, there's Kratos. What do you say about a guy who took on the Gods themselves, and kicked their butts? That his main weapons – the Blades of Chaos – are fused into his flesh? That he clawed his way through a mountain of dead bodies piled on top of him? That he does all this bare-chested, since armour is for sissies? Words are not enough.
Of course, you don't have to look like a Badass to be one. You could be a short, fat, Italian plumber and still make the grade. Mario is so awesome, he can leap from planet to planet in effing outer space, without a 64y space helmet. He can take down massive monsters by chucking coconuts at them. All with a jaunty, cheerful air, and with that impossible jolly music playing in the background, too.
We could go on about many other crowd favourites – Master Chief, Solid Snake, Dante, Sephiroth, M.Bison, Astaroth, Baraka and Guybrush Threepwood. Er . . . okay, maybe not Guybrush. But he did out-insult an Aussie, right? Which makes him better than S.Sreesanth, right?
We have also had our share of bad ladies in gaming. No, not her. She's waaay too image conscious to be tr00ly badass. I was thinking Samus Aran. And Cate Archer. And Chun Li. And that chick from Deathtrap Dungeon. Ok, I'll stop now.
No discussions on gaming badasses can be complete without a mention of perhaps the great-grandaddy of them all – Duke Nukem. The Duke is the archetype on which almost all shooter protagonists are based on (except that wimp Freeman). Who else could say “There are two things I love – kicking alien butt and chewing gum. And I'm all out of gum.”, before matter-of-factly saving the world from yet another alien invasion? Besides, the Duke was the first character who could stop to take a leak in the midst of battling alien scum.
Sadly, with the closure of 3D Realms, we don't know if we'll ever see him again. But I'll resist the temptation to make the obligatory Duke Nukem Forever joke. Respect.