7. Tidus – Final Fantasy X
Tidus, the boy-band looking idiot from Final Fantasy X is one of the most infuriating characters in the entire series. Not only does he not provide much to the overall story in the game, what he does bring is a whole lot of whining, complaining about being hungry, and a blatant disrespect of most of his companions’ wishes. Every time he started to monologue about how the world was different than his made me want to reach into the screen and blast him with Fira spells until he was nice and crispy.
From the very beginning of the story, he shows off as being a self-centered braggart when he kicks a ball and tries to show off at every chance he gets. Even when the game tries to show that he has more to him than annoyance during the somber parts of the game, he ruins it once he starts to talk about how it affects him, not getting the whole picture. How a petulant character like Tidus could gain the affections of a much better written character in Yuna astounds me. The only somewhat redeeming factor that Tidus has is that he can kill of the quicker monsters, though that becomes more irrelevant as the game progresses.
He’s also the unlucky spaz that started Square Enix making their so-called “main characters” into useless additions except for their looks in every Final Fantasy game up until XV finally corrected the blight. Seriously, take him out of the picture and the only difference is that Yuna gets to be in more of the spotlight, the story wouldn’t be plagued with the blond bimbo complaining the entire step of the way, and a plot that would give a more somber feel. Oh, and the infamous laugh scene would not have made me wish to cut out my ears for months to come as it haunts my dreams.
– Anthony Spivey
6. Emil Castagnier -Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World – Anthony P
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World wastes no time in destroying everything GameCube’s Tales of Symphonia stood for, be it a pointless monster-raising system, a woefully simplified world map, and ensuring the new voice of original protagonist Lloyd Irving had a nasty cold during recording sessions. Yet hardly any of these are as offensive as the new protagonist: the wussy Emil Castignier. While it’s understandable the role was shifted from Lloyd due to certain contexts of the original, to say Emil is undeserving as the hero is a complete understatement.
The problem with Emil lies not just in that he’s meek and uncompelling; it’s that he’s saddled with numerous plot points that never once feel convincing. Not once are we given a solid reason why love interest Marta Lualdi is so taken with him, and we cringe at the storytellers’ attempt to render him interesting: a violent split-personality who wants to kill everything. It’s a painfully edgy effort to make him cooler than he actually is, and it’s, well, not.
And that’s not even getting into Emil himself. It’s clear we’re meant to root for him to grow some courage, but the character’s persistence in remaining such a pathetic doormat throughout the game’s entire duration does nothing but annoy us. Even his reaction to discovering his true identity results in a “oh…yeah, don’t apologize about it…okay,” rather than functioning as an effective narrative turn. Combined with his constant repetition of the game’s grating themes (“Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality!”), he is one of the one of the many, many reasons why I pretend this Wii sequel doesn’t exist.
– Anthony Pelone
5. Travis Touchdown – No More Heroes – Jonathan
You can tell when protagonist is being intended as a goofy, lovable nerd to soften how brutal they have to be in power fantasy games. Luckily, a character like Nathan Drake is well written and voice-acted enough for us to focus on his warmth, humour and humanity, and forget that he’s kind of a mass-murdering kleptomaniac. However, rather than soften the brutality of No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown actually makes the violence feel particularly callous and grim, because the one doing it is a utterly self-interested, smug moron.
Travis is an otaku who has pictures of cute anime girls adorining his walls, and he regularly rents porn form the local video store. This would be a humanising character trait, except for the fact that Travis is entirely defined by his obsession with sex and murder, so there’s no nuance to his personality. Travis only shows any sort of basic human kindness towards attractive women, and when he does it’s in a supremely creepy way. He continually tries to grope his beautiful blonde employer Sylvia Crystal, even begging her to “do it” with him if he can manage to murder his way through the world’s top 10 Assassins. Sylvia, being deeply cynical, strings Travis along, saying she’ll think about it. Killing stuff to get physical affection from girls is a tradition in gaming, from Mario to The Witcher, but there’s never been such an uncomfortably blunt suggestion of murder in exchange for sex as in No More Heroes.
When Travis meets schoolgirl assassin Shinobu, she tries to kill him, believing Travis to be the one who murdered her father. Instead of knocking out or disarming Shinobu, Travis decides to CUT HER ARM OFF, only explaining how he wasn’t the one who killed Shinobu’s dad AFTER he’s turned her arm into a bloody stump. Bizarrely, the game presents this as Travis being a big old softie at heart! Likewise, Travis is unable to kill the sexy bikini-clad Holly Summers because she flirts with him, and he thinks he has the chance to get some. But when she blows her own head up because she can’t bear the (understandable) shame of losing to Travis, Travis cradles her headless body lovingly, mournfully saying he “loved her soul” (despite only having met her twenty minutes ago).
Unlike with the sexy girls, Travis doesn’t even pretend to have empathy for the men he meets. When he encounters Dr. Peace, who recounts meeting his estranged daughter and wishing he could make things right with her. Of course, rather than feeling any kind of sympathy, Travis only seems too eager to kill him. When Travis strikes a mortal blow on Peace, the wounded man weakly states a desire that he hoped his daughter liked his song. Travis mockingly jokes “You’ll be singing in hell, Old man” as he watches Peace slump dead to the ground. Likewise, when he defeats his first opponent Death Metal, Metal praises Travis and awards him the title of “Holy Sword”, encouraging Travis to train in the ways of the assassin. Instead of showing his older opponent even the slightest mercy or respect though, Travis smugly quips “Here’s your ticket to paradise” before beheading Metal. Travis even has a self-satisfied smile as blood gouts out from the decapitated man in front of him like a burst water main.
Astoundingly, Travis justifies his decision not to kill Shinobu by saying the idea Assassins have to kill eachother is “bullshit”, even when he doesn’t hesitate for a second to kill any man he meets. In his own mind (and perhaps in the mind of whoever wrote him) he’s a quirky, romantic hero, when in actuality he’s a lecherous, bloodthirsty hypocrite.
Travis only sees women as things to have sex with and men as things to kill in his desire for power (or as obstacles to having sex with women). Having a main character who’s a horny idiot can be fun, but when he’s also a deluded, egomaniacal sociopath, it’s a combination that makes your skin crawl.
– Jonathan Trussler