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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top 10 Most Annoying NPCs

The video game world is rife with NPCs (Non-playable characters to those last 5 people who are unfamiliar with the term). Sometimes they're useful when like when they randomly hand over a TM in Pokemon, sometimes they just get in the way like pretty much everyone walking around in the Assassins Creed series and sometimes they're just there to provide flavor text like pretty much every bar patron in every RPG that has ever existed. Naturally by very virtue of being NPCs and doomed to stay in the same areas and repeat the same text over and over, they're going to get a little annoying. These NPCs though go beyond the norms of mere annoyance and push the limits of your gaming patience. These are the characters you'd like to pummel into a fine dust of bone and blood pixels.

10. Every female NPC - Tony Hawk 3

You can't tell here, but even wolverine is no match for the Neversoft girls.

Quickest way to ruin a gigantic combo in Tony Hawk 3? Skate too close to a girl. In contrast to the male NPCs who simply get knocked over when faced with the full force of your handstand manual coming at them, the girls reach out and give your skater slap for getting in their considerably sized space bubble. I don't know what ladies have against me getting a million point combo, but they certainly don't want to let it happen near them. Nowhere is this ladies against skating mentality more prevalent than in the cruise ship level. Impressing the Neversoft girls is one of your goals here so you've got not choice but to get near them which means you're pretty much guaranteed to have a bikini-clad lady knocking you around. I personally support total gender equality and think that the female NPCs should get the same face to floor treatment I've been giving their male counter parts for years now.

9. Laura - Silent Hill 2

One of the earliest instances of Laura hindering progress.
Silent Hill 2 is a a very cerebral mind melting experienced and one of the most popular theories about the game is that every person James meets in that little resort town is a representation of a part of his mind. If that's true,  Laura is the part of your brain that lets you lose your keys only to find the some place no earthly being would ever leave them. And like losing your keys Laura is a constant annoyance. She doesn't really do anything useful for James, unless making James feel awful (though honestly he should) is considered to be useful. Instead she constantly hinders his progress while making snide bratty remarks. I'm not going to say Laura doesn't add anything to the Storyline, like everyone else who appears in Silent hill she's there for a reason, but I hated her and wish Pyramid Head would have skewered her.

8. Lunatics - Assassins Creed

This guy is just waiting to ruin Altair's day.
There are a lot of annoying NPCs in  the Assassins Creed series and some would cite the traveling bards or the beggars as being the more annoying than these guys as there are more of them especially in later titles. But as annoying as a horde of beggars wanting to tell you just how "poor and sick and hungry" they are, they don't really do much to you other than stand in front of you. The lunatics by contrast are not only annoying and in your way, they have the unique ability to blow your cover even if you aren't interacting with them. Manage to find a group of monks to blend in with to keep the guards off your tail? Not if the roaming lunatics have anything to say about it. Should a calm quiet praying Altiar get near one of these guys they do not hesitate to give you a mighty shove knocking you soundly on your ass. This would certainly be rude on it's own accord, but for some reason guards think that if a monk gets beat up by a mentally disturbed man, that monk must be up to no good, thus blowing your cover. Of course they aren't content to simply bash your face in while you're trying to blend, they also like to knock you down in midst of assassinations and chase sequences too. While it seems wrong to assassinate these guys knowing they're really "not all there", it still feels so good.

7. Child Princess Ruto - Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

This is some of her nicer conversation.
When she grows up she's useful to Link and has a pretty character design if you're into blue fish girls. However when, Princess Ruto is a child she's a complete pain in the ass. Somehow she managed to walk all the way over to Lord Jabu Jabu get eaten and then wander off further into his enormous innards, but pretty much as soon as Link shows up her legs mysteriously stop working and it's your job to carry the little princess around with you, find her gem and get her out of the dungeon. Naturally she gets lost or hurt or damaged or "accidentally" thrown into an orifice on a fairly regular basis and you've got to go collect her again. It's pretty standard escort mission fare, though the fact that the little brat refuses to walk makes it all the more grating. It's bad enough  that she refuses to take any personal responsibility and that she won't walk unless it's massively inconvenient for you, but she is also a colossal ass about the whole situation. She constantly berates Links about his sub-par princess rescuing abilities and his complete disregard for timely dungeon solving. While killing her as soon as she shows up would ultimately be bad for Link I kind of wish he'd gag her and leave her at the dungeon entrance.

6. Dog - Duck Hunt

These guy has ruined more childhoods than x rated fan art
The dog from Duck Hunt is the first gaming nemesis many of us can remember. He's surprisingly evil for someone who isn't considered an enemy. The Duck Hunt Dog doesn't care that you're 6 and haven't developed fine motor skills. Should you slip up and miss even a single duck amongst the endless parade that inhabits that one grassy field he laughs at you, mocking you for your failure. I think more young psyches were damaged by that awful laughing dog than any amount of playground teasing. I'm staunchly against animal cruelty so I don't necessarily condone all the games that let your murder the dog, but I would like to give him a face full of gunpowder like in the arcade version. Certainly no one can say he doesn't have it coming.

5. Almost Every Person you give your Number to - Pokemon Gold and Silver

Do not give this kid your number
If I could give anyone a single piece of advice about playing Pokemon Gold and Silver it would be to be very discerning about who you're giving your number out too. Sure sometimes some of them might have some useful information for you about a swarm of certain type of Pokemon or they might rematach for a rare item, but it's not worth it. Most of the time the want to call you and talk about absolutely nothing.Who the hell calls to tell a random stranger about their continuing failures? Youngster Joey, I am on my way to beat the elite 4 I do not care that you almost caught a tough Rattata. Maybe I cared the first time you called to tell me, I mean poor kid having a tough time with Rattata has got to be a real confidence killer. The 20th time you call though, I hope that after that level 3 Rattata defeats your pokemon, it rips out your innards and leaves you for dead, or at the very least gnaws off your dialing fingers.

 4. Roman - Grand Theft Auto IV

Roman is demonstrating just how big American stripper chests are

The GTA franchise has had a lot of really annoying NPCs, pretty much everyone CJ knows in GTA: San Andreas is a pain in the ass. Roman might be the biggest pain in the ass any GTA protagonist has to deal with (which is really saying something as Brucie Kibbutz appears in the same game). If it's not bad enough that Roman is constantly dragging Niko into all manner of trouble, he also wants to call constantly.  On the off chance you're not currently engaged in trying to save his ass or settle his debts or doing whatever other asinine thing he wants you to do, he's on the phone with you wondering why you're not hanging out. His calls to go bowling in the midst of a fire fight are the subject of many an internet meme, but in my experience he seemed more interested in getting drunk and going to the strip club. His timing was just as awful though, trying to escape that 4 star wanted level? Expect a call from Roman and subsequent loss in favoritism when you decline to bring the entire Liberty City police department over to pick him up. Busily playing with the Swingset glitch? Roman will not hesitate to call you while you're being tossed roughly 500 feat into the air, because if every bone in your body isn't broken it's as good a time as any to play darts! If Niko had any idea of what was in store for him he'd shoot Roman in the head immediately upon arrival in Liberty City.

3. Roy Earle - L.A. Noire

Roy looks like the self-entitled jackass he is .
All of Cole's partners in L.A. Noire have issues, they all give terrible driving directions, have a tendency to walk right into bullets while extol the virtues of staying in cover and each has his own brand of unwelcome snarky commentary. Those things would be annoying enough on their own, but Roy take things to a whole different level. Roy has particularly obnoxious commentary, he undermines everything you do and is generally a gigantic sleezebag and the sort of guy who needs a punch in the face. I can't really go into the depths of Roy's awfulness without revealing game spoilers, but trust me it's there. We spent a lot of time in free roam mode running him over with his own car feeling sad that it wasn't a more graphic death.

2. Navi - Ocarina of Time

Poor Link has no idea what he's in for.
Navi will inevitably appear on every single list of of most annoying characters. Sure Navi is trying to be helpful and let lost players know what they're supposed to be up to. This is a useful trait if you put Ocarina of Time down for a few months and totally forgot what you were supposed to be doing, this is less useful trait when she's told you the same information the 20th time during the same gaming session. Navi, I'm a little busy hunting skulltulas right now, and I really do not care what Saria would say. For someone like me who values sidequesting above all else in Zelda titles and avoids main line story for as long as humanly possible Navi is my worst nightmare. She constantly pokes and prods with her "Hey" and constantly flashing icon until you finally can't take it anymore and just move forward so you at least get the benefit of her telling you something different for awhile. I know I'm not the only one who feels like she'd be a lot more helpful if we simply ground her into pixie dust,  player hate of her is legendary. If you say "Hey, listen" roughly 90% of all gamers will turn around and punch you in the face.

1. Baby Mario - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Just looking at this I can hear his godawful cries.
If you've ever read another one of my lists or anything else I've ever blogged about you know I'm a huge Nintendo fangirl. I forgave them for the virtual boy and the fact that Ocarina of Time's camera angles made me feel nauseous when I was younger. What I have trouble forgiving is following up one of the greatest games ever made, Super Mario World, with a game that is basically one long escort/protection quest. You have poor defenseless baby Mario being passed like a baton, Yoshi to Yoshi from level to level. Every time Yoshi gets hurt Mario starts to float away and is in danger of being grabbed by Kamek. Of course Mario doesn't just quietly float away, a little tone sounds (reminiscent of the low health noise in the Zelda games), but the little tone itself isn't enough, Mario also starts screaming at the top of his little lungs about it. There are few thing that are more annoying than a baby crying and I have to admit that the sound does make you haul ass over there to get Mario back as soon as possible before you stab sharp instruments into your eardrums, but it is extremely annoying. Make no mistake I LOVE Yoshi's Island it has wonderful innovative level design and is overall a really great game, but the fact is the game would have been even more amazing without baby Mario's constant wailing. Around world 3 I'm ready to pop baby Mario's bubble into the nearest bottomless pit.

So there they are the worst of the worst. Clearly there are many, many annoying NPCs just waiting to ruin your gaming experience but, these are the ones I hated the most.


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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Silk Necktie

We have a pretty healthy collection of nerdy ties, because Jen loves stylish menswear and will rock a cool tie with an outfit whenever she can. Most of our collection of ties is Mario themed, but recently we had the opportunity to add one from Jen's favorite fandom, Sailor Moon.

This is an oddity for a variety of reasons. First, we've never seen another one in our 13 years of actively collecting Sailor Moon oddities. Second, it's a crazy pattern, I mean given the color palette it's most assuredly a bootleg/custom job but it seems a random mix of items even for a bootleg item. Third, it's really odd to have a Sailor Moon item that primarily appeals to men (not that there aren't plenty of ladies who look hot in neckties). We've known a wide variety of proud moonie men in our day, but it's no stretch to say that the Sailor Moon fandom is largely of the female persuasion. So it's kind of mystery as to who thought it was a good idea to make this. Was it one guy who commissioned a custom to show his moonie pride at business lunches and long meeting? If so why this is insane pattern? Was it a mass produced bootleg? If so why haven't we seen any others and why choose to make a bootleg of something so random? As we mentioned before there are male moonies, and there are girls who wear ties, but they're a tiny slice of the market. Also, the tie label notes it as 100% silk why waste a silk on a bootleg? Regardless of  it's murky history though, we're happy to have it and it manages still look surpsingly dressy:

Totally the perfect companion during boring business meetings and networking events.


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