You know I'm gonna be like you, Dad: 18 overbearing fathers in video games

You know I’m gonna be like you, Dad: 18 delinquent fathers in video games

On the eve of Father’s day, we pay tribute to gaming’s worst daddy issues.

By Anthony John Agnello, Russ Fischer, Joe Keiser, Gus Mastrapa, Samantha Nelson, Derrick Sanskrit, and Drew Toal • June 14, 2012

1. Dr. Light, Mega Man series
Dr. Light

Dr. Light, the bearded brains behind the creation of Mega Man, is a sort of Asimov-style Gepetto. Light, the story goes, wins the Nobel Prize for Physics, beating out his jealous partner, Dr. Wily for the top honor. Wily later goes apeshit, hijacks Light’s army of industrial robots, and reprograms them for total destruction. In a brilliant counter, Light reprograms his good-natured lab assistant and ersatz child, Rock, upgrading the boy into the soldier we know as Mega Man. Light puts an awful lot of responsibility on the new hero, sending his lone robot son out against Wily’s entire mechanized army. The story is almost Christlike, if Christ had an arm cannon. Rock/Mega Man gets the job done, but maybe if Light knew how to program some simple security safeguards into his worker bots, he wouldn’t need to send his kid into a hellscape of instant-death spikes and bottomless pits.

2. “Ken” Hayabusa, Ninja Gaiden (1989)

The opening scene of Ninja Gaiden shows two ninjas facing each other in a green field, under the full moon. Suddenly, they run at each other, jump 20 feet in the air, and cross swords. One falls. “With whom did my father have a duel and lose?” muses Ryu Hayabusa. “For what reason did he fight and die? Even I don’t know for sure. The day after he disappeared, in father’s room I found a letter addressed to me. It said, ‘Ryu, I am on my way to a life-or-death duel. If it is destiny that I not return, you are to take the Dragon sword of the Hayabusa family… Ryu, be always brave.’” Right, no pressure there. And so Ken Hayabusa foists his old grudge onto his son. After fighting through legions of enemies—including thousands of annoyingly persistent birds—and doing his ninja father proud, Ryu learns that his dad is not dead. Nope, he’s under demon mind control, and he’s intent on killing his son. Why couldn’t Ryu just have a cold, distant father who withholds his love, like everybody else?

3. James, Fallout 3 (2008)

Maybe it’s the radiation, but in Fallout 3, you have superhuman recall of your early, formative years. So you can remember father James—voiced by Liam Neeson—teaching you to walk, to read, and to appreciate the little things in post-apocalyptic life. Things seem to be going pretty well in your underground Vault home when, one day, James decides to flee to the surface without you. Perhaps he still hates you for killing your mother in childbirth, or maybe he just went out to get some irradiated air. In any case, the Vault’s overseer sees this as a grievous breach of security, and suddenly the fuzz are coming down on you hard. You’re forced out of the only home you’ve ever known and into a blasted, super-mutant-populated Washington D.C. area. Yet the next time you see James, he tries to act all fatherly again, expressing his “disappointment” if you’ve, say, recently nuked an entire town. Maybe if he’d been there for you, though, you wouldn’t have felt the need to unleash a nuclear holocaust. Did he ever think about that? No. Of course he didn’t.

4. Donkey Kong

If you thought Mario had it rough dodging Donkey Kong’s barrels, imagine growing up in the shadow of the biggest knuckle-dragger in video games. Donkey Kong didn’t skip out on Donkey Kong Jr. or pummel him with those massive fists. But Junior’s life and career have been a constant series of noble but failed attempts to live up to his pop. Junior is Julian Lennon to his father’s John. Junior’s fun but tepidly received arcade debut saw him rescuing the old man—whose mastery of the villain craft was obviously in decline—from a certain blue-collar Italian. The shame of working in a diaper must have gotten to the young ape. He spent the early ’80s in a remedial math program before changing his image and adopting the stage name Diddy. Dad has made an effort, teaming with his son in adventures and cart races, but the tension must still be there. How does a perennial second banana go about asking Donkey Kong for something as simple as a hug?

5. Heihachi, Tekken series

At some point, most whiny little boys will hear their fathers telling them to “walk it off.” This is not necessarily bad parenting. Karate-kicking corporate overlord Heihachi Mishima wanted his five-year-old son Kazuya to toughen up, so he took a similar approach—he threw Kazuya off a cliff and then forced him to climb back up or face being disowned. This probably is bad parenting. But it worked. The battered Kazuya was forced into a quasi-genetic pact with a devil in order to survive, and he spent the next 15 years as a rage-filled half-demon. Rage-filled half-demons tend to be pretty strong! Kazuya used his awful hate powers to defeat Heihachi in the first Tekken martial arts tournament. You would think Dad would be proud, but this still wasn’t good enough—Heihachi returns in the second tournament, beats his son nearly to death, and throws him into a volcano. Walk that off.

6. Deathwing, World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm (2010)

Lots of dads would like to see their kids get involved in the family business, but when that business is world domination, things can get ugly. When he’s not on the clock—attacking cities, causing earthquakes, and breathing fire on heroes—the über-dragon Deathwing spends a lot of time collecting consorts, so he’s got plenty of kids. His overachieving offspring Onyxia and Nefarian have been raid bosses since the original World Of Warcraft, and the rest of his line is so corrupt that the red dragons who consider themselves the protectors of life decided that Deathwing’s whole brood needed to be wiped out. Perhaps he should have just let the kids pursue arts and literature instead.

7. Dracula, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (1997)

Across all of his pop cultural iterations, Dracula is kind of a dick. Mysterious and romantic, yes, but still kind of a dick. In Castlevania lore, the old fang-face has a half-breed son with a human woman, and he promptly abandons them so he can keep doing spooky vampire things and get slain by Belmonts, like he always does. The son, Alucard (“Dracula” spelled backwards), fights all varieties of supernatural nightmares to ensure his father doesn’t rise again. He fails, obviously. In Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, father and son engage in a petulant debate about human-vampire race relations that makes Dracula sound a little like Archie Bunker. It’s every dysfunctional family Thanksgiving dinner ever, only with vampires. Upon defeat, the vampiric lord quotes the Holy Bible at his son, which is like Superman singing the praises of packaged Kryptonite. What a dick.

8. Big Boss, Metal Gear series

Big Boss wasn’t always an insane dictator hell-bent on creating utopia through military action. Back in the ’60s, he was an okay guy, at least for a highly trained killer. Had a sense of humor, a good moral core. But preventing a military coup, enduring a nuclear war, and killing your mentor—all of which happen between Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peace Walker—can change a man. Maybe that’s why he’s always trying to murder his son, Snake, who’s also Big Boss’ genetic clone. In the original Metal Gear, Big Boss convinces his son that he’s an ally before revealing himself to be the supreme leader of a private army that’s stolen a walking nuclear tank-robot. His son has to shoot Big Boss with a bazooka. Then Big Boss pulls pretty much the same stunt in Metal Gear 2. That time, Solid Snake has to set him on fire. It’s just not a healthy relationship. Of course, forcing your kid to call you Big Boss in the first place is a sign you’re probably not psychologically fit for fatherhood.

9. Bowser, Super Mario Bros. series

Divorce is harrowing for a child, as is the experience of being raised by a single dad. These potential traumas are hard enough on kids without their father asking them to risk their lives on behalf of their new mommy. Bowser doesn’t seem to care. The guy sends his seven punk-rocker children off into the world with magic wands in Super Mario Bros. 3, with instructions to murder the plumber who’s trying to rescue Bowser’s new bride. Bowser’s particular brand of bad parenting clearly took a toll on his kids. Iggy, Wendy, and the rest of the gang didn’t put in an appearance in a Mario game for eighteen years after Super Mario World, finally making their return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. During the interim, Bowser lavished all his attention on another son named Bowser Jr., apparently the favored child. No wonder the other kids turned into punks.

10. The King Of All Cosmos, Katamari Damacy (2004)

The King Of All Cosmos, an omnipotent being with an apparent drinking problem, destroys every star in the universe after going on the bender to end all benders. Does he clean up his own mess? No, he makes his son go out and rebuild every star by rolling up huge balls of junk on Earth. Then he has the gall to criticize the prince’s hard work the whole time. The little guy tries to remake the constellation Cancer by picking up some crabs, and the King tells him it’s gross and too full of crabs. There’s no satisfying this rainbow-vomiting tyrant.

11. John Marston, Red Dead Redemption (2010)

(Note: This entry discusses plot details from the end of the game.) John Marston’s life as a father is defined mainly by what you don’t see in Red Dead Redemption. Across his days in Mexico and the American southwest, you often hear John talk wistfully about his farmland and the wife who’s waiting for him there, but only rarely does he mention his teenage son. The man’s more interested in revenge on his own father figure than he is in becoming one. By the time John actually makes it home to his family, it’s apparent from their awkwardness around one another that John’s son Jack barely knows who his dad is. Jack’s a bookish homebody, and his dad’s a gunslinger. Not much to talk about. Just when Jack’s getting to know him, John’s gunned down saving the kid’s life. That single moment turns Jack into the killer he becomes at the end of the game. It isn’t necessarily John’s fault that Jack grows up to be just like him, but a legacy of seething revenge has a way of persisting across the generations.

12. Opa-Opa’s Father, Fantasy Zone II: The Tears Of Opa-Opa (1987)

Hard as it might be to believe, Fantasy Zone II: The Tears Of Opa-Opa is even weirder than its title. It’s a game about a spaceship with wings and feet in which you fight flying snowmen and turtles in an endless psychedelic garden. But that’s not really why it’s weird. No, it’s weird because of its ending, in which the game suddenly informs you that there was a story behind all this space combat. At the end, the little spaceship Opa-Opa has to fight what looks like an enormous version of himself. That’s his dad. Why’s he fighting his dad? Because the horrors of war split him into two distinct personalities when he was just a wee spaceship. One of those personalities became the evil mastermind behind the army of flying snowmen. Opa-Opa’s dad, knowing the truth of his son’s horrible dual nature, decided to become the leader of those evil forces so he could protect his son. The world of “Space Year 6226” is surely a very different one, but common sense says that Dad would have been better off hiring a shrink.

13. Andrew Ryan, BioShock (2007)
Andrew Ryan

Industrialist Andrew Ryan, a vision of Howard Hughes possessed by Ayn Rand, has to approach fatherhood in stages. All the residents of Rapture, Ryan’s stupendous city under the sea, are his figurative children. They play in a socio-economic playground under the watchful yet detached gaze of the city’s founding father. When things go to pot, Ryan’s paternal instincts kick in with a hardcore entrepreneurial twist. His surrogate children, ironically dubbed Big Daddies, become the industrial enforcers he should have had on the payroll all the time. Finally, Ryan has to face destruction before he can look his own true offspring in the eye. But even then, his final trick is one only a very specific, ruthless type of father can pull off: He gives his son exactly what the boy thinks he wants, and in doing so, he proves that the kid really is as much of a disappointment as pop always claimed. You ain’t never gonna amount to nothing, Jack.

14. Jecht, Final Fantasy X (2001)

During those brief moments when Jecht was around to raise his son Tidus, he rapidly checked off all the boxes on the Child Protective Services clipboard. He was a drunk. He was cruel and narcissistic. He even made Tidus play Blitzball, a humiliating sport that combines sci-fi water polo and brightly-colored overalls. So yeah, he was abominable to his kid, but at least he was there. It was when he abandoned his family that he became a really awful father. He also became a giant mindless whale monster bent on destroying the world, which is hardly an improvement. Nope, whale dad was just as bad as Blitzball dad, leaving Tidus no choice but to gallivant across the world and murder him.

15-18. The fathers of Miranda Lawson, Jacob Taylor, James Vega, and Wrex; Mass Effect series
Jacob and his dad, Mass Effect series

When you’re recruiting hardened vigilantes for a series of suicide missions across the cosmos, you’re bound to run in to a few people who just weren’t raised right. But even that doesn’t explain the epidemic of daddy issues among the squad mates recruited by starship captain Commander Shepard in this sci-fi trilogy. Here’s a sampling: Grizzled soldier James Vega’s dad used him as a drug mule. The alien Wrex comes from a barbaric race, but he’s still surprised when his poppa Jarrod ambushes him on holy ground in the ultimate escalation of an argument over which is better, sex or war. (Wrex stabbed his father to death, chalking one up for sex.) Expert operative Miranda Lawson’s father genetically manipulated her to be perfect and then proceeded to terrorize her when she didn’t meet his impossible standard. Oh, and that starched-shirt sidekick Jacob Taylor? His old man melted a bunch of women’s brains and turned them into a sort of half-zombie harem. And that’s not even the full extent of fatherly strife in Mass Effect. It seems like Commander Shepard has a type, and that type has no idea what it’s like to throw the ball around in the backyard.

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3,021 Responses to “You know I’m gonna be like you, Dad: 18 delinquent fathers in video games”

  1. caspiancomic says:

    You’re not my real dad, I don’t have to listen to you!

    *Storms off, slams door*

    Seriously though this is a pretty good list. Quite a few of the deadbeat dads from the comments section in last month’s Inventory about moms made the cut, which is nice to see.

  2. Girard says:

    Obviously, this isn’t a property with a canon worth nitpicking over, but I thought the Donkey Kong in the Donkey Kong Country games was Donkey Kong Jr., and Cranky Kong was the wizened version of the DK from the original game. Considering how abusive Cranky is in those games, I think the character would still fit in this piece if that were the case.

    • John Teti says:

      Funny you say that. There was in fact a long email thread during the making of this Inventory in which a bunch of us did debate the finer points of Donkey Kong canon, including this point. Ultimately, since the monkey now known as Diddy Kong was supposed to be the modernized Donkey Kong Jr. until Nintendo made Rare rename the character, this interpretation won out. Trying to sort out the family tree is really confusing, though. Now I know how Darwin felt.

      • Merve says:

        Incidentally, Charles Darwin constantly disappointed his own father by neglecting his studies and choosing to follow intellectual pursuits other than his father’s profession of medicine. So Robert Darwin could fit in this inventory, were he a video game character.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Robert Darwin also threw barrels down inclined planes at an Italian plumber whose girlfriend he had absconded with.

          So that’s another thing he had in common with Donkey Kong.

        • caspiancomic says:

           @HobbesMkii:disqus Sometimes I wonder how you could possibly have 50 more likes than whoever is in 2nd place on any given day, but then I see stuff like this and stop wondering.

        • duwease says:

          Geez with the spoilers!  I haven’t finished Darwinia yet, now it’s ruined..

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @caspiancomic:disqus I don’t know why people are liking it so much. The man had a serious drinking problem. Nothing to like about that.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          He’s on a roll, this one!

        • Girard says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus : Considering the topic of his posts, would you say he’s on a barrel roll?

          I’ll let myself out…

      • ImANarc says:

        I’m glad there was some discussion because I was about to get extremely insufferable up in here.

        ~~R.I.P. Wrinkly Kong~~

      • Liam says:

         Donkey Kong is a gorilla and Diddy Kong is a monkey! They’re two different species! He can’t be his son! It doesn’t make sense!

        *runs out into the streets yelling “it doesn’t make sense!”*

      • Shain Eighmey says:

        I love that there was a conversation about that behind the scenes. It really adds a hilarious level of detail to the piece. 

    • bunnyvision says:

      Goddamned Cranky Kong. Goddamned comically old ape

  3. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    A good inclusion to the list would have been the bloke from Heavy Rain. The game was about a father who fucks up big time twice – first kid dies on him, second kid he lets get abducted by a serial killer. I suppose he wasn’t a bad dad for the first fuck up, just careless, but he should have learnt his lesson to stop the second kid getting grabbed. Heavy Rain was alright but that character gave me the shits big time.
    As for the ones who made the list…
    Fallout 3 dad. The casting of Liam Neeson was a strange choice. To me, his character wasn’t the protagonist’s dad, but some glassy eyed weirdo that Liam Neeson’s voice came out of. Fantastic game though.
    Red Dead Redemption – Marston was a great character but then SPOILER you’re saddled (no pun intended) with his irritating progeny after the game finishes. I went for 100% in that game and was so sick of Jack’s voice at the end. Man.

    And it wouldn’t be a @StaggeringStewBum post without mentioning Mass Effect. *MASS EFFECT 3 SPOILER*. Being Australian, I LOVED the fact they gave Miranda’s father an Australian accent like Miranda. You’ve got to watch us Australians, we seem nice and all but stop paying attention for one moment and we’ll go and do experiments on enslaving every race in the galaxy.

    • Shain Eighmey says:

      I actually found that I enjoyed playing Zombie Marston more than Jack. 

      • Mookalakai says:

         Everyone hates playing as Jack at first, myself included, but he definitely grew on me over time. If you have the Gentleman’s Attire, he looks like a southern gentleman which is awesome. Also when skinning a deer, he sometimes says “Can I take your coat madam?”

    • PugsMalone says:

      Don’t forget that the protagonist from Heavy Rain could have gone to the police with the evidence that the killer was giving him at any time.

    • Captain_Internet says:

      The glassy-eyed weirdo that Liam Neeson’s voice comes out of is usually Liam Neeson. He’s been phoning his performances in since the 90s, and Fallout 3 was even deader than his usual… although to be fair Bethesda seem to find it hard to get decent performances out of actors in general. 

      Speaking of which, here’s another shitty Dad: Emperor Uriel Septim in Oblivion, who dumps his lovechild Martin in a temple as a baby. At the start of the game the Septims are wiped out, and Martin has to take over, and his Dad never even sent him a birthday card.

      • Merve says:

        although to be fair Bethesda seem to find it hard to get decent performances out of actors in general.

        Tell me about it, eh? I’m playing through New Vegas right now and I recently recruited Arcade Gannon, voiced by Zachary Levi, into my party. Levi’s performance is so much better than the majority of the voice acting in that game that everything else sounds hilarious by comparison.

        • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

           Obsidian is, in this regard, the anti-Bethesda. They know how to get good voice acting in their games. I could listen to Kreia lecture me about how anything other than True Neutral was stupid all day.

      • Mookalakai says:

         Yeah, but he did Martin there so the assassins would never find out who he was, and so he could have at least once secret son. Also of note is that Martin Septim is Sean Bean, in what actually turns out to be one of his lamest fantasy roles.

        • Captain_Internet says:

          I think it’s quite sad that the writers at Bethesda thought that would be a better explanation than Uriel not being able to keep his dick in his pants.

    • Mike Mariano says:

      Good call on Heavy Rain.  I Command-Fed this page for “JASON” and came out disappointed.

      • DrunkPhilatelist says:

         Jason?!? Jason! Why are there so many god damn balloons in this mall? JASON!

    • supercrotchinator says:

      Um, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell people what accent someone has, dude.

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        No, but what the prick is up to is definitely a spoiler considering it potentially plays a huge part of what happens at the end of the game.

    • Glen H says:

      *MASS EFFECT 2/3 SPOILERS*But then they went and gave her sister a New Zealand accent which was just weird.

      • Merve says:

        At the risk of being a pedantic asshole, it’s technically just an ME3 spoiler, since the player never hears her speak in ME2. But, as indicated earlier, that’s just pure pedantry.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          But being a pedantic asshole is what being a Mass Effect fan is all about!

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        I don’t remember her sister sounding like a kiwi, but if so it would make sense as she was taken away from her father at a young age and raised by foster parents.

  4. Victor Prime says:

    “Iggy, Wendy, and the rest of the gang didn’t put in an appearance in a Mario game for eighteen years after Super Mario World, finally making their return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.”

    Nice Rabin moment there – they appeared post-SMW in Mario Is Missing! (no comment), Yoshi’s Safari (which, to be fair, nobody played), in Hotel Mario (which, to be honest, nobody would ever ADMIT to playing), and in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga (which, to be blunt, you suck if you haven’t played).


    • bunnyvision says:

      Came here to mention their endgame appearance in Superstar Saga.

      Also I guess to say something about which Donkey Kong is which but I think I can let that one slide.

    • Girard says:

       Their presence was one of the (many) reasons Superstar Saga was an awesome, awesome game.

      The “Bowser Jr.” character always confused me, as his character design is identical to Baby Bowser in the Yoshi’s Island and Partners in Time. Why did Bowser go from having 7 kids to 1? Is Bowser Jr. really his kid, or some weird time-shifted version of his younger self?

      This will be the second time in these comments I’ve become waaaaaay to concerned about the canon of a silly cartoon Nintendo series that pointedly has none. WHAT HAS THIS SITE DONE TO ME?

      • PaganPoet says:

        It also used to upset me that in the 80s/90s, American Peach used to go by Princess Toadstool. And I’m to believe that SM64 comes out and SUDDENLY she’s okay with Peach!? No, ma’am! You told me Toadstool, so you’re getting Toadstool!!!

        • caspiancomic says:

           You seem like the kind of guy to not even get started about Robotnik vs. Eggman.

        • PaganPoet says:

          caspiancomic, last time I approached that subject, I had to be brought down with tranquilizer darts. So, yeah. Don’t even get me started.

          *pops a Prozac*

        • Cornell_University says:

          I never understood the Eggman thing, stopping playing at Sonic and Knuckles and picking up on one of the much later games, until I played Sonic Adventure on Dreamcast.  Robotnik was still Robotnik, but Sonic called him “Eggman” derisively because he was fat or his spaceship looked like an egg or something.  NOT MUCH OF A ZINGER REALLY.

        • caspiancomic says:

           @Cornell_University:disqus The Ballad of Dr. Eggman is long and confusing, but in a nutshell: the character was always called Eggman in Japan, but was renamed Robotnik for the North American release. During the Genesis years, all the “cool kid” Sonic fans called him Eggman, for the usual before-it-was-cool/you-probably-didn’t-even-know-that reasons. Starting with Sonic Adventure, the NA releases decided to start using the Japanese name Eggman, to the confusion of many. Nowadays, the “cool kid” Sonic fans changed gears and call the character Robotnik, for the usual nostalgia-blinded/pointless-contrarianism reasons. They actually addressed the thing briefly in Sonic Generations, with Tails referring to the Classis incarnation of the character as “Robotnik”, who claims nobody calls him that anymore.

          And now I, too, will add my name to the long list of people in the comments section who has wasted valuable minutes of his life getting anal about video game continuity.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          More importantly @caspiancomic:disqus  , we need to talk about what color Sonic’s eyes are.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @GhaleonQ:disqus I disagree. I don’t think we should talk. We should knife fight.

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

        I’m pretty sure Nintendo’s philosophy when it comes to canon is “fuck it.” They will throw whatever they want into any game with flagrant disregard for what came before.

        Which is perfectly fine, really. But it does make me feel that people who try to decipher that Zelda timeline are rather silly.

        • Girard says:

          Yeah, trying to assemble a timeline or canon of Mario games is about as sensible as assembling a timeline or canon of Mickey Mouse cartoons. It’s kind of missing the point.

          I think the Baby Bowser thing bugs me mainly because they had an array of interesting characters that filled that role in the games already (the Koopa Kids), then inexplicably got rid of them and replaced them with a single, less interesting character who already was playing a different role in different games (baby Bowser).

          It’s less a comic-book-guy irritation that a canon is being transgressed and more an irritation at a baffling and kind of dumb artistic decision.

      • GhaleonQ says:

        True story: I really liked working at Gamestop for a summer job.  The only drawback was nerd arguments.  I once spent 1 hour in (well, 20 minutes and 40 minutes backing out of) an argument with guys wearing that Old School NES controller shirt about whether there is a canon Yoshi or if it’s different every time.  Like, is the Yoshi that saved the babies those 3 times the same one?  Are levels completed without Yoshi outside of Yoshi’s memory?  If he dies and Mario completed a level, is that Yoshi canon dead?  And since various games in the platformers, role-playing games, and others require different color Yoshis, do some of them even know who, like, Luigi is?  BECAUSE PRESUMABLY the Ur-Yoshi is the one who Mario 1st met in that egg.  And ALTERNATIVE NON-CANON YOSHI in the fighting and sports and party games is merely a facsimile of real world Yoshi, but in what era?

        • PaganPoet says:

          And how come Boshi was the only Yoshi who was interested in clothing and style?

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus  And hair?

        • Girard says:

           I need my presumably male dinosaur who lays eggs (containing his stomach contents), and whose girlfriend is am mtf-transgendered dinosaur who lays eggs (WITH HER MOUTH) to make logical, consistent narrative sense, damnit!!!

    • PugsMalone says:

      Also, there were only seven Koopalings in SMB3, not eight.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Don’t forget their aborted appearance in Super Princess Peach! I’d also suggest that not playing AlphaDream games makes me doubt the writer’s sense of well-being and satisfaction with his lot in life. No one can be happy without that series.

      • Confession: I prefer Super Mario RPG to both the Mario & Luigi and the Paper Mario games.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          There comes a time when people just need to be shunned.  That time may be when someone doesn’t properly appreciate bean-based peoples and mustards of doom.

          (In seriousness, though I think the gameplay is much weaker, my obsession, Lovedelic, came from people on that team.  They did the monster and villain design as well as the backgrounds.  Mario even makes a bootleg cameo in the game in my avatar, along with Noji [NOT Jino/Geno!].  From the 1st topic I made about them: .  I’ve really come to appreciate that game’s boundless weirdness.)

    • Whoa whoa, I was only counting main series platformer appearances, you continuity junkies. 

    • John Teti says:

      That’s a lotta appearances! Entry amended.

      • BarbleBapkins says:

         To be fair, Superstar Saga excepted, Bowser does seem to send them to the, uh, shall we say “B” plans.

        “No, Bowser Jr. and I are going to take over a tropical resort. No, uh, you don’t need to help. Why don’t you kids. . . Make sure Luigi knows geography. That’s it, run along now.”

    • Cornell_University says:

      I have shamefully not played any of those games (except Mario is Missing briefly, and I had no clue what was going on), but I always thought it was pretty explicitly stated after defeating each of them in SMW that the koopa kids were DEAD.  when you beat ol’ goofy clown face copter Bowser he just sorta spins away, but by contrast after each castle the wording was always to the tune of “MORTON KOOPA IS NO MORE” which for such a cuddly series always seemed kinda gruesome.  I am well aware that there’s no real chronological order or unified timeline to the games, but I always just assumed that’s why I never saw any of the kids again.

      add my name to that “wasted my life trying to find logical narrative in decades old video games” memorial

  5. bunnyvision says:

    I have played and finished Fantasy Zone 2. I had no idea that ending was coming and was absolutely baffled. I really and truly don’t understand it still.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      The Playstation 2 collection is 1 of my most prized gaming possessions.  If only they’d included the Space Harrier series, since those 4 games are in the same world.

      Again, too bad the writer didn’t do full research.  “The opening cinematic story tells the traumatic story, as Opa Opa sets off to
      destroy the evil Menon empire to avenge his father’s death.”  And look at that screengrab!  *sniff* They reconcile!  I mean, even the Wall Street Journal’s writing about GREE (from the E3 podcast) and now you guys are overlooking minor Sega lore!  BOO.

      Any list of “games that belie their emotional nature” has to include this series.

  6. Shain Eighmey says:

    Fatherhood isn’t easy, especially when the only time you can be warm and fuzzy is when your system is malfunctioning. 

  7. Raging Bear says:

    More one-named figures (who are all, as we know, either vampires or singers) should name their children their own names backwards. Madonna should have a child called “Annodam,” Bono could have a child called “Onob,” Prince could have a child called Ecnirp.

    No one will know where Ecnirp came from or why he possesses such strange powers, until he goes to a conference and someone sees his name tag in a mirror and the terrible truth is revealed, and he will flee back to his castle.

  8. PugsMalone says:

    I’m surprised that Shadow from Final Fantasy 6 didn’t get a mention.

  9. NFET says:

    Shadow the Hedgehog had really awful parents too, what with one being a mad scientist and the other being a demonic alien (though their more parents in the “creator” sense). Of course, knowing this would mean playing Shadow the Hedgehog, which requires a brave soul not many possess.

    • Girard says:

       What did you father do to you that led to you playing Shadow the Hedgehog?!

      • NFET says:

        He just didn’t love me enough! *sobs*

        That said, I actually do have fun playing it in a masochistic, self-mocking way. It’s just too easy to MST3K to resist.

  10. GhaleonQ says:

    As with most pulp-y premises, you could just populate this list with fighting and role-playing characters.  1 of my favorite S.N.K. jokes is Kasumi Todo’s father, Ryuhaku.  His cameos are terrific, always watching her.  Let’s go with that most slavish to convention (but great) series, Tales, for the other example.  Kratos Aurion in Tales Of Symphonia is the 1 most people would know.

    Joe Musashi from Shinobi has his descendents all over the place, and I like Eric Lecarde from Demon’s Castle Dracula/Castlevania just as much as the Dracula example.

  11. SaoirseRonanTheAccuser says:

    Don’t hate too much on Dr. Light – according to the rock opera of the Protomen, he just wanted to help make sure no one else’s dad would ever die in an industrial accident (by replacing all menial laborers with machines, but whatever).  And if you’ve never heard the Protomen, have fun – the first album is pretty bad most of the time, but the second (a prequel) is much snazzier.

    • caspiancomic says:

       The first album is pretty bad in a kind of endearing “all heart, no production values” sort of way, though. Pound for pound I think I actually prefer it to Act 2. Although as you say, in terms of traditional “goodness”, Act 2 basically slays Act 1.

  12. PaganPoet says:

    Do foster fathers count? I feel like Chariman Ikutsuki from Persona 3 belongs on this list, even if he’s not a biological father.

    • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

       Persona 3 was one of those games where everyone either lost their parents in some traumatic accident or their parents are horrible (and from the sound of it, many of them would appear on this list if they ever, you know, showed up in the game).

      And then Mitsuru’s father, who looks pretty evil in his own, goes and defies the series by being pretty damn good. Maybe not Father of the Year material, but at least he realizes how screwed up it is that his daughter is fighting to fix the problems his family helped create and apologizes for it.

      • PaganPoet says:

        I agree, which is why I think Ikutsuki should count. Here he was, overlooking this group of orphans, abandoned kids, kids with absentee parents, kids from generally terrible homes, inspiring and convincing them that they’re the world’s saviors *SPOILER ALERT EVEN THOUGH THIS GAME IS SEVERAL YEARS OLD* when they’re actually the world’s doombringers. Que jerk!

  13. James is probably the single best example of Fallout 3’s narrative and dialogue being a poorly written load. He’s just so bland and terrible, but the game wants you to feel real affection for him and follow his example of dying for literally no reason.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      “You leave the bunker and decide to find your father because
      you love and miss him
      you need closure after being left behind
      a dark secret connects your fates
      the script tells you to and we didn’t pay Neeson for nothing.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        “Seriously guys, we shelled out for a whole performance this time, given that we killed Patrick Stewart off in Oblivion‘s first ten minutes. As such he’s gonna be your father, he’s gonna be the emotional core of our story and you’re gonna like it.”

      • The thing is you do have a good reason for looking for him: His actions led to you being cast out, violently, from the only home you ever knew into a chaotic and violent world where he’s pretty much the only familiar thing. The game however disregards that anger. It feels like the actual meat of the story was cut. James, and his relationship to the player character, are central to the text but they’re so nonreactive and nonresponsive that they basically amount to cardboard cutouts.

        They tried to make fractured families and fathers and sons into a theme
        in fallout 3 but it’s never really satisfying because you can never
        really engage with it, and because none of the little vignettes seem to have much to say about it. It’s more of a motif than a theme.

  14. Citric says:

    The father in Earthbound is like a bad divorced dad. He’ll give you money every so often and have an awkward conversation on the phone, but you never actually see him in person.

    JRPGs in general have a lot of dads who just run off when the main character is young and then you have to go look for them, continue their quest, and so on.

    • PugsMalone says:

      I didn’t even realize that he never showed up in person until the credits were he was just represented by the phone.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Oh, man, Mother 1, 2, AND 3 all have rough ones.  Great call, since they’re so memorable in the endings.

    •  Supposedly the dad from Earthbound is a Japanese joke from the eighties about the perfect father never coming home from work, but it’s lost in translation.

      I disagree about him being bad. I mean sure, you never see him, but that’s probably as much because you’re never home as it is because of him. I mean you travel the world! You go to Egypt and Canada! It makes sense that you only ever talk to him by phone.

    • ThoseEyebrows says:

      I was hoping someone would mention this one. I like how there can be totally different interpretations of what his deal is depending on what the player projects onto him.

      I never even considered the possibility that Ness’s parents were divorced until I saw it mentioned on some other site. I always just figured he was a workaholic who traveled a lot on business.

  15. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Mostly perfunctory Bioshock *SPOILERS*

       I was pretty surprised when Jack Ryan didn’t reappear after being soundly bludgeoned to death with a golf club.
       I guess Ryan had turned off his office vita-chamber and meant for his death to be final, but I assumed he set up his own murder as a fake-out.
       I don’t think it was unreasonable to think he’d resurrect himself.  I mean, video games are the one medium with a worse track record on the finality of death than comics.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Oh god, I know…JRPGs are especially bad with this. We revived our friend using the power of friendship/love/courage!!!

      • GhaleonQ says:

        It is the scourge of all who take in Japanese children-related entertainment!  Television, movies, comics, video games: it’s pervasive to the level of being national mythmaking, isn’t it?

      • Girard says:

        Unless the death suits plot purposes. NO STOP WHINING YOU CAN’T USE ANY OF THOSE PHOENIX DOWNS ON AERIS!

    • DrunkOnMystery says:

      I don’t have much comment on the points you were making, but “Spacemonkey Mafia” is a great username.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Thanks!  It was inspired by the years I spent working for the Coco Family off of the moon if Io.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      If Jack Ryan had appeared at all Tom Clancy would have sued. And if it was up to me I would have preferred they go with the Harrison Ford version.

      • Arthur Chu says:

        Ironically “Jack Ryan” really is in the story — he’s the player character who bludgeons his father Andrew Ryan to death with a golf club.

        He’s never referred to as such but if you put it together — your name is Jack, your dad’s last name is Ryan — you can’t help but think it was intentional.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        This is just like the time I referred to Gordon Freeman as Morgan Freeman.  Jeezus, I gotta get with the program.

  16. Squazz Muntbacker says:

    Dig Dug: Never there for his son Mr. Driller.

  17. cranky_olive says:

    Man, and that doesn’t even touch on Dragon Age dads.

  18. AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

    There must be a “You must have at least THIS many daddy issues/parental abandonment issues” sign outside all RPG casting calls.

    • I dunno, I think that it’s kind of an overstated problem. Obsidian games sort of lack Daddy issues. The only major character with Daddy Issues in New Vegas was Arcade, whose issue was more about whether he should fulfill his father’s legacy or live his own (relatively) quieter life. It’s really Bioware that goes back to the Daddy Issue well excessively on this side of the Pacific, but their writing is generally lazy anyway. I think the extent to which it’s there gets overstated because Bioware’s games and Fallout 3 are the major wRPGs of the past decade or so.

      Another thing might be the fact that games aren’t being made for kids by slightly older kids anymore. Now they’re being made for people in their twenties, thirties and forties for essentially the same broad demographic spread. And one thing everyone in that huge age group has in common is that they’re someone’s child, and many of them (including the devs) have kids besides, which sort of invites thinking about fatherhood.

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

        I was mostly joking. I know quite a few RPGs, eastern and western that don’t have any issues like this (actually just finished one last night, Atelier Meruru). I just laugh at the sheer number that do.

        Of course, I also understand the reason for this. It’s a lot easier to empathize and relate to a character whose problems are similar to yours or at least something that could have potentially happened to you, and everyone has a family (or had one and lost it). A lost and/or abusive family hits hard enough to explain just how terrible the character’s life really is.

        But yes, I can still list quite a few games in the genre that don’t do this.

  19. There are lot’s of game. All video are entertainment and good playing game. Thanks for share with me.

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