1. Lantern nose piercing, Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch (2013)
When Morrissey sang, “There is a light that will never go out,” he was clearly talking about Drippy—a fairy from the recent anime role-playing game Ni No Kuni who has a lantern pierced through his nose. One that doesn’t go out. Sure, it sounds functional, in that there are large swaths of the game drenched in darkness, and it’s nice to have a little illuminated guy following you around. Drippy began life as a stuffed animal, and this glow theoretically brings the same type of security-blanket support. But Oliver, Drippy’s master, has plenty of spells at his disposal to bring light to the world, such as “Ray Of Light.” And others! Thus Drippy is doomed to walk the world of Ni No Kuni with an albatross hanging from his nose (one that jangles when he runs), a constant reminder that his worth as a magical ﬂashlight has outlived its welcome.
2. Gun-arm, Final Fantasy VII (1997)
When assessing the practicality of a character’s body mod, you have to consider the convenience—they all have their benefits, after all—against the countervailing inconvenience. Take Barret Wallace, Final Fantasy VII’s environmental terrorist with a machine gun for an arm. Convenience: No longer have to contend with the tiresome nuisance of holding a gun; difficult to lose track of gun. On the inconvenience side: An accidental massacre is always just one sneeze away. The attachment on Barret’s forearm—a surgical graft added after Barret lost the limb in battle—is interchangeable, so he can switch the standard machine gun out with other parts. Cruelly, however, the manufacturer of the arm attachments has only seen fit to expand the line with other, even more violent guns like a laser and a bazooka. Would it kill the good people at Acme Gun-Arm Inc. to lend Barret a hand, literally? Or at least something useful and non-destructive, like a spork or a Philips-head screwdriver.
3. Blades fused to arms, God Of War series (2005-2012)
Another way to weigh the practicality of a video game body mod is the simple question, “Could you go to the bathroom without suffering gruesome injury?” We never see Kratos step away to relieve himself in the God Of War games, probably because there are horrors that even this over-the-top carnage-fest declines to explore. Musclebound demigod Kratos has chains grafted to his arms, with a fearsome blade at the end of each one. There is much whirling—he might as well set them ablaze and become a ﬁre-dancer—and it rarely stops. Somehow, Kratos manages to use this to his advantage, ﬁghting some Greek gods and bedding others. But imagine every conversation with a potential date: “Nope, they don’t come off. Ever. Say, you mind helping me with something in the W.C.?”
4. Head permanently on ﬁre, Twisted Metal series (1995-2012)
Sweet Tooth, Twisted Metal’s ice cream truck-driving clown on a murderous rampage, lit his head on ﬁre and never put it out (at least according to the backstory of the 2012 “reboot”). So it burns and burns. His truck might explode on impact—this is a game where vehicular collisions are encouraged—but when your skull is already a perpetual inferno, it’s hard to care about a little more heat. The flaming head is great when it comes to bolstering his image as a merciless killing machine, not so much when doing anything else. A long time ago, one of Sweet Tooth’s ﬁrst victims got away, and he’s been haunted by the memory of her escape ever since. That ﬁery head is a beacon for mental instability, visible from afar and a constant reminder, every time he looks in the mirror, that his work is never ﬁnished. It’s his equivalent of a Blackberry addiction.
5. Arm made out of wife, Bionic Commando (2009)
The mechanical arm that belongs to super-marine Nathan RAD Spencer looks like it was made out of kielbasa and a barbecue grill, but it actually works pretty well. It seems to be capable of all regular-arm activities, and it’s also pretty good for swinging from building to building—it sounds like a net win for body modification technology, right? Except (surreal spoiler alert) the arm is, somehow, made of RAD’s missing wife Emily. Don’t try to think too hard about the narrative justification here, because there’s not much to be found. Instead, let’s consider more important questions. For instance, does this mean that he’s he married to his arm now? And after his next session of “RAD’s private robot arm special time,” does he have some explaining to do—or does he just have to silently contend with the cosmic mindfuck of weird guilt? There are a lot of implications here. Maybe it’s better just to go one-armed and fly free.
6. Sword arms, Blood Will Tell (2004)
Before he was born, Hyakkimaru, the star of Blood Will Tell, had 48 of his body parts (including organs) traded to demons by his power-hungry father. He was then abandoned, Moses-style, and the scientist who took him in developed all kinds of prostheses to replace the missing parts. One has to assume (or hope) baby Hyakkimaru wasn’t provided with katanas in place of his arms, but once the boy was all grown-up, he never takes those sword-arms off. They’re great, of course, for slicing up demons (and vegetables, probably). They also might make shaving more convenient—if not terrifying. But try scratching a back itch with those things. Or, you know, touching any living being that you don’t want to see mutilated.
7. Skin and organs grafted into diving suit, BioShock (2007)
Known primarily as the scourge of the underwater metropolis of Rapture, Big Daddies are lumbering, genetically-altered mutants whose bodies have literally been grafted into heavily-armored diving suits. The pièce de résistance, however, is the giant drill welded in place of the Big Daddy’s arm—a deadly weapon at close range, but terribly inconvenient when it comes to commonplace activities such as eating a taco, unhooking a bra, or playing miniature golf. The only plus side to the Big Daddy’s cumbersome existence? Giant drill arms may be awkward, but they also make handy paper towel dispensers.
8. Pyramid head, Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Short of being surpassed by, say, Wheelbarrow Head or Kayak Head in a future sequel, it’s difficult to imagine a character with a more awkward handicap than the scalene pyramid mounted atop the main antagonist of Silent Hill 2. The unwieldy helmet, which looks like the result of a freak construction-site accident, would likely prevent most people from seeing, talking, eating, or engaging in almost any basic human function. But in the surreal netherworld of Silent Hill, Pyramid Head gets around quite nicely—even while wielding a comically huge Final Fantasy-sized sword. Alternate dimension or not, you’ve got to think that all of that front-loaded weight will eventually lead to some major neck and back problems. Those chiropractor bills are going to add up.
9. Chainsaw attached to arm, MadWorld (2009)
Having a retractable chainsaw built into his arm is a pretty good thing for MadWorld’s protagonist Jack Cayman when he’s competing in DeathWatch, a game show where you win by dismembering other contestants. But it has to put a serious cramp on his life outside the murder-show circuit. Who would want to share a bed with a guy that could wind up impaling you if he flailed in his sleep, perhaps dreaming of all the impaling he does during the day? Shirt shopping would be a pain—you rip the right sleeve to shreds while you’re trying it, you buy it—and you can forget about going for a swim. Still, it’s not all bad. There are still a wide variety of occupations available to a guy with a chainsaw arm. Ice sculptor, hedge trimmer…okay, that’s about it.
10. Abrasive sidekick attached to chest, Comic Jumper (2010)
It’s nice to have a sidekick who can watch your back or bail you out when you’re inevitably captured by your nemesis. Unfortunately for the hero of Comic Jumper, Captain Smiley, his sidekick Star can’t do either of those things. Attached to Smiley’s chest, Star periodically provides some useful advice, but he spends most of his time being a jerk. Not only is Star bad at his job, the relationship has to be massively impractical fir Smiley, who can’t get any privacy and presumably has to cut up all of his clothes so that his sidekick can see and breathe. Since Star has no hands of his own, Smiley probably has to brush the five-pointed bastard’s teeth for him, too. It’s the definition of a one-sided relationship.
11. Missile-launching leg, No More Heroes (2008)
Cleaning a gun takes a long time. Fully stripping down a rifle for complete maintenance takes around two hours total, and that’s a relatively simple machine compared to other fire arms. How long do you think it takes to pull apart an anti-aircraft missile launcher and get that thing back in working order? The burden of missile-launcher ownership is even more severe for Holly Summers, an assassin in No More Heroes, since her launcher also serves as one of her legs. Given her affiliation with the U.S. military and her backup job as a model, she probably has a support staff to help her take care of that missile leg, but it’s still got to eat up hours of her day—not to mention the inevitable burns and chafing when she actually uses the thing. Seriously, do the math here. Holly’s preferred attire is a camo bikini and thigh high boots. Surface-to-air missiles are propelled by huge explosions. Huge explosions are not, generally speaking, something you want happening near your crotch with any regularity. Why not just carry a regular missile launcher, and make the one down below “just for show”?
12. Cybernetic body with sword legs, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty (2009) et al.
Some people have trouble coping with loss. After splitting from his fiancée after the apparent miscarriage of their child, the special-forces operative known as Raiden devotes himself to a sleek cyberpunk soldier lifestyle, allowing the mysterious Patriots cabal to go ahead and cut his entire body off (even his jaw, for some reason). The procedure transforms him into an androgynous cyborg death machine. Yeah, it makes for more efficient killing and whatnot, but one wrinkle stands out: Dude’s got swords in his legs. He is never going through airport security again. Can’t enter a courtroom or a public school, maybe not even a movie theater. Oh, and that miscarried baby? Turns out that was a hoax to protect the kid from the overbearing secret society that ultimately did all this to his daddy. Good thing Raiden got a son out of that after all, because his new asexual cybernetic exterior makes reproduction a dubious proposition. Assuming he even got that far after the first date—because, you know, kissing that metal jaw would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.