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For as long as I can remember, I have always rooted for the little guy, the underdog. I am usually the first to try to come to someone's aid, and maybe it is my own feelings about being the odd man out. This mindset seems to extend into my video game habits as well, as my character selections seem to gravitate for the odd and less appreciated. Actually, an off, weak, or otherwise strange character makes me suspicious, because maybe, just maybe there is something other people are missing.
One of my favorite underdog characters is probably Pokemon 129, Magikarp. Magikarp is a prime example of a weak character with something to hide. Level him up enough, and bam!! You have the raging water dragon that is Gyarados! But, oddly I tend to prefer the lowly fish to his much more powerful form. I believe I had a level 40 Magikarp at one point, thanks to EXP Share and the "b" button evolve stop. I could never get him to learn any decent moves, but I almost always had him on my team. When I finally let him evolve, I had an excellent new Pokemon to play with. It wasn't hard to spot the similarities between Magikarp and Feebas (originating in Sapphire and Ruby), so apparently others enjoyed the splashing fish as much as me. More on Feebas later.
I have made many decisions in my lifetime that have gotten me laughed at, made fun of, or otherwise heckled, however, I can think of few times when I have received as much ridicule as the time I selected to play as Olimar in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. To be honest, I have never really played either of the Pikmin games, I just noticed that all the other characters had been selected at some point. I decided to give the little astronaut a whirl...... I was smashed, utterly and catastrophically destroyed. First off, Brawl had never been my strong suit, and also I had very little grasp of what was going on with Olimar's attacks. "Wait! What did I just throw? Why can't I make can't I make it happen again?! Wait! Give me a second, don't hit me off just yet, I am experimenting...... DANG IT!!!" I quickly discovered that my friends had no mercy. However, one failure (followed by many more) didn't stop me from trying to figure out how to properly play as this odd little astronaut. My friends kept giving me all sorts of grief, that is until one of my errant Pikmin somehow obliterated a Smash Ball. My little captain hopped into his ship, took off, and all sorts of death struck down upon my opponents. I was very pleased. Immediately, I noticed there were other Olimars participating in matches now. Olimar did have an ace up his sleeve.
Now for one of my underdog stories that didn't have as happy of an ending. Feebas (Pokemon 349) cause one of my most frustrating moments in gaming. I played Pokemon Emerald tenaciously, and got very excited when I caught this Magikarp Hoenn equivalent. However, this time what I really wanted was Milotic, the evolved form. I had seen it in the anime and had been obsessing over it for a while. I trained and trained, tried some of the various stones, and trained some more. My Feebas was definitely living up to the feeble part of its name. And then I went through my Pokemon burnout. I had just grown tired of the game, and stopped playing, but not before I lost my patience and dumped Feebas, releasing him into the wild. Eventually I returned to Emerald, but didn't even give a second thought to my abandoned Feebas. Well, that is until read somewhere online that if you boosted its beauty, it would evolve. My Milotic Mania relapsed. I began searching every stream, every ocean, every random pond, but alas, no Feebas. I soon discovered that Feebas was incredibly hard to find sometimes, and that online guides were either lying to me, or I am entirely inept at reading them. I was not pleased. Feebas was the underdog I gave up on, and I most certainly got burned by that one.
Now for a more humorous entry. This character is probably a decent entry in Marvel vs Capcom 3. However, I am generally terrible in fighting games, and this one is no exception. But, being good at a game is not my priority, it is enjoying it. The character that brings a smile to my face every time I hear his banter in the game is the fuzzy little warrior Rocket Raccoon. Marvel fans hadn't seen as much of this furry fury until Annihilation, but he is an utter blast for me to play as. I usually get smashed to bits by MODOK (probably mostly my own fault), but that just means I get to hear Rocket Raccoon's witty dieing banter. Greg Ellis did a bang up job giving a voice to the hairy gladiator. Whoever decided that Rocket Raccoon needed a cockney accent is a genius. I will never tire of his corny Daniel Boone raccoon tail hat threats or seeming genuinely upset about news over the Raccoon City Incident. Plus, clawing Iron Man in the face is delightful. I wouldn't mind seeing a lot more of this little guy, inside and out of comics.
I do not have a single game play related justification for this next choice. With Mario Kart Wii, I have a dynamic duo of characters that I will generally play as. Both are small size characters, and both make losing enjoyable. Baby Peach and Dry Bones never fail in making pleased with victory or defeat. Inevitably I will get pushed off Rainbow Road by that jerk Bowser, but I will make an adorable wailing noise while doing it. Baby Peach's pouting gets me to chuckling all the time. Dry Bones' bone rattling originally made me think something was wrong with my Wiimote, but once I determined my remote wasn't faulty, I was amused. Nothing brings me more pleasure than the baby princess strapped to a Bullet Bill!!....... Is that messed up?
As you may have noticed, sound effects and banter are sometimes the highlights of games for me, and my favorite game of all time (at the moment) certainly doesn't slack off in that respect. Xenoblade's mouth syncing is awful. You might as well have Pacman doing it. That, however, does not stop the game from being an absolute blast. There were several times in the game where I resorted to the internet for help from walkthroughs. It was online where I discovered that my favorite character, Riki the Nopon Heropon, was not being used by any of the major guides. All of them had him sitting on the bench in every encounter. I had been using him as my leader ever since I got him. His moves were great, Roly Poly being my favorite. Riki and I poisoned, smashed, and played dead through out confrontations with massive enemies. I never once set him aside. That was probably the best thing about Xenoblade, you could play it anyway you wanted, with whatever characters you wanted, and still find success. I remember vividly an instance when I used Roly Poly on a mammoth creature fifty times Riki's size, and watching it crash to the ground, while the adorable Nopon shouted "ALL FALL DOWN!!" as viciously as he could. His inflated sense of self importance was always present and hilarious: "Heropon Riki do GREAT!..... Sidekicks do good too." It is of note that these "sidekicks" were the ones carrying giant swords and guns. This demented Furby was my go to guy in every encounter.
Now for the ultimate underdog, or should I say undersheep? This one is less of character and more of a punishment. The Ratchet and Clank series is renowned for its tremendous weapon diversity. One of my personal favorites is probably the Sheepinator, premiering in number two. However, my favorite use of it was in the multiplayer of Up Your Arsenal. You see, if was quite humorous to gallivant around as a sheep. For most players it meant certain doom. For me it was a challenge. I would immediately hop to safety and try to find a hideyhole of some sort, or try to lure my assailant to another opponent. I actually managed to win several matches in this style, without ever being clubbed into a wooly pulp. My friends actually stopped using morph weapons on me, because they knew how much joy I found in winning as an unarmed wool producing quadruped.
For some reason, the satisfaction I get from scoring one for the underdogs is rarely topped. From the joy of overcoming a grand disadvantage to releasing unexpected mayhem onto my hecklers, an underdog can be one of the most fulfilling parts of game for me. Sure others may be mainly for entertainment value, but sometimes it is the character that is a little off that you most relate too, that seems to be the most genuine, and often weaves its way into the hearts of players around the world. It seems as if the sentiment of rooting for the little guy can be spotted around the globe. If the triumph of the underdogs in video games can teach us anything, it's that you can't discount anything from happening in a video game. Developers seem to be determined to remind us of that.
Nice blog! I haven't had experience with most of your examples, but I still really enjoyed reading this. And it's nice to see Olimar winning a fighting game, haha. Keep it up!