The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
Top 10 Robots
You know, usually I write some incredibly witty and amazingly accurate description of what sums up a good *insert whatever current list is about*, and then I present the list. However, this time, I’m not going to attempt to…over-explain what makes robots great. They are great because robots. With that out of the way, here are the Top 10 robots in gaming.
10. Jack (Gears of War): Don’t be fooled by Marcus’s increasingly gruff demeanor or Cole Train’s “Woo!”s, Jack is the real leader of Delta Squad. Who do they run to when there is a locked door they can’t kick down? Who do they turn to when sensitive data needs to be transported through Locust territory? Why haven’t they adopted his highly advanced stealth technology yet? Sadly, some of these questions may never be answered because, you know, Gears of War. It’s easy to miss because of all the machismo saturating everything, but Jack is one of the more useful robots around, assuming you aren’t counting Anya.
9. Robo (Chrono Trigger): The beloved RPG Chrono Trigger achieved that adjective for multiple reasons: a stellar story, groundbreaking combat mechanics and an incredible score are a few of them. One of my favorites is the cast of characters in the game. Robo is a robot (natch) that you pick up in a dystopian version of the future where people race stupid motorbikes in thrice-damned time trials. Robo has some of the more interesting sidequests in the game, including one where he spends hundreds of years healing a forest and one where he discovers his real (and much, much cooler) name, Prometheus.
8. Rudy (Wild ARMs): OK, I’ll start with this: Um, spoiler alert. Rudy, the main character of the mostly forgotten Wild ARM’s series (may it rest in peace), is totally a robot. You see, years before the game takes place, a race called the Metal Demons created these robotic weapons of mass destruction called Holmcross. Rudy discovers he is one of these Holmcross when he severs his arm and finds wires instead of cotton candy. Disclaimer: I’ve never cut off my arm; I don’t know what’s in there. Since this is a JRPG, though, it turns out he was raised by a kind-hearted old man who instilled a sense of humanity in Rudy’s otherwise cold robotic heart. In other words, he’s basically a Tom Cruise who passed the humanity test.
7. Clank (Ratchet & Clank): First off, he’s a robot that is also a secret agent. That is enough to secure his spot on the list on its own merits, but Clank also brings a number of other awesome attributes to the table. He is hyper useful; he always seems to have the right tool for any situation, be it a flamethrower or helipack. He can turn into a giant version of himself at certain times, and he even takes over the role of protagonist every now and then. However, it is his surprisingly intricate character plot line that really takes the cake. I haven’t brushed up on my Ratchet & Clank lore in a little while, but I know it involves an enigmatic people called the Zoni and his role as Senior Caretaker of the Clock. Whatever that is.
6. Wheatley (Portal 2): I didn’t think it would be possible to find a character who could match the awesome factor of GLaDOS, but Valve proved me wrong (as they so often do) with the introduction of Wheatley. While he starts off as highly effective comedic relief, he quickly becomes an important part of the plot, and provides some of the best revelations of the game. I’ll admit that I had my dobuts about his sincerity to my effort to escape Aperture labs, but I still enjoyed my time with him. Except for that whole “try to kill me so he could achieve ultimate power” thing. I’m still kind of getting over that.
5. ClapTrap (Borderlands): Few characters in any game have been as divisive as Claptrap. Some people love him for his vibrant and peppy demeanor, indomitable will and penchant for high fives. Others loath him for his Some people love him for his vibrant and peppy demeanor, indomitable will and penchant for high fives. I happen to fall in the first camp. What I love most about Claptrap is that he doesn’t care what anybody else thinks, he just does Claptrap. That may eventually culminate in an army of Claptraps starting a revolution, but so what? Totally worth it.
4. Legion (Mass Effect): I never thought, after years of toiling through the Mass Effect universe, that I could possibly become so endeared to a Geth. After all, I spent the whole first game and most of the second one seeing them as my mortal enemy. But after encountering the entity known as Legion, I realized the truth: I wanted a Geth from the beginning. They are so awesome! Legion, with his piecemeal N7 armor and gethtastic sniper rifle, is particularly great, and he turns out to be one of the best party members in the game. His character arc is beautifully concluded in ME3, and shows that even a robot can invoke dangerously human-like feelings.
3. HK-47 (Knights of the Old Republic): I mean, c’mon. You knew HK-47 would be here. His disdain for humans apparent from the beginning, HK-47 is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. I mean, he calls humans “meatbags”. That’s pretty sadistic behavior. But of course there is much more to HK than hatred of humans, which is good because, if my memory serves me, that character has been done before. HK-47s complicated past with Revan is a fascinating study in the relationship between humans and synthetics, right or wrong, light and dark. He sums it up better than I possibly could, “Observation: I am awesome.”
2. KOS-MOS (Xenosaga): Look at that adorable face. What could possibly be so great about her? Are we even sure that she’s a robot. Well, if the glowing red eyes didn’t immediately giver her away, the fact that she can pull out an entire arsenal’s worth of guns faster than you can blink should really drive that point home. Things get a little weird in the Xenosaga mythos, and as if just to prove that very fact, KOS-MOS somehow has the spirit of Mary Magdalene inside her. She also values logic and mission protocol over some of the more human tendencies she contains, but…that face! I can’t stay mad at her.
1. Mega Man: The original gaming robot is still the best. Introduced in 1987, Mega Man shot and jumped his way into our hearts and never left. When you think about it, what isn’t there to love about The Blue Bomber? He is just naïve enough to be loveable, but has enough combat chops not to be entirely helpless. He rocks some of the best background music in the biz, and he grows more powerful with every boss that he defeats. By my numbers, he should have been the strongest video game character in the universe about six games ago. Plenty have tried to take his crown, but Mega Man is the number one robot in gaming.