Video games’ most dysfunctional families

There is one thing that unites every non-robotic and/or non-orphaned character in video games: family. But, like snowflakes, all families are different and the following six set the standard for dysfunction and genetic malfunction.

1. Mars (Heavy Rain)

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Admittedly the Mars family haven’t had the best time of it, what with the death of one son, the abduction of another and a carton of juice in the fridge that just can’t be shaken into a drinkable state. Still, father Ethan, mother Grace and sons Shaun and Jason are a pretty dysfunctional foursome in their own wacky ways.

What starts as a cheery trip to the mall looks to get even better by virtue of Jason being bought a balloon from a cheery clown. But moods soon plummet unlike the aforementioned inflatable as Jason wanders in front of a moving car. And dies.

Death, divorce and five o’clock shadow soon mark the Mars clan as more miserable than usual and, echoing 500 Days of Summer, Ethan gives up his architect dreams to look depressed most of the time. That’s just the start. Grace, unfortunately, doesn’t show up too much to complete the quartet of crazy, but if she’s going to blame Ethan for Jason’s death then that’s dysfunctional enough.  He was the idiot that walked in front of a car and lost a perfectly good balloon.

2. Mario (Mario series)

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Dysfunctional? Gaming’s first family? Unfortunately the answer is yes – though not the result of fraternal strife. Messrs Luigi and Mario may be this generation’s Cain and Abel (or Jeff and Beau) but their brotherly bond has largely escaped the realms of dysfunction. Instead it’s the members of their extended family that see the Mario brood make it into the list.

Look no further than Wario and his brother Waluigi for the clan’s problems. The supposed cousins of M+L (if you really look closely, you’ll see a family resemblance and shared predilection for dungarees) stop at nothing to do child-friendly evil.

Oh, and I’m purposely ignoring the extended family members primarily seen in The Super Mario Bros Super Show such as Grandma Mia (geddit?) and the possibly-not-a-relative Uncle Troy. Though their unique traits such as baking garlic cookies and holding plumbing parties sure mark them out as a mad(red and green)cap bunch, they’re just not canon dammit.

3. Wade (F.E.A.R. series)

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The Wade family is pretty crazy. Not in a wacky way, but more a psychologically disturbed way. The short version reads that brothers Point Man and Paxton have been spawned from the powerful psychic Alma Wade when she was barely in her teens. Alma has a sister, Alice, later killed by her nephew Paxton, and Alice and Alma share a father, Harlan, who ultimately cuts off Alma’s life support and kills her. He’s later liquefied by the same daughter.

Forget video game-to-film adaptations, the story of F.E.A.R. is built for a telemundo soap opera. Señoras y señores, may I present… M.I.E.D.O.

Cannibalism, murder, psychic warfare, more murders and rape – F.E.A.R. is pretty messed up, but be-phantomed Wades are Wades no matter what, and brood is thicker than slaughter.

4. Kong (Donkey Kong series)

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Like the Mario clan, the DK Crew has a number of members linked both by blood and by affinity. Here though, membership is earned rather than born into, demonstrating the Kongs’ affinity for a solid and stable meritocracy built on experience and inter-group dynamics.

Standing astride the family tree is the ruler of DK Island himself, Donkey Kong, ably assisted by his nephew Diddy, a budding pilot, racer and hip hop mogul according to a quick Wikipedia search. Additional relations include Donkey Kong Jr. and some of the lesser blood branches: Kongs Cranky, Lanky and Swanky, the latter two believed to be distant cousins of Donkey.

What makes the crew dysfunctional is less to do with their zany antics and handily rhyme-able names and more their relationships and eccentric attitudes. Loveable Funky Kong, for example, wears cut-offs, a bandana, shades and a white vest, while Swanky Kong resembles a jungle pimp juggling his love for fine suits and canes with his panache at hosting game shows. Obviously clothing is mandatory on DK Island, but it begs the question: how does Donkey Kong not get arrested for only wearing a tie?

5. Morrigan et. al (Dragon Age series)

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No, Morrigan is not the surname of this clan but rather the name of its most prominent character. If we’re going to hazard a guess at olde timey surnames then it’s probably something like ‘An Flemeth’ after her mother or ‘Witch of the Wilds’ after the family trade. In any case Morrigan, her mother Flemeth, and the little-seen third addition to the brood, sister Yavana, all make up an extremely dysfunctional unit in the Dragon Age universe.

First and foremost is the sassy, shape shifting mage, Morrigan, only the second most famous character in video games to sport such a name. Convinced of her mother’s desire to kill her, she sets out to murder Flemeth who promptly turns into a dragon. So, there’s that. Little sister Yavana, who appears in digital comic Dragon Age: The Silent Grove, isn’t to be outweirded however and dutifully deceives Alistair, Morrigan’s (potential) former lover to the point where he drives a blade into her stomach. Christmas day might be a little awkward this year.

6. Snake (Metal Gear series)

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The family Snake is probably the most confusing of the entire list – yes, more confusing than liquefied fathers and a son named Point Man. From the DNA of John ‘Big Boss’ came three clones, two of which (David ‘Solid Snake’ and Liquid Snake) were identical twins of each other, in an exercise in defeating the definition of the word ‘clone’. The final clone, George ‘Solidus Snake’ Sears, though younger, is the ‘perfect’ descendant of Big Boss—right down to physical appearance.

Rather than being content with a sibling rivalry borne of shared clothing and sporting ambitions, the Snakes see combat as the natural expression of “well, he started it”. Liquid Snake in particular is jealous of Solid Snake’s supposed genetic superiority; when Solid joined the Green Berets, Liquid took up the call of the SAS; when Solid Snake learned six languages, Liquid Snake learned seven. You get the picture.

Solidus, on the other hand, becomes US President at the ripe old age of 28 which is… kind of a killer move.

As for the proud ‘father’? Even though Solid Snake almost kills him twice, there remains a great deal of affection because ultimately families can be crazy but you just have to live and love. Unless you’re from a non-Nintendo produced family, in which case the chances are you’ll die.

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