(originally posted October 10th 2014)
(WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Project X Zone)
Project X Zone has probably got one of the biggest casts in any videogame, featuring a ton of heroes, villains and mooks from across the libraries of Capcom’s, Sega’s and Bandia Namco’s franchises, as well as some original ones. However, since most of these characters have little to no recognition or recognisability in the West, the writers/translators had to do an especially good job in making them likable and interesting, without incorporating any character development or deviating from the character’s original personality. In my opinion, they must have done a good job, because I fell in love with many of the cast despite my lack of knowledge, so here is a list of my personal favourites.
1. Lord Raptor (Darkstalkers)
Lord Raptor is an Australian rock guitarist who killed himself and over a hundred of his fans during a live gig to a demonic emperor, eventually being revived as a zombie. That description alone should peak one’s interest in this nutcase.
As one of the recurring enemies in the game, Raptor does a good job at being both a nuisance and entertaining, helped in part by his hammy voice that perfectly captures his former rock star persona. Despite being one of the less threatening enemies, Raptor is surprisingly no fool, spending his time forming his own army so he can usurp his boss, Jedah. You’ve also got to love the fact that he fights using his now demonic guitar. Plus, he’s a bit of a softy at points, usually when it involves Hsien-Ko, who he is completely devoted to, even offering to reveal his plans to her. His love is weirdly genuine… for an undead maniac, and that alone makes him hard not to like.
2. Vile (Mega Man X)
I knew nothing about Vile when he first popped up, but he quickly became one of my favourite baddies in this game, thanks to a combination of his voice acting and his personality. As another villain resurrected thanks to the dimensional boundaries being messed with, Vile’s presence greatly disturbs X and Zero, and for good reasons.
Vile takes great pleasure in destroying things and spends most of the time acting smug, claiming to be superior to X, who it’s clear he holds a lot of resentment towards. However, there are many points where he shows how crazy he really is, breaking into maniacal laughter at the potential of inflicting pain on his enemies and he loves mocking the heroes whenever he shows up. His crowning moment of douchebaggery though is when he uses the memory of Zero’s deceased girlfriend against him, nearly causing Zero to have a mental breakdown. And if there’s one thing I love in villains, it’s when they do something so… vile.
3. Juri Han (Street Fighter)
I played a bit of Street Fighter IV, and Juri didn’t really interest me there; just seemed a bit generic. Here, though, she’s both delightfully insane and incredibly sarcastic, showing little enthusiasm for her work unless it involves beating the crap out of someone; her voice actor managing to capture both sides perfectly (as well as blessing my ears with one of the most disturbing laughs I’ve ever heard).
Juri’s best moments, however, are when she has swapped to the hero’s side when her boss, Seth, reveals he knew of her eventual betrayal. I always love seeing villains working alongside the good guys, if only for the interactions. Juri either stirs up conflict amongst the group or finds almost kindred spirits amongst them. Most of the time, it’s just rolling her eyes at being stuck with a bunch of goody-two-shoes and there’s nothing funnier than seeing this hedonistic woman fighting alongside the likes of the naïve Erica or high school student Kite.
4. Devilotte de Deathsatan IX (Cyberbots)
Look at that name. Now read it again, out loud. That alone made me fall in love with this psychotic little princess. Devilotte knows she’s evil and loves every second of it, taking delight in the prospect of conquering the galaxy. Still, she can be oddly pleasant at times, congratulating her allies when they succeed in beating an enemy, even offering rewards – said rewards usually being transformed into some kind of patchwork monster.
Still, Devilotte is a little girl at heart. She’s capable of appearing sweet; gets a bit bratty when things don’t go her way and while most little girls don’t find pleasure in destroying their enemies, Devilotte is just so pleased with it that I can’t help but be like “Aw, how precious” without any hint of sarcasm.
5. Heihachi Mishima (Tekken)
From a distance, Heihachi seemed a bit… typical. He looked like a villain and was seemingly your usual fighting game final boss material. Similar to Juri, he just didn’t interest me until Project X Zone. Like most bad guys, he was arrogant and brazen, but that confidence made it seem like he wasn’t just bragging; that he could completely live up to the standards he set. And he did.
Despite siding with the heroes for purely selfish reasons, he didn’t constantly remind us of how evil he was, unlike Juri or T-elos who never hid their distaste for the situation. Heihachi just rolled with it, like he was on some kind of road trip, enjoying the sights, which is supported by his constant interest in the various powers he witnesses from the Valkyria Riela and the weapons used by the God Eaters. Plus, his loud nature was oddly comforting, like you could at least rely on him in a fight and he was rather good-natured with some of his companions. He also had one of the best lines in the whole game, regarding Juri’s agreement to side with them.
“I eagerly await her sudden but inevitable betrayal.”
6. Arthur (Ghosts ‘n Goblins)
While I may not have had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing the infamous Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I am aware of the legacy it has for being one of the most soul-crushingly difficult games ever made. So, what kind of personality do you give its hero in a game like Project X Zone and how do you have the other characters treat him? Simple. You make him one of the most badass warriors in history and have the unwavering respect of everyone he meets.
I’m serious; nearly every character in this game has some level of admiration for him, and some are even aware of his legacy of fighting demons, including Devil May Cry’s Dante. I think Arthur’s appeal comes from the fact that he can be both a jovial, almost silly individual and a determined, hardened warrior who won’t hesitate to strike down any foe that crosses him. This line towards his arch enemy, Astaroth, is easily one of the best in the game.
“If you are resurrected a million times then all I have to do is beat you a million times.”
7. Haken Browning (Endless Frontier)
I very rarely like cocky characters, mostly because I can’t stand that kind of attitude, at least not in abundance. But Haken, somehow, manages to appeal to me somewhat. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a cowboy bounty hunter in a world of space-age technology, aliens and Japanese-style princesses. Maybe it’s the fact that his weapon is a weird combination of a rifle and a blade, and he also uses poker cards in his attacks. Or maybe it’s the fact that he’s just such a charmer.
As opposed to the far more blatant Vashyron, Haken is a bit more subtle with his perverted nature, commenting on a lot of female’s attractiveness, including his own partner, Kaguya (who is probably the bustiest character in the game). Fortunately, this doesn’t define him as, also unlike Vashyron, he’s kind of got the charm to almost get away with it, like he’s aware of his own good looks. He also reacts to almost everything with the same kind of nonchalance, which makes sense given he’s dealt with multiple worlds before, and he has a recurring habit of giving people nicknames which are perfectly fitting. He also speaks a lot of Engrish, and who doesn’t like Engrish?
8. Frank West (Dead Rising)
In a game filled with swordsmen, martial artists, demons and androids, I can’t help but find myself drawn to Frank West, simply because he is one of the very few people who is remotely normal. He’s a journalist; a photographer, and yet he charges into battle without hesitation – the dude takes on demon overlords and giant monsters.
But his own achievements are impressive. Having spent time covering wars, he was able to single-handedly survive a zombie infestation and expose the conspiracy around it. Maybe his appeal comes from how despite being probably one of the goofier (and funnier) characters in the game, he’s still as determined as everyone to put a stop to the villains’ plans, partly because he thinks it’s the scoop of the century but also out of a desire to discover the truth, a trait I always admire in characters.
9. Dante (Devil May Cry)
See that picture? That’s not the reboot Dante that everybody hates. That’s original Dante, which means somebody on the development team of Project X Zone knew that not only should Dante be in the game, it had to be the Dante people remembered fondly; not one that was surrounded in controversy and criticism, and it is all for the best.
While my personal favourite incarnation of the character is the one we saw in Devil May Cry 4, post DMC3 Dante isn’t too bad. He’s rich with sarcasm, loves to crack jokes at everyone’s expense and does it all with that classic style that he’s so proud of. Plus, when he gets serious, you just know an ass-kicking will ensue within the next few minutes. Also, his MAP attack involves him using an electric guitar. How can you not love that?
10. Neneko (Yumeria)
Nenenko might not be the most intimidating of fighters, probably not the smartest or the strongest. But if there is one thing she excels at, it’s being adorable. She’s just so happy all the time and quickly becomes friends with her new found allies, mostly out of a desire to solve a mystery. Seeing her get so excited about mystery solving is something I can’t help but smile at.
She also has this bizarre speech pattern where she refers to herself in the third-person, and a recurring theme that she sings to herself a few times. Speaking of, her theme music is contagiously sweet and further highlights her own cuteness, along with her voice acting. Most little girl characters run the risk of becoming incredibly annoying, but personally, Neneko manages to avoid that trap. She may be small, but her appeal was a big surprise.