Within any entertainment medium, it is important to have characters with whom audience members can relate. Most gamers are twenty-something, everyday Joes, so the majority of game characters are part of this group or at least begin in such a situation, before receiving the super powers/weapons and call to arms that turns them into a hero. However, with so many seniors becoming gamers, and even some gamers becoming seniors, it is becoming more and more important to recognize all the great geriatric characters who have contributed to making gaming a more universal hobby.
As Nintendo gamers, we are fortunate to have a plethora of awesome, older characters to pay our respects to. Here are just a few notable characters who choose to continue entertaining us when they could just be sitting around a retirement community pool in Boca Raton collecting social security.
This bearded ape was the original Kong, the great ape who made Jump Man’s life a living hell by stealing women, scaling tall buildings, and hurling barrels. Time might have robbed this monkey of some of his strength, but his vigor remains just as strong, and now he has unleashed it in his hilariously cranky ways. Donkey Kong Country brought in Cranky’s kin as the new star, but the old ape stuck around to dispense the occasional bit of advice, intermixed with constant complaining about how all these newfangled video games are too complex and needlessly fancy– he only had eight bits and was okay with it! Cranky hasn’t had too much exposure in quite a while, so hopefully he will show up again in Donkey Kong Country Returns to share his opinion on motion controls, 3D gaming, and other crazy contraptions like them internets!
This hard-working fungi isn’t as well known as Cranky Kong, but if any character deserved more respect, it’s this guy! Toadsworth showed up in Super Mario Sunshine as Princess Peach’s adviser/assistant/minister/something and has been a fairly consistent presence ever since. Whatever he is, Toadsworth definitely has a pretty high place in the Mushroom Kingdom’s government and is no doubt seriously affected by Peach’s numerous kidnappings. Every time Bowser snatches up Peach, Toadsworth is left worrying sick, while having to run the kingdom for the endangered princess. In fact, considering Peach’s numerous sports outings and rather ditzy demeanor, Toadsworth is probably the guy really running the show without getting any of the glory. I say its time we give this mushroom the respect he deserves.
Though we have never been told his exact age, I can’t help but imagine that this Gerudo king is starting to get up there in years. Think about it, we have seen numerous generations of Links and Zeldas come and go, but there has only ever been one Ganon; and while the time spent in the Dark World and the power of the Triforce might have affected his aging, it doesn’t change the fact Ganon has lived many more lifetimes than most. Where Ganon most deserves respect is for his perseverance: no matter how many times he is foiled and no matter how old he gets, he still comes back swinging, always getting within moments of his ultimate victory before the Link-de-jour arrives to mess everything up. Wind Waker probably shows Ganon’s age the best; in that game he comes across as more tired and resigned to his fate to battle Link time and time again, but he still manages to summon a surprising reserve of strength and speed for a final battle that is one of the series’ best to date.
The Star Fox team represents the best of the best: Fox McCloud is the brave, young leader of the group, Falco Lombardi is the proud, aggressive showoff, Slippy Toad is… um… there, and Peppy Hare is the wise, seasoned veteran. Think about it, if it weren’t for Peppy, we wouldn’t know how to use bombs wisely and there would be nobody to tell us when to do a barrel roll or try a somersault. Could you live in such a world? The young squadron of aces– and Slippy– would have been fodder for Andross’s mighty army if it weren’t for Peppy’s years of experience. As the series has progressed, so has Peppy’s age, and while he might no longer be able to fly like he once could, he still proves his formidable tactical abilities as the newest commander of the Cornerian Army. Everybody should give this bunny his well deserved salute!
Philosophy has Socrates, physics has Einstein, strategy has Sun Tzu, and Pokémon has Prof. Oak. When we first turned on Pokémon Red (or Blue), we were immediately greeted by Oak: a kind, old guy who introduced us to the world and gave us our first creature. But as we traveled the world, and even onto other entries in the game series, two things became abundantly clear– bug types are practically useless, and Prof. Oak is the MAN! It seems like everybody who is anybody knows the Pokémon Professor and has probably benefited in some way, shape, or form from his many contributions to science of Pokémon. But that’s not all folks, several hints seem to suggest that, in his prime, Oak was a powerful trainer, possibly even the league champion! And while training might be a young person’s game, Oak’s later career has proven to be more important and left a greater impact than that of any trainer; meaning you don’t have to be young to change the world.
Old mages are a dime a dozen in fantasy worlds, but Final Fantasy IV’s Tellah stands out as the best. Tellah has left a greater impact on gaming than any other old timer ever to grace a video game, and he did it with just two words: Spoony. Bard.
Did I leave out any AARP members you think should belong to this group? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below.