[Villain’s Week is where we celebrate the evils of the world…And Tyler Humphrey’s birthday.]
It is often said that a movie, book, or game is only as good as its villain. Certainly, a great baddie can elevate something from merely good to brilliant. Conversely, a lame one can drag down an otherwise excellent and memorable experience. It is a current gaming trend for titles to customize the player’s experience with detailed character creators, moral choice systems, and purchasable gear via microtransactions. To date, this trend has been to the benefit of the protagonist so why not apply it to the villain. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to customize the villain in the game you are playing?
Tyler Humphrey, Twinfinite’s esteemed Reviews Editor, is celebrating his birthday this week. It occurred to me that while most people, if given the opportunity to insert themselves into their favorite games, would reimagine it with themselves as the hero. Tyler, in keeping with his personality, would promptly dive into the code, delete the main villain, and add some Hump to their baddies. In honor of him, here are some of The Hump’s favorite games and how his presence as the villain in them would make them even more amazing.
When talk turns to video game villains, the first stop on that trip is always at the Metal Gear Solid series. There are so many great enemies, each with unique stories and cool features that require the player to think outside the box in order to defeat them. Tyler is a huge Metal Gear fan, but the first thing to do if he were given the keys to the franchise is to get rid of that poncy Liquid Snake in favor of a villain who is more American and more … bearded. Thus, Liquid Beard is born.
Like every other character in the Metal Gear universe, and like Tyler himself, Liquid Beard loves to talk. When Snake finally reaches him for the final confrontation, what transpires is a 30 minute cutscene in which Liquid explains how the entire mission has been a simulation designed to provide Solid Snake with valuable intel regarding his larger objectives. What’s interesting and unique about the battle is that he doesn’t actually fight. As the player approaches him, Liquid drops knowledge about this so-called ‘virtual mission’, causing the protagonist’s head to pulsate until either it explodes causing instant death, or he reaches Liquid and executes him with a lethal CQC move.
Let’s face it, wouldn’t it be amazing to be a kharacter in a fighting game? It’s not unprecedented, as evidenced by Street Fighter IV‘s resident cheap bastard Seth, named for legendary player and former Kapcom employee Seth Killian. Tyler is more of a Mortal Kombat kind of guy, so he klearly belongs in that series.
The question remains however, what kind of MK kharacter would Tyler be? I’d see him as a variation of Kano, who has facial hair and a killer instinct to match. Additionally, he is a champion of the outsider; while others would choose to be Sub-Zero or Reptile, Tyler would ally himself with the lesser revered Kano. He is a kounterattack specialist who expertly fights using contrarian positions. His finishing move is, of kourse, the Humpality. In this move, Tyler writes a 4000 word review and drops it on his prone enemy, krushing his skull under the weight of so many words.
Perhaps Tyler’s biggest claim to fame is that he is a fan of Duke Nukem Forever — he owns three copies of it. Seriously. He stands firm that it is a far more interesting and subversive game than it’s given credit for. The game that most people played was an archaic shooter with poor level design, highly inappropriate attempts at humor, and a one-note character who wore out his welcome 15 years ago. Given the chance to insert himself into this game world as its villain would only further show everyone not only how DNF could be far deeper, but also how much of a control freak Tyler is.
Tyler would be a character influenced by Bioshock‘s Andrew Ryan, watching and taunting Duke from afar. There’d be a plot twist near the end in which the Duke encounters Dr. Humphrey, who triggers a series of flashbacks of all the boobs in the game. He reveals that boobs have been the instrument he has been using to compel Duke, and in effect the player, to fight on. It turns out that he has created Duke as an amalgam of video game cliches and tropes for the purpose of acting as a cautionary tale to video game heroes. Duke rebels against his programming by laying down his guns and retiring…until Duke Nukem Rises is released eight years later.
Working at Twinfinite is, in many ways, not unlike living in the Monkey Island universe. It’s full of hilarious and interesting characters, there are no problems that can’t be solved with imbibing Grog, and we all dream of achieving greatness like Guybrush. Well, most of us want greatness while others only want to bring fear and chaos to the masses. Who would do such a thing, you ask? Tyler, of course! Let him go crazy on The Secret of Monkey Island, and you can say goodbye to LeChuck…and hello to LeHump.
Only LeHump could be so bold. LeHump stands watch over his hoard of video games lost to the sea of time. He dreams of achieving eternal infamy by defeating Guybrush Threepwood in an insult sword fight over who knows the most useless trivia. Guybrush stumps LeHump by forcing him to sing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song, which he does not know. LeHump retreats in shame while Guybrush taunts him with a “Smell you later” and basks in victory.
These are but a few examples of how creative customization can lead to unique and truly fascinating villains. After games like God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, they don’t need to get any bigger or any more ‘epic’. I’ll leave you with this: What’s more terrifying than a 10 storey statue come to life? A bearded twentysomething with access to pharmaceuticals, that’s what!
Happy Birthday Tyler, you villainous bastard.