An enemy is described as someone who is hostile towards your person, or opposed to your ideas and your general self. In gaming, enemies are the broth that makes our favorite game stews. If not for enemies (also known as “BAD GUYS” when we were younger), where would we get our experience points from? Where would our loot come from, besides chests and barrels? Where would we put all our bullets if not for the Nazis, zombies, ninjas, living fungi, evil dolphins, giant rats, angels, demons, evil cupids, and crying tables? Gaming thrives on aggression, and without enemies who want to do various things to our intestines, we’d be bored. Or playing Candy Crush Saga.
And nobody wants that.
But sometimes, the enemies that our favorite videogames ask us to decimate don’t really deserve it. Are they really our enemy, or are we just so accustomed to doing what the game tells us that we do it anyway, without even contemplating the position of those at the business end of our BFG? Could there be another way of solving this issues that doesn’t involve a buster sword to the skull of a fellow living thing? Where’s the “let’s talk this out” button?
This list are the enemies I’ve felt bad about over the years. They, in my eyes, didn’t deserve to be killed. Killed in the way that I did, because I’m a trained killing machine with no sense of morals or free will. THANKS, VIDEOGAMES. …I love you I’m kidding DON’T LEAVE ME.
Also included is a list of how many or how many times the poor soul has been killed. This was carefully calculated by the 42 research monkeys in my basement by taking how many times the enemy is encountered in the game, how many copies the game sold, and multiplying it by the equation “Who = gives (a) x damn?”
Animals – Far Cry 3 (2012)
Killing an enemy in self-defense is one thing. Killing one that’s defending itself is another. That’s why I genuinely felt remorse for killing the animals on the unnamed island in the wonderful Far Cry 3; because in this one case, it is you who is the enemy and not they. The animals range from the docile to the deadly, from pigs to goats to tigers to bull sharks. The island is their home, and I’m the predator on it.
Why did I feel bad?
Unlike enemies from other games who are trying to stop you from completing an objective that would hinder their efforts, the animals are just going about their lives. You’re on their turf. And if you’re attacked, it’s just because you got too close. And they’re hungry.
The worst part is probably why you have to hunt the residents of the island: purely to make you a better killing machine. And to have a bigger wallet. All the components that are needed in the game – gun holsters, arrow quivers, even the wallet you carry cash in – is taken from from the pelts of these creatures. Want a case to carry your flamethrower fuel? Prepare to slaughter half the population of boars to use their teeth and skull to hold your ammo.
There’s also extra quests having you hunt specific creatures deemed by the island inhabitants unworthy of life. Some of the missions are understandable, for example having to exterminate a local komodo dragon because it has destroyed several families in their homes. But some aren’t so honorable. Mainly thinking of one where you have to kill the last Golden tiger on the island simply because a taxidermist wants to use the poor animal’s corpse as a neat hat rack. But we do it anyway, for the beautiful Golden tiger leather and the experience point. Now we can swim 25% faster and look fab.
The Handyman – Bioshock Infinite (2013)
The Handymen are mechanically-enhanced citizens of Columbia. Normally this is a good thing (who doesn’t want to be Iron Man?!), but like everything aboard the Columbia, matters are much darker beneath the surface. Firstly, the citizens used for the Handymen are always the sickly, injured or disabled. And according to their dialogue during combat, they’re always in extreme amounts torment, including extra sensitivity to light, noise, and just genuinely in pain all the time. It sounds like an awful trade-off, and the story implies that it was an unwanted one. It’s appropriate that their one weakness is one of the last living organs they have: their hearts, encased in glass boxes in their chests.
Why did I feel bad?
What first struck me about the Handymen is how frightened that are all the time. The first time you see a Handyman, he’s on a stage, front and center, on display for a group starry-eyed citizens of Colombia. And even though he’s a mechanical behemoth who could crush your skull with a twitch of his porcelain fingers, he looks so sad atop that stage. Sad and afraid. He even winces at the flashes from the citizen’s cameras like the deranged Frankenstein monster that Comstock has turned him into. When I fought the Handyman, I absolutely felt like they were all begging for their unnatural immortality to be ended by my hand.
It was the first time playing a game I felt sad for an enemy’s awful circumstances, and happy for their deaths for more reasons than because they were, simply, my enemy. I felt solace that their torment had come to an end, and gave me even more reason to knock on Comstock’s door and punish him for his misdeeds with a lot of hungry crows. As someone who’s had a family member kept alive with machines for long passed his due date, begging for death on a daily basis, I knew the feeling all too well.
The Boss – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)
The Boss is arguably Metal Gear Solid’s point-of-origin. It’s her ideals and actions that knock the first domino over, causing a wave of destruction that would forever change the universe that MGS resides in.
The Boss – known for her prominent military skills and earned the name legendary soldier – is the main antagonist of MGS3. She starts off as a comrade to Naked Snake on a mission to rescue a kidnapped former-Soviet scientist, Sokolov. When the mission is finally successful and Snake is escorting Sokolov to the extraction point, The Boss shows up, takes Sokolov, beats the crap out of Snake (breaking many limbs),and peaces-out leaving Snake in a ditch.
The rest of the game leads Snake through a series of hurdles to discover why The Boss betrayed her country and the relationship they once had. It’s a complicated drama about true acts of patriotism that goes beyond the idea of America. It delves into the nature of humanity and our obsession with identity and war. It’s a wonderful story that would be a travesty to spoil, so if you’ve never played it… DO IT NOW.
Why I Felt Bad
The Boss is so vital to the MGS series that I can write an entire article about her. She’s Naked Snake’s mentor, co-creator of CQC, dastardly double crosser, and the most important, idealistic and sacrificial patriot the United States has ever seen. The Boss is also incredibly skilled, easily defeating Naked Snake on a number of occasions and is a genuine force to be reckoned with. She’s an intimidating force of nature that demands respect and attention, but her history reveals a past that makes her a complicated tragic antihero.
And when the final battle with her is over and she’s lying on the ground literally begging for death, the game does something that forever haunts me. After the actual battle it switches to a cutscene of Snake and The Boss’s last words. He holds out a gun to her, then the camera zooms out.
And nothing happens. It stays still on the establishing shot of Snake and The Boss lying on the ground.
I had no idea what to do, until it hit me. I had to pull the trigger. I had to be the one to finish her off.
And after I pressed R1, The Boss could finally sleep.
And I slept too. With tears flowing from my eyes.
The Goomba – Super Mario Bros (1985)
Never has there been more of an expendable enemy than the Super Mario Bros.’ Goomba. The brown, mushroomy people were once allies with the Toads before they teamed with Bowser and joined the Koopa Troop. They’ve never posed a real threat in the history of the franchise, even in their first appearance in the original Super Mario Bros way back in 1985. Despite their extended numbers, they’re Bowser’s cannon fodder and first line of defense. That defense: walking. In a direction. And then falling. Someone should probably talk to their tactician about that.
In later games their defenses were slightly buffed. They were given wings that allowed them to jump slightly higher, and throw babies on you. The baby Goombas didn’t actually hurt you, though. More like slightly inconvenienced.
Why did I feel bad?
I doubt there’s been any enemy killed more often in gaming than the poor, lowly Goomba. What’s the first enemy you encounter in Super Mario Bros? A Goomba is stomped on literally seconds after you begin a game of SMB.
I mean, we could avoid them. They do, after all, walk in one direction, are incredibly short and can’t exactly attack. Their primary defense is simply existing. We could jump over them, avoiding the murderous rampage of level 1-1 that would later be covered on the Koopa News.
But do we? I don’t. We, as gamers, are programmed to kill every enemy on screen. We instinctively see something moving, we aim our rifle/sword/feet right towards it, hoping that our daft maneuver would be enough to end it.
Imagine how many Goombas have been killed since 1985? Millions, probably more. Millions of fathers, sons, daughters, cousins and evil living fungi have died at the feet of their Italian oppressors. Also there may be some correlation between them at the Toad people, both being living Mushrooms. Who knows? We may be stomping on the third-cousins of Toad himself.
What enemies did you feel bad for? Do any of those who appeared on this list deserve any respect? How much did you cry after killing The Boss in MGS3? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BENEATH!