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Top 10 Greatest Tiny Video Game Characters

6:00 PM on 07.03.2010 // AwesomeExMachina

[AwesomeExMachina brings us a list of game characters that often get overlooked...literally. -- JRo]

In these modern days of gaming, one thing has become ineffably clear; bigger equals better. Games keep dishing out characters, one bigger than the other. We’ve fought oversized crabs with weak-points just begging us to hit them and God of War brought us bosses so big, they were often the level itself. Massive alien creatures, giant disembodied hands, dragons the size of skyscrapers, and massive warships so daunting they make the Empire’s Eclipse cruiser look more like a Y-wing.

*Snort*

But size doesn’t always mean quality. I mean, Jet Li is only 5”6’. Think about that for a second. Try and imagine, visually, how much metric ton of ass Jet Li can kick on a regular basis. And then realize that it still takes 3 and 1/4th Jet Li’s to reach the height of just one giraffe. And how much ass can they kick?

Here's a list of the greatest characters that clocked in a bit shorter than the rest. In order of awesome-ness and not size, here's the top 10 greatest tiny video game characters.


Though the Tickers found in the Gears of War universe happen to be a bit larger than other characters on this list, they’re still dwarfed by the steroid-receptacles known as the COG soldiers. So much so that the quickest solution to dispatching the weird rat-bomb creatures is a solid punt with your space-boot.

Though their arguably medium-size puts them lower on the list, they still rank in the top 10 due to the fact that they resemble a giant beetle with it’s skin turned inside-out. Not to mention someone went through the trouble of grafting an explosive device to its spinal cord. Even J.S. Steinman from Bioshock frowns upon that kind of disturbing procedure.


Dead Space has no shortage of mind-numbingly frightening characters. It’s difficult not to give this spot to the Lurkers from the same game, as they too are relatively small and somewhat resemble mutated corpses of infants with tentacles that shoot tiny spears. That’s a kind of sickness that would make even Pyramid Head turn his nose up in disgust. Disturbing. So how do you beat that twisted design? Simple. With sheer numbers.

The Swarmers are not named flippantly. Their job is pretty simple. Get together with some friends. Come up with a strong, well-oiled unified strategy. Learn to work as a team. And then try real hard to see what the inside of Issac’s spleen looks like. As quickly as possible. At the worst possible time.

These little buggers have the timing of your mother when you were rounding second base with your first girlfriend. Always popping through doorways when you were busy fiddling with something else. And before you could equip the proper weapon to deal with their swarming mass, they jumped all over your torso and began systematically dismantling all of Issac’s various parts. Important parts. Like his bones.


OK, OK. I can hear your eyes rolling from here. Odd Job is a person. He is, at the very least, just regular size. Sure, he’s a little short for a person, but that doesn’t make earn him a spot on the list, does it?

It does. Because Odd Job represented something much more than just another opponent in Goldeneye. His height made a really big difference.

Odd Job didn’t seem all that different from the other character choices at first. That was, until your younger sibling or obnoxious friend jumped into the fray with that little sharply-dressed fellow. After the first time you rounded a corner and pumped the appropriate number of rounds out of your AK into what was normally your enemy’s head, only to discover you’d just decorated the wall with bullet holes, you found yourself adding a new word to your gamer vocabulary. One which would forever turn to in times of need.

Bullshit.


There are some rather frightening creatures populating this list. That’s because we often associate dangerous and scary with big and intimidating. This is precisely why nearly every boss fight is one something larger than your character. But tiny can be terrifying. It can be swarms of shadow birds in Alan Wake or tiny creatures skittering around corners and leaping from ventilation shafts at your rather vulnerable face.

Or sometimes it’s this thing.

Tingle is a twisted mockery of the human form. Toss in some rosy cheeks, a body suit, and a heavy dash of androgyny and you’ve got yourself a nightmare being. Factor in the fact that his outfit resembles a spandex body-suit version of Link’s outfit with a pair of red Speedos pulled over the waist and it only gets worse.

Tingle is so mind-bogglingly strange and terrifying, that I’m pretty sure Majora’s Mask was an attempt for the Zelda series to venture into the horror genre. The game itself is surreal enough as it is, with strange machinations in shadowy masks representing various elements of Link’s life darting around and robbing him of possessions. Toss in this pudgy weirdo prancing about and you’ve got yourself a surrealist art piece that I can’t pretend I understand.


Essentially, Tiny Mario is just regular Mario but tiny. And that’s already saying something, because Mario’s not quite tall to begin with. But Tiny Mario is more than just a shrunken, miniature Italian. He comes with powers.

If you’ve played The New Super Mario Bros., you’d know that snatching that mini mushroom seems like a curse at first, what with the usual goal being to try and get larger. The Mario series taught us from the very first moment that small = bad.

But the mini mushroom turned out to be a blessing. Tiny Mario could escape entire sections of levels and discover whole new portions of maps. He also seemed somewhat lighter than air and his jumps had him almost floating from block to block. If you search YouTube, you’ll find more than a few videos of players drifting over whole segments of levels thanks to this tiny fungus.


If you’ve heard of Dragon Quest, you know the Slime creatures well. If you’ve never heard of Dragon Quest, you are accidentally reading an article on a video game website. This is a mistake. You’re in the wrong place. It’s alright. You probably meant to check your Hotmail account and ended up here. Happens all the time.

Appearing in multiple iterations of the game since the first Dragon Quest (or Dragon Warrior in the US), the adorable, guy is probably the most notable character of the franchise. But despite this celebrity status, the Slimes are certainly one of the weakest enemies from the Dragon Quest series. Regardless, the helpless little blobs represent the ineffable Dragon Quest series and all it’s mountains of merchandise. They have become what the chocobo is to Square Enix. This is certainly a strange partnership considering the fact that the chocobo is actually useful.

So, why does the Slime get a spot? Is it simply marketing? No, no. It’s due to the fact that the Slime is a baffling thing of mixed emotion. Notice what it clearly represents; a tear. A single tear of utter sadness.

Yet it smiles at you. It grins endlessly at your sadness and laughs back at it without remorse.

And then it gets slaughtered with a single hit.


There’s no other way to put it. Headcrabs are nothing short of a video game icon. They are not only frightening by themselves, as they scuttle from behind objects and pounce at your face with alarming speed. But they are the also the catalyst for a suite of disturbing and lethal forms. They turn all your scientist friends, revolutionary brothers, and random strangers into lumbering, brutal reanimated monsters.

Most zombie films choose to omit the actual cause of the apocalypse under vague references to biological weapons, voodoo curses, or just the word ‘science.’ This is a staple of the genre. But the Half-Life series tells you.

A tiny crab-like thing humps the ever-loving hell out of your head until you join the ranks of the undead.

Class dismissed.


Unf. Unf. Unf.

Where is it?


Olimar’s got it rough. His ship crashed, his parts have been scattered all over the place, and he does it all while being less than an inch tall. He doesn’t work alone though. Along the way, Olimar employs the help of a series of plant-like creatures that fight enemies and complete various tasks, sometimes at the expensive of their own lives, to help the wayward cosmonaut back home.

He’s more than a hero, he’s a commander.

Olimar has his own spaceship, he’s charismatic enough to control armies, he’s got a cool antenna, and he’s certainly small enough to make the list. But what gets him up into the top of the chart is simply his status as a beloved character. The mere whisper of the word Pikmin is enough to set audiences at Nintendo’s E3 press conferences each year into spasms of euphoria. Cajoling, shouting, and having seizures of pure joy. He was also renowned enough to get his very own spot in Super Smash Brothers Brawl.


The Prince has a hard job. Perhaps, arguably, the very hardest. On a regular basis, this tiny, hapless gentleman with the roll-of-quarters head is asked to do one simple task. Recreate the entire fabric of the universe and all its complex bodies of mass and energy using things found lying around someone’s house that isn’t his.

No big deal.

This would already be a monumentally complicated and arduous task if not for the fact that the reason he’s forced to take on the role of creator of all things is because his father got wasted and smashed everything in a bored, drunken stupor. Yes, the man capable of destroying the sum of all things by accident certainly couldn’t be bothered to put it back together. Instead, he’ll just swallow you with rainbows and then abrasively judge your progress as well as generally harass you all along the way.

Simply, The Prince tops this list because he's just like you and me. How is that you ask? Well, not only because his job is so darned meaningless and monotonous, but because he quietly goes about it without complaint, while his father criticizes each step despite his own personal sensations of success.

Sound familiar?



AwesomeExMachina,
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