Absolutely FABULOUS: The kings of camp

Longtime readers of Destructoid will know by now of my affinity for all things camp. When it comes to the truly outrageous, chances are I’ll be a fan. It’s fitting then, that I became a gamer, where for all the rich narratives, deep subtexts and artistic integrity you can find in upcoming games, you are more likely to run into something so completely silly and over the top, you cannot help but smile.

Videogames are camp. They can be gaudy, loud and overbearingly flamboyant, and this is typified by some of the amazing characters that they have given birth to. For every Andrew Ryan, there’s a Vega. For every well thought out and complex protagonist, there’s a guy who has ridiculously tall hair and walks around in clothes that would get him arrested in most states.

This is Destructoid’s tribute to the most fabulous characters in all of gaming. This isn’t about sexuality (there’s already a nifty gay character list out there), this is about good old fashioned overly dramatic nonsense. Prettyboys, fops and bishounen-a-gogo, it’s all here for the taking!

Hit the jump as we pay respects to the Kings of Camp.

If hips could kill, Kuja would be the most prominent serial murderer since Dr. Harold Shipman. Kuja, the main villain of Final Fantasy IX, is the epitome of all that is fabulous. He dresses like a drag queen, he’s got the kind of hair that defies every last law of physics, and he could bed any man he wants without them turning gay. In a franchise full of camp and effete men, it takes a real winner to stand head and shoulders above other Final Fantasy characters, but Kuja does so effortlessly.

Like all good camp villains, Kuja is consumed by narcissism, obsessed with his own brilliance in his pursuit of power. A respecter of art, he is fond of the Lord Avon play I Want To Be Your Canary and is prone to long, self-centered monologues. This cruel yet cultured sporter of midriff happens to be my favorite FF villain, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s simply FABULOUS.

It would seem that BioShock has a character for every occasion, and fortunately 2K’s masterpiece of 2007 isn’t short on the camp. Sander Cohen is the loud and quite deranged head of Fort Frolic, Rapture’s entertainment district. Before the underwater city’s fall, he was an artist and a playwright, and wasn’t above murdering the competition to ensure he was Rapture’s prominent talent. When the city went into decline, so too did Sander’s mental health, and when the player finds him, he’s slashing throats and imprisoning corpses in cases of wax … fabulously. 

A twisted old hack he may be, but one cannot fault his outrageousness. Taking camp to a whole new level of dark and perverse, Sander’s quest to have his disciples and murdered and photographed to complete his “masterpiece” is both disturbing and amusingly silly. When you finally meet him in the flesh, Cohen arrives in a burst of confetti and spotlights, completing the outrageous picture. Nobody can deny that this is one FABULOUS psychopath.

Don’t groan as if you didn’t expect to see Vega here — if I’d have left off the original poster boy for vanity, you’d all be asking where he was. Making narcissism an art form, Street Fighter II‘s bullfighting ninja is iconic for his infamous metal claw and protective mask that shields his handsome face from damage. An assassin for the crime syndicate Shadaloo, Vega is a multiple personality disorder sufferer — by day he is a noble aristocrat, and by night he is a savage and brutal serial killer. Truly flamboyant.

Vega is known in Japan as a narusisuto, which translates into narcissist and is a traditional stock character for the country — unsurprising then that videogames are home to so many effeminate wonders. Quite what Japan’s obsession with beautiful young self-lovers is all about remains an unnerving mystery, but it’s kept gaming FABULOUS for years, so who can argue?

Where Vega goes, Zhang He follows — quite literally. Not only is this Dynasty Warrior a vain and self-centered lover of beauty like Vega, up until the sixth game in the series, he had finger claws of his own. Zhang He is even more obsessed with beauty than Vega and can’t even go two sentences without saying “beautiful.” He is a polarizing DW character, with some loving his girly adoration of grace and elegance, and others saying “omg zhang he sux he is gay wot a fag!” The latter group are moronic homophobes, while the former are correct in their love of the Lord of Beauty. Besides, there is nothing gay about wearing high heels to a battlefield — that takes a real man.

I love Zhang He so much, and I currently top the Xbox Live leaderboard for playing Rampage Mode on DW6 with him. To be fair I’m number one out of about five people, but who cares? Success is success, and Zhang He is FABULOUS!

I know what you’re thinking — Devil May Cry‘s very own Son of Sparda isn’t exactly girly. However, you cannot argue that a man who says “this party’s gettin’ CRAZEH,” with the utmost sincerity isn’t camper than Christmas. I have praised the character of Dante many times before, and that’s not about to stop now. He was a delicious parody of action hero characters, showing them up for the desperately unsubtle attempts to appear “cool” that they are.

Dante’s tongue is so firmly planted in his cheek it’s a wonder he can talk. He’s embarrassingly silly and he carries himself with such self-assurance in his own awesomeness that you’d have to be an utter bastard not to enjoy his flamboyant nonsense. Dante is completely FABULOUS and you can shove a pumpkin up my arse if it isn’t so.

It’s been many years since I last played Disgaea, but if one thing can be remembered from that nightmarishly deep and impregnable experience, it’s Vyers, otherwise known as The Dark Adonis. One of the many demons hoping to become Overlord, Vyers is a rose wielding, vain, self-aggrandizing prettyboy. He’s also French, as if you didn’t need anymore evidence of his campness. Overlord contender Laharl believed him unworthy of such a grand title as Dark Adonis, naming him Mid-Boss in one of the funnier self-aware gaming jokes I’ve heard.

Mid-Boss’ appearances in Disgaea were always a treat, and he was the funniest character in a whole cast of amusing nutcases. Mercilessly foppish, he may be another in a long line of narusisuto, but that doesn’t make him any less FABULOUS!

We close off this article with one of the more obscure prettyboys on the list, but he’s still one of the best. Gogandantess is a high ranking demon from Capcom’s Onimusha 2, who needs to announce his appearance with the dramatic line, “My name is Gogandantess, the greatest swordsman of all demons.” Though an evil Genma under the direction of Nobunaga Oda, this extravagent swordsmith is notable for his nobility, sportsmanship and compulsion to help “weak” women. 

A Gogandantess McFarlane figure proudly stands atop my TV, as evidence of my admiration for him. He not only looks fantastic, but his flamboyance cannot be resisted. As with many Capcom games, he is absolutely FABULOUS, and the gaming world is better for having his unabashadly outrageous face in it.





Jim Sterling