John Teti, Crispy Gamer Videogame Reviews

Players of 'Warrior Within' tend to think that it's a lowest-common-denominator bastardization of the 'Prince of Persia' games, and then the Shahdee scene appears and removes all doubt

The industry tends to celebrate the "franchise" characters -- the Marios, the Sonics, the Solid Snakes -- who sell games by virtue of having their faces on the box. These towering icons have plenty of fans, and bully for them.

I find more fascination, though, in the misfits who played a plum role in a popular series and then disappeared from the public eye forever. Some of these one-hit wonders were swept under the rug by their creators; others simply shone too brightly to sustain their glory beyond a single game.

Let's give them another turn in the limelight.

Gabby Jay, "Super Punch-Out!!"

It's not easy to replace a legend, but that was the bum hand dealt to Gabby Jay, who inexplicably filled the shoes of Glass Joe in the Super Nintendo "Punch-Out!!" sequel. Comically fragile Glass Joe was the boxer whom everyone loved to hate -- or, more accurately -- that everyone loved to punch in the mouth. And while Gabby Jay was a wimpy French dude like Glass Joe, he was also old. So all of a sudden it felt like you were beating up the nice man from the nursing home who always asks you to read him the classified section because it helps him sleep.

In the Nintendo Wii edition of "Punch-Out!!," Jay got what "Star Trek" fans might deem the Dr. Pulaski treatment, as Glass Joe returned to his rightful spot and Jay was cast to the dustbin of Videogame Boxing Association history.

Where is he now?

Painting bad portraits on the Champs-Elysees in a "MOUSTACHE RIDES: 0.99 EUROS" T-shirt.

Gehn, "Riven"

Why was "Riven" the best of the "Myst" series? Because it was the most elegant, the most beautiful, the most intellectually satisfying, sure. But also because of Gehn. All of the "Myst" games made us listen to the bookish, solemn Atrus blather on about his Ages and his magic books. Only once did we get to hang with Gehn, Atrus' megalomaniac father who thinks that he's the creator of the universe and is prone to burst out in an aria. Atrus may be the more stable choice, but it comes down to that old saw, "Who would you rather have a beer with?" Say what you want about Gehn, dude knew how to party.

Where is he now? Crafting a tiny, ornate world whose architecture reflects a thoughtful synthesis of early South American and pre-modern African influences. He plans to use the world as a bong.

Wart, "Super Mario Bros. 2" (American version)

Because it's not a "real" Mario title--- rather, it's a game called "Doki Doki Panic" re-skinned for Western markets -- the American "SMB 2" never gets its due as a quality platformer in its own right. The cultural cold shoulder has hurt nobody more than Wart, the nightmare-haunting frog who did his damnedest to live up to Bowser's legacy. The bad-ass amphibian was never accepted into the Mario canon, though, so Reggie Fils-Aime won't be calling his name anytime soon.

Where is he now?

On a farmer's commune with a small herd of Birdos. They make jams and marmalades to sell at local street fairs. He sent an assortment to Shigeru Miyamoto a few years ago with a handwritten card. He did not hear back.

Mog, "Final Fantasy VI"

Prior to Square Enix's orgy of Final Fantasy VII spin-offs, the series' characters rarely made repeat appearances. Consider this entry a plea to bring back Mog. We have seen plenty of Moogles, but the de facto mascot of "Final Fantasy VI" is the only one who ever had the courage to join your quest. He's no cream puff, either. His Dance attack can deal a devastating blow, and a strange sub-sub-genre of YouTube videos shows Mog fighting solo and holding his own against some of the game's toughest monsters.

Where is he now?

Managing a gay disco in Oakland. Friday is '80s night!

Reinhardt Schneider, "Castlevania" (Nintendo 64)

"See, I really am a Belmont; it's just that my last name changed because the family tree branches on my grandmother's second-cousin's side ... no, seriously." That's the speech Reinhardt Schneider had to deliver every single day of his life. It's bad enough that Konami stuck poor Reinhardt in this abortive attempt to stretch Castlevania into a 3-D format. Why did they also deprive him of the surname that would give him street cred with the skeptical citizens of Transylvania? Little wonder that he gave up the vampire-hunter racket before long.

Where is he now?

Working as an assistant auditor at the Transylvanian Revenue Service where, as he puts it, he "hunts the vampires of our strained fiscal system."

Error, "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link"

When you're playing a Zelda game, you expect clever puzzles, challenging monsters, labyrinthine dungeons. You don't expect to be confronted with an existential crisis. That's what we got, though, in "Zelda II," when we met this laconic fellow. Was the bearded man speaking to us from inside the game, and did he possess a greater consciousness? Was he trying to warn us of a glitch in the system?

No; in fact, Error was his name, the result of -- sorry, but it's true -- an error in translation. Still, it was a hilarious mistake, and Nintendo should embrace it. Error ought to have made a comeback by now. He'd be great in "Super Smash Bros." His special ability would be saying, "I AM ERROR."

Where is he now?

Recording the alt-rock single "I AM ERROR," part of his debut album, "I AM ERROR."

Crocomire, "Super Metroid"

There's something terribly wrong with the fact that Kraid, Ridley and Mother Brain have all made numerous appearances in the "Metroid" series while Crocomire has only shown up once, in "Super Metroid." He's an eight-armed fat crocodile that cannot be killed by your weapons, and must instead be pushed into an inconveniently placed pond of acid, in the series' most satisfying death sequence. More of this, please. According to the "Metroid" wiki, Crocomire was going to appear in "Metroid: Zero Mission," but he was cut from the project. Nobody knows why, but rumor has it his salary demands are outrageous.

Where is he now?

Touring Eastern Europe with the "Metroid: On Ice!" show.

Shahdee, "Prince of Persia: Warrior Within"

Players of "Warrior Within" tend to think that it's a lowest-common-denominator bastardization of the "Prince" games, and then the Shahdee scene appears and removes all doubt. Responsible for more single-handed gaming than any other character in the medium's history, this proud warrior did not push the limits of taste and practicality, she ignored them. And hallelujah for that. Despite the series' recent penchant for winsome ladies, though, Shahdee has not been asked back. Perhaps it's because she makes the other women look like prudish old nags.

Where is she now?

Happily married in Duluth, Minn., with two kids and a yellow lab.

Yoda, "Soulcalibur IV"

Sometimes one-and-done is a good thing. Nobody's asking for a repeat of this exceedingly weird bit of cross-promotion, in which "Star Wars" characters entered the arena of Namco's "Soul" series. Yoda originally appeared on the Xbox 360 version of "Soulcalibur IV," and Darth Vader on the PlayStation 3, but Namco later released DLC to unlock blah blah blah, you cannot possibly care about this. Point is, Yoda in "Soulcalibur" is like the cast of "Cheers" dropping by to fight crime on "T.J. Hooker." It does not compute. (Or, to paraphrase Scott Jones, "Belong in this game he does not.")

Where is he now?

Dead, at least until George Lucas' next flash of inspiration.






Video Game Review: One & Done: Nine Videogame Characters Who Were Never Heard From Again