Some enemies just plain suck. Not in the “annoyingly difficult” form of suck, but just sucking at doing their job. There are so many terribly weak enemies around gaming, some that bring you close to downright pitying them, but some manage to be piss-poor enemies and still bring a smile to your face. They’re enemies that, even though you know they’re not challenging in the slightest, are just likable in some way, shape, or form. Here are five enemies that are unquestionably pathetic, but take that embarrassing level of ineptitude and make it something truly enjoyable.
Grunts (Halo: Combat Evolved, Xbox, 2001)
Widely known as the lowest rung on the Covenant military ladder, the Grunts of Halo are frantic, nervous little schmucks who ooze the term “cannon fodder” from their drooling mouths. They’re small, have terrible shooting skills, and never do much to assist their stalwart superiors in a fight. In fact, they will run around the battlefield in panic if their Elite officer is killed. Grunts are also known to sleep on fighting grounds (if you’re quiet, you can kill them before they even wake up). Even sadder is that one of their most destructive forms, the “Suicide Grunt” (or “Kamikaze Grunt”), will run into battle with live plasma grenades attached and simply kill itself in a blue explosion. The kicker? The Suicide Grunt is an actual rank, on that’s higher than the regular Grunt. When your most valuable skill is being a waddling stick of dynamite, you’re clearly not going to get the most benefits once wartime ends. But the Grunts’ nasally cries and clear allegiance to their cause isn’t something that can be ignored. They may be dumb, goofy and downright cowardly, but they know how to swarm. When armed with a Fuel Rod Cannon or a fully charged Plasma Pistol blast, they can offer some challenge. Overall, though, they’re weaklings, but if you’re gonna’ be weak, you might as well be adorable while you’re at it.
Sandbag (Super Smash Brothers Melee, Gamecube, 2001)
Debuting in Super Smash Brothers Melee on Gamecube, Sandbag is a giant white sandbag with two eyes and no limbs whose entire existence is based around it being bludgeoned. Melee premiered the Home Run Contest minigame, where characters use the charged Home Run Bat smash attack to see how far they can send Sandbag flying. Sandbag has no way to defend itself and its only sentience appears when it watches players attack it repeatedly for the longest flying shot down the field. Sandbag also appears randomly as an item in fights in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, in addition to the practice session that appears while online matches are loading. But despite all this abuse and physical harm, Sandbag is optimistic. The Melee trophy info for Sandbag reads that “getting hit doesn’t hurt Sandbag at all” and that it “loves to see players wind up and let loose.” It takes a certain kind of spirit to actually love your job when your job is all about being beaten. Sandbag’s popularity has risen since Melee, even earning it recurring fandom on Tumblr and even progression in online popularity contests. A little optimism can apparently go a long way.
Magikarp (Pokemon Red and Blue, Game Boy, 1998)
When you first played Pokemon Red or Blue and you got to that Pokemon Center outside of Mt. Moon, you probably caved and bought that Magikarp from that shady salesman for that stupidly premium price. Little did you know that what you were getting was…less than stellar (and also absurdly common). From its terrible moveset, bottom-level stats and dopey-as-all-hell appearance, Magikarp has become the biggest (or at least longest-running) joke of the Pokemon universe. When some of your official Pokedex entries call you “virtually worthless” and “the most weak and pathetic Pokemon in the world,” then your reputation is pretty much set. But Magikarp, despite its embarrassing technical stats, still has an appeal to it, earning itself a ton of memes and tribute animations dedicated to its pathetic nature. Although it eventually evolves into the destructive Gyarados (who even earned itself a Mega evolution), Magikarp is generally more culturally honored in the Pokemon world. We know it’s terrible and no one would dare use one in a tournament battle, but for being one of the weakest characters in any video game, Magikarp is still interesting (in an “overseeing a car crash” sort of way).
Jr. Troopa (Paper Mario, Nintendo 64, 2001)
Jr. Troopa appears early in the Nintendo 64 RPG Paper Mario, but by the game’s end, routinely fails in trouncing the game’s titular hero. A loner who hates working with others, Jr. Troopa’s thuggish arrogance and pride is probably what makes him so downright pathetic. While each battle shows steady progression in difficulty, as Troopa adds new skills and features (like a spike, wings or even a magic wand), taking into account how big of a deal he considers himself, it makes the victories against him rather sad. After the last fight against Jr. Troopa, the defeated hotshot runs out of Bowser’s Castle, shouting that he’ll never give up in defeating Mario. What’s especially weird is that his vendetta against Mario doesn’t make much sense. He initially fights Mario for trespassing on his turf, but he eventually chases Mario throughout the entire game, simply to reclaim his pride. Considering how big the Mushroom Kingdom is, doesn’t it sound impractical to dwell on a defeat for that long and to that magnitude? Jr. Troopa may have a degree of skill in his shell, but his embarrassingly enormous chase to defeat Mario is something truly out-of-this-world. Then again, it takes a level of drive to follow one person through a spooky forest, a fiery volcano and an armored castle. Credit where credit is due, Jr. Troopa.
White Mushroom (Kingdom Hearts, Playstation 2, 2002)
The White Mushroom enemies from Kingdom Hearts are one of the only enemies that provide more reward if you don’t attack them than if you do. White Mushrooms demonstrate a guessing game of sorts when you see them in battle. They perform a certain pose or action relating to a specific magic spell Sora can use, and if Sora performs the correct spell, the White Mushroom will cheer and offer health orbs or even rare items. For example, if a White Mushroom shivers, that’s the cue to use Fire. If it’s crawling on the ground, that’s the cue to use Cure. Matching three requests in a row offers more health or rare items, and if it calls for the same magic spell three times in a row and Sora performs all three, you get Arts items, which can be redeemed at Merlin’s for Goofy’s Dream Shield item. Not bad, huh? If you attack them…they just disappear. And these are Heartless, aka enemies; they are in Jiminy’s Journal under that section. Very few enemies are so terribly ill-equipped for battle that their appeal is purely based around helping you. While other pathetic enemies might be likable for just being weak, the White Mushrooms are likable because…well…they’re making your life easier.
Any other pathetic gaming figures that put you in a good mood? Sound off in the comments below!