Just about everyone could be adapted into Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. Not these guys though.
If there is one Christmas classic that television and movies have beaten into the ground it’s Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. There’s something about the the formula that’s just so easy to insert random characters into. For those who are dead inside and don’t know about A Christmas Carol, the plot is that a wealthy old business man, Scrooge, hates Christmas, but comes around after being shown visions of the past, present and future by Christmas phantoms. Whether its the latest sitcom, Jim Carrey and bad animation, or Bill Murray being an awful executive, everyone has done A Christmas Carol. Well, everyone but video games. Sure, there are references in the more meta material in games that don’t take themselves too seriously, but, for the most part, games have stayed away. This makes sense, because it’s really hard to figure out how to make the gameplay work around three ghosts teaching an old man about the true meaning of Christmas. There are surprisingly few bullets involved, and even fewer decapitations. But that doesn’t mean that video game characters can’t be inserted into the timeless classic more or less effectively. Today, I’d like to talk about characters that just wouldn’t work if cast as Scrooge. There are plenty of rich or powerful misers in video games, and I can believe that supernatural forces could cause them to change their tune. Not these fellas.
5. Kratos – God of War
Kratos is one of the meanest, most unsympathetic characters in gaming. Seriously, I feel more for the space Nazis in Killzone than I do this guy. He’s an unrepentant jerk, who’s meagre motivation of revenge doesn’t begin to justify a single thing he does after waking up and taking two steps out of bed. It makes perfect sense to me that some ghosts would try to get him to change his ways. After all, he’s the kind of guy that would sooner murder Bob Cratchit by ripping out his spleen and feeding it to him than give him Christmas Day off. Actually, he’d probably sooner kill Jesus at the manger than see anyone take any pleasure in anything at all. So, he’d make a pretty good candidate to be taught the folly of his ways, right? Wrong. Kratos kills two unsuspecting mythological beasts before brushing his teeth in the morning. There is no way that any ghost could get close enough to him to say something before getting eviscerated in the most over-the-top and uncalled for way possible. Besides, Kratos couldn’t learn anything from them anyway. All he would do is grunt, yell and then kill twenty orphans to make up for the lack of killing he’d been subjected two during the lecture.
4. Scrooge McDuck – Ducktales
This seems like a very odd choice at first. Scrooge McDuck was named after old Ebenezer after all, so why wouldn’t he be an ideal candidate. He’s obsessed with money, stingy to charitable groups, and altogether a greedy son of a duck. In the game Ducktales, Scrooge spends most of his time trying to steal valuable relics from indigenous people to add to his unfathomable wealth. Couldn’t he use a good kick of the old Christmas Spirit? No, actually. Scrooge may take his name from A Christmas Carol, but the spirit is quite different. Scrooge in Ducktales cares very much for his family, going so far as to protect them at all costs, even over money. This is a man who already learned his lessons. Sure, the old duck is still money-grubbing as anyone, but all of his Mammon-filled pursuits are tempered by his altogether caring and happy-go-lucky personality. The ghosts would certainly scare him and set him on the straight and narrow, but he’s already walking in that direction, so I don’t think it would do him much good.
3. Andrew Ryan – Bioshock
Andrew Ryan is the ideal capitalist. He even went so far as to create an Ayn Rand-ian paradise under the sea, a paradise that worked really well for about five minutes before people started realizing how badly thought out Atlas Shrugged was. This is a man who has pictures of the free market in his locker, and an economics book hidden under his mattress. Perhaps he could use a little Christmas cheer? Here’s the problem. Andrew Ryan would sooner be dead and forgotten in an unmarked plot than buy into any of the humbug that the Christmas ghosts are slinging. “Wait,” he’d say, “You want me to buy a Christmas goose for that loafer’s crippled son? What did he do to earn it?” Then he’d shake his head and send some of his thugs to go rough Bob Cratchit up for the audacity of supporting such a leech on society when euthanasia was an option. Ghosts? Communists and thieves more like it.
2. Dr. Wily – Mega Man
Dr. Wily is the antagonist of every Mega Man game for a reason – he’s persistent and kind of stupid. Unlike other big bads like Bowser or Gannon, who get defeated or ‘killed’, Dr. Wily gets caught each and every time, and somehow manages to come back. Often he acts repentant about what he’s done to the Blue Bomber and society at large. But, without fail, he’s back the next week with more inappropriately named robots and some scheme that only a mother could love. So, what would happen if the ghosts came calling? He’d offer up some token resistance, probably involving random theme robots, then he’d give in entirely, buy some Christmas trappings, and be a reformed scientist. That is, until the next week when he’d be right back up to his old tricks. Wily seems to have a compulsion to fail at life over and over again, and I don’t think any amount of Christmas Spirit is going to change that.
1. Wario – Super Mario Bros.
Andrew Ryan is the Batman of capitalism, whereas Wario is the Joker. By this, I mean Andrew Ryan is a thinking man with plans about plans. Wario, on the other hand, is a force of greed. He is greed personified in purple overalls. You can’t alter the course of a force of nature. What’s that, Ghost of Christmas Past? Lost love? Ha! Wario’s only love is gold and garlic, and that’s the way it should always be. What about all the fun everyone else is having on Christmas. Ha! The real fun is about collecting money and playing off-the-wall mini games with people with severe ADD. What about the Ghost of Christmas Future? Death seems to freak most Scrooges out? Have you ever played a Wario game? He’s invincible in most of them. This is a guy that cannot die. Why should he fear the reaper? The only thing worth fearing is losing any of that sweet coin, and that’s all this Christmas nonsense would result in.
There are just some people who the true meaning of Christmas would be lost on. Family and goodwill towards men? Some video game characters would spit on that notion, even with a little nudging from supernatural forces. The role of Scrooge has to go to a complete meanie, but one that has the capacity to change. Unfortunately, video games can bring out the baser fellows, people who would sooner slit their mother’s throat than revel in yuletide merriment. A Christmas Carol may be one of the most adapted stories out there, but there are some characters that you just can wedge in.