Anybody can put together a list of video game bosses that are lame, and if we did we're pretty sure it would be 1,500 words and how incredibly messed up it is for Kirby to beat up on a tree. Not a Lord of the Rings walking tree that stomps orcs, but a regular tree that cries when you hit it. We don't care how badass you are, a crying tree asking you to stop hurting it is going to make you question the existence of a loving God.
No, we want to talk about the CEOs and Big Cheeses that inhabit video game worlds that we wouldn't work for even in this economy. So you may wake up tomorrow to head to your job as a fat sifter or cleaning the dingleberries from a poodle's derriere, but it beats the hell out of punching a clock for...
Specifically, we're talking the Joker from Arkham Asylum and the recently released Arkham City, though we're pretty sure that working for the Joker in any medium is pretty much a one-way ticket to Crapsville even if you are loyal and competent enough to deserve your own action figure.
There are two ways to play the Batman games. One is to do what most of us would do in real life, which is basically to run in helter skelter screaming, "I AM THE NIGHT" and getting your ass handed to you. The other is to use stealth and cunning. The double upside to this, besides not having several new anuses drilled into your stomach by bullets, is that you get to hear the henchfolk talk amongst themselves.
Let it go on long enough and you'll get a real idea of what working for the Joker is like. Our favorite was one guy mentioning that the Joker told him he would be fired if he didn't kill his sister. Also, he did spend a good deal of the first game randomly turning his team into giant hulking murder mutants, something the second game has pretty much pointed out leaves you very, very sick. Sure he's insane, but eventually you're going to run out of people dumb enough to work for you at this rate.
Andrew Ryan of BioShock had a dream. His dream was a world where there were no regulations on science or industry. So he built a city under the sea called Rapture and when all the brilliant business leaders and scientists he filled the place with started running around willy nilly just making murder mutants and illegally smuggling whatever they pleased, he was a little hurt.
So, heartbroken, he did what any sensible leader would do and started slowly enacting laws to try and steer Rapture towards a stable and peaceful existence as a compromise between his Randian values and the needs of the city. Ha ha, no. He went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and had a scientist develop a pheromone-based gas that drove the people of Rapture like angry bulls against anyone who he decided needed a slight case of overbombing.
This, by the by, in addition to removing people's skins and grafting them into diving suits with the intention of turning them into near-mindless bodyguards for corpse looters. Somehow this really doesn't seem like a free market society to us. We would be remiss is we didn't keep warning you that someone if actually trying this out, right now.
Let's go old school for a bit, folks. King K. Rool is the recurring villain from the SNES Donkey Kong Country games. Now, on the surface, K. Rool is an inspirational story. Despite living the life of privileged royalty, K. Rool personally leads his army into battle. When that doesn't work he attempts to better himself by enlisting in the royal navy, rising to the rank of Kaptain. Eventually, he earns an advanced degree in applied science, all while autonomously running the Kremling government in the middle of a war. He's like a freakin' Dumas character.
There is a very simple flaw in his leadership, though. Namely, he starts a banana war. A banana war. A banana war. We're going to keep saying "banana war" until it really sinks into your head. Imagine George W. Bush toppling the Iraqi government and having all his detractors say, "This was a heartless war for bananas," and all his supporters say, "The United States cannot allow a madman to control the world's banana supply." That's the point of all three games.
The Kremlings are crocodiles. Yes, there have been reports of captive crocodilians eating fruit, but most scientists believe it's a case of mimicking turtles that share their enclosures. Crocodiles are meat eaters, one of the few animals that can eat humans whenever they feel like it, including Gustave, who has eaten more people than serve in the United States Senate and every president we've ever elected combined. They even eat sharks. What the hell do monster lizards need with bananas?
Speaking of old school reptile bosses, let's take a look at one of the most classic villains in all of video gamedom. Bowser, the King Koopa himself, is always a force to be reckoned with. He commands a massive army, airships, magic, and is himself a giant hulking powerhouse far more menacing than anything else the Mushroom Kingdom has ever seen.
Sure, he sends his minions against Mario to die, but that's war. He's no different from Dr. Wily or Mother Brain in that regard. What makes Bowser stand out as a bad boss is his blatant racism.
What's the first enemy you see in any Mario game? It's a goomba, isn't it? It's a walking mushroom that falls beneath Mario's boots or at the tip of his Tanooki tail. The first game's manual clearly stated that the goombas are traitors to the Mushroom Kingdom who now serve Bowser. What did they get for the defection? Nothing.
Bowser arms his koopas with hammers, boomerangs, football outfits, clouds with air strike capability, the works. Though he clearly has the means to transform the goombas into a well-armed fighting force, his ultimate distrust of the mushroom people, even though they have obviously given up their lives to serve him, means he sends them in against a powerful opponent without even arms. Not weapons arms. Arms arms.
There are bosses, there are bad bosses and then there is Cave Johnson of Portal 2. The founder of Aperture Science, Johnson was a scientific genius who also embodied the Alpha Male business sentiment of the '60s. He developed amazing technologies, and famously tested them on human subjects until he was sure they were perfect. These tests included having preying mantis DNA implanted in humans, turning blood into gasoline, a bit of time travel, and, of course, the portal gun.
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At first Johnson used Olympiads, astronauts and war heroes as guinea pigs. As attrition took its toll, he was reduced to offering $60 to hobos, then finally making participation in the tests mandatory for all Aperture Science employees. However, even being forced to regularly run through diabolic test chambers with death lurking around every corner as part of your regular 9 to 5 job isn't the worst part about working for Johnson.
Johnson's assistant Caroline was the perfect lieutenant, dedicated to science and her employer, methodical, competent and easily as brilliant as her boss. When Johnson managed to poison himself terminally by grounding up moon rocks, he began a program designed to copy his intelligence into a computer.
When it didn't pan out, he forced Caroline into the construct that eventually became GLaDOS. You have to go poking around in the game's sound files to find it, but hidden there is an incredibly disturbing recording of Ellen McLain reading a series of lines such as, "Please no," "I don't want this" and so on. Apparently the corresponding lines by Johnson were so disturbing that actor J.K. Simmons refused to even record them.
That was her reward, being dragged kicking and screaming into a computer. We doubt he got a Boss's Day present that year.