Among the various genres of video games, few are quite as dependent on a strong roster of characters as fighting games. Franchises like Street Fighter wouldn’t be where they are without Ryu, M. Bison, and Zangief. But for every good character, there are another hundred terrible ones. In this list, we’ll look at 5 of the worst.
The rules are simple. There is only 1 entry per franchise, and the characters have to be in some way playable. Guest characters aren’t allowed, nor crossover games, like Smash Bros, or adaptations from other genres, such as the various Dragon Ball fighting games. With that out of the way, let’s look into the trash bin.
5: Dural (Virtua Fighter)
Generally recognized as the first fully 3D fighting game, Virtua Fighter managed to keep a fairly tight roster in its 25+ year life. While not having the star power of some of their peers, the characters of Virtua Fighter are generally more consistent. Except of course, for Dural.
Debuting in the original game, Dural is the final boss of the arcade mode of every game in the series. Having the gimmick of using a combination of every other character’s moves, she appears to be of the “ultimate fighter” archetype, being able to do anything you can do and more. While this in itself is fine, the character overall is just really boring, both visually and character-wise.
Cosmetically, Dural looks like a prototype character made to show off the textures of the fancy new 3D engines of the time. A female body with a shiny metallic layer on top of it, she stays this way in all her appearances, becoming more streamlined as time went on. Not painful to look at, but so boring she stands out like a sore silver thumb.
Character-wise, she does fare a little bit better. Originally a woman named Tsukikage, she was so tough and skilled that an evil corporation kidnapped her and turned her into Dural. It adds a bit of tragedy to her, especially when you find out she was the mother of another character. But other than that we never really learn anything about her and are left with an emotionless robot.
Dural has been in just about everything related to Virtua Fighter, being playable through codes or meeting certain conditions. Despite this, she hasn’t really changed in a meaningful way in all that time. While this means that she hasn’t had a chance to get any worse, it also means she hasn’t really got much better either.
4. Patroklos (Soulcalibur)
One of the few major fighting games to focus on weapon-based combat, Soulcalibur has managed to firmly establish itself at the top of the sub-genre. Featuring a list of characters from all over 16th-17th-century earth, the franchise has a fair amount of memorable characters, such as Nightmare or Ivy. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone is a winner.
With that said, I present to you Soulcalibur V’s Patroklos. Visually, there actually isn’t a lot wrong with the design. It gives off the holy knight vibe that the character is meant to have while incorporating some elements from Sophitia, the character’s mother and a previous member of the Soulcalibur roster. Maybe a bit too anime-ish for my taste, but that’s not uncommon in the series.
Where everything falls apart is when it comes to the character’s personality. Patroklos is, to be blunt, an idiotic nutcase. He is constantly being led along by other characters and entities, manipulated so often it becomes comical. He also has decision-making skills Torquemada would consider radical, killing peasants if they happen to be a bit too pale. To top it all off he is arrogant to a ridiculous degree, even referring to himself as “justice”.
This would all be fine if the character is a villain. The problem is he’s supposed to be the main character of the game. Even when they try to have it seem like he learned his lesson, he then still gets led about like a moron.
Fans of the series weren’t too enamored with the self-righteous little brat either, with him ranking below the minor side characters in a popularity poll conducted by the game’s developer. Come Soulcalibur VI, Patroklos was nowhere to be seen, and to be frank the game was probably better off for it.
3. El Fuerte (Street Fighter)
As one can imagine, Street Fighter has one of if not the strongest rosters of a long-running fighting game franchise. Ryu, Guile, and Zangief are all names that come to mind when someone says the words “fighting games”. The latter of these is so well loved that future games tried to create more pro wrestler type characters, to mixed results.
That brings us to Street Fighter IV’s El Fuerte. In contrast to powerhouse Russian, Fuerte is meant to be a high flying luchador. Solid enough idea, but when it came to the actual execution it wound up falling short of the potential it could have had.
As far as his physical look goes, Fuerte isn’t particularly bad, but he isn’t very good either. His only real defining characteristic is his big fluffy ponytail shooting from the back of his mask. Otherwise, he looks like a generic luchador you would see on a wrestling-themed sitcom episode.
Personality-wise he doesn’t particularly shine either. His whole gimmick is that he really likes food and cooking, but isn’t actually good at it, (insert previously mentioned sitcom laughter). He names his attacks after food, and his whole motivation is to discover what the other characters eat. Oh, and he also does it all with an accent that borders on uncomfortable.
This, plus his very limited involvement with the plot of the game, made it unsurprising that in Street Fighter V he is absent from the roster. While the idea of a lucha libre style character is still promising, El Fuerte certainly wasn’t the one to fill that role.
2. Ganryu (Tekken)
Virtua Fighter may be the grandfather of the 3D fighting game, but Tekken is likely the king of them all. Despite having more than its fair share of ups and downs, the franchise has still managed to maintain a spot at the top for nearly 25 years. But like most series with a wide roster, it means there are some characters that are just bad.
In this case, I’m talking about Ganryu, Tekken‘s resident sumo wrestler. Originally debuting in the original Tekken in 1994, Ganyru is one of the rare sumo based characters in fighting games. Unfortunately, outside of this, there isn’t a lot about the character that’s appealing.
Physically he looks the part of a sumo wrestler, but this may be a case of being a bit too accurate to the source material. In this case, they seemed to have forgotten to actually give him a design outside of just “generic sumo”. It’s almost impressive that they managed to make a character less interesting than E. Honda.
Character-wise is where it starts to get really bad though. It starts off promising, with Ganryu being a disgraced rikishi who enters the fighting tournament to regain his fame. He even has a spot in the second game as the bodyguard of the main villain. Unfortunately, this starts to go downhill real quick.
While being a bodyguard, he falls for character Michelle Chang, another fighter in the tournament. He confesses his feelings but is rejected, and proceeds to move to Hawaii and disappears from the timeline for 20 years. He then comes back in Tekken 5 and proceeds to fall in love with Michelle’s daughter, Julia.
The idea of a man in his 50’s perving on someone who is barely 20 is already pretty uncomfortable. Add in the whole mother-daughter aspect, and it becomes even more creepy. It’s no surprise that in the most recent edition of the Tekken series, Ganryu is nowhere to be found.
1. Hsu Hao (Mortal Kombat)
Ah yes, the PS2 era Mortal Kombat games, the main reason why the “one entry per franchise” rule is in place. Otherwise, this whole list could be made up of just the additions from this time period. It was a close decision, but there was one character that stood above (or in this case below) the rest.
Say hello to Hsu Hao, often considered by many people to be the worst character in the history of Mortal Kombat. And when I say that I don’t just mean fans of the games. Creative director Ed Boon and writer John Vogel have both gone on record to say the character is one of their least liked.
This is pretty obvious just looking at the character. Mixing high tech and military aesthetic, the combination that worked for characters like Jax failed miserably when applied to Hao. It’s a look that is so horrible that it’s actually hard for me to properly express what’s wrong with it. So, I will just stick with the time-honored tradition of calling it poopy.
As a character, Hao basically ranks slightly above the average goon you beat up in story cutscenes. His whole deal is he is a double agent in the Special Forces, actually working for the Red Dragon. His story ends with him bombing the Special Forces headquarters and then getting killed by Jax.
Hao is only playable once more in MK: Armageddon, where all past characters make an appearance. Other than that he made a cameo in the MKX comic and MK 11, where he dies and is dead, respectively. All things considered, a perfect role for him.
Keep in mind these characters don’t reflect the games they’re in. In fact, a reason why these stand out so much is the contrast in quality from the rest of the content. So don’t let this list deter you from trying out some of these long-running franchises. Except for the PS2 Mortal Kombat games, stay away from those.