Alternative Character Interpretation Video Games Discussion

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05:05:41 PM Sep 25th 2015
Aaaand this is now on Overly Long Pages. Which game series could use their own entries... Final Fantasy? Nintendo? Touhou (because that series' entry barely scratches the surface)?
11:08:28 PM Oct 14th 2013
edited by
Removed because Thread Mode and Conversation on the Main Page are not allowed.

Five asterisks are completely wrong — see Example Indentation and How to Write an Example.

  • Morality is so gray in Dragon Age: Origins that it would be easier to list who doesn't have an Alternative Character Interpretation. There really aren't any inarguably purely good characters in this game, barring the Grey Warden him/herself if you play that way. The only completely evil and unsympathetic characters in this game are Arl Howe, Flemeth (though one version of her backstory makes her a little sympathetic), Bann Vaughn, and the Darkspawn. Though the existence of The Architect does imply that the Darkspawn are more than just a bog standard evil Horde.
    • That's stretching it. There's hardly grayness to be found in Bann Teagan. Loghain is a much more concrete example of this trope, but some of that is arguably Leather Pantsing; he crosses the Moral Event Horizon several times (some would argue that selling your own people into slavery to fund your coup can't ever be justified). This world isn't quite as gray as fandom sometimes portrays it.
      • Most people attempting to interpret Loghain in a positive light forget that he never thinks the Darkspawn pose an actual threat. His coup and "ends justify the means" attitude were based solely on the belief that Cailan having any sort of friendly relationship with Orlais would immediately cause Orlais to invade them and destroy Ferelden.
      • Most people also forget that Cailan completely deferred to Loghain on military matters. Loghain is the one that came up with the plan that failed and resulted in Cailan's death. Loghain just set it up to look like Cailan had a stupid plan that got him killed.
      • Plus, it was Arl Howe who sold the elves into slavery. Though it is possible Loghain let him do it.
        • Also, Loghain plots the demise of King Cailan, forgetting that Ferelden is not the Empire with strong monarchic rule but rather a federation of feudal domains. Most positive interpretations of Loghain portray him as a well-intentioned extremist although he seems to be more of a short-sighted egomaniac (deliberate destruction of a defending army and underestimation of an obviously powerful enemy are hardly characteristics of a good leader).
          • Or, alternatively, Loghain openly and unequivocally objected to Cailan's plan, leaving so little room for doubt that Cailan could not help but be aware of how wholehearted his dissent, and when the time came for him to play his part in the stupidity, he decided to just shuffle off rather than commit his troops to it. He volunteered his disagreement with Cailan to you, the player, who he's never met before, so surely it wasn't a secret. If he was lurking in the shadows to stab when least expected, he certainly wasn't stealthy about it, and wasn't very proactive when the time came; what exactly did he do to 'destroy a defending army'?
      • Elves don't count.
      • And Loghain is there to ask the question: do the ends justify the means? If he did manage to save the country, selling people into slavery still saves thousands of lives, and this was his intent all along.
      • Is Loghain even sane at the time of Origins? As stated above he makes serious blunders that a master strategist would likely see coming a mile away, he's so paranoid about Orlais that he completely disregards the historically-proven fact that Grey Wardens are the only ones that can end Blights (even if he considered this Orlesian propaganda, not allowing for the possibility of it being true is just plain stupid). He's had a hard life detailed in the Expanded Universe filled with loss and horrors and the only two things he seems to care about are his daughter and Ferelden, and he takes actions that endanger both of them (mishandling the Blight, causing a civil war and leaving Anora in the care of Arl Howe). Loghain is getting on in years in a world roughly corresponding to the Dark Ages where psychological illness is considered to be a sign of Demonic Possession instead of a medical condition (as shown by the serial killer of elven girls in Dragon Age II). If Loghain suspected his faculties are deteriorating, he sure wouldn't admit it for fear of being imprisoned for one reason or another.
      • Alternately, Loghain is what happens when a brilliant military strategist tries to apply his skills to politics, which leads to him treating his allies like subordinates and detractors like enemies. He's a beast on the battlefield, but nowhere near as savvy as his daughter in the political arena.
      • Many suspect Bann Teagan of sleeping around with his brother's wife, Isolde, due to the very personal and intimate way they speak with each other—some even claim Connor resembles Teagan more closely than he resembles the Arl. Though given that Eamon and Teagan are brothers, it's hardly suspicious for Eamon's son to resemble Teagan. And while Teagan is initially grateful to see Isolde alive since he had been under the impression that everyone in the castle was dead, he quickly gets pissed at her for her part in the mess and stays that way. Frankly, he probably would have been just as relieved to find Owen's daughter Valena still alive, especially if she could give him news about his family. Though even on the off-chance he was having an affair with Isolde, I hardly think that qualifies him as being gray.
      • Then there's the Dwarven throne candidates. Is Bhelen a ruthless politician who will do anything to secure power and rules as a tyrant while spitting on Dwarven society, or a Well-Intentioned Extremist who does what he has to to change a society that is slowly dying from its inherent flaws? Is Harrowmont an honorable lord who leads according to Dwarven culture, or a weak old man too wrapped up in tradition to realize the current system doesn't work?
        • Most likely, Bhelen is a ruthless egomaniac whose politics, while solely motivated to give him dictatorial powers, just happen to be exactly the reforms Dwarven society needs, while Harrowmont is a genuine honorable man, whose well-meant political ideals just happen to entrench his people deeper into failing tradition that are dooming ethem alle. In other words, the Dwarves got the shortstick.
      • Is Arl Eamon the Big Good of the game or a Manipulative Bastard who desired to turn Cailan and Alistair into a Puppet King, something that was even lampshaded by Loghain in the game itself. It's worth noting, Eamon gives up his arling only if Alistair becomes King, which no longer matters since at now he's got the King in his pocket. He also threw Alistair, his adopted son into a monastery because of a woman and never apologises for it.
      • Anora, fittingly, has as many interpretations as her father and shares his love of Ferelden. Is she really as heartless as she seems or is it more a case of I Did What I Had to Do considering she has a much clearer picture of the Darkspawn threat than her father? Is she really barren as some suspect or is she deliberately not providing heirs so she doesn't lose the power she has over the throne?
      • Is Cailan really as big a goof as he seems, or was he Obfuscating Stupidity? While Anora was certainly the brains, Cailan's overtures to divorce her and marry the Orlesian empress would have given Ferelden a foothold into Orlais and a direct line to inheriting the Orlesian throne through her and Cailan's heirs. It's a bit of a Wild Mass Guess, but doing something like this is exactly what Anora would convince Cailan to try. And while Cailan didn't take the Darkspawn seriously, neither did Loghain in the long run. And why would he? He had Ferelden's greatest strategist, a large army and the Grey Wardens on his side.
  • With Dragon Age II we now have even more characters to obsess over. Is Meredith the Only Sane Woman in a town full of rebellious mages that need to be brought to heel and perfectly justified in her actions including taking over the viscount's authority after Dumar's death? Is Anders justified in starting a mage/templar war to free mages from the Chantry's control, no matter who he has to kill? Merrill, idealistic young woman trying to preserve her people's history or foolish girl with a martyr complex messing with magics and spirits she has no hope of controlling? Fenris, abused former slave with good reason to mistrust mages or Jerkass who lacks empathy for other oppressed minorities? The list goes on.
    • Isabela. Lovable Rogue who enjoys her freedom in a world of uptight belief systems like the Chantry and the Qun, or selfish Broken Bird whose actions swing up and down the moral spectrum to relieve her guilt over the victims of her crimes? She may free slaves and look after Merrill in Kirkwall, but her stealing the sacred text of the Qunari caused a war that devastated Kirkwall and she may only return to stop it because Hawke was a good influence on her, and she's perfectly willing to let a slave trader walk away free if he gives her a ship and promises to leave her alone. And her chosen career is piracy when she clearly has the skills to take more legitimate employment. Even if you like Isabela it gets a little uncomfortable when you realize that, while she does have affection for others, she likely places herself and her hedonistic tendencies first.
      • The friendship/rivalry meter banks on this. Isabela for example will be gleefully happy with her new ship if you've got a friendly relationship with her and she'll be remorseless about letting the slaver walk, while If you've got a rivalry relationship with her she'll feel ashamed for letting him walk away in return for the ship, knowing she could've stopped him. The whole point is that while a friendly relationship will make them like you at the cost of them being irresponsible and selfish, a rivalry relationship will make them dislike Hawke but grudgingly admit s/he's right most of the time and they become less selfish people as a result.
      • To be fair, Isabela isn't incredibly torn up if you're her friend and kill the slaver instead of taking the ship, because - while still self-centered - she admits it was the right thing to do. So at least in that case, the situation can be viewed as less of "being friends = pandering and supporting negative behavior" as much as "being friends = being supportive and non-judgmental, but also influencing said companion to be a better person."
      • In-universe, Sebastian and Anders argue over Elthina's merits as Grand Cleric. Sebastian sees her as a mother figure and one of the few sources of moderation in Kirkwall. Anders considers the system she's trying to preserve inherently unsustainable, and her refusal to openly oppose Meredith the same as condoning all the abuses the Circle Mages suffer.

01:50:11 AM Jul 6th 2012
This entry is drowned in Thread Mode. Also, it sounds rather like Complaining About Characters You Dont Like:
  • Kirby; a cute happy little fellow who helps out Dream Land and saves the day? Or a cute Heroic Sociopath who only cares for his own satisfaction? All the while blundering into saving the world almost by accident? His motives for doing good are often... less then noble.
    • This is Kirby. He eats when he is hungry and sleeps when he is tired.
    • Kirby's Adventure. He found out that Dedede had broken the Star Rod, thus keeping him (and, granted, the rest of Dream Land as well) from having dreams. He goes and beats up everyone to get the pieces, then finds out Dedede had done it to seal away Nightmare. Oops.
      • In Kirby's defense, he had plenty of reason to assume Dedede had bad intentions (the penguin is introduced as a country-wide food thief, which, to our eight-inch baby marshmallow, is certainly no good thing) and Dedede himself certainly wasn't helping by *lounging in the damn fountain* on a float. That and Kirby's enemies have a gross habit of picking fights rather than explaining themselves. Nobody explains the nature of the situation until *after* Kirby does the deed.
    • Most of the games in Kirby Super Star consist of Kirby just kind of charging around, occasionally fixing something, again by accident.
      • In the first game, he is deliberately stopping Dedede after he steals all the food, and in the ending can be seen giving the food back to the people. In Dyna Blade he might be bungling around, but the act of kindness he shows at the end is deliberate. It's possible he lacks self awareness (the anime says he's a baby), but he's almost definitely heroic.
    • And the ultimate example is in Kirby: Squeak Squad. In which 90% of the game is Kirby going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge because somebody stole his cake. Which was a lie, anyways.
      • Wait, wait, wait. The Squeaks should have known to never ever mess with Kirby. Especially when it involves food.
        • But the funny thing is, we never know for sure if the Squeaks actually stole Kirby's cake. None of the treasure chests have it. In any case, Kirby's first target, Dedede, sure didn't take it.
          • But both Crystal Shards and Canvas Curse show Kirby going out of his way to set things right. It's not like he never does anything heroic.
    • However, even if Kirby is a bumbling little fellow who merely fixes things by accident, his status as a skilled fighter can hardly be debated, as it's doubtful he was able to defeat so many Big Bads by luck alone.
    • He also has a tendency to eat enemies, including the cappies, who are described as friendly intelligent beings in the cartoon, and many other creatures who seem innocent, such as the Bronto Burts, who mostly just fly in the air without seeming to purposely cause any harm to Kirby.
    • Key words being "in the cartoon". They are similar canons, yes, but exhibit significant differences.
      • The fan-made live action series There Will Be Brawl completely suppresses everything good in Kirby and takes his bad side (his tendency to eat whatever walks) to the extreme. In this series Kirby becomes a cannibalistic maniac, as well as a pervert and a sadist. His appearance is utter Nightmare Fuel. He is an obvious tribute to Hannibal Lecter of Silence of the Lambs. American Kirby is Hardcore, indeed. VERY hardcore.
    • This issue of Brawl in the Family shows a rather fitting view for this trope.
    • Sonic for Hire chucks out the "heroic" bit and just makes the guy a full-on sociopath. It fits what he does in the games pretty well.
    • Dedede gets his own share of it, too. The games portray him as a bumbler of a king whose hatred of the stars and gluttony often leads him into to mischief, yet also occasionally does positive acts, while Right Back At Ya! makes him a cruel(yet bumbling) dictator who oppresses the Cappys and repeatedly assaults Kirby for no reason other than being a threat to his power.
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