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Nineties Anti Hero / Video Games

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  • Arc System Works has created two characters like this trope in their games:
    • BlazBlue has this in Ragna the Bloodedge. Not only does his name sound like something right out of the Dark Age of Supernames, he's also ill-tempered, has Too Many Belts, a BFS that unfolds into a scythe (fittingly called "Blood-Scythe") is motivated by revenge, and has no problems with harming anyone who gets in his way. To top it all off, his powers consist of draining the life out of others by using the power of darkness in the form of summoning parts of an Eldritch Abomination.
      • The hilarious irony in Ragna is he's dorky and a bit of a loser, with most of the cast snarking and looking down at him. He has a crippling fear of ghosts (likely owing to the fact that the person responsible for burning down his home, lopping off his right arm, and kidnapping his kid sister is a ghost), and Screams Like a Little Girl, and indeed a lot of the game's humour takes place at his expense. He's also quite a nice, compassionate guy beneath his gruff exterior, and he's a great chef. Essentially, while he has the badass appearance and power-set of a textbook Nineties Anti-Hero, his abrasive and headstrong personality get him into trouble more often than not. In fact, much of his Character Development revolves around him realizing that his "destroy my enemies" mindset typical of the trope hasn't gotten him anywhere and instead vows to use his power to protect his loved ones.
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    • His spiritual predecessor, Sol Badguy of Guilty Gear, also fits the mold. Well-muscled, a Stripperiffic outfit with Too Many Belts, and a bad attitude, even sharing a few similarities with Jotaro Kujo. He's something of a subversion, as despite his rough exterior, and brutal methods, his goals are completely altrustic.
  • Caleb from Blood is a old west flavored nineties anti-hero. A former member of a lovecraftian cult with glowing red eyes, black clothes, lots of guns and explosives, most of his dialogue is made of Bond One-Liners with some pop culture references and he's primarily motivated by revenge against his former master with no altruistic motives whatsoever. And he brutally kills everything that stands in his way.
  • It's hard to tell who's supposed to be a hero in BloodStorm and who's a villain. They all have menacing one-word names, are all capable of ultra-violence, all look positively Liefeldian and almost all of them are dicks with selfish motives and no care for others. Tremor manages to at least buck this trait by being the only unambiguously good character in the game.
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  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 turns Dracula into one. An angry, scowling vampire with a Barbarian Longhair and a Badass Beard who takes on demons and monsters in a modern-day infested city with improbable weapons such as a whip made of blood and claws of fire. He is also selfish and driven solely by the desire of ending the pain of his existence while still raging against God for the death of his family. Dracula has, as well, no compuction about killing innocents to achieve his goal, and gouges and dismembers his opponents in a fight. He's pretty much Kratos if he were a vampire.
  • Champions Online has many player characters fitting this trope, and also a few amongst its NPC cast:
    • The Drifter. Got retconned from a mystic cowboy into a Cable-esque cyborg cowboy.
    • Black Mask (the 10th) is a female example. Her costume is the single most revealing of all heroes, and her power is carrying a big gun.
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    • The PRIMUS Recognition Vendors, mainly to display the 90's style costume unlocks they are selling.
    • The Bag Vendor! Because what kind of character would know more about pouches?
    • The default costumes for the Scourge, the Blade and the Specialist archetypes, being based on Spawn, Deathstroke and Deadpool respectively.
      • The costumes for the Marksman, Soldier, Impulse and Unleashed also kind of.
    • While not exactly antiheroes, quite a few villains get at least the look right. Amongst those are Hard Target, Leathal, Drago and the ascended fan creation Devana Hawke.
  • City of Heroes lets you make these with all the Spikes of Villainy costume pieces that are equally available to heroes. Though there's no real representative of them in-game (it has more of a Silver Age flavor), the closest could be Hardcase, an Anti-Villain.
  • Dante and the Devil May Cry series are either an Affectionate Parody of the gothic anti-hero supernatural genre or another edgy trope from Capcom that needed a radical 90's type of anti hero who lived in a satanic nightmarish world filled with leather-clad gothic babes, a Darker and Edgier twin brother who was the evil foil, and a one-liner-spewing half-human half-demon rebel without a cause with a tragic back story and the most edgy weapons this side of a Spawn comic. Nero embodies this trope more than Dante as the misunderstood angsty teenager with a hidden MacGuffin and a bad attitude.
    • One of the criticisms leveled at DmC: Devil May Cry is that it tries to take a light-hearted series and give it the full Nineties treatment, leaving it overwrought with attempted edginess and shallow satire. This is exemplified by the reimagining of Dante, who is a few pouches and a bucket of steroids away from leaping off a Liefeld cover. What's really weird is that the game does still go full camp every now and then, leaving the game with characters who can't decide if they want to crack wise or just tell each other to fuck off.
  • Drake of the 99 Dragons: The titular Drake is a undead assassin with a black leather coat, a pale corpse-like skin color, uses an infinite number of guns, always beats up and kills his enemies, and he speaks primarily in corny Badass Boasts with a raspy, low-pitched voice. You may think he's a parody of this before realizing he was meant to be serious.
  • Doom
    • Doomguy was originally something of a Featureless Protagonist, but Fanon rapidly turned him into one of these (aided and abetted by the infamous comic).
    • Brutal Doom picked this interpretation up and ran screaming at a horde of demons to beat them to death with it. Rip and tear, indeed.
    • DOOM (2016) follows the trend set by Brutal Doom in that he's still as silent as he's ever officially been, and still exudes all of the brutality associated with him, though played much more seriously and taken Up to Eleven. He does have soft spots and, as Doom Eternal shows, is a total geek with a love for comicbooks, metal albums, and action figures. He's still a Determinator through and through though, completely dedicated to ridding the universe of demons... preferably with as much violence as possible.
  • Asshole!Warden in Dragon Age: Origins has a tendency to wander through Ferelden, kicking ass and taking names, while slaughtering whatever unconscious wounded soldiers or small children get in the way, condemning a significant number of elves, men, and dwarves to And I Must Scream fates for the sole purpose of getting cooler-looking allies during the final battle, and slaughtering the entire Denerim Circle of Magi for the sake of convenience.
  • By the standards of JRPGs, Caim from Drakengard is a Nineties Anti-Hero, bordering on straight-edge Villain Protagonist if not for the happy side effect that the people he happens to be on a genocidal rampage against want to destroy the world. And then once those bad guys are all defeated, he goes straight back to gleefully slaughtering EVERYBODY in the sequel.
    • Zero from Drakengard 3 is easily the Spear Counterpart to Caim. A crude, foul-mouthed, violent, irascible woman entirely motivated by an almost unquenchable thirst for power, something she plans to accomplish by gleefully murdering her own sisters and forcing their male guardians into her slave harem. She can also activate her Limit Break by bathing in the blood of her enemies. Subverted in that she actually has an exceptionally high sense of personal responsibility. She acknowledges that she is a bad person who the rest of the world would be better off without, mostly kills people to save them from A Fate Worse Than Death, is actually trying to prevent The End of the World as We Know It while using a supposed thirst for power as a Jerkass Façade, and her constant rage stems from being a Death Seeker who's just so very, very tired of not being allowed to rest due to being cursed with Resurrective Immortality. The novelization also further deconstructs the trope by revealing that murder is simply a fully automatic behavior to her which she acquired as a prerequisite for survival in the conditions of extreme poverty and mutual backstabbing she grew up in, and that it bothers her that she can't really find any good reason for why she keeps doing it other than that.
  • Duke Nukem. A sex obsessed, mirrorshade wearing Action Hero wannabe who hangs out in sleazy biker bars and strip clubs, with a Lantern Jaw of Justice and blond flattop haircut. He's armed to the teeth with BFGs (as it's a FPS and all), addicted to steroids (or whatever those pills are) and loves to spew one liners like "I've got balls of steel", "Some mutated son of a bitch is gonna pay!" and of course the immortal "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of gum." And his games were big in the early 90s. Duke is generally accepted as being a full parody of the 80s/90s action hero rather than actually being one. He's no exception to the fact that most parodies and extreme cases of this are deeply entrenched in Poe's Law, though.
  • In the later 90s, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII came out.
    • Cloud Strife in the original VII was something of a Deconstructed Character Archetype version of this, attempting to act like this as a conscious affectation, and soon abandoning it. Played completely straight in most of his later appearances, especially in the Kingdom Hearts games and Advent Children. He certainly looks the part in the first Kingdom Heartsnote .
    • Also from VII, there is Vincent Valentine. He wears a black leather outfit with a red cape and fights with guns, as well as turn into several sorts of monsters, most notably a demon. Personality-wise he is an aloof and distant anti-hero with a tormented backstory who is driven by revenge. Not to mention official artwork of him perching on top of a rooftop at night. This gets more pronounced in his solo game, Dirge of Cerberus, which expands on his powers and his angst, to the point of being seen as overblown according to part of the fandom.
    • Squall Leonhart also plays this completely straight, but is given a Freudian Excuse in that he's been raised as a Child Soldier from the age of about 5 or 6. He, too, appears in Kingdom Hearts, quiet and snarky as ever, but he seems to have opened up quite a bit (at least to Yuffie and Aerith). His disposition does improve greatly in Kingdom Hearts II, where he's mellowed out (getting to return to your once-doomed home world and rebuild it is likely to do that) and acts as a Big Brother Mentor to Sora.
    • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud resembles the Japanese version of this archetype, looking like a hero from a gory Seinen dark fantasy manga a la Berserk, while Barret is dressed like the Western version of the archetype, a huge mountain of muscles covered in pouches with a BFG mounted on his arm.
  • Tombstone from Freedom Force vs The Third Reich, a series that is an homage to the high Silver Age of comic books, is a Nineties Anti-Hero. And he still fits into the game, because his overblown "dark and tormented" act makes him just as laughable as the rest of the cast.
    Alchemiss: [sarcastically] So how did you spend your sabbatical, Tombstone? Performing in musical theater? Raising puppies?
    Tombstone: animals wither in my presence.
  • The titular Fury of Fury Unleashed is a sterotypical nineties comicbook protagonist whose adventures usually involve blasting away monsters and baddies with big guns. The game deals with the fact that the in-universe Fury Unleashed comic book is facing the threat of cancellation due to poor reviews in the modern era as well as the author burning out, leading the protagonist to fight through their past adventures in an attempt to save their author and their series.
  • God of War: If Kratos' muscle-bound and grizzled appearance combined with his multitude of oversized weapons and dark backstory don't convince you, then his lethal and very brutal methods and HIS MONOLOGUES IN WHICH HE DECLARES THAT HE WILL ASCEND OLYMPUS TO KILL THE GODS!!! may show otherwise. He has mellowed out a lot in the PS4 game, though.
  • Varik, the protagonist of The Halloween Hack, is made to look like this, what with being a brooding, alcoholic bounty hunter with a Dark and Mysterious Past. We quickly find out this is not played straight at all — his stats suck, and he's honestly scared of the undead monsters.
  • Immortal Souls:
    • John Turner is a subversion of the trope. He certainly looks the part, with his black leather coat, dark jeans, Guns Akimbo and baseball bat, incredibly muscular build, and gritty hardcore fighting style. He even is a vampire and a former street racer, to boot. But personality-wise he's pretty much a softie Dork Knight who cares about helping innocents when nobody else will, with his only flaw being that he wishes somebody else would do so, so he doesn't have to.
    • Raven, on the other hand, is a much more played straight example, who both looks and acts the part (albeit more conservatively dressed than average). She even got herself turned into a vampire specifically so she could hunt down and enact Blood Knight-fueled revenge on the monsters in question.
  • K' from The King of Fighters. Given life at the end of the decade but still fits in with the trope. Abrupt and harsh name ("Kay-Dash"), cold-hearted SOB who only cooperates when it suits his end (his victory pose has him saying he's good enough to fight your whole team), and has a laser-like focus on his objective (stamping out the NESTS organization and anyone associated with it). However, he does move away from this a bit as time goes on. K' also, surprisingly enough, has a strong moral compass and sense of justice (perhaps even more so than previous KOF lead Kyo Kusanagi) in spite of his general disdain toward being dragged into the eponymous tournament year after year, with more recent entries establishing that beneath the stoic, unfriendly surface lies a rather decent guy who prefers solitude as he tries to piece together his missing past and establish himself as something more than a mere "Kyo clone."
  • The Legacy of Kain series gives us two interesting examples. While Kain is more or less a straight example character-wise, Raziel is a much more heroic/noble character. His character design, however, positively drips of it. This is because the game's dev team outsourced the concept art to Top Cow (a comic studio that broke off from Image, responsible for such works as The Darkness and Witchblade); due to complex corporate politics behind the creation of Soul Reaver, which was being made at the same time as Eidos was having Top Cow publish the Tomb Raider comic.
    • Kain himself is an odd example: while certainly an incredibly anti-heroic person, he is remarkably sophisticated whereas most examples of this trope are noticeably (and unfortunately) somewhat more crude, and though arrogant and callous in the extreme, his ultimate goals are fairly noble, even if his motivations are selfish. Meanwhile, Raziel is far more outright heroic, often trying to do the "right" thing in any given situation, except his attempts at nobility often lead to even worse things than he attempted to prevent. It might be said that Kain is an outright Villain Protagonist while Raziel is a true Anti-Hero as Raziel ATTEMPTS to be good but his imperfections cause him to fail, whereas Kain doesn't bother to try at all and ends up helping the world anyway as a side effect.
  • Jack Cayman of MadWorld and Anarchy Reigns. Well-muscled? Check. Chained by Fashion? Check. "Edgy" weapon in the form of a chainsaw? Check. No compunctions about killing people? Check.
  • Renegade!Shepard in the Mass Effect series: a ruthless and pragmatic person, willing to take the morally grey (or outright black) actions to get the job done. Basically, s/he is out to save the galaxy, but doesn't much care who or what s/he tramples to get there. Some of the Renegade choices available (particularly in the first game) can paint Ren!Shep as uncaring, incredibly xenophobic and a human supremacist with near sociopathic levels of disregard towards others while others can come across as simply being Stupid Evil by having obvious repercussions that hurt your ability to fight the Reapers.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Raiden. Tragic backstory? Check. Cyborg? Check. Prone to bouts of bloodlust and rage? Check. Though Raiden is a bit more idealistic than most examples, and he's also from quite a ways after the archetype's height of popularity, introduced in 2001 and not really hitting the necessary number of notes for it until 2008.
    • The turn towards Darker and Edgier in Metal Gear Solid V is negotiated by starring Punished "Venom" Snake, a brooding, demon-themed, bloodsoaked, eyepatched, cyborg torturer Blood Knight war profiteer who smokes hallucinogenic drugs. This is in contrast to previous protagonistic Snakes, who could often be bitter and screwed-up but ultimately always hated and regretted violence. Quiet also fits the model of the "Bad Girl" Nineties heroine, as she wears basically no clothing (in mid-80s Afghanistan, an absurdly bad place to be a naked woman), pouts and displays her rack constantly, and has incredibly gory, monstrous supernatural powers that evoke a Predator or The Thing, as well as powers that make her really good at shooting huge guns.
  • Mortal Kombat: As a series that started in 1992, Mortal Kombat in many ways embodies many elements of the Iron Age/Dark Age of Comic Books particularly in the form of its overt violence and gory Fatalities, but also avoided being completely serious replications of those kinds of comics by including some tongue-in-cheek humor. These are two characters who exemplify this archetype:
    • Scorpion is an undead, fire wielding Ninja who is a Wild Card who will assist whichever side is most convenient to his own agenda (of seeking vengeance against the murderer of his clan and resurrecting his fallen loved ones) and tends to be one of the most brutal fighters in the series, with the exception of Shao Kahn, to boot due to being fueled by his unquenchable rage. Though Mortal Kombat X presents him as being a double subversion of this trope due to being more reasonable after being freed of Quan Chi's service as one of his revenants but also seeking to kill the sorcerer responsible for murdering his family and turning him into a revenant to perpetuate Quan Chi's schemes and prevent the necromancer from continuing to commit any other atrocities even if it means voiding any opportunity to free any other revenants from his curse.
    • Another Kombatant who falls into this category on occasion is Raiden in his Dark Raiden persona. In this corrupted form, which debuted in Deception (and reappeared in the last scene of MKX and Mortal Kombat 11 due to being exposed to the Jinsei that was tainted by Shinnok), the thunder god ceases to be the benevolent mentor he is known for and turns into a far more ruthless tactician who takes more aggressive measures to protect Earthrealm from foreign invaders, including the destruction of all the other realms, even those that were harmless to the earth itself.
  • Persona 2: Tatsuya Suou is meant to invoke this trope, but is ultimately a subversion. He is very masculine for series standards and has strong views on the subject (one of his contact options is "discuss manliness"), a Chick Magnet, stoic and aloof, a Badass Biker, and has fire, and nuclear-themed powers. In the sequel he even openly describes himself as an Anti-Hero, he's extremely angsty, and he's a Combat Pragmatist with some Person of Mass Destruction undertones, who does not hesitate to kill people. However, all of this is subverted in that he is actually misunderstood, as he's very shy, emotionally dependant on his friends, swings both ways, has no future prospects as he is, is somewhat naive to the world due to his age, and ends up being a Failure Knight to everyone who ever mattered to him (justifying the angst).
  • The Prince started to go this route in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, where he became more dark and smouldering with generic rage (to the point of growling angrily while smashing pottery) thanks to being hunted relentlessly by the Dahaka after his actions in the previous game. This however was later changed in the sequel into being an Enemy Within, of sorts.
  • [PROTOTYPE] has Alex Mercer. Mercer intends to stop a bioweapon outbreak and the military unit willing to destroy New York to contain it, mainly by murdering his way through both. Mercer, being a shapeshifter, can transform himself into a clawed, bladed abomination. Players also regenerate health by violently killing and consuming people and monsters, including civilians. This leads to some Gameplay and Story Segregation, where the gameplay gleefully embraces player's darker tendencies, while the cutscenes try to make the main character sympathetic.
    • [PROTOTYPE 2] replaces Mercer as the protagonist with James Heller, making Alex the villain in the process. Heller broods substantially less than Mercer, but makes up for it in being always angry, all the time. They tried to make him a bit more sympathetic than Mercer; jury's out on whether they succeeded, as many fans of the first didn't like the change in Mercer's characterization to accommodate Heller as a protagonist, and the game still tries it's best to stoke its players' sadistic tendencies.
  • Rayne from BloodRayne a half-vampire Action Girl with Stripperiffic clothes who brutally kills monsters and nazis and she is mostly doing it for her own interests, having a distaste for both humans and vampires. But she has her genuine sympathetic moments.
  • Parodied in Saints Row: The Third by the Show Within a Show Nyteblayde. The titular hero ticks off pretty much every single point on the checklist... while being played by an actor who only has two modes, Bad "Bad Acting" and Chewing the Scenery.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series introduced Shadow, a new and much darker rival for the titular hero, albeit released in 2001 rather than the 90's. Shadow stood out because he was pretty much designed to be a "dark Sonic"note . He shared Sonic's cocky attitude, but was portrayed as being much more serious and foreboding, and his goal was taking revenge upon the planet after his surrogate sister was murdered by the government. He pulls a Heel–Face Turn in the end, and teams up with Sonic to save the day and seemingly dies. However, Popularity Power brought Shadow back and he was more or less a second face of the series along with Sonic until near the end of the decade. This trope was especially prominent when he got his own self-titled spin off title, where he swore, used guns, and rode motorcycles. All of this and more made Shadow out to be one of the most controversial characters introduced in the entire series within the fanbase.
    • Rouge the Bat is a downplayed example of this trope. She debuted along with Shadow, and was pretty much designed to be as sexually appealing as possible, right down to the well endowed chest with Jiggle Physics. While she's pretty selfish and works with the villains, she was also The Mole working against them from within and is generally far less intense and brooding than Shadow in subsequent appearances.
  • Ivy Valentine of the Soul Series. Initially introduced as a villain? Check. Dark and Troubled Past? Uses morally questionable methods in the name of good? Check. Wears a skimpy outfit? Check.
  • Velvet Crowe from Tales of Berseria, unlike other protagonists in the Tales series, is motivated entirely by her desire to murder the man who killed her little brother with no altruistic motives about saving the world. All she talks is murdering the guy, and any other discussions are met with glares and threats. As a Daemon she cannot eat normal food, instead she can only eat other Daemons, and the only thing she can taste is blood. Her outfit is a Rummage Sale Reject made up of shredded bits of clothing held together with belts, and has a black and crimson color.
  • Twisted Metal: Needles Kane (AKA Sweet Tooth), who debuted in the first game released in 1995 and was created by David Jaffe (also the director for the God of War series), is a sociopathic Blood Knight serial killer who has no compunction to killing anyone in his way to getting at Calyspo.

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