Calling out the most underrated characters in the history of gaming | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Calling out the most underrated characters in the history of gaming

All I can picture is a machine-gun-wielding clergyman, usually played by Jean-Claude Van Damme

This week’s City Paper cover, illustrated by the great Pat Lewis, brought back a lot of memories for me as I’m sure it did for a lot of readers. Sure, there were more modern games represented like World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Animal Crossing. But the one that made me smile the most was Col. Mustard from the board game, Clue.

I always played the colonel as a kid, and when it turned out that he was the killer, I was devastated. He just looks too gentle to be a killer so brutal that he’d crack your skull with a candlestick. At his age, I’m sure arthritis and osteoporosis would prevent him from such a heinous attack.

But when I think about it now, I don't think he's the player most people chose to play. Miss Scarlet and Prof. Plum always seemed to be at the top of the list. But I've always liked to be the odd character, which is probably why I'm such an odd character myself. And to honor weird personalities everywhere, here are some of my favorite underrated gaming characters (please note “characters” is used as a loose descriptor).

Earthworm Jim

I have no idea why I bought this game for my Sega Genesis, but I did and I'm glad. The premise is strange — a magic suit falls to earth and an everyday earthworm gets arms, legs and unnatural booty-kicking abilities. The game was a little gross, though because Jim could use his head as a whip to hit enemies, or he could whip it up to a tree branch and swing from it. Honestly, that part was kind of icky, but this game was worth hours of entertainment.

Mr. No-Face from Monopoly

OK, so this is totally a character that I invented. I was always disappointed that there wasn't a human character, so I made one up by placing the hat on top of the thimble. I called him Mr. No-Face, and he was always fond of buying up the cheap properties just past Go.

The green wedge in Trivial Pursuit

I was never very good at science and nature, the category represented by the green wedge. But neither are a lot of people who played this game. But I'm convinced this piece was the key to victory. Getting the science wedge early meant an easier shot at winning the game. A lot of the questions required complex answers, but every so often, you’d get something easy where the answer is “H2O” or stalagmites or friction. If you hit that one, the others are a breeze.

The bishop in chess

No one doubts the bishop’s value in the game, but nobody really gets that excited about him. But when I play, all I can picture is a machine-gun-wielding clergyman, usually played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, running across the board into enemy territory. Right before he takes down the opposing king, he stops and delivers a spinning karate kick as he says “checkmate.”

The second ball in pinball

It doesn't matter if you're playing a fancy, modern machine or a vintage game in a wooden cabinet, the best ball you're going to get in that game is the second. On the first ball, you usually spazz out and forget to hit the flipper. On the third ball, you're so worried that it's your last ball, that you let it float right between the flippers. But on the second ball, you're already warmed up, and you're not worried about losing it because you've got one left. You play that ball with ease, because you’re so relaxed that you become one with the game.

The jack in a deck of cards

The jack gets a bum rap because he's the lowest of the face cards and is thought to be weak on his own without the other faces. But the jack is the unsung hero. He's basically the leader of the rest of the deck. He can turn a dopey 7-8-9-10 into a pretty powerful straight. In fact, the king, queen and ace are nothing without him. They can't become a straight or straight flush without his magic power. He's a bridge between the commoners and the royal family. The jack, pun intended, holds all of the cards.