N is for NPC

NPC stands for non-player character.  This typically refers to a character in a video (or tabletop) game not controlled by the player but also usually not meant to describe attacking enemy units.  Sometimes NPC’s only appear in a single scene but by virtue of saying something ridiculous or unexpected, they add charm and mystery to the game’s story.  So here are some of my most memorable NPC’s:

Half-Life (s) – Dr. Isaac Kleiner: Kleiner’s brilliance in theoretical physics has made him awkward around people so he compensates for his lack of social interaction with a pet headcrab named Lamarr.  Lamarr rarely shows any mutual appreciation and is often a nuisance to Kleiner by disrupting his meticulously detailed scientific operations.  Plus he has a shrill voice.  What a tragically funny man.

File:Kleiner bust.jpg

Resident Evil 4- nameless merchant:  We know almost nothing about this character.  He’s grizzled, grimy, and covered in a trench-coat.  When he swings it open to reveal his wares I am often overcome with the ghastly fear of him wearing only a speedo.  So far this has never actually happened.

Zelda Twilight Princess – Jovani:  This man sold his soul for unimaginable riches and now has been cursed to be a sentient, golden statue in the middle of a mound of treasure.  His cat is also welded to his head.  He has gems for eyes.  Probably the purest example of black comedy in a Zelda game.

World of Warcraft – Finkle Einhorn:  Remember the days of classic WoW?  If you got the chance to kill the Beast in Upper Blackrock Spire before the Cataclysm expansion, a gnomish explorer Finkle Einhorn pops out the corpse.  He’s been inside the belly of the Beast for months and has survived simply because of his wearing a lava suit and a built in food pellet dispenser.  Once asked about how he went to the bathroom, he angrily avoids the question.

Image of Finkle Einhorn

Katamari Damacy – King of All Cosmos:  A sizable portion of the game’s humor comes directly from this character.  He teleports the player’s character with a “royal rainbow” that comes out of his mouth, he has a funny wisecrack for every situation, and the whole point of the game is to collect enough random things to replace the stars which the King destroyed in a drunken fit.  How many people can claim that?

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