Worst Parents in Video Games
Some of the most dreadful digital parents we’ve ever stumbled across.
By Marty Sliva & Jose Otero
For every great parent in a video game who sacrifices themselves for the good of their children, there’s one who absolutely drops the ball when it comes to being a guardian. From The Walking Dead to Final Fantasy, some of our favorite games have had pretty crummy moms and dads. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are a handful of video game parents who probably won’t be receiving a Hallmark card anytime soon.
We can all agree that Dr. Wiley’s a straight-up jerk, but rarely do we take the time to think about what an awful, sadistic father he truly is. If each of the eight or so robot masters you face in each game in the series is akin to one of Wiley’s hand-created children, then what you have here is a parent who creates offspring for the sole purpose of being sent off to war and an inevitable death. Imagine the nightmares Wiley must have after having his front door kicked in by Mega Man, who’s adorned in the severed mechanical limbs of his fallen children. Yikes.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
You might mistake Mother Maiamai as a victim of something sinister when you first meet the adorable pink, six-legged creature. But after rescuing her from a sealed cave, the hard truth inevitably comes out: Mother Maiamai lost 100 children across Hyrule and Lorule. The details behind Mother Maiamai’s absent mindedness are never revealed, but you’ll find her kids in the weirdest places. The miniature Maiamai’s appear trapped on walls and mountainsides with no clear indicator to how they even got there. Even if something more sinister isn’t at play here, losing 100 children alone warrants a cry for help for this light-hearted character.
We all went a few rounds with our parents when we were teenagers. Sometimes we were right, most of the times we were so wildly, ignorantly wrong. But I doubt any of us had to go through what Vella did in the opening scenes of her half of Broken Age: Act 1. Not only did her parents offer her up as sacrifice to the Lovecraftian beast Mog Chothra, but they did so with an impossible sense of pride. To them, having their eldest daughter devoured by a multi-tentacle hell beast was an incredible honor. Lucky for Vella, as well as us, she managed to eschew the fate laid down by her parents and embark on one of 2014’s best video game adventures.
Resident Evil 2
As the scientist responsible for the discovery and eventual G-virus outbreak in Raccoon City, William Birkin’s academic accomplishments at the nefarious Umbrella Corporation won’t earn him any monuments or lifetime achievement awards. But Birkin takes the mad scientist role a step further when he implants an embryo inside of his innocent daughter Sherry. Of course, if you played Resident Evil 2, you know that all does not end well for Birkin, so at least we have that going for us.
Super Mario Series
Ok, we know this one’s a bit of a cheat, but hear us out. The Koopa kids are Bowser’s nephews and niece (so where have Bowser’s siblings been hanging out since ’90?). From Super Mario Bros. 3 to Mario Kart 8, the King of the Koopas has been using his own flesh and blood as mere speed bumps throughout his decade-spanning feud with Mario. How many times has he tossed a young child in the core of a zany dungeon, only to watch as his Italian nemesis bopped them on the head with ease? And let’s not even start with Bowser Jr…I mean seriously, where did this kid come from? And who gave him permission to where that bandana?
Has you dad ever tried to obliterate both you as well as the entire realm of known existence using cosmic rage powers? No? Well then, you probably have it a bit better than the Prince in Katamari Damacy. Even after rolling up the entire planet into one giant ball of colorful misery, it’s often not enough to impress your father, the King of All Cosmos. If he doesn’t deem your terrifying machination worthy of celestial status, you’ll find yourself at the dangerous end of a nightmarish scolding that consists of deadly lasers being fired out of his eyes.
The Walking Dead
I’m not a parent, but it seems to me like the main job of one is to always keep their children out of harm’s way. This includes teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street, warning them not to talk to strangers, and making sure that you don’t abandon them moments before the zombie apocalypse. In Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Clementine’s parents picked a pretty awful time leave their only daughter with a babysitter. Yeah, I’m sure that they didn’t expect literal hell to break loose, but if I were Lee, I’d be just a bit peeved that the burden fell onto my shoulders.
So this entire feature could’ve been written about the awful mothers and fathers that populate some of our favorite RPGs of the past 30 years. But in the essence of diversity, we decided to condense them into one single ball of scorn. Take Jecht from FFX, an alcoholic Blitzball player who becomes an all-star in alienating his son. Or Ness’ dad in EarthBound, who tries to make up for the fact that he’s an absentee father by depositing a bit of cash into his son’s account. Worst of all is Crono’s mom — if you would’ve just let the kid sleep in for a bit, you could’ve saved him a couple thousand years of grief.
God of War
At first, Kratos seems like a pretty great dad. When Spartan law sentenced his daughter Calliope to death due to her contraction of the plague, the titular god of war went on a quest to save her. And he did just that…until he fell into a berserker rage and murdered both Calliope as well as her mother. Sure, he’s eventually reunited with his family in a spiritual sense, but let’s be real – would you ever forgive your chainblade-wielding pops if he slayed you and your mom?
Binding of Issac
Perhaps no video game parent is as inherently evil as the mother in 2011’s Binding of Issac. After receiving a message from God, Issac’s mother takes all of his toys away. After a second message, she locks young Issac in an empty room. And after a third and final message, she grabs a butcher knife with full intentions of sacrificing her son. That’s where your brutal adventure begins in this top-down roguelike that borrows many of its mechanics from The Legend of Zelda, minus the whole “mom wants to murder you in the name of God” thing.
When folks refer to you as the Prince of Darkness, that’s probably a sign that you’re not going to be the best parent. And so the prophecy came true with Dracula in the Castlevania games, specifically Symphony of the Night. The entire PS1 classic consists of Dracula trying to murder his son Alucard (you see, some kids are named after their parents…only the letters are reversed…). Dracula stops at nothing to halt his son’s progress, going as far as to create an entirely separate, upside-down castle right on top of his regular one. I guess that’s one way to dodge child support.
Most folks play fighting games for their impeccable mechanics and ability to foster a competitive spirit. But take a step further into many of these series, and you’ll find that the family lineage of those rosters is a whole spaghetti bowl of crazy. Heihachi, Kazuya, and Jin Mishima have provided us with three generations of family quarrels over the past 20 years of Tekken. Ryu’s adopted uncle Akuma has been trying to murder him since the ’90s. And in Virtua Fighter, Lau Chan constantly beats up his daughter Pai Chan all in the name of some dumb karate tournament. Come on guys, pull it together.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the awful caretakers we’ve stumbled across in our digital adventures. Which video game parents do you think are the absolute worst?
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