Useless RPG Characters Competition

   Bad game covers have had their day in the sun, now what of the equally annoying characters who populate those games? All too frequently, an unfortunate band of adventurers is saddled with some incompetent buffoon who does nothing more than get in the way; the type of character that's more of a liability than an asset. For every T.G. Cid there is a Malak; for every Citan, a Maria.

   Some useless characters mask their lack of talent behind a veneer of cuteness; others try to draw your sympathy with tragic backstories. But they all share one trait in common: they possess the fighting abilities of a turnip, and are about as likely to land a crushing blow as Crono is to deliver a touching soliloquy. As these characters are normally relegated to the reserve team back on the airship, the GIA believes it's time for them to enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame. We asked the agents of the GIA to nominate the RPG characters whom they believed to be the most useless. We'll present the nominations below, then it's up to you to vote and decide upon a winner. Voting will close and the winner will be officially selected on September 6th.

Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII)

Cait Sith 

   While an argument could be made against all of Final Fantasy VII's characters, one in particular stands out in simple absurdity and uselessness: Cait Sith. A frighteningly cheerful cat with a stupid toy crown and awkwardly large red galoshes, Cait Sith rides atop a bloated, stuffed moogle which obeys commands shouted through a megaphone. This fanged demon is a pathetic and insulting mockery of the cute and adorable moogle held dear to so many fans.

   And while Cait Sith can, at times, deliver a modest amount of damage in battles, his reduced number of limit breaks and the sheer number of far superior characters to choose from ensure that he is continually -- and thankfully -- left by the wayside. The worst part is that Square kindly refers to his attacking style as "dopey." Perhaps "clinically deranged" would fit better, something which could also serve to describe the intensely annoying and cheerful dialog one is forced to read from the character throughout the game.

   Adding to the tragedy of Cait Sith's inclusion in FF VII is the man behind the beast: Reeve. Why this eminently cool character chose such a laughably moronic remote persona is beyond me.

Nominated by: Brian Glick

Edward (Final Fantasy IV)


   FF IV is a world of power -- magic, the summoning of enormous monsters, sword fighting, mysterious ninjas, even a legendary dragoon. Among these heroes, we also have Edward....a bard. Of course, his occupation is nothing to be scorned, as I am a musician myself. Rather, I cringe at his choice of offenses. Next to Cecil's sword and Kain's spear, Rydia's call spells, and Edge's ninja abilities, poor Edward strums his harp and sends a line of music floating towards the enemies. <sarcasm> painful. </sarcasm> As if that wasn't pathetic enough, his secondary ability isn't isn't a real weapon.... it's hiding. Yes, that's right, hiding. Now how is that supposed to be of any use in battle?! His personality is simply to mourn the loss of his beloved. One must wonder what Anna ever saw in him. Edward is a character that can't attack, can't heal, can't summon monsters, and runs away as his special ability. One of the most famous lines ever centers on our dear Prince Edward...." spoony bard!" Add useless to that phrase, and I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Nominated by: Tamzen Marie Baker

Jogurt (Shining Force)

Clash of the titans (or maybe not)

   Having designed 29 characters, the creators of Shining Force decided they needed one more party member to round out the team. They quickly slapped together the worst character in RPG history, then hid him behind a complicated multi-step scheme to obtain him so that their villainy would go unnoticed by many.

   Those who do manage to unearth Jogurt the groundhog are cursed to either succumb to his cuteness and add him to their party, or resist temptation and fill the twelfth spot on your roster with a character actually capable of inflicting damage. The second choice is by far the better option, as choosing the first condemns you to fighting alongside a character with 1 HP that only does 1 point of damage -- a true one-hit wonder if there ever was one. Attempting to level up Jogurt does no good either; when Jogurt earns enough experience to gain a level, you receive the message " appears that Jogurt's level has increased to 1" and his stats don't change in the slightest. Worse, his sole special ability is to turn your other party members into identical groundhog clones of himself. Most useless characters are just plain bad, but a useless character who replicates himself is in a class all his own.

Nominated by: Fritz Fraundorf

Kakuna (Pokémon)

Note the lack of arms, legs, mouths, or other body parts that could be used to "attack."

   All of the nominated characters are pathetic, to say the least. I've never seen a sorrier bunch in my life. Even so, all of them have a major advantage over my nominee, Kakuna: every other character is at least possible of theoretically damaging their opponents. No matter how easily slain in battle, no matter how weak their attacks, each has some way they could potentially damage an opponent even weaker and stupider than themselves. Kakuna, however, has no such luxury. As a chrysalis form of the Weedle, Kakuna have absolutely no way to attack their opponents. At all. They can only sit there and take damage like a little girly Pokémon. The only thing a Kakuna is capable of is "Harden"ing, which lets them take damage more slowly.

   To add insult to injury, Kakuna will eventually evolve into the fairly useful Beedril. So you can't just stick Kakuna into Bill's PC and pretend you never wasted a Pokéball on the damned thing. No, you have to constantly throw Kakuna into the thick of battle, where he'll valiantly take damage while utterly failing to affect his opponent in any way. In the right situation, other pathetic characters could potentially be somewhat useful. But Kakuna? Kakuna is forever worthless by design.

Nominated by: Andrew Vestal

Katrina (Ultima: Quest of the Avatar)


   In this game (which is a long-time favorite, and my very first GIA vault, incidentally), there are eight virtues. There are eight characters who join your party in representation of those virtues. Dupre the Paladin stands for honor, Jaana the Druid stands for justice... and then there's Katrina the Shepherd, who stands for the virtue of humility.

   Truly, there could not be a more fitting representative of this virtue than Katrina - she sucks at everything. Every other character is either strong on spellcasting, a powerful fighter, or has a good mix of these two skills... Katrina isn't good at either. She can't equip anything worth fighting with, but hey -- as long as she's got magic, that's okay then, right? Or it would be, if she could use magic.

   And then there's the fact that in order to get her to join your party, you not only have to walk through a field of poison, but also you must answer a question: "Dost thou seek to cleanse thy heart of pride?" You get to choose "Yes" or "No". Obviously, the right answer would be yes, you don't want to be an arrogant jerk, right? Well, WRONG! If you choose yes, she shuns you. What the heck is that all about?

   In a way, I feel a bit guilty about nominating a character representing humility in such a poll... but she lives up to her virtue so well.

Nominated by: Andrea Hartmann

The Knights of Justice (King Arthur and his Knights of Justice )

 The Knights of Justice

   White trash high school football players.
   The glory of Arthurian legend.
   More fetch quests than you've ever performed in an RPG before or since.

   Yes, my friends, put all of these things together, and you get the cast of King Arthur and his Knights of Justice, the rightly reviled bucket of shite that polluted the SNES years ago. I'm not quite sure who thought it was a great idea to leave the fate of Camelot in the hands of football players, but they certainly stay true to their intellectual roots in this fine game.

   You, the player, are forced to bring two of your brave Knights with you whenever you leave your home castle. There's Sir Zeke, Brick, Breeze, Lancelot, Thug, Lug, Bug, Tug, Buster, and my personal fave, Sir Phil. Their visual appeal is on par with a diseased ferret carcass, and amazingly enough, their looks and capabilities go hand-in-hand. They follow you around at about half your walking speed. They are frequently delayed for several minutes by such complex obstacles as rocks and trees. But fear not, when the going gets tough, the Knights of Justice go on the attack!

   Which is pretty funny to watch, actually. In a one-on-one clash, there isn't a man among the Knights who can defeat a rat in single combat. Really. Somehow, these massive guys in body armor can't quite wear down the defenses of a small, furry, cheese-eating rodent. And, best of all, their abilities don't improve with time. They become less and less useful as the game wears on. And there's nothing you can do about it. No way to leave them behind. No way to improve their skills. No way to make them anything more than a bunch of mooks with idiotic character portraits, dumber names, and the combat skills of an quadruple-amputee tortoise missing the bottom half of its head and with six pints of industrial alcohol in its bloodstream.

   There is nothing more to say here.

Nominated by: Allan Milligan

Pokey (Earthbound)


   There are plenty of useless characters out there, as this very feature well shows. However, Pokey manages to transcend beyond being merely useless to reach the point of being pernicious. Make no mistake about it; from the very moment he forces himself upon your group, Pokey is about as useful as a rubber crutch. In battle, Pokey doesn't just fight like a girl. He fights like a second grade girl suffering from rickets, spinal deformities, severe anorexia, and mental retardation. The minute you see your first "Pokey apologized profusely," it's obvious that you've got a real winner on your hands. From the second you get stuck with the little tub of goo until the moment you manage to get rid of him, he serves only as deadweight.

   Now, all of that in itself is enough to warrant his nomination. But it doesn't stop there for Pokey, oh no. Upon returning him to his home, the genetic practical joke that is his mother proceeds to kill Buzz Buzz, a useful and powerful character. And from there, your opinion of Pokey will go downhill faster than Chevy Chase on a slicked up snowsled. For the remainder of the game, Pokey manages to throw a wrench in the works and make a general nuisance of himself at every chance he gets. All of this eventually culminates in his attacking of your party in one final showdown. Funny, as he seems to have grown some pretty big nuts since he was cowering behind Ness in the beginning of the game. In the end, you're able get him out of your face, only to be informed that he'll return in a future Earthbound title.

   Not only is Pokey useless, he's a pain in the ass, he results in the death of a character that would actually have been useful, and you never can wipe the sorry little bastard off of the face of the planet. Giving an entirely new depth and scope to the meaning of the word "useless," Pokey is every bit deserving of your vote.

Nominated by: Drew Cosner

Qlon (Suikoden)


   I was thinking about nominating the entire cast of Suikoden, as a lark. But then I realized that I didn't need to; one character could carry the weight by himself. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you Qlon, the most useless party member conceivable.

   In Suikoden, I should explain for those of you who have never played the game, there are generally two types of party members. There are the fighters, whom you might consider leveling up and giving powerful equipment so that they can help you in battle; and there are the "townspeople," who are either functionally or literally useless in a fight, but do something useful in your castle. Now, there are useless members of both types. It's pretty stupid to have a guy running a sauna for you. And some of the "fighting" members just don't cut it next to the Imperial generals you can recruit. Qlon, though, is in a class by him/herself.

   Not only is he/she impossible to put in your party--the game won't let you--but he/she serves no purpose, not even the most marginally useful one, at your castle. You can't even have the small satisfaction of being attracted to him/her, since he/she is a typically androgynous Suikoden character. What he/she does, other than waste storage space on the CD, is welcome you to your own fortress. "Hi!" he/she will say. "This is [insert castle name here]! I feel so good." And that's it. Thus, the designers of Suikoden in their infinite wisdom have given us a 108th Freedom Star who is, in a very literal sense, as dumb as a signpost.

Nominated by: Nich Maragos

Rafa and Malak (Final Fantasy Tactics)

HELPFUL HINT: Pick the bottom option

   We all know that Final Fantasy Tactics contains one of the most ridiculously powerful characters in RPG history: "Thunder God" Cidolfas Orlandu. To counteract Orlandu's unbalancing powers, Square also included not one, but two of the most ridiculously weak characters in RPG history: the brother and sister team of Malak and Rafa, who together are just about as useless as JPEGs to Helen Keller.

   Rafa's special Action Ability is Truth, while Malak's is Un-Truth (more commonly known as "Falsehood"). They differ only in the names of the spells they contain: Rafa can cast spells with fruity names like "Space Storage," "Heaven Boltback," "Hydragon Pit," and "Go! Go! Magical Happy Cougar Dung S." On the other hand, Malak wields spells with fruity names and "Reverse" attached to the front -- "Reverse Space Storage", "Reverse Heaven Boltback"; you name it, Malak's got it.

   Sadly, these spells are as laughable as their names, barely suitable for a David Copperfield prime-time special, let alone serious combat. After racking his or her pea-size brain for several turns to charge up the spell, Rafa or Malak bombards random tiles with energy blasts. Of course, all of the enemies have moved away during the glacial charging time, so you either end up missing completely or wounding your own allies. It's the kind of stunning accuracy that leaves William Tell turning in his grave, and would be severely damaging except for the fact that regular physical strikes from a competent party member deal more damage than a Truth or Un-Truth attack. (We refer to Truth and Un-Truth as "attacks" in the same way that we refer to Mr. Magoo and Biodome as "movies.")

   But just in case you weren't convinced of Rafa or Malak's uselessness alone, try putting both characters in the same party at the same time! Watch as they miss every enemy in sight but kill Mustadio and Ramza! Simulate authentic "friendly fire" battlefield conditions! Gape in awe as they demonstrate the attacking power of a rotting toothpick! Revel in the fact that Square included two identical, utterly pathetic characters! Then remove them from your party and have T.G. Cid kill the level's boss in one hit on his first turn.

Nominated by: Kelvin and Larissa

Feature by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA
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