Have you ever played a game expecting certain characters to be much stronger than they actually are and feel disappointed? That’s actually quite common, especially in fighting games when there are literally dozens of playable characters to choose from – but that doesn’t mean it’s the norm.
Sometimes characters in games are either poorly designed or merely underpowered enough to be considered useless to casual gamers. The thing is, video games are just like any other media form; they require well thought-out characters that go beyond simple brute strength in order to be useful for players, or even worthwhile to play against, as is the case with antagonists.
Nowadays, games can require hours upon hours to grind through just to advance to the next level, and when players finally face level bosses (or even the final boss), they expect a worthy opponent, but sometimes, that’s not what they encounter. What’s more, it can be disappointing for gamers to play as certain characters, expecting them to be strong, but are actually rather useless.
We’ve gone back decades and compiled a list of some of the most pointless characters in gaming history.
Here are 15 Video Game Characters Who Seem Strong But Are Actually Worthless.
15. Arkham Knight – Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight, the fourth and final installment in Rocksteady’s main Arkham series, built on Arkham City‘s open-world playground and allowed players to traverse Gotham City using the iconic Batmobile. The story takes place on Halloween knight and players must confront both Scarecrow, who’s launched an attack on Gotham along with Batman’s rogues, and Arkham Knight – an original character created for the game.
Throughout the game, players attempt to uncover Arkham Knight’s identity while also defeating Batman’s perennial enemies. The villain’s identity ends up becoming the game’s biggest twist. Although Arkham Knight’s identity may have been rewarding for longtime comic book fans, the villain himself was rather disappointing. He was billed as being Batman’s equal, and while that’s true in some regard, he paled in comparison to Scarecrow and the other big bads in Rocksteady’s Arkham series.
14. Tails – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Companions and sidekicks can be greatly useful in video games if used properly and if the characters themselves are engineered to keep up with the main hero. When it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog’s best friend, Tails, he’s anything but great. Miles Prower, aka Tails, first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the early ’90s and he’s remained a thorn in most gamers’ sides ever since.
He gets his name from having two tails instead of one, and although he’s quite cute and funny from time-to-time, and is also one of the most popular characters from the whole Sonic franchise, Tails doesn’t contribute much to the overall gaming experience and is much weaker than Sonic. Bottom line: no one should have to play as Tails.
13. Handsome Jack – Borderlands
Gearbox Software has produced three main Borderlands games, two of which feature Handsome Jack, the leader of the Hyperion Corporation, as the main villain. Jack also made a return in Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. Although the developers received near universal acclaim for the villain, he’s not as great as some might think or remember.
The villain is supposed to be imposing, but Handsome Jack comes off as a run-of-the-mill antagonist who doesn’t live up to his in-universe name. However, what truly works for the character is his unmatched humor and wit, and the fact that he’s deranged.
Interestingly, though, a chief complaint about the character when Borderlands 2 hit consoles in 2012 was that the villain wasn’t all the handsome to begin with, but that’s a subjective matter and we’ll leave it up to the eye of the beholder.
12. Hanzo – Overwatch
Blizzard’s latest first-person shooter, Overwatch, can sometimes favor one character over another, but the game is fairly balanced for the most part. Still, some characters can be considerably difficult to use if players aren’t experienced enough to handle their characters’ skill or weapon sets – and that’s particularly true for Hanzo, who wields a bow and arrow.
A game like Overwatch is easy to pick up, but it requires time to understand each character and adapt to their play styles. Hanzo isn’t a bad character – he’s actually quite strong if he’s used properly. But since the vast majority of players aren’t accustomed to his specific style of play, he can be considered worthless… to an extent. Of course, if you’re great at using Hanzo, then more power to you.
11. Gorilla Grodd – Injustice 2
The problem with many fighting games is that every character is supposed to have their strengths and weaknesses. And while, for the most part, they tend to be balanced, sometimes a handful of characters can be overlooked. In Injustice 2, one of those characters is Gorilla Grodd.
Considering his sheer size and brute strength, as well as the fact that he can control his enemies telepathically, Grodd should be a force not to be reckoned with. Instead, he’s as strong as one of his henchmen, not as strong as a supervillain should be.
Although he can hold his ground in most fights, overall it seems Injustice 2 has done some injustice to Gorilla Grodd. That doesn’t mean NetherRealm Studios can’t buff him in future patches and updates, though.
10. Ghaul – Destiny 2
After spending years developing Halo for Microsoft Studios, Bungie departed the publisher and created Destiny for Activision in 2014, thus launching one of the most-played new franchises ever. Although the first game was ambitious in nature, players found the story quite lackluster. While Destiny 2‘s story is an improvement upon the first game, its big bad, Ghaul, wasn’t nearly as imposing as he was supposed to be.
Granted, while the story was fun, it was only meant to get players to hit the Level 20 soft cap so they can move onto the end-game content, such as the Nightfall, Raid, and Crucible – but that doesn’t mean the game’s final boss should’ve been weaker than a typical Nightfall boss. In the end, Ghaul was too easy to beat and made the game’s conclusion unsatisfying.
9. Dan Hibiki – Street Fighter
Dan Hibiki first appeared in Street Fighter Alpha in 1995 and was initially created as a parody of Ryo Sakazaki from SNK’s Art of Fighting series, which is why the character has become a running joke over the years. That’s not to say he’s not fun to play as, but he’s perhaps the worst choice for players who want to win.
If you plan on playing Street Fighter and want to win, it’s highly recommended that you do not select Dan Hibiki. He’s Pichu-level weak in this game.
After some time, it became somewhat suspicious if the developers were intentionally underpowering Hibiki – just to keep the joke going – and trimming down his number of moves to make him not worth using. Whatever happened behind the scenes, Hibiki has certainly become one of the most useless characters in Street Fighter history – and that’s saying something.
8. Golett/Golurk – Pokémon
Pokémon is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of characters, and a great many of them border on being both good and bad. Longtime franchise fans have their favorite Pokémon and favorite Pokémon types. Golett is a Ghost and Ground type Pokémon that many consider good, but we’d wager that he’s rather worthless until he evolves into Golurk at level 43. Still, even Golurk is easy to beat and doesn’t pack much of a punch compared to other Ghost and Ground types, as well as other Pokémon of similar level.
What’s interesting about Golett and Golurk, though, is that they are among the first Pokémon ever designed by an American artist – something that’s actually quite rare when it comes to Japanese-made games and franchises, especially Pokémon.
7. Bowser – Mario
King Koopa, aka Bowser, is the primary antagonist of Nintendo’s Mario franchise, who frequently kidnaps Princess Peach in the hopes of luring Mario to his utter defeat. The thing is, Bowser can never seem to win, no matter how many times he attempts such a fruitless scheme.
Bowser is a good character in theory (having players recognize an antagonist as the primary villain in a series) but worthless in execution, even in the games in which he’s a playable character, such as Super Smash Bros.
When it comes to Super Smash Bros., Bowser is rarely chosen, and when he is, he’s the slowest and heaviest character of the set, thus making him more of a liability than a worthy opponent (or an ally, depending on people’s play styles).
6. Kotal Kahn – Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat is one of the gaming industry’s original fighting games, and it continues to impress to this day. Everyone who plays or has played any installment in the series has their favorite character, such as Scorpion or Sub-Zero, but not all characters are strong and they certainly aren’t all worthwhile. In fact, if there is one character players shouldn’t use, it’s Kotal Kahn.
Kotal Kahn’s predecessor, Shao Kahn, was one of the most overpowered characters in Mortal Kombat history, but Kotal’s presence in Mortal Kombat X was nothing short of disappointing. Considering his position as the Emperor of Outworld, he should be much stronger than he actually is, but players who’ve mastered the character’s abilities can still win a few matches here and there.
5. Potemkin – Guilty Gear
Casual gamers may focus on titles such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, but Guilty Gear is a series worth giving a try. If you’re new to the series, though, we’d recommend staying away from the character Potemkin. There was a time in which Potemkin could’ve been considered a top-tier character, but that fleeting moment past a long time ago.
Despite being relatively weak compared to other brute characters, such as Justice or Leo Whitefang, Potemkin’s moves can be quite satisfying for fans of competitive fighting games, especially Guilty Gear. Compared to the other fighters on this list from other fighting games, Potemkin isn’t as bad as he’s made out to be, but that also doesn’t mean he’s worth playing if given the option to select another player.
4. Mission Vao – Knight of the Old Republic
Long before BioWare branched out with titles such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect, they developed what is widely considered the greatest Star Wars game ever made: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The story takes place thousands of years prior to the events of the core Star Wars saga and follows a Jedi who traverses the galaxy to defeat Malak, a Dark Lord of the Sith.
Throughout the game, players amass a group of friends and allies who will aide the Jedi in defeating Malak. One of the first companions players obtain is a Twi’lek named Mission Vao. Although she’s helpful on the planet Taris, she’s rather useless as a companion once players leave the planet and is almost always overlooked when selecting a team.
3. Big Daddy – BioShock
BioShock is one the most beloved video game series from the last console generation. The first two installments are set in the underwater city of Rapture, where players come into contact with a variety of characters, including the ominous, perilous creatures known as Big Daddies; humans grafted into mechanized diving suits.
Giant robotic creatures that traverse an underwater city and have drills affixed to their arms – not to mention rivet guns and ion lasers – should be much more hostile and dangerous than they really are. After spending a few hours playing the game and getting used to the Big Daddies, they become less of a threat and more of a nuisance. But, hey, they’re still cool, iconic characters with an interesting design. And at least players get to take control of a Big Daddy in BioShock 2.
2. Sauron – Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
The Lord of the Rings is one of Warner Bros.’ biggest properties, and that’s why the studio is continuously looking for ways to expand the narrative in other media forms, including video games. WB Games and Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth series – Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War – takes liberties with J.R.R. Tolkien’s established lore, and that entails having Sauron regain corporeal form prior to the events of The Lord of the Rings – all to fight the ranger Talion and the Elven spirit Celebrimbor.
After grinding through the game’s story, players finally come face-to-face with the Dark Lord. But here’s the kicker: Talion doesn’t win. Sauron wasn’t tough to fight (all you have to do is continually roll around, dodging his slow attacks), but the game works against the player because the story must end with Talion becoming one of the Nine, thus making the game’s True Ending rather pointless.
1. Mario – Donkey Kong (arcade)
Nintendo is known primarily for select franchises such as Mario and Zelda, but Mario didn’t get his own console game series, Super Mario Bros., until 1985. Prior to that, Mario was one of the main characters in Nintendo’s Donkey Kong franchise, making his first appearance in the 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game. The title was one of the first games of its kind to feature an actual story that unfolds on-screen, as well as one of the first games to utilize the damsel in distress plot line in which Mario must rescue Pauline from Donkey Kong.
Mario was billed as being the hero of the story, but he doesn’t actually fight the giant ape. If Mario touches Donkey Kong (or another object) even once, he loses a life. At least Mario has gotten stronger over the years and can now actually fight some of his enemies.
What other “powerful” video game characters are actually worthless? Let us know in the comments.
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