There is no more important role a man can play than that of father: to be beheld as God and denounced as Satan, often in the space of but a few hours, while his manly heart is dolloped by a heavy, buttery mash of unconditional love and unfathomable worry, all at the behest of a creature as yet to learn where poop is supposed to go. It is, perhaps, man’s only chance to be the hero of his secret dreams.
Too important a job, then, to leave to the ham-fisted tutorings of boring old reality. When looking for true inspiration we must turn once again to the polygonal teat of video games. Oh, sweet teacher, let us suckle at your digital boob of wisdom, that we may become better men.
Here’s five characters from video game history who will show you the true meaning of being a father…
Mike Haggar, Final Fight
Ex-pro wrestler and mayor of Metro City, Mike Haggar is as moustached as he is muscled, which is to say extremely both. So it’s no surprise that when his daughter is kidnapped by a criminal gang, rather than, for example, using his mayoral contacts to bring in the National Guard, Haggar instead opts to take his shirt off and pile-drive everyone in his path until his daughter is returned unharmed. Thanks to Mike’s fatherly rage, the criminals of Metro City quickly learn that ,while crime may pay, it probably doesn’t pay enough for the endless chiropractor bills.
Fatherly Lesson: A True Father Will Face Unbeatable Odds for His Children
Bowser, Super Mario
Perhaps one of the better known regal despotic lizards, Bowser is Nintendo’s hardest working villain. Whether its the endless drilling of his crack troops, trying to beat Mario at go-karting for some reason, or once again plotting the kidnap of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most eligible bachelorette, Bowser is a 24/7 evil badass. How does a single dad of eight children* steady his work/life balance? Simple–evil shenanigans are a family business, and where Bowser goes he brings his kids, offering them invaluable work experience as minions in a heavily minion-driven economy. Sure there may be on-the-job hazards in the form of meddling plumbers, but Bowser’s not afraid to let his kids spread their wings and to give them the independence they need to thrive as young adults.
Fatherly Lesson: A True Father Knows When to Let His Children Stand on Their Own Two Feet.
* Current canon suggests that the Koopalings are not Bowser’s children at all, which leaves us to speculate that Bowser is running some sort of Koopa outreach program for disenfranchised youth. If you look past the kidnapping and attempted murder, Bowser really is an OK guy.
Harry Mason, Silent Hill
If Edgar Allen Poe had had a disastrous sex-change operation and then molested David Lynch’s dog in front of him, Silent Hill is probably the town it happened in. A twisted ghost town where nightmares are made flesh, it is the last place you want to lose your kid. Still, Harry Mason, an average guy with no combat training and with only his trusty tire iron in hand, ventures into madness and beyond to find a child that…might not actually exist? Was a ghost all along? The ending was a bit weird…
Fatherly Lesson: A True Father’s Greatest Fear is Losing His Child. All Other Fears Will Be Beaten With A Tire Iron.
James McCloud, Star Fox 64
The final battle in Star Fox ends with the titular hero Fox exploding a monkey head, which if you haven’t played the game, sounds like an Aesop fable gone terrible awry. Now Fox must pilot his spaceship out of the evil base, which is exploding, because that’s what evil bases do. It’s all looking a bit grim until a voice comes over Fox’s intercom with some fatherly encouragement–it’s James McCloud, Fox’s long-thought-dead father! James guides out his son with some emotional words of wisdom, and Fox lives to fight another day. But where is his dad for high-fives, hugs and ice cream? There’s no one there. The inspiration to succeed and survive was in Fox’s vulpine heart all along, placed there along with the face of his shade-wearing, space-fighting, badass daddy. What? We’re not crying! We’re just… fighting onions dammit!
Fatherly Lesson: A True Father’s Inspiration Lives On Long After He Does.
When you live in a world where most of your problems are caused/solved by martial arts tournaments, it’s important to make sure your kid can stand up for himself. That’s why, on his son Kazuya’s fifth birthday, Heihachi hired a clown to beat him up. Nah, just kidding. He threw him off a cliff. Apparently this was to toughen him up. It seemed to work because Kazuya lived and went on to win the King Of The Iron Fist Tournament. At which point Heihachi threw him in a volcano. Because… er…perseverance and…erm…self-respect and…something something happy father’s day.
Fatherly Lesson: Some Dads Are Real Jerks.
For more video game life advice, check out Harsh Life Lessons Learned from Classic Video Games. Also, Steve once figured out The Worst Jobs In Video Games.