There are some video game characters that I really love that others can’t stand. I lost count of the conversations I had trying to defend these characters, or at least explain how it’s possible for me to like them. In reality, these characters are my guilty pleasure characters. I like them for the same reasons why others hate them. Characters like Wakka and Ashley Graham.
I understand why others would hate these characters. And gamers are very passionate over who they hate. It’s why I tend not to argue against people who say they hate how they can’t shoot the dog in Duck Hunt, Navi says “HEY LISTEN” over and over and over again, or hating everything that comes out of Ashley Williams’ mouth. It can get annoying after awhile. So don’t take what is written here as a defense for the characters, but more as a reason why I like them.
Wakka – Final Fantasy X
Wakka is the first character you meet in Final Fantasy X that doesn’t have the personality of a cardboard box or seems to by hopped up on sugar crack. He’s an everyday guy, laid back and and tends to go with the flow. He’s the one who has a smile to share with friends or a good laugh to keep spirits raised in dark times. We all have met people like him, know people like him, or are just like him. He’s a breath of fresh air and the first friendly face that Tidus meets in the strange new world. In fact, he may be one of the three people in the game that’s actually friendly, the other two being Yuna and Rikku.
The biggest complaints I’ve heard about Wakka has to do with his weapon and his voice. Wakka attacks with a blitzball, doing as much damage as the characters attacking with spears and swords. That is pretty weird. I always assumed it was magically enhanced. That’s the only way it could do any sort of damage. Though the balls that have spikes covering it, that one has no explanation. Some scenes show Wakka tucking a blade-covered ball under his arm. It kills even the suspension of disbelief. That’s something the game developers really should have explained or not have included.
As for Wakka’s voice? I’ve heard people say his voice was annoying and that he never shuts up. Ever. I like his voice. It has personality. It sounds Jamaican, though didn’t actually become Jamaican until Kingdom Hearts (when the voice actor adopted tropes like ‘hey mon’ and the like). The inflection was a nice way to get the character to stand out. It added to his relaxed demeanor.
Wakka, more than any other character in that entire game, grew as a person. His personal beliefs were challenged and shaken, forcing him to do things that he never thought he would. His own religion betrayed him, forcing him to attack people he viewed as unquestioningly sacrosanct. He worked alongside people who used machina, one of the greatest sins on Spira. No one else in the game changed so dramatically. It’s one of the reasons I find him so endearing.
Ashley Graham – Resident Evil 4
Whenever escort missions are talked about, Ashley Graham’s name is brought up. She seems to be fairly well hated by a lot of gamers. She’s virtually helpless half the time, unable to climb down simple ladders.Her favorite phrase in the game really seems to be “Leon! Help!” He was kidnapped two times during the game, right after Leon saved her from her initial kidnapping. She probably comes with her own ransom note. So I want to emphasize this: I understand why people don’t like her.
Strangely, it’s for those very reasons that I like her. That’s weird in of itself because I hate escort missions. Resident Evil 4 is one huge escort mission.
I knew from the beginning that it would be a huge struggle trying to save her. Leon’s backup was killed off in the first couple minutes of the game. An entire village was dedicated to killing Leon! They were armed with blades, chainsaws, and pitchforks. Getting an extraction was going to be tricky. I was looking forward to it.
I never saw her as a helpless character like most others did. Leon was the hero of Resident Evil 4, not Ashley. His mission was to save her. That never changed from the very beginning. Leon had combat training and field experience. Ashley didn’t. Leon dealt with zombies at Raccoon City on his very first day at work. I’m willing to bet Ashley never got into a fight once in her entire life. I saw her as someone who was completely out of her element, realizing that Leon was her only hope at getting out of the insane situation. It’s why she cried out for help so many times. She believed in Leon.
I liked her personality as well. She was like a kid sister to me. Her voice, thanks to a phenomenal performance by Carolyn Lawrence, conveyed a sense of innocence, familiarity and fear. I could tell she trusted Leon from the very beginning. She never deserved what happened to her and was completely terrified. That’s the sense I got from the conversations Leon had with her.
Protecting her never felt forced. I wanted to keep her save and the enemy wanted to capture her. Whenever I had her, all I was trying to do was escort her to a safe location so we could get out of there. It’s not like the escort missions I see in other games, like in Dead Rising. I find it hard to believe that all of those survivors would need to be escorted… that not one of them was able to figure out how to use a weapon without me being there. Escort missions in games like that felt more like something to do between plot points than as something meaningful. Escorting Ashley never felt like something to do. At least not to me.
As I was researching this, I did not find that many sites or posts decrying Ashley or Wakka. It’s odd, since most people I talk to about video games truly loathe those two characters. It could be new characters have come to the forefront that are 10x more annoying than them. Or maybe the hatred for the characters are fading away.
Either way, I’d like to imagine we all have characters that we like that other people detest. It’s part of the charm of gaming.