Written by Eric Ippolito Monday, 27 June 2011 05:00
There are so many things that can make (or break) a video game; like a good cast of characters, great music, a moving story with twists and unexpected outcomes, fun mechanics, memorable bosses, and so on. But there is one thing that often gets overlooked... The average video game hero will kill countless enemies to each boss they fight—peons, pawns, grunts, et cetera. They are often the expendable pieces, but not always limited to being the weakest. In video games, these grunts can make the experience super fun or super boring, since you'll be killing dozens to hundreds of them most likely.
So in celebration of the creatures we like to kill most in games, here's a list some of the most favorite video game grunts.
Who doesn't like these lovable and hilarious creatures? They're easy to kill (except when they've turned tail and run) and they come with great dialogue. Also, they do everything from driving vehicles, to manning turrets that they'll likely get sniped from, to just regular front line suicide foot soldier work—so there are plenty of opportunities to take them out! One of the best things about Halo's grunts, the Grunts, is their incredible weakness, or low hp. One doesn't need to be an elite player to get the satisfaction of a well placed shotgun on these guys, even if that shotgun shell wasn't well placed at all. But the all-time best thing about the Grunts is watching them run in panic after being stuck by a plasma grenade, sorry lil' fella!
Final Fantasy: Skeletons
The Skeleton is one of the most common enemy in the Final Fantasy franchise. They're eery presence can haunt you as you fight them, they're bones clacking with each heinous wail they screech out. But as far as the Fantasy in Final Fantasy goes, there aren't too many things creative about these skeletons. They're not original, they're not something of fairy tales or abstract imagination, but somehow they've managed to become an integral part of the franchise. I can't really recall if they ever dropped anything amazing in a game, but I just know that they're often in large groups, they're usually easy to kill, and watching their bones fall to the ground once they've been defeated is reassuring. I like them for being easy to kill, often being in large groups and for their slightly terrifying ways.
One of my oldest and fondest gaming memories: jumping on the Goomba in level 1-1 right before getting the mushroom in Super Mario Bros. for the NES. It wouldn't be complete without that single Goomba or the countless others throughout the Mario franchise. I'm sure this as well as Koopas are favorites among many gamers. However, I didn't choose Koopas due to the many painful memories of them biting me after I've held on too long, and all the accidental suicides after being crushed by their shell ricocheting off a nearby obstacle.
Goombas makes the list because of the simple satisfaction received from smooshing them over and over. Not only are they an icon for the Mario franchise, but it's really hard to get tired from killing countless Goombas.
Kingdom Hearts: Shadow and Gigas Shadow Heartless
There are several reasons why gamers love Kingdom Hearts so much and have played through the games repeatedly. One reason can be attributed to these cute but menacing heartless grunts. Perhaps the most basic of all enemies in the Kingdom Hearts games, these specific Heartless come in droves and disappear in a puff of smoke with each kill. Perhaps in many years of gaming, many gamers can't think of a more fun enemy in any game to defeat than these. These grunts are found in every Kingdom Hearts game and in nearly every world; these creatures are the very icon of all Heartless enemies and a large portion of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
It's hard to say why exactly these are liked enough to put them on the final spot of this list, but their resemblance to fire ants is uncanny. Perhaps it's as if I'm slowly ridding the world of those pesky creatures. But seriously, video games need good enemies and somewhat-relatable features, so in the end, these Heartless best live up to what a good video game grunt is.
Perhaps this article missed some really good ones out there, what are your favorites?