Fighting Games are nothing if not a unique, flamboyant, and explosive genre that thrives off of visual flair and eccentricities. Often what is considered weird or normal in a fighting game is based entirely on context and the game the characters exist in. Still, there are definitely more than a few characters with reputations leaning in either direction.
Defining what is and isn’t weird in a fighting game is a bit of a challenge. The standards for weirdness are high when most characters can do things no real human actually can. Pointing out both the strangest and the most normal characters in these titles means looking at a fighter’s visual design, moves, and character, and stacking them up against the peers of their series and genre to see what is and isn’t eccentric.
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Fighting game characters can be weird just because they look funny, while others can be normal just because their moves and abilities are common in the genre. It all depends on how the fighting game player feels when they see that character on the select screen.
Bedman – Guilty Gear Xrd – Weird Fighting Game Character
There’s almost no such thing as being weird when it comes to anime fighters. Games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue are nothing if not absurdly convoluted. When it comes to weird anime characters, however, Bedman takes the cake. At the end of the day, even the most flamboyant, superpowered anime fighter is conscious during the fight. Bedman spits in the face of this tradition by literally making his bed fight for him while he naps all day. Despite constantly sleeping, Bedman is a certified super-genius. He’s actually so intelligent, the only way he can keep track of his thoughts is by keeping himself in a deep sleep. Players usually only see Bedman talking in his own dreams, where he adds another layer to his own oddity by becoming a fourth wall-breaking trickster.
Mokap – Mortal Kombat – Weird Fighting Game Character
The Mortal Kombat franchise has its fair share of oddballs, but typically they’re something mystical. It may be ridiculous to play as a character like Meat, the walking pile of hamburger, but it’s somewhat believable when the player can suspend their belief on the story’s fantasy elements. Unfortunately, that’s impossible with Mokap, because even though his backstory is technically feasible, his design is just too silly to be accepted.
As his name implies, Mokap is a motion capture actor. His outfit is a skin-tight suit covered with tiny motion capture balls. Standing next to impressive tough-guys like Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion and Jax, Mokap looks downright cringeworthy. The fact that the developers actually integrated a canon backstory for this joke character makes it even worse. Mokap’s big, mysterious background is that he’s a talented martial arts instructor Johnny Cage hires to work in his movies. He couldn’t be more of a nobody. Somehow, Mokap gains supernatural abilities that put him on par with other big name contenders, but even then he continues to wear the motion capture suit instead of something that would fit a warrior of his supposed caliber.
Necro – Street Fighter – Weird Fighting Game Character
Everything about Necro screams strange, from his ghostly skin color to his violet leather overalls and propensity towards stretching. Strange should be expected, however, from someone who underwent horrifying biological experiments at the hands of the Illuminati. These experiments, known as the G-Project, left Necro with his current striking appearance.
On the bright side, it also granted him the ability to stretch like Dhalsim or produce electric discharges like Blanka. Lucky for Necro, he escaped the Illuminati’s clutches with the help of his girlfriend Effie. Together, the two travel the planet on the lamb from their captors. When they aren’t running from the impending threat of human experimentation, they enjoy belting out high-pitched duets perfect for melting ear drums.
Peacock – Skullgirls – Weird Fighting Game Character
Plenty of fighting game characters reference anime, real world celebrities, and actual martial arts, but few make deliberate references to Felix the Cat. Peacock is the epitome of the “keep-away” character in fighting games, meaning all of her moves focus on keeping the opponent as far away as possible while capitalizing on the mistakes they make while trying the close the distance. She does this with a “gang” of waling weapon characters summoned from offscreen. Each of these characters has a name and a unique design reminiscent of early 20th century cartoons because that exactly what Peacock is an homage to, and that’s what makes her so weird. It’s odd enough having a team of walking bombs to back you up, but using that bomb-squad to deliberately reference Road Runner while putting the smack down on your opponent is even weirder.
Mokujin – Tekken – Weird Fighting Game Character
It seems like Tekken’s list of joke characters runs longer than almost any other fighting game series. From bears to kangaroos and guest appearances, there’s hardly ever a Tekken game with less than three confusingly absurd characters. Mokujin only beats them out in absurdity because on top of being his own original gag, he is also everyone else’s gag. Mokujin is the “random” fighter, a character whose move list changes from match to match. So besides being a walking, non-talking plank of ancient wood, Mokujin is also literally every other character in the game. Few other characters in fighting games can say that for themselves.
Ryu – Street Fighter – Normal Fighting Game Character
Ryu’s normality is solely the fault of his popularity. He is complete milquetoast in every regard, from his personality to his design. This may seem like an odd description for a fire-shooting hobo with a rich best friend and only one set of clothing, but all of that actually makes Ryu even less special.
His own series is chocked with a laundry list of copycats in both visual and mechanical design that were only added because they were new spins on a successful formula. Top that off with a personality founded on spending one’s life in the woods breaking boards and not bathing, and Ryu’s blandness adds up to something truly awe inspiring. Granted, these factors make him an easy character to connect with in a game all about fighting. His popularity is based on his simplicity, but it also makes him woefully one-note.
Kurtis Stryker – Mortal Kombat – Normal Fighting Game Character
In a world full of gods, four-armed dragon men, and magical cyborg ninjas, nobody sticks out more than Kurtis Stryker. As a SWAT team member, he’s a bit tougher than the average coffee-swilling beat cop. Unfortunately when your opponent is an acid-spitting frog-ninja from another dimension, being SWAT doesn’t seem so impressive. As one would expect from a character with the same powers as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Stryker doesn’t last very long in the Mortal Kombat universe. In Mortal Kombat (2011), Stryker gets brutally killed by Sindel along with the bulk of Earthrealm’s warriors. He later gets resurrected as a revenant by the sorcerer, Quan Chi.
Phoenix Wright – Marvel Vs Capcom – Normal Fighting Game Character
Much in the same way that Kurtis Stryker is normal because he’s the only regular human in a gang of demigods, Phoenix Wright is normal because he’s the only Marvel vs Capcom character whose day-to-day job doesn’t involve violence. Most MvC characters wake up in the morning and prepare for battle, but Phoenix prepares for his next court case. Even in the 2D ring, his moves are all about searching for evidence and using the powers of the law to do damage. He’s just a regular human trapped in a multiversal conflict beyond his reckoning. One could argue the idea that his ability to translate legal prowess practically into combat makes him weird, but he’s also the only member of Marvel vs. Capcom’s roster who would rather argue it out than fight.
Marshall Law – Tekken – Normal Fighting Game Character
Tekken’s Marshall Law is where the normality that comes from popularity meets the every-man quality. Marshall Law’s design is as common as Ryu’s, but his life is almost as average as Phoenix Wright’s. Sure, unlike Phoenix, Law actually is actually a world-class martial artist with plenty of experience in the ring, but he’s also a struggling member of the working class.
For most of Tekken’s story, Law is just a wannabe martial arts instructor that runs a small business to get by. He’s broke, and often enter tournaments just to make enough money to open a dojo or pay his son’s medical bills. At one point, he does manage to turn his restaurant into a large-scale food chain, but in the end he goes bankrupt and is left back at square one. Law may be amazing, but at the end of the day he is just an average guy struggling to get by.
Sakura Kasugano – Street Fighter – Normal Fighting Game Character
For all intents and purposes, Sakura is just the average Japanese school girl/young adult. Granted, she is a natural fighter with some serious skills in the ring, but when she’s not trailing after Ryu to train or chilling out with Dan and Blanka, Sakura is just a normal student. After she graduates, Sakura gets a taste of the glamorous life of a struggling 20-something year old. She works at a local arcade making meager pay to put herself through college. Beyond living the average, everyday hustle, Sakura increases her mediocrity by using moves copied directly from the guy who inspires her, Ryu. As fourth in a line of characters with the exact same specials, Sakura is the queen of “average,” even if her moves do work slightly different from her predecessors.
In truth, the line between weird and normal seems almost arbitrary when examined closely. The things which make normal characters “normal” are usually caused by a mixture of simple design and basic characterization. There are still things that character does which may be defined as weird. Ryu, for instance, is the golden boy of the Street Fighter universe. Nobody else seems to compare with him in terms of strength unless they’re a villain or another master. That’s certainly not normal.
Meanwhile, a weird character can have plenty of normal traits. Peacock may have a unique design compared to any other Fighting Game character, but her attitude and style fits in perfect with the world of Skullgirls, making her normal. Despite this, players are still bound to call Ryu the norm and Peacock the odd one, when in reality they are both unique mixtures of quirkiness and convention.
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