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Pass the Cyanide - Top 5 Suicidal Videogame Characters

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We got another one of these list things, this time about videogame characters offing themselves. Yes, as in committing suicide. The list is restricted solely to player characters; here, the very guys and gals you play the game with are afflicted with some seriously suicidal tendencies and are willing to give themselves a Game Over. Read on and keep the faith.

#5 The Salaryman from Karoshi Suicide Salaryman
Right off the bat, we begin with this online Flash game in where suicide of the player character IS the goal; every level must end with your character's gruesome (and willful) death. This list doesn't mess about.

The backdrop of the game's narrative is "karoshi", or "death by overwork", a serious social phenomena that has been affecting Japan for years. Work-related stress has long caused physical and mental illness in otherwise fit Japanese men, at times playing a role in suicides in a country already plagued with high rates. Karoshi Suicide Salaryman, the first browser-ready entry of the Karoshi series, is not here to discuss the issue in depth; the game's discourse on the issue is on par with what Postal had to say about American shooting sprees. Tacky premise aside, the game is fun if you are a puzzle fan, and boy, is it loaded with suicides.

Karoshi is an Flash action puzzler in the same vein as other classics like Portal: The Flash Version and Chronotron. The key difference is that your player character, a nameless Japanese office drone with a serious death wish, must be killed off to win the level. The twist works really well, turning the action puzzler formula on its head; you will be scratching your head wondering how to get that safe to drop onto your salaryman's head, or how to launch him into that spike bed on the ceiling. There is an oddity in your salaryman's preference in using the random loaded pistols he finds for puzzle solving rather than, you know, just shooting himself in the head with it. But then again, it's distinctly Japanese that he insists on taking himself out properly, according to the rules of the game. Gotta love that Asian work ethic!

#4 Yoshimitsu from the Tekken and Soul Calibur series
How does Tekken/Soul Calibur ninja fighter and fellow Japanese Yoshimitsu top the last fellow? Easy: his suicide attempts are a form of attack. Chuck Norris would be impressed.
Most samurais in Japanese history committed seppuku, or ritual disembowelment, when they've been dishonored, defeated in battle, sentenced by courts, or commanded to by their masters. Yoshimitsu, however, uses it to kick your ass. He has been doing so in just about everything iteration and appearance of the character within the Tekken and Soul Calibur series of games. Yes, gutting yourself is naturally dangerous and hurts a lot, and yes, he's not even samurai to begin with, but to this warrior, it's worth it to put you down (and makes for great instant replay footage!).

Still not convinced? In Tekken 3, Yoshimitsu will seppuku your face using a lightsaber. A freaking lightsaber. And then get up afterward and do a win pose while chanting "Namu Namu Namu Namu". Suicide is serious business when it comes to Yoshimitsu.

#3 The Entire Freaking Cast from Mortal Kombat: Deception
In a bit of contrast to Yoshimitsu, we have this. The Mortal Kombat series,as Ed Boon himself has always admitted, generally preferred to up the ante in the fighting genre through copious amounts of gratuitous violence. Combat was its own satisfaction in Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, and others; in Mortal Kombat, it was, well, “Kombat”, a violent spectacle of “Fatalities” with some fighting mechanics taped on to it. Kano did not have the gameplay depth of Ken; Ken in antithesis could not rip some fool’s organs out of his chest like Kano. The appeal is evident when you consider the fate of the heavily-censored SNES Mortal Kombat port and what it had cost Nintendo in the 16-bit console wars, but for better or worse, Midway has mostly stuck with the formula: take what the others are doing, and glam it up with hardcore violence.
So, that being said, our seppuku-spamming friend, Yoshimitsu? Mortal Kombat would argue that he is in fact a candy ass. Real men and women off themselves through the most ridiculously brutal and painful ways possible, like Ermac headbutting the ground repeatedly until his skull shatters, four-armed Goro savaging himself with a sai in each hand, and most disturbing of all, Tanya ripping out her own thigh bones and using them to stab her eyes out. Yes, in Mortal Kombat: Deception, the entire cast of fighters can short circuit an opponent’s Fatality attempt by applying their own self-administered gruesome death. Oh for those halcyon days when Sub-Zero’s quaint spine-rippin’ would launch a thousand ESRB ratings.

Some would say this orgy of self-inflicted carnage should automatically qualify this entry for Numero Uno. But that would too rewarding for Mortal Kombat’s cheesy violence wankery,

#2 James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2
This one, unlike the others, is intended to be a tragedy. A despondent, haunted widower, his wife having perished from a terminal disease, is lost in the brutal, unforgiving mind fuckery that is the town of Silent Hill. He survives unspeakable horrors such as relentless executioners, hellish prisons, and worst of all, an angry fat guy armed with a big-ass pistol and raging slacker monologues worthy of Eric Bogosian. What he doesn’t survive is the recollection that he himself offed his own dying wife in a sudden fit of frustration, the realization of which results in his suicide-by-vehicular drowning, also known as the “In Water” ending, and one of the most powerful endings in videogame history.
What's even more unique about this videogame character suicide is that it's actually the result of cause-and-effect and not just a symptom of the story arc. As long as you avoid giving James any bad ideas (reading books with suicidal prose, examining knives clutched by other, equally suicidal victims of Silent Hill), you have a chance of giving him a different fate. Still, "In Water" is generally regarded as the official ending of Silent Hill 2, even hinted as such by James' own pappy during Silent Hill 4: The Room. It's also the ending you'll most likely get inadvertently when playing the first time; for a lot of Silent Hill 2 players, James ended up doomed the first time through. Personally, I always liked the "Leave" ending, in where James peacefully leaves town after one last heart-to-heart with his wife. After all the torment this guy goes through, it's the happy ending that in fact is truly unexpected here.

Speaking of suicide-by-drowning, James has competition, and it's from none other than this fellow.

#1 Pac-Man from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures

Let’s put this in perspective. We’re talking about a videogame character who is not only one of the most famous stars in all videogame history, but is arguably their entire forbearer. A corporate mascot-level character whose greatest title has by his 25th birthday alone generated $100 million in revenue and has been played more than ten billion times. Whom, at the height of his popularity, had then-unprecedented merchandise saturation, a song in the Billboard Top Ten, and most infamously, spurred a coin shortage in Japan. And who continues to inspire a cult following, from life-sized models of a theoretical Pac-Man skull to city-scale reenactments in New York City. So it maybe a surprise to know that his handlers didn’t see anything wrong with their corporate mascot pulling a Sunderland himself in one of his own games.

This is from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures, a title change from the Japanese version that seems to imply this to be the true sequel to the original Pac-Man game. If so, then it was, uh, quite a departure (though still fun). Instead of a maze game, you basically play as both an omniscient protector and tormentor to Pac-Man as he blithely wanders about the world. Your slingshot can affect Pac-Man’s environment and experiences in an amazing amount of creative ways, from provoking a bloody battle between him and an alley cat to helping a friend move a couch. Complicating matters is the fact that Pac-Man is now apparently afflicted with both attention deficit and bipolar disorder; his mood swings are in constant flux, further skewing his reaction to various elements in the game. In a neutral mood he’ll usually run away from that swarm of strange fat green insect grubs, but if angry enough, he might opt to just march through them, or if he’s really depressed, he won’t resist when they figure him for an easy emo-meal and decide to (gulp) eat him alive. Speaking of the latter, the various results you can eke from Pac-Man, his moods, and the environment make for some truly bizarre, memorable game overs: getting him stoned on mind-altering substances and leading him off cliffs, killed by falling skateboards in a Three Stooges-style pratfall, and provoking hot dog vendors into squirting an apparently fatal dose of ketchup into Pac-Man’s face.
But suicide? Over eating a strange fruit that resembles a group of gonads fused together? Eating the fruit normally makes Pac-Man just hyper for a bit, however, having him eat it while he’s in a mood that can only be described as “Shit-Eating Grin” apparently sends him spiraling into a depression so deep he’ll drown himself in the nearby water fountain if you lead him over to it. Technically, Pac-Man needn't even eat the fruit; he merely needs to be at that "level" of depression when he reaches the fountain. Talk about impulsive. James Sunderland needs to have the full bore mental assault of Silent Hill and the complete breaking of his spirit before he’ll even consider it; Pac-Man needs only to get bummed out after eating some buzz-killing fruit. James Sunderland needs a sedan and the cursed waters of Toluca Lake to pull it off; Pac-Man just needs the nearest chintzy park fountain. James Sunderland’s life is tragedy; Pac-Man is just a tripper.

It bears repeating that we’re not exactly talking about Bubsy or some other unimportant videogame hero. This is Pac-Man, Namco’s mascot and the Godfather to all other mascots and marquee stars. That’s like Disney releasing media of Mickey Mouse trying to kill himself. Which, uh, actually did happen, but I digress. Pac-Man, you’re number one again, this time, though, for less than noble reasons. Next time, call a hotline.

- GameGavel Writer - A Vicious Maniac

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