There’s always one. That character nobody ever seems to pick. The shamed. The shunned. These guys are the video game equivalent of the skeleton in the closet. The half-brother nobody in the family talks of, due to that incident at the pet store years back (those dogs will never be the same again). Possible animal-love aside though, I’ve always been keen to give these characters some attention. Fighting games with their vast casts of crazies are where this occurs most. With this in mind, our first stop on the underdog appreciation tour is Street Fighter’s Vega.
One of the issues here is probably first impressions. The Spanish Ninja is one effeminate dude. That hair? The high-pitched yodelling? It’s not the manliest of looks, all in all. Super Street Fighter IV’s alternate costumes only exacerbated this problem, with offerings that would look right at home in any drag queen’s closet. Finally there’s the emphasis on beauty. Insisting that he’s the most beautiful person in the world, and mocking defeated opponents by enquiring did my beauty intoxicate you? A special attack that produces a shower of flowers probably says it all. A vicious attack with a sharp pointy implement, true enough, but a flowery one all the same.
Next to the likes of Zangief, all testosterone, body hair, horrific over-tight wrestler’s underpants and general man-mountain, you can see how this could look bad.
Vastly mockable as he is, the camp-as-several-rows-of-pink-tents Spaniard is still my character of choice. For one, his fighting style is so incongruous next to the endless parades of fireball-throwing martial artists you’ll find online. Being a bizarre mix of ninja and bullfighter, you’ll instead use the likes of backflips, those famous walldives, and other such impressively athletic shenanigans. He’s just fun to play. As well as this, the backstory of this psychotic assassin is unusually intriguing for the genre. It’s the kind of tainted history you’d expect of a movie villain. A terrible movie, I’m sure, but the point still stands. Stands on wobbly ricket-ridden legs, but stands nonetheless.
I can see how the general air of wtf Vega exudes might put people off. After all, I myself thought he was a woman until fairly recently (kind of unfathomable considering he generally fights topless, but such is the awful of 90's era graphics). But he’s quite the enigma, and I like that. Not to mention the nightmarish sight of him spider-walking up the cage in Street Fighter II, like some reject from The Exorcist. Memorable, terrifying stuff indeed. Perhaps one day, there’ll be the tournament representation that this murderous nutjob deserves.
In the meantime, take a look at some vintage Vega action, complete with the aforementioned wallcrawling ungodliness:
Article by Chris Littlechild