Minions. Mooks. Henchmen. Underlings. The cannon fodder between you and the big bad. Bowser has his goombas. Vader has his stormtroopers. Loki had . . . y'know . . . all of those weird alien-robot things in the Avengers.
Within video games, mooks are the evil foot soldiers that you must mow down like weeds if you want to advance. It's your duty. Heck, it's really just self-defense! But sometimes, we might get a little fond of the little baddies. Maybe we feel sorry for them. Maybe they remind us of a pet or a younger sibling or a version of ourselves trapped in a menial position under an evil overlord for the indeterminable future.
For whatever reason, some mooks just make us feel plain bad for crushing them beneath the swift heel of justice. Here are five underlings who at least warranted a decent severance package after their early termination.
If these guys posed any sort of threat, they'd be a nuisance. Instead, they just kind of take up space. Grunts are the lowest of the low on the Covenant totem pole. Sure, they're annoying when they open their mouths, but half the time they're just begging for mercy. They call you the "demon." They fear you.
They aren't the threat here. You are.
Are you really going to kill off this basically useless creature with no semblance of meaning in its life and no hope for the future? You betcha. And we'll probably chop it into bits with an energy sword for good measure. But we'll feel kind of sorry afterward. At least until we run into the next grunt.
Since the start, Fire Emblem has played with epic battles of good vs. evil, but that doesn't mean they'll let players get away with black and white morality. Instead of encouraging you to hack your way to the final showdown, the creators have built in incentives to make the players come up with smarter solutions. Thracia 776, for example, sets mercy on the table for mooks and bosses alike. While sparing your enemies might make things harder later on, your good will does give you the opportunity to steal some pretty sweet loot from the lives you so graciously preserved.
In other cases, the series is takes a harder stance. Like in Path of Radiance, for example, when an NPC casually drops the bomb that you killed her son, who, to you, was just another faceless enemy. Or in Awakening, when Henry humanizes some of the Plegian soldiers you've been pitted against. Whether through rewards or personal morality, Fire Emblem likes to add a few layers to their enemies, making them that much harder to kill.
[Includes spoilers for OFF.]
Setting aside the moral implications of literally every decision you make in OFF, we feel the most ambivalent about "purifying" the Burnt. The Elsen are introduced to us as the anxious denizens of OFF's Zones, supposedly under our protection. They startle easily. The wheeze a bit. They're all a little neurotic. The Elsen are just these cute lil' guys in business casual office garb, trying to get by working under tyrannical guardians.
So yeah, it's a little unsettling when they get too stressed or sick and suddenly their head is replaced with a black demonic spout and they start attacking us at the "Burnt."
I know, I know. How could anyone possibly feel bad about destroying a mass-produced weaponized robot under the control of another (uniquely snarky) robot bent on killing you? Just wait until you hear them say things like "I'm different" or "I'm scared."
The turrets are ultimately more pawns for GLaDOS to move around the testing facility; like Chell, just playing as a different type of piece. It doesn't help when Wheatley starts combining them with weighted cubes to make barely functioning Frankenturrets that shake with fear after being picked up.
Oh, and apparently they can feel pain.
War is never simple and Metal Gear Solid consistently acknowledges this. Peace Walker gives you a talking conscience in the form of Paz who alternates between begging you to spare your enemies or scolding you for killing them, all of whom can be captured and turned to your own side. Sons of Liberty gives every soldier a unique set of dog tags to remind you that every kill has their own family to which they will never return.
Oh, and Metal Gear Solid 4 has a mook-killing threshold, which, upon its crossing, triggers a flashback to the first game when Snake is accused of enjoying killing. Snake throws up shortly afterward in disgust for what he/you have done.
Feel a little guilty yet? Or maybe you think they all had it coming? Maybe you have a mook to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section!