By Bryan Hall
Since the beginning, man has desired hair upon their face. No one really knows why, its lost to the sands of time, like the dodo bird and respectability in politicians (zing! Topical). Our video games reflect this, as some of the most famous gaming icons sport various chin straps and nostril decoration. From the simple mustache to elaborate designs both impractical and awesome, it is a trend I hope will never fade.
But who among them could claim to have the best, the greatest, the most awe-inspiriting facial filaments? Mario might be popular, but really, its not very special. It’s just there, a big black blotch below his nose, devoid of personality or substance. The men on this list possess hair of strength, powerful manes of whiskers ready to slice any opponent who dares to cross them.
I graded the hopefuls and their hairstyles on six main criteria:
1. Commonality of facial hair: A regular Lampshade or Painter’s Brush type of mustache would be fairly low on the scale, while an Imperial would be off the charts (visual aids provided by the American Mustache Institute: Protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, mustached Americans by promoting the grow, care, and culture of the mustache).
2. Personal Flair: Even if you’re sporting something considered common, adding your own touch counts for a lot. A full beard can be transformed from basic to brutal with a few baby bird skeletons looking as though they’re attempting to escape the death trap of fur.
3. Suitability: Not everyone can rock a wicked set of Mutton Chops. Knowing your limits is just as important as originality.
4. Is this character awesome?: One still managed to sneak onto the list despite this.
5. Originally from a video game: This is the only way to prevent Mr. T from taking spots 1 – 13.
6. No Soul Patches: Seriously, what the hell. Who thought that was a good idea?
Without further delay, the top thirteen.
13. Harry Tipper
To fight against crazy time-travelling bad guys and killer monkeys, you’ve got to be able to keep a cool head on your shoulders. One look at Mr. Tipper and you can see that won’t be a problem. Little is known about the man, save that he was once a former NYC vice cop who now takes out international supervillains. No shit. In the world of TimeSplitters, the man’s like a 70’s America version of James Bond (so basically James Bond but better).
The layman might take a look at his basic Horseshoe mustache and not recognize its inherent greatness. Tipper is obviously a man of his time, that time being the 1970’s, where men were men and facial hair didn’t need to be fancy. It just had to get the job done. Plus you just know it got him all kinds of tail, admit it.
Game: Lego Island
I bet a lot of you are blinking or shaking your heads right now, wondering who in the hell this guy is. The Brickster, as far as I can tell, is the most evil person in all of Legoland. Right off, that’s bullshit. Lego people are created, not born. You paint a little cop suit on someone’s rectangular body, they’re a cop. Fighter fighter, chef, same deal. So whatever asshole God creates these monstrosities decided Brickster had to be a bad guy. What if he doesn’t want to be? Too bad, you’re in a little jail outfit, go rob some peg flowers or something. If he wasn’t already a thief, I’m sure that would have driven him to it.
To go with his ‘hai guies im a criminil’ clothing, Brickster sports the classic pencil-thin mustache, and a generous amount of stubble coating the remainder of his cheeks and chin. Just like the rest of him, it screams ‘arrest me’, or at the very least, ‘do not allow me near your children’. At least he got his own sequel with his name in lights, Lego Island 2: Brickster’s Revenge. And honestly, I hope he gets it. Lego people douchebags.
Game: Various Mario Titles
I have to admit, part of the reason he made the list is because I feel kind of sorry for the guy. He’s got to be one of, if not the, worst character when it comes to Mario games. Wario was already pretty bad, but at least he got to spin off into other titles and do his own thing. He made a name for himself. Waluigi is never going to get that chance, because he sucks. He’s lucky to become an also-ran in Mario Kart and Mario Sports titles.
At least he sucks completely from head to toe, including the two narrow spikes jutting out above his lips. His mustache is really unremarkable, a product of the designers laziness and contempt for having to actually create an evil clone of Luigi. But that’s the beauty of it: that crap ‘stache fits Waluigi perfectly. He knows he’s ass, might as well go all the way with it. You have to respect that.
10. Jizzy B
Game: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
There’s not a lot going on here with Jizzy B in the facial hair department (also, someone should really tell him that ‘Jizzy’ is not a nickname to roll with on a permanent basis), but you have to realize just how rotten-ass ugly the man is. Look at that nose, its takes up like a third of his face. Thank God he’s a pimp because I can’t imagine it being easy to find women with a damn airstrip between your eyes. Everything about the guy, from his high-top pompadour haircut to the purple suit screams ‘Punch me twice’.
Except that fly ass goatee. Damn thing is sharp enough to cut an orphan. It’s all about style for Jizzy B, and the circular cut reflects that. Not a whisker uncut or out of place, telling you that while this man may look like someone smacked his face with a row boat paddle, he takes care of himself.
Plus, he’s got the pouty lips to pull it off.
Game: Left 4 Dead
I don’t give a shit. That’s what Bill’s beard says, and that’s all you need to know. With age comes wisdom, and the attitude that you don’t give a crap what anyone else thinks about how you look, they can all rot in hell after stucking on a barrel full of buckshot. Bill’s got age in spades, and to me is the de-facto leader of the original Left 4 Dead group. Who are you going to listen to, some nerdy chick rattling off pop culture zombie references? A gay biker who hates the world? The other guy? I think we all know why we’re not listening to Louis. The guy’s bald, can he even grow facial hair?
I looked up a bit more info on Bill, but reading it felt redundant, like I already knew the man’s whole story from one look at his ivory white whiskers. Vietnam veteran? Of course he was. Smokes cigarettes? Hell yes. Pissed off because he couldn’t fight in wars anymore but now secretly happy that zombies are taking over the earth, and just waiting for his moment to launch a nuclear strike against the rest of the world? Come on, look at him.
8. Colonel Mustard
Perhaps this is a cheat, as Clue might be a game but its not a video game. But I don’t care, because Colonel Mustard is greatness personified. It’s right there in his name, Mustard, the greatest of all condiments (seriously ketchup, kill yourself). And a Colonel! Dammit, I pissed myself from excellence. Hold up.
Okay. Anyways, the reason mean Mr. Mustard here breaks through the rules of my own list is because… look at him. Look. He rocks the Van Buren. I’d have sex with him now, its so beautiful. And lets be honest with ourselves, Colonel Mustard is the only one from Clue anyone remembers. Maybe Professor Plum, if you’re a loser. The pointlessness of video game Clue keeps the man from ranking any higher, but in a pure fistfight against the other 12, I think he’d take the crown.
Game: Soul Calibur
The first of two pirates to make the list, Cervantes de Leon proves that if you’re going to be final boss, it helps to have a bitchin’ mane.
Even if all he had was a spot of stubble, Cervantes had a good shot at making the list for two reasons. 1. Ghost and 2. Pirate. That’s a potent combination of incredible. That he got to be the main villain in the original Soul Edge is no surprise, and it took Darth Vader himself being in the games to give him a run for his money in the badass olympics (Yoda ain’t shit, don’t give me that). He’s a good reminder that not all pirate’s are punks like Legolas and Jack Sparrow. It’s not Twilight vampire bad, but still. Better to nip it in the bud now.
I like to think of him as the Swiss Army Knife of video game facial hair. From his appearances in numerous Soul Calibur/Edge titles, his look is constantly evolving, even rocking the Van Buren for a brief period. But I think its the Lion’s Mane look that suits him best, and the one he’s kept the longest. You can almost imagine it continuing like a halo of white underneath that big pirate hat. The connected ‘don’t fuck with me’ mustache adds to the authoritative tone of his look.
Game: Metal Gear Solid
You can add all the fancy curls to the tips of your ‘stache all you want, Ocelot will still kick your teeth in just the same before the wax even gets a chance to dry. Already born a badass to his superspy Cobra Unit parents, mother The Boss (sweet) and his father The Sorrow (not so sweet), I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out the womb with a full beard and a bottle of scotch. That’s about as far into his story as I’m going to go, because after that Kojima Logic™ kicks in and I don’t want the death toll climbing any higher.
What else do you need to know that you can’t see from that finely trimmed lip warmer? In the espionage game, its all about functionality. I’ve got no doubts Ocelot could grow a bread to put ZZ Top to shame, but he doesn’t have to. He doesn’t need to. He’s just going to give you a taste, and let your mind fill in the rest. Unless it’s filled with a bullet first. That he fired at you. So you’re dead now.
5. Shun Di
Game: Virtua Fighter II
Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat fame almost took this spot, both prime examples of the orient’s greatest invention, the Fu Manchu. Allow me to tell you how I decided between the two.
Occupation: Shun Di teaches martial arts in a small training hall, except he has few students left. Shang Tsung is the final boss of Mortal Kombat, and at least after Mortal Kombat II it seemed like the Earth was pretty messed up for awhile. So at least he succeeded a little, unlike Shun Di who decided to join the World Fighting Tournament seemingly because he’s drunk. Winner: Shang Tsung.
Drunkenness: This one wasn’t as easy as you might think. Shun Di’s fighting style is Zui Quan, which is a drunken style that looks like he’s hammered during the entire fight (and chances are, with the bottle in his hand, he probably is). Impressive, but not as much as Shang Tsung’s drinking binge after seeing Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. I know people drive into the ground how bad that movie is, but its because it’s really that bad. It’s almost impressive. Winner: Draw.
Quality of Game Series: Since Shun Di’s introduction in Virtua Fighter 2, the game has continued to grow and improved, with the latest entry Virtua Fighter 5 earning significant critical acclaim. The last Mortal Kombat game had to share top billing with Superman and Batman, and its poor sales were also one of the reasons for company Midway’s eventual collapse. So… Winner: Shun Di.
Tied up like this, I had to take another look at the two Fu’s. Another hard look. And that’s when I remembered, Shang often changes up his look, into a simplistic goatee or even worse, unshaven. To disrespect such a great style like that is unforgivable. Shun Di has trimmed his down before, but not to the extend of Shang, thus making him the victor.
It even looks like his eyebrows have a mustache, how the hell do you pull that off?
4. Olaf the Stout
Game: The Lost Vikings
Gotta be honest here folks, Olaf almost didn’t make it on the list. I mean, he’s a dwarf. Like the guys from Lord of the Rings and Little People, Big World. They pretty much start growing beards from day one and don’t stop till sometime after death. That’s probably how most of them die, lack of oxygen after their facial hair slowly suffocates them to death. It’s not very fair to the rest of the field, so I had to limit my choice here. Once that was done, Olaf stood head and shoulders above the rest, ironic since he probably doesn’t wash his hair.
The trio of dwarfs that compose The Lost Vikings all have fantastic hair that stretch damn near to the ground. Erik the Swift, a crimson beard stretched down past his waist with a braided mustache nearly of the same length. Baleog the Fierce, perhaps the lesser of the three, though his mighty blond fu manchu is nothing to sneeze at. Olaf’s double-braided beard is certainly worthy, but what places it above his brethren?
Look at him. Dude can’t even see out of his helmet. Unlike his partners ‘the Swift’ and ‘the Fierce’, he rolls with ‘the Stout’. And he appeared in Rock and Roll Racing, one of the greatest vehicular combat titles to be released during the 16-bit era. So suck it. If you don’t agree with me, that is. If you do you don’t have to suck it. It’s up to you, whatever man.
Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I said before there’d be another pirate, and the awesomeness of Ghost Pirates is indisputable. LeChuck takes all that to the next level with every appearance he makes.
Starting off as a Ghost Pirate in the first Monkey Island game is awesome enough to secure a spot on the list, but LeChuck goes the extra mile by becoming a Zombie Pirate in the sequel, without once losing his trademark billowing curly beard flowing out like a protective blanket across his chest. The third game turned him into a Demon Pirate complete with beard made of fire, almost daring another game to come up with something better. The developers realizing they’d backed themselves into a corner, in the final game LeChuck could switch between all three and his non-dead human form, like a last hurrah for a great man.
But perhaps most importantly, all LeChuck wants is to be loved. Facial hair is so often associated with burly, manly men that we sometimes forget even they have hearts too. If you prick them, do they not bleed? LeChuck reminds us that sometimes all you need is love. Pirate ship helps too.
2. King of All Cosmos
Game: Katamari Damacy
As a general rule, Dads are pretty great. When you’re a kid, you look up to your Dad, even if sometimes he has to administer a little tough love. At the time it sucks, but when you’re older you’ll come to appreciate the fact that he cared. The King of All Cosmos is like the ultimate Dad. Rules his kingdom with an iron fist, wears skintight outfits that only he could possibly get away with, and has an immaculately cut mutton chop/goatee/suave ‘stache combo that ensures you’ll never be better than him.
The fact he’s number two is starting to piss me off the more I look at it, and I made the damn list. This face is the perfect example of playing to your strengths, devising an original look that would make any other man look like he was attacked by an epileptic hobo wielding two pairs of nail clippers. What came first, the hair or the clothing, I wonder? Both match so perfectly I wouldn’t be surprised if his hair grew in response to the resplendent fabrics coating its owners form. This is going to a dark place. Lets move on.
Game: Street Fighter II
When you think of facial hair, you think of power. You think of strength. You think of the will to win, the fortitude to fight against impossible odds. Though you may not realize it, what you think of is Zangief.
Say it out loud. It doesn’t matter if you pronounce it correctly, God understands. Doesn’t it just… taste good? Zangief has been a mainstay of the Street Fighter series since his introduction as one of the original eight World Warriors. He was slow as dirt, but that didn’t matter. If Zangief got his hands on you, you were done. The most devastating move conceived by man, the Spinning Pile Driver, was such a sight to behold that it brought a tear to your eye even as you watched your worthless little fighter get turned into mashed potatoes.
Such unbridled power, it’s no wonder his mustache/beard combination has no equals or imitators. It doesn’t even look like he does anything to it, it just seems to grow in whatever direction is pissing it off most at the moment. Also, I don’t care what anyone else says. His Chest Has A Beard. Do you see that? Chest hair does not grow like that.
Defying the odds by having two full faces of hair, Zangief possesses, without a doubt, the greatest facial hair in video game history.