With THE BIGGEST G1 COLLABORATION EVER coming up, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking through what kind of game I’d like to make if given the chance. I’m not going to spoil anything about my idea (just see the collaboration when it comes out), but I will say thinking about my ideal game has made me realize something….I have a thing for the Mafia.
I’m not talking about any generic gangsters, I mean roaring 20s, tommy-gun wielding, well-dressed, Mafia goons! Sure, 1920s-40s Mobster groups were probably just as morally lacking and full of psychopaths as any other criminal organization, but dammit 1920s-40s Mobsters at least had a good taste in fashion! They’re the ones who found order in chaos, took reign of the law, the uncertainty the depression caused, and did it with their own hands, THEIR OWN MIGHT! Did I mention they have a great taste in fashion?
At least, that’s what a bunch of fictional crime-dramas tell me so it must be true! With so many violent yet romanticized aspects of the Mafioso life-style I’m surprised there aren’t that many games that have them. But I’ve made top 10 lists with less to work with and make no doubt there are some awesome video game Mafia members, be they hit men, crime lords, or just random thugs worth counting down to. Before we start that though, I’m going to explain the list’s guidelines.
1-This isn’t a list about gangsters in general, it’s about MAFIA MEMBERS! Stereotypically fancy hats, suits, tommy-guns, moonshine, incredibly thick accents, and the occasional trench-coat, are all things I’m looking for.
2-The game doesn’t need a 1920s-40s setting, but it nets it more points.
3-I’m not holding back on spoilers to certain games so *SPOILER WARNING*
That’s about it, so let’s get this going!
10. Mafia Graves and Mafia Ms. Fortune skins (League of Legends)
Kicking off the list are two alternative skins for Malcom Graves and Miss Fortune from the insanely popular League of Legends. I’m not too into League of Legends myself, but I’d be lying if I said this didn’t make me want to play as the Graves champion. I don’t mean to piss off any gunslinger or pirate fans out there, but if I ever do get into League of Legends, I’ll be quickly replacing these character’s normal skins with their Mafia counterparts. JUST LOOK AT THEM! But since the skins lack any real significance in even League of Legend’s uninteresting story and are just there to look cool, they remain at the bottom of the list, but at the very least when I say they look ‘cool’ I mean stylish as hell!......That trench coat especially.
9. The Frost Legion (Terraria)
Terraria is likely my 2nd favorite game of 2011 and offers some of the most fun I’ve had this gaming generation. Along with the typical building and crafting seen in every other Minecraft clone, you’ll often find yourself fending off armies of monsters with a variety of different weapons. Early builds of the game let you slaughter armies of goblins and blood crazed monsters, but once the Christmas patch came in players found a new army who offered them a bit more trouble….Snowmen!
That’s right, just get your hands on a snow-globe, have your curiosity get the better of you, activate it, and watch the snowmen mobsters come marching in! This gang consists of 3 main enemies; the close quarters Mister Stabby; the suitably named Snow Balla; and my personal favorite, the tommy-gun wielding snowman gangsta named…Snowman Gangsta. My friends and I have a lot of fond memories of gun fights with these guys and leaving a trail of snow and blood in our path while doing it. Best of all, once you’ve defeated the Frost Legion, you get the chance to unlock Santa Claus as an NPC!
8. Giovanni (Pokemon)
While no real life Mafia group I’ve heard of used super-powered animals to do their bidding, Team Rocket’s boss, Giovanni is still more than worthy to be on this list. His grunts may wear those unfashionably ‘meh’ Team Rocket uniforms, but Giovanni has more than enough style to cover them.
Like any great crime boss, Giovanni is a complete scumbag who abuses the powers of Pokemon for his own benefit, cares little for anyone other than himself, and even abandoned his own son, who happens to be your rival in the 2nd generation of Pokemon…So that explains why the gen 2 rival is such a prick. I didn’t think too much of the character as a kid, back then Giovanni was just another obstacle between me and becoming a Pokemon master, but the Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes added a lot more of his back-story. Personally, he is my favorite of the 1st generation gym leaders, even if some of the Pokemon he uses are generic. Giovanni does, however, lose points for employing the most incompetent and worthless henchmen you can ask for.
Some may argue if Giovanni can really be considered a ‘Mafia Member’ or just a typical crime lord and to that I say; his name is as Italian as they come and he wears a trench coat.
7. Toni Cipriani (Grand Theft Auto)
The Grand Theft Auto series is filled with enough organized crime to require the combined prowess of 1 ½ Batmen to get rid of all of it. But are any of these criminals ‘Mafia’ material? Yes, the Leone Family’s own Italian American and GTA III protagonist Toni sure is. He began his life rising through the ranks of his family from a lowly goon to one of the most respected Leone members out there. To do this he takes down two rival Mafia groups, commits a lot of crime (like all Grand Theft Auto protagonists) and even kills his city's mayor.
Though even after he gains a massive level of influence in his group, it seems he still can’t say no to his mother’s bickering. Oh well, at least he gets a nice Italian restaurant out of it. Being a Grand Theft Auto protagonist he is naturally pretty psychotic and easily angered, but if there is one good thing that can be said about Toni, it's that he’s pretty loyal to the people he works for as long as they’re loyal to him. Toni isn’t who I’d consider my favorite Grand Theft Auto protagonist, but he definitely has his place in the series.
6. Larcen Tyler (Eternal Champions)
As far as fiction goes, Mafia members are usually very morally inept characters, but there are exceptions to this. For example, Larcen Tyler of the ‘not so classic’ Eternal Champions is surprisingly moral. He spent most of his life as a cat-burglar for a 1920’s Chicago crime syndicate sure, but despite being a very proficient martial artist, he has a strict no kill policy…Though that is sort of contradicted by the fact that his finisher features him stabbing his opponent with a butterfly knife repeatedly, but…..He has a trench coat.
Anyway, Larcen’s story goes that one day his boss asked him to plant some false evidence in a rival crime lord’s hospital room. Unfortunately for Larcen, that evidence was actually a bomb that ended up killing him and a good portion of the hospital attendance. In the afterlife he decided to fight in the Eternal Champions tournament to gain a second chance at redemption. His ending has him getting revived, disposing of the bomb successfully, and going on to team up with the police force to get rid of all forms of organized crime in the world! Not bad for a guy who started out as a petty cat burglar. Eternal Champions as a game might be average at best, but I’ll admit, Larcen was a very good character. The fact that he got his own spinoff title is solid proof of that.
5. Don Pianta (Paper Mario)
If there is one thing the Paper Mario series has a knack for it would be humor. Taking the pianta race from Super Mario Sunshine and adding suits and fedoras to them?..…Absolutely genius! Throughout Mario’s adventure in The Thousand Year Door he needs a lot of favors done and tickets for a lot of transportation and Don Pianta is his only means of getting them.
Don Pianta is the leader of the Pianta Syndicate and a key character in chapters 3 and 6 of The Thousand Year Door. While he is obviously a crime lord he stands by his word whenever he makes a deal and has a huge soft spot for his daughter, to the point that he gets sick just worrying about her. He also keeps his territory of Rogue Port much more clean and respectable than his bitter rival, Ishnail does his.
Don and his group are essentially the ultimate parody of the Mafioso lifestyle. The dilemma he faces in trying to stop his daughter from growing up, is surprisingly emotional, but always remains humorous. Don and his group also spout out some BRILLIANT puns and analogies that fuse 'Mushroom Kingdom talk' with 'Mafioso speak'. If you haven’t played Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door I advise doing so right now to experience the Pianta Syndicate’s punerific dialogue for yourself.
4. Nicole Horne, Don Angelo Punchinello, Vladimir Lem, Jack Lupino, and pretty much every other mobster in the Max Payne series (Max Payne)
The Max Payne series has a lot of organized crime…Holy crap does the Max Payne series have a lot of organized crime. The first two games can basically be rounded down to Max killing a bunch of Mafia members, while said Mafia members kill each other too. At first it seems like Punchinello is calling all the shots in the game, but in actuality Nicole Horne is the person responsible for the death of Max’s family.
Anyone who has played the Max Payne games knows the main character doesn’t have a great liking for criminals, but Russian mob boss Vladimir Lem (my favorite of the mobsters) does actually help him seek out his revenge by giving him weapons. Sadly Lem doesn’t have as much presence in the sequel, but like Toni from Grand Theft Auto, he at least gets a nice restaurant out of it. And that’s not even mentioning Jack Lupino, a Mafia member AND Satanic cult leader (Satanism+Mobsters?)!
It might seem like cheating to put a whole group of characters into one spot, but in my opinion the story to Max Payne worked best when I saw all these criminals fighting and backstabbing one another while Max fought through them all. It showed the downside of having the number of enemies most Mafia members do.
3. Thomas "Tommy" Angelo (Mafia series)
It was a given that a character from the Mafia series would be on a list about mobsters and even though Mafia and Mafia II are only slightly above average in my opinion, I did enjoy the stories both told. Like Larcen Tyler, Tommy falls into the category of the more morally sound mobsters. He steals, bootlegs, and murders, but he does it mainly because he got tangled up in the Salieri family’s own battles whether he liked it or not. Just a working class fellow trying to get out of a dangerous situation.
He may be tempted and allured by a life of crime at points, but can you blame him? Before he joined the Salieri family he was just a lowly cab driver. Despite this, the guy does make attempts to get out of the ‘business’ and have a normal life. Unfortunately, like most ‘crime doesn’t pay’ stories, even after getting married, being relocated, and receiving government protection, Tommy just can’t keep his past from chasing him.
2. Lefty (Dead Head Fred)
Dead Head Fred is an entertaining little gem and one of the few worthwhile games available for the PSP that wasn’t made by Sony and wasn’t a remake/port. It’s also something EVERY PS Vita owner should play and that EVERY PSN/Xbox Live owner should experience when it’s ported later this year. The game is filled with hilarious wit, sarcastically dark humor, and was even good enough to win the first Writer’s Guild of America award for best video game writing. One character who always stood out for me was the main villain’s right hand man, who is suitably enough named ‘Lefty’.
Some people may think Ulysses Pitt, the main villain should be on here, but I personally like Lefty a lot more. He's less of an asshole. He may not have had much as far as personality goes, but he made a great final boss and was the source of one of the funniest end jokes I’ve ever seen in a game (I dare not spoil it). What am I talking about? Play the game to find out.
1. Jackie Estacado (The Darkness)
Take your average hit man, have Satan possess him, and you basically have Jackie Estacado. Actually, that’s a huge simplification of things, for all the flaws The Darkness as a game has, if there’s one thing the game succeeded in doing, it’s giving the player an excellent and memorable protagonist. The game starts out with Jackie’s adopted uncle and Franchetti family leader Paulie giving him an assassination mission for his 21st birthday. He takes the job, but like most people would expect, things don’t go the way they should, shit hits the fan, and Estacado almost winds up dead, only to be saved by a mysterious demon resonating inside of him.
The rest of the game is spent fending off Mobsters, learning more about the Darkness, and eventually how to control it. Having been a part of a Mafia since he was 12, Jackie naturally is pretty ruthless and willing to kill, but he’s far from a monster…Despite literally having a demon inside of him. He deeply cares about his girlfriend Jenny, going as far as to kill a corrupt police chief and his adopted parent out of revenge for her death, and he still has troubling thoughts about her even in The Darkness 2. And despite the Darkness saving him on more than one occasion, he considers it a curse above all else and something he wishes to suppress. I’d call him a surprisingly rich character.
Thank you all for reading if you’ll excuse me…..I’m going to go buy a trench coat.
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