The Malloy List – October 2014

Hello again, my FGC brothers & sisters! Can you feel it in the air yet? That crisp chill that lets us know autumn is truly upon us... I love it! Today, we're going to shine the spotlight on someone that actually helped inspire this column. After the jump, say hello to our newest addition...

Now, this month's addition to the Malloy List is part of the reason why I jumped at the idea of writing for Kick-Punch-Block. He's someone who has helped shape the landscape of gaming since his inception & debut. A character who has inspired a number of articles, served as the focus of some informative & disturbing videos, been the subject of countless works of modern art and even spent some time on silver screen. I could hype him up all day, but he honestly needs no introduction...

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way... the hard way doesn't end too well for you, though."

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way... the hard way does not end well for you, though."

Damn skippy! The one, the only, the legendary... Pyramid Head! I have been wanting to get him on this list since all the way back in April, but I knew I had to wait until just the right time to do so. All things considered, the timing couldn't be more perfect. There are fewer characters in the entire history of gaming that strike the kind of nerves that PH does. He'd be the Coen Brothers' best friend if they ever made an honest-to-goodness horror film. Now, even though Pyramid Head is as terrifying as they come, he's not the typical antagonistic monster... think more the Thing and less Freddy Krueger.

The most immediate parallel people tend to draw with him is Resident Evil's Nemesis. Although that comparison may not be the most flattering, I feel it's inaccurate. While Nemesis is very -physically- intimidating, there's no real psychology to his existence. He's a weapon that also happens to carry some extra weapons of his own sometimes. Mind you, I'm not saying this to belittle the guy, but his arsenal is meant for military action. Pyramid Head, depending on when you face him, wields either the Great Knife or the Great Spear. There's a noticeably more personal tone to PH's choice of weaponry. However, as fate would have it, they both make use of tentacle attacks.

BEWARE: SPOILER ALERT (but if what I say next ruins SH2 for you, that's more your problem than it is mine.)

Anyways, I was talking about the concept of psycholgy when it comes to Pyramid Head and it is in that aspect that he separates himself from the pack by a very wide margin. Originally, in Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head actually represented the unfulfilled desire for punishment of the protagonist, James Sunderland. It could also be said that PH is an external manifestation of James' sexual repression, given what he was doing the first time James saw him. Although, you could just say that Pyramid Head is simply metaphor for male violence.

The reason psychology plays such a part when it comes to PH is because he is a unique blend of both Mechanics -AND- Narrative Villain. To clarify (just in case you couldn't follow those two previous links), a Mechanics Villain serves the purpose of gameplay while a Narrative Villain serves the progression of the story. To put this in fighting game terms, these are your M. Bisons & Geese Howards. The archetypical bad guy that's bad because he wants something to would ultimately bring harm to others or he did something at some point in time that's usually viewed as 'evil' or 'wrong'. They're the 'kings of the mountain' you have to climb in order to succeed. To do the same with Narrative Villains, we would have to look at Saya the Imperator from BlazBlue. In terms of gameplay, you really have no contact with her, but you see & feel her impact throughout the story.

As I said earlier, Pyramid Head is a unique combination of these two ideals. Throughout SH2, there are moments where you are, for lack of a better way of describing it, forced to share the same space as PH. However, your goal isn't to best him in combat... it's the get the hell away from him. Majority of the time, he's simply a bullet sponge. At the same time, his connection to James' psyche dictates a great deal about what happens to him. In the end, it isn't even James that quote unquote "defeats" him... Pyramid Head commits suicide. Not your usual villain in any way, shape or form whatsoever.

So now that we know so very much about our latest addition, the question comes as to what game best fits him. For my money, I think Pyramid Head (given some mild adjustments) would be a welcome addition to the Soul Calibur lineup. Granted, the series already has its own cult golem, but they've never had a problem bringing in guest characters (no matter how ridiculous or implausible). As long he doesn't pull a repeat of his (very NSFW) crowning moment on film, I think it'll go off without a hitch.

Until my next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.

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