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10 Little-Known Names of Famous Video Game Characters

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You know Tapper and Frogger and Ryu and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous paperboy of all? Okay, that’s not quite how the song goes. But the point is, Mario and Luigi are household names while other classic video game characters remain identity-less. We’re here to right those wrongs today. Whether they’re little-known or just long-forgotten, here are the names of 10 of your pixelated pals.

1. The chef from BurgerTime: Peter Pepper.

And if you think that name is unoriginal, wait until you hear the names of the oddly menacing snacks that follow him around: Mr. Egg, Mr. Hot Dog, and Mr. Pickle. Quake in fear.

2. The damsel in distress from Donkey Kong: Pauline.

Though she was originally just called “Lady,” she was renamed for the U.S. release. “Pauline” was to honor Polly James, the wife of Nintendo's Executive Vice President and then-warehouse manager Don James. Developer dad Mike Mika made headlines earlier this year when he recoded Donkey Kong so his young daughter could play as Pauline and rescue Mario for a change. It's pretty awesome:

3. The dragons in Bubble Bobble: Bub and Bob. 

Go figure.

4. The Commando in Commando: Super Joe Gibson.

He wasn’t mentioned by name until the game’s sequel, Bionic Commando. His official title was “Supervisor, Joint Operations Executive”—hence, Super JOE. But exactly which character is Super Joe is kind of confusing. In the original arcade game, the main character is Super Joe. By the time the Nintendo version was released in 1988, however, Super Joe was the hero being rescued. The commando in the rescue operation is named Nathan “Rad” Spencer.

5. The commandoes in Contra: Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer and Lance "Scorpion" Bean.

At least for the first couple of games. By the time Contra III rolled out in 1992, though, Mad Dog and Scorpion had been replaced by Jimbo and Sully.

6.The paperboy from Paperboy: Julio.

Whether you take Easy Street or the Hard Road, Paperboy’s title character is never actually named in the game. It wasn’t until the cartoon series Captain N: The Game Master that the newspaper delivery kid was dubbed “Julio.”

7. The protagonist from Pitfall!: Pitfall Harry.

You may remember that one from the repeated references in the ads starring none other than Jack Black:

8. The bad guys from Q•Bert: Coily, Slick, Sam, Ugg and Wrong-Way.

Slick and Sam are the guys who change the colors of the blocks after all of Q*Bert’s hard work, while Ugg and Wrong-Way were little gremlins. Coily, of course, was the snake.

9. The digger from Dig Dug: Taizo Hori.

And he has quite a backstory. He was married to Masuyo “Kissy” Tobi, who starred in her own game called Baraduke. Despite having three sons—Susumu, Ataru, and Taiyo—Taizo and Kissy separated. Susumu stars in the “Mr. Driller” video games.

10. The commander from Wing Commander: Christopher Blair.


For the first two installments of the Wing Commander series, the commander had no name. In a gaming guide for WC I and II, the previously-nameless hero was called “Jason Armstrong.” Wing Commander III included some video sequences where the commander had to be called by name, and it’s said that the programmers went with Blair because it was a shortened version of what they called him: Bluehair. “Christopher” is a tribute to the game’s creator, Christopher Roberts.

Primary image courtesy of ffffound.com.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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