"Do a story about game mechanics. A top 10 list." they said. "It'll be easy"
"Gaming mechanics?" I replied, bemused expression upon my face, "I can't think of a single one, yet alone a top 10". It was a fair point. After all, games have plenty of mad scientists, but not much in the way of crazy mechanics. Sadly, their reply was less than helpful "Come on, you've been doing this for a while now. Gaming mechanics! You know, things that affect how you play the game! Like Shu Ting!". Shu Ting? What game was he in?
Google wasn't much help either, as a search for gaming mechanics turned up results about anything but. Whether it's an article about covering behind a wall, or some long haired ginger guy talking about portal guns on YouTube, there was nary a spanner in sight, yet alone a pair of dirty overalls. How can so many people be so wrong? So, to put right the wrongs of the internet, and write a Top 10 list that should have been done a long time ago, here's our take on the Top 10 Gaming Mechanics.... Of All Time.
No. 10 - The Mechanic | Theme Park
See, this is more like it. Hard hat firmly wedged on his head, spanner in one hand, tool box in the other, and a full moon whenever he bends over, the Mechanic from Theme Park (along with Theme Park World and Theme Park Inc) takes the number 10 spot in our Top 10 list, if only for being such an essential part of our park. If a ride broke down, he'd happily waddle over and whack it back to health. When not working, he could mostly be found enjoying a cuppa while sitting in the most awkward place possible. Much like mechanics real life, then.
No. 9 - Isaac Clarke | Dead Space
With his spanner and toolbox presumably located slightly offscreen, intergalactic mechanic Isaac Clarke scrapes in just above the Theme Park mechanic on behalf of his brooding good looks. While we don't remember him actually fixing anything during his time aboard the USG Ishimura in the pant-wettingly terrifying horror game, Dead Space (our memories are pretty much entirely of screaming when enemies jumped out, and slicing through the bad guys with our handy Plasma Cutter gun), it should be noted that Isaac did single handedly repair a space tram, all by himself, even while fighting off the necromorph hordes. For that, he's our No. 9.
No. 8 - Miles "Tails" Prower | Sonic the Hedgehog
With twice the tails of the average fox (hence the name, fact fans), Miles "Tails" Prower is much more than just Sonic's sidekick. Along with being perhaps the worst pilot in the world of Sonic, and the owner of a quiff that bears more than a passing resemblance to a lobster's feelers, he's also a budding inventor and - you guessed it - mechanic, with a whole host of creations to his name. From mechs, to the pictured, 100% Tails-made biplane, the Tornado, there's little Tails hasn't put together in his workshop. Shame he's so useless at everything else then, really.
No. 7 - Pascal | Tales of Graces
From one Tails to another now, as the lovely Pascal enters the charts at number 7, from Japanese Role Playing game, Tales of Graces. With a similar red tinge to her hair, Pascal is an incredibly gifted mechanic and all-round good egg, with one key advantage over Tails - she's not incredibly annoying. Knowing her way around an engine, as well as being a dab hand in a battle, Pascal is a great all rounder, and by virtue of having made this list, one of the best gaming mechanics... of all time. And the feminists say women are all eye candy in games...
No. 6 - That Woman in the Shed in Alan Wake's American Nightmare
OK, so she may be a bit of a wreck when you first find her, she may have been taken by the darkness and possessed, and she certainly seems more than a little bit... confused, shall we say, but from the scruffy trousers to the oil covered sleeves, from the handily placed car to the familiar "God why don't they make engines easier to work on" look on her face, the woman in the shed on Alan Wake's American Nightmare, better known as Emma Sloan, is a genuine, 100% certified mechanic - and that gives her a better case for being on our list than half the others.
No. 5 - Ratchet | Ratchet and Clank
Another character that ticks everything we look for in a gaming mechanic (bar, say, being human) is Ratchet, the orange cat-type thing (officially known as a Lombax) on the right in this picture. With a spanner by his side, and a tool in his hand, Ratchet's a particularly environmentally friendly mechanic, as he even collects the bolts he turns his enemies into when he gives them a good bashing. As it happens, he's also pretty good at platforming too, as we found out when we reviewed Ratchet and Clank: Nexus.
No. 4 - Ducktor Cid | Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
One part duck, one part platypus, and 100% mad scientist, Ducktor Cid (circled) is a notable entry in this list if only for only managing the second most puntastic name. An essential part of tank-based DS action game, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, Ducktor Cid is the somewhat unlucky guy you go to when you need help with your tank, whether it's a tweak, an upgrade, or something entirely new. He also has some mean steampunk goggles.
No. 3 - Bill Ding | LEGO Island
Although Bill Ding hasn't been seen in a game since the glory days of LEGO Island, he takes his rightful place at number three in this list for a variety of reasons. First, he was arguably the most important guy in the first ever LEGO game, as he told you how to build things. Second, he knew how to fix almost anything, making him one heck of a mechanic, even if he did have the advantage, as everything was made of plastic. But lastly, and perhaps most importantly, he has one of the most puntastic names ever written. Bill Ding, we salute you.
No. 2 - The Sprixies | Super Mario 3D World
While these lovely ladies may not be as burly as some who made our list, they are every bit as talented. After all, how many mechanics do you know who can whack at thin air and make a handy see-through transport pipe appear? Not many, I bet. Performing their big party trick after you defeat each boss, the Super Mario 3D World Sprixies are essential to your progress through the game - and despite their stubby arms, they know their way around a tool.
No. 1 - The C.O.P.S. | Sam & Max
Storming into the number one slot in our list of top gaming mechanics is the C.O.P.S., or the Computer Obsolence Prevention Society. While they may not be the first name that springs to mind, the story of the C.O.P.S. is one of triumph over adversity. While their users may have moved on to modern frivolities like screens that can display more than four colours at once, and fancy mobile phones, the C.O.P.S have strived to stay relevant. Consisting of an auto-dialer, a particularly aggressive arcade machine, a Pong home console, and an Osborne 1, none of the members of the C.O.P.S even have hands, yet alone an intimate knowledge of mechanics, yet none of that stood in their way when it came to opening their own bodyshop and garage, Pimp le Car. They even have their own theme song. Truly a reminder of all that's good in the world, for that reason alone, the C.O.P.S are our number one gaming mechanics. Congratulations!
So, that's the list in full - the Top 10 Gaming Mechanics... Of All Time. Did we miss any out?