evil twins and counterparts

Beylese - November 5, 2019
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This is a topic so prevalent on the roster that three characters have classic modes that revolve around it and i've literally been kept up at night thinking about this and the tierlist maker makes it easier to put my thoughts in order so here's a 1,000+ word essay on shit that literally doesn't matter at all, let's go.

Yes i'm aware that the practice of making tierlists that categorise everyone on arbitrary things has mostly died off but I don't care, i'm having fun, go away.

I'm using "dark" in the loosest sense here, as obviously characters like Dark Pit, Shadow Kirby, Hilda, etc aren't really evil, just misunderstood or antiheroes.

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Most of the characters in first tier have equivalent characters that are just "the same, but dark". Usually marked by having the same name as the original, but with an adjective in front or slightly different spelling: Dark Bowser, Blood Falcon, Shadow Kirby, Dark Meta Knight, Shadow Dedede, Boshi, Dark Pit, Dark Link (OoT), Dark Link (Phantom Hourglass), Hilda, and Dark Samus.

Snake and Joker are weird cases: Solid Snake has a cloned twin Liquid Snake, who is his genetic antithesis despite this not being how genetics work. Though they were not cloned from each other, they are "evil twins" in the classical sense. Joker's use of Personas and presence in mementos implies the existence of a Shadow Joker, though he is never seen and may not exist anymore. If that's not enough of an excuse there's also a Cognitive Joker, created as part of another character's mindscape to represent the real thing, so pick your poison.

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"Suspiciously similar substitutes" is a short way of saying "characters who have enough similarities to the original and play an equivalent role in the story to act as a foil, but are individually not completely identical and stand as their own character despite the fact that the two are obviously two sides of a coin". Wolf for Fox, Leon for Falco, Octolings for Inklings, Protoman for Megaman, Waluigi for Luigi, Akuma for Ryu.

Again this category has weird cases: In the first pokemon games, the starter pokemon chosen by the rival reflects the starter the player chose, with the rival's team having Exeggutor, Arcanine or Gyarados in place of the two starters he doesn't get. In later games, Red's canon team contains Charizard, Blastoise and Venasaur: Blue does not have any starter, instead using all three of the replacement pokemon. Obviously you couldn't just use any old Arcanine as a counterpart to any old Charizard, but Red and Blue are counterparts, and so are their pokemon.
As for Cloud, I cannot speak for FFVII, but Kingdom Hearts takes the "one white wing, one black wing" theme with Sephiroph and runs with it. Sorry Cloud.

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Both Mario and Sonic have been around for a long time, so they have examples of both. Sonic has Metal Sonic and the now-defunct Silver Sonic as immediate twins, but also Shadow as a counterpart. Mario has Wario of course, and technically Shadow Mario as well - but i'm unsure over whether he technically counts since he was just Bowser Jr in disguise? Regardless, Mario has had a few doppelgängers over the years, be they made of starstuff or paint or metal. Wait, is Metal Mario a separate character??? Hm......

Obviously the fourth and fifth tiers are self-explanatory. See previous tiers.

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Tier Six is what I like to call the "I have no idea where to put you" category.

For Robin: there is a character in Fire Emblem Awakening who is Robin, but evil. Except he ISN'T Robin, but an evil god-dragon who hijacked Robin's body in an alternate timeline and the hopped over to the current timeline to bully people because he's a dick like that. Does it count as an evil twin, if he is technically the same person as you? Is there any of the original Robin left in there for this to count as a clone and not just vanilla possession or brainwashing (which is why characters like Mr L and Evil Ryu have been disregarded for this tier list)? I dunno, I've never played FE:A. So into tier 6 he goes.

For Shulk: The primary villain of Xenoblade Chronicles is written as a foil to Shulk, tying into the game's themes of the worth of a life and what "Godhood" actually means. They also have similar powers and ties to each other for plot-reasons. This character also looks a lot like Shulk. Like, really similar. And there's not really an adequate explanation for it. At what point does the line between "evil counterpart" and "just a really strong foil" blend? This is a game with a villain who was taken down by a hero of his own creation, so the line is blurry as hell.

For Lucas: He has the same problem as Shulk, but instead of a blurry line it's a really clear one and Mother 3 uses it like a jump-rope. Lucas has a twin brother, Claus, who is his antithesis - but having a twin brother with the opposing personality traits isn't really enough for you to count as light/dark counterparts, as Mario and Luigi prove. The problem comes with M3's three-year timeskip, in which the two undergo drastic changes to their characters - including Claus being brainwashed into working for the story's villains. The two are still foils according to the plot - "chosen ones" for the good guys and bad guys respectively - but by then, Claus's appearance, personality and abilities have changed so drastically that he and Lucas can't really be called identical anymore. Lucas technically has both an evil counterpart AND an ""evil"" twin, but the twin and the counterpart are also the same person under different circumstances. Where the fuck do I put him?

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Everyone else is in the last category, either because of my lack of familiarity or because I just can't find anything. Can you believe Peach doesn't have an evil twin yet? I sure can't.

Honourable mentions go to Bayonetta and Link. The former has Cereza, her rival and equivalent, but not really a twin or counterpart. Link theoretically has Dark Link - but this is BoTW Link specifically. Unlike OoT Link and Toon Link, BoTW Link does not face a Dark Link of his own at any point in Breath of the Wild. He does have a cool Dark Link costume, though.

Jesus fucking Christ this is 1080 words.
Beylese - November 5, 2019

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