What are ya sellin'?
Ah, the trusty merchant. Always there to cater to your ever-increasingly ridiculous needs. From impossibly huge swords to beds with a fully-clothed dress code, merchants and salespeople are always on hand to ensure your quest to save the world is a convenient one…for a good sum of money, of course. While most merchants are nothing more than generic NPCs, created solely for the reason of selling you goods and equipment, there are a few out there that made their games all the more memorable thanks to their brilliant existence. This list pays tribute to them.
5. Shabunga: Starfox Adventures
Love it or hate it, Starfox Adventures put the Starfox series in an awkward position. Focusing more on exploration and puzzle-platforming elements, it was the polar opposite of what one would expect from an adventure with Fox and Co. Regardless of what you thought of the game, though, there was one hilarious high point in the form of Shabunga the shopkeeper.
This floating lizard-like creature was the main peddler of goods in the game and sold you useful items such as health and magic upgrades, fuel for your Arwing and a variety of other useful doohickeys pretty much necessary for finishing the game. As strange as Shabunga is, his accepted method of payment just might be even stranger: scarabs. Yes, this guy expects you to trade live scarabs – sometimes hundreds at a time – for what are essentially compulsory upgrades.
If this wasn’t enough, he also sounds like every Eastenders character ever rolled into one; the blaring tinge of Peggy Mitchell is seamlessly accompanied by the soothing undertones of Ian Beale. What’s most hilarious about Shabunga (that not a whole lot of merchant characters have the brass to do) is that he’ll threaten to kick you out of his shop if you’re haggling begins to annoy him.
4. Funky Kong: Donkey Kong 64
If someone told you to look for an ape that wore shades and made a living as an arms dealer in the jungle, you’d probably have them sectioned. Unless you’re playing Donkey Kong 64, as that is exactly how you’d describe Funky Kong.
In the game, Funky would sell weapons and ammo to his siblings in exchange for bananas. He is apparently staunchly against notions of nepotism or mate’s rates, as he has no problem demanding outrageous amounts of fruit from those he holds dearest. We wouldn’t argue with him though, as he keeps a massive rocket launcher (which he shows off to the Kongs every 10 seconds or so) on him at all times.
While incredibly silly on the outside, Funky takes his arms dealing very seriously. Don’t mess with an ape that’s armed to the teeth.
3. Moneybags: Spyro the Dragon series
Moneybags is the worst of the worst. Essentially a living door that only opens when enough gems have been fed to him, Moneybags seems to love hindering Spyro with every chance he gets. Need to free a kangaroo to help you on your quest? Cough up the gems. Need to learn how to swim underwater? Cough up the gems. Need to extend a bridge to reach a new part of the level? Hand over those damn gems!
If it exists, Moneybags will put a price on it, and is usually seen wearing a smart tux whilst carrying a large sack of gems. Though one must wonder, is he really all that rich, or just a lonely outcast from a Monopoly convention?
Thankfully our intrepid purple dragon is able to get revenge on Moneybags by torching his rump good and proper:
2. Tom Nook: Animal Crossing
Tom Nook is the primary antagonist of the Animal Crossing series, and is the bane of all existence. As soon as you step into your new town of residence, you are at the mercy of this fiendish raccoon. Not only does he force his way into becoming your landlord, demanding swathes of Bells to pay off a mortgage you never asked for, but he also sets up shop for you to buy his wares which only serves to add to his tremendous pile of wealth.
Compared to the laid-back, kind-hearted townsfolk of Animal Crossing, Nook serves to drag you back down to earth to beat you senseless with capitalism and crippling debt. While you may enjoy your carefree antics as you make your rounds about town, always remember you are serving a darker purpose. It’s a good job there are no adorable animal bailiffs knocking about; I myself must be years overdue paying off Nook’s ever escalating mortgage.
The video below contains very explicit language, but summarises Tom Nook’s reign of terror quite nicely.
1. The Merchant: Resident Evil 4
I’m sure most of you this saw this one coming, but the merchant from Resident Evil 4 makes the top spot not just for his cultural significance. The merchant is your one port in the storm, the one guy you can rely upon to supply you with the tools necessary to save the world. Always showing up at just the right time, the merchant will sell you everything from weapons and armour to grenades, treasure maps and first aid sprays. In addition, some of the harder weapons to unlock he’ll offer for free, acknowledging the hard work you put in to obtaining them. I’ll always remember the day he awarded my dedication with a free handcannon.
There’s also the fact that he sounds hilarious and has delivered some of the most quoted phrases in video games. In addition to brilliant nuggets of wisdom, insisting that it’s not always about the shootin’, sometimes it’s about the reloadin’. You’ll know what he’s talking about. Stranger.