George and Nico: take a look in The Smoking Mirror
Which video game characters annoy the hell out of you?
I had the chance to play Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit earlier this month. Tag of Joy’s point-and-click tells the story of Milda, a likeable young woman who finds herself caught up in a tale of lost relics, dangerous curses and mysterious conspiracies while travelling to all corners of the world.
This may remind you of a certain long-running point-and-click series if you’re adventure fan like me. In my review, I noted how you’re constantly reminded of Broken Sword thanks to its real-world settings, range of puzzles and narrative focus on an ancient artefact. It also features an adventurous duo who work together to overcome each challenge – but unlike the Broken Sword series, they’re nowhere near as annoying as George Stobbart and Nico Collard.
I’m aware there are likely to be some readers now getting ready to leave a disgruntled comment after seeing that sentence. But hear me out: there’s just something about George and Nico which really grinds my gears. I can’t disagree that The Shadow of the Templars is a classic and every adventure gamer should experience it. But I also can’t deny that I’ve ended up hating this pair that little more after completing each instalment in the series.
Since their debut in September 1996, the American lawyer and French journalist have appeared in four sequels along with one unofficial release by fans. They even received a world record for being the longest-running protagonists in 2016, first meeting when George was a tourist in Paris and an explosion at a café pulled him into a conspiracy investigated by Nico. Although initially uninterested in his attempts to court her, the dangers they faced in countries around the globe pulled them together as romantic couple.
What kind of people do this horrible stuff to one another? This is clearly a very unhealthy relationship.
But honestly: they’re more ‘bloody annoying’ than ‘love’s young dream’. George is a bumbling idiot who views himself as a crusading superhero on a mission to root out evil. Rather than going for a sensible fix for each problem, he’ll unhelpfully explain how he can’t do that and will instead opt for the most awkward solution possible. And it’s almost as if he believes his laidback outlook on life entitles him to tell an unfunny five-line joke about a golf-club, when all you wanted was a description of an object.
As for Nico, she’s snarky to the point of being rude – not to mention incredibly lazy. Need to investigate a crime in Paris and track down a terrorist? Get George to do it for you. Need to travel to Ireland to find a gem depicted in an ancient manuscript? Send George on your behalf. Not looking forward to that trip to a village in Syria? George to the rescue! It could be that Nico has a fear of flying and would rather let her partner handle the planes, or it could just be that she’d prefer to sit on her butt all day.
Which is ridiculous, because there’s no way I’d leave the fate of the world in the hands of such a dumbass. George is the sort of guy who deems it ok to leave his work colleague to deal with the henchmen banging down their office door while he disappears into the backroom to escape on his own – and then thinks locking the entrance is going to prevent his pursuers from getting any further. The fact he has managed to make it through all five Broken Sword games without getting himself killed is both a miracle and a curse.
The thing about this pair which frustrates me the most is their constant on-off status and dysfunctionality. Most of the entries in the series start with them temporarily apart but they’re usually back together by the time the credits roll. After the end of the first game, George suddenly moves back to America to be with his poorly father without telling Nico – then leaves it six months before attempting to get in touch with her. He may have had some personal stuff going on, but hasn’t he ever heard of text messages?
She was devastated because she believed he’d vanished as way to end their relationship. And instead of giving him his marching orders followed a whole bunch of expletives when he showed his face once again, she foolishly forgives him and eventually rekindles their relationship. I still can’t decide which element of this irritates me the most: the fact she was dumb enough to give him another chance, or that she considered his disappearance to be all about her and didn’t call the police to file a missing person report.
It doesn’t end there though. When they need information about the Knights Templar, Nico ‘innocently’ arranges for her partner to work with historian André Lobineau who has been in love with her since they attended college together. Then George hooks up with Anna-Maria Presa later in the series, conveniently making his ex-girlfriend jealous in the process. If treating their relationship in such a disparaging way wasn’t bad enough, they start roping others into their stupid games.
What kind of people do this horrible stuff to one another? This is clearly a very unhealthy relationship. George and Nico need to take a good, hard look in The Smoking Mirror and book themselves in for a long course of relationship counselling as soon as possible. Or better still, call it quits permanently. Let each other go for once and for all, live their own lives and have separate adventures, because then they’ll stop frustrating the hell out of each other – as well as annoying the rest of us with their idiocy.
This post was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. But they really are the video game characters who annoy me the most, and it felt good to get that off my chest! Feel free to use the space in the comments below if there’s a protagonist you need to vent about.