It’s a new year, so I think that it’s time to talk about one of the oldest enemies in video games: the Doppelganger. Believe me if I had a coin every time I had to fight against myself in a video game, I could buy a car by this point.
A Doppelganger is a term used to describe a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and in some traditions as a harbinger of bad luck or even death. This is something that many cultures had in common (German, Egyptian, Norse, Finnish and French just to name a few).
But what’s exactly a doppelganger in video games?
Well a doppelganger is basically an enemy that looks and acts just like your character despite his color palette. However, characters with shape shifting abilities won’t count as doppelgangers because they can easily adopt the appearances or the moves of several characters besides yours, so characters like Shang Tsung won’t fit here.
In some cases, doppelgangers are used in several games since the beginning to save animation and space on the disk. We like to refer to this as recycling sprites. In fighting game the doppelganger or clone is a term used to refer to characters with very similar moveset or similar appearance rather than a regular enemy.
You know who I’m talking about
Doppelgangers can also refer to an event in which you have to fight to the same character that you are controlling. This is very common in the survival mode or when you are playing with a friend, because a game doesn’t have to be 100% accurate with reality. You can fight with yourself in the game world, but let’s be honest, it IS kinda weird when this happens and you are playing the story mode of the game. You rarely have an explanation of why you suddenly need to square off against yourself. But again, remember that you playing a game where ninjas can come back from hell and people can shoot energy balls from their hands…so…I guess we can let that pass in story mode.
To be fair Talon could be the name of their species rather than the character name…
In adventure games, RPGs, and others, doppelgangers are always portrayed as creatures with similar moves as you (in some cases there are slight variations). These copies are usually made by the use of dark magic rather than advanced science (in most cases, anyway).
A doppelganger created from your own shadow or body with power and abilities similar to yours, can often be translated as “One of the hardest bosses in the game”. This makes sense because you are fighting against your own shadow. Their appearance is similar to yours but they are mostly black or darker than your character. Thankfully these guys are usually weak against light or some magical spells, so keep that in mind when you fight one. Beings that appear out of nowhere also count as Shadow-Gangers as long as they look like you. The best Examples of Shadow-Gangers are Shadow Link from Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, Doppelganger from Devil May Cry 3 , Dark Samus from Metroid Prime 2, Shadow Zora from Kingdom Hearts, or the Kratos Clones from God Of War.
Or Tubografx 16-Ganger in this case
If you have ever played games like Splatterhouse, you know what I’m talking about. These are monsters that came out of mirrors and usually have the ability to move from mirror to mirror and pass through them. The best examples are the Mirror Rick from Splatterhouse and the recent remake, and Doppelganger from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
If you don’t have the magical resources to make a double of your nemesis, you can create a robot with a similar look and with the data of his fighting ability in order to counter his moves. Plus, these fiends can also have information about his personal life in order to replace him and take his place (for more information about robots click here). This concept has been used in games like Mega Man 1 and Mega Man 3, and Street of Rage 3. Or at least the enemy counts as a Robo-Ganger if you play as Axel.
This is basically the magical counterpart of the Robo-Gangers. These creatures are made of wood, clay, water, or other materials (basically anything). They have the same moves of their corresponding counterpart (the physical look is optional). This is basically my excuse to introduce Mokujin from the Tekken franchise (not to mention all his counterparts as Tetsujin and Kinjin) and Marionette from Darkstalkers to this list.
This is basically the evil twin of some B-class horror movie hero; the dark counterparts are the evil or edgier version of your character with a similar physical appearance but a little bit darker or just with an inverse palette of colors.
Really Sega? 2 hedgehogs wasn’t enough that you had to create Silver?
The creation of these Dark Counterparts can be very varied, some of them are created by magic, others by cloning or even as manifestation of the inner demons of your character. The rest are created because recycling sprites and moves are very fun and cheap (we just change his clothes and we will call him Akuma).
On the left we have Akuma and on the Right we have Evil Ryu, wait, I’m confused, who is who?
Either way, these guys mean serious business. The main difference between them and the rest, is that dark counterparts can have a personality along with a big grudge against their corresponding counterpart. Some examples of these grudge holding counterparts are Dark Pit from Kid Icarus Uprising, Memory of Alessa from Silent Hill 3, Shadow from the Sonic franchise and the Dark Prince from Prince of Persia 3.
Of course, I can’t talk about Dark Counterparts without mentioning Wario (and Waluigi)…but this is more complicated that just “make a Copy of Mario” (and Luigi). You’ll see, at the beginning was just Wario, the main villain in Super Mario Land 2 and the main protagonist of the Wario Land franchise and Wario Ware Inc. he was created as a parody of Mario (the same way Waluigi is a parody of Luigi). But as the time goes on, he started to develop an unique personality that made him contrast with his counterpart, not to mention a variety of personal moves and even a re-design to make him look more like an independent character that just a mere clone.
A neat story if you ask me.
So after all I can conclude that if you are going to fight against yourself in a video game keep in mind the moves of your characters, the combos that he can make and the weak points of every attack in order to counter them.
But of course, that doesn’t mean that he can’t do the same to you.