In our long journeys across foreign lands and demon worlds, our heroes always are in need of supplies. Our attache cases might be running dry after a long battle or maybe we’ve just exhausted our last health potion while exploring lengthy dungeon. Who is there for us to resupply? When times are tough, there is always at least one person that has our back: the merchant. He may only like us for our pesetas, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about our well-being. So here is a digital toast to the best who’ve always been behind us… except when we have had insufficient funds.
Vulgrim – Darksiders & Darksiders II
Exhausted from a long day of work, I came home with heavy eyelids to find that Darksiders II had finally been delivered to my house. In my nearly comatose state, I couldn’t get much of a reaction until I found Vulgrim, in which I exclaimed joyously to see a ugly, yet familiar face. His willingness to eat my souls, obvious greed, and kindness to lend me a fast travel system were all good reasons to visit good ol’ Vulgrim. His signature “Yeeesssss” and gluttonous hand gestures were small touches to give him a personality.
Merchant – Resident Evil 4
He’s got red eyes, a trench coat that screams rapist, and a damn cockney accent so why would I ever trust a being such as the merchant in the classic Resident Evil 4? It had to be the classic phrase “Whadduya buyin?” because everything else throws up a red flag. Although he never bothered to learn my name, I (along with the entirety of the Internet) fell in love with this guy as his charisma to follow us around and sell us goods never ceased. Even if you gunned him down, somehow he found a way to get ahead of you just in case you needed him. Now that is dedication. I just hope he made it off that island in good shape.
The Guardian of Metal – Brütal Legend
Talking comes naturally to most of us. However, Ozzy Osbourne is not one of them. The incoherent mumble that passes as communication for this rock god seems like a terrible fit for a voice acting gig in any video game. Thank Ormagöden because Ozzy Osbourne not only speaks the language we refer to as English, but he is a charming, hilarious addition to the cast of rockstars in Brütal Legend. Double Fine did a splendid job writing and animating The Guardian of Metal and giving him unique quips for almost all of the upgrades. Sometimes, I would just go visit him and giggle at whatever swear word he would toss at me or I’d look through the menu to hear what he had to say. “Fucking beautiful music, man!”
Rodin – Bayonetta
Owning a bar, serving drinks as a bartender, and selling weapons to the local ass kickers, Rodin in Bayonetta might have the most diverse tally of jobs in this laundry list of vendors. While looking around for tidbits of information on him, I discovered that he was even a secret, difficult boss that was unlockable for richest of players, something that might make me pop the game back in. Besides that, his deep, bravado-filled voice would always have something sexual, clever, or ridiculous to say to Bayonetta while she went shopping for her next tool of murder. “Whadduya buyin’?” He said he heard that in a video game once.
Muramasa – Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden II, Ninja Gaiden 3
Ninja Gaiden has always had the narrative structure of a first grader’s English assignment along with all the badassery of a sixth grader’s doodles, but Muramasa was always a figure I looked forward to visiting. His cryptic words and intriguing secretive behavior foreshadowed that he always knew what was around the corner, but was hoping you’d figure it out and experience it yourself. In the train wreck that was thrown in a box and called Ninja Gaiden 3, his short cameo was the only thing that brought me joy, albeit temporarily. He’s admittedly not really fleshed out, but the classic guitar riff that plays in his shop is enough reason to put him on this list of lovable shopkeepers.
Christopher – Shadows of the Damned
Despite his poor eating habits and disturbingly low I.Q., Christopher was an endearing… thing. Garcia “Fucking” Hotspur wasn’t too fond of this human/demon hybrid in the beginning (“What the shit is that?”), but his enthusiastic attitude, southern accent, endless alcohol supply, and red gems ensured that I found every encounter with him to be pleasant. I would feel bad if I found out the gems I fed him were poisonous or part of his gem relapse. In that case, R.I.P. Christopher.
Drebin 893 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Like the merchant from RE4 listed above, Drebin is a knowledgeable man that works in a mysterious fashion. Choosing to become “neither enemy nor friend” and being vague about his intentions, Drebin always seems to have just something up his well-dressed sleeve even though his actions are helpful in nature. He was a vital gear in the grand plot and the fact that he had a cheery monkey begging for a smoke made him that much more memorable. And the man tosses back sodas like the stuff was free.
Hot Dog Guy – Grand Theft Auto IV
Stereotypical? Of course! But that stereotypical wiener-slinger has been a life saver many times in the streets of Liberty City. Niko just doesn’t do regenerating health like other game heroes. Nothing recharges several bullet wounds and broken bones more than a greasy, day old hot dog served from a friendly man on the street just trying to feed his family. He takes pride in his line of work and for that, I salute him. He is the American Dream.
Many other games have supporting roles that fill the void that the merchant does, but I only listed my favorites. Did I miss some? If so, let me know your most beloved item sellers in the comments below!