Before the days of autosaves and unskippable tutorials, gamers had it tough. You could dedicate hours after-school to mastering the first few stages of Ninja Gaiden on the NES, only to find that no amount of ninjutsu mastery was a match for a single unpredictable bird. In recent years, industry trends seem to circle back around to controller-shattering difficulty. Like many of you, some of my greatest frustrations come from being killed again and again by an enemy in a video game that I’m pretty sure I could beat up in real life. With a few years of Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, as well as a handful of professional fights under my belt, I’ve compiled a list of digital enemies I’m confident I could take out in the real world.
Dhalsim (Street Fighter Franchise)
I won’t lie, most of the Street Fighter cast is intimidating. Impossibly muscled martial arts experts whose entire lives seem to revolve around picking fights with expert combatants. You’ve got Muay Thai champions, Sambo experts, and all manner of genetically engineered, superpowered killers.
I’m sure you’re saying, “But Dhalsim is no different. He can teleport, and breathe fire.” Fair point. However, when you really break down the data, his mystical powers are less than impressive. A Street Fighter wiki lists his health as 900, with the strongest version of his “Yoga Flame” doing 90 damage. Which means he has to hit a person with this fire attack full on, undefended, 10 times just to knock them out. Not even kill them! Just knock them out. There are plenty of guys who can knock someone out with a single well-placed punch! His mystical powers are 1/10th as effective as just punching a guy.
Aside from that, dude’s bio has him listed at 5’9’’ and 109 pounds. Even if his fighting style were “literally any real form of fighting,” I’d be pretty confident, given my 50-pound weight advantage. But dude’s fighting style is yoga. Despite losing fights to many skilled Dhalsim players online in Street Fighter V, this would be a one-sided match in real life. The day I lose a fight to a small yoga instructor is the day I stop picking fights in strip malls. Which will never happen.
Dr. Wily (Mega Man Franchise)
This guy’s got one of the biggest discrepancies between virtual difficulty and how tough he’d be in real life. There are a few boss fight iterations with this tiny old lunatic that gave me countless hours of grief as a kid. The fight with him in Mega Man 7 haunted me. But when you really think about that fight, there’s no reason it should be so difficult. Sure, he’s piloting a large robot loaded up with a variety of weapons. Eventually, he’s flying around and turning invisible and shooting all sorts of probably-lethal-to-humans stuff. But before that, he’s plodding around in an unwieldy, bipedal nonsense machine with a big open space where he sits, approximately 7-8 feet off the ground.
Even setting aside my ability to use crude weapons such as sharpened sticks or rocks, I’m fairly confident I could drag him from the window of his clunky mech suit well before he was able to pose any real threat. Mega Man’s official height is listed around four feet, four inches. Which puts an estimate of Dr. Wily at around five feet, even. A single right cross to the chin of a five-foot sexagenarian wouldn’t just end the fight, it would almost definitely end his life. Not only would I win this fight, but I’d also finally be able to cross “Kill an elderly person with a single punch” off of my bucket list.
My Father (Custom Character, Various)
I know, I know, this entry’s kind of cheating, and depending on the game, and the stats of the custom character, the level of strength can vary wildly. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, my dad could rip off a man’s head with his bare hands. In Fallout 4, he could breathe underwater, and eating human flesh healed his wounds. Most recently, in Monster Hunter: World, he can slay a dragon with a sword three times the size of his body. But I am reasonably certain he can’t do any of those things in real life.
That’s right, Dad. I think I could beat you in a fight. What are you, now, like fifty years old? I remember you being seven feet tall, but I no longer think that’s accurate. I’ve spent the years since you left training, learning to fight, growing stronger day by day. How about you, old man? Have you spent the last two decades perfecting the ability to rip off a man’s head with your bare hands? Oh god. Have you?
Sif, The Great Grey Wolf (Dark Souls Franchise)
The Souls series (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1-3, Bloodborne) are all known for their extreme difficulty levels. Its gameplay demanding at the highest level, with massive and impeccably-designed bosses requiring immense skill and precision to overcome. Sif, one such boss, is an enormous wolf who carries an equally huge sword in its mouth. The Great Grey Wolf isn’t the most difficult boss in the franchise, but it was one whose in-game difficulty felt the most disproportionate for what you were actually fighting.
I’ve literally killed so many wolves (and stray dogs) with my bare hands that I’ve lost count. You honestly have no idea how easy it is to kick a wolf to death. “But this one is huge, and it has a sword.” A bigger wolf just means you have to kick it a few more times. And trust me, giving a dog a knife does not make it more dangerous. If anything, a gleaming sword would just distract the stupid wolf and let me get a few free shots in.
Real talk, I don’t know if there are any Souls bosses that I couldn’t beat with sick kicks.
Death (Castlevania Franchise)
This guy’s been causing me trouble since I was a kid, playing on the NES. He appears in almost every Castlevania game, and he’s always a son of a bitch. It makes sense, he’s the Grim Reaper, an evil mystical incarnation of death itself. In the Castlevania world of Frankensteins and Draculas, you’d expect Death to be treated with a certain reverence. But we don’t live in a world of Frankensteins. We live in the real world, where animate skeletons pose literally almost no threat to me.
So yes, I could absolutely wreck the Grim Reaper as he appears in the franchise. A skeleton with a robe? You’re just taking the guesswork out of breaking a guy’s ribs. How are you gonna fight me with no muscles, bruh? But let’s go a step further and talk about what he’s representing. Could I defeat the abstract concept of death in a one-on-one fist fight? Absolutely. In regards to any psychological/emotional/mystical abilities the Grim Reaper may possess, I’ve watched dozens of people die in front of me, and felt nothing. In a more literal Me vs. Death scenario, I’m obviously currently living, so… Your move, Death.