|Behind those wrinkles hides a martial arts phenomenon!|
The second group, is brimmed with much more interesting and alluring personalities. It's here we find the characters that are chosen to make up the core of the story and fulfil vital roles within it's plot. Beings in this most hallowed NPC group can range from the angelic to downright satanic, usually each one will have their own distinct persona, a properly developed back story and outrageous dress sense. These are also the characters responsible for some of the most famous moments in RPG history...the wondrous Leknaat reviving the ever faithful Gremio in Suikoden for instance (guaranteed to make fans of all ages weep with joy!).
Generally speaking, it's easy to spot when one of these alpha NPCs is about to get unpleasant or is plotting the hero's demise. It is often signalled by a sudden dramatic musical score or a sweeping cut scene, occasionally though one or two will catch us out, and that meekly innocent non player character will turn to be a bit of a sly dog.
The classic text book example of this unassuming NPC has to be Jianmin Tao from Shenmue II. Although he looks very much like your typical Chinese pensioner going through his daily exercise routine, Jianmin is actually a master martial artist. And after a brief introduction he subsequently decides to teach our hero Ryo a comprehensive a lesson in speed and counter attacking, much to his own amusement it seems!
The South Carmain Quarter itself remains one of my favourite areas in the entire Shenmue saga. It's faded glory really captures the depth and real life feel that Sega painstakingly attempted to portray to the player. The run down and built up streets are completely without glamour and it's oppressed residents display that stoic heroism often synonymous with decaying and deprived inner city areas. Also hailing from the South Carmain Quarter is Jianmin's friend and resident Shenume II battle axe, Guixang Lee...this stern old lady also happens to be a master of Tai Chi so best be polite to her.
So the next time you're wandering around an RPG town or city, remember to keep a beady eye on the quiet and retiring NPC in the corner...you never known what surprises they might have in store for you!