In Defense of a Coward

“Hey!  Who you calling crazy?  I can’t help it if the world is out to get me!”-Vin

            I decided I wanted to write about one of my favorite characters of all time (he may actually be my favorite character ever; I made a chart and everything, is that weird?), this time, a character from the “Jak and Daxter” series.  Most people like the loud and rambunctious Daxter.  Or the heroic Jak.  Or the gruff, former Krimzon Guard Commander, Torn.  Or Ashelin, ‘cuz she’s tough (and doesn’t wear a lot).  Me.  I like Vin.  Yeah, that’s right.  Problem?  (Major “Jak II” and minor “Jak 3” spoilers ahead.)

            Vin is a minor character from “Jak II”.  I’m not entirely certain what it is Vin does, but he is not only the foreman of various projects around Haven City, but he spends quite a bit of time in the city’s Power Station, no doubt doing important stuff related to the Eco Grid and the city’s shield walls, which he seems to take very seriously.  (He must be a pretty busy guy.)  He is also a valuable informant for the Underground, a group dedicated to stopping the evil Baron Praxis.

            You first see Vin after Torn tells Jak and Daxter to rescue him from the Metal Heads at the Strip Mine, though after braving the dangerous creatures there, our poor heroes are almost shot by Vin himself, who completely panics at the presence of these two strangers.  Luckily, Vin’s aim is terrible.  Despite almost killing Jak and Daxter, Vin can be quite helpful, providing them with valuable information and helping them with his impressive knowledge of the city’s Eco Grid.  And despite being a rather minor character, he still provides our heroes with some of the most valuable information of the game….

            Major spoilers coming up.  Unfortunately, like with most of my favorite characters, something terrible usually happens (be careful if I like you because I’ll probably jinx you, sorry).  Eventually, Haven City’s shield falls, and the Metal Heads get into the city.  Vin tells you through the little radio what happened, that Kor (who turns out to be the Metal Head leader in disguise) is responsible, and that the Metal Heads are breaking into the Power Station.  While you never know what happens for sure, Vin is badly injured, most likely by Kor (which is why I absolutely hate that son of a…a Metal Head).  A bit later, as Jak works to defend the city, he hears Vin’s last words, a weak, “Jak…  Kor…  Construction site…”  We never hear or see Vin again in this game, but it is obvious from Samos’s statement later that Vin has died.  Somewhat fortunately, Vin does show up in “Jak 3”, as a floating hologram head in the Power Station.  According to him, he somehow put his brain into the Eco Grid, apparently before the Metal Heads got to him (which sounds a little confusing, as he was clearly injured in “Jak II”, so I can only assume he did this after being injured by Kor, but before the Metal Heads got in).

            Despite Vin somewhat coming back in “Jak 3” (for only one cut scene, though, grrr), I am still sad about his fate.  Yes, he’s happier now that he’s safe from Metal Heads and whatever other things he imagined were after him, but now he’s stuck in that computer.  It must get lonely in there.  (And he now has computer viruses, power surges, and accidental deletion to worry about.  You think he’s thought of those possibilities yet?)  And I think it’s terrible that Jak didn’t put forth any effort whatsoever to help him when the Power Station wasn’t really even that far away and instead went to look for Sig, who can defend himself.  (Seriously, who needs more protection, skinny, little Vin that is completely incompetent with a firearm or big, burly Sig, who is equipped with a Peacemaker?  Huh?  Huh?)  And it’s sad to hear Vin mortally injured and alone on the other end of the radio.  The poor guy is dying, but manages to tell Jak where to find Kor, allowing Jak to find the true identity of the Metal Head leader, and no one even attempts to help him.  Where’s your gratitude Jak, you green and yellow-haired freak!

            Anyway, as you can tell, I am quite distraught by Naughty Dog’s treatment of poor Vin, but now I suppose I must get to why I like Vin so much.  Besides being super smart and super nerdy, he is also super paranoid, claiming that “the world” is out to get him, including the Baron.  He’s quite pessimistic (repeating often during the Eco Grid game in “Jak 3” the words “It’s lookin’ bad.”) and terrified of Metal Heads, and according to the model viewer in “Jak 3” (which may not be quite canon, but I do believe the characters are still, well, in character), he also doesn’t like germs, shaking people’s hands, or people getting too close.  He’s also described as “pathetic” by Torn and “a bit crazy” by Jak.  Which, I must admit, are both accurate.  Okay, so far, Vin’s sounding a bit like a downer, isn’t he?  Well, all of these traits actually make him a pretty fun character, and seriously, I’m not done with this post yet.  As Vin would say, “Sheesh!”

            Anyway, I also like Vin because he is a rather complex character in some ways.  Like a real person, he has character traits that can contradict themselves.  He seemed a bit arrogant when you first meet him, as he expected an “army” of people to save him from the Metal Heads, but he is also humble; when Jak complimented him for his skills with the Eco Grid and called him a genius, Vin denied being any such thing.  He’s also usually a pretty nice guy, too, despite being strangely grumpy with Ashelin once with no real provocation.

            He is also clearly a coward, but despite that, he must be somewhat brave if he was willing to risk his safety by helping the Underground with fighting the Baron.  (The Baron experiments on people with Dark Eco.  Is that someone you want to mess with?)  And not only that, but as I mentioned, Vin was dying when you last hear from him, but he still made sure he got that last bit of information on Kor’s whereabouts to Jak.  People can say he is pathetic and weak and paranoid, but there are times when this coward has more bravery than the average person.  How many people in Haven City wouldn’t be considered cowards, but took absolutely no stand against the Baron?  Even in the real world, there are very few people who are brave enough to fight back against tyranny.  So anyone who disses Vin, you’ll have the Duck to contend with.  Seriously.  Don’t even.

            I am also sad that he seems to have so few fans, though I can understand why.  People seem to usually want characters that are tough or brave or cool.  Vin was none of these.  He’s a wimp.  He’s clumsy.  He’s pitiful.  But, Vin was a likable guy.  And he was fun.  He was always so nervous, so hyper, and a bit eccentric.  I always found him to be one of the funniest characters in the game, from watching him scream and fall down when Daxter claimed to see a Metal Head in the Power Station to listening to him whine about Metal Heads and people trying to kill him.  He was a great character.  Both a genius and a total wreck.  A huge coward, while at the same time, at least brave enough to help fight the Baron and even give Jak and Daxter one last clue when he was dying.  And ironically, one of the best members of the Underground (and how differently would things have turned out if they hadn’t received that information on Kor?), while at the same time getting mocked behind his back (I saw you roll your eyes, Ashelin.  Or at least, it was a half eye roll.).  To quote Vin, “It’s not easy bein’ Vin!”

            I did not provide a picture.  I drew one over a year ago, but I’m too embarrassed to show it.  Plus, a picture just can’t do him justice.  It’s much better to see Vin in action, so I included a cut scene below, where Vin wants Jak and Daxter to blow up the Eco wells at the Strip Mine.  It shows Vin’s personality quite well as he spazzes out and complains that everyone wants to kill him.  It’s also one of his funniest cut scenes.  (I’m sure you’ll be able to tell, but Vin’s the guy with the white hair.  Daxter’s the orange weasel.  Jak’s the remaining person.)

Duck, Likely One of Vin’s Many Fears

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