Most video games feature a single solitary hero who stands alone, but there have been a number of games over the years that have involved sidekicks, pets, and friendly companions. They can be a helpful part of the plot, like Zelda's Navi, critters that follow you around like World of Warcraft's battle pets, or playable characters that have their own gameplay sequences, like Clank from Ratchet and Clank.
What we want to know is - who's your favorite? To help expand the selection, it can be any character who essentially accompanies or helps the player, so get your thinking caps on and see who you can come up with!
As always, here's the USgamer team's selection:
Companions in video games tend to hover somewhere between "pointless" and "aggravating," but I'll always have a soft spot for Lydia from Skyrim. You can recruit a number of companion characters throughout Skyrim, but most people encounter Lydia first since she comes into your party during one of the first major mandatory questlines in the major city closest to your starting point for the adventure. Unless you deliberately decide to tell the core story progression to take a flying leap right from the outset — which would deny you some of the fundamental skills available to your character — you'll team up with Lydia in short order.
There's nothing special about Lydia, really, but I played Skyrim for probably about 150 hours and never bothered swapping her out for a different companion. There was something comforting about having such a stoic meat-wall of a woman by my side, growing ever more durable as I would pass along my hand-me-down armor along to her as my crafting and enchanting skills rose. In the early going, Lydia was usually the only thing standing between my fragile little thief/archer and certain death — she'd go tramping into the fray and aggro enemies while I lurked as far from the action as possible to sink arrows into dudes' skulls from the safest distance possible. Later in the game, when I had become so powerful I could vanish from a dragon's sight while crouched directly in front of it and kill it with a couple of headshots, poor fragile Lydia became a reminder of my humble beginnings. She was a dull, humorless lady, but no matter how godlike my protagonist became, Lydia would always leap into the fray to risk her own death at the hands of an eldritch power I could have sniped without fear, and I loved that about her.
I'm going with my massive collection of companion pets from World of Warcraft. I remember taking ages choosing my very first pet from the three that came with the original Collector's Edition copy of World of Warcraft. There was a Zergling, Mini Diablo: Lord of Terror, and a super-cute Panda Cub that I ended up with. It followed me everywhere I went on my early adventures, and I remember constantly being asked where I got it.
Then, in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, the battle pet system was introduced, and I ended up investing a huge amount of time into that. Basically, you could tame pets by fighting ambient in-game critters using your own selection of companions, and capturing them with a cage, which would add them to your collection. Indeed, it became somewhat of an obsession, and I wandered the world of Azeroth taming pretty much every available creature.
Better still, you could create teams of three pets, and fight against other players' collections in turn-based versus battle that felt similar in some respects to Pokemon. Again, it became a huge time sink, and I played an endless number of battles, leveling up my pets and trying to create the perfect roster of characters to make an unbeatable team. Of course, the rock-paper-scissors aspect of the battle pets meta-game ensured that there was never a truly "perfect" team, but I had a few combinations of critters that could put up a very tough fight against most opposition.
Funny how a minor aspect of a game can totally hook you, but battle pets are one of the things I miss about World of Warcraft, now that I'm not playing it regularly. It might seem silly, but there's just something about in-game pets that just really appeals to me. Indeed, one of my biggest disappointments about The Division is that you can't befriend the stray dogs that you occasionally meet while wandering the streets of New York. I wish Ubisoft would add that feature!
A dinosaur who became a slave, a slave who became a Kart racer, a Kart racer who got his own spin-off empire. What more can be said about Yoshi?
Must I go into the fact that Yoshi is an egg you find in the first Super Mario World that you co-opt for your own nefarious ends? How many times did you throw Yoshi's life away to get a little more height on a jump? Then in Yoshi's Island, the Yoshis carrying the annoying Baby Mario to safety, through a world that is intent on killing them. In Mario Kart, what does Yoshi get as his perk? Acceleration, because Yoshi knows when trouble is coming, you need to get away as fast as possible.
Yoshi has suffered for us. Despite that, Yoshi continues to smile. In the face of adversity, he triumphs with joy on his mind. Yoshi is the best Mario character, whether he's riding a go kart, drawn in a sketchy style, made out of paper, or crafted lovingly out of yarn. There is no better sidekick.
No, Char isn't a canonical sidekick in Pokémon like Pikachu, he was the Infernape I bred in Pokemon Soul Silver. Unlike most people, I wasn't actually a huge fan of the second generation remakes - it was both slow and suffered from a poor soundtrack translation - but I did love that you could have literally any Pokémon you wanted follow you around. If you had Pikachu leading your party, you would see a Pikachu sprite. If you had a Groudon or the god-like Arceus, then they would appear by your side. It was a small touch in the grand scheme of things, but I was pretty sad when it didn't make it into the fifth or sixth generations. After all, Pokémon are supposed to be your friends and companions; and when they're actually by your side, you naturally feel more of a connection to them. Here's hoping this feature will return along with character customization for the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon.
Seeing as he shares billing with his co-star, it's tough to tell if Max from Sam & Max has truly earned the status of "sidekick." But since he's much smaller than his canine friend, and can literally be used as a tool to solve various puzzles throughout the game, let's roll with it.
At their best, a sidekick should exist as a foil to the protagonist. And that's essentially Max in a nutshell. While both characters are prone to solve problems with violence—which is sort of the "freelance police's" M.O.—Max would much rather cut to the chase than drone on in the low-key Jack Webb vocal style his partner prefers. It's a dynamic that works extremely well, so it shouldn't be surprising the two managed to return without losing a step across three seasons of Telltale games during the '00s—but without their pricey voice actors. Ultimately, sidekicks can't be viewed in a vacuum, and Max's cuddly, sometimes contentious relationship with his partner makes him the most memorable to me.
Dogs have been humankind’s sidekick since the dawn of time -- not the smartest move on the species’ part, really, but bless them anyway -- so it’s natural that my pick for the best video game sidekick would be of the canine creed. Specifically: Interceptor, Shadow’s dog from Final Fantasy VI.
Interceptor is a four-legged murder-machine, and that alone makes him compelling. There’s a bit more to the story as far as this dog is concerned, though. See, Shadow is Final Fantasy VI’s mandatory brooder. His past is mysterious, but Square-Enix gives us enough of a peek to let us know that it’s soaked in blood. Shadow is therefore understandably hesitant about letting anyone grow close to him, so he pledges allegiance to only two things: Money, and his dog. It takes a pretty special dog to melt the heart of a cold mercenary, so Interceptor is pretty interesting by extension.
Interceptor is also a cleverly-used cog in one of Final Fantasy VI’s best-kept secrets. Shadow is the father of the game’s youngest party member, Relm, but the link is far from obvious. What we do know is that Interceptor hates strangers, but yet warms up immediately to Relm. If you dig deeper into the game’s story as the hours progress, you gradually come to learn that Interceptor originally belonged to a very young Relm and her mother. Interceptor never forgot his small mistress, even after he hit the road with a certain negligent father.
I still appreciate the low-key delivery of one of the Final Fantasy series’ biggest bombshells. And I appreciate the man-eating doberman that is the vessel for said bombshell.
That’s not all Interceptor does to bridge gaps in Final Fantasy VI, either. Shadow first journeys with you because he wants the money. When you initially meet him, Interceptor tries to bite your face off. But as the game goes on, Interceptor warms up to you, and even seeks you out when it seems like his master’s been assassinated by the Empire. Shadow obviously never says “I love you guys” as he becomes more fond of his companions, but he doesn’t need to. The growing trust of his dog says everything.
Oh, and Interceptor can also absorb damage for Shadow, then retaliates with a devastating attack. That counts for a lot, too.
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