Sunday, October 09, 2011

Top 10 Gaming Sidekicks

While the videogame hero is almost always the biggest name, with the biggest impact (and the biggest merchandising rights...) let us not forget the also-rans – the people, creatures or robots that follow in the gamer's footsteps, picking up the pieces or swinging in to save the day.

Here are Megabits' Top Ten Gaming Sidekicks. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

10: Cortana (Halo, 2001)
Everyone's favourite blue-skinned AI sidekick takes the number 10 spot, narrowly avoiding relegation for being so damn superior all the time! As the voice inside Master Chief's head, 'smart' AI Cortana has been following the green armoured one since 2001, dispensing advice and witty retorts in equal measure, and generally getting herself captured at every opportunity. However, since 'smart' AI's typically have a shelf life of about seven years, before going 'rampant' (think your crazy aunt, but made of pixels), what happens to Cortana over the course of the next three Halo games remains to be seen. Personally, I kind of hope they let her go nuts – maybe that way she'll stop being so damn uppity all the time. Quit making snarky comments, you! I'm trying to gun down the Flood!
Special skills: Snarky wit, hacking, surprisingly large bust.

9: Prophet (Crysis 2, 2011)
As the previous owner of Crysis 2's nanosuit, the special forces soldier known as 'Prophet' was pretty badass in the original Crysis. A man with on mission, Prophet single-handedly unmasked the dark nature of the alien 'ceph' – but he was deceived. Having topped himself at the start of Crysis 2, I was somewhat confused when the husky voice of the suit - which usually announces interesting facts such as 'Cloak engaged' - suddenly started giving me a pep talk about being a US Marine, and to “Get your ass back on the line!” Turns out the nanosuit itself had become a USB stick for Prophet's.... soul?... and even saves the suit's new owner 'Alcatraz' once or twice, dragging him back up after he's sent through hell. Badass.
Special skills: Drill Sergeant's voice, good shot, heroically strong jawline.

8: Kazooie (Banjo-Kazooie, 1998)

A "Red-Crested Breegull", Kazooie is an incredibly rude – and therefore hilarious – sidekick to Banjo, the bear hero of the Banjo-Kazooie series. As a bird, her ability to fly comes in useful (bears not being known for their aerial skills) – and the fact that she can produce a variety of multi-coloured, explosive, deadly eggs is also pretty sweet. Her scathing wit is pretty useful as a weapon as well...
Special skills: Rudeness, flight, powerful bowels.

7: Dominic Santiago (Gears of War, 2006)
Always second fiddle to Marcus Fenix, Gears of War's Dominic Santiago is nonetheless a brilliant sidekick. Surly, strong and an excellent shot, Dom has been by Marcus' side since 2006, picking him up when Drones down him and generally being Marcus' rock. This is of course rather tragic, as Dom himself is having a rather bad time of things – his wife captured and tortured, his children murdered by the Locust – and yet he fights on. Despite his habit of wandering into my firing line at every opportunity – and then having the temerity to yell “Hey, same team!” at me, he very much deserves a spot on the top 10.
Special skills: Surliness, unusually massive muscles, killer haircut.

6: Miles "Tails" Prower (Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 1992)
No, I don't know if he has two buttholes. There – now that's out of the way – Miles Prower (despite his irritating voice) is a pretty cool sidekick for Sega's ridiculously fast, blue-furred hedgehog – mostly because he can keep up with him! With two tails sprouting from his fox spine (and a name that's a clever pun – which I've only just realised, at the age of 24....) Tails can fly, pilot a biplane, and head-jump-kill Dr Robotnic's evil creations with the best of them, as well as coming in useful when a second player wants to join the high-octane action! A shame that the 90s TV shows pretty much destroyed his street cred – but then Sonic didn't get a great airing either – chillidogs anyone?
Special skills: Flight, irritating voice (see 90's TV shows), two buttholes (probably).

5: Leonardo Da Vinci (Assassin's Creed 2, 2009)
A rather unexpected sidekick is this one, but nonetheless essential to everyone's favourite Assassin's adventures. As a mechanical genius, Leonardo serves a dual role in Assassin's Creed as both mentor and support agent, providing Ezio with the tools of the trade – as well as a fascinating selection of flying machines and – weirdly – tanks... As a man ahead of his time, Leonardo is definitely one of my favourite sidekicks, and though he only plays a role from the sidelines, his ingenious devices have made the business of slaughtering an entire city's garrisoned militia a cinch. He also looks rather rakish in that hat.
Special skills: Engineering genius, painting, great beard, snappy dresser.

4: Weighted Companion Cube (Portal, 2007)
Yes, it's an inanimate box, but the Weighted Companion Cube has managed to garner itself quite a following since Portal's release back in 2007. Ostensibly a crate with a couple of hearts painted on it, the evil taskmistress of the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre, GlaDOS, makes the player character form an intangible bond with the crate, working through a fiendish puzzle maze with it – before ordering you to incinerate it... Bitch! (Though I will admit, I incinerated the cube without a second thought – by that stage of the game I was gunning for GlaDOS, and GlaDOS alone...) For sheer usefulness alone, the Companion Cube deserves its place in the table.
Of course, the fact that the Cube becomes a religious icon in Portal 2 never hurts!
Special skills: Conveniently sized to jump on, weighty enough to knock over turrets, loveable, the cake is a lie.

3: The Dog (Fable 2, 2008)
As man's best friend, dogs are commonly known to be faithful and reliable sidekicks, and Fable 2's Dog is all that, and more. One part metal detector, two parts attack dog, Dog is as dependable and hardy a sidekick as an adventurer can hope for, following me on all my adventures throughout Fable 2, constantly showing me where to dig for treasure – and taking on balverines like a pro. It's a measure of a good sidekick that when he's gone, or gets killed, you miss him – and when Lord Lucien shot him dead, I was furious. I was even more furious when Reaver shot Lucien before I could! Steal my thunder much?
Special skills: Treasure hunting, silky fur, never has to be fed (or use the toilet...)

2: Luigi (Mario Bros, 1983)

If, when you read the title of this article, you didn't immediately think of Luigi, then you're missing out. Sure, he started out life as a simple colour palette change from Mario's red to Luigi's green, but as one part of Mario Bros' 'Bros', Luigi is a valuable and trusty sidekick, even if his limelight-hogging brother has already secured the title of Nintendo salesman of the century...
Boasting the same skills as Mario, Luigi can regularly be found jumping on Goombas, flying through the sky with a raccoon tail extending from the base of his spine (ouch), or shooting fire from his palms (double ouch). Sure, like Tails, the 90s TV shows and films weren't kind to the lesser of Mario Bros' bros – he mostly came across as a bumbling idiot – but he's still a great sidekick, and a damn good plumber too.
Special skills: Plumbing, colour-co-ordination, excellent nose.

1: Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect, 2007)
Picking one sidekick from Mass Effect's legions of party members is hard enough, but for sheer tenacity, skill and heroic intentions, Garrus Vakarian takes the top spot, in my opinion. A former lawman, Garrus found himself somewhat disheartened with the way justice was dispensed on the massive, galaxy-ruling space station known as The Citadel, and though it pained him to do it, he found that his skills were of more use elsewhere – like in the personal entourage of the first human Spectre. An excellent shot with his sniper rifle, Garrus' journey was a joy to follow, especially the spectacular fall from grace between Mass Effect 1 and 2, which saw the once proud - but tragically conflicted - Turian become a rogue vigilante – and lose everything in the process. As time-tested a gun-hand as you can find, Garrus was rarely away from my side, offering protection, excellent technical skills and sterling advice in equal measure. Despite the now-clouded nature of Garrus' moral compass, he was a constant companion and guide through the murky world of Mass Effect, and my favourite gaming sidekick by far.
Special skills: Excellent shot, strong moral compass, badass vocals.

Honourable mentions:
Pigsy, Otacon, Dogmeat, Minsc and Boo, Sully, Kane (or Lynch), Jan Ors, Chris Redfield (sort of), Haggard

Check out Andrew Hemphill's blog after the jump.


Poor Pigsy, relegated to the honourable mentions. Proper funny chap he is, well written and believably acted, and just a little bit sleazy.

No Midna. What sort of backward top 10 is this???

luigit should be first. mass effect characters dont belong on here. where is Navi lol

Wow, dominated by recent games with "sidekicks" who aren't really around for long or that instrumental to the game. I hate these modern lists, as people seem to forget that video games have been around for more than the last decade. I agree that Luigi should be number one.

No Alex Vance? Or even Dog from HL2?