Top-10 Video-Game Sidekicks

PeyjandMaxHonourableHello, one and all! Inspired by a similar list by TMcBee, I’m listing my 10 favourite sidekicks from video-games.

An honourable mention goes to Max from the Freelance Police duo of Sam & Max. While I do think Max is a hilarious character in his own right, my experiences of him have been limited to Sam & Max Save the World and The Freelance Police cartoon series, so I felt I wasn’t basing my liking of the character on my own experience of the games. Also to the flatulence utilising Pig Uncle Pey’j from Beyond Good and Evil.

Anyway, let’s get on with the list…

Tails10. Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog 2 & 3)

Sonic’s two-tailed companion is definitely one of the most adorable tag-along characters around. The little fox genius who flies a biplane is always ready to help out our blue hero. Tails has been playable since Sonic 2 which is when I first saw him and immediately grew to like him.

Tails being nigh-indestructible in the game proved to be a great help as it provided a little bit of co-op action in the second Sonic game. And even when he’s just automatically following you, Tails does prove fairly useful in gathering rings and killing enemies (even if it’s mostly by accident).

The only reason Tails isn’t any higher on this list is that he’s sort of drifted away from being strictly Sonic’s tag-along sidekick to becoming more his own character. Which is good, but at the same time, he’s lost a bit of his side-kickish qualities.

ReginaldVanWinslow9. Reginald Van Winslow (Tales of Monkey Island)

Guybrush’s up-beat and dutiful, if a little creepy, sidekick from the fifth Monkey Island game was a positive delight. Guybrush’s crew so very frequently mutiny or don’t give him the time of day, it made for a change that the eternally cheerful Reggie provided Guybrush with some fun banter.

Van Winslow’s biggest flaw is his inability to travel anywhere without someone pointing their finger on the map, which is to say that he’s a little lacking in the initiative part. He makes up for it in his talent for love, as he manages to swoon the mer-person Anemone off her… uh, fins? He even manages to play an important role in the very final chapter of the game, if somewhat involuntarily.

As for helping the hero along, Van Winslow really doesn’t do any more than Captain Dread did in MI2, but the reason I picked Reginald over Dread was his personality. He has such lively dialogue and he’s just such a joy to be around, but yeah, he definitely isn’t the most helpful sidekick around.

Blob8. The Blob (A Boy and His Blob)

I think a very under-rated title from the Wii, the remake of Boy and His Blob offered some excellent brain-teasing puzzles and was definitely, vastly superior to its NES original. And one of the many improvements were the many utilisation of the eponymous Blob from the title.

The Blob is an all around excellent side-kick. Need a ladder, a see-saw or anything else for that matter, he’s got you covered. And all he needs is a jelly bean to make it happen. Additionally, his skills are actually put to good use, since you actually know what the different jelly beans turn him into (whereas you were forced to guess in the original).

Also, the Boy and the Blob forge a strong friendship on their adventure, which was also a great cheery addition. The only reason why Blob didn’t make it any higher, is the fact that he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.

Crow7. The Crow (The Longest Journey)

Ever wanted a talking crow to follow you around and complain about how things are always rough for him. Well then, The Longest Journey has you covered.

After releasing Crow from his cage, he’ll give the game’s heroine April Ryan important information and always show up to lend a hand… er, or wing… whenever she needs it.

Crow may have only managed to help Ryan with a handful of puzzles, but he definitely cheered up the otherwise dark, serious and desolate story of the game with his complaining and antics. Crow is definitely one of the unsung heroes of adventure games.

Navi6. Navi (Ocarina of Time)

Sure, Link has had a ton of interesting sidekicks on his adventures. The bitchy and complaining Tatl in Majora’s Mask, the story-telling but useless (other than as a boat) King of Red Lions from Wind Waker and the highly story-centred Midna from Twilight Princess. However, I decided to show some love to who is perhaps single-handedly the least appreciated of Link’s companions.

Navi is a life-saver, since without her, you’d be completely f***ed on your quest to save Hyrule. She tells you how to play the game, drops hints as to where you need to go and holds encyclopedic knowledge of every monster in the game and how to deal with them. Sure, lots of things you can do without her, but Navi became one of my favourite characters when I played Ocarina of Time, I depended on her completely through my adventure because 3D games were still new, big and scary for me.

And I’m not gonna lie, I felt sad when Navi just flies off to the unknown at the end of the game. As much as people like to complain about Navi saying “Hey!” and “Listen!”, when you had no experience about vast 3D action-adventure games, I genuinely appreciated that there was a character in the game telling me what to do. But alas, apart from being loyal and tenacious (especially towards the game’s end) Navi was definitely a little bland on the personality side of things.

5. Joey (Beneath A Steel Sky)

JoeyCollageAs you can tell, I love a sidekick who can chime in with a clever quip or just a funny piece of dialogue on the drop of a hat. That’s Joey the Robot all over. Robert Foster’s cynical, wise-cracking and at times defeatist robot buddy was one of the most indispensable friends a video-game character could want.

What made Joey extra cool was his ability to shape-shift. Well, sort of. You carry Joey’s mother-board which houses his personality for  good chunks of the game until you place it in a robot for Joey to control. He starts off as a pathetic vacuum cleaner droid, turns into an awesome welder, then a personality-limited medic and, finally, a near-perfect human-duplicate Android.

Beneath A Steel Sky would be a whole lot less interesting without Joey’s comedic timing. He even openly comments at what a generic protagonist Robert is, but the two of them have some excellent exchanges. Joey was a shoe-in for the Top-5.

Rush4. Rush (Mega Man 3)

Mega Man’s robotic pooch made his debut in the third game of the series. Rush is unquestionably one of the most versatile and helpful platforming sidekicks. He can turn into a spring, a submarine, a rocket-board or even a suit of armour for his master to wear.

However, most people will agree that Rush was at his most useful in the third game where his Rush Jet ability made exploring levels a lot of fun and even helped you cheat in the more difficult parts if you wanted. His spring ability was also a lot of useful, and though there were only a few places to use it, the Rush Marine was also pretty nifty.

Rush continued to be very useful in the games’ sequels and I will admit that using the Rush armours in Mega Man 6 and 7 was a lot of badass. Rush is an awesome dog.

Yoshi3. Yoshi (Super Mario World)

Super Mario World often loses out to SMB3 for me, but one aspect that I always liked about it was Yoshi. This enemy swallowing dinosaur was just a whole lot of fun to control in the game.

Admittedly, Yoshi was a whole lot more useful when he finally starred in his own game, Yoshi’s Island, but with his ability to smash enemies to bits and even fly when swallowing blue shells, he was definitely extremely helpful. He could even breathe fire when swallowing red shells which I always found badass. Almost so bad ass that I’m not even going to question how a seemingly (and in all related media referred to as) male character can lay eggs.

Plus, like I need to even say it, Yoshi is just adorable. But again, his lack of a personality is what landed him only third, although the added fun-factor he brought to SMW made him another shoe-in for the Top-5.

DixieKong2. Dixie Kong (Donkey Kong Country 2)

Dixie Kong already made my Top-10 Game Protagonists list, so it probably doesn’t surprise anyone she’s here as well. Introduced as Diddy’s girlfriend in DKC2, Dixie actually managed to outshine the real star of the game.

Dixie’s helicopter spin made her so much fun to play as, there was almost no incentive to play as Diddy through most of the game. Of course, Diddy’s speed still made him very useful, but once you goofed as him, it would always be up to Dixie to clean up after. And while Dixie’s sister Tiny was a fun character in her own right, there’s no replacing that powerful ponytail of hers. The only time Dixie hasn’t lived up to her own legend was in the Donkey Kong Country TV series where both her role in the show and her ponytail were quite pathetic.

Dixie was so awesome and fun to play as that (like Yoshi) she even starred in her own game, Donkey Kong County 3. I look forward to seeing her again in DKC Returns: Tropical Freeze.

Grace1. Grace Nakimura (Gabriel Knight 3)

So, I’ve already outlined some of my favourite side-kick attributes on this list: a character who’s a great help to the main star, a character who may even be more fun to play as than the main hero, a character with a great personality, someone you could almost look up to and someone you empathise with. Meet Grace Nakimura, the loyal bookworm and history buff who always comes through to the Shadow Hunter/Novelist Gabriel Knight in Sierra’s adventure games.

Whereas Grace was a smart but not very prominent supporting character in the first game, she did the lion’s share of work in figuring out the werewolf mystery in the second game. However and by far, my favourite appearance from the character was in the third Gabriel Knight game. Grace decodes the mysteries of Le Serpent Rouge, discovers the identity of the Wandering Jew and unravels the true importance of the lost treasure of Rennes Le Chateau – long before Gabriel gets it in his head that the seemingly pleasant vineyard owner Excelsior Montrieux is in fact the head of an evil vampire cult hunting down the blood relatives of Jesus.

Grace has some sass, she’s smart and resourceful and she really just gets to shine in GK3’s story. She was a little mean and bitchy in GK2 (and she is still a little in the third game) which made me dislike her a little bit, but by the third game you’re just laughing along with her and even sympathising with her over what a tool Gabe can be. Grace, you’re hero and a nerd and I like it.