Gameological Q&A

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Understudy Hall

Which sidekicks outshine their heroes?

By The Gameological Society Staff • August 8, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

This week’s Q&A is all about about sidekicks. Here’s the question:

Much of the talk about The Last Of Us has revolved around Ellie, the 14-year-old girl who joins you on your journey through a zombie-ravaged America. Casual observers of the conversation might even think that Ellie’s the hero of the game. Because video game heroes are so often silent, laconic, or at least bland, their sidekicks can have a disproportionate opportunity to shine. What’s your favorite example of a sidekick who, in your opinion, outshines the hero?

John Teti

It’s not exactly difficult to outshine Chell, the hero of Portal. She’s silent—aside from the occasional grunt—and you glimpse her only briefly when your made-to-order wormholes spill out on top of each other, such that you can gaze on yourself from afar. With a practically faceless hero, in the sterile environs of the Aperture testing facilities, even a minimal expression of warmth and companionship will stand out. And that’s exactly what the Weighted Companion Cube is: the bare minimum. It’s a gray block with hearts on it. True to its name, it weighs something, and that comes in handy. But the “Companion” part of the Cube’s moniker is the salient one. It turns the unassuming block into a receptacle for our emotional projections, and so the Cube becomes our friend solely by virtue of the fact that it’s supposed to be our friend. Although its blankness may seem like a hindrance at first, the Cube’s utter lack of characteristics mean that the only limit to your friendship is your capacity to imagine the bond. Sure, the Cube can never come out and say it’s your friend, but it can never say that it’s not your friend, either, and that non-denial proves compelling amid the solitude of Aperture Science.

Sam Barsanti

What would happen to the classic Batman and Robin relationship if the sidekick were significantly more cool and capable than the hero? I think it would look a lot like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. You spend the first big chunk of the game playing as Solid Snake—the usual Metal Gear hero—who is just as gruff as ever. Then, after Snake seemingly dies, the game drops you into the tight leather boots of Raiden, a man who can do all of the same things as Snake but with less stoic confidence and more whiny confusion. As Raiden tries to stop a team of super terrorists who are holding hostages on an oil rig—it’s more complicated than that, but I only have so much space—he is assisted by someone calling himself Iroquois Pliskin who looks, talks, and acts exactly like Solid Snake. Throughout Raiden’s mission, Sna—I mean, Pliskin always pops up at exactly the right time to give the player the right rocket launcher or samurai sword he needs to defeat a boss, and he is always several steps ahead in his understanding of the game’s almost nonsensical plot. If you’re going to have a sidekick watching your back, why choose a Boy Wonder when you can have the world’s greatest mercenary?

Joe Keiser

For me it’s got to be Dogi, the unwavering buddy from the long-running fantasy series Ys. The lead character, Adol, met Dogi in prison. (I think we all know how tight those bonds are.) Throughout 25 years of sequels, they’ve been nearly inseparable. Almost every game starts with Adol and Dogi getting off a boat together. Dogi, for his part, always pulls his weight. He’s enormous, so he’s useful in combat and for breaking down barriers. And since Adol is frequently a silent empty shell, Dogi often has to carry the story. He’s your friendly Mr. Exposition, telling you how to feel about new characters, and snapping cleanly into wingman mode when the love interest appears. There are so many games where I worry about when my closest ally will betray me, but not Ys. That Dogi? He’s true blue.

Derrick Sanskrit

Enoch is boring. A human chosen by God to be Heaven’s scribe, he eventually becomes the Metatron and is portrayed by Alan Rickman in a Kevin Smith movie. That’s it. No personality to speak of, no witty one-liners, no interesting costume changes—just the same old perpetually incomplete suit of armor. If El Shaddai: Ascension Of The Metatron focused solely on its hero, the game could have been used to combat insomnia. Thankfully, Enoch has a friend in Lucifel, greatest of the archangels and all-around smooth operator. Lucifel constantly breaks the fourth wall, peering deep into the players’ eyes with his piercing red stare. He even travels through time to give Enoch a pair of jeans, just to give the poor schmuck a shred of style and class. Both Enoch’s and Lucifel’s jeans were actually sold in Japan, but the archangel’s black skinny painter jeans were blatantly sexier than the human’s blue boot-cut double-knees. It’s been said that designer Sawaki Takeyasu injected a lot of himself into Lucifel’s personality. If I were designing a game, I’d make myself look like that too—as if Morrissey had been bitten by one of the vampires from Twilight and became too exhausted from being handsome to bother buttoning his shirts.

Adam Volk
Halo 4

I’m going with Cortana from Halo. I’ve never been that big a fan of the series, but I always found Cortana to be far more interesting than the relatively silent, emotionless, and faceless Master Chief. Cortana is really the heart of the Halo franchise, as a digital sidekick that’s more human than the humans around her. That’s particularly true of the fourth game (which happens to be my favorite), which is a kind of doomed quasi-love story between the Master Chief and Cortana. The game’s writers wisely realized that any emotion, humor, or pathos would have to be wrung from Cortana, rather than the game’s heavily armed Covenant-bashing protagonist. When it comes to having real character depth, Cortana far outshines the first-person snooze-fest of a Spartan that is the Master Chief.

Anthony John Agnello

Maybe it comes from being a younger brother myself, but I’ve always loved Protoman, Dr. Light’s first attempt at making an adaptable peacekeeping robot in the Mega Man series. Mega Man is tough and capable, but he’s never cool. Look at him, with his gawky stare and exaggerated blinking. The guy always looks like he just woke up and forgot it was his birthday. Protoman, or Blues if you’re a Japanese-version traditionalist, is a badass. The scarf, the sunglasses, the yellow shield; he’s got all that and he’s shrouded in mystery since he’s always disappearing right after showing up. He’s helpful sometimes, saving Mega Man’s life in Mega Man 3 and loaning out his dope shield in Mega Man 7. What elevates him as a wingman (Wing Man! How have they not done that?) is that he also tests Mega Man, pushing you to be better as a player, in addition to lending a hand. Just like a great big brother.

Drew Toal

“Clarification: When I said ‘death before dishonor,’ I meant alphabetically.” This is just one of the countless pragmatic, hilarious chestnuts of wisdom put forth by HK-47, the assassin droid who accompanies your character in Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and its sequel. Star Wars has never been the most self-aware or humorous of fictional worlds. Han Solo has his moments, but on the whole, it’s all pretty dry. HK-47, who constantly discusses his love of murder (”Conclusive statement: And it is not as though I walked into the Senate chambers with a carbonite explosive. I could continue slaughtering politicians for decades and not make a dent”) and his hatred of humanity (he regularly refers to organic beings as “meatbags”) is the exception to the rule. In any Star Wars game, the tendency is to play as a Jedi, and stack your party with other Jedi, if possible. HK-47’s character is so wildly entertaining that he immediately becomes the only indispensable party member, despite his not being necessarily the strongest available. It becomes almost a secondary goal in the game to mine HK-47 for his homicidal nuggets. Not only does he outshine every other character in KOTOR—I would argue that he’s the greatest sidekick in the history of games.

Matt Gerardi

I’ve always preferred Luigi to Mario. I’m guessing that infatuation began because green was my favorite color, and 3-year-old Matt just wanted to play as the green dude. But I can confidently say my choice was right on the money. Mario is a blank slate—a bundle of Italian-American stereotypes wrapped in overalls. His younger brother, though, showed some charm as early as Super Mario Bros. 2, the game in which his signature legs-flailing, gravity-defying jump debuted. Since then, Nintendo has left the silent-hero schtick to Mario and let Luigi grow into a reluctant hero with a wicked inferiority complex. The last 12 years are full of fantastic Luigi character moments. His transformation from sidekick to brainwashed supervillain in Super Paper Mario. His taunt in Super Smash Bros. Melee—a silent “Aw, shucks” sort of kicking-up-dirt motion. But nothing was more endearing than his portrayal in Luigi’s Mansion. His tendency to hum along with the game’s theme to calm himself. His voice cracking as he calls out for his lost brother. Heck, it takes no more than watching Luigi run, with his bulbous nose bouncing and arms gyrating like a choo choo train, to put a smile on my face. This guy’s got star written all over him.

Ryan Smith
Fallout 3

Pop culture has long made heroes out of man’s best friends, but none can touch a strand of chin fur on Dogmeat. The Australian cattle dog from the Fallout series, intended as an homage to Mad Max’s canine companion from The Road Warrior, makes Lassie look like a lazy bum. Once I recruited the pup from Fallout 3’s Scrapyard, he instantly became a useful scavenger, fearsome fighter, and loyal friend. It didn’t matter if my actions were good or evil, Dogmeat’s high opinion of me never wavered. Even when we got separated on our journeys in the Wasteland, he waited for me faithfully at Vault 101. I began to care way more about my dog than the Lone Wanderer—and for a time I found myself constantly saving and loading whenever Dogmeat died at the hands of bandits. But eventually, the emotional strain of putting the dog in danger grew too much, and I asked him to stay put at my house in Megaton so that he could be safe to greet me whenever I got back from a long day of post-apocalyptic mayhem.

Samantha Nelson

Flying is awesome. Humans have done truly ridiculous and dangerous things to take to the air, and even dinosaurs, arguably the coolest creatures ever, gave up that distinction to become birds so they could fly. So when Sonic The Hedgehog 3 gave me the choice to play Sonic’s sidekick, Tails, there was no contest. Tails can fly, and Sonic can’t. The two-tailed fox can also swim and haul the game’s spiky blue namesake around, making him seem way more useful. Plus, his character is cuter. Later, Tails would ruin things for me by talking and revealing he’s kind of obnoxious, which knocked him back into the annoying-sidekick realm. But as far as I was concerned, Tails was the star of those early games, and Sonic was just the character I let my little brother play.

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272 Responses to “Understudy Hall”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    The Weighted Companion Cube…they’re…they’re made out of PEOPLE!

    Seriously, though, has anyone here heard of that theory? Have a look: It certainly makes the Portal games a tad bit creepier if it’s true.

  2. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hey, didya know that Tails is just his nickname? His full name is Miles “Tails” Prower. Get it? Miles Prower? Miles Per Hour? 

    That stupid little play on words went unnoticed by my dumb self for twenty friggin years!

    • MintBerry_Crunch says:

      It has a last name? That’s the uncanny valley of pet-to-people names I’m not willing to cross.

    • Hey, Free Dummy says:

      Whoa. Mind=blown. I always thought Miles Prower was just some misguided Japanese game designer’s stab at an American-sounding name.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Miles Prower. Miles per… oh, those beautiful bastards.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I thought both Tails’ real name and its regretful pun were common knowledge to practically all gamers. I’ve never even played a Sonic game through to completion and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know these two facts. I figured it was something you get in a booster shot as a kid, perhaps some nanites that implant essential information into a kid’s malleable mind.

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I have never understood the love for the Companion Cube. Was I a little sad that it didn’t make it through the Emancipation Grill? I won’t lie, yes. Was I one of those people that tried to thwart said Grill so that I could take it with me? No. Even with the Ratman dens pointing out how great it was, it was among the least of my concerns.

    I guess what I’m saying is I could never bring myself to buy the plushie.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      The feelings people project onto the Companion Cube always seemed a little overblown to me, given that, well, it’s a box. The only differences between it and the dozens you used up to that point are the hearts painted on each side.

      I thought a more salient reading was that it was supposed to be blatant, unaffecting emotional manipulation. Bathos for humor, as it were. The situation was entirely engineered by GLaDOS, of course, who isn’t known for her keen insight into the human condition.

      • Girard says:

        Yeah. That’s how I read it, and it was pretty funny. It also made me feel like people who get all gushy about the cube have about as much understanding of human emotions and attachments as a psychopathic artificial intelligence does…

        • Electric Dragon says:

          I think a lot of that is a kind of playing along with the joke/kidding on the square thing. You know, like the way Mornington Crescent has proper rules, or Santa Claus is real.

        • John Teti says:

          Yeah, I think some people, like me, get playfully attached to the cube BECAUSE of the joke, not in spite of it. It’s the Pet Rock of our age. So it also makes sense that once you encounter enough twee internet people wearing out the joke, the gray box with a heart on it loses its appeal.

        • Bad Horse says:

          Or for that matter, that all attachments in video games are equally irrational. If you can get attached to your little meat sack soldiers in XCOM, why not the cube?

        • Merve says:

          @Bad_Horse:disqus: That’s why I named all my XCOM soldiers after foods I dislike. Black Licorice died, and I didn’t give a damn. Mashed Yams got turned into a zombie? Shoot ‘im up, I say.

    • huge_jacked_man says:

      Portal was charming and funny before the internet absolutely destroyed every ounce of charm it possessed by running every throwaway joke into the ground and the companion cube is a good example of that. 

    • Girard says:

      Totally. I played Portal about a year or two after the rest of the world, and so had already been acquainted with the irritating/cutesy adulation for the cube (and dumb “cake is a lie” references), which made me assume it would have some prominence in the game (or maybe have a silly AI in it like the sentry robots). But, nope, it’s just a thing you carry through a single level. Certainly less interesting than other gaming one-offs (THERE’S an inventory) like Kuribo’s Shoe or the evil sun from Mario 3.

    • CrabNaga says:

      When playing through the first time, I thought it was just a very clever joke. The player isn’t meant to be attached to the cube; the player is meant to be in on the joke. Ironically, that made me stand around in the Incinerator room for longer than I’d care to share, shifting my gaze between the Incinerator, the Cube, the door, and the GlaDOS cameras in the room and play-acting like Chell was having a very real crisis about incinerating the cube.

      I did enjoy that they brought back the Companion Cube in the sequel, and the Emancipation Grill at the end of the test chamber was malfunctioning, so through some gumption and enterprising spirit, you could bring the Companion Cube with you, only to have GlaDOS remotely fizzle it as soon as you get to the next elevator down. Again, I feel like it was a joke that the creators were sharing with the player, rather than something truly meant to antagonize the player.

    • Merve says:

      I gleefully dropped the cube into the fire. I didn’t even care. I may have a problem.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

      The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Weighted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Weighted Companion Cube does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice.

  4. rvb1023 says:

    In almost every Final Fantasy the protagonist is never nearly as cool as one of the side characters: the standouts being Auron and Balthier.

    And The Darkness are definitely more interesting than Jackie Estacado, even though I like both of them and The Darkness is arguably the main character.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Aye, my favorite character is never the main character (except, arguably, the second half of FFVI):

      FFII: Leila
      FFIV: Yang
      FFV: Faris
      FFVI: Celes
      FFVII: Cid
      FFVIII: Quistis
      FFIX: Vivi
      FFX: Auron
      FFXII: Balthier
      FFXIII: Sazh

      • flowsthead says:

        Final Fantasy IX has an abundance of great characters, and even the main character Zidane is awesome. You have Quina that just wants to eat, and Steiner with his ridiculous rusty armor, and of course Vivi who makes a great pair with pretty much everyone. There are even more great characters if you go in for the villains. Beatrix was always awesome with her hair tussle, and although Kuja had the typical bishounen look, I found him pretty charismatic compared to the usual FF villains.

      • rvb1023 says:

         That list is practically flawless.

      • Citric says:

        Galuf is my favorite from FFV. Faris has the most interesting story, but I always found Galuf to be the most entertaining character. Games need more affable chubby old dudes, preferably with interesting facial hair.

      • Cheese says:

        Celes is kinda-sorta the main character of half of FFVI.

        • Carlton_Hungus says:

          Agreed, that game was chock full of pseudo main characters, pseudo side-kicks.

          Locke, Sabin, Edgar, Shadow all pretty solid.

        • Justin Leeper says:

           A recent interview I read with one of the game’s directors said the point was to have each of the ~14 permanent playable character be – to an extent – the main character. And they made it in a year. Crazy.

        • dickwhitmansampler says:

           @justinleeper:disqus The amazing thing is that (assuming you did everything in the World of Ruin) they were more or less successful, unless you count Gogo and Umaro.

      • caspiancomic says:

         I think IX is the only game in the series where the main character is also my favourite (Zidane and I will be broz 4 lyfe.) Also, my favourite character in VI will always be Gau, the guy with the least motivation for sticking around for practically the entire game. His sidequest where you meet his dad is just way too precious! Also: Cat Scratch.

      • Comadreja says:

         FFVI is just populated with badasses and cool people. I’ve never been happy with a single party I’ve formed, there’s always someone awesome I’m leaving defending the fort.

        • The_Horse_Chestnut says:

          Which is why it’s great that you need to use multiple parties to clear the last dungeon (and also that other cave).

        • mid_boss says:

          I just saw this article the other day that helps explain why that is:

          “We began work on Final Fantasy VI with the idea that every character is the protagonist of the story,” says Yoshinori Kitase, the game’s director 

          This is probably why VI is my favorite in the series. The game is just stacked with great characters and almost all of them get time in the spotlight.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        FFIX has a really good cast. Steiner! Gysahl Pickles! And bon mots like:

        “This city have very yummy sand! This city delicious!”

        • flowsthead says:

          The whole master/apprentice parody with Quina catching frogs is hilarious. I think they do a montage at the end of the game of Quina and all of his eating exploits. It’s amazing.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        Here are some of my faves:

        I loved Kain in FFIV. A loner driven dark by jealousy? Awesome.

        In FFVIII, I always thought that Laguna’s story was much more compelling than Squall’s story. He was such a lovable goof. 

        I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite in Chrono Cross. Too many to choose from, and few of them get very developed.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Well, they each get their own moment to shine. It’s not a 40 hour journey for any of them, really, but some of them, like the Dragoons, did get a decent amount of character exploration. And how can you not love Starky, the absurd alien with the giant robo powers?

        • caspiancomic says:


        • I always liked all the side story with the Masamune, like of course a bad ass sword will drive you insane and make you want to kill people. That is what it’s for.

      • ishotgordonpratt says:

         Setzer was always my guy.

      • aklab says:

        Wow, just reading through this simple list of names gave me shivers. So many good stories.
        Part of what keeps me coming back to FFVI so often is that every single character is interesting enough and motivated enough to be the “standout sidekick” of any other game. Trying to pick one favorite character in VI is impossible for me.   

        Also, I’d say Lucca from Chrono Trigger. 

        • PaganPoet says:

          Lucca *sigh* Gaming needs more nerdy-girl characters. And her flashback scene. I screwed it up the first time I played, and the sight of her crying into her bed broke my heart. :(

        • aklab says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus , it was terribly upsetting bungling that scene the first time. For every subsequent playthrough I was always super-anxious during that part, but always managed to get it right. 
          Then I played an emulated version, got to the scene, and suddenly realized I had no idea what keys I had mapped L + R to! I was forced to watch the whole terrible ordeal again again! 

        • PaganPoet says:

          @aklab:disqus Have you played Chrono Cross? Poor Lucca, her story doesn’t even end on a happy note. :(

        • aklab says:

          Yeah. *sigh* Although it’s been over a decade since I played Chrono Cross, maybe I should revisit it! 

        • Unexpected Dave says:


          I love Chrono Cross, but the ties to Chrono Trigger felt really forced, and weakened the game.

        • aklab says:

          Dave, in my mind (which, granted, has been thoroughly addled in the 10+ years since I played CC) I remember Chrono Cross kind of completely separately from Chrono Trigger. I think of it as its own game that happens to take place in the same universe[s] and ignore the shoehorned-in CT stuff. 

      • CrabNaga says:

        A few notes:

        In FFV, I would pick Galuf over Faris. If you’ve played the new translation (GBA version), he gets some pretty good lines in. The best NPC in that game is Ghido the turtle sage, though. In the new translation he constantly berates Bartz for being an idiot. One of my favorite lines comes from when he is telling you about the twelve legendary weapons that you collect in the endgame, when Bartz seems confused at their very existence: “Yes, they are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.”

        Cid is the coolest in FFVII, yes, and it’s especially interesting because he’s the most problematic (abusive, misogynistic, foul-mouthed, etc.).

        I would probably pick Cyan in FFVI, mostly because the circumstances around him are very interesting. He’s by far the most tragic character in the game, I feel, what with the whole “entire family and kingdom poisoned” angle, and still the game seems to give him all kinds of weird lighthearted scenes, like poking fun of his prudishness and politeness. Locke is another interesting one, mostly because he tries to be seen as cool, but really he’s the most pathetic character in the game (what with his necromancy plotline).

        • PaganPoet says:

          Yeah, I considered Cyan as well, but I had to go with Celes. Between the opera and Cid’s death at the start of the second half, she affected me like no other character in the game.

          But the great thing about that game is that all of the characters (except Gogo and Umaro) have their own moments to shine. Cyan’s family being poisoned, Gau meeting his father, Setzer facing his past and Daryl’s death to get a new airship, Shadow’s nightmares and heartwrenching section in the ending, etc.

        • Necrogem says:

           @PaganPoet:disqus  You know Cid doesn’t have to die, right?  If you feed him only fast fish, he lives and helps you get started in the World of Ruin.

        • Justin Leeper says:

           It is pretty tragic that Cyan has such a crappy life in FFVI, then is turned into a frog in Chrono Trigger.
          Cuz that’s what happened…right?

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      You kind of beat me to it, but I was gonna say the little demon thing that calls you monkey in the Darkness. I thought he was pretty funny and great to lighten the mood of all Jackie’s seriousness. Plus in Darkness 2 when you play as him he’s got some great lines and some pretty brutal kills.

  5. PaganPoet says:

    Relevant to next week’s new releases, I’ll have to pick Launchpad McQuack! Which of us didn’t clap our hands in glee whenever he whisked us away to the bonus stage?

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      I rather liked Midna, that little imp. She may be the only Legend of Zelda character with an actual arc.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      It’s good to see someone else showing some love for Peach. Out of the countless times I’ve beat Mario 2 I have rarely played as anyone other than Peach. Her hover kind of ability was the best. It’s also cool that one of the games I played a lot of as a kid and beyond had a choice between playing as a chick or one of three guys and I always picked the chick, because they didn’t somehow make her weaker or something stupid like it seems some companies might do.

      • Marozeph says:

        Peach was also very useful in Super Mario RPG – she had the best healing spells in the game. And IIRC she had some nice scenes in Paper Mario, where she sabotaged Bowser while in captivity.

        • neodocT says:

          Peach was awesome in Smash Bros. Melee, too. Her Down Smash, ground hovering and a strategic use of turnips made her an extremely good fighter.

        • JokersNuts says:

          Totally, I always used her and Bowser as my final party members in that game.

      • JokersNuts says:

        She is basically the only way I can play that game (love the game, but only ever beat it using the Princess)

    • neodocT says:

      My favorite part of Banjo-Tooie was being able to split up the characters, so I could play as Kazooie in all her fast running, egg shooting, high jumping, free flying goodness. What does Banjo even have? A bag?

      And don’t forget Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong, the clearly superior Kongs!

    • Dikachu says:

      Clank is pretty awesome, though it depends on the game.  The first and second ones had a few missions where Clank, separated from Ratchet, would control other tiny drone bots and make them solve puzzles or attack enemies for him, which was really fun.  But then R&C3: Up Your Arsenal tried to make him a movie star in the game’s world, and it didn’t work well from neither the plot nor the gameplay perspective.

      The Clank missions in R&C: Crack in Time were pretty goddamn great, though.  Those time puzzles were incredible (especially the secret bonus ones, which were some of the hardest puzzles I’ve ever seen in a video game).

      • Marozeph says:

        I like to think that Clanks influence is what turned Ratchet from a douchbag into an actually likable character between the first and second installment.

  6. George_Liquor says:

    How ’bout Max from Sam & Max Hit The Road? If ever there was a scene-stealing sidekick in gaming, it’s him. 

  7. MintBerry_Crunch says:

    I grew quite fond of Agro in Shadow of Colossus. Apart from still being the best damn sublimely captured horse in all of video games, it was your only trusty companion.

    Then this happens. 

    And my heart broke. 

    • PaganPoet says:

      I just saw this scene earlier tonight. My eyes are red.

      It’s bit like the scene from The Neverending Story, no? Heroic horses :(

      • MintBerry_Crunch says:

        How that game doesn’t get mentioned often enough is some kind of travesty. It’s a bastion of the medium itself!
        I mean, the nuance with which we bond with the creature is a testament to video games everywhere!

        You grow attached to the animal simply through the passage of time, time spent in harrowing Davind-and-Goliath encounters where you grow reliant on the animal. 

        Or how it handles like something that’s alive, an animal with a body and mind of its own that can be perceived simply through the controls.

        Speaking of which, when the hell is The Last Guardian coming out?

        • PaganPoet says:

          Yeah. It’s a very affecting scene, which is saying a lot considering how little we know about these characters at the start of the game. A lot of what I’m about to type out is not said or explained explicitly in the game, but with a game with so little prologue, and so little dialogue, and no establishment of setting or history, it really is up to the imagination of the player to fill in the blanks.

          With very colossi’s death, you can sense it taking its toll on Wander’s humanity. He becomes more and more obsessed with killing them all to revive the girl. You get the idea that Agro and Wander have been companions for a long time, there’s really no doubt that they love each other. She can sense the change in his demeanor, and probably doesn’t like it. But she carries on assisting him because she loves him and it’s important to him. It’s Agro’s own obsession that leads to the death of his only ally in the world, who heroically bucks him off her back at the last moment so that he will survive.

    • Girard says:

      My heart broke because a.) I didn’t figure out the exact action the game wanted me to do to trigger than scripted scene and b.) neither the game nor manual ever told me that you could save at shrines, meaning any death left me to continue back at the central temple (typically not a problem in a game with so few death-dealing enemies).

      So, my cycle of sadness went like this:

      1.) 20 minute ride to the bridge
      2.) Hop off Agro so I can walk across the bridge on foot.
      3.) Bridge falls out from under me.
      4.) 20 minute ride to the bridge5.) Try running across the bridge with Agro, and jumping over the last gap as it falls, meaning I don’t trigger the scene and fall to my doom.6.) 20 minute ride to the bridge7.) Figure I didn’t time my jump right. Try running across the bridge with Agro, and jumping over the last gap as it falls, meaning I don’t trigger the scene and fall to my doom.8.) 20 minute ride to the bridge9.) Cursing, give it one more try, jumping at the last moment, dying again.10.) 20 minute ride to the bridge.11.) Finally, by accident, I don’t hit the jump button before the game triggers the cinema scene (apparently it just wanted me to run forward so IT could make Argo jump at the right point).The game had been so amazing up until that point, it was really jarring to suddenly be so frustrated by it!

      • MintBerry_Crunch says:

        One thing the naysayers of video games never quite admit to, is how players can be their own worst enemies in zapping themselves out of perfectly good experiences.

        Which is not to blame you for your misfortune! No amount of game playing can prepare you for misinterpreting design cues.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        That reminds me of Prince of Persia 2:The Shadow and The Flame.

        You get to the magic flame, and when you touch it, you die.  The “Press Space to Continue” message even appears at the bottom of the screen.  I did that half a dozen times, trying to approach the flame differently and dying each time.  Finally I gave up and sat there thinking for a minute, and 30 seconds or so after you die your SHADOW stands up and you can grab the flame with it.  You have to directly ignore the game’s advice to Press Space to complete the damn level.

    • SamPlays says:

      I have a soft spot for animals in video games (and real life). Agro is a good example but I felt really connected to Dogmeat from Fallout 3 even though he was horribly animated. Like Ryan, I instantly reloaded my game the moment he/she died.(With a name like Dogmeat, you can only assume it’s a boy.) I also felt similarly to my horse in Red Dead Redemption, although I mourned less when it died only to come galloping back to me from the afterlife (which certainly exists in RDR). I’m always wary when animals are introduced in a movie, book or game because the usual trope is to have that animal become injured, dead or taken away (hopefully for the better). I very rarely cry during a movie but Wendy and Lucy made me cry. 

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       Agro is basically King of Horses in video games but it’s worth highlighting the noble steeds of REd Dead Redemption.  The game is hella long as most Rockstar joints are, and I managed to keep the same horse through a large chunk of it.  A beautiful blonde mare (I assume, didn’t check) who rode me in and out of trouble through gunfire, storms and raging cougars, and who sadly fell on a bounty hunting mission in Mexico.

      I came this close to ragequitting and reloading my save but I knew that it would cheapen the experience but needless to say, that bounty was not returned alive.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I love this story.  And the price the bounty paid.

        “See, normally, I bring back bounties alive. Mostly ’cause my mare, well, she’s got a soft heart about such things. But my mare ain’t here you no more. She’s dead. ‘Cause of you. And my hear ain’t quite so soft on its own.”

        And then the skinning knife comes out.

  8. Cheese says:

    Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Indispensable for puzzle solving and combat, bursting with personality, unkillable and so useful that she’s basically escorting Booker the entire time.

    • apple_mummy says:

      Absolutely. The game really comes through on that front, which is good, because I doublt the story would work nearly as well if she were a burden.

      Plus she helps makes the time you spend with Booker more tolerable. God, I hate Booker.

      • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way. I’ve played GTA, saints row, manhunt and any number of other games where you play as a “bad” character and Bioshock Infinite is one of the only ones I can think of where I constantly thought to myself, “Jesus, I’m such a complete dick”.

    • Merve says:

      “she’s basically escorting Booker the entire time.”

      I know it’s been posted before, but Machinima made a three-part video series with that very premise:
      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3

      • CNightwing says:

        He’s a wizard! Wizards can’t have babies!

      • George_Liquor says:

        Wow, they actually got Booker’s voice actor for the finale. I’d only seen the first in the series when it got mentioned here, which funny enough when he’s just grunting in reply. 

        “Hey, you can’t feed a baby to a wall! Quit it!”

        • Merve says:

          Actually, Elizabeth and Booker are voiced by Haley Mancini and Matthew Mercer, respectively. But they do great imitations of Courtnee Draper’s and Troy Baker’s voices.

        • George_Liquor says:

          @Merve2:disqus Then that really is a dead-on impression of Troy Baker. I could tell Elizabeth sounded different, but not Booker!

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I like how the game never once presents her as a romantic interest for the lead.


      I mean, there’s a good reason for that, but it’s still nice.

      • George_Liquor says:

        Funny, I’ve gotten so used to pat romances in games like this that its absence kinda telegraphed the big reveal to me.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Says something about games, doesn’t it? If I’m not dating this young attractive girl, I bet we’re related.

        • JamesJournal says:

          I wouldn’t say it telegraphed the twist to me, but boy would I have rolled my eyes at that one because there is just no way they really could have justified the romance anyway the way things were being played

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       She was really well realized.  They essentially snuck Peter Molyneux’s Milo into a shooter disguised as a girl who threw medpacks at you. Goddammit I just wanted to take her to Paris!

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        The moment when he sets the zeppelin is the moment I realized that Ken Levine wasn’t about fulfilling your wishes of being a good guy.

  9. Bob McLennan says:

    Dog from “Half-Life 2.”

    • MintBerry_Crunch says:

      D0g is great, but I can’t get this out of my head every time Alyx is around it.

  10. AngryRaisins says:

    Alyx Vance is pretty cool.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       A glowing endorsement!  But yeah, watching her *SPOILER ER’RYBODY* cradle her father as he lay dying was a hell of a cliff hanger to be left on for 10 years.

    • zzyzazazz says:

      I hated Alyx Vance so much that I never finished Episode 1. I mean, the fact that Episode 1 was pretty bad didn’t help, but I just found Alyx Vance so god damned annoying I just shut it off and never looked back.

  11. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Clementine…

    Be strong, Clem.


  12. Citric says:

    True fact: When I was a little kid playing Mario by myself, I’d start a two player game, kill off Mario, and play as Luigi. It might be because Mario’s the one who gets all the attention, but Luigi felt like he was the younger brother like me. I bet old ladies in the Mushroom Kingdom constantly call Luigi Mario like they used to call me Jason, in spite of me not being Jason, being 11 years younger than Jason, not looking anything like Jason, not actually even liking Jason until I got much older… Luigi and I, we’re the little bros who get no respect. We’re both even the taller brother now!

    • PaganPoet says:

      I was the younger brother too, player 2 AKA Luigi. I have a soft spot for the fratello verde as well.

    • apple_mummy says:

      I hear Luigi being mentioned as the character for younger brothers a lot. Was I the only one who forced his to play Mario?

      • Marozeph says:

        Well, Samantha forced her brother to play as Sonic, which is kinda like the same thing on a SEGA-system.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Somehow, my NES never came with Super Mario (it came with submarine sim SILENT SERVICE), so even as the eldest of my (many) siblings, I was stuck playing Luigi because I was always playing on the machines of friends.

        That’s okay. I like Luigi. My son has been obsessed with Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, and he even has a plush Luigi (and Yoshi) that accompany him at night. On top of the various Mario decorations that make up the theme of his living space. Seriously. It’s Super Mario Bros. Central.

    • Girard says:

      I was an older brother, but Luigi was the skinny weakling with a penchant for green, so I sympathized with him anyway.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I can’t believe your parents named their kids Jason and Citric.

  13. Citric says:

    I’m also pretty sure that in every game with a dog – regular or robot – the dog is the best.

    • Marozeph says:

      Let’s see if that rule also applies to Call of Duty: The one with the Dog. But yeah, dog-sidekicks are usually great.
      Case in point: Rocket from Ghost Trick, who’s both adorable and useful.

    • Girard says:

      Which is kind of amazing, considering how awful dogs are in real life!


      • Marozeph says:

        They make for better videogame-sidekicks though. It’s more fun to be escorted by an animal that can give your enemys some nasty bites than by one that just looks indifferent while the hero gets his ass kicked.

        Although Travis from No More Heroes has a cute kitty. It’s adorable, but completely useless. Kinda like a real cat!

        • DrFlimFlam says:

           I like making cats meow in quality RPGs (all quality RPGs with cats make them do this), but yes, the dumb, blind loyalty of a dog makes them more fun as companions.

          Unless the cat has a megaphone and rides a giant winged mog.

        • Chalkdust says:

           @drflimflam:disqus Apparently, Tales of Xillia 2 features a side-quest to discover 100 cats.  I bet they meow, too!

      • SamPlays says:

        Only a cat person would lack the confidence in their choice of pet to throw down this non-existent gauntlet. As a cat owner and dog owner, I can objectively say that dogs are infinitely less awful than cats (except when they eat cat poop).


        • Girard says:

          Dogs are obnoxious, smelly, dependent, and dangerous. Boo, dogs! Cats are obviously  objectively better in every way.

        • SamPlays says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Replace “dogs” with “cats” and I think we’ll be able to reach a consensus. As a consession, we can both agree that bunnies are adorable.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        What are some great videogame cats?

        – Alfador from Chrono Trigger
        – The main character from EVO: The Search for Eden
        – The ninja cats from Legend of the Mystical Ninja

        • neodocT says:

          There’s the Kajhitt in the Elder Scrolls games, but they’re more a cat-like species than real cats.

          There’s also a prominent cat from Ghost Trick, but there’s a spoiler here, so I can say no more.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Kabegami from Okami; The Catcall tower was such a bizarre side trip in that game; but who doesn’t like an impossible tall tower with kitties everywhere?

        • Merve says:

          @neodocT:disqus: Rule 34 ruined the Kahjit and the Argonians for me. *shudders*

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          @neodocT:disqus @Merve2:disqus

          Does anyone else here follow Prequel, which follows a Kajhitt character in the setting from the games? I doubt it’s for everyone, and the update pace is somewhere between erratic and glacial, but I like it.

        • Girard says:

          Does Cait Sith count? Wasn’t he some kind of animatronic hoobajoob?

        • Geenius_at_Wrok says:

          Ser Pounce-a-Lot in Dragon Age: Awakening.

      • Citric says:

        As a cat owner, my cat is a racist jerk. I love it anyway because it’s so cute and fluffy.

        But it’s pretty rare that we get great game cats, even though they had a promising start with Phantasy Star.

      • apple_mummy says:

        Can’t we all just agree that cats and dogs are equally better than human children?

    • Didn’t care for the dog in New Vegas. Give me a disembodied floating eyeball that I don’t have to carry about brains for any day.

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      I hate having people tag along with me in Bethesda games because they steal my kills and get in my way. The dog you get from the Elvises in New Vegas though, I wanted him to stay with me the whole game. He was awesome. So I think I would have to agree with you.

  14. The Guilty Party says:


    I mean, I love Shepard. But Garrus is just completely awesome. I would buy a ME: Garrus game right now. *hinthint*

    • Merve says:

      I do enjoy Garrus, but for my money, the best Mass Effect sidekick is Tali. It’s amazing how much personality she oozes, despite the fact that you never see her face.

    • Marozeph says:

      And let’s not forget Mordin Solus, who is both a badass and has some of the funniest scenes in the game (the little musical interlude and his tips on interspecies-copulation).

      Oh, and *SPOILER* he gets a really good death-scene too (“Someone else would’ve gotten it wrong”).

      • Roswulf says:

         This is the objectively correct opinion. Mordin is the greatest.

        I remain convinced that the root of the internet’s frustration with the ME 3 ending is the failure of Shepherds final choice/sacrifice to match the thematically resonance and operatic grandeur of Mordin’s.

        Who is just the greatest.

      • Labrat85 says:

         Heh, i accidentally killed him. Thought renegade would shove him aside or knock him out.

        Him crawling towards that control panel and not making it was pretty damn sad.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Yeah, my Renegade Shepard killed my soul in Mass Effect 3. She betrays all of the best characters: Mordin, Wrex, Legion; at least Garrus is still my friend

        • Roswulf says:

          My attempt to play a renegade Shepherd fizzled utterly as I couldn’t bring myself to break any of my companion’s hearts.

          Although I had no problem at all betraying Samara. It was probably the single most monstrous act you could take in the whole trilogy, but lord did she bore me.

        • PaganPoet says:

          @Roswulf:disqus If it makes you feel any better, Morinth’s bonus ability is kind of amazing. Much better than Samara’s.

    • Girard says:

      I realize I didn’t really like most of the characters in ME, which kind of meant I ended up rather liking Javik, as he had nothing but contempt for everyone and everything around him.

      Also, maybe it’s just because I’m awesome and consequently the characters I role-play as end up awesome, but my ME protagonist was pretty awesome

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I really enjoyed most of the cast of ME2. Due to the nature of that ending, the refresh in ME3 was merely… okay.

        Garrus was Jon Shepard’s BRO, with Wrex not far behind.

        Claire Shepard is undecided. Garrus has been so distant since his return to the Normandy…

    • NakedSnake says:

      I was quite a fan, actually, of my do-whatever-it-takes, collateral damage provoking Shepard, actually.

  15. BuddhaBox says:

    Wow, I can’t believe no one’s said it, so I guess I’ll do it: Chris was the real star of Thomas Was Alone. Without him, Thomas, Claire, and the rest would have been able to reach slightly too-high platforms.

    And maybe his infatuation with Laura was a little bit adorable.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I particularly liked John (tall yellow guy), because he was that guy who’s good at everything and is doesn’t know it. He’s totally not conceited at all about it, which makes everyone hate him a little. Then when he actually encounters adversity, he handles it the worst out of all the characters.

    • NakedSnake says:

      That’s a good choice, but in a strange way, I would say that Thomas is kind of the sidekick. Everyone else’s attributes get prominently featured in several puzzles, except Thomas (not counting the first few stages). He’s just along for the ride. That said, I guess Chris’ main attribute is that he’s a burden. But yea, they did a great job with characterization in that game.

  16. HilariousNPC says:

    The Narrator in Bastion (the game turns into a an absolute morass if that gimmick isn’t there.)

    • DrFlimFlam says:

       Hey. Kid.

    • Roswulf says:

      Speaking of Bastion… how much of Bastion does one have to play to know whether the vibe works? I played about fifteen minutes, and found it completely unfun. Should I give it another shot, or is this just not the game for me?

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        The story gets more interesting as it goes and is arguably its strongest suit. I think the visual and audio design is amazing, but you’ll know if it works for you pretty fast. The gameplay never changes too much. You gain access to many different weapons and some special powers, but I would say after 30-45 minutes you’ll know if it’s for you or not.

        • Roswulf says:

          Thanks, I’ll give it a second play session on your recommendation.

          Thus far I recognize the quality of the design elements, but they don’t connect with me (maybe because I never played the console games it follows in the tradition of?). But I’m willing to bear with the gameplay if the story goes somewhere truly interesting.

      • Enkidum says:

        Agreed with @drflimflam:disqus .  The story has quite a bit of depth to it, but the basic design and gameplay don’t change much (although both have a lot of interesting variations on the same basic themes). I found it got a lot more fun once I had more choices – after you get past the beginning stages, you can decide where to go, what to arm yourself with, etc.

      • Colliewest says:

         I love Bastion but the Weapons training grounds and pootling around the Bastion upgrading stuff were the only bits of gameplay I found fun.

      • Girard says:

        YMMV. I wasn’t crazy about the game, and the story pretty much slid in an out of my ears immediately because it wasn’t at all integrated into the game itself, but delivered via the overly affected narration, which made it feel tacked on. (The only time I  actually engaged with the narrative was during a jarring “narrative choice” right at the very end, which basically amounted to “Click to choose ending narration A or B. Nothing that has happened thus far has any bearing on this choice.”).

      • NakedSnake says:

        The game never “clicked” for me, either. The gameplay doesn’t get particularly tighter or more fun. But I ended up playing it until the end anyhow for reasons I don’t fully understand.

  17. Effigy_Power says:

    The dogs in Fable 2 and 3 were lovely, seemingly alive creatures with oodles of personality and sometimes good functionality as well. Especially in Fable 3 the dog is so closely linked to the character’s own appearance and gameplay that it almost seized to be a sidekick and becomes and extension of the character.


    When I thought that my dog in Fable 2 was dead, being shot by the main antagonist, and I later had to make the decision to save either it or the entire victims of the evil that had befallen Albion, I was really conflicted. A later DLC that lets you sacrifice a single human to get your dog back took the bite out of that decision, but man… I was sad. All the toothsome wenches, well-poured beers and slaughtered Balverines couldn’t make up for that. (Not to mention that without the dog you can kiss finding hidden treasures goodbye.)

    • aklab says:

      I wasn’t that conflicted. Saved the dog, obviously! 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

         I know a lot of people hate Fable 3 for a lot of honest reasons, but John Cleese’s turn as the butler, Jasper, can’t be one of ’em.  One of the best characters in the game and he’s the resident of a glorified menu screen.

         “Why Jasper!  That Balverine head looks fantastic paired with the chicken and I never would have thought it!  Good work on keeping the place tidy, I’m off to win a bride by farting into her face repeatedly!”

         And yeah, in Fable 2, even after resurrecting my dog pal, it just didn’t feel the same.  It actually felt so lonely wandering Albion without him I couldn’t get back into the groove with him alive again.

  18. putacorkinit says:

    You *must* now do a ‘Most Annoying Sidekick’ feature. I’d like to start off with…

    ‘HEYA! IT’S ME, IMOEN!’.

    • CNightwing says:

      I raise you, “Hee, c’est moi, Imoen!

    • Girard says:

      “Hey! Listen!” (obviously)
      “Hey, cousin!” (obviously)

      Having trouble thinking of some less obvious ones… I guess any sidekick you need to escort in an escort mission could become an annoyance – isn’t the President’s daughter from RE4 kind of like that?

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        Nah, Ashley is fantastic. Her presence adds an additional dimension to positioning and prioritizing. That’s just good game design/progression.

      • neodocT says:

        People love to rag on Navi, but I honestly didn’t find her too bad. Her sounds were short, you were almost never forced to read what she had to say and I liked her moment in the end where she leaves Link. She was no more annoying than Link’s constant grunts, at least.

        But Fi, the robot sword spirit in Skyward Sword? I detested her. She interrupted the gameplay all the time, had awfully written unnecessary dialogue (“Link! There’s a 97.6% chance that the item you need is in that giant chest.”, “Now is a good time to inform you that you can press the B button to shoot with your slingshot, despite you using the slingshot for half an hour”, urgh), kept bothering you when your controller battery was low, and had this weird disaffected thing that made you not care about her at all.

        Which sucks, because, aside from Fi, I really liked Skyward Sword!

        • zzyzazazz says:

          Minish Cap had the same bullshit in the form of the talking hat. It told you how to beat enemies you’ve beaten countless times before, how to solve the puzzles.

        • Mr. Glitch says:

          The only thing I did like about Fi was when she broke the 4th wall to tell you the wiimote’s battery was low. Otherwise she was giant step backward from Twilight Princess’ Midna, who may be the most fully-realized character in the entire Zelda universe.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I always hate BioWare’s goodiest two-shoes male support character, even though my first run in these games is mostly Mr. Good Guy. So Carth, Alistair, Kaidan Alenko, I hate you all. It took me three full play-throughs of ME1 to finally let Alenko live.

      I still regret it.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         Hey Kaidan may be a boring sack of crap but he’s not a racist and HE DIDN’T SHOOT MY BEST FRIEND!

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I didn’t really get how awful Ashley was until my most recent playthrough. Without the romance angle she was some kind of space Tea Partier. So long, soldier.

      • neodocT says:

         I disliked Kaidan, but I really hated Ashley, with her religious space-racist views. I haven’t done a full playthrough with Ashley alive, but I like how in the end Kaidan becomes a sort of Non-Union Omegan Equivalent of Shepard.

      • Merve says:

        Not to mention Sagacious Zu and Sky from Jade Empire. I wanted to punch both of them in the face so badly.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Oh god, I forgot about those two. Seriously, those two were the worst. Between Kang the Mad and Black Whirlwind, maybe even Henpecked Hu, there’s no space for those two pieces of soft toast.

      • The Guilty Party says:

        Hmm, I don’t feel like Alistair fits in quite as well there. I mean, as a Bioware Role, yeah, he’s in the same slot. But as a character, he’s much more positive and humorous and pleasant to be around in general.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Alistair is better than Carth and Kaidan, yes. But he weighs in with his own opinion about what I’m doing wrong far too often.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Alistair was at least amusing. Yes, he was a whiny windbag in a lot of scenes and his personal problems seemed a bit selfish compared to the rest of what was going on, but he got a few really good puns in and was generally a sweet guy.
        Carth and Kaidan on the other hand were useless tits with virtually no game or story value.
        Canderous Ordo, Oghren and Urdnot Wrex make for infinitely better male sidekicks, though that’s probably because they fit better into the way I play Bioware games.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Why does everyone hate my husband? :(

          Oh well, I can always drool over the real life version. *ogles*

        • Merve says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus: Actually, in real life, Kaidan looks something like this. :P

        • JamesJournal says:

          If you are already the goody two-shoes, what is the point of having another? When I played KOTOR, I was an essentially good Jedi with a smart ass street, that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if that is what a specific situation required. 

          So people like Cartha and Bastilla were the perfect foils. The Luke and Leia to my more spiritual Han Solo.

          In Kotor 2 Atton and Kreia were just scary ass shit logical conclusions to my attitude towards the force, and how I praised myself for occupying the reasonable “middle ground.” When it may be far more complex and scary than that.

          In Mass Effect I didn’t bother interact with Kaidan until my final ultra good femshep playthrough where I romanced him. Didn’t like him, didn’t hate him either.

    • Roswulf says:

      *whispers* I liked Imoen. */whispers*

      I don’t even think she makes it into the top three irritating Baldur’s Gate female companions list. Never saw what Khalid (admittedly not the most interesting block of wood in the woodpile himself) saw in Jaheira. Such transcendent smugness.

      And Aerie was just the worst. I really, really don’t care about Chittike Fastpaws, and as the one member of the party not wearing Boots of Speed YOU AREN’T FASTER THAN HER!

      Dynaheir was less annoying in the abstract, but I resented her for monopolizing Minsc (well, her and Boo, but who could resent Boo?).

      Now Mazzie, Mazzie I liked.

      • zzyzazazz says:

        Khalid and Jajeira play off each other pretty well, but unfortunately for them, he’s useless, and she is the most awful character in the franchise. I won’t even take them with me until I can get somebody better anymore. Heck, next time I play BG2, I’d probably go so far as to leave her in the dungeon.

        • Roswulf says:

          Khalid’s death is one of the least emotionally affecting moments in all of gaming.

          I mean…it’s KHALID.

  19. Merve says:

    I have a few awesome sidekicks to mention.

    Alpha Protocol: Steven Heck is your sidekick for only a brief period of time, but he makes the most of it with his oddness and his utter lack of sanity.

    Jade Empire: Almost any of the members of your party are more exciting than the protagonist, especially since he or she is unvoiced, but my favourite is Henpecked Hou. He’s a bun master, he’s terrified of his wife, and he’s proficient in a “fighting style” known as Drunken Master.

    Kentucky Route Zero: Conway may be the story’s protagonist, but Shannon‘s role as the deuteragonist is more compelling. Compared to Shannon, Conway is an open book. Shannon, on the other hand, is full of secrets, and one gets the sense that she isn’t letting Conway in on everything she knows. Moreover, her brusque manner adds punctuation to what is otherwise a slow, meandering experience.

    Prince of Persia (2008): The Prince may be the star of the show, but the entire plot is centred around Elika and her father.

    Saints Row: The Third: You accumulate lots of homies in this game, but the most interesting one is Kinzie Kensington. She’s weird, she’s brilliant, she’s literal, she has zero social skill, and she’s paranoid as hell. I can’t wait to see how strange she gets in Saints Row IV.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Henpecked Hou!  Damn.  I gotta play Jade Empire again.

      • George_Liquor says:

        I kinda liked Black Whirlwind; he was Gamedom’s most jovial murderous psychopath. Nothing ever got under his skin, not even his zombified brother. 

        I’d like to add that a Jade Empire sequel featuring just Black Whirlwind & Henpecked Hou would be the best damned thing EVAR!

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Kinzie was mostly great for all the stuff we didn’t know or never saw about her. All that BDSM gear, the corsets, whips and stiletto heeled boots.
      The fact that SR3 actually managed to NOT show Kinzie stripping at the Sex Club was an amazing feat of restraint.

  20. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    Something inherent about the species of homo sapien is the yearning to depict the human form at it’s ultimate, at it’s apex. Also, zenith. 

    Ever since a young paleolithic artist in a cave in what is now Spain 40,000 years ago noticed that he could smear his own faeces on the wall of his dwelling and give those smears form, and thus meaning, of a fellow human, thus finally finding an avenue to give these feelings outlet, billions of fellow humans have continued this tradition, but have always fallen agonisingly short. 

    The Ancient Greeks covered their pottery with human forms trying to find it, as did the Egyptians when it came to decorate their leaders’ tombs. They sculpted weird half man half dog stuff, so they weren’t that good at it, but they tried. The Greeks had another crack at it with Venus de Milo, but something was always missing. Some unknown quality, apart from, you know, arms. When Michelangelo sat down with his slab of marble in 1501, he had an unmistakable scratch that could not be itched, despite producing a masterpiece even though it was a dude. Renoir, da Vinci, Kandinsky probably, all continued this tradition of striving and failure. It sent Picasso mad. Made that other guy cut his own ear off. Can’t remember his name. Chopper, that’s right, it was Chopper. 

    But it wasn’t until 2010 CE, which we now know was the point that human culture arrived at it’s lofty yet unknown goal, that true perfection of the human form was finally depicted by not a sole artist, but a team of geniuses, heroes and legends. This was when the world was presented with the form of Miranda Lawson, in Mass Effect 2.

    Now, I’m not a shallow man. But daaaaaaaaaaaammmn.

    She’s the best squadmate because of Warp and Overload yada yada. And it’s nice to hear an Australian voice in a video game, even if what she says isn’t that interesting. These are all great things which would put her in contention for my favourite sidekick choice.

    But man, that arse. Wow. It’s completely ridiculous, but it is also simultaneously the greatest thing ever. I’m sorta pissed that we prematurely sent off Voyager in the 70s depicting all this cool stuff we’ve done. Beethoven, mathematics, woo fucking hoo. If we’d just waited a few decades, we could have etched this on a sheet of metal and sent that out into the cosmos, then as a species collectively put our feet up and just rest the fuck on our laurels because where can you go from there? Exactly.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      The camera spends an awful lot of time settling there.

      Breaking up with her in ME3 was like pulling off the world’s longest band-aid.

    • Army_Of_Fun says:

      And then it somehow gets even better when you find out Miranda is voiced by Yvonne Strahovski aka the hot blonde from Chuck:

      • The Guilty Party says:

        Huh, voiced and modeled on apparently, because that photo looks exactly like a blonde Miranda.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Yep, modeled as well. I remember seeing some interview with her where she was laughing about how they “enhanced” her curves.

        • George_Liquor says:

          She must’ve been modeled on that specific picture too, because Miranda’s expression never changes from that faint smirk. She looks like she got shot up with too much Space Botox.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I also think she is so much sexier because of how strong and tough she is. Sure, she has her emotional moments, every ME-sidekick has them, but otherwise she is all business and that, admittedly paired with her appearance and that god-damn space latex suit, is a pretty big turn-on.
      And while Bioware shamelessly focused the camera on her divine posterior, it never seemed that Miranda showed off her goods on purpose.
      To look like that, wear that kind of gear and still be that nonchalant about it… Mmm, baby.
      Too bad she’s exclusively straight. -hangs head- Mind you, she was the reason I even bothered to play a male Shep, who I then ended up enjoying more than my original Fem Shep.

      • Andrew Bare says:

        There was that amusing moment in Miranda’s loyalty mission where the merc leader looks at her and, with withering contempt, says, “I’m surprised Cerberus lets you whore around in that outfit.” 

        • Geenius_at_Wrok says:

          “Oh, I was just waiting for you to put some clothes on.”

          THAT. WAS. THE. BEST.

    • Geenius_at_Wrok says:

      Miranda Lawson . . . the one ME2 squadmate whom I never liked, never trusted and never cared about, even though I played Shepherd like an Eagle Scout.

  21. Unexpected Dave says:


    Emmy kicks a lot of ass in the Layton prequels. (Although her absence in the original series has some unsettling implications.)

  22. DrFlimFlam says:

    HK-47 is probably the best answer. Leave it to “Important Blogger” John Teti to throw it out there.

    I know lots of folk don’t like the cavalcade of characters in Chrono Cross, but I love the motley crew of man, beast, and etc. that make up your small army to restore timespace. My favorite team was Starky and Kid, and man, do some people HATE Starky. I just think he’s totally adorable and his super moves are lots of fun.

    Also, as a much younger man, the “true” ending of Chrono Cross was very profound for me. The idea was that there was a Kid in every universe, looking for that world’s Serge, and in the childish way we think as younger people, that the story of the world is our own, that maybe we are the one destined for adventure. That meant a lot to me, especially at the crossroads I was at in my life, out of high school but hating college, a job paying a touch more than minimum wage, no friends really to speak of, just floating adrift. I’m older now, of course, and the ending no longer means quite so much, and Kid is a child and I’m a full grown adult, but I still smile when I think on it. And part of that comes back to how much fun Kid was as a character, a spunky Australian brat who never backed down, who always threatened foes the best way I’ve yet encountered:

    “I’ll kick yer sorry arse so hard you’ll kiss the moons!”

    • Labrat85 says:

       Did you have Alistair executed? I know i did when he started running his mouth.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I’ve played through DAO twice. The first time I installed him as king as a super goody rogue knife-ear. The second time I played the whole game to become Regent and so he was killed because UGH.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          On my male Human Noble playthrough I had Alistair executed for no other reason that I wanted my Warden to be King, or well, King Consort. It also led to the revelation that Loghain is a pretty awesome character with a lot of really good dialogue that people miss out on, I bet. Same goes for Sten. He’s a tedious mess to get to like you, but then he’s really fascinating.

    • Enkidum says:

      Shale was awesomesauce. The first time she crushes the birds after you leave town made me laugh out loud.

    • Girard says:

      While I acquired HK-47, I did so late in the game, and by that point already had a comfortable party make-up, so I never. ever used him. I only discovered years later what a mistake I had made.

    • Geenius_at_Wrok says:

      Speaking of Dragon Age, I know that Dragon Age II was weak in all sorts of respects, but when it comes to sidekicks who outshine the heroes, leaving Varric off the list is a grievous omission. Varric was a BOSS.

      Isabella wasn’t half bad either, despite the preposterous topography.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        As far as romantic interests go, Isabella was one of my absolute favorites in the world of dating in games. If they could have just given her a more natural body; even as a fantasy she was ridiculous.

  23. stakkalee says:

    No love for Deekin Scalesinger, Faithful Kobold Companion from Neverwinter Nights?  Everything about the character is set up to make you hate him – he’s tiny, has a high-pitched voice, and is a bard.  And yet his tunes were catchy – every time I’m crawling through a dungeon I’ll start humming his “Doom Doom Doom” song to myself, usually right before I stab a dude.  He even follows you to Hell – now that’s loyalty!

    • Thats_Unpossible says:

      Oh, I love Deekin. Definitely one of my favorites although I usually would switch him out for the halfling thief or the Monk of the Long Death once things started getting really tough.

  24. ricin_beans says:

    I found myself having to leave Dogmeat at home.  I’m very sentimental about dogs, so when Dogmeat would get killed (and boy would he ever get killed, especially since I played more of a sneak/sniper style and Dogmeat just liked to charge in alone) it would have to reload.  He was better off protecting my home.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Nothing ruins the mood like bringing a female companion you intend to marry in Skyrim to a spider cave, where she is murdered by Shelob’s bigger, meaner sister.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Well, Skyrim’s either got Spider Dens or the Shake Shack for date spots.  And by now you’re both pretty damn sick of the Shake Shack.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      I missed Dogmeat entirely when I played Fallout 3, which I now understand because I never spent much time in the Scrapyard. Next time, Gadget!

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I have the same problem in Skyrim. I do sometimes come across the dog at the abandoned Hunter’s Hut, but I never take him.
        Dogs in Bethesda games make me feel like I have to watch out for them too much, whereas when usual companions die, it’s their own fault usually. But the dog is my responsibility and I don’t to feel bad for getting it killed.

    • MrTusks says:

      There is some kind of glitch where if you get Dogmeat after starting the Brotherhood of Steel expansion, he is basically indestructible. (I didn’t even know he existed until the expansion, so I wasn’t exploiting, I promise!)

    • Yeah Dogmeat died two or three times on me and I left him to rot. A stiff breeze or a fog slightly too heavy and he would trip and crush his skull. 

      Actually keeping anything alive in games is a lot of work. In Skyrim your companions survive as long as you don’t last shot them, but I’m a goddamn AoE mage.

  25. Liebheart says:

    Crow, from the Longest Journey.
    I love that little bird.

    • Jack Bross says:

       I love Crow, but I’m not sure he outshines April herself, who is a terrific protagonist.  Her little commentaries on everything you click on (including her outfits if you click on April herself) are particularly nice.

      I’d vote for Frog, from Chrono Trigger.  (Chrono’s very boring, the companions are great). 

      Similarly, the companions in Planescape Torment are great — hard to pick one, but any of Morty, Annah, Dakkon, Nordom, or Vhailor is pretty great.  Ravel may be the best character in the game, but she’s not a companion.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

         I like how Frog is so serious in plot but busts out his guns after combat. I mean, his life is serious and kind of tragic, but BOOM, check out these biceps!

    • Effigy_Power says:

      The Wazilla from Dreamfall: Longest Journey is terribly adorable. His interaction with Zoe is so gentle and always loving, it’s hard not to have some protective feelings towards him.

  26. mechanicalfrog says:

    I think the best example of a protagonist being outshone is Desmond Miles in the Assassin’s Creed franchise since it happens to him repeatedly every year. The framing device sets him up as the lead character but every one of his ancestors, especially Ezio, is much more interesting and charismatic. I wouldn’t mind if Ubisoft dropped the modern-day parts entirely, to be honest.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I don’t know if any game is so clearly divided between fun (old times and being awesome!) and not (modern day, walking).

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         It’s truly like seeing a friend who bought an amazing suit that makes him look great, but wearing it with shit covered loafers.

        “Dude, just lose the loafers, you tried to make them work but everyone hates them.”

        “No, I’ve had these on since the beginning I have to keep them.”

    • Andrew Bare says:

      It’s a reflection of how much I disliked Connor and everything that went on in the main storyline of ACIII that I actually looked forward to the Desmond segments. 

      I have no idea what UbiSoft was thinking when they wrote Connor. It’s like they thought, “So, Altair was almost completely a non-entity, save for a fairly intriguing sense that he was an arrogant, pain-in-the-ass screw up. Then we managed to create a wonderful, fun, charming character in Ezio who players grew steadily attached to over the course of three games. For our newest game, let’s go back to the blank nothingness of Altair, but let’s remove anything remotely interesting about him and make his only character trait generic anger.”

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Sounds like someone was born when focus and testing got married.

      • Colonel Mustard says:

        I don’t disagree with any of your points about Connor, but I don’t think he’s the only reason the Desmond segments seemed better.  I think they actually were better – that climb up the office building gave me a real flash of vertigo, and I’m not even scared of heights.

  27. DrunkDalek says:

    Sam, the German merc from Far Cry 3, is a far more charismatic guy than the psychopathic douchebro you play

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

      The majority of the animals you kill in that game have more personality than Jason Brodad.  Though I didn’t care for Sam,  I didn’t really care for the caribbean hipster or the stereotypical mad scientist…

      Really all the game had going for it was Vas.

  28. Carlton_Hungus says:

    No love for Mr. Drippy?  The lord high lord of the faeries?

  29. Labrat85 says:

    Morte! Where is the Planescape Torment love?

  30. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    I don’t know if she technically counts as a side-kick because she’s also a love-interest/damsel/rescuer/governor/everything but I’ve often felt like Elaine Marley Threepwood from the Monkey Island series could carry her own game.

    I think it’s done purposefully to highlight Guybrush’s bumbling lack of swashbuckling skills, but she’s just a badass, island running, sword-swinging powerful female character who also seems to have a heart of gold.

    What’s not to love?

  31. Colonel Mustard says:

    I just finished my first playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, and while most of the companions had their strong points, the only one I felt who really shined through as a personality was Veronica.  Thanks, Felicia Day!

  32. CrabNaga says:

    This is kind of a cheat answer, since your character in Dark Souls has no personality to speak of that you don’t directly inject, but Knight Solaire of Astora and Knight Siegmeyer of Catarina always brighten up the notoriously bleak mood of the game whenever they show up. Solaire with his wide-eyed optimism and obsession over finding his “own Sun,” lending you help in like five different boss battles. Siegmeyer, who ends up in the most ridiculous of situations, and really takes his time trying to tackle his problems until you show up and solve everything for him.


    Then they both end up dead, most likely. Having to kill Solaire is one of the toughest things to do in that game, and seeing a hollowed Siegmeyer splayed out in the sand, with his identical-armor-wearing daughter standing over him isn’t a barrel of roses, either.

    • Carlton_Hungus says:


      Siegmeyer doesn’t necessarily end up dead.  If you help him throughout and save him when he goes to fight those gaping maw-beasts he and his daughter Sieglende will be reunited going on adventures down in the sea of ash.  They’ll give you a titanite slab for your effort too.

      • CrabNaga says:

        [SPOILERS, EH?]

        I’ve never gotten the ending where he lives, mostly because it’s actually the worst one (in terms of rewards). You can save him by killing all the Chaos Eaters before talking to him, but he’ll just get dejected and the questline will end there. You don’t actually get the Titanite Slab unless Sieglinde puts him out of his misery. Only a pernicious caitiff would willingly take that away from her.

        • Carlton_Hungus says:

          There are different options depending on how you play that part, you’re right it ends if you kill the chaos eaters.  It also ends if he jumps down there and gets killed, or if he jumps down and takes more than a certain amount of damage (50% I think).  You have to let him jump down and help him so he takes minimal damage in order for them both to live happily (as can be done in Lordran/Catarina) together after.

  33. cookingwithcranston says:

    Although not one but many sidekicks, Overlord/Overlord II‘s Goblin Minions were not only the charm of the game but also essential to progression.

    Sure the player mainly controlled an evil, Sauron inspired, death monger with brutal weapons and an assortment of nasty spells but commanding your battalion of mischievous goblins to overrun villages is where the real guilty pleasure is found.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Yeah, Overlord is clearly a game where the character is just evil poured into a suit of armor and all the emotive, interesting and foremost funny stuff is played out by your minions.
      I always wished the games were better because the setting, idea and humor were so great.

  34. Gnarled Bark says:

    I’d have to go with Claptrap (CL4P-TP for those of you who need the official name) from the Borderlands series.  Claptrap is funny, annoying, nearly useless, terrified, and gives the best high fives.  The question mentioned that some people think of Ellie as the games hero.  What makes Claptrap great is that he’s the only one who thinks he’s the hero.  I have 4 older brothers, so Claptrap reminds me of how I used to act as a kid.  I was a little annoying, but I meant well, and all I wanted to do was hang out with the big kids.  There’s something so sweet about Claptrap that makes you want to give him that moment where he thinks he saved the day.

    • Marozeph says:

      I love that scene near the end of BL2 where he opens the gate to to final level (after completely messing up first) and gives a little speech about the nasty things he’s going to do to Jack…only to be thwarted by his mortal enemy: Stairs!
      It’s both funny and almost sad, because who wouldn’t want to see Jacks corpse getting teabagged by Claptrap?

  35. TheMostPopularCommenter says:

    These days, GSOC outshines AVC to an embarrassing degree.

  36. TheKingandIRobot says:

     I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I found Morte way more interesting than Nameless.

  37. Matt Koester says:

    Until I can come up with something better, I’d like to offer Pikachu from Pokemon Yellow. While your guy is as dull as can be, Pikachu tears himself away from every other living thing in the game by emoting differently depending on how long you’ve spent time with it. It eventually grows on you and becomes the cutest thing in the world, digitized “PIKA”s included. 

  38. Chalkdust says:

     That’s a right shame, innit?

  39. JokersNuts says:

    The Companion Cube? Aw give me a break, I love you John but that’s a cop-out :-)

  40. Two people get to live happily every after or I get a Titanite slab? Decisions, stabby decisions.

  41. TPoppaPuff says:

    Where’s Alyx Vance or any of the Mass Effect 2 cast?

  42. JamesJournal says:

    Fable 2

    Reaver, Garth, Hammer and Teresa where all really cool. And I liked the big “team” moment at the very end. Too bad the whole story ends right after that because I would have loved to go on some more big adventures with these characters.

    The whole ending to Fable 2 is a big bummer. When I got that letter that told me my sister was still alive, yet there was no way to find her, I felt pretty damn cheated.

    Alpha Protocol

    Steven Heck is pretty bad ass

    Mass Effect series

    Garrus Vakarian is the man. It is basically impossible for me to not bring Garrus on all the big missions because he’ll have all the best lines, and he’ll snipe ********* from across the map like a ********** boss.

    Gears of War series

    Basically everyone in Delta Squad is cooler than Marcus by default.

    Legend of Zelda 

    In nearly every Zelda game, Link is the mute errand boy of the gods, and Zelda is a firecracker of personality and potential that ends up needing his help for … reasons?

    The Last of Us

    Joel is awesome. But let’s be real. Ellie owns this game. She also completely owned a certain bandit leaders face about 20 times that winter. I never felt more awesome as when I took down bad guys as Ellie. Those knife kills were brutal. “Piece of shit. What now motherfucker!”

  43. JamesJournal says:

    You monster

  44. SaintStryfe says:

    WoW has a bunch of these minor characters who the fans latch on to – Hogger, Gamon (who will be assisting in a raid boss fight in the next patch), Mankirk and his dead wife, Mylune the dryad, ect.

  45. Justin Leeper says:

    Some good choices by the editors (until Tails). If I had to choose one that hasn’t already been picked in the article, I would say Fidget from the beautiful Metroidvania-type game Dust: An Elysian Tail.

    I thought the anthropomorphic character designs would kill the experience of this otherwise-excellent game. However, Fidget was a love letter to fans of Nall from Lunar Silver Star and similar sidekicks. But Fidget is the best written, best voiced of the lot.

    If only the unlock condition for the avatar t-shirt of her wasn’t buggy, my Xbox “Mii” would be sporting her image instead of the DOOM space marine suit he’s currently wearing. 

  46. LiveProDOMME says:

    Nice Fetish and BDSM girls for you =>> .!.