From Tails the Fox right through to Captain MacMillan, sidekicks have been as important to gaming as the peanut butter in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They’ve made us laugh, cry, tear our hair out and mercilessly shove them off cliffs. But which are my personal favourites? Let’s start with #10.
10 – Lauren Winter (Heavy Rain)
A hooker with a heart of gold, Lauren is first drawn into the story of Heavy Rain after being interviewed (and subsequently rescued) by Scott Shelby, a private investigator looking into her son’s murder. She goes on to join him in most of his escapades throughout the story, turning into a roaring mama bear determined to do anything necessary to avenge her son. A good example of a strong female game character, Lauren’s addition to this fantastic tale of murder and redemption earns her a place on this list.
9 – Rex (Fallout: New Vegas)
What could be better than a loyal companion to help you through the treacherous wastes of the Mojave Desert? That’s right, a loyal companion that’s a frickin’ robot dog. Rex was very badly hurt at one point in his life, but patched up brilliantly with some new robotic attachments! Once you’ve helped out the King in Freeside, he’ll let you take Rex with you on your travels. Be careful though, as he has a habit of bounding off after enemies before you can catch up and getting himself killed. And then forcing me to restart my save. Not that I’m bitter.
8 – Telly Vision (Chibi Robo!)
A floating TV that advises Chibi-Robo on his duties around the house, Telly takes a back seat in the proceedings of the game, but is vital as he helps Chibi to view his progress and buy upgrades – essential for any multi-purpose house cleaning robot. Unfortunately, since nobody bought Chibi-Robo or its sequel, you don’t get to know how cool he is. Shame on you all. (if you did buy Chibi-Robo, please disregard blah blah blah).
7 – Tatl (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
Unlike a certain other fairy who really wants you to listen, Tatl is a badass Tinkerbell who got his start by travelling with the eventual villain. Often more helpful than Navi and hilariously sarcastic to boot, you can be sure he’ll do his best to, erm, point at objects of interest. Well at least he doesn’t berate you with constant high-pitched squealing! …actually, that may well be the best thing about Tatl and his kidnapped counterpart Tael (geddit?). They don’t talk – just chime!
6 – FLUDD (Super Mario Sunshine)
Note to self: Why are there so many robots on this list? Re: Note to self: Because robots are awesome! The Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device (or FLUDD for short) is a perfect example of this rule. With his help, our portly plumbing pal we’ve all known since childhood can spray water to clean up Isle Delfino, hover in the air, run at breakneck speed or launch himself dozens of feet in the air! Add into the equation that FLUDD is an invention of Professor E. Gadd, the mad scientist who invented Luigi’s Mansion’s Poltergust 3000 – you know, the ghost hoover, and you see just why I love the FLUDD so very much.
5 – Knuckles the Echidna (Sonic Series)
What can you say about Knuckles? Other than that he’s an incredibly cool dude, since that goes without saying. Probably that for all the cutesiness in the Sonic franchise, he’s one of the characters you can rely on to consistently deliver a much-needed does of spiky fists to proceedings. Not to mention he can glide long distances, run as fast as Sonic, climb walls and punch through iron cages. Initially a villain, Knuckles has grown into a firm fan favourite. Well, until they divided the fans by shipping him with Rouge, but that’s a story for another day.
4 – Mickey Mouse (Kingdom Hearts Series)
If nothing else, Mickey’s certainly the oldest character on this list. Appearing in all the Kingdom Hearts games so far, he’s most useful in Kingdom Hearts II, where if you’re really taking a hammering (that one bridge boss in the Beauty and the Beast world for example. Again, not bitter), the venerable King might just appear from nowhere and save your ass, fighting for a while and allowing Sora to come back to life. One downside is that he can’t actually kill bosses himself, but hey, the guy’s 84, what more do you want?
3 – Kazooie (Banjo Kazooie Series)
Rare’s timeless classic Banjo-Kazooie would be missing half of its namesake without this feisty flyer. While sitting on Banjo’s back, he allows our ursine hero to double jump a surprising distance. He’s also one of the most adorable game characters I’ve ever seen. I mean look at him! Hands up who wouldn’t want to give him a hug? Oh. ALl of you, really?
2 – Kumatora (Mother 3)
Those of you who know how much of a Mother fanboy I am might have seen this one coming, but I really do have justification! She’s a pink-haired, tomboy princess who lives in an abandoned castle and can launch fireballs using her mind. Add in the fact that she can gain Mother 3’s most potent move late in the game and you’re onto a serious contender for the crown of ‘Robin’s Favourite Gaming Sidekick’. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner. It has to be…
1 – Glottis (Grim Fandango)
Grim Fandango is a game that holds a special place in my heart. The place that, if it isn’t filled, results in murderous rampages. But anyway. Part of the reason I love Grim Fandango so much is the writing and the interaction between characters, so it stands to reason that Glottis, Manny Calavera’s demon chum who follows him all the way through his journey in the Eighth Underworld, would be a particular favourite. The comic relief, Glottis was made about two sizes too big, drives like a maniac and is a dab hand at a piano. In the fourth year of the game, it turns out that so much time away from vehicles has made Glottis deathly ill, and the frantic search for a solution is possibly one of my defining video game moments. Words alone cannot express the awesomeness that is Glottis the demon, so I’ll let pretty lights and music do it for you.
That’s it for this week. If you’ve noticed that my weekly post is up a little early, it’s because Sian has a very special review up on Thursday – look out for it! Until then, why not tell me your own favourite gaming sidekicks? I’d love to hear!