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Top 10 Video Game Sidekicks
News Posted on 7th, November, 2011
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With so many stars in the video game realm, it’s easy to forget the smaller roles in gaming. H2O Mystakin gives us his ten favorite sidekicks, and tells us what makes them awesome!
The video game industry is full of stars. Stars like Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, Sonic, Ratchet and countless others have warmed their way into our gaming hearts over the ages. As with any medium these top performers are accented by a myriad of talent that sometimes get lost in the crowd. They are the sidekicks of video gaming. Sometimes they’ll be awarded their own spin-off title that garners them adoration from the masses, but other times they’re left in the background and only used to make others’ stars shine brighter. Today, we celebrate a handful of these lesser celebrated heroes.

10. Otacon ( Metal Gear Solid )

Let’s kick off the list with one of the greatest ‘best friend’ characters in gaming, Hal Emmerich or Otacon as he is known through most of the series. In a futuristic world full of walking tanks, cyborg ninjas, and vaguely supernatural occurrences, Otacon manages to be one of the most down to earth and relate-able characters of the franchise. He has his flaws, for sure, but it’s hard not to trust and appreciate his actions. Additionally, the bond between the action hero Solid Snake and the frightened civilian Hal Emmerich organically strengthens as the series progresses. A character who started out as a piece of comic relief truly wound up in a deep, emotional role in the overall plot of the franchise. He may not seem like much, but Otacon is full of surprises.

9. Rush ( Mega Man )

Not only is Rush Mega Man’s best friend, but he’s a loyal companion who is essential to foiling Dr. Wiley’s robotic schemes. Whether he’s acting as a giant spring, a jet powered platform, or even a submarine, Rush is the pal who never left Mega Man’s side. He may not be very chatty, but he is key to advancing through Wiley’s castles, nabbing secret items, or even bypassing certain stage elements. Rush is a silent sidekick with remarkable talents that helped propel Mega Man through his last 4 games on the NES and beyond.

8. Donut Guy ( Splosion Man )

I think we all have fond memories of our first encounter with Donut Guy. Perhaps he is not a true friend or companion, but he is essential to Splosion Man’s travels through the laboratory. Without him, our protagonist would be mincemeat to those pesky lasers spread amongst the levels. Perhaps through his flailing and expulsion of donuts he comes to accept the good deed he is doing for the bright red fellow carrying him. He’s even kind enough to play one of the most memorable gaming tunes of the past couple years every time you cross paths. Donut Guy, maybe you’re not so bad after all.

7. Yoshi ( Mario Series )

Some may look at Yoshi as a simple tamed animal that makes vacuum cleaner noises, but Yoshi has done a lot over the years to solidify himself as a top level sidekick. He’s come a long way from being the quirky, shoe-wearing dinosaur from Super Mario World. Since then, he and his species have played sitter for baby versions of Mario’s star cast, cameoed in Super Mario 64 only to give you a staggering number of 1ups, and just recently assisted Mario through his second intergalactic quest in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Yoshi’s appearances may be mostly regulated to sports and party titles, but when he’s brought along through an adventure he is unmistakably valuable. Whether he’s the star act or simply playing a supportive role to the heroes, Yoshi excels at what he does.

6. Kazooie ( Banjo-Kazooie )

Our first sidekick to actually get billing in the title of their debut product is Kazooie. I struggled while deciding whether or not Kazooie was too prominent to be a sidekick, but she is slightly marginalized throughout the series. Her only role in their adventures is relegated to quietly sitting in Banjo’s backpack, occasionally using skills that require non-bear-like attributes, and being smarmy to the locals. She’s almost completely unused in Nuts & Bolts, as well! It’s a shame she doesn’t play a more active role because most of her skills are the ones that stick in gamers’ minds. Talents like her faster run, flight, and shooting eggs are the first that come to my mind when I picture that franchise. Kazooie may have her name in lights, but she doesn’t get the exposure she sometimes deserves.

5. Joker ( Mass Effect )

Every good ship needs a good pilot. Sometimes, it helps if that pilot is a bit of a smart-aleck. This is the case with Joker, the pilot of the spaceship Normandy. He may not get around much, for obvious storyline reasons, but whenever I find myself back at home base I have to pay a trip to Joker before doing anything else. The pilot’s room may be the most entertaining room on the ship, especially in Mass Effect 2. His back and forth with EDI really brought out more of Joker’s character and made him just that much more enjoyable. Joker is surprisingly likable despite his attitude, and I wouldn’t want anyone else piloting my space-craft on a mission to save the universe.

4. Pey’j ( Beyond Good and Evil )

Despite not being a financial success, Beyond Good and Evil is a fantastic game with some of the best characters you’ll find in gaming. Just about any article mentioning strong female characters in video games is bound to bring up Jade, the main protagonist, at some point. On the topic of sidekicks, however, Beyond Good and Evil continues to excel. Pey’j, Jade’s anthropomorphic bore best friend, immediately stands above the rest as someone special. His banter with the other characters and lighthearted tone, even in the most dire of situations, makes him feel like a lifelong friend almost immediately. The story takes full advantage of his playful charm, and for good reason. He may not have the gaming pedigree of the other characters on this list, but what little he is involved in is top-notch.

3. Daxter ( Jak & Daxter )

Few series feel as uniquely tied to the PS2 as the Jak and Daxter franchise. It’s rare to see an entire series run its course on a single console nowadays, but Naughty Dog has moved on to the more grandiose Uncharted franchise and left Jak and Daxter to the realm of small handheld releases. Throughout the games, Daxter’s screwball comedy provides an entertaining counterpoint to Jak’s serious tone. Even when Jak implies the situation is in control, Daxter is around to remind you just how dire the stakes are. Outside of life-threatening moments, he also provides playful commentary and chatter throughout the adventure. Dax is a loudmouth jerk who just never knows when to be quiet, but he’s oddly charming in some way. While not always the bravest sidekick, he’s an essential piece of the Jak and Daxter puzzle that helps avoid keeping the franchise too dark and serious.

2. Clank ( Ratchet & Clank )

As with the Jak and Daxter titles, the Ratchet and Clank series feels like a PS2 franchise primarily. The difference, though, is that Insomniac Games has continued to dedicate themselves to releasing Ratchet and Clank titles on the PS3. It’s a shame more studios don’t go for the same kind of Pixar-esque art style on modern consoles because Insomniac proved that you can bring characters to life in a way not previously possible. Clank is the last sidekick on this list to get credit in his series’ title, and he deserves it. Despite the similarities to the Jak and Daxter franchise, Clank couldn’t be more different than his contemporary. He is the level-headed intellectual that often acts as a way to keep Ratchet focused on the task at hand. Ratchet is often cracking jokes and making light of the situations while Clank is much more serious, but they both wind up getting their fair share of chuckles by the end of each title. His smooth charm and cool-head in all sorts of dangerous situations makes him an easy choice for this top ten.

1. Tails ( Sonic )

Perhaps one of the most recognizable sidekicks in gaming history is Miles “Tails” Prower from the Sonic franchise. Long before the Sonic the Hedgehog titles were buried under mountains of anthropomorphic echidnas, cats, bunnies, armadillos and all sorts of other wildlife creatures, there was Tails. Back in the days of Sonic 2 he was little more than a throwaway character that allowed simultaneous play through levels, but even back then he felt unique. He wasn’t as fast as Sonic but he tried to make up for it with his gift of flight via his twin tails. Since then, Tails has gone on to be a prominent character in both Sonic Adventures and many other story lines since. Some may say that he set into motion the very thing that hurt the Sonic franchise the most, but if any of the Sonic ‘friends’ have merit, it’s Tails. For being the standout best friend and sidekick to Sonic amongst a plethora of uninteresting attempts to recreate that spark, Tails deserves commendation.

All images courtesy of GiantBomb.com.

Written by Erich "H2O mystakin" Sherman. Erich is a PMS|H2O Assistant Editorial Director. Keep track of him and his shenanigans on Twitter!

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Date: Monday November 7th, 2011 04:04
DONUT GUY. Wooooot! C:
Date: Monday November 7th, 2011 12:40
Yoshi _ Tails when it comes to wide spread sidekick recognition purposes. Just sayin.
Date: Monday November 7th, 2011 13:36
You left out Minsc, but I forgive you.
Date: Monday November 7th, 2011 17:00
I'm going to write in my vote for PJ Berri, fantastic because of his suggestions of a yummy yummy beef stage.
Date: Monday November 7th, 2011 21:06
Hello!?!
Listen!!
What about Navi from Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Definitely one of the most memorable (albeit pestering) video game sidekicks.
Date: Tuesday November 8th, 2011 03:55
Aww no falco from starfox :/
Date: Tuesday November 8th, 2011 10:40
i loved your list, but i totally disagreed with yoshi being #7 and tails #1? hrm. and what about toad!?
Date: Tuesday November 8th, 2011 16:20
YES! I was gonna be really upset if Daxter wasn't on this list! But he is!
DAXTER FTW!!!
Date: Tuesday November 8th, 2011 18:53
GLaDOS from Portal 2 is probably my favorite sidekick right now, but I've always loved Tails.
Date: Tuesday November 8th, 2011 20:42
personally I say tails and daxter should switch places because daxter was actually part of the series from the beginning of the series he was apart of a tails didnt show up til the second game
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