Ahh, the videogame sidekick. There have been countless over the years; whether used as a gameplay mechanic, a narrative tool, or a way to counter-balance the protagonist’s total lack of verbal communication, a lot of heroes would be lost without their faithful companions. While not all are as memorable or effective as others, some have managed to become to popular as to secure their very own game! Here are the Top 10 Sidekicks Who Starred in Their Own Games!
10. Pikachu (Hey You, Pikachu!)
It might be hard to think of Pikachu as a sidekick, since he’s essentially the face of the Pokemon franchise, but let’s look back on his origins for a bit. Originally just the 25th Pokemon, Pikachu suddenly hit megastar status in the Pokemon anime as Ash Ketchum’s faithful sidekick and starter Pokemon. The anime proved to be so popular that Nintendo released Pokemon Yellow, essentially a version of Pokemon Red/Blue that took inspiration from the anime. Changes included the addition of Jesse and James, modified sprites, and of course, your very own Pikachu which faithfully follows you around outside of its Poke Ball. Then, in 1998 in Japan (2000 in North America), gamers were treated to Hey You, Pikachu! This N64 game involved you using a packaged-in microphone to communicate with your very own pet Pikachu. The concept alone was definitely appealing to fans of Pokemon, even though the execution was rather lackluster thanks to the microphone not being very cooperative. Still, the idea of raising and caring for your own Pikachu was ingenious, especially since the little electric mouse has been by our side for the better part of two decades.
9. Tails (Tails Adventure/Tails’ Skypatrol)
Our lovable little two-tailed fox friend Miles “Tails” Prower has seen his fair share of time in the spotlight alongside his companion Sonic. Debuting in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails was always by the hedgehog’s side, and a second player could control him if he wanted to. However, he didn’t receive his badass upgrade until Sonic the Hedgehog 3, where players could control Tails and utilize his now famous ability to fly for a short period of time. But did you know that Tails starred in two spinoff games for the less-than-stellar Sega Game Gear? These two titles, Tails’ Skypatrol and Tails Adventure, are fairly obscure compared to the rest of the Sonic games. This might be because neither of them are high-speed platformers – Skypatrol is a side-scrolling flight game where Tails isn’t allowed to touch the ground, and Adventure is a slower, puzzle-based platformer similar to something like Metroid. While it’s debatable whether or not these games are really any good, they showed that our beloved fox was able to branch out and do his own thing, and didn’t just need to be relegated to the side role. Even though he’s gone back to fighting by Sonic’s side, it’s clear that Tails’ popularity is so great that if Sega were to make another game with him in the starring role, people would be excited.
8. Vincent Valentine (Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII)
It’s hard not to look back at Final Fantasy VII and revel in awe at how brooding it tried to be; crazy swords, melodrama and of course, Vincent Valentine. Describing Vincent can be as easy as playing an early Linkin Park album and sitting in the dark with a stern look. All of that angst paid off however, with fans loving the character enough to warrant a Vincent Valentine spin-off. Dirge of Cerberus is not what most would expect as a sequel to a beloved JRPG- a third person shooter with RPG elements. It was a strange mix, but it did a serviceable job of delving into the character’s past and even had some enjoyable gameplay to boot.
7. Yoshi (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island)
It’s true that Yoshi acted more like a power-up in Super Mario World than an active sidekick, but man, he was one hell of a power-up. Yoshi not only allowed Mario to take an extra hit, but he swallowed enemies with his tongue and could gain special abilities depending on what color he was. And besides, like the best sidekicks are, he was always there for Mario, even after we sacrificed him countless times in order to get a higher jump. He was such a popular character that the next game in the series put him right in the center – Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Less a straight follow-up to the Mario World formula and more its own unique concept, Yoshi’s Island tells the origin story of Mario, seeing him accidentally falling into Yoshi’s care as a baby. (You say Mario’s from Brooklyn? Cute.) As such, it’s up to Yoshi to safely carry Baby Mario across several treacherous levels to reunite him with Baby Luigi. Since he became the main character, Yoshi was given a few new abilities to play around with, including being able to poop out swallowed enemies as eggs and toss them as projectiles (it sounds very weird out of context, yes). If Mario World introduced how popular Yoshi would become as a character, Yoshi’s Island cemented it. His role has fluctuated over the years, ranging from vehicle to ally to baby delivery man to tennis player, but Yoshi’s role as one of Mario’s choice sidekicks will never be forgotten.
6. Clank (Secret Agent Clank)
The release of the PSP meant a lot for gamers, mainly pocket gaming at (almost) home console quality. Many franchises capitalised on this and saw the portability as an excuse to downsize, creating sidekick-based spinoffs. Secret Agent Clank was a fine example of this, taking the suave characteristics of the namesake robot and pairing it with a gameplay menagerie consisting of stealth, action and platforming. It was a mix that paid off well, creating a somewhat enjoyable game in the process. However, the lack of direction and humour made it rather clear that Clank is more suited to being in a double act than flying solo.