There is one rule in gaming that is pretty indisputable: every hero needs a really good side-kick. These are the characters that you rely on to help you get the job done. They might be fighting at your side or could equally be organising your missions or your life from the background. Both of these roles are equally important. Now … technically the whole point of a side-kick is that they’re side-kicking because they haven’t quite yet reached enough of a heroic status to be doing it themselves; we all know, however, that this isn’t always the case. As usual, I’ve brought my partner in crime Will Georgiadis (he’s going to hate that I’ve said that) along for the ride as we present our list of ten companions who are clearly tougher than you.
Let’s have a bit of a disclaimer here, shall we? As usual this is our list and very importantly this will more than likely contain spoilers. No hate mail please if we happen to ruin a game you want to play; you’ve been warned.
10: Raziel – Blood Omen/Soul Reaver series
I’m going to start with a bit of a contentious one. Raziel is a massively important character in the Blood Omen series and the protagonist of the Soul Reaver games. He’s contentious because he sort of shifts roles in the game between Kain’s ally, his arch-enemy and his most powerful weapon. We’re going to look at the latter of these examples for a bit here. The Soul Reaver is a sword of tremendous power and arguably Kain’s most iconic blade. What we don’t realise, however, as we play through Blood Omen is that the sword is sentient. In fact, it’s more than sentient, it’s Raziel. Now I’m not going into the ins and outs of how this happened or I’ll be writing a wiki. Let’s look at it like this: Kain is a vampire and he’s hard as nails. Raziel is also a vampire, and a wraith and a soul eating nightmare sword. He was also originally Kain’s most powerful general before Kain killed him off. This is getting way too confusing, go play the games and see, but Raziel is in my honest opinion definitely the nastier of the two.
There are so many reasons you don’t want to mess with this guy.
9: Celebrimbor – Middle Earth series
In the Middle Earth games you take on the role of the ranger Talion. You’re well trained, and have absolutely no issues whatsoever turning Orcs into little bloody piles of twitching goo with your sword. As you find out rather quickly, though, you aren’t immortal and you can and do die. This is where the wraith (there’s a theme here) Celebrimbor comes in. He kind of becomes one with you but is also definitely your most powerful companion. His abilities allow you to shoot ghost fire and more importantly control the minds of the Orcs you defeat, allowing you to build your own army. The thing he’s clearly missing is a body. If he had one and his abilities and didn’t need you, you’d still be waving your sword around in a heroic but slightly less awesome fashion while he was literally taking over the world one brain at a time. Actually … thinking about it … you wouldn’t be waving anything about, you’d be rotting nicely in a heap. I think we can safely say whose the tougher of the two there, can’t we?
He’s dead and still makes you look like a novice.
8: Rodin – Bayonetta series
Rodin, Bayonetta’s friend and favourite bartender. This guy is in the background throughout your adventures and is there to equip you with an arsenal of powerful weapons. If Bayonetta needs something she’ll find it at The Gates of Hell bar. He also has absolutely no issues with getting his hands dirty, whether it be blowing angels to bits or beating the snot out of demons. This guy literally goes toe to toe with infernal forces in a bid to build and bring you cool stuff. Considering that he’s kitting you out I think he falls into the side-kick club. If you happen to give him his full powers back you’ll see just how insane this guy really is. He’s so powerful he’s an optional boss. We all know that when a boss is optional there’s a really good reason for this. Father Rodin makes your undeniably powerful witchyness look like a flash in the pan. Not someone to be messed with.
It’s all fun and games till you have to fight him.
7: Tychus Findlay – Starcraft 2
If you follow the human campaign in Starcraft 2 you’ll take on the role of a grizzled war veteran called Jim Raynor. You’ve survived the swarm and managed to tell Arcturus Mensk (your old boss) precisely where to shove his battle fleet. You’re an outlaw and you have some serious ability to ruin virtually anyone else’s day. Then we have your friend and companion Tychus. This guy is a criminal to put it politely. You’ve been through a lot together. Now, is he harder than you are? Well, put it this way … he was permanently sealed into his suit of battle armour and didn’t even flinch. This guy will put a bullet between your eyes before you even get a chance to sneeze and has virtually no fear of anything whatsoever. The swarm are scary, really scary, and the Queen of Blades is absolutely nightmarish. To Tychus, she’s just another bug that needs squishing. When someone is fearless to the point of psychopathy they can probably be considered tougher than you are.
Is this a face that looks remotely bothered by anything?
6: The Darkness – The Darkness
If you haven’t played this game you’d be forgiven for assuming The Darkness is the game’s title character. This isn’t the case. You take on the role of Jackie Estacado, a young and relatively unlucky mobster. You’re unlucky for two reasons. The first is that you’re used as a bullet sponge, the second and possibly worst of these is your meeting with The Darkness. Take Celebrimbor, in as much as your companion is also kinda you, but totally sentient in their own right. Twist that into a living, demonic, darkling summoning creature from your deepest, darkest dreams. The Darkness grants you your power but it also controls you. This thing is a totally powerful companion plus much more. When you put a bullet in your own skull in an attempt to get rid of it and that still doesn’t work you know you’re dealing with something far more powerful that you will ever be.
The Darkness is all consuming and has rather large teeth.
Right, well, let’s see what my own sidekick has to say, shall we? I wonder how much longer I’m going to get away with that for …
[Alex makes rude if not accurate allusion to my position as side-kick]
Not very long, muttered Robin to Batman’s back. Anyway. Enough scheming. Here are my 5 bad-ass sidekicks.
5: Aku-Aku – Crash Bandicoot Series
At first glance, there’s nothing special about Aku-Aku. He’s just a floating Tiki mask, serving as a health indicator for everyone’s favorite rotating rodent, Crash Bandicoot. His purpose is to take the fall, to be the one who dies so that another might survive. It’s all very heroic stuff, but hardly proof that he’s tougher than the motoring marsupial himself.
It remained this way until Crash Bandicoot: Warped, at which point Aku-Aku’s bad-assery became readily apparent. Suddenly, he had an evil twin, some semblance of a character arc, and even an actual voice. He became Crash’s guide through the weirdest of his adventures and then, like Yoda in the prequel films, he got his chance to show off in a final confrontation with his evil twin that occurred during Crash’s fight with Dr. Neo Cortex.
It’s a floating mask. Seriously, what harm can it do?
4: Fawkes – Fallout 3
Venture deep into the heart of Vault 87 in search of the GECK, and you’ll come across the notorious FEV laboratories from whence the Super Mutants sprung. It’s gruesome, even by Fallout 3 standards: a dank red haze lights the bloodstained corridors of the Vault’s lower levels, and peering through the misted lab windows reveals grim surgery tables bedecked with warped, misshapen mutant corpses.
Then, crackling over the static of an intercom that hides in the gloom, you hear a voice. A gruff, eloquent voice that belongs to a perfectly sane, vault-suited Super Mutant. Help him out, and he’ll vow to be forever in your debt, following you across the Capitol Wasteland like a big ugly thesaurus. That, ladies and gents, is Fawkes.
He’s huge, intelligent, and particularly fond of his laser minigun. Need I say more?
Everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood mutant.
3: Quiet – Metal Gear Solid V
Alright, fine. She’s controversial, because she’s possibly the most horrendous example of fan-service ever concocted. She doesn’t speak (she can, it’d just kill her), she wears practically nothing, and she takes an immediate and overtly-affectionate liking to the haggard, box-wearing hero of Metal Gear Solid V. And let’s not get started on the things she does when you idle for even a moment aboard the Pequod.
She’s a major blow for the depiction of women in videogames, and yet, she’s the most lethal sidekick on this list.
Arm her with a silenced rifle, and Snake becomes a passing thought; her lethal precision and super-powers render her an indestructible weapon of mass destruction. And let’s not forget the time she took down a fighter jet with one well-placed bullet.
Quiet … You will be when she gets her hands on you.
2: Yoshi – Super Mario Series
He has to make the list, doesn’t he? As the most disposable member of Mario’s sizable entourage, you’d expect the humble steed of the Italian plumber to be little more than cannon fodder, an object to be used to gain a much-needed height boost.
How wrong you’d be. The big-nosed green dinosaur is in many ways superior to his so-called master: he can run faster, jump higher, and fly for short periods of time without needing a raccoon’s tail (as an aside: why are raccoons suddenly capable of flight? The British equivalent is only really good for eating rubbish and looking mangy). Yoshi has an asbestos-lined mouth that can exhale anything it inhales with tremendous force; Mario has a magic hat, it seems, and a dependency on mushrooms.
If you hadn’t guessed, this one’s personal.
You don’t become this iconic for nothing.
1: Lydia – Skyrim
We’re back with Bethesda again (what? They make a ton of sidekicks) for our next bad-ass companion. She’s the first you’ll meet on your journey through Skyrim, sitting a little moodily at one of the long tables that stretch from end to end of the Dragonsreach throne room. She’s offered to you as a Housecarl, a present from the Jarl of Whiterun as payment for your services.
Clearly unhappy at being converted into currency, Lydia lacks a sense of humour and refuses to drop the sarcastic tone of voice with which she begins her service to you. Your questions, good-natured though they may be, are met by a brick wall of indifference, and it soon becomes clear that you’ll find a more lively companion in a Mammoth-herding giant.
So why is she on this list? Mostly because I get the impression that she feels belittled by the whole affair. Bedecked in Nord Armor with a short-sword and shield on her back, Lydia is clearly in the business of kicking ass, and is insulted by this new employment as a baggage cart for a crazed lunatic who eats entire wheels of cheese for the health benefits.
This lady will have no issues using your teeth as earrings.
There’s no end to the amount of crap that the average side-kick has to endure, and when you’re as bad-ass as these guys, watching your assigned protagonist fumble his or her way through level after level can be nothing short of tear-inducing. So the next time you’re skipping your way around the Mushroom Kingdom, or strutting kinda sexily through Vigrid, make sure to thank the folks behind the scenes. Spurning your side-kick can, after all, be deadly.