Sidekicks also known as partners, friends, assistants, confidants, comrades, allies, protégé, buddies, amigos, etc. have become a staple in storytelling. Biblical characters like Moses, for example, have his brother Aaron. Another example is the ancient Mesopotamian hero Gilgamesh who had Endiku; and the Greek Mythology hero Achilles who had Patroclus.
Despite this idea having been around since ancient times, it was not until 1906 that the term ‘sidekick’ was used. As per the Word Detective, the term was used as slang in the criminal underworld pertaining to an accomplice in crime. Today, a sidekick, for the most part, was often defined as an assistant who is inferior to their master. Oftentimes, sidekicks provide comic relief in tense situations. Think of Donkey and Shrek, the perfect chemistry of the talking donkey and the ogre resulted in a billion-dollar multi-media franchise. Or Baymax, the cuddly personal healthcare companion in Disney’s Big Hero 6.
Today, however, sidekicks provide more than just humor, especially when it comes to video game sidekicks. With that in mind, today we are going to take a quick overview of 5 of the best video game sidekicks of all time.
Top 5 Video Game Sidekicks
Before diving into our list, do take note that the order of the characters below does not translate to hierarchy. Each sidekick on our list comes with unique skills and abilities. Which is why we think that all of them are incomparable to each other. In addition, the characters below are based on our experience, since there is little to no official survey dedicated to these second-rate protagonists.
Yoshi – Super Mario World
In contrast with what we mentioned above, Super Mario World’s Yoshi was actually voted as the most popular sidekick in a survey conducted by OneBuy. The adorable dinosaur managed to accumulate 71% of votes from more than 4000 players across the globe. In Super Mario World, players can ride Yoshi and use his tongue to consume enemies. This prehistoric sidekick can also gain various abilities when consuming Koopa shells.
Yoshi may be cute and harmless but this gentle green dino boasts various abilities. Abilities make the quest of the two Mario brothers bearable.
Cortana – The Halo Series
Nothing is lonelier than the life of a Spartan in the Halo series. Without Cortana, Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, better known as Master Chief, would be nothing but a mindless killing machine. For those not familiar with the series, Cortana is an AI who serves as the adviser/confidant of the main protagonist.
Halo’s main protagonist Master Chief may have brute strength and superhuman abilities, but it was his video game sidekick Cortana who opened portals, decoded transmissions, hacked computers, etc. And yes, she is the inspiration for your Microsoft virtual assistant.
Clank – Ratchet and Clank Series
Clank is an example of a sidekick who the main protagonist cannot live without. For starters, in the original game, Ratchet cannot pilot his ship without this charming automaton. Clank can also increase his size when faced with giant enemies and decrease it to reach tight corners. This warbot can also navigate outside the ship and has a built-in hydro pack, heli pack, and thruster pack.
Like Master Chief, Ratchet would just be an anthropomorphic character with big guns who cannot fly his own ship. Not to mention hack doors or venture into tight spaces.
Atreus – God of War 2018
Even gods need sidekicks, which is the case with Kratos. After slaying every notable god in Greek Mythology, Kratos settled in ancient Scandinavia situated in the realm of Midgard. After 150 years since the events of God of War III, Kratos now has a son/sidekick named Atreus. For the most part, Atreus is an example of a sidekick protégé. He needs Kratos to unleash his true potential. Despite the fact that Kratos can easily explore the realms of Norse Mythology, he still needs the skills of Atreus. Thus, both need each other to survive.
Atreus is a semi-NPC in God of War 2018. This is because players can still manipulate this video game sidekick with a single button. Atreus works hard to show Kratos that he is capable of taking care of himself. It is hinted that he feels unwelcome in his father’s presence and that this feeling of unwelcomeness is what motivates him to develop into a more effective fighter. Given that he spent so much time with Kratos as a child, Atreus has no fear of him and, like his stepmother, is not afraid to confront him when necessary.
Tails – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Miles Prower known to many as Tails is the trusty partner of the iconic blue hedgehog, Sonic. This two-tailed fox is dubbed as a mechanical genius equal to Dr. Eggman. Tails looks up to Sonic as a brother, which is why he has barely left the hedgehog’s side since his debut in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Originally, he aspired to be just like Sonic and mimicked his heroic characteristics, but as he developed more self-esteem, he evolved out of it to become his own character.
Tails is an example of a sidekick who possesses equal or more skills than the protagonist. He may not match Sonic’s immense speed but his ability to fly and his genius makes him stand out from other video game sidekicks. Also, Tails placed second in the most popular video game sidekick which was dominated by Yoshi. This two-tailed fox managed to acquire 67% of the worldwide poll.
The Best Qualities of a Video Game Sidekick
So what makes a great video game sidekick? For starters, the most effective sidekicks stand behind the lead character. They provide assistance when the going gets tough. Contrary to the common definition of a sidekick (a comic relief and a less skilled companion), a wise and skilled sidekick can often bring the protagonist to his senses.
Although they are on the same “side” as the protagonist, the sidekick can nonetheless create drama. The protagonist and the sidekick could argue and quarrel at any time. These tiny things can generate tension in a non-threatening approach. Thus, making the plot more immersive if not intriguing.
In summary, the best video game sidekicks are those who can provide all types of support to the main character. They can argue, call out, or even fight with the main protagonist. Come to think of it, a sidekick who is wiser and more skilled than the main protagonist can easily provide mental, emotional, and physical support. Resulting in tensions between comrades which in turn will lead to a more immersive climax.
Are You a Sidekick or a Protagonist?
The phrase “sidekick” frequently underrated its true value and importance. But don’t be fooled; the sidekick isn’t there to provide comic relief, serve as a stand-in, or for any other temporary purpose. The story wouldn’t be complete without the sidekick. They serve more than support to the main character. So, do not treat them as just another additional character in the game.
Nevertheless, while they must be a part of the narrative, the sidekick must not detract from it. The protagonist shouldn’t be overshadowed by the sidekick. The center of attention is the protagonist. The protagonist, although the main character, does not necessarily imply however that they must always be superior to the sidekick in every way.
To summarize, there is one simple term that can define the perfect sidekick, and that is “friend.” In reality, our friends think of us as sidekicks, and us to them. For the most part, all of us are sidekicks and protagonists at the same time. As to who is the protagonist and who is the sidekick? It will depend on which perspective we are looking at.