In our quietest hours, these are the companions we promise God we will attend church every weekend for if only he will make them come to life.
Epona (Legend of Zelda series)
I’ve been afraid of horses since I was a little girl, when the pony I was riding ran under a pine tree. I went through it, giving me significant Christmas sores and permanent equine trauma. I might be convinced to saddle up on Epona, Link’s lady horse in the Legend of Zelda series. She is easily the best horse in all of gamedom, handily besting Shadow of the Colossus’ Agro.
Dog (Fable series)
He’s not the first video game dog sidekick. Way back in NetHack, for example, we had a canine companion, represented by a sensible lower-case d. Your dog in the Fable series just takes it to a new level. He’ll fight for you, help you pick up ladies, and perform all manner of trickery at the whim of a button press. If he were to come alive and need a home, he could probably make up for what my ten pound Schnoodle lacks, as the only buried treasure she finds is invariably of the fecal or deceased baby bird variety.
Bentley (Sly Cooper series)
Bentley the turtle is part of Sly Cooper’s band of thieves, which also includes hippopotamus Murray. A wheelchair-bound, asthmatic orphan, Bentley doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy: he is an unmitigated badass, tech genius, and stud in a half-shell. Despite originally fearing that no girl would want anything to do with a guy in a wheelchair, Bentley finds a love interest in Penelope the mouse
Cranky Kong (Donkey Kong Country series)
Cranky Kong is supposed to be the original Donkey Kong, now the crotchety grandfather or father to the Donkey Kong of Donkey Kong Country. Stopping by Cranky’s Cabin is an invitation to be swatted about the head and neck with a cane. And yet, we were happy to see the old bastard again in Donkey Kong Country Returns, making acidic remarks and selling us things. You’ve got to cut the guy some slack, though: he is perpetually haunted by the ghost of his afghan-wrapped, scrapbooking wife, Wrinkly.
Bonnie MacFarlane (Red Dead Redemption)
Not to be confused with comedienne Bonnie McFarlane, Red Dead Redemption’s Bonnie MacFarlane is one of your strongest allies in the West. Bonnie helps her father run his ranch and proves to be as capable a farmhand as any man. She’s tough without being shrewish and pretty without fulfilling that skanky game girl stereotype. This is incredibly rare in this industry. When she got in some trouble, I rode hard to rescue her. If history does her justice, she will go down as one of the great game characters of all time.
Can you walk away from this snugglepuss? What about if I told you you find him in a box? And also his mother was killed by a car? Please, take the time to give tummy raspberries to your computer screen. You can feed the kitten tuna in Dreamcast classic Shenmue, but you never really get to see his story develop or his kitten life achieve true fulfillment. He may not be as tough or confident as some of the other NPCs on this list, but he is the most deserving of your friendship.
Candy Suxxx (GTA Vice City)
We want to hang out with '80s porn star Candy Suxxx (voiced by Jenna Jameson), but not for the reasons you might suspect. We here at UGO have enough bed trouble thanks to the swarm of American flag bikini-clad blog nymphs hurling their shapely bodies at our guarded office doors (we do have to get some work done, sometimes). No, we want to spend time with Candy Suxxx because according to game lore, she eventually becomes an educator and philanthropist. Depriving paying customers of that tremendous polygonal rack is a crime that needs to be rectified.
Superfly Johnson (Daikatana)
Superfly Johnson, the offensive black stereotype and one of your companions in heaping stink failure Daikatana (the other being an offensive female Asian stereotype who replaces R’s with L’s), continually invites you to “Suck it down” in the year 2455 AD. In the year 2011, he could probably reboot the rich Shaft franchise for the second time
Fawkes would’ve been our best friend in high school, as we too felt like highly literate super-mutants. He could beat up the football team for us with his Gatling Laser, give us a piggy-back ride to the malt shop, and snarl at the librarian when she makes her comments about us checking out too many books. His skin coating appears that it would also make a delicious poultry baste, which makes him a serious candidate for best friend of all time.
Daxter (Jak and Daxter series)
He’s obnoxious in a Gilbert Gottfried kind of way, but we can’t help but love Jak’s ottsel sidekick. Is it the terrible pick-up lines? The jokes that fall flat? All the talk about not wearing pants? You either love or hate Daxter, but you will feel strongly about him as a sidekick (or as the protagonist of his own PSP game). Also, please allow me to take this moment once again to beg Naughty Dog to get to work on a Jak and Daxter reboot after Uncharted 3 goes gold. I’m not above violent, childish hysterics, if that’s what this is going to take.
Pigsy is a playable character in the Pigsy’s Perfect 10 DLC, but towards the end of Enslaved proper, he becomes your mud-bellied AI companion. Critics were overly harsh on this game, which you need to play if you were dissuaded this fall by crotchety reviewers who didn’t give the original title the props it deserves. Pigsy is one of the most original characters to come out in many moons of industry regurgitation, a cross between a human swine and that one uncle on your dad’s side of the family. As a real-life pal, he could help us hunt for truffles (also the name of his robotic pal) which we could then sell to stupid urban foodies, and make us look super sexy and employed by comparison.
Assassin droid HK-47 hates filthy meatbags, but we’re willing to put up with the abuse because he is sickly awesome. He was originally built for Sith Lord Darth Revan, but he can be yours thanks to his erased memory. He can’t shake his murderous inclinations, though, which come across in his sarcastic, witty banter. Mercifully, he will be reappearing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, allowing me to justify yet another summer of porcelain skin and atrophied muscles.
Adoring Fan is a nubile male elf from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. After you become Grand Champion of the Arena, he runs up to you and begs to follow your around, offering his shoe-shining and backrub services in exchange for the honor of your presence. He will actually follow you around until you ask him to go away, or death parts your ways. If he dies, he reappears at the Arena and asks to follow you around again. Naturally, the best thing about having Adoring Fan around is slaughtering him at every opportunity.
If you didn’t buy Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure when it came out for the Wii in 2007, you are part of the problem. Don’t come crying to me about the lack of original games published when you failed to support Zack and his adorable gilded monkey sidekick Wiki in their point-and-click puzzle-solving pirate adventure which, though I admit it is tempting with the monkeys and the islands and all, should not be confused with the Monkey Island games.
Little Gray (MGS4)
Provided I could get him to stay in a leash and do my bidding without fuss, Metal Gear Solid 4’s Little Gray would be the ultimate monkey companion. I could get away with taking him everywhere. If anyone asked me to not take my monkey inside the Wal-Mart, I would act horribly offended at what the vested greeter called my young child, who is suffering from some rare disease I will think of a scientific-sounding name for. No one would ever hassle us again for fear of lawsuits and we would get free silver diapers for him and stuff from the bakery for me. Also, the little guy loves energy drinks and cigarettes, and he could use my mothering to direct him towards a healthier lifestyle, which includes Diet Dr. Pepper and typing and gaming all day.