Great heroes need great sidekicks. Throughout the years that gaming has existed, fans have been introduced to a wide range of memorable companions that have helped protagonists achieve the impossible. The best are usually those that add drama and intrigue to a narrative already brimming with adventure. It’s not hyperbole to state that some even elevate franchises with interesting gameplay mechanics and compelling character dynamics. Keeping all of this in mind, the following are some video game sidekicks that managed to leave a lasting impression on fans long after they said goodbye to them. Light spoilers for each series may be found below.
Best video game sidekicks – Ellie (The Last of Us)
Ellie’s presence in The Last of Us completely changes who protagonist Joel is as the pair moves through the United States in hopes of reaching the Fireflies. It’s a marvel to witness Joel’s transformation from a hardened smuggler to a surrogate father, especially considering the title’s opening moments with Sarah. It seems as though Ellie and Joel’s roles might be reversed once the game’s sequel arrives in the near future. It’ll be exciting to see how the duo’s relationship further develops as they were both so integral to the game’s narrative achievements.
Best video game sidekicks – Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog)
The blue blur’s adorable fox sidekick, Tails, was originally introduced to fans as a playable character in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Mr. Prower has appeared alongside Sonic in almost every game since then, going so far as to pop up as an assist trophy for some of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. entries.
The fox and hedgehog are inseparable, but it’s not hard to see why. Tails often takes up the role of an engineer in the franchise, crafting airplanes and other gadgets to help Sonic reach places he can’t just run to. In return, the titular hedgehog gives Tails confidence in his twin-tail flying abilities, of which he was bullied for when he was younger.
Best video game sidekicks – Clank (Ratchet and Clank)
Ratchet would’ve never made it off his home planet if it weren’t for Clank. When players are given control of the Lombax after the defective robot crash lands a few miles away from his workshop, it’s immediately clear that Ratchet and Clank‘s levels are designed with platforming in mind. Clank’s abilities give Ratchet access to high or distant platforms and even allow him to swim underwater. But he also provides a good emotional foil to Ratchet himself with his dry, robotic sense of humor and vigilant moral compass. It’s no wonder why this metallic sidekick stars in his own game, Secret Agent Clank. There’s so much to love about him.
Best video game sidekicks – Daxter (Jak and Daxter)
While another popular PlayStation 2 sidekick, Daxter, isn’t very useful to Jak from a gameplay perspective, he does provide such much-needed comic relief when the series makes its transition to a darker tone in the second game. Throughout the Jak and Daxter franchise, this Ottsel, or otter and weasel hybrid, constantly seeks out ways to revert back to a human after accidentally slipping into a pool of Dark Eco in the original title. He learns that his fursona does have its perks, however, as evidenced in his standalone game, appropriately named Daxter.
Best video game sidekicks – Cortana (Halo)
It seems like Master Chief is constantly tasked with preventing intergalactic crises from happening throughout the Halo series. Virtual sidekick Cortana has been with him from the get-go, explaining to the Spartan his next objective or warning him of a threat lurking right behind a corner. She also serves as a calming presence for the Chief to steady his resolve. Cortana is both a practical and emotional companion that may hopefully replace all of our Alexa devices one day.
Best video game sidekicks – Dogmeat (Fallout)
Dogmeat is a recurring character in the Fallout franchise for good reason. This companion will attack anything or anyone on command, no matter how large or menacing the enemy may look. Though this four-legged sidekick ends up dead most of the time, it’s nice to know that Dogmeat will forfeit its life for the player’s sake. It’s also pretty neat to have a pet keep ex-Vault Dwellers company as they explore lonely Wastlelands filled with creatures hungry for blood.
Best video game sidekicks – Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong Country)
First introduced in the original Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong has become an indispensable sidekick to protagonist Donkey Kong. This dual pistol-shooting spider monkey can hit enemies from afar while his uncle takes them out up close. He sports a jetpack that propels him and Donkey Kong across hazardous areas, too.
It’s no surprise that the sequel to Donkey Kong Country almost exclusively revolved around Diddy. He even has his own kart racing game and managed to secure a spot on the Super Smash Bros. roster for three consecutive iterations. That’s not to mention all the Mario games he appears in. His uncle must be proud.
Best video game sidekicks – Luigi (Mario Bros.)
Since the first Mario Bros. arrived on the scene, Luigi has been synonymous with the term “Player 2.” Despite this, he’s arguably just as famous as his brother Mario in 2019, proving that younger siblings can step out from the shadow of their older brothers. The plumber can be found in almost any modern Mario game, no matter if it’s a core entry or a spin-off. Luigi even has his own successful franchise titled Luigi’s Mansion, the likes of which is getting a third installment for the Nintendo Switch sometime soon.
Many video game fans may not think highly of sidekicks. Their main purpose is to support the protagonist with his or her personal ambitions. Seldom do these characters embark on journeys of their own. Despite this, sidekicks are essential in giving a narrative some depth. They give audiences varying perspectives to cling on to as they try to avoid intergalactic catastrophe or navigate across a post-apocalyptic version of the United States. The sidekicks above make strong arguments for why they should be considered just as important as the main characters they support. When all is said and done, where would Mario be without Luigi?