Who is your favorite supporting character in a videogame?
When we think about gaming, we think about the amazing characters that we get to control. But sometimes a main character isn’t as special without a supporting character. This week the crew takes a look at their favorite supporting characters:
Alyx Vance is many things, but what she is most importantly is the best AI-driven co-operative partner ever committed to pixels: she handles herself extremely well; can spot enemies and call them out for you; isn’t stuck with the same two lines to repeat over and over again, avoiding the broken record cliche of AI partners; and you actually care about her. When the trailer for Half-Life 2: Episode 2 came out hinting at Alyx’ possible demise people were concerned that Valve were about to kill off one of the best-rounded characters in a series of extremely well-rounded characters, and being able to stand out from that crowd is no mean feat.
Best supporting character? Well my first instinct was to say Yoshi. Not only due to my love for all things Mario, but also because he “literally” supports the leading star (I’ll show myself to the door). In all seriousness, I think I will remain with Yoshi for this one, but not because of my awful play on words. In the early nineties, it was time for Miyamoto (pauses whilst everyone puts their hands together in honour of gaming’s first true artist) to revitalise his flagship franchise. After the three original Donkey Kong arcade games, the Mario Bros. spin off and subsequent revolutionary Super Mario Bros. trilogy for the SNES, Miyamoto was ready to throw a brand new curve ball to mix it up. So when you have a franchise of games in which a plumber and his brother are sucked to an alternative dimension to do battle against some kind of Kingdom to rescue a princess whilst eating size altering mushrooms, what’s the logical addition?
That’s right, a tiny little dinosaur you can ride around.
Yoshi represents that one loyal pet we’ve all loved. The dog whose always welcomed you home, the cat whose always sleeping on the end of your bed. The relationship between Mario and Yoshi is the relationship between man and their animals and I think that’s why, of all the quest additions to the Marion pantheon, Yoshi is one of the characters that stuck. Whether it’s the egg hurling of his debut appearance, juice spewing of the criminally underrated Sunshine (that’s right, I said it) or even his pokey little cameo at the end of Mario 64, Yoshi is constantly finding brand new ways to help out his master. Just when you thought he couldn’t be more helpful, he gets very own spin-off; Yoshi’s Island. That game establishes that the Yoshi species carried a baby Mario to his safety way back when.
Next time you’re playing a Mario game and there’s a Yoshi egg in the distance, just try and walk past it without cracking it opening and having a whale of a time riding him around.
You just can’t, can you?
Best supporting character in my eyes would be Clementine, the little girl from the Walking Dead game. I chose Clementine because she basically changed how I would play the game. Normally when I play games that feature moral choices, I tend to just kill or do evil things to make my life easier. But Clementine made me want to go out of my way to protect her and keep her safe. I’m not sure if it’s because she was such a cute child or if the fact that her parents were killed, but something swayed me in going against my evil deeds.
I mostly play action games, so the stories I see are passable at best. It figures that my answer this week comes from a game that’s relatively light on story: Zero from Mega Man X.
Mega Man X sets up a humanity vs. nature dynamic. X, the highly civilized robot, stands for humanity. He spends quite a few years locked away just so that Dr. Light can be certain that he has been cured of any impulses for chaos; X must be dedicated to keeping order.
X’s foes, of course, are bent on chaos. They want to break from society, and to this end, they cause havoc in crucial parts of a civilized culture: a factory, a mine, a power plant, so on and so forth. This chaos is reflected in their animal form; their hatred of society makes them more animal than human.
On a side note, one of the most moving images in Mega Man X is Sigma’s final form. He casts aside his human body and adopts the form of a wolf.
X stands for humanity, fighting against the animalistic Mavericks. Zero is my choice for this week because he ties X to the Mavericks by toeing the line between the human and the animal. His long, wild hair and vibrant red color evoke notions of chaos before you even get to know him. When you do get to know him, his tactics are hardly that of the upright and civilized X. For instance, he defeats Vile by self-destruction.
And yet, Zero’s intentions are to aid society. He seeks to quell the chaotic element, even while he himself is chaotic.
-Eric Lee Lewis
I love Alyx Vance. What a wonderful woman. Half-life has a silent protagonist and all we know about him is the fact that he is a scientist named Gordon Freeman. Just knowing these things about your character isn’t enough though and this is where the beautiful Alyx Vance comes in. Alyx is a great character that helps lead the way through Black Mesa and lead you to you final destination in the form of meeting with Dr. Breen. One last name needs to be dropped in when mentioning Alyx, and that name is Dog…